Sometimes there are so many stories in the news, it's hard to choose which one to explore in this semi-monthly newsletter. Wouldn't a daily blog work better? If only I could find the time. Little by little, though, my resistance is being overcome (even if I haven't figured out how to squeeze 30+ hours out of each day). We're currently working on a redesign of the Foundation's web site, and I have become convinced that I need to add a daily blog report to the website to keep up with the news -- saving the semi-monthly newsletters for those articles that are less time sensitive and that require a more detailed exploration.
However, as of today, we don't have a blog in place, and yet we do have a number of stories to cover. So I've decided to treat this newsletter like a blog page and just do some short commentary on nine breaking stories.
- Spinach, a Little Perspective
- Rogue Rice
- The Diabetes Pill
- Autism, Aging, and Sperm
- Intersex Fish
- A New Treatment for Cancer
- FDA Approves Viruses on Your Food
- Childhood Obesity
- Calcium for Kids
Spinach, a Little Perspective
In what "appears" to be one of the biggest news stories of the year, bagged spinach has been withdrawn from supermarket shelves across America after an E. coli outbreak that has killed one person and caused illness in over 150 others. Most restaurants have pulled all spinach from their menus claiming their customers will no longer touch it. The spinach, grown and distributed by a California company, could have been contaminated in the field or during processing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some groups, such as the Hudson Institute, are using this incident as an opportunity to discredit organic farming. So is natural, raw, bagged spinach worth all the fuss.
Well certainly you want to pull contaminated food from the shelves, but really. Considering how much press the spinach incident has received, you might be surprised to learn that, according to the CDC, E. coli causes an estimated 73,000 cases of infection, including 61 deaths, each year in the United States. Isn't that fascinating? Considering how much uproar we're hearing over 150 infections and 1 death, why have we heard almost nothing about the other 73,000 infections and 61 deaths? Could it be because the primary source of infection, again according to the CDC, is "associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef?" And we all know what happens when you say anything negative about the beef industry!
You think I'm being paranoid when I suggest that the health food industry gets singled out for unusual treatment as opposed to mainstream industries? Consider that as a result of just 10 people being infected with E. coli by contaminated Odwalla juice in Washington state back in 1996, the sale of non-pasteurized juices was pretty much eliminated from the market for all brands, for good. And yet, 60 some people die every year from eating contaminated meat and you hardly ever hear about it. Very interesting!
So what can we expect?
Look for another run at suggesting that all produce be irradiated to kill contaminating bacteria, and coincidentally, to prolong shelf life. Resist it. Life has risks, and your odds of dying from E. coli are far less than your chances of being hit by lightning. Your body thrives on raw fresh foods. It dies on a sustained diet of cooked and processed food. And as for irradiated food, you don't want to go there.
Oh, and one other thing to consider. The vast majority of people who eat contaminated spinach show no symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms at most. Why is that? It would seem to be an important question -- possibly the most important question, yes?
Quite simply, those with healthy populations of beneficial bacteria in their intestinal tracts are virtually immune to E. coli problems. With beneficial bacteria lining every square inch of your intestinal tract, there is simply no room for ingested E. coli to take root, colonize, and multiply -- not to mention the fact that the beneficial bacteria gobble up any stray E. coli they encounter. In other words, the outbreak has less to do with contaminated food than it does with the epidemic of compromised immune systems and intestinal tracts. Rather than fret about the remote possibility of eating contaminated spinach, you'd be far better off simply supplementing with a good probiotic and a nice complement of natural immune boosters, and pathogen destroyers.
If you think I'm exaggerating the risk of mutant strains of bacteria escaping into the world, consider the recent news announcements on Liberty Link Rice 601, developed by Aventis Crop Science, which was taken over by Bayer in 2002 and renamed Bayer Crop Science. Field trials on the rice, which had a protein added to help make it resistant to the Liberty herbicide, were stopped in 2001. The seeds were never sold. Nevertheless traces of the modified rice have now shown up in rice crops in Arkansas and Missouri. This has led to bans on US rice in Europe and lawsuits filed against Bayer by the US growers.
Is this strain of rice harmful? Probably not, but then again, its safety has never been fully tested. But that's not the point. The point is that once again, a modified laboratory creation has been allowed to escape into the environment. It's only a matter of time before something disastrous and uncontrollable is released. No one has said it better than Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. His character, Ian Malcolm, is a mathematician who understands that the randomness of possibilities cannot be controlled. He might as well have been talking about Liberty Link Rice 601 (as opposed to genetically engineered dinosaurs) when he said that "life will find a way" to break out of the laboratory, even when scientists think they have everything under control.
It's not a question of if, just a question of when -- and how disastrous.
The Diabetes Pill
That diabetes is now an epidemic is hardly a surprise.
A recent study, sponsored by Glaxo Smith Kline proposes an interesting solution based on a study they commissioned. In the 5,000-patient clinical trial, called DREAM, GSK's drug, Avandia, decreased by 62% the number of people with high blood sugar who would otherwise have developed diabetes. By "coincidence," since we're talking about the world's pre-diabetic population, this expands the potential market for Avandia by some 49,000,000 people in the US alone. Oh happy days!
There was one slightly disturbing side note. The use of Avandia also increased by 37% the rate of a collection of heart problems that included heart attacks and strokes. Many doctors such as Barry Goldstein, director of endocrinology at Thomas Jefferson University, do not see this as a problem however. "I don't see it as a worrisome signal," he says.
But why opt for an expensive prescription drug with potentially lethal side effects, when totally safe, proven, natural alternatives exist. And the only side effects associated with these alternatives are:
- Lower cholesterol.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Weight loss.
- And possibly, the life extending benefits of a caloric restriction diet.
Autism, Aging, and Sperm
On September 5th, an Israeli study was published that indicated a father's age may play a role in the autism risk in children. The incidence of autism has jumped tenfold in just the last 20 years. It now affects one in every 166 children in America. At one time vaccinations were suspected, but several studies have found no link there. But now an Israeli study has found that fathers between the ages of 30 and 39 are 1.6 times more likely to have an autistic child than a man of 29 or younger. And fathers between 40 and 49 are 5.75 times more likely. (The age of the mother did not appear to have an effect.)
According to the researchers, the study suggests as men age, their sperm is more prone to developing warped genetic material.
But perhaps there's another explanation. Perhaps, it's just a simple matter of toxic waste building up in the father's body over time -- with the older the father the greater the build-up. Pure speculation? Not necessarily. We already know, for instance, that the quality of male sperm has plunged dramatically due to increased exposure to chemical pesticides and that pesticide use is particularly high in Israel.
Look, let's not be idiots here. It's only in the last 20 years that autism has surged. Before then, there were plenty of older fathers but no high incidence of autism. Connect the dots. Whatever is causing the surge in autism is a relatively new change in our diet/environment. That means the most obvious step you can take to reduce the chances of autism (and it would seem particularly important for the father) is to regularly detox.
- Colon detoxes.
- Heavy metal detoxes.
- Liver detoxes.
- Blood detoxes.
- Kidney detoxes.
- And lots of saunas and/or steam baths.
Recently published US Geological Surveys have found that some species of male fish in the Potomac River and its tributaries are developing female sexual traits at a frequency higher than scientists have seen before, raising concerns about pollutants in a waterway that provides drinking water for millions of people. In some Potomac tributaries, nearly all of the male smallmouth bass caught in last year's survey were the abnormal fish. In the Potomac itself, seven of 13 largemouth bass exhibited female characteristics, including three that were producing eggs.
Although, the survey was specifically conducted in the Potomac River, contamination of rivers with pesticides, chemical byproducts, and xenoestrogens is a worldwide phenomenon, with many, many rivers far more polluted than the Potomac. (Kind of makes you think again about fathers building up toxic waste in their bodies over time.)
Again, detox, detox, detox -- with one addition. Use a natural progesterone creme (either men's or women's) to counter exposure to chemical estrogens.
A New Treatment for Cancer
On August 31st, the National Institutes of Health published the results of an experiment in which doctors successfully treated cancer by genetically modifying a patient's own immune cells. When they were inserted back into the patients, the engineered T-Cells multiplied as if they were normal and began to attack the tumors. Although only two of seventeen patients actually saw their tumors completely disappear, the doctors were greatly encouraged and felt it was only a matter of the technology improving.
Voila! A decade after I first proposed it (and others well before that), the medical community is deciding that it might be better to work with the body's natural defense against cancer (your immune system), rather than destroy that system with chemotherapy. But alas, they once again have ignored Ockham's Razor, one of the fundamental tenets of modern science, which proposes, "The simplest solution is the best."
Or to state it another way, "Why wait for medicine to perfect a technology that already shows its promise, when you can naturally accomplish much the same thing on your own and turn your body's existing immune system into a cancer killing machine. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend you listen to my talk, Cancer, the Big Lie.
FDA Approves Viruses on Your Food
By a quirky coincidence, shortly before the spinach debacle made the news, the FDA approved the use of spray on viruses known as "bacteriophages," or phages to protect luncheon meats from listeria, the most deadly of all food-borne bacteria. Surprisingly, it's not quite as disgusting as it sounds. The idea that companies can now spray live viruses on processed meat to protect people from disease might seem counterintuitive, if not just plain disgusting, but in fact, phages are safe. They are everywhere -- in the water, soil, and human intestines and mucus membranes. Also, the use of microorganisms in food is hardly new. Consider bacteria used to make yogurt and sauerkraut and yeast to make bread and beer. "They are very safe," says Vincent Fischetti, a professor of microbiology at Rockefeller University in New York, and the head of the lab of bacterial pathogenesis. "These viruses do not affect humans. They only infect bacteria. ... It's just scary because everybody says stay away from viruses, and now we are eating them."
Nevertheless, I have a concern.
All past history says that meat processors will not use this process as intended, as an "additional" weapon against food contamination, but rather as their primary weapon since it's a whole lot cheaper than maintaining high levels of sanitation. In the end, there is a good chance that a mutated strain of listeria, resistant to the phages, will develop; and because sanitation procedures will have been compromised by manufacturers who let down their guard, the mutant strain will be released en masse to an unsuspecting public. To understand how this might happen, read Why Antibiotics and Antivirals Fail.
A September 15, 2006 HealthDay News article reported that currently, one third of American children are obese or at risk of becoming so. The rate of childhood obesity has jumped from 16 percent in 2002, to 17.1 percent in 2004 and will reach 20 percent in four years. Actions that have begun and that need evaluation include improved food and beverage programs at school. From the food industry to the advertising sector, the report said, there have been constructive initiatives to deal with the obesity problem, including playground equipment for parks and shopping malls that encourage children to exercise.
They'd better hurry, and not just in the US. The obesity problem is "growing" all over the world. Australia, for example, is on a similar track, if not slightly ahead. And in the developing world, countries like China are rapidly closing the gap.
The bottom line, though, is that playground equipment and "better junk food" are not going to do the trick. The problem is multi-faceted. A fundamental change in lifestyle is required to stem the tide.
- Except in emergencies, infants need to be taken off formula and put on breast milk.
- We need to stop fluoridating water. Fluoride in our drinking water and in soft drinks suppresses thyroid function, significantly contributing to obesity.
- We need to totally eliminate high fructose corn syrup from our foods and beverages.
- We need to fundamentally reevaluate our concept of fats and not just supplement our diets with minuscule amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. We need to totally shift the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids away from the 20:1-30:1 ratio that we now see closer to the 1:1-2:1 ideal.
- And we need to say "screw it" to the marketers pushing "healthy junk food" and demand that they start providing real food instead.
Calcium for Kids
Also published on September 15th, but in the British Medical Journal, was an article indicating that getting children to supplement with calcium made no difference in bone density later in life. In summary, the study concluded, "Given the small treatment effects seen with calcium supplementation, however, it may be appropriate to explore possible alternative nutritional interventions, such as increasing vitamin D concentrations and intake of fruit and vegetables."
While a surprise to the researchers involved, in the study, this is hardly a surprise to those in the alternative health community who understand the true nature of bone density.
Perhaps in the next study, the researchers can analyze the effects of:
- Increasing weight bearing exercise. (Lack of sufficient weight bearing exercise accelerates bone loss. Thus, increasing exercise helps reverse it.)
- Insufficient boron and vitamin D3 contribute to bone loss.
- Insufficient magnesium in the diet is probably more of a factor than insufficient calcium. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Medicine, 1991; 2:165-178, for example, showed that after nine months, women on magnesium supplements increased bone density by some 11%.
- Increasing the amount of gamma linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the diet helps increase bone density.
- Avoiding fluoride in your drinking water is vital. Fluoride collects in the bones, and although it "technically" increases bone mass and density, the evidence is very strong that fluoride intake can actually double the incidence of hip fractures.
- Using a natural progesterone creme (either men's or women's) can help.