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Dr. Mercola

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood ADHD

2 hours 48 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol (International Nonproprietary Name),1 may be one of the more dangerous drugs you can purchase. This may surprise you since most households carry one or two variations of the product to treat headaches, fever or cold symptoms.

Acetaminophen is classified as an analgesic, or a medication acting to relieve pain. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, analgesics are the No. 1 reason people call a poison control center.2 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) links 980 deaths per year to acetaminophen and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that, beginning in 2006, the number of people who died after accidentally taking too much acetaminophen exceeded the number who purposely overdosed on acetaminophen.3

However, these numbers may be deceiving, as other researchers have found 56,000 emergency room visits and 26,000 hospitalizations can be attributed to acetaminophen.4

Although frighteningly high for a drug most people routinely keep in their homes, this isn't the only damage acetaminophen may cause.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics has linked taking acetaminophen during pregnancy with conduct disorders and hyperactivity in children.5

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Hyperactivity and Conduct Disorders

The objective of this British study was to examine the association between behavioral problems in children and mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy and/or during the postpartum months, or partners who took acetaminophen.6

The researchers concluded: "Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties."7 The researchers did find that these results were not explained by social factors or other behavioral challenges linked to increased use of acetaminophen.

As compared to individuals who did not use acetaminophen during their pregnancy, those who took the drug during weeks 18 and 32 had a 31 percent increased risk of hyperactivity and a 42 percent higher relative risk of conduct disorders in their children.8

This study controlled for a number of different variables that could have affected the results, such as genetics, smoking and alcohol use.9 There were over 7,700 participants.

Not everyone was convinced by the results of the study. Even lead author, epidemiologist Evie Stergiakouli, PH.D., of the University of Bristol, stepped around the issue, saying:10

"Observational associations do not necessarily mean that there is a causal association between the risk factor and the health outcome."

However, the researchers also noted (quoted from Medical News Today):11

"Children exposed to acetaminophen use prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties … Given the widespread use of acetaminophen among pregnant women, this can have important implications on public health advice."

Other Studies Confirm Results and Identify More Risk

While recent, this is not the only study associating acetaminophen with dangerous side effects to your health and the health of your children.

• A recent study from the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CERAL), Barcelona, Spain, found a link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and hyperactivity and autism.12

Researchers discovered more symptoms of autism in boys whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy, than in girls.

They found that all children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy were 30 percent more likely by age 5 to demonstrate attention impairments linked with hyperactivity disorder or autism.13

• A study found an association between the drug and children later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).14

Children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were at higher risk for hyperkinetic disorder, use of ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behavior by age 7. There was a stronger association when mothers took the drug in more than one trimester.

• A study published in 2009 found mothers who used acetaminophen in the third trimester were at higher risk for preterm birth.15 

• A study published in 2013 found children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy developed motor skills, communication and language skills more slowly than those children who were not exposed.16

• Use of acetaminophen during pregnancy also appears to be linked to pre-eclampsia and thromboembolic diseases,17 and taking the drug for more than four weeks during pregnancy, especially during the first and second trimester, moderately increases the risk of undescended testicles in boys.18

Acetaminophen Use and Toxicity

In this short video, CBS News explains the statistics and risks associated with acetaminophen use. The drug works by blocking feelings of pain and reduces fever without addressing the source of the issue. As your body metabolizes the drug, it may damage your liver. In 2009 the FDA issued this warning:19

"Liver warning: This product contains acetaminophen. Severe liver damage may occur if you take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in 24 hours; with other drugs containing acetaminophen [or three] or more alcoholic drinks every day while using this product."

In 2014, the FDA updated their warning to include:20

"FDA is recommending health care professionals discontinue prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule or other dosage unit."

Unfortunately, there are times you may be taking more acetaminophen than you realize as the drug is a common addition to other pain and over-the-counter cold remedies.

Vicodin and Percocet are two common prescription pain medications that include acetaminophen, increasing your risk of acetaminophen poisoning, one of the more common forms of toxicity, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).21

Other common brand name over-the-counter medications that include acetaminophen in their active ingredients include:22

✓ Actifed

✓ Alka Seltzer Plus

✓ Anacin

✓ Cepacol

✓ Contac

✓ Coricidin

✓ Dayquil

✓ Dimetapp

✓ Dristan

✓ Excedrin

✓ Feverall

✓ Formula 44

✓ Liquiprin

✓ Midol

✓ Mucinex

✓ Nyquil

✓ Panadol

✓ Robitussin

✓ Saint Joseph Aspirin-Free

✓ Singlet

✓ Sinutab

✓ Sudafed

✓ Theraflu

✓ Triaminic

✓ Vanquish

✓ Vicks

As the drug is a common ingredient in other over-the-counter medications, and has a narrow therapeutic index, it is easy to accidentally overdose or take enough to cause significant liver damage.23 Doses over 5,000 mg per day if you don't consume alcohol, and 4,000 mg if you do consume alcohol, can trigger significant liver damage. There's 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in just eight extra strength tablets.

While other countries have placed a limit on how much consumers may purchase and have restricted sales to pharmacies, no such limits are placed in the U.S.24 From 2001 to 2010, the related deaths attributed to acetaminophen were twice that of all other over-the-counter pain relievers combined.

Number of Children With ADHD Rising

In both private insurance and Medicaid populations, the number of children being treated with drugs for ADHD continues to rise. According to the CDC, approximately 3 out of 4 children between age 2 and 5 receive medication for ADHD, but only half of those receive any form of psychological services.25

In 2011, approximately 11 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. This is a significant rise from 7.8 percent in 2003.26 The rate of diagnosis of ADHD also varies by state in the U.S., with the highest being Kentucky at 18.7 percent and the lowest being Nevada at 5.6 percent.

According to the National Survey of Children's Health, the average age of diagnosis is 6.2 years; 3.5 million children are taking medication for treatment, and boys continue to be twice as likely as girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.27

Medications used to treat this hyperactivity disorder are stimulants, which come with their own list of side effects and dangers. Common side effects include headaches, upset stomach and increased blood pressure. Less commonly, children may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia and tics.28

Natural Alternatives for Pain, Fever and Anti-Inflammatory Treatment

Although the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) continues to recommend acetaminophen for treatment of minor discomfort, fever and pain during pregnancy,29 the choice is ultimately yours. It will be you, your child and your family who experience the repercussions from using medication that may affect your child's neurological development.

There are other choices for treatment. Dr. Aisling Murphy, assistant clinical professor at University of California Los Angeles Obstetrics and Gynecology, admitted to CNN:30

"Minor aches and pains (e.g., headaches or mild backache), are common in pregnancy and often are a reason for patients to take acetaminophen. The practice is very common."

However, she also counsels her patients to use other methods first, and avoid any unnecessary medication during pregnancy, including acetaminophen. These alternative modalities may include:

  • Hot or cold packs to the area may help reduce discomfort or pain. However, do not use a sauna or hot tub as these raise your core temperature, increasing the risk for miscarriage or some birth defects.31
  • Your headache or muscle aches may respond well to massage to increase relaxation and improve blood flow to aching muscles or joints.
  • Ginger tea may help relieve tension and sooth your aching head. However, not all herbal teas are safe during pregnancy. Teas contain many of the same nutrients as foods, but in more concentrated forms. Ginger tea may help relieve aching muscles, reduce insulin resistance, ease morning sickness and relieve stress.32 Use fresh organic ginger root to steep your own tea at home and avoid the potential of accidentally ingesting harmful additives.
  • Essential oils are another way to relax, unwind and reduce pain and discomfort. A favorite of some midwives is Frankincense topically, in your bath water or as a scent in your room.33,34
  • Getting plenty of sleep may also help reduce your perception of discomfort and pain. During pregnancy your body is working to develop a new human being. You require more rest and sleep than you normally would. Lack of sleep may increase your perception of pain and discomfort. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep see my previous article, "16 Chronological Tips to Improve Your Sleep."

How Safe Is Your Favorite Lipstick?

2 hours 48 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

If you think your favorite lipstick, gloss or eye shadow is "safe" because it doesn't list lead or arsenic on the ingredients label, think again. Virtually every cosmetic product tested in one study contained a potentially dangerous or proven toxic heavy metal.1

Personal care products are a $50 billion industry in the United States, yet the U.S. government doesn't require any mandatory testing for these products before they hit store shelves.

Lipstick, deodorants, shampoos and other personal care products do not usually undergo testing and many times don't contain a complete list of ingredients.

What this means is that women who apply lipstick several times a day could easily be ingesting high amounts of lead2,3 over the course of their lifetime, along with any number of other unknown chemical additives.

Chemicals are not only ingested but also absorbed through your skin, and are not limited to cosmetics.

Latest Senate Bill May Not Be Enough

As an example of just one personal care product problem, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 127 complaints of adverse events along with more than 21,000 grievances sent directly to the manufacturers of WEN hair care for itching, skin irritation and hair loss.4

In April, 2015, a bipartisan bill sponsored by senators from Maine and California was introduced to require FDA participation in cosmetic regulation.5 Senate bill 1014 Personal Care Products Safety Act was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions after an initial reading.6 This bill essentially states:7

"The FDA must review the safety of at least five cosmetic ingredients each year, and it may establish conditions for safe use of an ingredient, including a limit on the amount of the ingredient or a requirement for a warning label.

A cosmetic cannot be sold if it contains an ingredient that is not safe, not safe under the recommended conditions of use or not safe in the amount present in the cosmetic.

If the FDA determines that a cosmetic has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences, it may prohibit the cosmetic's distribution by suspending the cosmetic ingredient statement."

However, a single tube of lipstick from one company will typically contain a dozen ingredients.8 While the intention is good, testing just five ingredients a year over all cosmetic products on the market will take many decades.

Companies producing personal care products are able to change their ingredients and names far quicker than the ingredients can be tested. Therefore, it is important that you know your risks when you use your favorite personal care products.

Heavy Metals Are Common in Your Makeup

In the report "Heavy Metal Hazard: The Health Risks of Hidden Heavy Metals in Face Makeup,"9 Canada-based Environmental Defence tested 49 different makeup items, including five foundations, four concealers, four powders, five blushes or bronzers, seven mascaras, two eye liners, 14 eye shadows and eight lipsticks or glosses.

Their testing revealed serious heavy metal contamination in virtually all of the products:

  • 96 percent contained lead
  • 90 percent contained beryllium
  • 61 percent contained thallium
  • 51 percent contained cadmium
  • 20 percent contained arsenic

Most of the products also contained an average of four of the eight metals tested (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, beryllium, thallium, selenium).

What's worse, each product contained an average of two of the four metals of highest concern (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury). These metals carry a toxic designation in Canada, as they've been proven to trigger health issues.

Despite the widespread contamination, and the fact that all the metals but nickel are banned as intentional ingredients in Canadian cosmetics, not one of the products listed the heavy metals on the label.

Lipstick May Contain Up to Eight Different Metals

This short news video reveals startling information about lead levels in your favorite lipstick. However, your lipstick likely contains more than just lead.

The U.S. cosmetic industry sales in 2015 reached $56.2 billion, and cosmetics garnered 14.6 percent of those sales.10 The global cosmetics market reached $460 billion and is estimated to reach $675 billion in 2020.11

These large sale numbers come at a cost. An FDA report in 2012 listed 400 different lipsticks that contained trace amounts of lead.12 The report acknowledged there were trace amounts, adding:

"Lead is an unintended contaminant or impurity that can be present at very low levels in some color additives and in other common ingredients, such as water, that are used to produce cosmetics.

. . . Findings showed that the levels of lead found in these lipstick samples were extremely low, and FDA does not believe that any of the products tested pose a safety concern."

The FDA appears to discount the number of times lipstick is applied each day and the potential for buildup of lead, a neurotoxin your body does not metabolize or excrete. Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chairman of the Environmental Health Task Force for the National Medical Association, was quoted in The Washington Post saying:13

"Lead builds in the body over time, and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels."

As a result of reapplication throughout the day, women may be ingesting as much as 87 milligrams (mg) of a product every day.14 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not established whether there is a safe level of lead for anyone.

Lead and Other Metals Increase Your Cancer Risk

Lead is not the only metal found in lipstick. In a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found traces of seven other metals in 24 lip glosses and eight lipstick brands.15

The women in this study reported reapplying their lipstick up to 24 times each day. So, while the FDA and cosmetic industry claim the amounts are minute in each application, they add up significantly over time. The seven other trace metals found include cadmium, aluminum, chromium, copper, cobalt, titanium and manganese.16

Lead was found in 75 percent of the lip products, including 15 of the samples that had concentrations higher than the current FDA published standards for lead in candy consumed by children.

Although lead levels in lipstick have received attention in the past, levels of the trace minerals aluminum, cadmium, cobalt and manganese had higher relative intake indices than lead, according to this study.17

Researchers recommended that these levels of trace metals should also be investigated as the number of times the lipsticks were used represented ingestion or absorption of 20 percent of the acceptable daily amount of aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese from drinking water.18

For example, cadmium is a known carcinogenic metal. Previous research has found cadmium in breast cancer biopsies and found it is used by cancer cells to multiply in lab trials.19 The metals are used to give lipstick their pigment. As Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., a scientist at the Breast Cancer Fund, told Mother Jones:20 "Cadmium is a very common contaminant in soil. What's concerning is that consumers don't know they're in the lipstick."

Long-Term Cost of Cosmetics

The study also found consistent daily use of lipstick could lead to dangerous levels of manganese with seven of the products tested, and high levels of chromium exposure in 22 products tested.21 Of particular concern in the use of personal care products like your lipstick are the use of chemicals that don't cause immediate health problems but, over time with consistent use, may increase the risk of cancer, reproductive disorders and other health issues.

Senate bill 1014 Personal Care Products Safety Act is initially slated to evaluate lead acetate, a color additive used in hair dyes and lipsticks.22 The European Union (EU) has banned the use of the additive as it is linked to reproductive problems.23 On the whole, the U.S. lags far behind when it comes to chemical safety. European officials have banned or restricted 1,300 chemicals and groups of chemicals from use in cosmetics; the FDA has prohibited or restricted a mere 11 ingredients.

Lipstick May Boost Self-Confidence

If you aren't ready to get rid of your lipstick, you have a lot of company. You may identify makeup as part of your femininity, as a way to experiment with color and aesthetics, or as a way to boost your self-confidence.

Researchers tested 42 female college students in social situations asking them to either imagine themselves wearing makeup or not wearing makeup. In situations in which they were imagining makeup the students were more sociable and more self-confident.24

People perceive photographs of women wearing makeup as healthier, more likely to be hired, more attractive and more confident.25 Another study found it took as little as 250 milliseconds for participants to rate a woman with makeup as more attractive than those without makeup.26

Women are not the only gender influenced by personal care products. Men who had just sprayed themselves with a scented product were evaluated as more attractive by women who were unable to smell the scent. The men wearing scented body product appeared to act more confidently and were therefore more visually attractive.27

What Are Your Options?

There are brands of lipstick containing more lead than others, and safer alternatives you may consider. Here's a list to help guide your next lipstick purchase.28,29,30

Avoid These Lipsticks Safer Lipstick Alternatives Maybelline Color Sensational (#125 Pink Petal)Coastal Classic Creations Canyon Lipstick L'Oreal Colour Riche (#410 Volcanic)W3ll People Extreme Lip Gloss NARS Semi Matte (#1005 Red Lizard)Maia's Mineral Galaxy Lipstick CoverGirl Queen Collection Vibrant Hues  (#580 Ruby Remix)Organic Infused Lip Love Lipstick NARS Semi Matte (#1009 Funny Face)Bella Mari Pure Mineral Lipstick L'Oreal Colour Riche (#165 Tickled Pink)Isoi Bulgarian Rose Lip Treatment Balm L'Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor (#748 Heroic)Rejuva Minerals Pur Lips Lipstick CoverGirl Continuous Color (#025 Warm Brick) Maybelline Color Sensation (#475 Mauve Me) Stargazer Lipstick (#103c) Revlon Matte (#009 Fabulous Fig) Sonia Kashuk Luxury Lip Color (#27 Mauvey) Avon Beyond Color (#558 Mad for Mauve) L'Oreal Endless (#530 Mauve Amour) Revlon ColorStay (#375 Ripened Red) Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer (Toffee) Revlon Super Lustrous Peal (#631 Luminous Pink) Revlon Super Lustrous Peal (#643 Satin Plum)

Is Your Toothpaste Loaded With Toxins?

2 hours 48 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Over the course of a lifetime, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste,1 and even though you don't swallow it, chemicals in the toothpaste can make their way into your bloodstream, courtesy of the fact that your mouth has an absorption efficiency rate of more than 90 percent.2

With this in mind, it's well worth considering what you're brushing your teeth with on a daily basis. Many popular brands contain highly questionable ingredients that are best avoided for long-term health.

A recent report by The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, highlights many of the problems in the regulation of cosmetic ingredients. Contrary to popular belief, the industry is allowed to largely regulate itself, which has allowed many hazardous ingredients to be introduced.

Is Your Toothpaste Loaded With Toxins?

The Cornucopia report, "Behind the Dazzling Smile: Toxic Ingredients in Your Toothpaste"3 and accompanying scorecard,4 reveals the potential risks associated with a number of common toothpaste ingredients — chemicals known to have endocrine disrupting, inflammatory and/or carcinogenic activity, for example.

This is true even for brands marketed as "natural;" a definition that has no legal or regulatory meaning whatsoever, even though most people believe it does.

In the U.S., a mere 11 synthetic ingredients are prohibited for use in cosmetics. In comparison, the European Union (EU) has banned more than 1,300 ingredients and restricts another 250 compounds from being used in cosmetics, including:

  • Sodium benzoate (synthetic preservative)
  • Potassium sorbate (synthetic preservative)
  • Sodium laureth sulfate (surfactant)
  • Artificial flavors and colors linked to behavioral problems in children

As noted by Jerome Rigot, Ph.D., a policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute and the lead author of the report:5

"The FDA does not require impurities, including several potential contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane or ethylene oxide, both carcinogens, to be listed as ingredients on the labels of personal care products because these toxic chemicals are produced during manufacturing.

Even though technology … to remove them exists, many companies don't use it, because regulators do not force them to do so! …

The cosmetics industry is no different, and may be worse, than leading food companies when it comes to gimmicky ingredients and misleading health claims.

However, we have created a useful web-based tool to help discriminating consumers see through marketing hype and make the best decision for their family when buying toothpaste."

Do You Need Fluoridated Toothpaste?

Fluoride — which carries a poison warning6 and is a major risk factor for disfiguring dental fluorosis — has long been heralded as the answer to decaying teeth, but groundbreaking research has cast serious doubt on its usefulness.

A 2010 study7 found that the supposedly beneficial fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere 6 nanometers thick.

To understand just how thin this is, you'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair. This ultra-thin layer is quickly eliminated simply by chewing on something. According to the authors:

"[I]t has to be asked whether such narrow … layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

Other research8 has shown that toothpaste containing the naturally occurring cacao extract theobromine more effectively repairs and re-mineralizes dentin (the tissue that makes up the bulk of your teeth below the enamel) than fluoride toothpaste.

The Case for Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

A more important concern than being ineffective is the toxic nature of fluoride. It's common for young children to swallow more fluoride from toothpaste than is recommended as an entire day's ingestion from all sources,9 and ingesting fluoride is particularly detrimental to health.

The science clearly demonstrates that fluoride is a toxic chemical that accumulates in your tissues over time, wreaks havoc with enzymes and produces a number of serious adverse health effects, including neurological and endocrine dysfunction.

Children are particularly at risk for adverse effects of overexposure. Therefore, if you have a young child, it's recommended that you use a non-fluoride toothpaste, although I recommend fluoride-free toothpaste for adults as well.

While many are now familiar with the hazards associated with fluoride, this is by no means the only ingredient that can pose a health risk when used day in and day out for years on end. Following — in no particular order — are 10 other toothpaste ingredients to beware of.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Triclosan

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical added to toothpaste to help fight plaque and gingivitis. However, while it has been shown to be effective for this purpose, triclosan has also been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance, endocrine disruption and thyroid dysfunction.

The chemical structure of triclosan is similar to thyroid hormones and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This similarity allows it to attach to hormone receptors.10

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as triclosan can promote a wide variety of health problems, including breast, ovarian, prostate and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, precocious puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys.

Some animal studies found triclosan caused fetal bone malformations in mice and rats, which may hint at hormonal effects. Triclosan may also interfere with a type of cell signaling in brain, heart and other cells, such that researchers noted it "may not be worth potential risks."11

Toothpaste appears to be one of the most potent delivery vehicles for the chemical, as research found people who brushed their teeth with Colgate Total had more than five times as much triclosan in their urine as those who did not.12

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) are surfactants responsible for the foaming action of the toothpaste. However, these chemicals also interfere with the functioning of your taste buds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. This enhances bitter tastes and is thought to be the reason why everything tastes so bad right after you've brushed your teeth.

SLS has also been linked to skin irritation and painful canker sores, with research13 suggesting an SLS-free toothpaste should be used by people with recurring sores.

Moreover, SLS has a high potential of being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct of the manufacturing process.14 Interestingly, SLS is actually registered as an insecticide. The manufacturers sought approval to market SLS as a pesticide for organic farmers, but the application was denied because of its potential for environmental damage.15 Studies have shown it may have toxic effects to marine life, including fish, insects and crustaceans.16

Artificial Colors, Flavors and Sweeteners

According to the Cornucopia report: "Toothpastes specifically targeted to children often contain artificial colors (food dyes), which have been linked to hyperactivity and related behavioral problems in children. Some such ingredients also pose a risk of cancer and allergic reactions."

FD&C and D&C dyes are typically made from petroleum. The term "lake" in the names of dyes refer to colorants made by combining the pigment with metal salts such as aluminum, calcium, zirconium, barium and others, which turns them insoluble. Toothpastes contain a rather long list of color additives, listed on page 7 in the report.17

In addition to the potential health hazards associated with many artificial colors — most notably behavioral problems in children — they may also contain "upwards of 10 percent impurities, either from the initial manufacturing chemicals or by-products of the manufacturing process," the report states. Contaminants include synthetic chemicals and heavy metals, including lead, mercury and arsenic. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are also commonly contaminated with carcinogenic substances.

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are also often added to commercial toothpastes. Aspartame is metabolized inside your body into both wood alcohol (a poison) and formaldehyde (which is a carcinogen used as embalming fluid and is not eliminated from your body through the normal waste filtering done by your liver and kidneys). It's been linked to birth defects, cancers, brain tumors and weight gain.

Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

Certain preservatives may also release dangerous formaldehyde. While not commonly known, some preservatives work by continuously releasing a small amount of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen. This is what kills microbes that might otherwise grow in the product.

These preservatives can be absorbed into your bloodstream via the mucosal lining in your mouth. Besides cancer, they've also been linked to allergic skin reactions. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives to avoid include:

✓ DMDM hydantoin

✓ Diazolidinyl urea

✓ Imidazolidinyl urea

✓ Polyoxymethylene urea

✓ Methenamine

✓ Quaternium-15

✓ Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

✓ 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (Bromopol)

✓ 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane (Bronidox)

✓ Glyoxal

Parabens

Parabens are yet another type of preservatives linked to harmful health effects. Parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen, and exposure has been linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive toxicity. These chemicals can be listed on the label under a number of different names, including but not limited to:

✓ Methylparaben

✓ Ethylparaben

✓ Isobutylparaben

✓ Propylparaben

✓ Butylparaben

✓ Isopropylparaben

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a thickening agent suspected of having carcinogenic activity. According to the featured report, food-grade carrageenan is associated with intestinal inflammation that can lead to cancer, even in small doses. Two decades' worth of independent research has also linked it to:

  • Increased free radical formation
  • Inflammation (a precursor to cancer)
  • Disrupted insulin metabolism
  • Insulin resistance
  • Glucose intolerance

Moreover:

"Low-molecular-weight carrageenan, known as poligeenan, is classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a 'possible human carcinogen' (Group 2B) … While poligeenan has well-documented inflammatory and carcinogenic properties, food-grade carrageenan was thought to be 'high molecular weight' and safe to eat. However, the viscosity requirement to qualify carrageenan as food-grade does not exclude the presence of low-molecular-weight poligeenan.

In fact, the carcinogenic molecular-weight poligeenan is found naturally, in varying percentages, in all food-grade carrageenan, and exposure to heat, acid (including stomach acid), digestive enzymes (such as saliva and stomach enzymes) and bacteria (i.e., mouth and gut microflora) increases the amount of poligeenan.

Meanwhile, industry-funded propaganda often fails to point out that food-grade carrageenan does in fact contain dangerous poligeenan in varying amounts, in some tests exceeding 5 percent."

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is a type of mineral oil, used in toothpaste and other cosmetics as a humectant and solvent. Industrial grade propylene glycol is commonly found in antifreeze, paints and enamels. The pharmaceutical-grade is used in many personal care products, including toothpaste, as a surfactant. Studies have linked propylene glycol to skin, eye and lung irritation, as well as organ system toxicity.18 According to the featured report:

"Propylene glycol has limited toxicity but it penetrates easily through the skin and mouth mucosa and functions as a penetration enhancer, thereby facilitating the absorption of other ingredients. It is best to avoid toothpastes containing this ingredient."

Diethanolamine (DEA)

DEA, a foaming agent, is a known hormone disrupter that can react with other ingredients to form a potential carcinogen called N-nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is readily absorbed through the skin and has been linked with cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranks DEA as a number 10 in its cosmetics database (the most toxic score) due to high concerns of organ system toxicity. The California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also lists DEA as a possible human carcinogen.19

Microbeads

Microbeads are tiny plastic pellets found in body washes, facial scrubs, toothpaste and more. The microbeads go down your drain, through the filters at most wastewater treatment plants, and out into the environment. Plastic microbeads absorb toxins from the water and are eaten by a wide variety of marine life and, ultimately, by humans as well.

There's good reason to avoid toothpaste containing microbeads, aside from the obvious environmental threat. In 2014, serious questions were raised about their use in toothpaste when dentists and dental hygienists reported finding microbeads trapped between patients' teeth and under their gums. This gives food and bacteria an entrance to your gum line, which could actually CAUSE gum disease. Dentist Justin Phillip was quoted by The Washington Post, saying:20

"They'll trap bacteria in the gums which leads to gingivitis, and over time that infection moves from the gum into the bone that holds your teeth, and that becomes periodontal disease."

Ingredients Made From Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Many toothpastes also contain an array of GMO-based ingredients. The only way to avoid these is to buy products carrying the "USDA 100% Organic" label, as certified organic ingredients are not permitted to be sourced from genetically engineered (GE) crops. GMO-derived ingredients include:

✓ Glycerin (often manufactured from vegetable oil such as soybean, canola or cottonseed, a majority of which are GE)

✓ Citric acid and citrates (typically produced by microbial fermentation of sugar from GE corn, beet or sugar cane)

✓ Xanthan gum (also produced by microbial fermentation of sugar)

✓ Xylitol (a sugar alcohol commercially produced primarily from corncob, most of which is GE)

✓ Sorbitol (another sugar alcohol, commercially produced from starches such as corn, wheat, potato or cassava. Cornstarch-based sorbitol is likely GMO)

✓ Lecithin (commercially obtained as a by-product of soy oil manufacturing, most of which is GE)

Safer Toothpaste Options

Fortunately, there are healthier and safer alternatives. The Cornucopia Institute's top picks include Dr. Bronner's All-One Toothpaste, Green People Toothpaste, Happy Teeth Organic Toothpaste and Miessence Toothpaste. We also hope to launch a reformulated toothpaste in September of this year, which will be free of fluoride and any other potentially harmful ingredients.

That said, you can also make your own toothpaste with just a few basic ingredients. For example, you can mix together coconut oil, baking soda and a few drops of peppermint essential oil, adding enough baking soda to form a smooth consistency. Store in a glass jar.

Coconut oil may help inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, an acid-producing bacterium that is a major cause of tooth decay, and peppermint oil extract has been shown to be superior to the mouthwash chemical chlorhexidine in inhibiting the formation of biofilm formations linked to dental cavities.21

Also remember that your diet is the foundation for strong, healthy teeth. Nutrients that are particularly important for oral health include:

  • Vitamins C, D and K2
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

Monsanto Mistake Spawns Widespread Crop Losses

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

After two decades of planting glyphosate-tolerant crops, resistant weeds have overtaken farm fields across the U.S., leaving farmers to battle an increasingly difficult situation. At least 35 weed species are now resistant to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto's broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup.1

Studies2 have also linked glyphosate to increases in Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a deadly plant disease that causes plants to turn yellow and die — including crops that have never been sprayed with the herbicide but were planted in a field that received an application the previous season.

In an effort to skirt disaster, Monsanto developed a new breed of genetically engineered (GE) seeds tolerant to other pesticides besides Roundup. This, they claim, is the answer to rising weed resistance — a side effect the company said would not occur from the use of their GE seeds in the first place.

We now know, without any shadow of a doubt, they were wrong. And there's every reason to believe they are wrong about their next generation of GE seeds as well. If anything, it will likely boost weed resistance, continue driving the increase in pesticide use and make our food even more toxic.

Monsanto Makes Another Massive Mistake

Earlier this spring, Monsanto released a new crop of soybean and cotton seeds called Roundup Ready Xtend, designed to tolerate being drenched in not just glyphosate-based Roundup but also dicamba, an older and highly toxic herbicide known for its tendency to cause unintended crop damage. As noted by Mother Jones:3

"[T]he dicamba products currently on the market are highly volatile — that is, they have a well-documented tendency to vaporize in the air and drift far away from the land they're applied on, killing other crops.

Monsanto's new dicamba, tweaked with what the company calls 'VaporGrip' technology, is supposedly much less volatile."

Alas, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had approved the seeds, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had not yet signed off on Monsanto's "new and improved" glyphosate/dicamba formulation to be used on them.

At present, the use of dicamba on cotton and soybean crops is restricted to pre-planting or post-harvest burndown applications only. It is illegal to spray dicamba on the crop itself.

It would have been prudent to not sell the seeds until the, allegedly, safer and less volatile dicamba formulation was approved and ready for market, but Monsanto decided not to wait, thinking farmers could simply use Roundup in the meantime.

However, facing an infestation of pigweed, which has developed resistance to Roundup, farmers took to illegally spraying older dicamba products on their brand new Roundup Ready Xtend plants, thereby setting off a chain reaction of crop decimation.4

According to the EPA, crop damage and crop losses blamed on dicamba drift have been reported in 10 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

In Missouri, 117 complaints "alleging misuse of pesticide products containing dicamba" have been filed. The illegal use of dicamba has affected more than 42,000 acres of a diverse array of crops, including peaches, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, peas, tomatoes, peanuts, alfalfa, cotton and soybeans.

Arkansas Considers New Dicamba Rules to Protect Crops From Drift Damage

In response to 25 formal complaints over dicamba drift damage,5 the Arkansas Pesticide Committee has brought forth a proposal to expand mandatory buffer zones and outright ban the use of certain dicamba products during the growing season, from mid-April until mid-September.

Fines may also be raised to dissuade illegal spraying.6 When asked what actions Monsanto would take against the farmers who used their product with an illegal herbicide, they told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette7 that revoking farmers' licenses for product use was "difficult if not impossible."

"For its part, Monsanto says it expects the EPA to approve the new, improved dicamba formulation in time for the 2017 growing season, and that it never expected farmers to use old dicamba formulations on the dicamba-tolerant crops it released this year," Mother Jones writes.

"If the VaporGrip formulation does indeed control volatization as promised, the drift incidents of 2016 will likely soon just be a painful memory for affected farmers. If not, they portend yet more trouble ahead for the PR-challenged ag giant."

Environmental Groups Predict the Worst Is Yet to Come

Meanwhile, environmental groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Save Our Crops Coalition (a "grassroots coalition of farm interests organized for the specific purpose of preventing injury to non-target plants from exposure to 2,4-D and dicamba"8) are not surprised with the present chain of events.

In a recent blog post, EWG agriculture policy director, Colin O'Neil, and research analyst Emily Cassidy write:9

"[On August 9, 2016] Steve Smith, chair of the Save Our Crops Coalition, wrote an open letter10 to Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chairman and chief executive officer, that said, essentially, we told you so.

For years, the Save our Crops Coalition … has warned that illegal use of generic dicamba would occur and that dicamba drift would be especially hazardous. Now it appears that environmentalists' worst fears are coming true. This situation is likely to only get worse. What can be done?

For starters, Congress should update the nation's outdated federal pesticide law to ensure that there are adequate buffer zones around neighboring farms, schools, hospitals and churches, as well as mandate stricter enforcement and higher penalties for non-compliance.

Congress should also reward good stewardship … [T]he incentives created by Congress are backward. The federal government does not give enough support to reverse these damaging practices.

One thing is clear: If pesticide regulation continues to be a Wild West, then farmers and consumers can expect pesticide drift to expand."

Dicamba Likely to Worsen Toxicity of Food Supply

According to research11 published in 2014, phenoxy herbicides, which include 2,4-D and dicamba, are clearly associated with three distinct types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer that originates in your lymphatic system.

It's the sixth most common type of cancer in the U.S., with an estimated 69,000 Americans diagnosed each year. Worldwide, NHL accounts for an estimated 37 percent of all cancers.

Besides cancer, other documented health hazards associated with these herbicides include developmental and reproductive problems. This is particularly chilling considering the fact that use of these herbicides have risen several-fold since the early 2000s, and their use will increase even further now that 2,4-D and dicamba-tolerant crops have been approved. (Dow AgroSciences' Enlist corn and soybeans are resistant to glyphosate and 2,4-D.)

Monsanto Betting Big on Dicamba

In April 2016, Monsanto announced a $975 million expansion plan for its Luling, Louisiana facility where dicamba is produced. As with its Roundup Ready seeds, the primary reason for creating these genetically modified (GM) seeds it to expand the market for the chemicals that go with them.

For decades, Roundup ruled supreme, becoming the most commonly used weed killer in the world. Now, Monsanto is betting on dicamba, apparently without much thought to the health and environmental effects it will wreak as farmers start to douse our food supply with both glyphosate (recently classified as a probable human carcinogen) AND dicamba (which despite its known toxic profile can be found in over 1,100 different weed killer formulas sold in the U.S.)

After all, volatility and drift is not the only hazard with dicamba. Whether Monsanto's "VaporGrip" formula works or not, this chemical poses health and environmental threats over and above those of glyphosate. I shudder to think what scientists may find in the years to come when they start investigating the synergistic effects of this Roundup/dicamba combination on health.

What's certain is that Monsanto will do everything it can to make dicamba the new go-to solution, just like Roundup was before its serious health and environmental hazards became more widely known. As reported by Mother Jones:12

"Within a decade, the company wrote, the new GM crops will proliferate from the U.S. Midwest all the way to Brazil and points south, covering as much as 250 million acres of farmland (a combined land mass equal to about two and a half times the acreage of California) — and moving lots of dicamba."

Signs and Symptoms of Dicamba Exposure

Dicamba (as well as 2,4-D) acts like auxins — natural plant hormones that control plant growth. When a plant is treated with dicamba, it begins growing in abnormal ways, typically resulting in plant death. As mentioned, dicamba has a long history of use as a weed killer both in agriculture and other places, such as lawns, golf courses and along roadsides. Exposure can occur via inhalation or skin contact. Signs and symptoms of dicamba exposure include:13

  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Skin irritation
  • Vomiting and loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms

Signs that your pet may have been exposed, either by eating treated plants or walking through an area where dicamba has been applied include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle spasms
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Birds may exhibit signs of wind drop, loss of motor control and weakness.
Pesticide Cocktails Threaten Human and Environmental Health

In this 37-minute video, Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., an American agricultural economist and former research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, discusses the use of GE crops and how they affect your health and environment.

Originally marketed as a means to reduce the use of pesticides, GE crops have led to the creation of resistant weeds and an increased use of chemicals to control them. Just as bacteria can develop a resistance to antibiotics, so can weeds develop a resistance to herbicides.

Stacked trait refers to the combination of two or more genetically engineered genes spliced into a single plant. Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Xtend seeds is one example. The seeds are engineered to tolerate both Roundup and dicamba. But will stacked trait plants actually slow down or even prevent resistance? Hardly. The more likely scenario is that it will simply speed up the process of resistance, making more weeds resistant to more chemicals.

There's also the problem of synergy, which is what happens when two or more compounds combine to create an effect that is larger than the sum of their parts. Research shows that combining two chemicals increases the toxic effect compared to using each chemical in isolation. In the past, the EPA has claimed it could not assess the potential synergistic effect of the chemicals without data.

However, in late 2015, the EPA discovered that synergistic chemical reactions were actually recorded in patent applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Database. Nathan Donley, a scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told EcoWatch:14

"It's alarming to see just how common it's been for the EPA to ignore how these chemical mixtures might endanger the health of our environment. It's pretty clear that chemical companies knew about these potential dangers, but the EPA never bothered to demand this information from them or dig a little deeper to find it for themselves."

Tips to Help You Avoid Pesticides

Research has linked long-term pesticide exposure to infertility, birth defects,15,16 endocrine disruption,17 neurological disorders18 and cancer.19 It is only a common sense conclusion that ingesting and being exposed to fewer pesticides would result in improved health. Here are some basic suggestions to help you reduce the amount of pesticides you and your family are exposed to.

Eat organic foods. In a survey of 1,000 Americans, 71 percent expressed a concern over the number of chemicals and pesticides in their food supply.20 If you're among them, the best strategy at your disposal is to buy organic produce, pastured, organic meats and dairy products.

Investigate the farmers markets in your area and consider planting your own garden to supply produce through the summer months. Although buying organic foods may be slightly more expensive today, they help to reduce your overall health costs in your future.

If you cannot afford buying everything organic, print out the EWG's 2016 "dirty dozen" list for most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. These you'll want to buy organic. You can purchase the conventional versions of produce that tend to be the least contaminated, thereby spending the extra money where it counts the most. You can find the EWG's 2016 Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists in my previous article, "Which Fruits and Vegetables Have the Most Pesticides?"

Clean up your lawn and garden care. Don't apply chemical pesticides or herbicides to your yard, and if you use a lawn care service, don't allow them to use them. Remember that a neighbor's lawn chemicals can potentially contaminate your property as well. Also avoid lawn care and other gardening products that contain insect growth regulators (IGRs), especially if you have pets.

The focus of organic lawn care is to produce a healthy lawn and soil using natural organic fertilizers. An organic lawn has grass roots grown deep into the soil, which makes them less vulnerable to drought, weeds, insects, disease and other stressors. There are many excellent online resources about how to naturally control weeds and improve soil health, and in many communities' organic lawn care services are readily available.

The same goes for pests. Ants, wasps and other bugs can all be safely combated. Boric acid powder, for example, has been found to be a very effective deterrent to roaches and ants. Sprinkle some in the inner corners of your cabinets and in the corners under your cabinets.

Pests will carry it back to their nests on their feet and kill the remainder of the infestation. Boric acid is non-toxic for animals and only kills the insects. For natural pest solutions, check out the book "Dead Snails Leave No Trails" by Nancarrow and Taylor.

Talk with your school board about lawn care at your children's school. Pesticides sprayed on the school lawn and play areas can increase your child's exposure. You may be able to change how they care for the lawn when you educate the administration about the risks involved to the children.

Play in a healthy environment. Before joining a golf club, talk with the course superintendent about the pesticides they use to control weeds and insects. Bring members together to request cleaner and safer lawn care. Talk to your city administrators about the care given to the lawn in your local parks. Educate them about the risks to adults, children and pets from pesticides.

Meningococcal Vaccine May Be Ineffective on College Campuses

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Invasive meningococcal disease is a rare but serious infection caused by Neisseria meningitides, or meningococcus, bacteria. These bacteria can infect the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (the meninges), leading to symptoms like fever, headache and a stiff neck.

Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and mental confusion. This condition, known as meningococcal meningitis, can be fatal or lead to hearing loss and brain damage.

Invasive meningococcal disease can also lead to bloodstream infection (septicemia) that can also be fatal or require amputation of toes, fingers or limbs.

There are six meningococcal vaccines licensed in the U.S., but before you put your faith in one of them to protect yourself or your child from invasive meningococcal disease, it's important to be aware that they are far from fool proof.

Meningococcal B Vaccine Showed Limited Effectiveness During College Outbreak

The risk of meningococcal disease increases for those living in crowded or close quarters, including the military, prisons and also college campuses. Even then, however, this disease isn't spread as easily as you might think. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):1

"It is not easy to develop invasive meningococcal infection. You have to be susceptible and have regular close personal contact, such as sharing a toothbrush with or kissing a person who is colonizing meningococcal organisms."

In 2000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all college freshmen get a dose of meningococcal vaccine that contains four strains (A, C, W-35 and Y). In 2005, they also recommended that all 11-year-olds receive the vaccine.

However, strain B, a type not included in that vaccine, is associated with more than 50 percent of meningococcal cases and deaths. In children under the age of 5, strain B is responsible for up to 70 percent of the cases of meningitis.

In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a meningococcal vaccine including strain B, and now we have the results of how well it worked, or actually didn't work, on college campuses.

The vaccine (4CMenB) was administered during an outbreak at Princeton University in 2013 (before it was approved for use in the U.S.).

Out of the nearly 500 college students who received two doses of the vaccine, 34 percent had no immune response to the outbreak strain, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).2 The study authors noted:3

"This level of seropositivity was lower than expected, given the antigenic similarity between the outbreak strain and the components of the vaccine and given that the Meningococcal Antigen Typing System predicted that 4CMenB would induce responses against the outbreak strain."

Meningococcal Disease Is on the Decline in the U.S. Download Interview Transcript

Rates of meningococcal disease in the U.S. are at a historic low. Cases decreased more than 60 percent from 1998 to 20074 and, in 2013, the CDC reported there were about 550 total cases of meningococcal disease reported in the U.S., which is an incidence rate of 0.18 cases per 100,000 persons.5

In other words, meningococcal disease, and particularly infection with meningitis B, is relatively rare. In 2011, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of NVIC, explained some of the concerns about adding meningococcal vaccines to the U.S. vaccine schedule.

It's true that the invasive meningococcal infection can be deadly; it's fatal in about 10 percent to 15 percent of cases. In about 11 percent to 19 percent of cases, long-term or permanent health problems, including loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems or brain damage will result.6

However, this is not a disease that's typically transmitted just by standing next to someone who has it.

Meningococcal bacteria cannot live outside the human body very long, so it's not as easily transmitted as, say, a cold virus. Infection occurs via the exchange of saliva, such as sharing a toothbrush or kissing — not from standing next to someone in an elevator.

Meningococcal Vaccination for All College Freshmen Is Not Cost Effective

The CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for all first-year college freshmen living in a residence hall.

Although only about one-third of colleges and universities are requiring incoming students to receive meningococcal vaccine at this time, most colleges and universities do require any student residing on campus to be vaccinated.7

The American College Health Association (ACHA) recommends that schools proactively encourage the students to consider vaccination and make vaccination programs available to those who want them.

However, in addition to having questionable justification and effectiveness of vaccinating all U.S. college freshmen for meningococcal disease, the policy is far from cost effective. NVIC reported:8

"Nationwide vaccination of freshmen, who live in dormitories would result in the administration of 300,000 [to] 500,000 doses of vaccine each year, preventing 15 [to] 30 cases of disease and one to three deaths per year.

The cost per case prevented would be $600,000 [to] $1.8 million at a cost per death prevented of $7 million to $20 million.

Vaccination of all freshmen would result in the administration of 1.4 [to] 2.3 million doses of vaccine each year preventing 37 [to] 69 cases of disease and [two] … [to four] deaths each year. The cost per case prevented would be $1.4 [to] $2.9 million, at a cost per death prevented of $22 million to $48 million."

A Sizeable Minority of Americans Are Asymptomatic Carriers of Meningococcal Organisms

The other issue that's not widely appreciated is that at any given time, 20 percent to 40 percent of people colonize meningococcal organisms in their nasal passages and throats without showing any symptoms of disease.

Instead, they get a boost to their innate immunity via the colonized meningococcal organisms, which helps protect them against invasive meningococcal disease throughout life.

Mothers are able to transfer this innate immunity to their babies via the transfer of maternal antibodies, and this protection lasts from birth to a few months old, at which point the baby can make his own antibodies.9

Rarely, people with genetic and other risk factors cannot generate meningococcal antibodies and become extremely susceptible to contracting severe invasive meningococcal disease. What researchers should be trying to figure out is why some people go on to develop invasive meningococcal disease and others do not.

There are certain known risk factors, such as smoking or living in a home with a smoker, having a recent respiratory infection, crowded living conditions, or having an underlying chronic medical condition like HIV or AIDS. According to NVIC:10

"A small minority of individuals who have genetic and other unknown biological factors … [that] prevent them from naturally developing protective circulating antibodies, are up to 7,000 times more likely to get severe invasive meningococcal disease at some point in their lives."

Meningococcal Vaccination for All Preteens and Teens?

The CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for all preteens and teens. At the age of 11 or 12, they recommend a dose of meningococcal vaccine that contains the four strains A, C, W-35 and Y.

But, because "protection decreases over time," another booster dose is recommended at age 16, "so teens continue to have protection during the years when they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease." Giving the meningococcal vaccine to all children at age 11, when they are generally at low risk and any vaccine-acquired immunity is likely to decrease before the age when they may need it, is highly questionable.

The serogroup B meningococcal vaccine is under the CDC's "may get" category (as opposed to "should get" category) for teens and young adults around the age of 16 to 18. Two or three doses are needed, depending on the brand of the vaccine.

Since the "ACWY" meningococcal vaccine does not protect against the circulating bacteria that causes meningitis B, some college campuses that have experienced meningitis outbreaks are strongly recommending that undergraduate students also receive the serogroup B vaccine. This recommendation is being made despite the relatively low rates of effectiveness revealed in the recent NEJM study.

In addition, the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has recorded nearly 2,000 serious health problems, including nearly 100 deaths (34 percent of which occurred in children under age 6), following meningococcal vaccination. These recorded reactions likely represent only a small fraction of those that actually occur.11

Getting Back to the Basics: Infection Prevention 101

It's important to remember that the key to staying healthy and avoiding serious complications from infections is to maintain a strong immune system. The basic steps to keeping your immune system healthy are positive lifestyle choices such as proper diet, stress management, high-quality sleep and exercise. Remember to opt for clean, whole foods (animal and plant based), organic, pasture-raised and, preferably, locally sourced.

Also, don't underestimate the importance of regularly washing your hands with soap and water. This will lower your risk of contracting infections, but be sure you don't overdo it (as over-washing may cause tiny cracks in your skin where pathogens can enter). In addition, children, adolescents and young adults may further minimize their risk by not sharing utensils, cups and other personal items, like toothbrushes, with others.

Study: Pesticides Are Creating Pollination Problems and Killing Bees

Tue, 08/30/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Neonicotinoid pesticides, which are widely used in intensive agricultural operations, have been implicated in the decline of bees, particularly in commercially bred species like honeybees and bumblebees.

New research published in Nature Communications has now shown these chemicals are leading to long-term population changes in wild bees as well.1

The study involved 18 years of U.K. wild bee distribution data for 62 species, which were compared to amounts of neonicotinoid use in oilseed rape, a crop grown to produce canola oil. The researchers found evidence of increased wild bee population extinction rates in response to neonicotinoid seed treatment.

While bees that forage on oilseed rape have historically benefited from its availability, according to the researchers, once the crops are treated with neonicotinoids (as up to 85 percent of England’s oilseed rape crops are) they have detrimental impacts on the bees.

In fact, wild foraging bees were three times more likely to be negatively affected by exposure to neonicotinoids than non-crop foragers. Overall, about 50 percent of the total decline in wild bees was linked to the pesticides.2

It’s being described as the “first good evidence” that the widespread use of neonicotinoids is harming wild bees at the population level.3 The authors explained:4

“Our results suggest that sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoids could scale up to cause losses of bee biodiversity. Restrictions on neonicotinoid use may reduce population declines.”

Butterfly Declines Also Linked to Neonicotinoids

The evidence continues to build that the use of neonicotinoids could be putting the future of pollinators in jeopardy. In addition to honeybees, bumblebees and wild bees, the chemicals have been implicated in declines of butterflies in Northern California.

Researchers from the University of Nevada tracked 67 butterfly species at four locations for at least 20 years.5 At each site, declines in the number of butterfly species were most closely linked to increased used of neonicotinoids, even more so than other potential factors in butterfly declines, like land development.6

Past studies have shown similarly alarming trends in relation to neonicotinoid usage. In England, for instance, butterfly species declined by 58 percent on farmed land between 2000 and 2009.7

Further, a study in the journal PeerJ found 15 of 17 butterfly species showed negative associations with neonicotinoids. According to the researchers:8

“The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable.”

How Do Neonicotionids Harm Bees?

The majority of soybean, corn, canola and sunflower seeds planted in the U.S. are coated with neonicotinoid pesticides. The chemicals, which are produced by Bayer and Syngenta, travel systemically through the plants and kill insects that munch on their roots and leaves.

When treated with neonicotinoids, all parts of the plant become potentially toxic to insects. Neonicotinoids are powerful neurotoxins and are quite effective at killing the pests, but they’re also harmful to non-target pests, namely pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

This occurs because the pesticides are taken up through the plant's vascular system as it grows and, as a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant.

The effects of different neonicotinoids were long regarded as interchangeable, but one study showed each may affect bees differently. Bayer’s imidacloprid was found to cut the number of egg-containing brood cells by 46 percent.

Syngenta’s thiamethoxam, on the other hand, decreased the number of live bees by 38 percent.

Clothianidin, another neonicotinoid made by Bayer, had the curious effect of increasing the number of queens produced, which the researchers noted could potentially backfire if, “say, all those queens turned out to be infertile.”9,10

Lead researcher Dr. Christopher Connolly of the University of Dundee told The Guardian, “I think there is sufficient evidence for a ban on imidacloprid and thiamethoxam … ”11

Yet, even in response to the U.K. study showing neonicotinoids are linked to declines in wild bee populations, Bayer is making excuses.

One representative for Bayer Crop Science in the U.K. said it’s more likely that intensive agriculture, and not the use of neonicotinoids, per se, is causing issues with pollinators (even though the two go hand-in-hand).12

Fortunately, the European Union (EU) put a temporary ban on the use of neonicotinoids, beginning December 1, 2013 (and still in force today), to study their involvement with bee declines.

Bees Are Exposed to More Than 30 Pesticides in Pollen

Neonicotinoids represent only one type of pesticides that the average bee may come across while foraging. Other research published in the journal Nature Communications revealed that pollen collected next to cornfields is contaminated with up to 32 different pesticides.13

The highest levels of contamination in pollen came from pyrethroid insecticides, which are often used as repellents for mosquitoes and other household pests.

Both phenothrin, used to repel ticks and fleas, and prallethrin, used primarily for targeting wasps and hornets, were detected in the pollen, as was the common mosquito repellent DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).

The study is in line with a 2013 study, in which researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives in seven major crops and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads.14 Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides.

When the pollen was fed to healthy bees, they had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in bee deaths. In all likelihood, it’s not one or two chemicals that are the problem, but many.

Despite this, researchers typically study the effects of only one chemical at a time. What happens with exposure to chemical cocktails, which is a more realistic snapshot of what bees are actually facing, is a mystery.

Even ‘Bee-Friendly’ Plants May Contain Bee-Killing Pesticides

A new report released by Friends of the Earth, an international network of environmental organizations, and Pesticide Research Institute (PRI) revealed that some “bee-friendly” plants sold at major retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, True Value and Walmart still contain neonicotinoid pesticides that may harm bees.

Looking on the bright side, the chemicals were found in far fewer garden-store plants than they were just a few years ago. The report found a significant decrease in neonicotinoid-containing plants sold by major retailers, from 51 percent in 2014 to 23 percent in 2016.15 According to Friends of the Earth:16

This reduction is likely due to changes in store policies that commit major retailers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, to eliminate neonicotinoid use on garden plants.

Retailer commitments are having a ripple effect in production methods by suppliers and have resulted in reduced use of neonicotinoids in common garden plants overall.”

Not only is this a win for pollinators, but it also makes good business sense. A poll commissioned by Friends of the Earth and global consumer watchdog group SumofUs revealed that 67 percent of Americans feel more positively about Home Depot and 66 percent feel more positively about Lowe’s because they have formally committed to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticide usage in their plants.

Further, 39 percent said they would feel more negatively about a retailer that did not do so.17 Some retailers are still lagging behind in taking steps to remove these toxic pesticides from their plants.

Further, neonicotinoids are also commonly used in flowering tree production, representing another route of exposure for urban pollinators since such trees are often used along city streets and in business campuses. Report author Susan Kegley, Ph.D., from the Pesticide Research Institute explained that there’s still much work to be done:18

“Our data indicates that compared to two years ago, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides … Yet it’s still not possible for a gardener to be sure that the plants they select at the store will be safe for bees and other pollinators. Retailers should work with their suppliers to speed up their phase out of bee-harming pesticides.”

Tell Bayer to Stop Producing Neonicotinoids

It’s extremely important that steps are taken to protect bees, butterflies and other pollinators. These creatures are necessary to help 80 percent of flowering plants reproduce and are involved in the production of one out of every three bites of food. A sampling of the produce that would disappear without bees is below. Imagine a world without it.19

✓ Apples

✓ Onions

✓ Avocados

✓ Carrots

✓ Mangos

✓ Lemons

✓ Limes

✓ Honeydew

✓ Cantaloupe

✓ Zucchini

✓ Summer squash

✓ Eggplant

Cucumbers

✓ Celery

✓ Green onions

✓ Cauliflower

Leeks

Bok choy

✓ Kale

✓ Broccoli

✓ Broccoli rabe

✓ Mustard greens

One way you can take action is by joining Friends of the Earth’s campaign to tell Bayer, the leading manufacturer of neonicotinoids, to stop producing these toxic chemicals. As they stated:20

We need bees to pollinate [two-thirds] of the food crops we eat every day — healthy fruits and vegetables matter far more than Bayer's extra profits! So now we need to show Bayer’s CEO that his toxic chemicals are tarnishing the Bayer brand and harming its business.”

How to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden

To avoid harming bees and other helpful pollinators that visit your garden, swap out toxic pesticide and lawn chemicals for organic weed and pest control alternatives. Even some organic formulations can be harmful to beneficial insects, so be sure to vet your products carefully.

Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant an edible organic garden. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide good honeybee habitats. It's also recommended to keep a small basin of fresh water in your garden or backyard, as bees actually do get thirsty.

In addition, you'll want to grow your own pollinator-friendly plants from organic, untreated seeds. If you opt to purchase starter plants, make sure to ask whether or not they've been pre-treated with pesticides.

Keep in mind that you also help protect the welfare of all pollinators every time you shop organic and grass-fed, as you are actually “voting” for less pesticides and herbicides with every organic and pastured food and consumer product you buy. The video above, from PRI, gives examples of 12 pollinator-friendly plants that are good sources of nectar and pollen to add to your garden.

Scurvy May Be on the Rise

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Scurvy is a disease most commonly associated with sailors who didn’t realize their teeth were falling out because they weren’t consuming enough vitamin C. But this disease, thought to be from another age, may be on the rise.

Scurvy, once called “the scourge of the sea,” may be returning simply because modern diets don’t always contain enough vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid, a crucial nutrient to maintain healthy skin, bones, teeth, tissues and blood vessels.

Vitamin C is also required to absorb iron and produce collagen, a major component of connective tissue.

From the Latin term “scorbutus,” scurvy has been an affliction for which the cause was unknown for possibly thousands of years, such as in ancient Egypt and Greece. Until recently, scurvy had been thought of as quite rare, but this seems to be changing.

‘Scourge of the Sea’ Was a Sailor Killer

In the 18th century, scurvy killed more sailors on long-distance runs than enemy combat. In 1747, a British voyage had the “sailor’s bon voyage” for 1,300 scurvy victims from a crew of 2,000 in just 10 months (indicating how serious this disease really is).

A doctor who conducted what may have been the first scurvy trials described the usual diet of seals’ livers and fat in his journals. Sailors suffered from ulcers, blackened skin and gum disease so severe their breath smelled rotten and their teeth fell out. They also had a terrible craving for citrus fruits.

The study involved 12 test subjects who were paired up and given either cider, acid, seawater or lemons along with their rations. Those given lemons recovered miraculously, while the others got worse.1 Finally, someone had put two and two together, as a BBC News article noted:

“When they reached land, it was celery, cabbage and plants which helped them recover. Future voyages carried dried vegetables, fruit and palm wine and sauerkraut to help ward off the dreaded scurvy and in 1752 a Scottish doctor, James Lind, found proof that citrus had a rapid beneficial effect.”

While it’s now common knowledge (to most) that vitamin C intake is the way to prevent this dreadful disease, there are still areas of the world — including highly developed countries — where people don’t think of scurvy in relation to themselves.

Scurvy — Not Just an Ancient Disease or In Third-World Countries

Today, some people may be able to buy whatever food they want, yet still may experience a wide array of mysterious physical symptoms ranging from brain fog to unexplained pain to chronic fatigue that is later diagnosed as scurvy.

Blood tests are beginning to reveal that many patients with these and other symptoms have low vitamins C, B and D levels, according to Dr. Reeta Achari, a Houston-based neurologist. She told Houston Public Media:

“What I discovered was that a lot of people, in an effort to get healthy, [were] taking on diets that were very restrictive, so gluten-free or paleo, something where they were eliminating an essential food from their diet.”2

Describing her first scurvy patient, Achari noted joint and stomach pain, bruising and a skin rash. Other extensive tests showed nothing adverse. An epiphany of sorts caused her to check the patient’s vitamin C, and sure enough, the levels were dangerously low.

When Achari asked the patient what she normally ate, it turned out to be fairly negligible: Her steady diet consisted of canned chicken tortilla soup and not much else — no fruits, no vegetables.

Vitamins B and C level checks are now a prerequisite in Achari’s office, as similarly poor dietary habits seem to be on the rise, as well, often due to an overly limited paleo or gluten-free diet.

Besides external factors such as famine and food shortages, other causes of insufficient vitamin C intake include anorexia and food allergies.

Another patient, Annarose Harding, who worked full time and had a demanding schedule, admitted her diet was “terrible” and consisted largely of caffeine in the form of Monster drinks, frozen lunches and late dinners. Her first symptoms when she arrived at the doctor’s office included shooting pains in her feet and legs.

Harding’s first fear was multiple sclerosis, but she was diagnosed with low vitamin C as well as other nutrient deficiencies. While she’d gained weight in law school, actual practice found her malnourished. She was prescribed vitamin D and over-the-counter vitamin C, B12 and B6 supplements. By week three, she had remarkably improved.

Scurvy Symptoms and Diagnosis

Some of the first signs of scurvy modern doctors see, such as gum problems and joint pain, were likely experienced by those sailors before their symptoms became devastating. Initial indicators are:

✓ Loss of appetite

✓ Inability to gain weight

✓ Diarrhea

✓ Rapid breathing

✓ Fever

✓ Irritability

✓ Leg tenderness and discomfort

✓ Swelling in long bones

✓ Bleeding (hemorrhaging)

✓ Feelings of paralysis

✓ Fatigue

✓ Brain fog

Further along in the disease, symptoms become more severe and may include:

✓ Bleeding gums

✓ Loosened teeth

✓ Pinpoint skin hemorrhaging

✓ Bleeding of the eye

✓ Protruding eyes

✓ Beading of joint cartilage

✓ Corkscrew hair

✓ Hyperkeratosis skin disorder

✓ Sicca syndrome autoimmune disorder

✓ Wounds that won’t heal

Medical News Today3 describes signs of scurvy in babies:

“Infants with scurvy will become apprehensive, anxious, and progressively irritable. They often will assume the frog leg posture for comfort when struck with pseudoparalysis.

It is common for infants with scurvy to present subperiosteal hemorrhage, a specific bleeding that occurs at the lower ends of the long bones.”

How Can Scurvy Be Treated and Prevented?

No longer considered a thing of the past, scurvy is showing up in increasing numbers in England, where from 2013 to 2014, it was the leading cause of admission to 16 hospitals, and the primary or secondary reason for 94 hospital check-ins. Between 2009 and 2014, the prevalence escalated by 27 percent.

Low-income families in both cities and rural areas of the world may be at risk, as may (to be expected) individuals where drug or alcohol dependence is a factor. Sometimes elderly individuals don’t eat enough, and what they omit may be a nutrient like vitamin C.

In some cases, however, children with similar problems are diagnosed with a disorder that is entirely preventable, which a pediatric dietician for the British Dietetic Association, Lucy Jackman, called “fussy eaters.” She told BBC News:

“The key is to catch it early, get the message across about balanced eating and to make sure they are eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.”4

The good news is adding vitamin C and other important nutrients to your diet isn’t an expensive proposition. Fruits and vegetables come fresh, raw, cooked and canned, dried and frozen, and are arguably available in most stores where food is sold. Fruits, veggies and other foods containing some of the highest amounts of vitamin C include:

✓ Guava

✓ Oranges

✓ Lemons, limes, grapefruit

✓ Kiwi

✓ Tomatoes

Black currants

✓ Cabbage

✓ Broccoli

✓ Carrots

✓ Paprika

✓ Asparagus

Sweet potatoes

Sprouts

✓ Liver

✓ Spinach

✓ Papaya

In fact, the vitamin C in one large orange or a bowl of strawberries a day is enough to prevent scurvy. BBC News noted, however:

“Without it, we lack a protein called collagen which can't be replaced and we end up with symptoms that were common hundreds of years ago in sick sailors and malnourished children.”5

If a vitamin C deficiency is serious enough, medical intervention may include vitamin C injection until dietary supplementation or food intake is sufficient.

Recommended Vitamin C Intake for Children and Adults

Vitamin C deficiency is particularly detrimental to developing fetuses. One study indicated that when pregnant mothers don’t get enough ascorbic acid, their babies’ brains did not develop properly.6 According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the current recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is as follows.7 However, some experts recommend amounts of 1,000 mg or even higher.  

✓ Infants up to 6 months need around 40 milligrams (mg)

✓ Babies 7 to 12 months need around 50 mg

✓ Children aged 1 through 3 need around 15 mg

✓ Children aged 4 through 8 need around 25 mg

✓ Children aged 9 through 13 need around 45 mg

✓ Boys aged 14 through 18 need 75 mg; girls need 65 mg

✓ Male adults need around 90 mg; women need 75 mg

✓ Pregnant women should ingest 80 to 85 mg of vitamin C, and breastfeeding mothers from 115 to 120 mg

People who smoke require about 35 mg more per day than non-smokers

Other Dietary Deficiencies Cause Problems Just as Debilitating

Nutritional deficiencies in general may be increasing, and again, not just in developing nations. The Environmental Working Group reports that more than 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are experiencing vitamins D, E, A and E deficiencies and also get inadequate levels of calcium and magnesium.

“Inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals is most common among 14-to-18-year-old teenagers. Adolescent girls have lower nutrient intake than boys. But nutrient deficiencies are rare among younger American children; the exceptions are dietary vitamin D and E, for which intake is low for all Americans, and calcium. Approximately one-fifth of 2-to-8-year-old children don’t get enough calcium in their diets, compared to a half of adults and four-fifths of 14-to-18-year-old girls.”8

Research from 2014 confirms that in the U.K. one in 40 people suffer from gout, commonly linked with “too much port” and a generally unhealthy lifestyle, something not uncommon throughout the world.

Is Your Lump a Sebaceous Cyst or Something More Serious?

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

You may have at one time or other noticed a small, painless bump under your skin, possibly behind your ear or on your chest, shoulders or back. Many people refer to these as sebaceous cysts, but they may be a more common variety called epidermoid. Generally speaking, there are three types of skin cysts:

  • Epidermoid cysts occur when surface skin cells form a fluid-filled sac. They’re generally slow growing, harmless and measure 1 to 5 centimeters across. They aren’t painful unless infection sets in, at which point it turns into an unsightly abscess.
  • Pilar cysts form when the lining of the bump is composed of cells like hair roots, appear most often on the hair follicles of your scalp, and may catch when you comb your hair.
  • Sebaceous cysts, which are much less common, contain oil while regular skin cysts don’t.

A splinter or small cut, sunburn, waxing and shaving, swollen hair follicles, increased skin sebum and acne can cause cysts. Picking them or subjecting them to chafing (such as a bra strap) can aggravate the problem, making them even more uncomfortable and potentially causing infection.

If you have a cyst, most doctors agree that doing nothing is actually better than doing something, as WebMD notes:1

“You might be tempted to try to pop and drain an epidermoid cyst on your own, but this isn't a good idea. First, if the cyst is infected, the infection could spread if the cyst ruptures and drains beneath the skin.

Second, if any of the cyst’s sac is left behind, it could grow back. If the cyst doesn't bother you, it’s fine to leave it alone. If it seems to be infected, is uncomfortable, or you don't like the way it looks, it’s best to have it checked by a doctor.”

If it’s on your face or in an area that’s constantly irritated, a doctor may lance it off. Surgical cyst removal may entail a local anesthesia and removal of the entire sac; otherwise, it may reappear.2 A deep infection may be packed with sterile gauze so it continues to drain.

Blocked sweat glands (hidradenitis suppurativa or HS) may appear as painful, pimple-like bumps. Surgical removal may work for a short time, but the glands may become blocked again and the bumps return. WebMD explains:

“Laser therapy and cryosurgery are promising treatments for HS. They use beams of light or cold gases to destroy the hair follicles that get infected, and remove HS bumps. Some people’s breakouts clear up after a few treatments.”3

What are epidermal or cutaneous cysts made of? According to Medical News Daily:4

“Both epidermoid and pilar cysts are filled with a substance that is like toothpaste in consistency, and cheesy and smelly. However, the substance is not — except for complicated cysts — infected by microbes like bacteria. The pus smells worse when it is infected.”

Gross, right? But experts say nearly everyone gets at least one of these in their lifetime, usually during their 20s and 30s. However, cysts are nearly twice as common in men than in women, according to U.K.-based Patient.5 Most of these cysts go away on their own.

Scientists don’t know why every type of cyst occurs, although they believe it may have something to do with genetics. Case in point: A genetic disorder known as Gardner’s syndrome causes multiple skin cysts.

Sebeceous Cysts Are Different

Sebaceous cysts, on the other hand, appear when the sebaceous gland is blocked by the fibrous protein keratin,6 which is the makeup of hair, as well as hooves, claws and horns.7 Mirriam-Webster describes “sebaceous” as “secreting sebum,” relating to fatty material.

The cysts contain oil from the sebaceous glands surrounding the base of normal hairs. They contain a clear, oily liquid, have a pungent smell and can appear anywhere on your body except for your palms or soles of your feet. On your skin, sebaceous cysts may show redness and soreness, indicating a minor infection.

Boils and abscesses are similar, but sebaceous cysts are not as large and are not inherently cancerous.

Faruncles, Carbuncles and Boils, Oh My!

A boil is a common condition that may begin as a small lump that becomes red and slightly painful, then fills with pus. Carbuncles are more prevalent in men, deeper than boils and take longer to heal. Up To Date8 describes variations:

“A furuncle (or ‘boil’) is an infection of the hair follicle in which purulent material extends through the dermis into the subcutaneous tissue, where a small abscess forms. A carbuncle is a coalescence of several inflamed follicles into a single inflammatory mass with purulent drainage from multiple follicles.”

Similar eruptions are more specific:

  • Folliculitis is an infection caused by an inflamed hair follicle. It may look like tiny pimples around individual hairs, with reddened skin. Not as deep as a boil, it’s still an infection, and a gateway, of sorts, for staph to enter.
  • Boils and abscesses in your groin or armpit areas may be hidradenitis suppurativa, which typically starts in blocked sweat glands and hair follicles.
  • A pilonidal abscess occurs just above the crease of your buttocks and may involve a hair follicle. The “pilonidal dimple” some babies are born with may create a place for this type of boil to form.
  • A sty on the eyelid is usually a puffy, painful infection when an eyelash becomes infected. Styes are sometimes confused with a chalazion, which is painless and not infected.
  • Rose gardener’s disease caused by a fungus is called Sporothrix schenckii.9 Small cuts from handling vegetation eventually form a small nodule on your finger or arm that turns into an ulcer.

Other skin conditions can develop in people with skin or nasal Staphylococcus aureus without causing problems, but infection can come about via community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA) and occur more often than abscesses due to other bacteria.

If a staph infection causes a boil, it can spread easily, so skin-to-skin contact should be avoided, and do not share towels, bedding or articles like yoga mats. Keep the boil covered and wash your hands frequently.

Boils are usually treatable at home unless they’re in a vulnerable area or a place you can’t easily get to. While usually smaller than a pea, they can become golf-ball-sized.

If you experience something similar and start feeling tired, feverish or generally unwell, you may want to call your doctor. In an article listing such skin problems, WebMD notes:

“Rarely, the staph bacteria from a boil or carbuncle can get into the bloodstream, which can then affect the heart and other internal organs.”10

Nutritional Deficiencies That Show Up on the Skin

Diabetes and a weakened immune system may exacerbate boils of different types. Nutrient deficiencies sometimes reveal themselves through skin problems and potentially cause cysts, such as:

• A red, scaly rash, particularly on your face, might indicate a vitamin B7, or biotin, deficiency. Organic, pastured egg yolks are one of the best sources of biotin to metabolize fats, amino acids and carbohydrates. Biotin strengthens your hair and nails and helps smooth out your skin.

Eating raw, pastured, organic eggs (both the white and the yolk) is an excellent way to combat this skin malady. Avocados, mushrooms, cauliflower, nuts, raspberries and wild-caught Alaskan salmon are more good biotin sources.

• Red or white bumps resembling acne may appear on your cheeks, arms, thighs or buttocks, revealing a possible need for more essential fatty acids in your diet, including animal-based omega-3 fats.

Eating sardines, anchovies, wild-caught Alaskan salmon and taking krill oil supplements will introduce more of these nutrients into your system. For more skin-enhancing vitamin A,11 eat more leafy green veggies, sweet potatoes, carrots and red bell peppers.

• Sores or cracks at the corners of your mouth may be a sign that you’re not getting adequate iron, zinc, B12 or protein in your diet. Again, organic, free-range poultry and eggs and wild-caught Alaskan salmon are good sources.

Assuming they’re derived from non-polluted waters, oysters and clams are another good way to get more of these vitamins and minerals into your diet, as well as Swiss chard, and tahini because of the sesame.

Home Remedies for Sebaceous Cysts, Boils and Other Skin Problems

At-home treatments for cysts start with keeping them clean — simple soap and water is best, rinsed well and air-dried, especially if a cyst is infected. Many natural topical treatments are very effective and may even cure the problem, such as:

  • A warm, soothing compress a few times a day will stimulate your circulation and hasten the healing process.
  • Epsom salt is an effective treatment when it’s put into your bath water for a 20-minute, allover soak, or just soak the infected area. Follow it up with one of the following treatments for a double whammy of healing.
  • A combination of dandelion and viola herbs placed in an herbal bag and soaked in a teacup for 45 minutes can be squeezed lightly and applied directly to the cyst for several minutes, after which you can drink the tea, three or four times a day for up to two weeks.

Oils, creams and liquid remedies can be applied directly to the cyst, covered with a compress and secured with plastic tape for a few hours or overnight, which also serves to protect the cyst from germs. Repeat the process until the cyst is healed. These remedies include:

✓ Tea tree oil, which is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, should be mixed with water at a 1:9 ratio

✓ A few drops of potassium iodide, applied two or three times daily to deal with infection

✓ Bee pollen, topical or in pill form, is a natural blood purifier and may be effective for skin cysts

✓ Colloidal silver may stimulate your lymph system and help heal cysts

Castor oil helps bring the cyst to a head quickly, after which it will drain and shrink away

✓ Aloe vera is both pain relieving and healing, because it’s antimicrobial12

✓ Proanthocyanidins in witch hazel help reduce inflamed cold sores, canker sores and wounds13

Raw manuka honey is a natural wound healer and has even destroyed MRSA

Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory healer, as is potassium iodide, according to one study:14

“ … Kills all types of germs, i.e., bacteria, viruses and fungi … (and) is preferred in treating boils, cysts and skin infections. Acne pustules are very responsive, the sebaceous duct discharging easily and permitting prompt healing without scar … Large furuncles, i.e., boils, are equally responsive although they take longer to resolve.

Sebaceous cysts soften within minutes of the application of iodide and the sebum plugged hair follicle usually opens so as to permit easy expression of the contents.”

When Would a Cyst Be Considered Dangerous?

While you may have a boil that looks like many others — painful, red, inflamed and maybe filled with pus — MRSA looks very similar. It’s different in that MRSA is a staph infection that’s often antibiotic resistant, which is why it’s dangerous. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure, as prompt treatment may prevent a more serious infection.

You may also want to call your doctor if the boil is large or painful, is on your spine or face, has red streaks coming from it, keeps coming back or won’t heal, becomes crusty, or bleeds easily.

Nearly Half of American Adults Are Pre-Diabetic or Diabetic

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

As of 2012, up to 14 percent of the American population had type 2 diabetes, and as much as 38 percent were pre-diabetic. This suggests about HALF of all American adults are either pre-diabetic or diabetic.1,2

At least 20 percent of the population in every U.S. state is also obese3 — a condition that severely predisposes you to diabetes. That said, being skinny is not a blanket assurance of health.

Recent research suggests one-third of normal-weight adults may also be pre-diabetic without knowing it.4 Children are also getting fatter and unhealthier.

According to recent research, 7 million children in the U.S. have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and close to one-third of these kids also have either pre-diabetes or diabetes.5

Great Britain has also seen a rapid rise in these conditions. In 2003, 11.6 percent of people in Great Britain were diagnosed with pre-diabetes. That number had tripled by 2011, reaching over 35 percent.

As noted by BBC News,6 "The world is facing an 'unrelenting march' of diabetes that now affects nearly 1 in 11 adults" worldwide. Statistics such as these point to two very important facts:

• Genetics cannot be a primary cause of diabetes

• Something we're consistently doing must be horribly wrong

In this case, that "something" is a combination of seriously flawed food choices, poor exposure to natural sunlight and lack of physical activity.

Optimal Sun Exposure Required for Health and Diabetes

You may have the perfect diet but if you have failed to optimize your exposure to the sun and assiduously avoid blue light from artificial sources, not just at night but all day, then you will likely be challenged to achieve high level health.

Why? It's a very complex explanation, but the end summary is that it helps to optimize your mitochondrial function.

Please also review my recent article on using indoor sunglasses to minimize your exposure to blue light from artificial lights. They only need to be used when the lights are on and you are indoors, even in the daytime. Most people think they are only for night time use but this is incorrect.

Additionally, establishing an optimal circadian rhythm is important, so going outside, ideally barefoot, shortly after waking up and close to sunrise, exposing your eyes to natural sunlight for 3 to 5 minutes, is an important health practice.

If you have a night job, please consider changing your job as it is seriously damaging your health. Additionally, it would be ideal to get one to three hours of unfiltered sunlight (not through a window or sunglasses) every day and expose as much skin as you can.

Understanding the Cause of Type 2 Diabetes

Conventional medicine has type 2 diabetes pegged as a problem with blood sugar rather than the underlying problem of improper insulin and leptin signaling.

The reality is that diabetes is a disease rooted in insulin resistance, and perhaps more importantly, a malfunction of leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels. This is why treating type 2 diabetes with insulin does not resolve the problem.

What's worse, this treatment actually exacerbates it, and can lead to the development of type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes — an autoimmune disease in which your immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of your pancreas, resulting in an inability to produce any significant insulin.

If left untreated, this condition will ultimately cause death from a hyperglycemic coma. Lifestyle choices are the best strategies to controlling your blood sugar, reducing your risk of diabetes and preventing secondary health problems from the condition.

Historically, the rise in diabetes was prompted by a flawed nutritional and exercise program initiated by the now-refuted Seven Countries Study.

The study, published in the 1950s by the sugar industry-funded researcher Ancel Keys, Ph.D., sparked an increase in the quantity of net carbohydrates recommended in your diet and a severe reduction in healthy fats. This imbalance affects your cellular resistance to the hormones insulin, leptin and ghrelin. 

This cellular resistance is the real foundation to problems with diabetes — not high blood sugar, which is a symptom, not the cause.

Diabetics Need to Rigorously Avoid High-Carb Diets

Most of the food people eat these days is skewing their metabolism toward insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Most Americans are burning glucose as their primary fuel, which elevates blood sugar and promotes insulin resistance and inhibits your body's ability to access and burn body fat — hence, the connection between obesity and diabetes. Healthy fat, meanwhile, is a far preferable sort of fuel, as it burns far more efficiently than carbs.

The good news is that insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes can all be resolved through proper nutrition and exercise. One of the most important dietary recommendations is to limit net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) and protein, replacing them with higher amounts of high quality healthy fats.

Most Americans consume harmful fats like industrially processed vegetable oils, which will invariably cause health problems.

So when we're talking about eating more fat, we're referring to natural, unprocessed fats found in real foods like seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado or coconut oil. Another good one is raw cacao — it's a phenomenal source of healthy saturated fats and many beneficial polyphenols.

One of the most efficient way to train your body to use fat for fuel is to remove sugars and starches from your diet.

The reason why low-net carb diets work so well for diabetics is because it helps you shift out of this nonfiber carb-based metabolism that depends on elevated insulin levels to drive blood sugar into cells and use carbs for fuel.

Diabetic? Track Your Net Carbs

The most important number to keep track of is your net carbs. This is calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber in grams from your daily total of carbohydrates in grams. The resulting number is your net carbs. A key way of preventing diabetes is to keep your net carbs below 50 grams per day.

The only way you'll know how many total carbs, fiber and net carbs you eat is to keep a food diary. The simplest way of doing this is to use an online nutrition tracker.

You need not do this forever, only as long as it takes for your body to remember how to burn fat as your primary fuel. This can be a few weeks to a few months. Once your body shifts, you can increase your healthy net carbs based on your activity level.

But be careful initially as you may be surprised at how quickly sandwich bread, pasta, soda, cookies and cakes add up — sometimes to over 350 grams per day. This high carb level increases your resistance to insulin and malfunction of leptin, increasing your risk of diabetes.

There are a number of trackers available, but my first choice is Cronometer.com/Mercola. That's my revision of the basic Cronometer tracker, and it's already set to default to calculate macronutrient levels based on a healthy high-fat, low-carb diet to get you into nutritional ketosis.

With these basic guidelines in place, following are nine "superfoods" for diabetics7 that you'd be wise to add to your diet on a regular basis.

1. Fatty Fish Low in Mercury

One of the most important foods for diabetes is seafood, as it provides the essential animal-based omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from a food source.

DHA is vitally important as it is the only fat we know of that allows your body to take advantage of the photoelectric effect, the one that Einstein received his Noble Prize for. It converts the photons from the sun into DC electric current (electrons), which help fuel your mitochondria.

Optimal levels of DHA are one of the most important nutritional interventions that you can choose to make. If you haven't already checked your omega-3 index test to confirm your levels are adequate, I would strongly encourage you to do so.

That said, as levels of pollution have increased, you have to be very choosy about which types of seafood you eat. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs and other agricultural chemicals. If you're not careful, the toxic effects from the pollutants in the fish will outweigh the benefits of the omega-3 fats. Here are some important factors to consider:

• Choose fatty fish from cold-water locations, as not all seafood is a good source of omega-3. Good choices include wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, sardines, anchovies, herring and fish roe.

• Avoid farm-raised fish, as they can actually be more hazardous than wild in terms of their toxic content. For example, researchers warn that farmed salmon may be one of the most toxic foods in the world, thanks to toxins found in the feed. Levels of omega-3 fats may also be reduced by as much as 50 percent in farmed salmon, compared to wild salmon, due to the grains they're fed.

• To evaluate your mercury exposure from various seafood sources, check out the online mercury calculator at GotMercury.org.8 The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also has a seafood calculator9 that can help you identify fish that are high in omega-3 and low in pollutants.

2. Avocado

Avocado (which is actually a fruit, not a vegetable) is a great source of healthy fat, fiber and about 20 different vitamins and minerals, including magnesium. As noted by Medical News Today:

"Eating foods that contain healthy fats may help increase fullness. Eating fat slows the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps to keep blood sugar levels more stable. Avocado is high in fiber too, with half a fruit containing 6 to 7 grams … Eating high-fiber foods can … improve weight loss, and make insulin more efficient. Spread avocado on toast in the morning instead of butter. Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in chicken or egg salad."

3. Seeds (Sunflower, Black Sesame, Black Cumin, Pumpkin and Chia)

Magnesium is a very important nutrient that many are deficient in. Lack of magnesium may raise your risk of insulin resistance, as it plays an important role in carbohydrate and glucose metabolism. Besides that, your body needs magnesium for more than 300 other biological and chemical processes, so make sure you're getting enough. As noted by Medical News Today:10

"For every 100 [milligram per day] mg/day increase in magnesium intake (up to a point), the risk of developing type 2 diabetes decreases by approximately 15 percent.11 Most magnesium intake in these studies was from dietary sources, not supplements. Clinical studies have shown improvement in insulin sensitivity with magnesium intake between 300 and 365 mg/day. Researchers were also able to show that low magnesium levels resulted in impaired insulin secretion and lower insulin sensitivity."

Some of the most magnesium-rich foods are seeds. Additionally, although most of us are overloaded on unhealthy industrially processed omega 6 oils, we clearly need some, and unprocessed seeds are a terrific source:

Sunflower:  One-quarter cup of sunflower seeds gives you 128 mg of magnesium.

Black sesame: 1 ounce of sesame seeds contain about 101 mg of magnesium.

Black cumin: Black cumin has a long history of medicinal use. Packed with antioxidants and immune-boosting components, black cumin has even been shown to have potent anti-cancer activity.12 Studies have also shown black cumin can help prevent both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In one study, black cumin (nigella sativa) improved glucose tolerance as efficiently as metformin.13

Pumpkin: 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds will provide you with 74 mg of magnesium (about 25 percent of your recommended daily intake). Pumpkin seed butter can be made at home; simply blend whole, raw pumpkin seeds in a food processor until smooth.

Chia: Besides magnesium, chia seeds are also a good source of healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants. Just 1 ounce of chia seeds provides 10 grams of fiber. Add them to smoothies and salads

Other foods high in magnesium14 include nuts (especially almonds and cashews) and dark leafy greens (especially boiled spinach, which provides 78 mg of magnesium per cup). Avocados also contain magnesium.

4. Fiber and Digestive-Resistant Carbs

Diabetics also need to mind their fiber intake. Research15 shows that people with high intakes of dietary fiber not only have a significantly lower risk of obesity and diabetes, but also a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and gastrointestinal ailments.

Importantly, higher fiber intake has been shown to improve glycemia, leptin and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals alike. The best sources of fiber in your diet come from whole foods and include the following. Aim for about 50 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.

✓ Chia seeds

✓ Berries

✓ Almonds

✓ Cauliflower

✓ Root vegetables and tubers, such as onions and sweet potatoes

✓ Green beans

✓ Peas

✓ Vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts

✓ Organic psyllium seed husk

 ✓ Artichokes

 ✓ Freshly ground flaxseed meal. Never use pre-ground as it is oxidized and damaged

✓ Black beans

Digestive-resistant starches also help maintain a steady blood sugar level. This refers to low-viscous dietary fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and slowly ferment in your large intestine.16 Here, resistant starches act as prebiotics, feeding healthy bacteria. Since they're indigestible, resistant starches do not result in blood sugar spikes. In fact, research suggests resistant starches help improve insulin regulation, reducing your risk of insulin resistance.17,18,19,20

Foods high in digestive-resistant starch include certain underripe fruits, specifically banana, papaya and mango, as well as white beans, lentils, seeds and products like potato starch, tapioca starch and brown rice flour. Interestingly, cooking a normally digestible starch such as potato or pasta and then cooling it in the refrigerator will alter the chemistry of the food, transforming more of it into resistant-type starch.21

5. Walnuts

Research shows higher nut consumption is associated with lower body weight, which is helpful for maintaining normal blood sugar levels.22 Walnuts, in particular, are a healthy choice for diabetics as they're high in fiber and healthy fats.

In one recent study,23 participants at increased risk of developing diabetes who added 2 ounces of walnuts to their daily diet for six months showed improvements in blood vessel wall (epithelial) function, and lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Walnuts are great for snacking when you might otherwise be tempted to reach for chips or crackers. You can easily make your own trail mix, combining walnuts, pumpkin seeds and raw cacao nibs, for example. They're also a great addition to salads.

6. Spinach

Besides magnesium, spinach is also a superb source of potassium, low levels of which have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and diabetes complications. Cooked spinach provides 839 mg of potassium per cup. For comparison, one cup of banana — well-known as a potassium-rich food — contains 539 mg of potassium. One way to dramatically increase your spinach intake is to juice it. You can also add it to salad along with other mixed greens.

7. Strawberries

Fisetin, a substance found in strawberries, has been shown to prevent kidney and brain complications in diabetic mice.24 Human studies have also demonstrated that people who eat plenty of berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, have a lower risk of both diabetes, heart attacks and dementia — outcomes thought to be related to the anthocyanins (a class of flavonoids) found in red, blue and purple-colored berries.25

Studies have also linked the high vitamin C content of strawberries to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. One cup of fresh strawberries provides 160 percent of your daily need of vitamin C. They're a delicious addition to salad (spinach, walnut and strawberries make a tasty combination). You can also blend fresh or frozen strawberries into your smoothies. According to one such study:26

"Though diabetes is not traditionally considered a risk factor for vitamin C deficiency, patients with diabetes should all receive dietary advice about healthy eating and vitamin C dietary sources, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The recommended dietary intake of vitamin C is 45 mg per day for adults.

There are some data suggesting that people with diabetes may have increased cellular uptake and turnover of vitamin C that would necessitate increased intake, and they also have an increased risk of deficiency."

8. Ginger

Research suggests ginger may help reduce fasting blood sugar in diabetics.27 Part of this effect relates to its anti-inflammatory capacity. Indeed, anti-inflammatory diets in general are helpful for the prevention of diabetes. Ginger is often used in cooking. For example, you can add fresh, grated ginger to sauces, marinades and dressing. Alternatively, drink a cup or two of ginger tea each day. Simply steep a slice of fresh ginger in boiling water for a few minutes.

9. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another common cooking spice that has garnered attention for its anti-diabetes benefits. Besides sprinkling it on sweet potatoes or carrots, you can add it to tea for a flavorful kick in lieu of sugar, which is best avoided anyway. As noted in Medical News Today:28

"Participants in one study29 who took a high dose of cinnamon reduced their average blood sugar levels from 8.9 percent to 8.0 percent. Participants who took a low dose of cinnamon reduced their average blood sugar levels from 8.9 to 8.2 percent. Participants who did not take cinnamon saw no change."

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Satisfying Gluten-Free Coconut Macaroons

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 02:00

Recipe From Healthy Holistic Living

Subtly sweet, moist and chewy on the inside, and delectably crisp on the outside, coconut macaroons are an irresistible treat. This healthy yet delicious snack can suit your gluten-free diet, and is lactose-free too.

Here’s a quick and easy gluten-free coconut macaroons recipe from Healthy Holistic Living. Try it, and an appetizing batch of these macaroons can be yours in less than half an hour!

Ingredients:

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 Tbsp. coconut flour

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. coconut milk

3 Tbsp. raw honey

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place parchment paper or reusable non-stick baking sheet on tray.

3. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat, and then bring down to a simmer for two minutes, or until it thickens.

4. Remove from the heat. Scoop mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet.

5. Bake until golden brown on top (five to 15 minutes, depending on your oven. Be sure to check every few minutes).

6. Allow to cool and set for several minutes, and then enjoy!

This recipe makes 10 to 12 macaroons.

Go Nuts for Coconuts With This Recipe

While coconut is considered exotic in the U.S. and most Western countries, it is a dietary staple in the Pacific islands and tropical countries. Coconut is a healthy, delicious and refreshing tropical fruit hailed for its many nutritional benefits. This recipe uses three kinds of coconut products, all of which have an impressive nutritional profile:

• Unsweetened Shredded Coconut – Also called desiccated coconut, this is a flavorful addition to a variety of foods, including pastries, soups and pies. A one-cup serving of shredded coconut gives you:

o 2.68 grams of protein

o 1.79 milligrams of iron

o 1.68 milligrams of zinc

Shredded coconut also contains essential minerals, including selenium and manganese, which both stimulate enzymes like antioxidants. Your cells need antioxidants for protection against cellular damage caused by free radicals — the common pathway for aging, tissue damage, cancer and other diseases. Selenium helps relieve arthritis symptoms by controlling free radicals and reducing the risk of joint inflammation. On the other hand, manganese promotes healthy bone structure and nerve function.

Coconut Flour – This product is made from finely grated dried coconut meat, with a powder-like texture similar to grain flours. It has a mild coconut scent and flavor that will not overwhelm your recipes, but rather will impart a natural sweetness and rich texture. Coconut flour is light and airy, making it an ideal alternative for baking. Here are others reasons to ditch your regular flour for coconut flour:

o It’s 100 percent gluten-free. Coconut flour is a healthy gluten-free alternative to wheat. Gluten is highly allergenic and can even be fatal for people with Celiac disease, a digestive and autoimmune disorder where gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, and interferes with the absorption of nutrients in food.

o Coconut flour is rich in dietary fiber. Fiber encourages proper digestion and regular bowel movements. It also helps lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control. Each tablespoon of coconut flour contains 6 grams of dietary fiber per serving, which is triple the amount compared to whole flour, and almost double that of wheat bran.

o It’s packed with protein. Coconut flour is exceptionally filling because it contains more protein than other flours. Protein is an essential component in rebuilding cells and maintaining healthy tissues and muscles.

o It helps regulate blood sugar level spikes. It has a lower glycemic index than regular flour, making it a healthier option for diabetics and prediabetics. The glycemic index measures how foods affect blood sugar levels — the higher the glycemic index, the greater an effect a particular food has on raising blood sugar.

However, coconut flour’s composition is very different from other flours, and there are a few things to keep in mind when using it for cooking or baking:

o You cannot substitute coconut flour for wheat or other grain-based flours at a 1:1 ratio. Generally, you should use only one-quarter to one-third cup of coconut flour for every one cup of grain-based flour.

o You need to increase the number of eggs. Because coconut flour is extremely absorbent and dense, you should add in one egg per ounce of coconut flour to take the place of gluten and help bind the mixture together.

o Coconut flour is clumpy. For this reason, you should mix it thoroughly with the other ingredients in your recipe to end up with a fine-textured dough or mixture.

• Coconut milk – This is the liquid extracted from grated coconut meat. Its rich and creamy consistency makes it a scrumptious ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine, such as for cooking curries and soups. Coconut milk is lactose-free, so it is suitable for people with lactose intolerance.

In terms of health benefits, the fatty acids in coconut milk may improve immune function because it is a good source of lauric acid, capric acid and antimicrobial lipids, which have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

The medium-chain saturated fatty acids in coconut may help reduce your heart disease risk. These fatty acids help eradicate the three major types of atherogenic organisms, which are bacteria that cause plaque formation in the arteries.

Coconut milk may also aid weight loss on a reduced-calorie diet because it is rich in fiber, which can potentially increase your body’s metabolism.

Raw Honey Adds Sweetness to This Snack

Raw honey, also touted as “liquid gold,” is a natural sweetener with many nutritional and medicinal values. A tablespoon of raw honey gives you 17 grams of carbohydrates. It is fat-free, cholesterol-free and sodium-free as well. Raw honey’s natural unprocessed fructose and glucose directly goes into the bloodstream and can provide a quick boost of energy.

However, since raw honey is high in fructose (averaging around 53 percent), it should be consumed in moderation. If you have insulin resistance or are taking medications for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, it would be wise to avoid or reduce your consumption of sweeteners, including honey.

About the Author:

Healthy Holistic Living is an independent alternative health news resource that provides innovative, alternative health-related content, resources and product information that empowers individuals to make positive change in their lives and in the world.

Restoring Your Soil: Advice by an Old School Soil to Health Expert

Sun, 08/28/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

If you're at all passionate about health, it's likely you will eventually reach the conclusion that you need to grow your own food. Hendrikus Schraven, founder of Hendrikus Organics, is a magnificent resource in this regard.

Hendrikus has an innovative approach to environmental landscape design, including a focus on edible landscaping, and he's an expert at restoring contaminated soils, which so many of us have. The key to this approach, of course, is to improve the quality of the microbiome in the soil.

Early Lessons in Chemical Farming

Born right after the end of World War II on a farm in Holland, about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the German border, he learned to farm the organic way right from the start.

"In those days, farming was done with horse and plow ... You smelled your soil to figure out what it needed. It's a technique I still teach people today. Smelling the soil is actually [picking up on] the activity of the biology. That is what creates the smells ...

We, of course, knew that the healthier the soil was, the healthier the [end] product ... That was just called farming."

Then a kind of chemical revolution in farming took place, and the Schraven family started using chemical fertilizers like everyone else, having fallen for the promise of being able to grow more food for less money and time.

"Of course, they didn't tell you how dangerous it was to the body. We started applying [fertilizer] with our bare hands. Everybody did. You spread it out of buckets over the fields. After doing that for a few days, your fingernails were bleeding.

I finally said to my dad, 'Growing food shouldn't hurt. There's something really wrong here.'

He said, 'Yeah. We are [also] needing more of this stuff. The first two times it was fine, but now we need a little bit more to get the same results. The soil doesn't smell as good as it used to. OK, let's go back to the old ways.'"

Today we call the old way of farming "organic farming." But truly, this is how it was done for ages before chemicals became the norm of farming. There's nothing really "new" about it, historically speaking.

Not All Organics Are Equal

After being part of the rock 'n' roll business for a number of years as a youth, Hendrikus moved to the United States and started his own landscape construction company in Seattle. Unable to locate organic fertilizers and soil amendments, he ended up developing his own organic versions from scratch.

"I started going to feed stores to see what they had available. I found alfalfas, I looked at what chicken food, rabbit food, horse and cattle food was made of and I made a combination of that ...

And started using, on a small scale, my own organic fertilizers in my company and turning other people on to it."

Because the majority of soil is not made from fertilizer, Hendrikus also sought out the available materials for biomass.

"The fertilizer we have is pretty dynamic, but (for biomass) what we were doing is I was going to farmers. I would get well-decomposed material from them. I would then mix that into my soils. That's really a little bit before the composting (era).

When we started looking for the particulars on biomass, on what we could use and how to use it, my old knowledge from growing up on a farm came very handy.

Because the danger is when you're using, say, cow manure, and it's not aerated, you are going to get anaerobic conditions, which could then be detrimental to what you're doing ... People said, 'How do you know?'

I said, 'It's very simple. The farmers always threw all their cow and horse manure and everything else in the springtime on the fields. It would stink to high heaven. Within the day, two days, the stench was gone.

What do you think that means, when the stench is gone? It has gone from anaerobic to aerobic. This is the time you can actually plow it into your fields and mix it into your soils, because this change has happened in the biology.'"

What About Wood Chips?

I'm fond of using wood chips to promote soil regeneration, but Hendrikus advises caution. The common recommendation to place 6 to 8 inches of wood chips beneath trees and shrubs may not always be advisable.

"When was the last time you walked into nature and saw a tree dumping 6 to 8 inches of wood chips underneath itself?" Hendrikus asks. The source of the wood chips also matters. If the trees that were pruned and chipped were diseased, the wood chips may spread that disease to your trees or plants.

"You have to be extremely careful when you're just starting to use woodchips," Hendrikus says.

"Also, there's an enormous amount of nitrogen withdrawal for the decomposition of those chips. If you don't balance that out, you all of a sudden have yellow anemic plant material. You have to be careful with that."

Soil quality is another factor. "If you have a clay soil and you start mixing woodchips, it gets in that clay and gets wet, and if you don't know what time of the year to work this [mix] and you compact it, those woodchips will turn into alcohol.

They will go anaerobic because they have no oxygen. You're actually making it worse. You're thinking you're doing good but you're actually doing the opposite."

Tilling Still Plays a Part in the Big Picture

Most people who are in the business of regenerating soil will rely on no-till techniques. According to Hendrikus, tilling does have its place, though. When rescuing devastated, "raped" soils, he often uses heavy equipment to till the area. The specifics thereafter, however, vary depending on the state of the soil.

A general review of the process he uses when the soil is heavily abused starts with tilling up the area, making sure not to compact the soil by driving over it again.

Then compost that is fully matured, 100 percent decomposed, is added, followed by specially produced above-ground living humates, soil biology and a suitable food source for the microbes, air, compost tea and worms (about 1 to 3 pounds of worms per quarter-acre). Worms provide valuable vermicompost, one of nature's best fertilizers.

"I grow food, I repair farmland, I do erosion control, I do landscape. Because for me, everything is interconnected. There's no such thing as disconnectedness," Hendrikus says. "I can produce a soil that is extremely balanced, where you're growing your vegetables and you get the highest nutritional value possible brought up from that soil into that vegetable. But that's not where it stops.

The erosion control work that I do is the same [because] whatever filters through that soil ends up into our waterways, and whatever ends up into our waterways ends up into our marine life and our bellies somewhere along the line. So for me, it's an entire cycle."

What I've done in our company is encompass the overall; I apply different methods that all come to the same [result]. I look at the situation. I use my intuition to tell me what do I need to do here. But I have a large kitchen, so to speak, with lots of goodies to draw from.

Heavy Contamination Cleaning

Using his strategies — which include a mix of old school farmer's knowledge, experience and intuition — even heavily polluted areas, such as areas in Hawaii where sugar cane and pineapple plantations using large doses of herbicides and pesticides had destroyed and severely polluted the soil, have been able to be cleaned up to a significant degree within a matter of about six months. Here, the primary remediation was mycorrhizal fungi, plus the addition of microbially rich organic matter.

"We do till it in. We need a food source [in the soil], and Hawaii is [an area] where you can't leave everything just on top. It'd just dry out. The microbes will go dormant and nothing will happen unless you irrigate. In a lot of cases, you can't afford to do that.

You have to get it back into the ground. I look at that situation in that point in time. A little damage in playing [tilling] with the soil is better than a lot of damage by not doing it. I don't go for any one method per se. I go for a combination of many, and what I feel intuitively works."

Upping the Ante on Organic Foods

Truly organic food is not just about the absence of chemicals. While that's certainly important from a health standpoint, you can have organic food that is neither tasty nor exceedingly nutritious, for the fact that it's been grown in denatured soils.

It's important to realize that the nutrition really comes from the soil, with healthy soil creating more nutrient-dense produce. So even though the organic market is steadily growing, not all organic farmers are using methods that will regenerate and optimize soil health.

"The way to change the paradigm is by requesting the farmers grow higher nutritional food," Hendrikus says. "You go to the market and you say to one of the stands, 'Hey, can I have a little slice of that?' You taste it and you go, 'Nah, sorry. That isn't doing it.' You move on to the next stand, and you immediately set into motion that everybody has to up the ante," Hendrikus says.

"You're not going to get it via politics. You're not going to get it via the government ... You're going to get it by the demand of the people to the people that are growing it. They are going to turn that around ... If you say, 'If it's GMO I'm not buying it,' automatically it shuts GMOs down. You don't have to fight them [by protesting] in the streets."

In order for that strategy to work, however, people need to be aware that there are differences between genetically engineered (GE) foods, chemically farmed foods and organic. Many are still unaware of these differences and therefore cannot vote with their pocketbook, which is a most powerful strategy.

"I've traveled all over the world. Malnutrition will create this dead stare in the eyes. I'm starting to see that more and more even in the United States of America. When you have a whole population that's just watching TV and is just in this kind of haze, the wake-up moment is difficult.

Like you said, how do you wake them up? But what I have seen — and we've been doing this a very long time — in the last 40-somewhat years, [organic awareness] has really increased. I'm pleasantly surprised."

Learn to Read Weeds

If you grow your own food, one of the first things you might want to do is to learn to read your weeds. "Weeds are the healers," Hendrikus says. Weeds are what nature uses to break open hardened soil and add calcium, boron, nitrogen and other nutrients. Each weed is a sign of a particular soil issue. Once you address that, the weeds will be history.

"What people can do is: No. 1, get some books. Google it. See what weeds are prevalent in the areas that you want to grow food in. Then you come to understand what your soil is short of," Hendrikus says.

Convert to Edible Landscaping

Most American homes have lawns; a most unnatural feature if there ever was one. You really won't find grass lawns anywhere in the wild. I've converted my quarter acre of ornamental to mostly edible landscaping. I only have about 10 percent lawn left. Hendrikus agrees that lawns are a useless landscaping feature, and recommends putting in edible landscaping, or a vegetable garden.

Alternatively, if you don't want a large vegetable garden, convert part of your area into a wildflower garden. This will encourage the survival of bees, and attract bees and other insects to pollinate whatever fruits and vegetables you (or your neighbors) do have.

"Most of the clients I do work for, they're creating vegetable gardens, whether we're landscaping or not. More and more people are getting into that. All of a sudden, the family gets back together. They're outside, reconnecting with nature. That's a good therapy, by the way.

Then, from the seed to where you actually eat it, I don't know of any child that isn't excited by this. I've given lots of talks at schools. I work with children creating vegetable gardens and things like that, and they're all excited ... This is what should be done more in our schools."

Besides getting fresh air and negative ions from the earth, interacting with the soil will also expose you to the beneficial microbes within it, which can help improve your own microbiome. This is perhaps even truer for children, who play in the dirt and have a tendency to get dirt in their mouths.

The Importance of Humates

Humic acid (humate) promotes the proliferation of beneficial microorganisms in the soil and helps sequester carbon in the soil. Humate is extracted from nature's process of creating coal, from fully decomposed humus through the leonardite stage of coal. Most of the commercially-available humate is mined underground from leonardite, just before it turns into coal.

Unfortunately, humate from underground can have a lot of heavy metals in it, so Hendrikus recommends using a living humate from a surface mine. It contains lignans, folic acid, high-quality carbon, natural beneficial microbes and more than 78 trace minerals. Hendrikus' company sells it in both liquid and granular form, and adds it into virtually all soil regeneration jobs. The resulting plant material and the water savings are phenomenal.

"I met up with this farmer in Berkley, California, named Al. He had 158 acres of fruit orchard. He had some problems. I looked at his compost pile. I looked at some of the methods they're using. I said, 'No, you're not doing it right. But I'm going to give you something.' I gave him two bags — one of my food source and one of what we call HuMagic, which is a humate.

Because he had sick peach trees, I said, 'Put it on these 20 (he had 40) and not these. You'll be calling me back in four to six weeks.' He called back saying 'Oh, my god.' He sent pictures. The difference was astonishing. He's now doing his entire orchard. Last year we had a lot of drought in California. He ended up buying another 100 acres, [because he learned these principles].

When everybody was suffering from the drought, he was doing fine. His fruit had more than enough moisture. His peaches were to die for. He needed a bowl to eat the peach, because the juice. Once you have [humate] in your soil ... you are the king of your soil."

Never Forget Crop Rotation

Another word to the wise: never grow just one thing. Even if all you have is a vegetable garden, draw out a plan and make sure to rotate your crops. If you have potatoes in one area this year, plant something else there next year. After rotating crops for three years, your potatoes can be grown in their original spot again.

The reason for this is because different vegetables extract different minerals out of the soil, and you don't want to deplete your soil of any given mineral or the plant simply won't grow well. In addition to that, you'll want to make sure you replenish the soil each year using organic matter from your garden. Turn it into compost and layer it on top of your soil. Biochar is another phenomenal addition to improve soil quality.

More Information

For a visual tour of what actually happens in healthy soil, see this video, produced by a Japanese company that used a microscope to capture live footage of soil microbes at work. For more information about Hendrikus' soil restoration work,  the soil to health connection, the soil microbiome, urban and rural farming and more, please visit HendrikusOrganics.com. If you have specific questions, you can also find an email contact form on his site.

Why 'Useless' Surgery Is Still Popular

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Doctors have been using your mind for decades to help you feel better. Also known as the placebo effect, using pills and therapies known to have no effect on the body can sometimes have a significant effect on your health and wellness.

In medical practice, a placebo is a treatment that appears real, but isn't. Oftentimes researchers use placebos in medical studies to determine if there is a measurable difference between the treatment being tested and the effect your mind has over your body.

Doctors have used pills, therapies and shots in order to effect a change in your health without increasing your risk to potential side effects from other treatments. Research into this effect has found a relationship between what you could reasonably expect from your treatment and your body's response.

In other words, if you expect a pill or shot to lessen your pain, you may experience less pain. However, researchers have also found that placebos have an effect on healing and body chemistry as well, demonstrating the power of your mind on self-healing.

Placebos Harness the Power of Your Mind

While scientists can't determine how they work, they have found there is a hierarchy of effectiveness to placebos. Some placebo treatments just work better than others. For instance:1

  • Placebo surgery works better than placebo injections
  • Placebo injections work better than placebo pills; color and size of the pill makes a difference
  • Sham acupuncture treatment works better than a placebo pill
  • The more expensive, the better and the more doses per day, the better the effect
  • Telling the patient, "This will relieve your pain" works better than saying "This might help"

Belief has a powerful effect on your mind and healing your body. Interestingly, recent investigations point to a growing effectiveness of placebos among Americans.2 This is having a powerful influence on the development of new painkillers.

The response of clinical trial participants to placebo medications to treat neuropathic pain has increased steadily over a 23-year period between 1990 and 2013.

This change has effectively reduced the margin of benefit between placebos and active drugs. This change makes it much more difficult to establish a statistical difference between placebos and the active medication.

As the response to placebos is getting more powerful, it is more challenging to prove a drug actually does what is intended.3,4

Placebos Work in More Than Medical Treatments

Although the placebo effect appears more frequently in medical treatments, other areas experience similar benefits.

• Research published in The Sport Psychologist found that athletes given an energy drink and told they could lift more weight than normal were able to increase the amount lifted by 4 percent.

• Even when athletes knew they were drinking a placebo, they were still lifting heavier weights than without the supplement.5

• A study published in The Gundersen Medical Journal in 2000 found runners given "super oxygenated water" ran 8 percent faster. The results were consistent across 84 percent of the runners. The drink was just plain water.6

• In 2007, researchers found a 20 percent increased strength in untrained athletes who thought they received amino acids to increase strength but were receiving a placebo.7

• A study in 2008 demonstrated a 22 percent increase in strength in trained athletes who thought they were taking caffeine.

The researchers in this study conditioned the participating athletes to believe they were lifting more weights than they actually were, which made them believe the "drug" was even more powerful.8

Although these percentages may seem small, they can mean the difference between placing in the top three in a professional competition and not placing at all.

Useless Surgery Is More Than Just a Placebo

Before a drug is allowed to be sold on the open market it goes through testing to ensure both safety of the product in human trials and that the benefit to the drug is greater than the benefit of using a placebo.

When the process is not successful, medications can slip through causing significant health problems, as did Duract, Zelnorm, Vioxx, Seldane and many others.

However flawed the system for medication approval may be, there is no similar process for surgical procedures. The expected outcome from rigorous clinical trials that demonstrate a surgical procedure is not beneficial would be that surgeons no longer perform the operation. But that doesn't happen.

For instance, lumbar fusion surgery is used to relieve back pain if your discs are worn. Surgeons use a graft to fuse the bones together, which reduces the flexibility of your spine.

The surgery can last up to four hours, requires physical therapy to return to your normal activities and carries with it a number of significant health risks including:9

✓ Blood clots in the legs that may travel to the lungs

✓ Infection developing in the lungs, bladder or kidney, wound or spine

✓ Heart attack or stroke during surgery

✓ Blood loss

✓ Breathing problems

✓ Reaction to medications used during surgery

✓ Damage to your spinal nerves causing pain, loss of sensation or weakness

✓ Spine is more likely to wear away, both above and below the graft, triggering more problems later

✓ Risks from anesthesia include damaged teeth, nausea and vomiting, respiratory depression or anaphylaxis

Several clinical trials and analysis of surgical procedures published from 2005 through 2014 have demonstrated conservative rehabilitation treatments are as effective as lumbar fusion, or more so, without the associated risk.10,11,12,13

Lumbar fusion is only one of several reimbursed surgical procedures despite research casting doubt on their effectiveness.

What may cause surgeons to recommend surgeries that don't have a demonstrable benefit margin above other less invasive treatment options, such as a structured rehabilitation program?

Physician Perspective on Outcomes

In 2009, research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, studying the long term effect of vertebroplasty to treat vertebral compression fractures compared to a placebo procedure.14 The results between the two procedures had no statistical differences; both groups experienced the same pain relief.

Dr. David Kallmes of Mayo Clinic and lead author of the research, theorized physicians perform surgical procedures that have not demonstrated greater benefit than a non-invasive treatment since insurance companies continue to reimburse for the surgery, and surgeons may have a greater tendency to remember their patients who seemed better after the procedure. Quoted in The New York Times, Kallmes said:15

"When you read a study, you reflect on whether it is representative of your patient population. It is easy to conclude that the answer is 'no.' The mean age in the study is different or 'I do it differently.'

I think there is a placebo effect not only on patients but on doctors. The successful patient is burned into their memories and the not-so-successful patient is not. Doctors can have selective memory that leads them to conclude that, 'Darn it, it works pretty well.'"

Other surgical procedures physicians continue to perform, although research demonstrates the invasive procedure is as effective, or less effective than non-invasive rehabilitation, include meniscus repair (knee) with osteoarthritis16 and meniscus repair without osteoarthritis.17

Insurance Companies May Hold the Key

The research evaluating the benefits of spinal fusion should have been enough to curtail the number of fusion surgeries performed throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, the number only continued to climb. Between 2000 and 2009, following the publication of several research trials negating the benefit of fusion surgery, the number of procedures increased 2.4-fold, and six-fold over the past 20 years.18,19

The rates did not begin to drop until 2012 when Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina declined to pay for spinal fusion surgery any further, and several other insurers followed suit.

However, although insurance companies appear to be reading the research, others want to continue to perform surgical procedures from which you won't benefit more than a rigorous rehabilitation program.20 Law firms are advising you to fight the insurance company to pay for a procedure with higher risk than rehabilitation, but no larger benefit margin.

 Ultimately It Is Your Choice

While it may seem as if you don't have a choice in your treatment plan, ultimately it is your body and you who will experience any side effects or problems from a procedure. However, the choice you make may depend upon how the options are presented to you.

In response to an article about clinical trial data, Dr. Gordon H. Guyatt, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McMaster University, wrote an editorial in The British Medical Journal, quoted in Clinicient and The New York Times, in which he said:21,22

"I personally think the operation should not be mentioned. But if a doctor says anything, say this: '[W]e have randomized clinical trials that produce the highest quality of evidence. They strongly suggest that the procedure is next to useless. If there is any benefit, it is very small and there are downsides, expense, and potential complications.'I cannot imagine that anyone would say, 'Go ahead. I will go for it.'"

What Can You Do Reduce Your Risk of Useless Surgery?

You are responsible for your health, for what you eat, for the procedures you agree to undergo and for the medication you take. In a fast-paced, one-pill-does-it-all society it can be tempting to take the advice of the first physician you work with, especially if they promise you exactly what you want to hear.

But, like everything else in life, there are two sides to each coin. Even after a surgical procedure, you will need rehabilitation to prevent the damage from occurring again and to regain strength and endurance to enjoy your life. Whether you do the work of rehabilitation after surgery or instead of surgery, you will likely need it to regain your health.

Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy answers to repairing and strengthening the complex human body. However, you may reduce your risk potential and possible long-term side effects by researching the recommended surgical procedure, getting a second opinion and considering a rigorous rehabilitation program.

Staying and remaining healthy requires you eat a science-based nutritional diet, move throughout the day, get eight hours of sleep each night and engage in stress reduction practices that work for you. Although you may find surgery to be necessary, you will improve your recovery time by incorporating each of these health practices on a daily basis.

For Optimal Health, Mind Your Oral Microbiome and Avoid Fluoride, Harsh Mouth Rinses and Amalgam Fillings

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

While often overlooked, your dental health can have a significant impact on your overall health. It's difficult to achieve high-level physical health if your oral health is ignored.

Dr.Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry, has over 30 years' experience in biological dentistry. As Curatola notes, your mouth is your "gateway to total body wellness." Indeed, thousands of studies have linked oral disease to systemic disease.

Inflammation is known to be a disease-causing force leading to most chronic illness, and gum disease and other oral diseases produce chronic low-grade inflammation that can have a deleterious effect on every major organ system in your body.

Oral disease can therefore contribute to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's, just to name a few. Advanced gum disease can raise your risk of a fatal heart attack up to 10 times. And, according to Curatola, if you get a heart attack related to gum disease, 9 times out of 10 it will be fatal.

There's also a 700 percent higher incidence of type 2 diabetes among those with gum disease, courtesy of the inflammatory effects of unbalanced microflora in your mouth.

Caring for Your Oral Microbiome

When the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system it causes your liver to release C-reactive proteins, which have inflammatory effects on your entire circulatory system. So a major part of oral health is attending to your oral microbiome.

Achieving oral health is really about promoting balance among the bacteria in your mouth. Interestingly, probiotics do not work in the oral cavity, so it's not as simple as adding beneficial bacteria to your mouth. Instead, as an initial step, you need to cease killing microbes in your mouth. Curatola explains:

"Pathogens are now being recognized as resident microbes that are out of balance … [T]he same bacteria that keep us alive can have a pathogenic expression when disturbed.

I have been tooting the horn about getting out of the 'pesticide business.' I'm also speaking about natural pesticides. Not just triclosan, clorhexidin and those synthetic types, but also tea tree oil, tulsi oil, oregano oil and other antimicrobial oils that … have a potent disturbing effect on the oral microbiome.

In the mouth, you don't want to have a 'scorched earth policy,' nuking all bacteria and hoping the good bugs come back … [G]ood bugs basically have a harder chance of setting up a healthy-balanced microbiome when you disturb them, denature them, or dehydrate them with alcohol-based products."

Avoid Mouthwashes and Fluoridated Toothpaste

So, as your first step, stop using antibacterial mouthwashes and rinses. Instead, consider taking nutrients that support gum and oral health. Two important ones are vitamin C and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Bleeding gums is often a sign of CoQ10 deficiency.

There are also a number of homeopathic tissue salts that can be beneficial for oral health, including silica, calcarea fluorica (calcium fluoride), calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate.

Calcium fluoride should not be confused with the chemical formulation of sodium fluoride found in toothpaste, which is toxic and carries a poison warning.

Fluoride not only harms your microbiome; it also has many other detrimental health effects. In fact, fluoride over-exposure from toothpaste, fluoridated water and other sources, has led to a virtual epidemic of fluoride damage.

At present, 4 out of 10 adolescents in the U.S. have fluoride-damaged teeth — a condition known as dental fluorosis.

Many assume that use of fluoridated toothpaste and water is an issue that relates to your dental health alone. But according to a 500-page scientific review,1 fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels.

At least 34 human studies and 100 animal studies have also linked fluoride to brain damage,2 including lower IQ in children, and studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problem.

The Dangers of Mercury Amalgam Total Video Length: 14:23

Aside from fluoride and antibacterial agents, mercury is another dental-related substance that can wreak havoc with your health.

In the video above, Dr. Oz interviews Curatola about the dangers of "silver fillings" which, despite their name, contain mostly mercury, a well-known neurotoxin and dangerous environmental pollutant. About 50 percent of the amalgam filling is mercury; the remainder is a mixture of copper, tin, silver and zinc.

Mercury amalgam is defended by its apologists for the bizarre reason that it has been used in dentistry for over 150 years. Being a pre-Civil War remedy is not something to brag about! Medicine long ago stopped other pre-Civil War harmful practices, such as bleeding patients and giving them a bottle of mercury to drink.

Amalgams have been linked to a long list of health problems, including fatigue, memory loss, tremors, problems with motor coordination, inability to concentrate, migraines, mood swings, anxiety and autoimmune problems.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden have all banned mercury amalgam, citing health and environmental hazards. So why is amalgam still being used by half of all dentists in the U.S.? The answer is: because it's inexpensive and easy to use, which boosts the profits of dentists' who can make more per chair per day using mercury fillings.

Is Your Insurance Company Still Operating in the Dark Ages?

Many dental insurance companies also do not cover 100 percent of non-amalgam restoration work, which keeps the allure of amalgam alive. For example, some insurance policies only pay for amalgam in molar teeth; if you want composite, you have to pay out-of-pocket. A consumer penalty exist for those who exercise their right to have mercury-free fillings in their molars.

This is really unacceptable, considering the massive costs of amalgam, including (1) to human health, (2) to the environment, (3) to our food supply and the added mercury, (4) to dental workers breathing the mercury-laden air and (5) to consumers who incur future dental bills from amalgam's destructive nature, in contrast to the minimally-invasive and tooth-friendly alternatives. 

Also, while amalgam is very strong, capable of withstanding decades' worth of wear and tear in your mouth, it actually makes your tooth weaker. A greater amount of healthy tooth material must be drilled out in order to place amalgam, compared to when using modern composite materials.  Amalgam-filled teeth are therefore weaker and more prone to cracking, which necessitates additional restoration work. Composite materials tend to have the opposite effect, helping to maintain and even strengthen tooth integrity.

Take Action — Make Mercury-Free Dentistry a Reality for All

During Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, August 21 through 28, I will match your donations dollar-for-dollar to Consumers for Dental Choice, up to $100,000. Consumers for Dental Choice is a small, effective organization with the sole mission of making mercury-free dentistry a reality in North America and around the world, and they've been working to protect your right to choose mercury-free dentistry for the past 20 years.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to insist that the mercury in amalgam is safe for children, even though the FDA makes clear in its regulation that no clinical studies show amalgam's safety for children under age six, nor for pregnant women. On the other hand, studies have suggested dental amalgam is responsible for at least 60 to 95 percent of mercury in human tissues.3

Dental amalgams are also responsible for environmental mercury pollution — so much so that when environmental cleanup costs are factored in, dental amalgams are likely the most expensive type of dental filling available.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dental clinics are the main source of mercury product pollution, which is discharged into public water treatment centers. The U.S. Geological Survey says that the largest use of mercury, by far, is dental amalgam. Dental amalgam is also the largest use of mercury in Canada and in the European Union.

How Much Amalgam Is Too Much?

We now know that amalgam fillings release mercury vapors every time it's stimulated, such as when you're eating or brushing your teeth. The question that remains to be answered is: How much amalgam poses a definitive health threat? Is it dangerous to have one filling? Or is the risk negligible until you reach a certain number of fillings?

We still do not have a definitive answer to this. However, we do know that mercury is a potent immune suppressant and that it is extremely toxic to your central nervous system (CNS). Hence, if you experience immune or CNS symptoms and have amalgams in your mouth, your amalgams could potentially be a contributing factor. Ditto if you have any of the classic signs of mercury toxicity, which include:

  • Tremors
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Motor coordination problems

A typical amalgam filling contains about 750 to 1,000 mg of mercury.4 This is nearly 500,000 times more mercury than is present in contaminated sea food. Eating mercury-tainted seafood can expose you to about 2.3 mcg,5 and that alone was enough for scientists to call for a worldwide warning6 back in 2006.

Tests suggest a single amalgam filling may release as much as 15 micrograms (mcg) of mercury per day. In the video above, Dr. Oz brushes a set of molded teeth with a row of amalgam fillings in a sealed container equipped with a mercury measuring device and, within seconds, 61 mcg of mercury is released!

These mercury vapors can easily pass through your cell membranes and cross your blood-brain barrier into your central nervous system, where they can cause serious psychological, neurological and immunological problems. According to an extensive scientific review7 about mercury and children's health, there really is NO known safe level of exposure for mercury. So any dentist who tells you that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is doing you a reprehensible disservice.

Should You Have Your Amalgams Removed?

The answer to that really depends on your general health and the number, age and condition of your amalgam fillings. As a general guideline, Curatola recommends talking to a qualified biological dentist about removing your amalgam fillings if you:

  • Have eight or more mercury filings
  • Grind your teeth
  • Eat acidic food regularly
  • Drink soda regularly

All of these factors increase the amount of mercury vapor being released from your amalgam fillings, raising your risk of experiencing problems related to mercury toxicity.

However, it's important to realize that amalgam removal can pose a serious health threat in and of itself, if done without the proper safety precautions. For this reason, it's important to find a qualified biological dentist who is trained in safe amalgam removal. It would also be wise to take steps to boost your immune function prior to removal to help with the detoxification process.

When amalgams are removed, a large amount of mercury is released. If the proper precautions aren't taken, your body can be suddenly flooded with a massive dose of mercury, which can lead to acute kidney problems. I experienced this myself more than 25 years ago when I had my amalgams removed by a non-biological dentist.

Biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your body, and any medical treatments performed take this into account. Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as amalgams. Some of the steps that need to be taken to keep you (and your dentist) safe during amalgam removal include:

✓ Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth

✓ Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor

✓ Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors

✓ Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal)

✓ Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed

✓ Using room air purifiers

It's Time: DEMAND Mercury-Free Dentistry

The game changer for mercury-free dentistry is the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Consumers for Dental Choice led a worldwide coalition to secure amalgam into that Convention, whose goal is a world free of anthropogenic (man-made uses) of mercury.

Minamata calls on every nation to shift insurance and government programs from favoring amalgam to favoring mercury-free materials. With the Minamata Convention on the verge of being ratified, this is our chance to help Consumers for Dental Choice take things to the next level — its enforcement in every nation. You can help by making a generous donation today, knowing I will match it dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000. Donations are tax-exempt and can be made online or by mailing a check to:

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Today, consumer demand for mercury-free dentistry is really only held back by insurance companies and other third-party payers who mandate continued amalgam use. To empower you to take control of your health, Consumers for Dental Choice has developed tools you and your dentist can use to challenge your dental insurance company's decision to deny you your right to choose mercury-free dental care. Learn more by visiting DemandYourChoice.com.8

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Go the Extra Healthy Mile With Geranium Oil

Thu, 08/25/2016 - 02:00

Anxiety is a common problem among Americans, and drugs like benzodiazepine are commonly used to treat it.

Not only can these drugs cause withdrawal symptoms, but they also lead to a host of health problems that include memory loss, hip fractures, and impaired concentration, which further develop into unnecessary stress and expenses.

Instead, the underlying cause of anxiety can be dealt with using natural stress management methods, like the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Another method worth trying is aromatherapy.

Research has shown that treating stress with essential oils is effective, plus has minimal risks involved. If you're interested in trying this out, you can start out by using geranium oil.

What Is Geranium Oil?

Geranium is a perennial shrub with small pink flowers and pointy leaves that is native to South Africa.1 Out of the many varieties of the plant, Pelargonium graveolens is the source of the essential oil. The oil is widely used in aromatherapy and contains a number of beneficial compounds.

Geranium oil is often compared to the rose essential oil because they share almost the same therapeutic traits. In fact, geranium is considered the "poor man's rose" and its oil is often the alternative to the more expensive rose oil.2

There are several varieties of geranium oil, depending on where they are cultivated. The highest quality and most expensive type is produced in French island Reunion, called the geranium bourbon essential oil.3

Uses of Geranium Oil

In aromatherapy, geranium oil is used to help treat acne, sore throats, anxiety, depression and insomnia. It is popular among women due to its rosy smell and its beneficial effect on menstruation and menopause.4 The essential oil can also aid in uplifting mood, lessening fatigue and promoting emotional wellness:5

Geranium oil also functions to assist in pain reduction and inflammation. Its antiseptic properties can help speed up the healing of wounds and treat a variety of skin problems, such as burns, frostbite, fungal infections, athlete's foot and eczema. Hemorrhoids can also be potentially treated with the use of geranium oil.6

Frequent travelers can use geranium oil as a natural insect repellent. Topical application can also help heal insect bites and stop itching. It may also be used as a massage oil to help relieve aching muscles and stress.7 Other uses of geranium oil include:8

Food — Geranium oil can be added to baked goods, frozen dairy, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages and candies. 

Perfumery — Geranium oil has been used to create an artificial rose scent in fragrances and cosmetics.

Composition of Geranium Oil

Geranium oil contains about 67 compounds. The main components of geranium oil are citronellol (26.7 percent) and geraniol (13.4 percent). Other major constituents include:9

• Nerol (8.7 percent)

• Citronellyl formate (7.1 percent)

• Isomenthone (6.3 percent)

• Linalool (5.2 percent)

Benefits of Geranium Oil

Geranium essential oil provides numerous health benefits due its uses as an astringent, hemostatic, cicatrisant, diuretic and many others. Below are just some of the ways this essential oil serves both your physical and emotional health:10,11

✓ It causes your gums, muscles, intestines, skin, blood vessels and tissues to contract due to its astringent properties. It assist in preventing skin problems like sagging and wrinkling, and helps give your muscles a toned appearance.

✓ It contains antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. It can aid in inhibiting the bacterial strains Brevibacterium linens and Yersinia enterolitica, as well as the fungal species Aspergillus niger. It can also help prevent bacterial infections.

✓ It can help eliminate the appearance of scars and dark spots by helping improve blood circulation just below the surface of the skin and helping promote an equal distribution of melanin.

✓ It can help speed up the healing of wounds by triggering blood clotting. This also helps in stopping toxins from reaching your bloodstream through open wounds.

✓ It assists in detoxification by increasing the rate of urination. This process of elimination does not only remove toxins from your body, but also aids in your digestive function and helps inhibit the excess gas in your intestines.

✓ It can serve as a deodorant due to its fragrant scent. It can also help prevent body odor due to its antibacterial action.

How to Make Geranium Oil

Geranium essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant's stems and leaves. When made from young, green leaves, geranium oil appears with a lemon scent. However, if extracted from older leaves that have changed their color, the oil will have a strong rose fragrance.12

While geranium oil is available in stores, it is possible to create a homemade variety. There are several guides available on the web, but here is one from ehow.com:13

What You Need:

✓ Geranium leaves

✓ Mortar and pestle

✓ Carrier oil like jojoba oil

✓ Large jar with lid

✓ Small jars or bottles with lids

✓ Strainer

✓ Cheesecloth


Procedure:

✓ Remove the leaves from a geranium plant (more leaves mean more oil produced).

✓ Remove pests, dirt and other debris from the leaves by washing them in cold water.

✓ Dry the leaves by gently patting them with a cloth or paper towel.

✓ Using the mortar and pestle, ground the leaves until they are completely mashed and pulpy. Leave the crushed leaves for a few hours.

✓ Afterward, transfer the ground leaves to the large jar. Pour some of the carrier oil — just enough to cover the leaves. Then, seal the jar and place it in a cool, dry spot. Set aside for two weeks.

✓ Once the two weeks are up, check the scent of the oil. You may add more ground leaves to make the scent stronger and set aside for another week. If the fragrance is too strong, just add some oil to dilute the finished product.

✓ To store, pour the geranium oil into the small sterilized jars or bottles through a strainer lined with a cheesecloth. This will separate the crushed leaves from the oil. Once the oil has been transferred, seal the bottles/jars and store them in a cool, dry place.

How Does Geranium Oil Work?

There are several ways of using geranium oil. Inhaling it is one of the most common practices. Place a few drops onto a cloth or use an aromatherapy diffuser. This sends messages to your limbic system, which is in charge of controlling emotions and affecting the nervous system. Inhaling geranium oil may also influence your heart rate, stress levels, breathing, blood pressure and immune system.14 Apart from inhalation, here are some ways you can make use of geranium essential oil:

• It can work wonders on bruises and cuts if used as you would any antiseptic. Just make sure you cover it with gauze.

• Adding one drop of geranium oil to a small jar of cold cream or one teaspoon of wheat germ oil can also benefit hemorrhoids.15

• To help treat athlete's foot, about five drops of the essential oil should be combined with a carrier oil like jojoba and added to a foot bath made of warm water and Epsom salt. 16

Is Geranium Oil Safe? Geranium oil should not be applied directly to your skin as a massage oil.

It should first be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba oil, olive oil or sweet almond oils.17 Geranium oil is relatively safe and works as a relaxant and stimulant for the brain. However, those with skin sensitivities may experience certain side effects.18

Pregnant and nursing women should exercise caution when using geranium oil and other essential oils, as there is currently a lack of research regarding the safety of geranium oil in pregnant women.

Geranium oil should not be used on babies and young children due to the delicate nature of their skin. Parents are also warned to be careful in the administration of the essential oil near the nose of children, as there have been reports of toxicities and even death from doing so.19

Geranium Oil Side Effects

Geranium oil does not generally cause side effects. However, it may cause allergies and sensitivities in some people.20 If you're looking for essential oils that offer the same therapeutic benefits as geranium oil does, your options include lavender oil, orange oil, lemon oil and jasmine oil. 21 To be on the safe side, consult your physician before using any essential oils for medicinal purposes.

Mercury Awareness — Your Mouth, Your Choice

Thu, 08/25/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

The right of every patient to make decisions about their own bodies — including what filling material is implanted in their teeth — is enshrined in laws, policies and resolutions throughout the world.

In the video below Charlie Brown, executive director of Consumers for Dental Choice and former attorney general for West Virginia, explains the importance of choosing a mercury-free dentist.

This right is particularly important when it comes to making decisions about your teeth because amalgam dental fillings are 50 percent mercury — a toxin that causes problems for the following:

Your health: Dental amalgam releases neurotoxic mercury vapor into your body. Children, the unborn and the hypersensitive are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury.

As if that's not bad enough, as a pre-Civil War concoction, amalgam requires the removal of healthy tooth tissue, weakens tooth structure and could therefore crack teeth — leading to much higher dental bills later.

Your environment: Dental amalgam is the largest amount of mercury in use in the United States — more than light bulbs, or thermometers, or batteries.

Most of this mercury ends up polluting our air, soil and water, where it can contaminate the fish we eat. Mercury pollution can cause health problems, especially for children and the unborn.

Your dental office: Because mercury is the most vaporous of the heavy metals, dental amalgam pollutes the dental workplaces full of toxic air — which exposes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and front office staff to eight to 10 hours of dangerous breathing every work day.

A clinic where the dentists regularly place amalgam is a hazardous workplace — but whose hazards are generally left unexplained to the dental staffs, even the pregnant women, which can and does have serious and horrible consequences to the reproductive systems of young women.

How Your Right to Choose Mercury-Free Dentistry Is Denied

The American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other amalgam hucksters are working to deny your right to choose mercury-free dentistry. Over the years, we've seen these pro-mercury forces use dirty tactics like:

That "silver fillings" deception: Calling amalgam that is 50 percent mercury "silver fillings" is a blatantly deceptive marketing practice. As a result, about one-fourth of Americans, quite understandably, think amalgam's main component is silver, not mercury.

Mercury fillings or no fillings: Insurance companies, Medicaid and other government programs try to strong-arm you to get amalgam even though it is a primitive, pre-Civil War pollutant that damages teeth.

What commonly happens is this: if you accept amalgam, your dental plan will pay for the whole thing, but if you insist on mercury-free fillings in back teeth, then you have to pay more out-of-pocket.

Medicaid, Indian Health, the Army, the V.A. and the prisons — many times they force the cruel choice to families of mercury fillings — or no fillings at all.

Harassing mercury-free dentists: For years, the dental boards punished dentists for advertising, advising and practicing mercury-free dentistry.

As a result, many dentists were afraid to abandon amalgam — or at least to advertise that they did not use it — and many consumers did not know where to turn for mercury-free dental care.

Thank goodness that Charlie Brown and his legal team sent that "gag rule" to the ash heap of American history. The dental boards have backed off enforcing it in the U.S. The news is not good, though, across the Atlantic: the United Kingdom dental regulators continue to try to gag British mercury-free dentists.

Consumers for Dental Choice Protects Your Rights

Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, August 21 to 28, is more than a celebration. It is when I ask you to dig into your pocket to keep the progress going. This week I will match you every dollar (or Canadian dollar, or pound or Euro) that you donate to Consumers for Dental Choice up to $100,000.

>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

For 20 years, Consumers for Dental Choice has been working to protect your right to choose mercury-free dentistry. When Consumers for Dental Choice was founded back in 1996, things were very grim. Dentists were tyrannized about the mercury issue; only 3 percent would admit to being mercury-free.

A Mercury Triad — the FDA, the ADA and the State dental boards — conspired to make sure that consumers were told that amalgam is "silver." Hardly any outside dentistry had any idea that dentists were plowing our mouths full of mercury.

Along came Consumers for Dental Choice, a nonprofit group founded by the late Bob Jones, a Colorado airline pilot, and Sue Ann Taylor, a Georgia journalist and media specialist; to this day, Sue Ann is president of Consumers for Dental Choice.

They found Charlie Brown and introduced him to the late pioneer of mercury-free dentistry, Dr. Hal Huggins. Hal asked Charlie, "How would you like to help a billion people?" Hal did not need to ask twice. Consumers for Dental Choice, and the cause of mercury-free dentistry, were off to the races.

Charlie and his tiny team assembled consumers, dentists, environmentalists and advocacy groups to work exclusively on ending the use of mercury amalgam dental fillings.

We've made a lot of progress since 1996 — but the war is not yet won. Here are some of the battles Consumers for Dental Choice is fighting to protect your right to choose mercury-free dentistry.

Getting the Word Out About Mercury

It is well established that raising public awareness about amalgam's mercury content and mercury-free alternatives — via brochures and other means — cuts down amalgam use.

When people know amalgam is mercury, they don't want it. And that's why the FDA, the ADA and pro-mercury dentists opposed our projects to get regulations requiring dentists to give patients amalgam fact sheets in California, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Maine and New Hampshire.

Consumers for Dental Choice is fighting the battle to get information about amalgam's mercury into the hands of consumers at all levels:

States: Many pro-mercury dentists in the localities requiring fact sheets resist the law by refusing to hand out the fact sheets. Most recently, a survey shows that amalgam-using dentists are failing to display this brochure.

The minority-run nonprofit group, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ), a unique state organization that brings together environmental and social justice issues, organized community volunteers to visit almost 400 dental offices in the state's three major cities: Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

They discovered that dentists invariably do not display the amalgam brochure in their waiting rooms, nor do their front office staff offer it to patients — in violation of state law.

They found, too, that the state government does not lift a finger to enforce the law, signaling to the pro-mercury dentists that concealment of the facts about mercury is OK.

The pro-mercury dentists and the state of Connecticut partnered to evade and flaunt this law establishing consumer rights.

Consumers for Dental Choice and CCEJ exposed these law violations by the State of Connecticut in the new report "Mum About Mercury" — they confronted the top brass of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the doorsteps of its building, presenting not only the report but a letter signed by the state NAACP and numerous other civil rights organizations.

On September 20, a delegation of civil rights and environmental group will meet with that agency's commissioner to insist that the law be enforced.

Federal: FDA refuses to provide dental consumers with direct information — i.e., patient labeling — about amalgam's mercury content. In its 2009 dental amalgam rule, FDA goes so far as to illogically claim that providing this information directly to consumers would somehow prevent dentists and patients from discussing treatment options. FDA's role as protector of mercury fillings instead of regulator of mercury fillings was exposed in the report "Measurably Misleading".

Consumers for Dental Choice filed a petition calling on FDA to require patient labeling for amalgam, which would include at least information about amalgam's mercury, risks and mercury-free alternatives. The Mercury Policy Project, an aggressive force for a mercury-free world based in Vermont, brought together the major environmental groups to ask Secretary of State John Kerry: Why did you sign the Minamata Convention on Mercury, then let FDA trash it?

International: The Minamata Convention on Mercury requires that each party shall promote and facilitate provision to the public of available information on alternatives to mercury-added products, such as amalgam. The United Nations Environmental Programme has provided international guidance for each nation on how to transition to mercury-free dentistry in the 2016 publication "Lessons from Countries Phasing Down Dental Amalgam Use."

This report urges each nation to "rais[e] public awareness" that amalgam is mercury and that mercury-free alternatives are available. Nigeria, with the largest economy in Africa, has published and distributed an excellent fact sheet for consumers, a project done in cooperation with the environmental NGO Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria).

Challenging the Mercury Pushers

As many people find out when they go to get a filling, their insurance will not pay for mercury-free fillings like composite. Many insurers claim that composite fillings, which happen to be white, are just cosmetic — and not essential for protecting our teeth, our health and our environment. So, they restrict the use of mercury-free fillings and promote amalgam in many ways, some more subtle than others. Here are some of the biggest offenders pushing mercury fillings unto consumers today:

Insurance companies: Sometimes these dental insurance plans only pay for composite in front teeth, or they'll only partially pay for composite, or they won't pay for composite at all. So the vast majority of consumers — 75 percent, according to a 2014 Zogby poll — want their dental insurance plans to pay for mercury-free dental fillings, but insurance companies are refusing to respond to their customers.

Consumers for Dental Choice has developed tools; see Demand Your Choice to help you and your dentist challenge your dental insurance company's decision to deny you your right to choose mercury-free dental care. Now is the time to insist on mercury-free dentistry, and to insist that your insurer end its bait-and-switch system to pressure you either to accept mercury fillings or pay up.

State Medicaid: State Medicaid programs commonly either prohibit the use of mercury-free fillings for molar teeth (the back teeth), forcing low-income individuals to choose between mercury fillings and no dental care at all, or allow a choice but don't let consumers know it. Oregon is an example of the latter. An outstanding public servant in Oregon, Commissioner Mary Starrett of Yamhill County, has mounted a campaign to compel disclosure of that choice to parents in Medicaid families.

In Connecticut, it's worse: the Dannel Malloy Administration is so intent on forcing a "mercury fillings or no fillings" policy to shovel money to the pro-mercury dentists, that it (1) booted mercury-free dentists out of the Medicaid program, and (2) forces adults to get mercury fillings or no fillings. Shame on Governor Malloy!

Consumers for Dental Choice is working with Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice to take on the state's pro-mercury Medicaid policy. The nation's premier environmental law firm, Earthjustice, wrote the Governor to warn that his mercury-fillings-or-no-fillings policy is illegal under federal law. A standoff in the Nutmeg State looms.

Federal programs: The U.S. government is one of the largest single users of amalgam in the world. From the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Pentagon to the Bureau of Prisons System, the U.S. is purchasing, promoting and pushing mercury fillings onto people who, given a choice, would undoubtedly want mercury-free dentistry. Consumers for Dental Choice is challenging the federal government to shape up its act.

Partnering with a California-based Native American NGO International Indian Treaty Council, Consumers for Dental Choice filed a petition calling on the Secretary of Interior (who runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs) and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (who runs the Indian Health Service) to end the use of dental mercury in Indian Health Service clinics and on tribal lands. A dialogue has begun.

The theme of Mercury-Free Dentistry Week is for North Americans — and every consumer and every parent globally — to demand mercury-free dentistry. If you want the campaign to stand up to the bully insurance companies, the arrogant federal government and the state bureaucrats, then it's time to join me and help Consumers for Dental Choice. Your dollars are doubled because I am matching every single dollar donated (up to the first $100,000).

Toxic Cookware Chemicals Have Polluted Drinking Water for Millions

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

According to a recent Harvard study, 16.5 million Americans have detectable levels of at least one kind of polyfluoroalkyl or perfluoroalkyl chemical (PFASs) in their drinking water. About 6 million Americans are drinking water that contains PFAS at or above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safety level.1,2,3,4

These industrial chemicals have been linked to a number of health problems, from obesity and hormonal problems to impaired immune function5 and cancer, and the study's authors warn that PFASs may contribute to illness even below the EPA's safety level. Co-author Dr. Philippe Grandjean told the Charleston Gazette-Mail:6

"The EPA advisory limit ... is much too high to protect us against toxic effects on the immune system. And the available water data only reveals the tip of the iceberg of contaminated drinking water."

Recent research even suggests PFAS exposure may reduce effectiveness of vaccines in children by interfering with their immune function.7

PFASs Have Become Ubiquitous in the Environment

PFASs are used in many industrial applications calling for non-stick or slick surfaces, such as food packaging, stain- and water-resistant fabrics, non-stick cookware and firefighting foam. As reported by CNN:8

"As a result of their ubiquity, the chemicals migrate into air, household dust, food, soil and ground and surface water, and they eventually make their way into drinking water.

The problem with PFASs is that they remain in your body for a long time. Though other chemicals can be excreted within hours, it takes about 3.5 years for your body to get rid of just half of whatever amount you ingest …"

Do You Have Unsafe PFAS Levels in Your Drinking Water?

While toxic water supplies were found in 33 states, 75 percent of the samples with elevated PFAS came from 13 states: California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois.

Not surprisingly, the highest concentration levels of PFAS were found in watersheds near industrial sites, military fire training areas and wastewater treatment plants. Private wells were also found to be contaminated. According to the authors:

"Among samples with detectable PFAS levels, each additional military site within a watershed's eight-digit hydrologic unit is associated with a 20 [percent] increase in PFHxS, a 10 [percent] increase in both PFHpA and PFOA, and a 35 [percent] increase in PFOS.

The number of civilian airports with personnel trained in the use of aqueous film-forming foams is significantly associated with the detection of PFASs above the minimal reporting level."

Many Americans Face Health Risks From Water Contaminants

As reported by CNN,9 more than 18 million Americans also receive drinking water from water treatment facilities that have violated federal drinking water rules for lead. And, in 9 out of 10 cases, the EPA has taken no enforcement action against the violators.

Disturbingly, many water treatment facilities are actually using incorrect testing methods to avoid detecting high levels of lead, which means the number of Americans drinking lead-contaminated water is likely even higher than that.

An estimated 16 million also have perchlorate — a chemical used in explosives and rocket fuel — in their drinking water.10

Just how severe water contamination may be remains an open question, as the Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates 91 contaminants. Meanwhile, more than 80,000 chemicals are used in the U.S.11 There's really no telling how many of these chemicals, and in what amounts, end up in our drinking water.

Teflon Chemical Is Harmful at Minute Doses

One PFASs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as C8), has been revealed to be far more dangerous than previously thought. For 50 years, DuPont used PFOA to make Teflon. Throughout that time, the company defended the safety of PFOA.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of harm, DuPont still to this day resists accountability for health problems resulting from PFOA exposure. However, the truth has finally become too obvious to ignore.

Last year, The Intercept blew the case open when it published a three-part exposé12 titled "The Teflon Toxin: DuPont and the Chemistry of Deception," detailing DuPont's history of covering up the facts.

Earlier this year, The New York Times also published an in-depth exposé13 on the legal battle fought against DuPont for the past 15 years over PFOA contamination and its toxic effects.

According to a 2015 report14 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the EPA's "safe" level of PFOA in drinking water is likely hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of times too high for safety:

"[T]wo leading environmental health scientists have published research with alarming implications … Their research finds that even very tiny concentrations of PFOA — below the reporting limit required by EPA's tests of public water supplies — are harmful …

Since 2013, an EPA testing program has found PFOA in 94 public water systems in 27 states. These systems provide drinking water to more than 6.5 million people.

... [A]mong the samples with PFOA, statewide average levels ranged between five times and 175 times the level described by the new research as safe."

Safety Level for PFAS Lowered, but May Still Not Be Low Enough

As a sign of progress, the EPA lowered the safety level for PFOA and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) from 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) to .07 ppb in May, 201615 (including a maximum combined level of .07 ppb if both chemicals are present).

The new standard takes into account lifetime exposure that would occur from drinking contaminated water.

Unfortunately, EPA data shows that water systems in 18 states are contaminated with PFOA and/or PFOS above the new federal threshold. Besides, even the new threshold may not be low enough to protect public health. According to the EWG, the safety level really should be 0.0003 ppb.

DuPont Faces Increasingly Serious Fallout From Its Teflon Products

PFOA is now the subject of about 3,500 personal injury claims against DuPont, four of which have already gone to court. One woman who developed kidney cancer after drinking PFOA-contaminated water was awarded $1.6 million in damages.16,17

These legal processes have uncovered internal documents showing DuPont was fully aware of the chemical's danger to the public and employees, yet continued using it while hiding contamination problems.

In 2002, the EPA announced PFOA may pose a health risk to the general public both via contaminated water and Teflon cookware. DuPont's own research shows that when its non-stick cookware is heated it breaks down to 15 toxic gases and particles, mostly fluorine-based.18,19

Three years later, in 2005, the EPA fined DuPont $16.5 million for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act by withholding decades' worth of information about health hazards associated with PFOA.

That same year, a panel of scientists was convened to determine PFOA's effect on human health. After seven years of research, the results of which are detailed in more than three dozen peer-reviewed papers, the C8 Science Panel linked PFOA to:20

  • Ulcerative colitis
  • High cholesterol
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • Thyroid disease
  • Testicular and kidney cancer

Its health effects were deemed to be widespread and occurred even at very low exposure levels. Now, residents of Hoosick Falls, New York — where a string of rare cancer deaths, thyroid disease and other health problems have occurred — are suing PFOA manufacturers for contaminating their local water supply.21

Hundreds of Scientists Issue Warning Over PFASs

It's quite clear that the chemical industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself, and DuPont stands as a shining example of this. It can take decades before a dangerous chemical is recognized as such, and then the company can simply switch over to another untested, unregulated chemical, and the whack-a-mole game continues — all because chemicals do not have to be proven safe BEFORE they're used.

In May 2015, more than 200 scientists from 40 countries signed the so-called Madrid Statement,22,23 which warns about the harms of all PFAS chemicals, both old and new. Documented health effects associated with the older, long-chain PFASs, including the following:24

✓ Liver toxicity

✓ Disruption of lipid metabolism, and the immune and endocrine systems

✓ Adverse neurobehavioral effects

✓ Neonatal toxicity and death

✓ Tumors in multiple organ systems

✓ Testicular and kidney cancers

✓ Liver malfunction

✓ Hypothyroidism

✓ High cholesterol

✓ Ulcerative colitis

✓ Reduced birth weight and size

✓ Obesity

✓ Decreased immune response to vaccines

✓ Reduced hormone levels and delayed puberty

The Statement also points out the problem with replacing PFASs known to be harmful with other similar, but less scientifically evaluated, compounds, saying:

"Although some of the long-chain PFASs are being regulated or phased out, the most common replacements are short-chain PFASs with similar structures, or compounds with fluorinated segments joined by ether linkages.

While some shorter-chain fluorinated alternatives seem to be less bioaccumulative, they are still as environmentally persistent as long-chain substances or have persistent degradation products. Thus, a switch to short-chain and other fluorinated alternatives may not reduce the amounts of PFASs in the environment. In addition, because some of the shorter-chain PFASs are less effective, larger quantities may be needed to provide the same performance."

How to Avoid PFASs

According to the 1976 Toxic Sub­stances Control Act, the EPA can only test chemicals AFTER it has obtained evidence of harm. This arrangement is a prescription for disaster because it basically allows chemical companies to regulate themselves, and this is largely the reason why the EPA has restricted only five chemicals in the last four decades.

The Madrid Statement recommends avoiding any and all products containing, or manufactured using, PFASs, noting they include products that are stain-resistant, waterproof or non-stick. More helpful tips can be found in the EWG's "Guide to Avoiding PFCS."25 Other suggestions that will help you avoid these dangerous chemicals include avoiding:

Items that have been pre-treated with stain-repellants, and opt out of such treatments when buying new furniture and carpets

Water- and/or stain-repellant clothing. One tipoff is when an item made with artificial fibers is described as "breathable." These are typically treated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a synthetic fluoropolymer

Items treated with flame retardant chemicals,26 which includes a wide variety of baby items, padded furniture, mattresses and pillows. Instead, opt for naturally less flammable materials such as leather, wool and cotton

Fast food and carry out foods, as the wrappers are typically treated with PFCs

Microwave popcorn. PFOA may not only present in the inner coating of the bag, it also may migrate to the oil from the packaging during heating. Instead, use "old-fashioned" stovetop popcorn

Non-stick cookware and other treated kitchen utensils. Healthier options include ceramic and enameled cast iron cookware, both of which are durable, easy to clean and completely inert, which means they won't release any harmful chemicals into your home.

A newer type of non-stick cookware called Duralon uses a nonfluoridated nylon polymer for its non-stick coating. While this appears to be safe, your safest bet is still ceramic and enameled cast iron.

While some recommend using aluminum, stainless steel and copper cookware, I don't for the following reasons: aluminum is a strongly suspected causal factor in Alzheimer's disease, and stainless steel has alloys containing nickel, chromium, molybdenum and carbon.

For those with nickel allergies, this may be a particularly important consideration. Copper cookware is also not recommended because most copper pans come lined with other metals, creating the same concerns noted above. (Copper cookware must be lined due to the possibility of copper poisoning.)

Oral-B Glide floss and any other personal care products containing PTFE or "fluoro" or "perfluoro" ingredients. The EWG has an excellent database called Skin Deep27 you can peruse to find healthier options

At-Home Water Filtration Is a Must for Clean Pure Water

Unfortunately, your choices are limited when it comes to avoiding PFASs in drinking water. Either you must filter your water or obtain water from a clean source. Both solutions can be problematic and/or costly.

While many opt for bottled water, it's important to realize that PFASs are not regulated in bottled water, so there's absolutely no guarantee that it'll be free of these or other chemicals. Bottled water also increases your risk of exposure to hazardous plastic chemicals such as bisphenol-A (BPA), which has its own set of health risks.

Most common water filters available in supermarkets will not remove PFASs. You really need a high-quality carbon filtration system. To be certain you're getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower.

The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommends using granulated activated carbon "or an equally efficient technology" to remove PFC chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS from your drinking water.28 Activated carbon has been shown to remove up to 90 percent of these chemicals.

One of the best filtration systems I've found so far is the Pure & Clear Whole House Water Filtration System, which uses a three-stage filtration process — a micron sediment pre-filter, a KDF water filter, and a high-grade carbon water filter.29

If you have been regularly exposed to PFASs by drinking municipal water, it would be wise to not only implement the above filtering recommendations to limit future toxic exposures but also consider a detox program. The likely most effective form would be to use infrared sauna with niacin as discussed in my interview with Dr. George Yu.

I personally do a version of this program three times a week in one of our infrared saunas — not only for PFASs but for all the other, nearly unavoidable exposures from living in contemporary society.

How Monsanto Promotes Worldwide Infertility

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Monsanto has a long and infamous history of manufacturing and bringing to market such chemicals as DDT, Agent Orange, aspartame, Roundup and dioxin1 — chemical compounds from which society continues to feel the effects.

In an effort to distance the current corporation from past deeds, Monsanto refers to the company prior to 2002 as "the former Monsanto" in their news releases.2 However, nothing has really changed aside from their PR machine.

While Monsanto has branched into genetic engineering (GE) of plants, the sale of patented GE seeds simply feeds the need for the company's pesticides. Monsanto is STILL primarily a purveyor of toxins, not life.

Monsanto began forging a unique and financially advantageous relationship with the U.S. government starting with the company's involvement in the Manhattan Project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. During the Vietnam War they were the leading producer of Agent Orange.

The specialization in the production and distribution of toxic chemicals continues today.

Their influence over government runs so deep that despite the fact 64 other countries have been labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods for years, the U.S. now has the distinction of being the first country to un-label GE foods at the urging of a company producing mass amounts of GE seeds.

Monsanto and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

In the latter part of the 1920s, Monsanto was the largest producer of PCBs. This chemical was used in lubricant for electric motors, hydraulic fluids and to insulate electrical equipment.3 Old fluorescent light fixtures and electrical appliances with PCB capacitors may still contain the chemical.

During the years PCB was manufactured and used, there were no controls placed on disposal. Since PCBs don't break down under many conditions, they are now widely distributed through the environment and have made the journey up the food chain.4

Between the inception and distribution of the product and its subsequent ban in the late 1970s, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds were distributed in products around the world.5

Monsanto was the primary manufacturer of PCBs in the U.S. under the trade name Aroclor. Health problems associated with exposure to the chemical were noted as early as 1933 when 23 of 24 workers at the production plant developed pustules, loss of energy and appetite, loss of libido and other skin disturbances.6

According to Monsanto's public timeline, it was in 1966 that "Monsanto and others began to study PCB persistence in the environment."7 However, seven years earlier, Monsanto's assistant director of their Medical Department wrote:

"… [S]ufficient exposure, whether by inhalation of vapors or skin contact, can result in chloracne which I think we must assume could be an indication of a more systemic injury if the exposure were allowed to continue."8

In 1967, Shell Oil called to inform Monsanto of press reports from Sweden, noting that PCBs were accumulating in mammals further up the food chain. Shell asked for PCB samples to perform their own analytical studies.9

With full knowledge of the devastation expected to the environment and humanity, it wasn't until 11 years later, in 1977, that Monsanto reportedly pulled production on PCB.10

PCBs Are Probable Human Carcinogens

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Toxicology Program, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIEHS) have identified PCBs as either probable, potential or reasonably likely to cause cancer in humans.11

If it seems like these agencies are couching their words, they are. Human studies have noted increased rates of liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, melanomas, gastrointestinal cancer, biliary tract cancer, brain cancer and breast cancer when individuals had higher levels of PCB chemicals in their blood and tissue.12

However, the EPA limits the ability of researchers to link a chemical as a carcinogen unless there is conclusive proof. While this proof is evident in animal studies, you can't feed these chemicals to humans and record the results. Thus PCBs are a "probable" carcinogen in humans. Other health effects from PCBs include:

  • Babies born with neurological and motor control delays including lower IQ, poor short-term memory and poor performance on standardized behavioral assessment tests
  • Disrupted sex hormones including shortened menstrual cycles, reduced sperm count and premature puberty
  • Imbalanced thyroid hormone affecting growth, intellectual and behavioral development
  • Immune effects, including children with more ear infections and chickenpox

Once PCBs are absorbed in the body they deposit in the fat tissue. They are not broken down or excreted. This means the number of PCBs build over time and move up the food chain. Smaller fish are eaten by larger ones and eventually land on your dinner table.

Chemical Poisoning Begins Before Birth

A recent study at the University of California demonstrated that PCBs are found in the blood of pregnant women.13 Before birth, the umbilical cord delivers approximately 300 quarts of blood to your baby every day.

Not long ago, researchers believed the placenta would shield your developing baby from most pollutants and chemicals. Now we know it does not.

The umbilical cord is a lifeline between mother and child, sustaining life and propelling growth. However, in recent research cord blood contained between 200 and 280 different chemicals; 180 were known carcinogens and 217 were toxic to the baby's developing nervous system.14

The deposits of chemicals in your body or the body of your developing baby are called your "body burden" of chemicals and pollution.

A steady stream of chemicals from the environment during a critical time of organ and system development has a significant impact on the health of your child, both in infancy and as the child grows to adulthood.

Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., director of the University of California San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, was quoted in a press release, saying:

"It was surprising and concerning to find so many chemicals in pregnant women without fully knowing the implications for pregnancy. Several of these chemicals in pregnant women were at the same concentrations that have been associated with negative effects in children from other studies.

In addition, exposure to multiple chemicals that can increase the risk of the same adverse health outcome can have a greater impact than exposure to just one chemical."

Butyl Benzyl Phthalate — Another Monsanto Product

Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), also manufactured by Monsanto, was recently implicated in cell fat storage.15 This specific phthalate was found in human fluids and had an effect on the accumulation of fat inside cells.

BBP is used in the manufacture of vinyl tile, as a plasticizer in PVC pipe, carpets, conveyer belts and weather stripping in your home and office.

Like other phthalates used in the production of plastics, BBP is not bound to the product and can be released into your environment. It may be absorbed by crops and move up the food chain.16 The biggest source of exposure is food.

Drive-through hamburgers and take-out pizzas may be increasing your intake of phthalates. The danger is not in the food itself but in the products used to handle it. The study analyzed data from nearly 9,000 individuals, finding the one-third who had eaten at a fast food restaurant had higher levels of two different phthalates.17

Potentially, BBP may adversely affect your reproductive function. However, at lower doses it also has an effect on your kidneys, liver and pancreas.18 Increased risks of respiratory disorders and multiple myelomas have also been reported in people who have exposure to products manufactured with BBP.19 An increasing waistline from BBP exposure may also reduce your fertility.

Low Sperm Count and Infertility Affecting Animals and Humans

A 26-year study of fertility in dogs, published recently, has distinct similarities to infertility rates in humans. In this study, researchers evaluated the ejaculate of nearly 2,000 dogs. Over the 26 year period, they found a drop in sperm motility of 2.4 percent per year.20

Additionally, both the semen and the testicles of castrated dogs contained by PCBs and phthalates, implicated in other studies to reduction in fertility. Phthalates have been implicated in both decreased sperm motility and quality of your sperm,21 affecting both fertility and the health of your children.22

Researchers used dogs in this study as they live in the same environment as their owners, and often eat some of the same food. This correlation between sperm function and concentration, and environment and food in dogs and humans is significant.

In those 26 years there was also a rise in cryptorchidism in male pups (a condition where the testicles don't descend into the scrotum) born to stud dogs who experienced a decline in sperm quality and motility.23 Cryptorchidism and undescended testicles, occurs at a rate of 1 in 20 term male human infants and 1 in 3 pre-term babies.24

Problems with infertility are also affecting marine animals at the top of the food chain. In the western waters of the Atlantic, the last pod of Orcas are doomed to extinction. High levels of PCB have been found in the fat of over 1,000 dolphins and Orcas in the past 20 years. Now taking a toll on the animal's fertility, this pod of Orcas has not reproduced in the 19 years it has been under study.25

Orcas were living in the North Sea until the 1960s. At that time PCB pollution peaked in the area and the Orca whales disappeared. The same happened in the Mediterranean Sea, where the whales flourished until the 1980s. This pod off the coast of the U.K. is the last living pod in that area.

Monsanto's Argument in PCB Lawsuits

Although Monsanto denies culpability and knowledge of the danger behind the chemical PCB, you'll discover internal documentation in this video that they did, in fact, know of the danger while manufacturing and distributing the product. Monsanto is currently embroiled in several lawsuits across eight cities and the argument is over who owns the rain. The cities are suing Monsanto in Federal Court, saying PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have polluted the San Francisco Bay.26

Monsanto attorney Robert Howard argues that because the city does not own the water rights, the city does not have the right to sue. And, because the PCBs have not damaged city property, such as corroding pipes, Howard claims it is a state problem. Scott Fiske, attorney for three cities, countered with the city's regulatory interests in management of storm water as a fundamental function of the city.27

While Fiske claims he can prove Monsanto knew the product was hazardous as early as 1969, Howard maintains the company should not be liable for the use of the chemicals it produced.

In 2001, Monsanto attorneys in the Owens v. Monsanto case, acknowledged only one health threat from exposure to PCBs: chloracne, and instead argued that since the entire planet has been contaminated, they are innocent of all liability.28 The attorney for Monsanto was quoted in the Chemical Industry Archives, saying:

"The truth is that PCBs are everywhere. They are in meat, they are in everyone in the courtroom, they are everywhere and they have been for a long time, along with a host of other substances." 29

The cities currently engaged in lawsuits against Monsanto for damage to the environment and waterways include Berkley, Oakland, San Jose, Portland, Spokane, Seattle, Long Beach and San Diego. All eight cities attempted to combine their cases against the agrochemical giant but were unsuccessful when one judge found the issues were different enough to warrant separate cases.30

Monsanto's Deep Pockets

Monsanto petitioned the Federal Court to dismiss Portland's lawsuit, claiming it would countersue, adding years to the process. It is likely Monsanto would increase the scope of the case and include companies who used the product and released the PCBs.31 Meanwhile, three plaintiffs in St. Louis received better news in May 2016 when a jury awarded them a total of $46.5 million, finding Monsanto negligent in the production of PCBs.32

This suit claimed Monsanto sold PCBs even after it learned about the dangers, bringing to court internal documents dated 1955, which stated: "We know Aroclors [PCBs] are toxic but the actual limit has not been precisely defined."33 To date this win over Monsanto has been rare. Williams Kherkher, attorney for the plaintiffs, explained in EcoWatch:34

"The only reason why this victory is rare is because no one has had the money to fight Monsanto."

Kherkher and other firms pooled their resources in this case and expect wins in upcoming lawsuits. The firm has accumulated the names of approximately 1,000 plaintiffs with claims against Monsanto and PCBs.

The Hidden Health Hazards Lurking in Your Clothes

Wed, 08/24/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Washing your clothes is not as harmless as you might imagine. Detergents carry toxins and your clothes lose microfibers when washed, polluting the water supply. Your clothes may also harbor flame retardant chemicals, even if you carefully purchase "green" furniture.

Just as purchasing organic foods is integral to your overall health and wellness, so is purchasing organic fabrics. The benefits of organic clothing relate to that which is ABSENT from the fabric — toxic chemicals and pesticides.

Lightweight, synthetic polyester fabrics, while popular because they are fast-drying, also retain more odor-causing bacteria than organic cotton material.1 In a study using 26 volunteers, researchers found the odor-causing bacteria under your arms is different than those populating your polyester t-shirt.

The microbes on the polyester are difficult to remove and cause you to smell before you even start your workout. Most manufactured clothing has also been sprayed with flame retardant chemicals. While they may wash out of your clothes, this adds toxins into the water supply.

Your Clothes May Poison Food Supply

How flame retardant chemicals and phthalates are found in the environment has puzzled scientists as the manufacturers have not reported spillages. Turns out these hormone disruptors and potential carcinogens appear to be making their way into the waterways through your washing machine.

In a recent study from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), researchers were able to directly link plastics and man-made fibers to the pollution in fish you may have eaten last night.

The researchers sampled fish from markets in Indonesia and California, finding the difference was not in the amount of pollutants, but in the type between both countries.

Lead author of the study, Chelsea Rochman, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis School of Medicine, was quoted in EcoWatch, saying:2

"It's interesting that there isn't a big difference in the amount of debris in the fish from each location, but in the type — plastic or fiber. We think the type of debris in the fish is driven by differences in local waste management."

Each washing of a synthetic fleece jacket releases 1.7 grams of microfiber. The older the jacket, the more microfibers are released.3 Up to 40 percent of these microfibers leave the wastewater treatment plant and end up in the surrounding lakes, rivers and ocean.

Current studies have found microfibers are more prevalent than microbeads, and are particularly dangerous, as the fibers are small enough to easily be eaten by fish and other wildlife, accumulating in the gut and concentrating in the bodies of other animals higher up the food chain.

Fibers are found in both marine and freshwater fish. When Abigail Barrows, chief investigator for Global Microplastics Initiative, sampled over 2,000 marine and fresh water fish, 90 percent had microfiber debris in their bodies.

Patagonia Took a First Step

Ecologist Mark Browne, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, published a study during which he sampled sediment from 15 beaches around the world.4 He found high concentrations of acrylic and polyester fibers close to waste water treatment plants.

He reached out to large manufacturers to help fund further study, but only one company, Eileen Fisher, a clothing company that promotes sustainable manufacturing of clothes, offered to help.

In 2015, more research into the effects of microfibers in the environment was published and Jill Dumain, Patagonia's director of environmental strategy, was paying attention. They commissioned a study to determine if products from Patagonia were contributing to the problem.

The new study found that during laundering, one fleece jacket may release as many as 250,000 microfibers. Based on an estimate from sales of the jackets, 100,000 jackets washed in one year would result in the equivalent of 11,900 plastic grocery bags released into the environment, from just one company.5

Washing machines also play a role in releasing microfibers into the wastewater. Scientists are calling for appliance companies to investigate the effectiveness of adding filters to catch the microfibers.6

Research found that top loading machines released 5.3 times more microfibers than front loading models.7 Swedish statistician Hans Rosling estimates the problem will only grow as the number of washing machines put into use continues to climb.

In 2010, 2 billion people used washing machines, and 9 billion worldwide are expected to use them by 2050.8

Flame Retardants and Plasticizers Move From the Air to Your Clothes

Flame retardants are used in furniture, electronics, polyurethane foam, cables, clothing and building insulation. This group of chemicals does not break down into safer chemicals in the environment.

They may travel great distances from the point of origin, accumulate in people and animals in the food chain and have long-term toxic effects.9

In recent years, flame retardant chemicals have come under fire as studies show they do not work well and are extremely toxic, posing a severe health hazard to fire fighters.

When the tobacco industry was pressured into making cigarettes safer to protect against house fires, tobacco manufacturers paired with chemical companies to convince officials that dousing furniture in chemicals was a better choice than altering the cigarettes.10

The ruse worked, but firefighter, health, science and consumer groups are now pushing for a ban on flame retardants, as studies show they pose serious health risks even when not lit.

Exposure to these chemicals at a critical point in development may damage your reproductive system, and cause deficits in learning, memory, motor skills and behavior. Some have also been identified as carcinogenic.11

Now, a pilot study has found cotton and polyester fabrics pick up not only flame retardant chemicals but also plasticizers, such as phthalates, from indoor air.12 Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. They leach out from the plastics as the product ages, and are toxic to you and the environment.

Phthalates have carcinogenic effects and affect reproduction and development.13 When clothing carrying the chemicals is washed, the chemicals enter wastewater and are released into the environment.14

What's the Problem With These Chemicals?

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used as flame retardant chemicals for the past 25 years. Unfortunately, they don't work as promised and actually produce more toxic smoke than untreated objects. Once in your home, they become a part of the dust and air you breathe.

PBDEs are classified as persistent organic pollutants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning they persist in the environment and your body, particularly fatty tissue. This includes your brain, which is 60 percent lipids.15

Scientists from the U.S. and Beijing discovered PBDE-47 was instrumental in interfering with the growth of new neurons that are necessary for learning and memory in adults.16

Perhaps the most condemning evidence against this class of chemicals is the role they may play in autism. When the brains of adults with autism were examined, researchers found persistent organic pollutants in every sample.

Exposure to phthalates can occur when you microwave foods in plastic containers, eat or drink foods that were wrapped or stored in plastic, when children suck or chew on soft plastic or vinyl products, and if you are exposed to medical devices such as IV tubing, blood transfusions and catheters.

Read labels, call the manufacturer and ask your healthcare provider to use phthalate-free products.17 Studies on lab animals indicate phthalates have the following effects:18

  • Early onset puberty
  • Poor male reproductive development
  • Impaired hormone system function
  • Reproductive and genital defects
  • Low testosterone levels and sperm count in adolescent males
Chemicals in Your Clothes May Damage Your Fertility

A number of studies have demonstrated a 50 percent decline in adult male sperm count over the last 50 years.19 Reasons have included poor diet, stressful lifestyle and environmental factors. Recently, researchers found microfibers released from your clothing may bind with chemicals, such as phthalates and flame retardants, in your laundry before released into the sewer system.

Phthalates are easily released from plastics as they are not chemically bound to the product. This is why many soft plastics become hard and brittle over time. The phthalates are deposited into your air, food and liquids. Phthalates affect not only the amount of sperm but also the quality of the genetic material, 20 affecting both fertility and the health of your children.21

Studies have also demonstrated that women with the highest concentrations of phthalates suffer the lowest levels of libido.22  Emily Barrett, Ph.D., who studies prenatal phthalate exposure, was quoted in the Telegraph, saying:23

"Low libido can take its toll on relationships and wellbeing. For a lot of women with loss of libido there is no obvious reason why and it is important to know [how] these chemicals might contribute. The leading source of some phthalates is food. We think that the more processing food goes through, the more likely it is to take these chemicals on.

One of the recommendations that might be made to potentially lower your exposure is to eat less processed food and to pick fresh things without packaging. Organic foods are maybe better because phthalates are sometimes used in pesticides. But you are never going to be able to totally eliminate phthalates from your life unless policy changes."

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Phthalates

Until policy changes, it may be impossible to eliminate phthalates entirely from your environment. However, you can make a significant impact on your health and that of your children by recognizing the products high in phthalates and reducing or eliminating them from your immediate environment.

Products containing phthalates include the following. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but may serve to help you identify the products in your home most likely to increase your risk.24

✓ Vinyl raincoats and rain boots

✓ Household cleaners, glues and paints

✓ Steering wheels, vinyl seating and plastic consoles

✓ Plastic food wraps and soft plastic food containers

✓ Shower curtains

✓ Soft plastic toys

✓ Nail polish and hair spray

✓ Scented candles

✓ PVC water pipes, vinyl flooring and mini-blinds

✓ Plastic school supplies

✓ Scented shampoos, soaps, moisturizers and aftershave lotions

✓ Sex toys and lubricating oils

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Flame Retardants

Like phthalates, flame retardants are so widely used that it's difficult to avoid them completely. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure, including the following:

• Avoid fire-resistant, stain-resistant and/or water-repellant fabrics. Your best bet is to buy organic fabrics, especially when it comes to clothing.

• Avoid upholstered furniture with the TB117 label. If the label states: "This article meets the flammability requirements of California Bureau of Home Furnishings Technical Bulletin 117," it most likely contains flame retardants.

However, even upholstered furniture that's unlabeled may contain flame retardants. To find out if your furniture contains flame retardants, you can send a sample to Duke University. For more information and full instructions, please see my previous article, "Firefighters Are Still Fighting Deadly Flame Retardants."

• Furniture products filled with cotton, wool or polyester tend to be safer than chemical-treated foam; some products also state that they are "flame-retardant free." Organic wool (100 percent) is naturally flame-resistant.

• Avoid baby products with foam. Nursing pillows, high chairs, strollers and other products containing polyurethane foam most likely contain flame retardants.

• Avoid foam carpet padding. If possible, minimize the use of foam carpet padding, which often contains flame retardants. If removing carpeting, take precautions to avoid exposures. You'll want to isolate your work area from the rest of your house to avoid spreading it around, and use a HEPA filter vacuum to clean up.

PBDEs are often found in household dust, so clean up with a HEPA-filter vacuum and/or a wet mop often. Be especially careful with polyurethane foam products manufactured prior to 2005, such as upholstered furniture, mattresses and pillows, as these are most likely to contain PBDEs.

If you have any of these in your home, inspect them carefully and replace ripped covers and/or any foam that appears to be breaking down. Also avoid reupholstering furniture by yourself as the reupholstering process increases your risk of exposure.

Insurance Companies Use Bait-and-Switch Tactics to Maintain the Status Quo of Mercury Amalgams

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Who is more likely to get an amalgam dental filling: people with insurance or people without insurance? The answer may surprise you. The people who are paying for dental insurance are actually MORE likely to get amalgam than mercury-free composite, according to a study published in 2011.1

To find out why this is the case, you don't need to look beyond the slimy bait-and-switch tactics employed by dental insurance companies.

Many people buy dental insurance believing their dental fillings are covered under their policies. But buried in the fine print of those policies are many restrictions that limit the insured's access to mercury-free dentistry. For example:

  • Many insurance policies only pay for amalgam in molar teeth; if you want composite, you have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Many insurance policies that do pay for composite fillings in molar teeth only cover them up to the cost of an amalgam, then leave you to pay the difference.
  • Many insurance policies claim to cover "silver fillings," but don't tell unsuspecting customers that there is no such thing as a "silver filling" — they are in fact mostly mercury.
  • Many insurance policies will not pay for the removal of old amalgams and replacement with composite fillings — even if your dentist believes this is the best treatment.
Many Feel Deceived by Bait-and-Switch Tactics

Many consumers have been left feeling their insurance companies have deceived them. As one consumer reported in a recent survey:

"I just was shocked when I found out the details of my coverage. It felt like a bait-and-switch scheme and deception after I submitted my claims.

There is no doubt they are doing the wrong thing by covering a toxic substance with known serious consequences. Suppose you are in the chair, have problems, you need that filling and you have not planned for that expense, so you just say yes to mercury, because you are in a bind."

Many more feel that their insurance does not adequately cover the modern mercury-free fillings:

"My company-sponsored insurance has not covered mercury-free fillings adequately (or at all in the past) for myself or my children."

"As noted earlier, they only pay up to the cost of an amalgam, unless it's on the front (visible) teeth. I get my insurance through my employer and have no choice in provider (only one option)."

"I must pay the difference between the cost of amalgam and mercury-free fillings."

Take Action — Make Mercury-Free Dentistry a Reality for All

Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, August 21 to 28, is more than a celebration. This week I will match your donations to Consumers for Dental Choice, whether done in U.S dollars, Canadian dollars, pounds or Euros, up to $100,000.

Consumers for Dental Choice is a small, effective organization with the solitary mission of brining mercury-free dentistry to North America and the world.

For 20 years, Consumers for Dental Choice has been working to protect your right to choose mercury-free dentistry. When Consumers for Dental Choice was founded back in 1996, times were grim for consumers and right-thinking dentists.

The latter were tyrannized about the mercury issue; only 3 percent would admit to being mercury-free.

A Mercury Triangle — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the State dental boards — conspired to make sure consumers were told that amalgam is "silver." Hardly any of us outside dentistry had any idea that dentists were plowing our mouths full of mercury.

Click Here

Charlie Brown, president of Consumers for Dental Choice and former attorney general for West Virginia, and his team took on the Mercury Triangle — first defeating the dental boards, one by one, and then destroying the gag rule — the order that dentists stand silent about the mercury.

Consumers for Dental Choice won fact sheets in some states, then beat the FDA in court, forcing the agency to take its first step ever on amalgam: classifying it.

The Public Harm of Covering Mercury

When insurance companies refuse to fully pay for mercury-free fillings, they harm more than your pocketbook. They are harming:

Your health: Dental amalgam releases neurotoxic mercury vapor into your body. Children, the unborn and the hypersensitive are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury.

As if that's not bad enough, as a pre-Civil War concoction, amalgam requires the removal of healthy tooth tissue, weakens tooth structure and cracks teeth — leading to higher dental bills later.

Your environment: Dental amalgam is the largest amount of mercury in use in the United States — more than light bulbs, thermometers or batteries. Most of this mercury, about 28.5 metric tons annually, ends up polluting our air, soil and water.

Once amalgam's elemental mercury reaches the environment, it can convert to methylmercury, which can contaminate the fish we eat. Mercury pollution can cause health problems, especially for children and the unborn, whose brain and nervous systems are still developing.

Your dental office: Dental amalgam can contaminate dental workplaces with mercury, which exposes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, front office staff and visiting patients to this toxin.

Due to this constant exposure, dental professionals — many of whom are women of childbearing age — have been found to have higher systemic mercury levels than the general population.

Experts Urge Insurance Reform

The game changer for mercury-free dentistry is the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Consumes for Dental Choice led a worldwide coalition to secure amalgam into that Convention, whose goal is a world free of anthropogenic (man-made uses) of mercury.

Minamata calls on every nation to shift both insurance and government programs from favoring amalgam to favoring mercury-free materials.

With Minamata Convention on the verge of being ratified, here is our chance to help Consumers for Dental Choice take things to the next level — its enforcement in every nation. Donations are tax-exempt and can be made online at www.toxicteeth.org/donate.aspx. Checks can be mailed to:

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Click Here

Experts worldwide agree that dental insurance needs to catch up with the times to cover mercury-free fillings instead of amalgam. This includes the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which said: "Many insurance companies have traditionally only covered the cost of amalgam fillings, for marginal price reasons. However, the full long-term environmental cost burden is not reflected in these price differences."

And the World Health Organization (WHO), which says that "existing or planned third-party payment systems must consider reimbursement schemes incorporating dental care which make use of materials alternative to dental amalgam."

It's not just experts that think it's time for insurance companies to step up — it's their customers too. A 2014 Zogby poll found that 76 percent Americans (and 80 percent of women) thought dental insurance plans should pay for non-mercury fillings. Only 6 percent thought they should not be covered.

The Pro-Mercury Forces Dig In

With the weight of experts and public opinion clearly on the side of mercury-free dentistry, why are so many insurance policies still only fully covering amalgam? In the video above, Brown urges you to speak with your insurance company, demanding that they cover mercury-free dentistry.

Consumers for Dental Choice has talked with representatives from insurance companies, the National Association of Dental Plans and the American Dental Association — none gave satisfactory answers. Instead, here's some of the mangled logic of our opponents, paraphrased:

Amalgam has been used for more than 100 years: This is proof that amalgam is outdated, not that insurance should continue to favor it. Besides, mercury-free alternatives to amalgam have been around themselves for half a century now.

While they have continued to develop into the most advanced filling technology available, amalgam has not evolved since the 1890s. There is no excuse for insurance holding dentistry back to 19th Century standards. Do they want to return to bleeding patients?

Mercury-free fillings are merely cosmetic: It's true — mercury-free fillings are white. But any dentist worth his salt will tell you there are more important reasons to choose mercury-free composites. In addition to avoiding mercury exposure, composites preserve more natural tooth structure.

Meanwhile, amalgam placement requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth structure, which can shorten the life of the tooth. But insurers who say composite is merely cosmetic don't care about long-term health consequences like that.

Mercury-free fillings are too expensive: Of course the insurers are only considering their costs, not the long-term costs that are passed onto consumers in the form of environmental clean-up and medical/dental bills.

Due to the high costs of dental mercury pollution (not to mention the health consequences), amalgam is now recognized as "more expensive than most, possibly all, other fillings when including environmental costs."2 You can check out the numbers for yourself in the Consumers for Dental Choice report "The Real Cost of Dental Mercury."

Demand Your Choice

Anyone who has dental insurance would expect that it would cover the most basic procedure: filling your teeth. Right? Wrong! More often than not, it doesn't. When insurance companies say they cover dental fillings, they don't. For the molars (the back teeth), dental insurance will generally only fully cover amalgam, that primitive, pre-Civil War pollutant that leads to cracked teeth.

Consumers for Dental Choice, the nonprofit group whose work I endorse, is fighting back. Under the leadership of former attorney general Charlie Brown, this month they launch the "Demand Your Choice" campaign. It calls on all consumers to insist on mercury-free dentistry. It provides you with the tools needed to challenge the bait-and-switch tactic of America's dental insurers.

Click Here Consumers for Dental Choice Stands Up to Insurers

Consumers for Dental Choice has the singular mission of fighting for mercury-free dentistry, and a track record of 20 years of moving us from a nation of mercury-based dentistry toward a nation of mercury-free dentistry. Before Consumers for Dental Choice was founded, only 3 percent of dentists were mercury-free — no doubt because dental boards punished them and prohibited them from talking about mercury with their patients.

So Consumers for Dental Choice devoted its shoe-string budget in the first instance to defeating this notorious gag rule via a well-orchestrated sequence of campaigns: grassroots action in California and Arizona, petitions to the state Attorney General of Oregon and Iowa, administrative litigation in Florida and Minnesota, dental board appointments in Washington state and California, and court litigation in Connecticut.

The result for North American consumers: the supply of mercury-free dentists increased manifold! Today, the odds are good that we can find a mercury-free dentist right in our own community.

Now that almost half of American dentists are mercury-free in practice (although many are still afraid to advertise and speak out), Consumers for Dental Choice is shifting from focusing on supply to demand. Demand for mercury-free dentistry is only held back by insurance companies and other third-party payers who are mandating continued amalgam use. So they're taking action:

Insurance companies: Consumers for Dental Choice has developed tools to help you and your dentist challenge your dental insurance company's decision to deny you your right to choose mercury-free dental care.

State Medicaid: State Medicaid programs commonly prohibit the use of mercury-free fillings for molar teeth (the back teeth), forcing low-income individuals to choose between mercury fillings and no dental care at all.

Consumers for Dental Choice is working with Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice to take on Medicaid in Connecticut, where the Department of Social Services has told dentists that "Medicaid will not pay for [mercury-free] composite restorations in the molar teeth regardless of whether the practice markets itself as 'amalgam free.'"

It then tells dentists: "If your office cannot provide amalgam services, please have your patients call … 1-855-CT-DENTAL to locate a new [dentist]."3 This is taxpayer money funneled to mercury fillings, and taxpayer money funneled to pro-mercury dentists only. Pretty outrageous, wouldn't you agree?

Federal programs: The United States federal government is one of the largest single users of amalgam in the world. From the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Defense to the Federal Prison System, the United States is purchasing and promoting the use of mercury fillings. Consumers for Dental Choice is challenging the federal government to shape up its act, starting with the Indian Health Service.

Partnering with the International Indian Treaty Council, Consumers for Dental Choice filed a petition calling on the Secretary of Interior (who runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs) and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (who runs the Indian Health Service) to end the use of dental mercury in Indian Health Service clinics and on tribal lands.

Coke's Cookie Is Crumbling

Tue, 08/23/2016 - 02:00

By Dr. Mercola

Sugary beverages, soda chief among them, have been blamed for rising rates of obesity and related chronic diseases in developed countries, and there's evidence to support such claims.

Leading beverage companies like Coca-Cola, however, want the public to believe they're not part of the problem but rather are innocent scapegoats.

To get this message across and save their quickly deflating public image, Coca-Cola gave money — a lot of money — to Gregory Hand, Ph.D., the former dean of the West Virginia School of Public Health, to start a nonprofit group called the Global Energy Balance Network.

In early August 2016, the school announced Hand had been demoted and was forced out as dean because of his seemingly unscrupulous involvements with Coca-Cola, although he will still be working at the school in another role.

The purpose of the now-defunct Global Energy Balance Network, for instance, was to promote the message that lack of exercise, and not sugary beverages, is responsible for obesity.

Coca-Cola reportedly gave Hand more than half a million dollars to start the misleading nonprofit. About a year ago, health experts called the nonprofit's message "misleading" and "an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes."1

West Virginia School of Public Health Dean Forced to Step Down Due to Coca-Cola Conflicts

The formation of the Global Energy Balance Network was only one of Hand's underhanded dealings with Coca-Cola. The beverage giant also gave Hand $806,500 to conduct an "energy flux" study in 2011.

When leaders in public health are partnering with soda makers to downplay the risks such beverages pose in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more, clearly they have not only failed in their duty to protect public health but also have taken steps to worsen it.

Gary Ruskin of the public interest group U.S. Right to Know told Corporate Crime Reporter:2

"Gregory Hand betrayed West Virginia taxpayers and his public health profession by helping Coca-Cola to evade responsibility for its role in the obesity epidemic …

Hand's role as dean was to improve public health, but he did the opposite … It's a good start that Hand was removed from his post at dean, but he should be fired from West Virginia University."

Coca-Cola Front Group Shut Down After Bad Press

The Global Energy Balance Network was basically a front group aimed at confusing you about soda science and diverting attention away from evidence showing soda is a major contributor to obesity and diabetes.

One of the group's primary messages was to tout exercise as the science-backed solution to obesity — while downplaying the importance of dietary issues, like soda consumption.

Coca-Cola did not come right out and disclose that they were behind the supposedly scientific front group — they were outed by The New York Times in August 2015.3

After The New York Times report, the front group received so much bad press and criticism that one of their academic ties, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said it would return the $1 million grant Coca-Cola had given them to help start the group.

Public health authorities accused the group of using tobacco-industry tactics to raise doubts about the health hazards of soda, and a letter signed by more than three-dozen scientists said the group was spreading "scientific nonsense."4

By December 2015, the Global Energy Balance Network announced it would be shutting down, with Coca-Cola claiming it was working on increased transparency.5

Even CDC Officials Have Close Ties With Coca-Cola

Another leader in public health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should be cracking down on corporations promoting products linked to poor health and disease. Instead, they appear to have taken the company under their protective wing.

Earlier this year, for instance, Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., former director of the CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP), left the agency unexpectedly, two days after her close ties with Coca-Cola were revealed.

Bowman reportedly aided a Coca-Cola representative in efforts to influence World Health Organization (WHO) officials to relax recommendations on sugar limits.6 Bowman, however, was not the only CDC official looking out for Coca-Cola.

Uncovered emails now suggest that Michael Pratt, senior adviser for Global Health in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC, has also promoted and led research for the soda giant. According to The Huffington Post:7

"Pratt did not respond to questions about his work, which includes a position as a professor at Emory University, a private research university in Atlanta that has received millions of dollars from the Coca-Cola Foundation and more than $100 million from famed longtime Coca-Cola leader Robert W. Woodruff and Woodruff's brother George.

Indeed, Coca-Cola's financial support for Emory is so strong that the university states on its website that 'it's unofficially considered poor school spirit to drink other soda brands on campus.'"

Coca-Cola CEO Assures Media That People Are Still Spending Money on Soda

Research suggests sugary beverages are to blame for about 183,000 deaths worldwide each year, including 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 heart disease deaths and 6,000 cancer deaths. The health risks must be catching on, as soda consumption has been on a steady decline for decades.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans say they actively try to avoid soda in their diet,8 and Americans now consume about the same amount they did back in 1986. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola sales fell 5 percent to $11.54 billion, from $12.16 billion in the year-ago quarter, according to Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent.9

Despite this, Kent told the media that "consumers are still buying and spending money on sparkling beverages," just in smaller amounts. The company has adopted a new strategy of selling smaller sizes of soft drinks at a higher margin in efforts to boost revenue.

Soda May Increase the Risk of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

Coca-Cola has spent nearly $120 million on grants given to health organizations, including cancer organizations,10 in recent years, which is ironic since soda has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Recently, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed high consumption of sweetened beverages may increase the risk of rare cancers in the gallbladder and bile ducts around the liver.11

The finding is particularly noteworthy because research suggests obesity and elevated blood sugar levels (often found in diabetes) may increase the risk of these rare cancers — and both obesity and diabetes have, in turn, been linked to sugary drinks.

Diet Soda May Disrupt Your Gut Microbiota

As we've seen many times over, the solution to avoiding the health risks of sugary beverages is NOT to switch to artificially sweetened diet soda, as these beverages have just as much risk as their sugar-sweetened cousins — if not more so.

Studies have found that artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, may lead to weight gain12 and glucose intolerance by altering gut microbiota.13

Unbeknownst to many, aspartame has been found toincreasehunger ratings compared to glucose or water and is associated with heightened motivation to eat (even more so than other artificial sweeteners like saccharin or acesulfame potassium).14

For a substance often used in "diet" products, the fact that aspartame may actually increaseweight gain is incredibly misleading. A study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism also found that consuming aspartame may be associated with greater glucose intolerance, particularly for people who are obese. According to the study:15

"This study provides evidence that consumption of aspartame may be associated with greater diabetes risk in individuals with higher adiposity. Aspartame is reported to be associated with changes in gut microbiota that are associated with impairments in insulin resistance in lean and obese rodents. We observe that aspartame was related to significantly greater impairments in glucose tolerance for individuals with obesity … "

Diet Soda May Make You Consume More Calories

It's a myth that drinking diet soda can help you lose weight. On the contrary, a recent study on fruit flies again found that artificial sweeteners may make you eat more than you normally would.16 For the study, fruit flies were fed a diet of food sweetened with sucralose (Spenda) or sugar for five days.

Those fed sucralose ate about 30 percent more calories than those fed sugar. The researchers then revealed that sucralose activated a fasting response in the flies, which triggered them to eat more to compensate for the perceived lack of food.17

A similar study conducted in mice yielded similar results, with the mice fed sucralose consuming more food. What's more, when the flies were fed real sugar later on, the brains of those that had been used to consuming artificial sweeteners responded differently. They showed more activity in response to the sugar, which suggests it tasted sweeter after getting used to artificial sweeteners. Study author Herbert Herzog told Forbes:18

"These findings further reinforce the idea that 'sugar-free' varieties of processed food and drink may not be as inert as we anticipated … Artificial sweeteners can actually change how animals perceive the sweetness of their food, with a discrepancy between sweetness and energy levels prompting an increase in caloric consumption."

Not to mention, 92 percent of independently funded studies found aspartame, which is often used in diet soda, may cause adverse effects beyond increased calorie consumption, including depression and headaches.19 Writing in Vice, one woman also shared her story of how suffering from chronic migraines virtually ruined her 20s — until a migraine specialist finally made the connection to diet soda.

She was drinking close to three bottles of aspartame-sweetened diet soda a day and suffering from multiple migraines a week. When she gave up the diet soda, the migraines went away.20

Click Here

Embed this infographic on your website:

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/coke-is-a-joke.jpg" alt="aspartame side effects" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;" /><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">The "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/coke-is-a-joke.htm"><strong>Coke Is a Joke</strong></a>" infographic exposes the false weight loss and wellness claims of Coke in its diet soda line, which uses aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Use the embed code to share it on your website.</p> <pre style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin: 20px auto 0 auto; padding:10px; border:solid 1px #999999; background: #ffffff; white-space: pre-wrap; word-wrap:break-word;"><code>&lt;img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/coke-is-a-joke.jpg" alt="aspartame side effects" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"&gt;&lt;p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;"&gt;The "&lt;a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/coke-is-a-joke.htm"&gt;&lt;strong&gt;Coke is a Joke&lt;/strong&gt;&lt;/a&gt;" infographic exposes the false weight loss and wellness claims of Coke in its diet soda line, which uses aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Use the embed code to share it on your website.&lt;/p&gt;</code></pre>

Click on the code area and press CTRL + C (for Windows) / CMD + C (for Macintosh) to copy the code.

Don't Fall for Coca-Cola's Marketing — Give up Soda to Protect Your Health

Despite Coca-Cola's slick marketing campaigns, government ties and heavy contributions to academia to give the illusion that drinking soda is perfectly healthy, the fact remains that this is one dietary habit worth kicking to the curb. Your best, most cost-effective choice of beverage is filtered tap water. I strongly recommend using a high-quality water filtration system unless you can verify the purity of your water. Seltzer or mineral water is another option.

Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime is one way to add some flavor and variety, and many soda drinkers find it easier to ditch soda when replacing it with some sparkling water. Unsweetened tea and coffee can also be healthy beverage choices. As for a safer sweetener option, you could use stevia or Luo Han, both of which are safe natural sweeteners.

However, if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues and would likely benefit from avoiding all sweeteners, including stevia and Luo Han. In order to break free of your soda habit, be sure you also address the emotional component of your cravings using tools such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT).

Turbo Tapping, in particular, is an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your soda addiction in a short amount of time. In addition, soda cravings may be a sign that you need to make some changes to your diet to better fulfill your nutritional requirements. My free nutrition plan can help you do this in a step-by-step manner.

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