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Monthly Archives: November 2011
By Dr. Mercola
Astaxanthin—one of about 700 different carotenoids—is now believed to be the most powerful antioxidant found in nature.
In terms of supplements, it’s definitely one of the most beneficial I’ve ever learned about.
Astaxanthin is derived from the microalgae Haematoccous pluvialis. It’s the part that gives salmon and flamingos that eat the algae their orange or pink coloring.
It is produced when the algae’s water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation.
Essentially, astaxanthin is the algae’s survival mechanism, and serves as a “force field” to protect the algae from intense sunlight.
One can’t help to wonder if this might help explain why it also appears to have a protective effect against gamma radiation—the highly hazardous ionizing radiation produced by radioactive atoms.
Astaxanthin May Protect DNA against Gamma Radiation
A recent study sought to investigate the protective effects of astaxanthin against DNA damage induced by gamma radiation. Fifty mice were randomly divided into five groups. Three of the groups received astaxanthin in varying dosages. The remaining—one control group and one model group—received vegetable oil. All mice except the control group were irradiated with gamma-rays 30 days after receiving the astaxanthin or placebo. Four days after being irradiated, their liver cells were collected for analysis, to evaluate the integrity of the DNA, and other liver activities. Bone marrow was also evaluated.
The mice that received astaxanthin a month before being irradiated were found to suffer less damage than the controls.
“Astaxanthin might have some protective effect against oxidative impairment and DNA damage induced by … gamma-rays”.
Interestingly, vitamin D has also been shown to have similar protective ability against harsh forms of radiation. In fact, the protective mechanisms of vitamin D are so strong that the researchers suggested it should be considered among the prime (if not the primary) non-pharmacological agents to protect against sub-lethal low radiation damage and, particularly, radiation-induced cancer.
But back to astaxanthin… The authors of the featured study do not offer any theories as to the mechanism that might render astaxanthin a potential ally against radiation-induced damage, but based on other research, it’s certainly clear that it is a remarkable antioxidant with potent anti-inflammatory and DNA-protective capabilities, which could help explain this effect.
I personally use astaxanthin to help protect me from radiation damage when I am flying. This is more important in the day time as the radiation is typically far lower when flying at night. However, it does have to be taken for three weeks to build up levels to provide this level of protection.
Astaxanthin Protects Your Skin against UV-Radiation
We already know that astaxanthin can protect your skin against sun damage and photo aging effects, just like it protects the algae against the harmful effects of excess ultraviolet radiation. Bob Capelli discussed this in a previous interview, in which he provided some examples of the research in this area.
For example, initial animal studies in Japan had discovered that mice fed astaxanthin were able to remain under UV radiation longer without getting burned or experiencing deleterious damage to their skin, compared to mice that did not get astaxanthin.
In tests on human volunteers, it was found that taking 4 mg per day for just three weeks statistically increased the amount of time the subjects could stay in the sun without getting burned.
While it will not eliminate the risk of sunburn in everyone, it can definitely reduce your risk of developing severe sunburn and related skin damage. Getting sunburned not only causes photoaging, it may also contribute to skin cancers, so you should always take care not to get burned. You also need to be aware that it will take two to three weeks for it to sufficiently build up in your system to achieve UV protection and help improve your skin’s overall moisture balance and elasticity.
What Makes Astaxanthin so Special?
Dr. Rudi Moerck is a drug industry insider and an expert on fats and antioxidants, such as astaxanthin, which he discusses in the video above. There are many properties that set astaxanthin apart from other carotenoids, including:
- Astaxanthin is by far the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to free radical scavenging: astaxanthin is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.
- Astaxanthin is far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching,” which is a particular type of oxidation. The damaging effects of sunlight and various organic materials are caused by this less-stable form of oxygen. Astaxanthin is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing singlet oxygen.
- Astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier AND the blood-retinal barrier (beta carotene and lycopene do not), which brings antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to your eyes, brain and central nervous system and reducing your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- It’s a potent UVB absorber and reduces DNA damage.
- It’s a very potent natural anti-inflammatory.
Two Additional Features that Make Astaxanthin Unique
Another feature that separates astaxanthin from other carotenoids (including beta-carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin) is that it cannot function as a pro-oxidant. Many antioxidants will act as pro-oxidants (meaning they start to cause rather than combat oxidation) when present in your tissues in sufficient concentrations. This is why you don’t want to go overboard taking too many antioxidant supplements like beta-carotene, for example.
Astaxanthin, on the other hand, does not function as a pro-oxidant, even when present in high amounts, which makes it highly beneficial.
It’s also unique in that it can protect the entire cell from damage. Again, while the astaxanthin molecule is in the same family as beta-carotene and other carotenoids like lutein and lycopene, it’s also very different. This difference is due to the shape of the molecule, and the ends of the molecule.
“One end of the astaxanthin molecule [protects] the water soluble part of the cell… and the other end [protects] the fat soluble part of the cell. So it can protect the entire cell.”
One Example of Astaxanthin’s Antioxidant Potency
To illustrate just how potent an antioxidant astaxanthin really is, krill oil—which naturally contains a small amount of astaxanthin—remains undamaged by a steady flow of oxygen for an impressive 190 hours, according to tests conducted by Dr. Moerck. That’s truly incredible when you consider just how fragile omega-3 fats are (both animal- and plant-based omega-3 fats).
Compare that to fish oil—an otherwise comparable animal-based omega-3 source—which goes rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage compared to fish oil. A mere 0.2 mg of astaxanthin per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity.
Ideal Sources of Astaxanthin
Many carotenoids, such as zeaxanthin, are already abundant in your diet, provided you eat enough fresh, raw, vegetables and some fruit. Lutein, another important antioxidant, is found in egg yolks—just make sure they are organic eggs laid by free-range pastured hens.
Astaxanthin, however, is different in that you’re probably not getting much of it in your diet, and certainly not enough to take advantage of all its benefits.
It’s the most commonly occurring red carotenoid in marine and aquatic animals, especially salmon, giving it its characteristic pink color. Shrimp, lobster and crab are also sources of astaxanthin. However, you’re unlikely to be able to consume enough salmon and shell fish on a daily basis to get a therapeutic dose… According to Bob Capelli, you’d have to consume three-quarters of a pound of wild-caught sockeye salmon, which contains the highest amounts of astaxanthin of all the marine foods, to receive the same amount of astaxanthin you’d get in a 4mg capsule if you were to take a supplement.
Complicating matters further is the fact that laboratory-made astaxanthin is now commonly used worldwide to supplement fish feeds in order to obtain the desired pinkish to orange-red color. This artificial astaxanthin is derived from petrochemicals and has a different molecular makeup. So if you’re consuming farm-raised salmon, you may actually do your health more harm than good.
For these reasons, considering an astaxanthin supplement may be advisable. I recommend starting out taking 2 mg/day, and slowly increasing it to 4 mg/day. You can either use an astaxanthin supplement, or take krill oil, which contains it. Just make sure to check the label to determine how much astaxanthin you’re getting in each dose.
Other Health Benefits of Astaxanthin
I’ve previously discussed several health benefits of astaxanthin in great depth, so for more information about its use for the following health problems, please see the hyperlinks provided:
- Eye health, including protection against cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness
- Inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and more
- Sunburn and wrinkle prevention
- Improved athletic performance
- Better brain health
By Dr. Mercola
During a Republican debate in Tampa, Florida, presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) alleged that campaign contributions from drug company Merck—the maker of Gardasil—played “a pivotal role in Rick Perry’s 2007 executive order that mandated teenage girls in Texas be inoculated against HPV,” CNN reports.
The order did not go into effect, however, as it was later overturned by the legislature.
Still, it’s hard to overlook the potential for undue influence and conflict of interest. Perry responded that the company gave only $5,000 to his campaign.
However, Merck has contributed:
- $28,500 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaigns since January 2001, and
- $377,500 to the Republican Governors Association (one of the largest backers of Perry’s campaigns)
Furthermore, CNN reported that:
“Perhaps more importantly, Perry’s friend, former chief of staff Mike Toomey, spun through the revolving door to become a lobbyist for Merck in Texas, a position he held at the time of the HPV-related executive order.
… Perry’s actions benefiting donors from the pharmaceutical industry don’t appear to stop with Merck.
For instance, drug-maker Novartis Pharmaceuticals has also contributed handsomely to the Republican Governors Association and it has also benefited from Perry’s support. Novartis has donated $700,000 to the RGA since January 2006, although it has only directly donated $5,000 to Perry’s own campaign. In 2009, Perry signed a bill into law mandating meningitis vaccines for all college students, a requirement he expanded again earlier this year.”
CDC Officially Recommends Gardasil for Boys
On October 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend giving the HPV vaccine to males between the ages of 11 and 21. They further recommend the vaccine series can be given to boys as young as nine, as well as to men up to the age of 26, especially if they engage in homosexual sex—allegedly to offer partial protection against genital warts, and cancers of the penis and rectum.Dr. Mercola Recommends…Every “Like” Helps Support This Cause
Interestingly enough, according to CNN Health, a large portion of the debate was focused on whether it would be cost-effective to vaccinate boys against HPV.
While cost-effectiveness is certainly an important concern, I believe reviewing the safety would certainly trump it. CNN reports that the cost to vaccinate 11- and 12-year old boys would be $38 million.
How is this cost-effective, when anal cancer, for example, has so far stricken a mere 5,820 men this year!
Deaths caused by anal cancer: 770. Gardasil is claimed to be 75 percent effective against anal cancer in men, so crunch the numbers… This is nothing short of insanity.
Why the push to vaccinate boys with Gardasil?
Because “girls aren’t getting vaccinated in the numbers doctors had expected,” CNN reports. “If the boys are also immunized, it reduces the transmission back and forth…” Folks, this is a health emergency in the making. Please do not be deceived into giving this dangerous vaccine to your kids, regardless of their gender.
What Effect Will Gardasil have on Other Cancer-Causing HPV Strains?
Such conflicts of interest can be dangerous in the extreme, especially when you’re talking about mandating a vaccine that has not been proven to actually prevent cancer in the long term, and that appears to carry tremendous long-term health risks, including:
|Bell’s Palsy and Guillan-Barre syndrome||Seizures||Cervical dysplasia, and cervical cancer|
|Blood clotting and heart problems, including cardiac arrest||Miscarriages and fetal abnormalities amongst pregnant women who received the vaccine||Sudden death|
There’s another important factor to take into account when discussing the potential risks versus alleged benefits of the HPV vaccine, which is discussed in a September issue of New Scientist:
“[W]hat effect will the vaccine have on the other cancer-causing strains of HPV? Nature never leaves a void, so if HPV-16 and HPV-18 are suppressed by an effective vaccine, other strains of the virus will take their place. The question is, will these strains cause cervical cancer? Results from clinical trials are not encouraging. Vaccinated women show an increased number of precancerous lesions caused by strains of HPV other than HPV-16 and HPV-18. “
High Time to Take an In-Depth Look at HPV Vaccine Risk/Benefit Profile
For those who are still unaware, the HPV vaccine only protects against two strains of HPV associated with cancer (HPV-16 and HPV-18), but there are MORE THAN 100 different strains of HPV in all, and about 15 of them are known to potentially cause cancer IF the infection persists. In more than 90 percent of all cases, however, the infection resolves on its own and does not lead to any health complications.
It’s clear to me that this is another case where the precautionary principle needs to be applied, as currently no one knows exactly whether or not the vaccine will have any measurable effect as far as lowering cervical cancer rates. The results will not be fully apparent until a few decades from now, and in the meantime, countless young girls are being harmed, and we still do not know how Gardasil will affect their long-term health, even if they do not experience any acute side effects.
Sadly, Merck (the maker of Gardasil) is not erring on the side caution here. As recently reported by ActivistPost, the official Gardasil web site completely omits any mention of death as a possible side effect, despite the fact that Gardasil has been linked to 49 deaths. They also fail to mention any of the more serious side effects, many of which have been reported to VAERS, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, despite the fact that there are 213 reported cases of permanent disability as a result of the vaccine.
New Scientist points out that “one way forward is to build a mathematical model of the disease and use it to test the benefits of vaccination.” However, this is far easier said than done, and one such modeling study included several highly optimistic assumptions that may or may not be accurate, including the assumption that:
- The vaccine offers lifelong protection
- The vaccine has identical effects on young girls and older women
- HPV-16 and HPV-18 will not be replaced by mutated and/or more potent cancer-causing strains
- Vaccinated women will continue to get cervical cancer screenings, and
- Vaccinated women’s natural immunity against HPV will remain unaffected
Is it reasonable to hinge the future of millions of women on a set of assumptions? Two years ago, Dr. Diane Harper, one of the lead researchers for Gardasil blew the whistle on the vaccine, saying that girls and their parents need to receive more complete information before accepting the inoculation. Dr. Harper, who participated in the Phase 2 and 3 trials to get Gardasil approved and authored several papers on it, raised serious questions about the vaccine’s risks-benefit profile. And, according to Dr. Harper, the available data suggests the vaccine’s protective effects do not last beyond five years.
In a 2009 CBSNews interview, she stated:
“If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit. The benefit to public health is nothing; there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70 percent of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.”
She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.”
Why Risk Your Life to Prevent an Avoidable Disease?
Deadly blood clots, acute respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and “sudden death due to unknown causes” have all occurred in girls shortly after they’ve received the Gardasil vaccine. These are atrocious risks to potentially prevent cervical cancer one day down the road. Because let’s not forget that the HPV vaccine has not yet been PROVEN to actually prevent any kind of cancer.
The benefit is just one big “maybe.”
So, are the risks involved really acceptable, especially in light of these latest findings? With recombinant HPV DNA thrown into the mix, we now know even LESS about the long-term risks and benefits of this vaccine…
Of course, you need to do your own careful research, but I simply cannot recommend this vaccine.
There are far better ways to protect yourself and your young daughters against cervical cancer. According to the CDC more than 6 million women contract HPV annually, yet less than 3,900 women will die from cervical cancer out of those 6 million. This is because, in 90 percent of all cases, your immune system can clear up the HPV infection on its own. Furthermore, the infection is spread through sexual contact, so it is behaviorally avoidable. In fact, using condoms can reduce the risk of HPV by 70 percent, which is more than Gardasil can claim to do.
The bottom line is that Gardasil is largely ineffective, potentially very dangerous, and a major waste of money. In order to keep your daughter healthy, why not take these simple steps that can prevent HPV and cervical cancer far better than a vaccine ever could:
- Talk to your kids about HPV. This infection is sexually transmitted, so it is 100 percent preventable through lifestyle choices, including the use of condoms.
- Keep your immune system strong. A healthy immune system is better able to handle a heavier emotional and physical stress load. The ideal healthy habits to keep your body and mind strong are detailed in these 12 changes that will cut your cancer risk in half.
Keep Educating Yourself on Vaccines
It is becoming increasingly necessary to continue to educate yourself and your family on the issues surrounding vaccinations of all kinds. There are so many problems; no one article can possibly cover them all. You can find and search all vaccine related articles on my Latest Vaccine News page. I also recommend you familiarize yourself with the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) web site. As a leader for vaccine safety, the NVIC offers information on everything from laws to informed consent to late-breaking vaccine news.
What You Can Do to Make a Difference
While it seems “old-fashioned,” the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and expand vaccine exemptions, is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.
THINK GLOBALLY, ACT LOCALLY.
Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.
Signing up for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at www.NVICAdvocacy.org not only gives you access to practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.
So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Contact Your Elected Officials
Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don’t let them forget you!
It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what’s really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the “real life” experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.
Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know
If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don’t share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.
I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the “other side” of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down. Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.
We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than “statistically acceptable collateral damage” of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn’t be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at www.NVIC.org:
- NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
- If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
- Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors or government officials for making independent vaccine choices.
Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One that Will Listen and Care
If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don’t want, I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.
However, there is hope.
At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they’re starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.
So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.
By Dr. Mercola
In Europe genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled.
In the United States, they do not.
But the truth is, if and when GM labeling is finally required in the United States, you’re going to see changes to the majority of food labels in your supermarket, as GM foods already widely appear in our food supply.
Most people are not aware that nearly EVERY processed food you encounter at your local supermarket that does not bear the “USDA Organic” label is filled with GM components.
This is due to the amount of GM crops now grown in the United States (over 90 percent of all corn is GM corn and over 95 percent all soy is GM soy).
As you might suspect, it’s in the interest of the industry to keep the prevalence of GM ingredients quiet and they won’t go down without a fight.
Biotech Industry Spends More Than Half a Billion to Influence Congress
In just over a decade, the food and agriculture biotechnology industry has spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, according to an analysis by Food & Water Watch.
Key among the goals of this intense lobbying effort is to prevent GM food labeling and keep Americans in the dark about the contents of their food.
The analysis states:
“The food and agriculture biotechnology industry has been flexing its financial political muscle to ease the regulatory oversight of genetically modified foods. Lobbying efforts for some of these firms and groups have included approval of cloned food and genetically engineered food, animals and livestock.
Companies are also fighting to eliminate or prevent labeling on genetically modified foods in the United States and preventing other countries from regulating genetically modified foods. These efforts have dovetailed with lobbying to tighten intellectual property law protections over patented seeds and animals in attempts to further benefit the biotech industry.”
Over 95 percent of Americans polled said they think GM foods should require a label, stating it’s an ethical issue and consumers should be able to make an informed choice. Like people in Europe, Americans are suspicious of GM foods, and a large part of why many continue to buy them is because they are unaware that they’re already in the food. A prominent GM food label would be a death sentence to U.S. GM crops, which are right now enjoying a free for all when it comes to entering the food market.
“Why are there basically no genetically engineered foods or crops anywhere in Europe, while 75 percent of U.S. supermarket foods—including many so-called “natural” foods—are GE tainted?
The answer is simple. In Europe genetically modified foods and ingredients have to be labeled. In the U.S. they do not. Up until now, in North America, Monsanto and the Biotechnocrats have enjoyed free reign to secretly lace non-organic foods with gene-spliced viruses, bacteria, antibiotic-resistant marker genes, and foreign DNA—mutant “Frankenfoods” shown to severely damage the health of animals, plants, and other living organisms in numerous scientific studies.
Monsanto and their allies understand the threat that truth-in-labeling poses for GMOs.
As soon as genetically modified foods start to be labeled in the U.S., millions of consumers will start to read these labels and react.
They’ll complain to grocery store managers and companies, they’ll talk to their family and friends. They’ll start switching to foods that are organic or at least GMO-free. Once enough consumers start complaining about GM foods and food ingredients; stores will eventually stop selling them; and farmers will stop planting them.
Genetically engineered foods have absolutely no benefit for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from ever getting a public discussion, much less coming to a vote in Congress.”
Why the Approval of GM Alfalfa Could Mean the End of Organic
Industry lobbying is clearly working, as to date biotech companies have evaded mandatory labeling laws (although a new California initiative may change all of that). They also succeeded in getting GM alfalfa approved, which quite literally threatens the entire organic industry, including organic meat, as alfalfa is the fourth largest crop in the U.S., and is used to produce forage seed and hay to feed cows and other livestock.
Contamination would be disastrous for organic dairy- and cattle farmers as federal organic standards forbid them from using GM crops, and organic food manufacturers will reject a food ingredient if found to be contaminated with GM material — not to mention Monsanto’s history of suing both conventional and organic farmers for patent infringement should their crops be cross-contaminated.
Cummins noted in the above interview that any alfalfa growing within a five-mile radius of GM alfalfa will immediately become contaminated, and it’s clearly evident that GM crops of all kinds cannot be contained. They absolutely WILL contaminate their conventional and organic counterparts, which will mean ultimately the entire food supply will contain GMOs.
Some, like Dr. Philip Bereano, professor emeritus at the University of Washington and an engaged activist concerning GM foods, believe contamination is actually an intentional strategy by both the government and the industry to weaken the organic industry to simply allow GM animal feed in organics.
Indeed, while USDA chief Tom Vilsack acknowledged alfalfa contamination concerns in an “Open Letter to Stakeholders” on December 30, 2010, stating that the USDA’s environmental impact statement “acknowledges the potential of cross-fertilization to non-GE alfalfa from GE alfalfa,” adding that cross-fertilization is “a significant concern for farmers who produce for non-GE markets at home and abroad,” steps were not taken to address them.
Congress is the Puppet, Biotech is the Puppeteer
It takes only a flick of biotech’s wrist to move Congress’ regulatory arms, and the truth is the revolving door between the two is spinning so fast that the line between industry lobbyists and legislators is permanently blurred.
As the Food & Water Watch report noted:
“At least a baker’s dozen of former members of Congress represent food and agriculture biotechnology interests as lobbyists. Of the companies surveyed, seven spent over $8.5 million to hire the firms of at least 13 former senators and representatives to represent these biotechnology interests to their former colleagues in the Congress. Many of these former legislators-turned-lobbyists have formidable legislative pedigrees.
For example, Former House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Charles Stenholm (D-TX) is currently a registered lobbyist for Syngenta, a seller of genetically modified plants in the United States and abroad.”
Biotech giant Monsanto is a prime example of how the industry has infiltrated U.S. regulatory agencies like the FDA and the USDA with their previous employees who are still very loyal to Monsanto. Cummins pointed out the following connections as a start:
- Clarence Thomas, who did not withdraw himself from a Supreme Court decision on genetically engineered alfalfa last year, used to be the general counsel for Monsanto.
- Michael Taylor, who was formerly the vice president of Monsanto, is now the Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
- Roger Beachy, the former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center in Saint Louis, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Islam Siddiqui was vice president of Monsanto and Dupont’s funded pesticide-promotion group CropLife. He is now the agricultural negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative. In other words, he is the enforcer for U.S. foreign policy that countries have to accept our genetically engineered exports.
- Rajiv Shah is the former Agricultural Development Director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation, who are frequently partnering with Monsanto. He served as Obama’s USDA undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics.
- Elena Kagan has served as President Obama’s Solicitor General. She took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers on the roundup ready alfalfa case.
- Ramona Ramiro, corporate counsel to Dupont, another biotech bully, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as general counsel for the USDA.
This is not an issue of Republican versus Democrat. As Cummins noted, both parties are guilty:
“We must point that it’s not just the Obama Administration that has served as a revolving door for Monsanto. We saw the same situation under Bush Jr., Clinton and Bush Sr. We have a corporation Monsanto that is not only out of control, but that places its people in high positions; that donates large sums of money to members of congress; and that basically gets its way every time there is a policy decision made in Washington.”
It should not come as a surprise, then, that even the current secretary of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, is thoroughly entrenched in the industry. As the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) pointed out:
- Vilsack has been a strong supporter of genetically engineered crops, including bio-pharmaceutical corn.
- The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, named Vilsack Biotech Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership.
- When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.
- The undemocratic and highly unpopular 2005 seed pre-emption bill was Vilsack’s brainchild. The law strips local government’s right to regulate genetically engineered seed (including where GE can be grown, maintaining GE-free buffers or banning GE corn locally).
- Vilsack is an ardent supporter of corn and soy-based biofuels, which use as much or more fossil fuel energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up world food prices and literally starving the poor.
- Overall, Vilsack’s record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and promoting animal cloning.
I think this makes it a lot easier to understand why GM crops have proliferated the American landscape and food supply, despite public outcry and organized opposition.
GM Crops Failing Miserably, Threatening Public Health
Virtually all of the claims of benefit of GM crops – increased yields, more food production, controlled pests and weeds, reductions in chemical use in agriculture, drought-tolerant seeds – have not materialized. The Global Citizens’ Report on the State of GMOs states:
- Contrary to the claim of feeding the world, genetic engineering has not increased the yield of a single crop.
- Herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops were supposed to control weeds and Bt crops were intended to control pests. Instead of controlling weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the emergence of super weeds and super pests … Herbicide resistant crops such as Roundup Ready cotton can create the risk of herbicide resistant “superweeds” by transferring the herbicide resistance to weeds.
- Despite claims that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) used, this has not been the case. This is of great concern both because of the negative impacts of these chemicals on ecosystems and humans, and because there is the danger that increased chemical use will cause pests and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even more chemicals in order to manage them.
- Monsanto has been claiming that through genetic engineering it can breed crops for drought tolerance and other climate-resilient traits. This is a false promise.
- Among the false claims made by Monsanto and the Biotechnology industry is that GE foods are safe. However, there are enough independent studies to show that GE foods can cause health damage.
At the same time, earlier this year, Cry1Ab, a specific type of Bt toxin from certain GM crops, has for the first time been detected in human and fetal blood samples. It appears the toxin is quite prevalent, as upon testing 69 pregnant and non-pregnant women who were eating a typical Canadian diet (which included foods such as GM soy, corn and potatoes), researchers found Bt toxin in:
- 93 percent of blood samples of pregnant women
- 80 percent of fetal blood samples
- 69 percent of non-pregnant women blood samples
There’s now plenty of evidence that the Bt toxin may trigger an inflammatory response, and as you may know, chronic inflammation is at the root of many increasingly common diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Food allergies are also skyrocketing, as is infertility, which could also be a potential side effect of GM foods, based on results from animal studies. Monsanto insists that GM foods are no different from conventionally grown varieties, but the research does NOT support this claim. Here is just a sampling of the unsavory findings associated with GM foods:
|GM pea protein caused lung damage in mice||Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce|
|GM potatoes may cause cancer in rats||Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells|
|Bacteria in your gut can take up DNA from GM food||The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning|
|GM foods lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, specifically the kidney, liver, heart and spleen||Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties|
|Bt corn caused a wide variety of immune responses in mice, commonly associated with diseases such as arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease||Investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products|
The Time is Ripe to Fight Back
All is not lost on the GM food front, as we now have a practical plan to end this disaster. By educating the public about the risks of GM foods through a massive education campaign, and launching a ballot initiative in California for 2012, which will require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and food ingredients, our plan is to generate a tipping point of consumer rejection to make GMOs a thing of the past.
Several organizations, including Mercola.com, the Organic Consumers Association, the Institute for Responsible Technology, and even the Environmental Working Group are getting actively involved. But we do need your help.
Here’s how you can get involved:
- If you live in California and are willing to attend a short training session and then start collecting petition signatures (you will be part of a team of 2-4 people) in early November for the California Ballot Initiative, sign up here. (For more information see: The California Ballot Initiative: Taking Down Monsanto.) Also remember to share this information with family and friends in California!
- Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to have to label genetically engineered foods.
- Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.
- For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- You can also join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or Twitter
In the meantime, the simplest way to avoid GM foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GM corn feed.
You can also look for foods that are “non-GMO verified” by the Non-GMO Project.
www.evergreennutrition.com FDA Draft Guidance on New Dietary Ingredients (NDI’s) here www.fda.gov Detailed Analysis of the Draft Guidance here mercola.fileburst.com
By Dr. Mercola
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims their mission is to “collaborate to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health…”
And with a budget of $10.6 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2011, and a requested budget of $11.3 billion for FY 2012, they should be well equipped to fulfill said mission.
However, it appears yet again that the officials in charge of making important regulatory decisions that impact your health are masters of poor judgment calls, and in some cases, outright fraud.
A report released under the direction of Senator Tom Coburn, CDC Off Center, reveals that the agency in charge of “fighting and preventing disease” has frittered away hundreds of millions of tax dollars for outrageous purchases and unsuccessful prevention efforts, while at the same time failing to control disease.
This report was released in June 2007, but it got little attention in the press. And the truth is, most Americans still believe the CDC is doing a fine job at protecting their health. That’s why I feel it’s important to revisit this now, so more Americans can get a clearer picture of what the CDC is really about …
CDC Funds Used for Erotic Writing Classes, Bar Night, Porn Star …
The CDC’s budget may not seem outrageous initially, considering the formidable task they are undertaking, but a closer review reveals lavish spending and questionable judgment are more the norm than the exception at the CDC. For instance, the report reveals the following about the CDC’s spending habits:
- CDC’s Arlen Specter Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center cost nearly $110 million – including $10 million in furniture
- CDC spent $106 million on the Thomas R. Harkin Global Communications & Visitor Center, when it already had one
- CDC built a $200,000 fitness center (inside a $21-milllion CDC building) that has $30,000 saunas, zero-gravity chairs, and mood-enhancing light shows
Perhaps you can justify the need for the preeminent health agency in the United States to have state-of-the-art buildings … but I challenge you to find a way to justify the spending of the CDC-funded Stop AIDS Project of San Francisco, California, which allegedly included:
- A “Men for Hire” event, with the featured speaker Joseph Itiel, who, according to the report it was advertised, “presents practical tips and covers the seven guidelines for safe and friendly relations with escorts.”
- A two-hour workshop on how to “flirt with greater finesse.”
- A four-part erotic writing workshop
- A magazine, which included such articles as “Party at BJ’s,” which explained how to have a “house party” and how much alcohol to serve
- A bar night for HIV-positive men. As the report pointed out, “To recap: a group that receives federal funds spends money to target not only a high-risk population, but one actually carrying the communicable disease HIV, and hosts the targeted event at a bar with alcohol, a known risk factor for spreading HIV.”
Other groups have also used CDC funds to host a safe-sex event that featured a porn star dressed in a towel and cowboy boots, as well as, a transgender beauty pageant, As the report stated:
“Instead of focusing efforts on partner-notification, risk avoidance, early diagnosis through routine testing, and other proven epidemiological approaches for preventing the spread of communicable diseases, all too often many of CDC’s largest grantees were hosting events that produced questionable, if any, results and in some cases promoted activities in direct contradiction with known risk-behaviors for spreading the disease.
One of CDC’s largest HIV/AIDS grantees was cited for actually using CDC prevention funds to encourage sexual behavior. CDC guidelines for AIDS assistance programs direct that no funds are to “be used to provide education or information designed to promote or encourage, directly, homosexual or heterosexual sexual activity or intravenous substance abuse.”
They further note that this shall “not be construed to restrict the ability of an education program to provide accurate information about … [AIDS], provided that any informational materials used are not obscene.” After years of congressional inquiry, CDC finally sent a warning letter to the offending group whose activities were encouraging sexual behavior.”
CDC Spends $1.7 Million for “Hollywood Liaison”
This is part of the CDC Entertainment Education Program, which makes sure that when your favorite TV shows feature a health topic, that information is accurate, or at least “CDC-approved.” As the report notes, this includes consulting at a rate of nearly $6,000 per television episode, as well as:
“CDC officials persuaded producers of NBC’s “ER” to place a condom poster on the set “as a roundabout way of getting the health message to TV viewers,” and made sure that a bioterrorism 92 scenario on Fox’s “24″ is accurate. CDC also makes sure the proper federal agency is referenced in a show, trying to correct past mistakes where one show depicted NIH personnel doing tasks that would more likely have been the CDC’s responsibility.
And all these resources are provided to the entertainment industry free of charge, courtesy of four federal health agencies spending American tax dollars.”
And let’s also not forget the CDC has established an awards program for TV shows to honor those that feature accurate health themes, judged by none other than CDC and NCI health experts.
What about Disease Prevention?
Of course, the real question is whether the CDC is making a dent in the rising disease rates across the United States, and the answer appears to be a resounding no …
For instance, the report noted that after the CDC announced plans to eliminate syphilis, five years later the rate had increased 68 percent among men. Then there was the $335 million kid-targeted media campaign to fight obesity, which had unknown health impacts, and obesity rates are still rising.
The report explains:
” … while CDC has been given millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars to help prevent certain diseases among Americans, for many of these diseases the rates have not decreased, but have stayed the same or even increased under CDC’s watch. In the case of HIV, despite spending billions of dollars, CDC cannot even report how many Americans have the communicable disease.”
The CDC is also the mastermind behind many questionable public health initiatives … like the 2009 H1N1 swine flu debacle. As you may recall, the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic turned out to be a complete sham, with a fast-tracked and particularly dangerous vaccine being pushed as the sole remedy.
Children and pregnant women were the primary targets of this dangerous vaccine. The H1N1 flu was a perfect example of how the CDC can brazenly distort reality, and often ignore and deny the dangerous and life-threatening side effects of their solution. As a result of this bogus propaganda campaign, thousands of people were harmed (and many died) worldwide.
CDC is No Stranger to Fraud, Questionable Integrity
Unfortunately, the CDC’s insults to taxpayers do not stop at lavish spending but rather extend to questionable ethics and integrity — even outright fraud. For instance, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that since the 1970′s, the dental health professionals in the CDC have had sole control over the agency’s stance supporting water fluoridation.
The CDC is part of a larger administrative structure that provides intra-agency support and resource sharing for health issues that require the input from more than one area of expertise. Other offices that share information and expertise with the CDC include the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, and the Agency for Toxic Substances.
The general assumption has been that the agency used a broad range of expert input to evaluate fluoride before reaching the decision to support water fluoridation.
Yet the documents show that no CDC toxicologists, minority health professionals, experts in diabetes, or others outside the Oral Health Division had any input into the agency’s position.
This flies in the face of what the agency claims, and what water, health, and political leaders have believed about the way the CDC operates. Without these additional experts from other fields, can we reasonably believe that the agency has properly assessed the research on whole-body harm from fluoridation? The documents have drawn attention to the CDC’s and the EPA’s fluoride safety statements, which appear completely at odds with current scientific knowledge, and the fact that no outside experts from related fields were ever included may very well explain this discrepancy.
Another shocking case involving the CDC is that of Dr. Poul Thorsen, who, after being found to have falsified documents, was indicted on fraud, money laundering and tax evasion after stealing somewhere between $1-2 million in research grant money from the CDC.
Here you might wonder why I’m faulting the CDC, as the organization was the victim of fraud.
The reason I fault them is because they hired Dr. Thorsen to debunk the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism—which he did to their satisfaction. However, CDC officials may have played a significant role in “guiding” this research to their desired end, and now that Thorsen has been exposed as a fraud, the agency still upholds his research as being of high caliber. (Thorsen’s research center, the North Atlantic Epidemiology Alliances (NANEA), has also received $14.6 million from the CDC since 2002, according to The Huffington Post.
Many of the resulting “research” studies from NANEA have been used to support supposed vaccine safety.)
And then there is Dr. Kimberly Quinlan Lindsey, a top official with the CDC who has recently been arrested and charged with two counts of child molestation and one count of bestiality. Dr. Lindsey, who joined the CDC in 1999, is currently the deputy director for the Laboratory Science Policy and Practice Program Office. She’s second in command of the program office.
As an official in charge of CDC health recommendations for all American children, her alleged actions raise troublesome questions about her level of concern for the health and well-being of children in general.
Who is Holding the CDC Accountable?
It seems no one, and therein lies the problem, as it is the CDC who is supposed to be looking out for your health.
So, who can you trust?
I would recommend trusting yourself. Do your own research, and make your own decisions accordingly. I urge you — for your health’s sake — to consider what the motivating force is behind the messages you hear, even if they come from “trusted” sources like the CDC. You’ve got to think about who’s gaining what from their recommendations, and then ultimately use your own judgment.
I’m reminded of a popular quote by Buddha, which sums this up nicely:
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it — even if I have said it — unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
aspartame.mercola.com Articles on Aspartame: www.mercola.com Poison in your food – (Aspartame) – Sweet Misery, A Poisoned World.
By Dr. Mercola
Marijuana was a popular botanical medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, common in U.S. pharmacies of the time.
Yet, in 1970, the herb was declared a Schedule 1 controlled substance and labeled as a drug with a “high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use.”
Three years later the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was formed to enforce the newly created drug schedules, and the fight against marijuana use began.
The Huffington Post has a concise history of marijuana prohibition, and the struggle for legalization, that is well worth reading — but the most successful movement to date, and the one that is set to produce the first legal marijuana market in decades, is the medical marijuana movement.
Unfortunately, the feds have recently announced a blatant reversal on their previous pro-medical marijuana stance — a move that is threatening to stop the industry cold.
Why are the Feds So Concerned About Medical Marijuana?
Fifteen states plus the District of Columbia have laws allowing medical marijuana.
In other words, in those states it is considered legal to consume, possess or distribute marijuana for medical use.
Up until 2009, the U.S. Justice Department essentially told federal prosecutors to lay off Americans producing and using medical marijuana in accordance with state laws.
But despite marijuana’s legal status at the state level, historically it was common for the DEA to raid medical marijuana suppliers and even arrest patients.
This is because federal law overrides state law, defining the possession or distribution of marijuana as a criminal offense.
According to The State of the Medical Marijuana Markets 2011, the national market for medical marijuana is now worth $1.7 billion — and could grow to close to $9 billion in the next five years — if not for a stunning reversal by the Obama administration. In October 2011, the Obama administration released a letter to clarify their earlier position, which, as Seattle Weekly reports, indicates, “The only people safe from arrest were the “seriously ill” patients and their caregivers… Everyone else? Be forewarned.”
The Obama administration has long been supportive of the medical marijuana movement, even stating during the presidential campaign that, “The basic concept of using medical marijuana… [is] entirely appropriate.” However the Feds now appear to be launching a full-fledged attack against this legitimate industry, not only by threatening prosecution and arrest, but also by intimidating and coercing banks, land and store owners, as well as other business entities, that help keep the medical marijuana industry alive.
Feds Attempt to Force Medical Marijuana Industry Out of Business
In recent months there have been several blows to the various industries who support the medical marijuana market. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, reported in U.S. News & World Report Opinion, these disturbing changes:
- “The Department of Justice sent letters this past spring to state lawmakers that were debating legislation to allow for the licensed distribution of medical cannabis, threatening prosecution of those involved with said efforts if the measures went forward;
- The IRS has assessed crippling penalties on taxpaying medical cannabis facilities in California by denying these operations the right to file standard expense deductions;
- The Department of Treasury has strong-armed local banks and other financial institutions into closing their accounts with medicinal cannabis operators;
- The Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected a nine-year-old administrative petition that called for hearings regarding the federal rescheduling of cannabis for medical use, ignoring extensive scientific evidence of its medical efficacy;
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse rejected an FDA-approved protocol to allow for clinical research assessing the use of cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, stating, “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
- Most recently, Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the four U.S. attorneys from California, announced plans for a coordinated effort against operations in California that provide above-ground access to cannabis for those patients qualified to use the substance in accordance with state law.”
The war on marijuana is indeed a strange one, considering the legality of cigarettes and alcohol — products that have vastly greater potential to harm public health, without any of the medicinal benefits. Not to mention that the FDA approves drugs, prescribed by doctors every day, that kill over 100,000 Americans a year.
Moreover, by shutting down reputable marijuana dispensaries, it will only force those who legitimately depend upon it to alleviate their suffering to enter the (sometimes dangerous) black market.
“Landlords, worried the feds will steal their property, will tell dispensaries to move out. Banks won’t handle money for pot-themed businesses. Dispensaries will be taxed so heavily they won’t be able to cover the payroll or pay the electric bill.
… An estimated one million people in California have obtained a doctor’s recommendation to grow and use marijuana legally. Patient estimates in Washington are hazier, but the number is thought to be around 100,000.
If the feds shut down every dispensary in the country, all these people will still be able to legally possess marijuana—no matter where they bought it—under their state laws. The only difference is they’ll be forced to go back to buying their weed from Mexican drug cartels, rather than from Americans who provide jobs and pay taxes.”
What are the Medical Uses for Marijuana?
In order to really comprehend the movement behind medical marijuana, you must first understand that this herb truly does show outstanding promise as a medicinal plant. The studies conducted so far show significant potential for the use of cannabis in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of health conditions, including cancer.
For instance, in 2009 a study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research found that marijuana smokers have a lower risk of head and neck cancers than non-marijuana smokers.
Harvard researchers also found that THC in marijuana cuts tumor growth in lung cancer while significantly reducing its ability to spread. There is also a wealth of research linking marijuana with pain relief and improved sleep. In one recent study, just three puffs of marijuana a day for five days helped those with chronic nerve pain to relieve pain and sleep better.
Americans for Safe Access also has links to research studies suggesting that cannabis may help in the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, while the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine highlights the following medical uses:
|Nausea||Vomiting||Anorexia||Cachexia (Wasting Syndrome)|
|Epilepsy||Asthma||Dependency and Withdrawal||Psychiatric Symptoms|
|Autoimmune Diseases||Inflammation||High Blood Pressure||Chronic Fatigue Syndrome|
Lastly, the research site GreenMedInfo.com lists over 126 potential therapeutic applications for marijuana in disease prevention and treatment, further illustrating just how voluminous the scientific evidence really is in support of the medical marijuana movement.
Your Body is Hard-Wired to Respond to Cannabinoids in the Marijuana Plant
There are more than 60 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body. There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more; both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid (such as the THC produced by the cannabis plant) activates a cannabinoid receptor.
Your body also has naturally occurring endocannabinoids that stimulate your cannabinoid receptors and produce a variety of important physiologic processes, far beyond that of the traditional “highs” associated with THC.
What is amazing is that your body is actually hard-wired to respond to cannabinoids through this unique cannabinoid receptor system; research is still ongoing on just how extensive their impact is on our health, but to date it’s known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth, and immune function.
A report by Dr. Manuel Guzman in the journal of Nature Reviews suggests that these active components of cannabis and their derivatives are potential anti-cancer agents:
” … these compounds [cannabinoids] have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumour cells in culture and animal models by modulating key cell-signaling pathways. Cannabinoids are usually well tolerated, and do not produce the generalized toxic effects of conventional chemotherapies.”
A report by the American College of Physicians (ACP) further notes that:
“Marijuana has been smoked for its medicinal properties for centuries. It was in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until 1942 when it was removed because federal legislation made the drug illegal … Still, the overwhelming number of anecdotal reports on the therapeutic properties of marijuana sparks interest from scientists, health care providers, and patients.
Over the past 20 years, researchers have discovered cannabinoid receptors: CB1, which mediates the central nervous system (CNS), and CB2, which occurs outside the CNS and is believed to have anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive activity.
These scientific developments have revealed much information supporting expansion of research into the potential therapeutic properties of marijuana and its cannabinoids.”
Why Isn’t Marijuana Being Studied?
This is the burning question, as even a quick review of the data suggests that cannabis deserves more than a passing glance as a potential treatment for various diseases. But in the United States – primarily for political reasons — these studies are not being performed.
According to a report by Americans for Safe Access:
“In the past three decades, there has been an explosion of international studies designed to investigate the therapeutic value of cannabis (marijuana).
However, drastic restrictions on research in the U.S. have meant that few clinical trials are being conducted domestically and none are being conducted as part of a sponsor-funded drug development plan aimed at obtaining Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the prescription use of the botanical plant itself.
Meanwhile, research teams in Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Israel, and elsewhere have confirmed – through case studies, basic research, pre-clinical, and preliminary clinical investigations – the medical value of cannabis … ”
Of course, in the United States marijuana is so heavily controlled that even if you wanted to conduct a clinical trial, you would have a hard time getting a supply for research purposes. As the Safe Access report states:
” … the federal monopoly on the supply of cannabis has fundamentally limited FDA-approved clinical research to investigate its safety and efficacy in controlling symptoms of serious and chronic illnesses.
In the United States, research is stalled, and in some cases blocked, by a complicated federal approval process, restricted access to research-grade cannabis, and the refusal of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to license private production of cannabis for use exclusively in federally approved research.”
The DEA appears to be behind many puzzling restrictions concerning the marijuana plant, including the fact that it is even illegal to grow hemp in the United States.
Contrary to popular opinion, hemp and marijuana are not the same. Both are members of the Cannabis sativa plant species, but they are two distinct varieties, with hemp generally being too low in THC (the compound responsible for the plant’s notorious psychoactive effect) to create a “high.” In fact, the THC is intentionally bred out of the plant in order to maximize its fiber, seeds and oil — the constituents for which it is most commonly used.
Ironically, despite these differences, the DEA classifies all Cannabis sativa varieties as “marijuana.” This is why the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world where growing industrial hemp is next to impossible. To do so requires a permit from the DEA — and it is reportedly almost impossible to get one.
Could it be that the DEA has its own agenda for keeping marijuana a controlled substance?
“Ignorance, false propaganda, and rank political posturing tend to be the foundation of the anti-marijuana argument. (Throw in bureaucratic turf protection as well. The DEA, for example, would need fewer agents if pot was decriminalized nationwide.)”
Many Americans Have an Open Mind About Legalizing Marijuana
A new Gallup poll found that a record high number of Americans — 50 percent — favor legalizing marijuana use, which suggests that public pressure will continue to build for a (pun-intended) grassroots legislative overhaul of U.S marijuana laws…
Of course, there are certainly some downsides to marijuana use that need to be addressed, particularly if you are thinking of smoking it for recreational purposes.
Marijuana use can be addictive, and no doubt resources have been squandered, families have been broken up and jobs lost over its use. In the short-term, marijuana use can cause trouble with your ability to think clearly and may impair memory. Marijuana also leads to motor skill impairment and may adversely affect alertness, coordination and reaction time, which is why it should never be used prior to driving.
There is also some evidence that marijuana use can exacerbate psychotic symptoms in those with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, as well as serve as a “gateway” drug that eventually leads to the use of “harder” drugs like cocaine and heroine, although this is still a matter of debate.
Marijuana use among children and teens can also have dire consequences, as drug use of any kind may encourage risky choices and irresponsible behaviors.
Furthermore, while the vast majority of marijuana use is through the act of smoking it, it is worth noting that anytime you heat materials and inhale them you run the risk of introducing toxic elements into your system. Because of this it is always best to use an organic version; any pesticides that are on the material that is burned and inhaled will dramatically increase its toxicity.
It is possible to avoid these risks entirely by either using cannabis in hemp oil form or, as many medical marijuana patients advocate, by using a vaporizer. The device allows for the ingestion of marijuana without any combustion byproducts, eliminating rightful concerns about the cumulative harms associated with smoking it. It is also possible to minimize harm by eating marijuana (along with some fat, as THC is fat-soluble and will not dissolve in water).
It is important to note that in the United States today using marijuana for any reason is still considered an illegal activity that can result in serious legal consequences, including imprisonment.
Sadly, it is not the scientific evidence — but rather politics and an increasingly insatiable privatized industrial-prison complex in need of more drug-convicted “criminals” — which maintains the stranglehold on our freedom to choose wild growing plants as our medicine rather than soley FDA-approved drugs.
I think Willie Nelson said it well in the following quote:
I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?
By Dr. Mercola
One of the more flagrant offenses committed by pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession is the practice of “ghostwriting” medical articles.
A new cross-sectional survey found that more than 20 percent of articles published in six leading medical journals during 2008 were likely written by honorary- and/or ghost writers.
This is lower than it was in 1996, but still far too common for comfort.
For medical journals, ghostwriting usually refers to writers sponsored by a drug or medical device company, who make major but uncredited research- or writing contributions.
The articles are instead published under the names of academic authors.
Such “inappropriate authorship” leads to a lack of transparency and accountability, which has become an important concern for the academic community.
According to the article in the British Medical Journal:
“Inappropriate authorship (honorary and ghost authorship is an important issue for the academic and research community and is a threat to the integrity of scientific publication.
Our findings suggest that 21 percent of articles published in 2008 in the general medical journals with the highest impact factors had an inappropriate honorary author, and that nearly eight percent of articles published in these journals may have had an unnamed important contributor.
The highest prevalence of both types of inappropriate authorship occurred in original research articles, compared with editorials and review articles.
…Both honorary and ghost authorship are unacceptable in scientific publications, and each form of inappropriate authorship has important consequences.
…Honorary authorship has implications for scientific integrity… Likewise ghost authorship has important implications and consequences. If un-identified authors are involved in the work and manuscript preparation, readers not only will be unaware of the contributions, perspectives, and affiliations of these individuals, but also may not appreciate the influence or potential underlying agenda these individuals may have on the reporting of material in the article (such as may occur with ghost authors employed by industry).”
Ghost Writing in Medical Journals
According to the featured BMJ article, previous studies have found the prevalence of honorary authors to be as high as 39 percent, and the prevalence of ghost authors as high as 11 percent in a range of biomedical journals and types of articles.
Why exactly is this practice so bad?
While hiring a ghost writer to add flair to your prose is not a major problem in most writing situations, hiring professional wordsmiths to ghost write a medical study or drug review is a whole different ballgame.
In this case, the pharmaceutical company hires a medical education and communications company or MECC, which is a company paid almost exclusively by pharmaceutical companies to write articles, reviews, and letters to editors of medical journals to cast their products in a favorable light. (Since they pay substantial amounts to have these articles written, it automatically implies that it will be written to their specifications.)
Once the article is written to their satisfaction, the pharmaceutical company then starts “shopping around” for an academic physician or physicians that are well known in the field, encouraging them to put their name on the article.
From there, they “massage” the article past peer review in one of the more prestigious medical journals, preferably one that strongly influences practicing doctors. Once the article is published, the pharmaceutical company then purchases tens of thousands of reprint copies to be distributed to doctor’s offices by their pharmaceutical representatives. The unsuspecting doctor thinks the study is reliable since it clearly appears to be written by a leading name in the field, and has been published in a prestigious peer-reviewed medical journal.
Why would medical journals play along with this apparent sham? Why aren’t they doing more to ferret this practice out?
Perhaps the primary incentive to play it loose is that it’s very lucrative for them, as the reprints purchased by the pharmaceutical companies for distribution are quite expensive. And medical journals are, after all, for-profit businesses.
How Ghostwritten Medical Articles Can Impact Your Health
Unfortunately, the practice of employing ghostwriters can have very serious ramifications for your health. For example, an August 4, 2009 New York Times article reported how Wyeth Pharmaceutical Company used this ghostwriting practice to successfully peddle hormone replacement therapy in women. Physicians prescribed these drugs based on 26 studies published in the medical literature, affirming the benefits and downplaying the risks of hormone replacement.
As a result, sales of Premarin and Prempro soared.
However, all the papers turned out to have been written by ghostwriters hired by Wyeth, and many women have since sued the drug maker for health problems suffered from these drugs.
By now many of you will be well aware of the fact that there’s a big difference between industry-funded research and independent research. The source of funding tends to play a major role in the final outcome of any study. Needless to say, if a pharmaceutical company pays to have research written up, you can be fairly certain they’re going to want their drug portrayed in a favorable light. When your doctor bases his prescribing decisions on such biased (or worse) information, your health can clearly be at risk…
Other examples of pharmaceutical companies paying authors to write up favorable articles for their wares include:
- Parke-Davis (acquired by Pfizer in 2004)—Neurontin. Parke-Davis contracted with a medical education communication company (MECC) to write articles in support of the drug to the tune of $13,000 to $18,000 per article. In turn, MECC paid $1,000 each to friendly physicians and pharmacists to sign off as authors of the articles, making the material
Last year, Pfizer was found guilty of violating U.S. racketeering laws by illegally promoting off-label uses of Neurontin, and were fined more than $142 million in damages.
- Pfizer—Zoloft. A document was written that included 81 different articles promoting Zoloft’s usefulness for everything from panic disorder to pedophilia. The only problem was, for some articles, the name of the author was still listed as “to be determined,” even though the article was listed as already completed.
- Wyeth-Ayerst—Redux. Wyeth paid $20,000 for an article on the “therapeutic effects” of their diet pill, Redux (dexfenfluramine). As detailed in the book Our Daily Meds, Dr. Richard Atkinson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin was to receive $1,500 in return for putting his name to the finished piece. An excerpt from Our Daily Meds reads:
“When the article was complete, Dr. Atkinson sent a letter to Excerpta, praising the ghostwriter’s work. “Let me congratulate you and your writer on an excellent and thorough review of the literature, clearly written,” the doctor wrote. “… Perhaps I can get you to write all my papers for me! My only general comment is that this piece may make dexfenfluramine sound better than it really is.”
A year later, the drug was pulled from the market as doctors began reporting heart valve injuries in as many as one-third of patients taking the drug. Redux, Pondimin (a similar drug), and fen-phen (of which dexfenfluramine was a part) were later linked to dozens of deaths.
- Merck—Vioxx. This deadly drug, which was eventually blamed for some 60,000+ deaths, was also linked to a number of shameful scandals relating to fraudulent studies and the use of ghostwriters to boost sales. The New England Journal of Medicine admittedly published an erroneous and biased Vioxx study, and the Annals of Internal Medicine found itself in similar hot water when one of the “authors” of a 2003 Vioxx study confessed he had little to do with the research.
Is Modern Medicine Backed by Scientific Principles?
One of the biggest complaints the conventional medical industry has against alternative medicine is the lack of scientific research to support their practices.
Ironically, much of the research on conventional medicine has also raised speculations over validity issues, such as the use of ghostwriters, or worse, purposely withholding negative studies from publication, while republishing the same study in multiple journals—another industry no-no that happens quite frequently.
While it is commonly believed that modern medical treatments, including drugs, are “scientifically proven,” in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Last year, Dana Ullman published an excellent article on this misconception, stating:
“The British Medical Journal’s “Clinical Evidence” analyzed common medical treatments to evaluate which are supported by sufficient reliable evidence (BMJ, 2007). They reviewed approximately 2,500 treatments and found:
- 13 percent were found to be beneficial
- 23 percent were likely to be beneficial
- Eight percent were as likely to be harmful as beneficial
- Six percent were unlikely to be beneficial
- Four percent were likely to be harmful or ineffective.
- 46 percent were unknown whether they were efficacious or harmful“
I have enormous respect for the scientific method, and I think when it is done properly it can clearly provide us with profound and valid truths that can guide and direct our understanding of nature and help us improve our health. However, the primary challenge is to confirm that the study in question is free of any conflict of interest that would pervert the results and the meaning of the analysis. And ghostwriting can be particularly troublesome as that financial tie is rarely ever disclosed.
It’s unfortunate, but the conventional medical model, from start to finish, is pervasively corrupted with massive conflicts of interests that make it exceedingly difficult to make a rational decision in health matters. The scientific method works but it has been so perverted by corporate interests, that it becomes very difficult to find the truth. This is why it is all the more important to do your own research, and to take control of your own health and return to the basics of disease prevention.
By Dr. Stephanie Seneff
Just about everyone in America is convinced of two well-established tenets for how to live a long and healthy life:
- Eat a low-fat diet
- Avoid the damaging rays of the sun
These two tenets, taken together, are extremely bad medical advice, and that the consequences of our government’s success in selling this well-intended but misguided recommendation to the American public are devastating and long-lasting, particularly to our nation’s children.
In part one, I discussed the vital importance of healthful fats, cholesterol, vitamin D and calcium during pregnancy.
I am now going to discuss more generally the topic of nutrition and food science, and why the two conventional recommendations listed above simply do not work.
Once I have laid down the groundwork for basic nutrition, I will return to the subject of the pregnant mother, jeopardized by her inadequate diet and lack of sun exposure, whose body, when faced with nearly insurmountable obstacles, desperately attempts to maintain a steady supply of fat to the developing fetus’ brain.
I will try to make the arguments as simple as possible, although the biological mechanisms at play are not simple.
First, I would like to recommend a great book, Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes , for those who want to seriously examine the issues of diet and health. Most of what is written in this section was gleaned from reading that book, although I have added a few embellishments, based on my own reasoning.
The main message of the book is that our country has been grossly misled into believing that a low fat diet is a healthy diet. This message is now so thoroughly entrenched that it is nearly impossible to overturn. While his main focus was on diets that would be effective for weight loss, he also argued persuasively that a high fat diet (or at least a low-carb, high-quality fat diet) is a healthy sustainable nutritional practice even when you’re not trying to lose weight. He advocates a diet that eliminates as much as possible refined sugars (white sugar) and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and pasta.
The Problem with Refined Carbs
The biggest problem with these foods is that they are digested too easily. This causes a spike in the blood sugar level which in turn causes the pancreas to get into high gear, overproducing more than enough insulin to break down these sugars, so that they can be stored by the liver as glycogen for future energy needs.
One consequence is that the insulin receptors become increasingly less responsive to insulin, leading over time to type II diabetes: an inability to efficiently utilize insulin. Diabetes is easily diagnosed by measuring the levels of sugar in the urine, because the excess sugar that was not broken down due to insufficient insulin eventually is excreted by the kidneys as waste material.
Insulin plays a critical role not just in the processing of carbohydrates, but also in the processing of fats. Interestingly, high levels of insulin in the blood promote the storage of fat in fat cells. Conversely, low levels promote the release of fat from fat cells into the blood stream.
This makes good sense, because, when there is plenty of sugar in the blood, the cells can use that sugar for their energy needs, or it can be converted to fat and stored in the fat cells for later use. During fasting conditions, insulin levels drop, and the fat cells are encouraged to release their fat stores to supply the energy needs of the muscles and brain [1, p. 432].
A typical person goes through a wake/sleep cycle every day.
Insulin levels fluctuate throughout the day depending on the times and contents of the meals. However, at night, while a person sleeps, the insulin level drops, and low insulin acts as a catalyst to allow the stored fats to take their turn in supplying the body’s nutritional needs during the long fast.
Calcium plays an important role in fat metabolism, and vitamin D therefore plays an indirect role by promoting the absorption of calcium into the blood stream from the digestive system. A person with inadequate vitamin D (or with inadequate calcium in their diet) would need to carry a larger reserve of body fat to maintain an equivalent rate of fat delivery during fasting  .
How Your Diet Influences Onset of Gestational Diabetes
These nutritional regulatory mechanisms can be used to explain a well-known phenomenon called gestational diabetes, while at the same time lending support to the idea that the pregnant mother’s body may become preoccupied with supplying adequate fat to the growing fetus.
Gestational diabetes is a poorly understood phenomenon where a woman who had shown no signs of diabetes in the past suddenly starts passing sugar in the urine while she is pregnant.
It seems to me that a possible explanation can be found if we make the simple assumption that the mother’s body is trying desperately to maintain an adequate supply of fat for the embryo.
If she is practicing a low-fat diet regimen, then it will be imperative to extract fat from the fat cells in her body and release it into her blood stream, whence it will eventually reach the placenta and make its way into the baby’s blood stream, and, ultimately, delivery to the baby’s developing nervous system. However, as we’ve just seen, in order to get the fat cells to release their fat, the insulin levels will need to be low. A vitamin D deficiency will compound the problem: with inhibition of calcium uptake, even lower insulin levels will be needed to achieve a comparable effect.
Because of inadequate insulin in the blood, sugars entering the blood stream from the digestive system cannot be fully broken down. The consequence would be waste sugar showing up in the urine, manifesting itself as gesticular diabetes. However, not all of the excess sugar would be wasted: some of it would make its way into the fetus’s blood supply, which would then trigger its fledgling novice pancreas to produce its own private supply of insulin.
The baby would then be able to convert the excess sugar into its own personal supply of body fat, which will turn out to be extremely useful to it once born.
Any baby who is unusually large at birth is often a sure sign of gestational diabetes. But also, in my view, this excess fat at birth is a clear clue as to why gestational diabetes is useful to the fetus: gestational diabetes is invoked as a mechanism to help the fetus survive in the face of a severe shortage of fat supply from the mother. The child is likely to face a continued shortage of fat supply from the mother’s milk once born. The same mother who had an insufficient amount of fat in her diet during pregnancy will likely continue to do so after the birth.
In summary, it seems to me that the reason that gestational diabetes occurs is that the mother’s body is willing to waste some of the sugar that’s ingested during pregnancy so that the mother’s fat cells can release their stores of fats into the blood stream to supply the baby’s immediate needs of fats for its developing brain. At the same time, the fetus can utilize the excess sugar to protect itself from future fat deprivation. If the mother, in addition to eating inadequate fats, is also deficient in vitamin D, it will be that much harder to get at the nutritional lodes of the fat cells, leaving her child in grave jeopardy. If, finally she has very few fat cells to begin with, then there just may not be another alternative besides severely compromising the child’s developing nervous system.
Autism and Infertility
As of 2001, one percent of the children born in the U.S. were conceived through IVF. This population group forms an interesting set to study, because, logically, if infertility is a common consequence of excessive diligence in maintaining a thin, muscular body and a low-fat diet, then we would expect the infertile population to include a significantly larger percentage of such mothers than the fertile population.
Furthermore, if these practices lead to an increase in autism, then there should be a larger than normal number of autistic children among the offspring of IVF pregnancies.
There have not been sufficient research funds devoted to the question of studying the health of children born from IVF. Nonetheless, one compelling study was recently conducted by Mary Croughan of the University of California, San Diego, funded by the federal government . In this study, which was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) conference, she compared children resulting from IVF with children conceived naturally.
She examined more than 19,000 medical records, and the only cases of autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder showed up in the IVF children. She also found an increased risk of certain birth defects, cognitive delays, and behavioral problems among the IVF children. These results could be due to some damaging aspect of the IVF process itself, but it’s also plausible that the source of the infertility and the source of the autism are the same thing: inadequate fats and vitamin D.
Autism and Twins
One excellent way to tease apart the nature versus nurture debate on any syndrome is to study twins. Several studies have been conducted on autism demographics, and these have uncovered some intriguing statistics concerning twins. One very informative study investigated families where exactly two of the children had autism .
The investigators determined, as might be expected, that the identical twin of an autistic person was twelve times as likely to have autism as a mere sibling of an autistic person. However, if autism were solely due to genetics, then the concordance for identical twins should be 100 percent. Instead, one third of children whose identical twin has autism do not. More intriguing however is the result they obtained for fraternal twins. If your fraternal twin has autism, you have four times the chance of also having it, compared to someone whose sibling, born at a different time, has it.
Since fraternal twins are no more closely related genetically than siblings, this has to be interpreted to mean that being a twin is a risk factor for autism.
This statistic narrows down the possibilities enormously, and strongly suggests a role for the shared environment of the twins. Two things immediately come to mind: (1) they share the mother’s womb during the fetal stage, and (2) they compete for the mother’s milk in infancy. A mother who is deficient in fat, vitamin D, and calcium will face an even more insurmountable problem when tasked with carrying to term and then nursing two infants than would be the case for a singleton birth. A scarce resource is made twice as scarce by the simple fact that there is now double the demand. And thus twins would easily be expected to be more susceptible to autism than singletons.
Sunscreen Isn’t Working
Since the 1970′s, our country has witnessed a 30-fold increase in the sales of sunscreen products, alongside a 30 percent increase in deaths from melanoma . You might think that this is just due to cases in the elderly that were caused by bad practices many years ago. However, the incidence of melanoma has been consistently rising in children by about 3 percent per year since the 1970′s . Isn’t it time to admit that sunscreen is not useful? Even the sunscreen executives will admit that they have never been able to find evidence that sunscreen prevents melanoma.
However, it’s unfortunately easy to sell the simplistic idea that, because the sun’s UV rays can cause cancer, and because sunscreen blocks these rays, then sunscreen must, quite logically, prevent cancer.
The reason this formula is incorrect is very simple: sunscreen also blocks a mechanism that biology put in place many millions of years ago, also for the purpose of protecting us from the sun’s rays. Biology’s own mechanism, however, is far more effective than sunscreen, because it produces products that linger on our skin (melanin) and in our blood stream (vitamin D) long after the particular outing to the beach has passed.
In the spring, if we go outside without sunscreen, we will slowly pick up a protective tan, while also generating a good supply of vitamin D. By the time the summer comes around, the tan affords protection from the sun’s harsher rays, and we continue to accumulate vitamin D, which will be able to carry us through the lean winter months, when sunlight is in short supply.
Melanin in the tanned skin prevents the sunburn in the summer. Vitamin D in the blood stream protects us not just from skin cancer, but from just about any cancer you can name.
If you type “vitamin D” into a search engine along with “prostate cancer,” “breast cancer,” “ovarian cancer,” “pancreatic cancer,” etc., you will find that the entire first page of the result is filled with pointers to studies that show vitamin D affords significant protection from that cancer. For instance, a controlled study conducted at the Creighton University in Nevada showed that people who were given supplements of vitamin D and calcium experienced a 77 percent reduction in cancer incidence over those given a placebo .
You might think that you could get the best of both worlds by liberally applying sunscreen and taking lots of vitamin D orally. But this is a tricky game to play. Sunscreen may give you false security by preventing the sunburn that provides a warning signal to get out of the sun .
And oral vitamin D may not be properly absorbed if it’s not accompanied by ingested fats to dissolve the vitamin D. If you just take excessive amounts to compensate for this problem, you can run into toxic reactions and a suppression of the immune system, the opposite of the effect of sunlight . Better to trust biological mechanisms which have had millions of years to perfect the natural process that exploits the sun’s rays to beneficial effect. In my view, a large part of the reason that we are losing the war against cancer is that we are increasing the base rate significantly through the excessive use of sunscreen products.
Low Fat Diet Isn’t Working
The American Medical Association started aggressively campaigning in the 1970′s that a healthy diet is one that is consistently low in fats, and they have maintained that message as the “party line” ever since. Today, you can’t go to the grocery store without seeing row upon row of foods advertising themselves to be “low fat”, “nonfat” or “fat free,” constantly bombarding you with the subliminal message that fats are bad for you.
Meanwhile, 40 years later, America is facing an epidemic of obesity that is contributing to a host of health problems, not only for aging adults but also for young children.
Is there, then, a relationship between low-fat diet and obesity?
Gary Taubes, for one, thinks so.
In his book, Good Calories Bad Calories, he presented an overwhelming amount of evidence to show that the easiest and most effective way to lose weight is to adopt a high-fat, low-carb diet. A high-protein diet cannot be sustained, because after a while the dieter just can’t face another lean pork chop. With a high-carb diet, the dieter is constantly suffering from hunger pangs, while losing little if any weight.
But a high-fat diet, such as the Atkins diet, works relatively painlessly, in part because fats take longer to digest, and leave you feeling more satiated.
It might seem logical, since fatty tissue is made of fat, that a low-fat diet might help prevent you from becoming fat. Ironically, exactly the opposite is true. Humans are fully capable of manufacturing fats from carbs — a process that takes place in the liver with the help of insulin. These manufactured fats are then dispatched to distributed locations throughout the body, where they can be stored away in fat cells for later use.
My belief is that, once biological monitoring mechanisms recognize that there is a distinct shortage of fats in the diet, the appetite is automatically adjusted upwards, to compel the person to consume more calories in a given day than they can burn off.
This has the intentional effect of accumulating a store of reserve fats on the body, a metaphorical silo, which can then provide a steady stream of fat nutrients to the muscles and brain to overcome the glaring deficiency in the diet.
If, in addition to consuming a low fat diet, the person also aggressively avoids the sun, then the problem will be compounded, and they will likely gain even more weight. This is because of the role calcium plays in the efficiency of fat metabolism, and the role vitamin D plays in the absorption of calcium.
It has now become evident that not all fats are created equal. The culprit that’s responsible for the “fats are bad” message is partially hydrogenated oil, or “trans fats.” These synthetic fats are created by loading up liquid vegetable oil with hydrogen and then heating it, along with a metal catalyst, to a high temperature. The result is a fat that stays solid at room temperature and survives a long time on the shelf. Once companies figured out how to do this well, all kinds of processed foods, most notably margarine, but also crackers and cookies, started appearing on the grocery shelves.
These products don’t get rancid at room temperature because even the microorganisms that would spoil them are smart enough not to consume them. If you consume them in large quantities, your “LDL” (bad) cholesterol levels will go up, and your “HDL” (good) cholesterol levels will go down . A survey issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 1999  determined that these fats constituted 95 percent of the cookies, and 100 percent of the crackers found on supermarket shelves.
Companies are now scrambling to find ways to replace the trans fats in all their products.
The media recently has begun to sing the praises of “Omega 3″ fats, found in large amounts in fatty fish such as sardines and salmon. Researchers have discovered that eskimos, whose diet is extraordinarily high in fat, have excellent health with respect to heart disease prognosis. A recent study by Fombonne et al. found that the Inuit of northern Quebec appear to be completely free of autism . Not a single case was found among their children.
This fits well with the theory presented here, since they eat an extremely high fat diet, consisting of large amounts of seal blubber and fatty fish like salmon. These are both excellent sources of both fats and vitamin D.
Unfortunately, pregnant women have in recent years been discouraged from eating fish, due to the high contamination with mercury, which is believed to cause damage to the developing fetus. It is frustrating that mercury contamination (a valid concern) stands in the way of getting adequate omega 3 fats for the baby. However, recent studies have pretty much dispelled the theory that mercury might cause autism. Several studies have now confirmed no link between mercury and autism. In fact, in California, after mercury was eliminated from the vaccines, the incidence of autism continued to rise .
Although fish is the best source, a surprising number of pallatable foods also contain Omega 3 fats, including walnuts, strawberries, tofu, cauliflower, spinach, and scallops .
As has been convincingly shown by the Nurses’ Study, if you want to become pregnant, you will significantly improve your chances by enjoying plenty of whole milk, butter, and ice cream. You will also, in my view, significantly improve the chances of producing a healthy child by continuing to maintain a high fat diet throughout the pregnancy, and while you are nursing the baby. It is important, however, to choose foods carefully so as to assure a good steady supply of omega 3 fats, and to religiously avoid consuming trans fats. There is no place for a low fat diet during pregnancy and lactation.
What Can be Done To Fix the Problem?
If you have read this far, I hope you are convinced that there may be validity to the main thesis of this essay: that low-fat diet, combined with inadequate vitamin D, both in the mother and the child, are major contributors to the autism epidemic in America. I have been researching this topic off and on over the last 20 years, exploring plausible explanations for the alarming rise in the incidence of autism in America.
To me the evidence I’ve found is pretty compelling, and I felt it would be unethical to stand by and watch more and more cases of autism appear without at least attempting to articulate this theory to the best of my ability, to put it “out there,” with the hope that others may also be persuaded and spread the word.
However, I will concede that thus far there is no definitive study that would leave no doubt that this hypothesis is correct.
This, more than anything else, is what’s needed to really convince people to dramatically change their practices, to unlearn all the misguided advice they’ve been given previously about the benefits of sunscreen and low fat diet.
This country is capable of responding quickly once a convincing study dramatically changes expert opinion. Witness the case of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), widely recommended to menopausal women to help them cope with hot flashes and, it was claimed, to improve their odds against cancer. A large randomized clinical trial of estrogen and progestin, based on the Women’s Health Initiative, was aborted prematurely because the results so clearly favored the women who did not take the drugs.
The study showed clear evidence that the drug contributed to increased risk of developing both breast cancer and heart disease . The response was immediate and dramatic: prescriptions were left unfilled, the stocks of drug companies plummeted, and within a short time survival rates for breast cancer started improving.
I’m confident that a similar study could be done on autism and its link to vitamin D deficiency and low-fat diet. It could be that a meta analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study is all that would be needed.
It might require further interviews to determine whether the mothers of autistic children tend to practice low-fat diet and over-zealous sun protection. Blood tests could be performed to measure the levels of vitamin D among autistic children and their mothers. Individual children could be put on a program to make sure they get enough vitamin D and fat (especially omega 3 fats) in their diets. These children could be subsequently monitored to see if their autistic symptoms show any improvements — although it might be too late to correct the damage already done to their brains.
If such studies were to obtain convincing results, the American people would respond quickly and effectively, as they have before in the case of hormone replacement therapy.
Lately, and with increasing frequency, the media have been drawing our attention to the alarming discovery of an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency among our nation’s children . My belief is that this is directly attributable to the well-intentioned but over-aggressive application of sunscreen. At the same time, experts are beginning to sort out the complex situation with the many kinds of good fats and bad fats that exist naturally and through artificial chemical manipulations — they have come to appreciate that the issue is not so much low fat but high quality fat in the diet. The public is slowly becoming educated about these new revelations, and, hopefully, major lifestyle modifications will soon ensue, with positive outcomes.
A Note from the Author:
I have been intrigued by autism for at least two decades. I have watched as theories for causes of autism come and go — like the Pertussin in the DPT shot and mercury in fish and infant shots. In parallel, I have been dismayed by the degree to which the American public has bought into the now widespread practices of over-aggressive protection from the sun and over-diligence in avoiding fats in the diet.
I have long believed that these misguided practices are the direct cause of a host of health issues now facing America’s children, including childhood obesity, ADHD, multiple allergic reactions, and teenage adult-onset diabetes. It was only recently that I began to assemble enough facts about autism to begin to believe that I had a compelling story to tell. This essay is my attempt to put that story out on the Web, in the hopes that experts and statisticians will take action to prove or disprove this theory.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on this topic, and my research at MIT is completely unrelated.
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