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Monthly Archives: June 2012
By Dr. Mercola
Many parents don’t think twice about taking their children in for routine vaccinations, as they are an integral and heavily promoted part of the conventional medical system. But this decision has had life altering, and sometimes life-ending, ramifications for more children than you might expect.
Many hard core health activists are distressed that I do not promote the avoidance of all vaccines outright. Instead, I strongly urge you to invest the time to educate yourself about the potential benefits and risks of each vaccine prior to vaccination, and to make educated decisions based on what you conclude is likely to be the best course of action for your child.
While some vaccines appear to be safer than others, it’s important to realize that each vaccination carries a certain amount of risk and vaccine risks can be greater for some than others due to biological and environmental factors, and the timing and types of vaccines given. The risks of vaccination may be exponentially increased when revaccination takes place after an individual has already had a previous vaccine reaction, or when multiple vaccines are administered at the same time.
There are vaccines that historically have been associated with more side effects than others, and the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine – MMR shot – is one of those.
The health risks associated with the MMR vaccine has been in the news for about 15 years, and we’re undoubtedly going to see a re-emergence of questions about this vaccine in the coming days and weeks because the Italian health ministry recently conceded that the MMR vaccine caused autism in a now nine-year-old boy, who suffered brain inflammation and permanent brain damage after he was vaccinated.
Italian Court Rules MMR Vaccine Caused Autism
Valentino Bocca was given an MMR shot in 2004, at the age of 15 months. According to his parents, the change in his behavior was immediate. That same night he refused to eat, and he developed diarrhea during the night. It quickly went downhill from there. Within days he was no longer able to put a spoon to his mouth, and he spent nights crying in pain. His parents immediately suspected the vaccination, but were told this was “impossible.” Valentino progressively regressed, and received the diagnosis of autism a year later.
In the final analysis, the Italian Health Ministry disagreed with the initial conclusion of the pediatrician, conceding that the vaccine was at fault.
As a result, a court in Rimini, Italy recently awarded the Bocca family a 15-year annuity totaling 174,000 Euros (just under $220,000), plus reimbursement for court costs, ruling that Valentino “has been damaged by irreversible complications due to vaccination (prophylaxis trivalent MMR)i.” According to a featured article in the UK newspaper, The Independentii, about 100 similar cases are now being examined by Italian lawyers, and more cases may be brought to court.
“Luca Ventaloro the family lawyer, said yesterday: “This is very significant for Britain which uses, and has used, an MMR vaccine with the same components as the one given to Valentino.
It is wrong for governments and their health authorities to exert strong pressure on parents to take children for the MMR jab while ignoring that this vaccine can cause autism and linked conditions.” The number of autism cases has risen sharply since the 1970s, with one in 64 British children affected,” The Independent reportsiii .
Why is US Media in Black-Out on this Story?
It’s well worth mentioning that this story has yet to be addressed in the US media… The Daily Mail was the first paper in the UK to talk about it on June 15iv. The Independent was the second to print an article, on June 17. The Daily Mail was the most substantive of the two. Their version included the following statements:
“Judge Lucio Ardigo, awarding compensation to the family… said it was ‘conclusively established’ that Valentino had suffered from an ‘autistic disorder associated with medium cognitive delay’ and his illness, as Dr Barboni stated, was linked to receiving the jab. Lawyer Mr Ventaloro explained yesterday: ‘This is very significant for Britain which uses, and has used, an MMR vaccine with the same components as the one given to Valentino. ‘It is wrong for governments and their health authorities to exert strong pressure on parents to take children for the MMR jab while ignoring that this vaccine can cause autism and linked conditions.’
Claudio Simion, a leading member of the lobby group Association for Freedom of Choice in Vaccination (Comilva), adds: ‘The Rimini judgment is vitally important for children everywhere. The numbers with autism are growing. It is a terrible thing that the authorities turn a blind eye to the connection between the MMR vaccination and this illness.’”
The complete lack of coverage of this case in the US media is a potent example of how health information is flat out censored in the US. Is it any wonder so many Americans are still in the dark? Whether hearing about this case in the US media would sway you to believe vaccines may cause autism or not, the REAL story here is the fact that you’re not even being allowed to learn about it in the first place!
“Controversial” MMR Vaccine Research Replicated and Accurate
It’s virtually impossible to read an article about the MMR vaccine without coming across a reference to British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 research published in The Lancet, which suggested there may be a link between the MMR vaccine, chronic bowel disease, and autism. Ever since the article’s publication, it has remained one of the most cited yet controversial studies on the topic of vaccine safety.
Few public health officials or doctors speaking about vaccination in the media today fail to drive home the point that Wakefield’s research was subsequently “discredited” by the General Medical Council in Britain, while completely ignoring the facts about what his research actually showed, and the long list of studies done since then by other researchers that back up his initial findings.
Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 study involved a retrospective case series analysis, which essentially reviews the clinical histories of a group of patients with a constellation of signs and symptoms that link them together and create a pattern. In this case, it was a group of autistic children with gastrointestinal problems, which led to the discovery of a novel bowel disease that Wakefield and his colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital in London first described.
But rather than celebrating the discovery of a tangible, treatable and potentially preventable serious health problem that could help those suffering with similar health issues, Wakefield’s discovery became a hotly debated controversy in which Dr. Wakefield’s personal and professional reputation was smeared.
Because the clinical story didn’t end with bowel disease; it also included symptoms of regressive autism after receiving the MMR vaccine…
In the years following his 1998 finding, which linked the MMR vaccine to inflammatory bowel disease and symptoms of autism, Dr. Wakefield published another 19 papers on the vaccine-induced bowel disorder. All were peer reviewed, and none have been retracted. However, none of these 19 papers are ever discussed in the media.
The only study that keeps seeing the light of day is the original Lancet article from 1998. Another interesting fact is that, since that study, a large number of replication studies have been performed around the world, by other researchers, that confirm Wakefield’s initial findings. Yet you never hear a word about those either!
As one example of many, at the 2006 International Meeting for Autism Research, Stephen J. Walker, Ph.D. shared preliminary research findings that confirmed Dr. Wakefield’s contested findings.
A research team from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina had examined children with regressive autism and bowel disease, and of the 82 tested at the time of his presentation, 70 were positive for the vaccine strain of the measles virus (as opposed to the wild strain of measles). What this proved was that a majority of children diagnosed with regressive autism had the vaccine strain of measles in their gastrointestinal tract, which is exactly what Dr. Wakefield had found back in 1998.
This doesn’t automatically prove the vaccine was the cause of the autism, but it does at the very least suggest a link between these three factors—the presence of MMR vaccine strain of measles in the digestive tract; chronic bowel inflammation; and symptoms of regressive autism. Which brings us to even more recent research into the ramifications of chronic bowel inflammation.
The Connection Between Your Gut and Your Brain
Is it really so unlikely that chronic bowel inflammation from a measles virus could lead to autistic behavior? After all, the gastrointestinal system is often referred to as your “second brain,” containing some 100 million neurons—more than in either your spinal cord or your peripheral nervous system!
The research of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride shows there’s a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, and she has developed what might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for preventing autism, as well as a wide range of other neurological-, psychological-, and autoimmune disorders—all of which are heavily influenced by your gut health.
I believe her Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and Gut and Physiology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional program is vitally important for MOST people, as the majority of people have such poor gut health due to poor diet and toxic exposures, but it’s particularly crucial for pregnant women and young children.
According to Dr. Campbell-McBride, children who are born with severely damaged gut flora are at a significantly increased risk of vaccine damage, which may help explain why some children develop symptoms of autism after receiving one or more childhood vaccinations, such as the MMR vaccine, while others do not.
In a previous interview, she explained the chain of events that is typical for many, if not most, autistic children:
“What happens in these children [is that] they do not develop normal gut flora from birth… As a result, their digestive system—instead of being a source of nourishment for these children—becomes a major source of toxicity. These pathogenic microbes inside their digestive tract damage the integrity of the gut wall. So all sort of toxins and microbes flood into the bloodstream of the child, and get into the brain of the child.
That usually happens in the second year of life in children who were breast fed because breastfeeding provides a protection against this abnormal gut flora. In children who were not breastfed, I see the symptoms of autism developing in the first year of life. So breastfeeding is crucial to protect these children.”
If a child with abnormal gut flora and damaged digestive tract receives a vaccine, the added toxic burden may prove too great to bear. Keep in mind that this toxic burden is NOT necessarily limited to thimerosal (mercury-based preservative) or aluminum-based adjuvants found in some vaccines. The MMR vaccine for example does not contain thimerosal or aluminum. Instead, it appears the measles virus in the vaccine may contribute to chronic inflammation of the bowel, thereby unleashing a cascade of harmful effects on the brain.
“… If the child’s brain is clogged with toxicity, the child misses that window of opportunity of learning and starts developing autism depending on the mixture of toxins, depending on how severe the whole condition is, and how severely abnormal the gut flora is in the child,” Dr. Campbell-McBride explains.
It’s important to understand that the gut flora your child acquires during vaginal birth is dependent on your—the mother’s—gut flora. So if your microflora is abnormal, your child’s will be as well. Autism isn’t the only potential outcome in this case.
GAPS may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of either autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities. Digestive issues, asthma, allergies, skin problems and autoimmune disorders are also common outgrowths of GAPS, as it can present itself either psychologically or physiologically.
A Simple, Inexpensive Solution to Reduce Risks of Vaccine Damage
Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book Gut and Psychology Syndrome contains an entire chapter outlining what health care professionals need to do to improve the vaccination strategy, because the standard vaccination protocol is bound to damage GAPS babies. She explains:
“It’s a matter of the last straw breaking the camel’s back. If the child is damaged enough, the vaccine can provide that last straw. But if it doesn’t provide that last straw in a particular child, then it will get the child closer to the breaking point.”
Fortunately, it’s possible to rather inexpensively identify GAPS within the first weeks of your baby’s life, which can help you make better-informed decisions about vaccinations, and about how to proceed to set your child on the path to a healthy life.
The entire process for identifying children who would be at risk for developing autism from a vaccine is described in her book, but to sum it up, in her practice she starts out by collecting a complete health history of the parents, and their gut health is assessed.
Then, within the first few days of life, the stool of the child can be analyzed to determine the state of her gut flora, followed by a urine test to check for metabolites, which can give you a picture of the state of your child’s immune system.
These tests are available in most laboratories around the world and cost a very reasonable amount, about $80-100 per test — peanuts compared to the incredible expense of treating an autistic child once the damage is done.
In my view it is absolutely VITAL to perform this analysis BEFORE you consider vaccinating your child. As Dr. Campbell-McBride states, she has yet to find an autistic child with normal bowel flora. If you find that your baby has abnormal gut microflora, or begins to develop symptoms of autism a year or two later, the GAPS program should be started immediately, as the younger the child is when you start the treatment, the better the results.
You should seriously evaluate the potential increased risks of giving a child vaccines before their microflora tests normal. For more information about the GAPS Nutritional Program, including the two types of GAPS diets, and the importance of fermented foods, please review this previous article.
MMR Vaccine Linked to Brain Inflammation
Whereas the research of Dr. Wakefield and others provide compelling evidence that MMR vaccine can cause chronic inflammatory bowel disease, other researchers have found links between the MMR and inflammation of the brain. Dr. Harold Buttram has written about the MMR vaccine’s potential link to autism, due to the vaccine’s potential to cause brain inflammation. He explains:
“First and perhaps foremost, MMR is incubated in chick embryo culture medium, which necessarily includes precursors of all the organ systems of the chick, including myelin basic protein. Merck Pharmaceuticals, which produces MMR vaccine, claims that all traces of the chick embryo are removed before the vaccine is released for use.
This may be true, but it is probably irrelevant as it does not take into account the process of mobile genetic elements, more commonly referred to as “jumping genes.” Viruses being made up entirely of genetic material, they are highly susceptible to this process.
It has been shown that viruses are genetically changed by accepting genetic material from cell cultures.’ The genetic imprint of the chick myelin basic protein, which is foreign to the human system because of its chick origin, may be programmed to induce antibodies against human myelin basic protein, once injected into the human system.
This in turn, potentially resulting in encephalitis.”
If you don’t want to take his word for it, take a look at the package insert for Merck’s MMR vaccinev , which, on page seven, lists encephalitis as a potential side effect. Type 2 diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is another, along with a number of other potentially life altering conditions. Rarely, if ever, will your pediatrician calmly inform you of these reported side effects, which is why you’d be wise to read through the vaccine manufacturer product inserts as part of your own personal research, prior to vaccination.
Other Acknowledged Cases of MMR Vaccine Brain Damage
In 2009, the US District Court of Claims, also known as the “Vaccine Court,” ruled in favor of awarding federal vaccine injury compensation to a young boy, who developed Pervasive Developmental Delay (PDD), a constellation of symptoms of brain dysfunction that includes autism and other learning disorders.
The parents of Bailey Banks argued that their son had a seizure 16 days after his first MMR vaccination. That, they said, led to a type of brain inflammation called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which, in turn, led to PDD.
The court agreed that the MMR vaccine had, indeed, caused him to suffer Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis leading to permanent brain damage. According to the court decision, there was, “a proximate sequence of cause and effect leading inexorably from vaccination to Pervasive Developmental Delay.”
As you can see, what we’re seeing in some cases is little more than semantics, really, because what’s the difference, in practical terms, between PDD and autism? Both words describe chronic brain dysfunction. They are essentially two ways to describe the same brain disorder at different points along a spectrum.
Essentially, this is how many people are misled and kept in the dark, because when the word “autism” is not used, everyone can keep insisting that “there’s no evidence linking vaccines to autism.” Still, for a parent and their affected child, the end result is the same
The case of Hannah Poling is another important case to ponder when discussing potential vaccine damage. In her case, it was found that vaccines “significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder,” resulting in a brain disorder “with features of autism spectrum disorder.”
Mitochondria are the powerhouses in your body’s cells that produce energy. The US Court of Claims and government health agencies again stopped short of admitting a direct link between autism and vaccines, saying instead that vaccines may only be a danger for children who have a “rare” mitochondrial dysfunction.
The problem is that mitochondrial “dysfunction” may not be as rare as initially thought. According to some estimates, the prevalence may be as high as 1 in 50 children—which is pretty darn close to the current prevalence of autism.
But is it possible that what the government is calling a genetic predisposition for mitochondrial dysfunction is actually a biological or cellular response to numerous environmental assaults? You bet!
A brand new meta-analysis published in the March issue of Molecular Psychiatryvi discovered that, while five percent of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) had mitochondrial dysfunction (MD)—far higher than that found in the general population—79 percent of them were NOT associated with any kind of genetic abnormality! Seventy-four percent of children with ASD were also found to have gastrointestinal abnormalities, again supporting the link between chronic bowel disorders and autistic symptoms.
According to the authors:
“Neuroimaging, in vitro and post-mortem brain studies were consistent with an elevated prevalence of mitochondrial dysfunction (MD) in ASD. Taken together, these findings suggest children with ASD have a spectrum of mitochondrial dysfunction of differing severity…
The prevalence of developmental regression (52%), seizures (41%), motor delay (51%), gastrointestinal abnormalities (74%), female gender (39%), and elevated lactate (78%) and pyruvate (45%) was significantly higher in ASD/MD compared with the general ASD population.
The prevalence of many of these abnormalities was similar to the general population of children with mitochondrial dysfunction, suggesting that ASD/MD represents a distinct subgroup of children with MD.
Most ASD/MD cases (79%) were not associated with genetic abnormalities, raising the possibility of secondary mitochondrial dysfunction. Treatment studies for ASD/MD were limited, although improvements were noted in some studies with carnitine, co-enzyme Q10 and B-vitamins.
… Overall, this evidence supports the notion that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with ASD. Additional studies are needed to further define the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in ASD.” [Emphasis mine]
A Pediatrician Responds
In response to the Italian case, Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, MDvii, posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
“One of the reasons the measles vaccine was originally administered to children was to prevent against the unfortunate, but rare complication of a measles infection-SSPE (Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis). Before the measles vaccine was licensed for use in the US in 1963, the CDC reports that 400,000 cases of measles infections occurred each year in the US. Yet, the incidence rate of measles encephalitis (SSPE) was only .0061 %. Encephalitis is another term for brain inflammation, and it occurs rarely after a measles infection due to a slow viral infection of the brain weeks, months or even years after the resolution of a measles infection.
According to the CDCviii , there were 368 cases of SSPE in US citizens between 1969 and 1981. 55 % (202) of the cases had only a history of having had a measles infection. 14 % (51) had a history of only having received the measles vaccine, and 17% had a history of having had both the natural measles infection and the measles vaccine. 14% (52) gave no history of either having had the measles infection or the vaccine. These data clearly show that SSPE can occur after a subset of people have received the measles vaccine.
The development of encephalitis is not just limited to people, who experience a natural measles infection. According to the CDC, 1 in 88 US children have received the diagnosis of autismix. In children with autism, we are finding that they too have a considerable amount of brain inflammation. In other words, children with autism also suffer from encephalitis.
Since the CDC points out that encephalitis can occur in people who receive the measles vaccine, it is scientifically valid to say that in a subset of the 1 in 88 children who suffer from autism, i.e., brain inflammation, the measles vaccine they received may have contributed to the onset of their brain inflammation. So, here’s the tradeoff. We’ve gone from an encephalitis incidence rate post measles infection of .0061% to an encephalitis incidence rate post measles vaccination of 1.14% (1 in 88 children).
As a result of the use of the measles vaccine, we see fewer obvious cases of acute measles infections. Instead, however, we now have many more clinical cases of chronic brain inflammation, the very complication of a natural measles infection that the vaccine was supposed to protect against.
I’d say the measles vaccine program has failed to accomplish what it was meant to do, and now, as a result of our attempts to minimize the rare complication of a measles infection by stopping children from experiencing a measles infection, we have created the very problem of an inordinate amount of children with chronic brain inflammation. “
Why Don’t Health Agencies Look At Risks of Excess Vaccinations?
Bear in mind that vaccine safety is not just about individual vaccines. Dr. Russell Blaylock has written an excellent paper that explains the connection between excessive vaccination and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism that is definitely worth reading.
Dr. Blaylock is suggesting that vaccines can over-stimulate your child’s immune system and, when several vaccines are administered together, or in close succession, their interaction may completely overwhelm your child’s developing immune system.
It’s your child, so it’s up to you to make an informed decision. For parents who are looking for the truth about vaccinations, I invite you to continue your journey by searching this site and other reliable resources like the National Vaccine Information Center for more information.
Why We Must Insist on Invoking the Precautionary Principle
If multiple toxic exposures and poor nutrition is to blame, then trying to tease out “the” primary culprit for autism will get us nowhere. I believe we must tackle the issue of ASD with a much wider aim, and that is to:
- Reduce ALL toxic exposures
- Improve nutrition for pregnant women and young children
- Improve digestive health of pregnant women and young children, and test all newborns to evaluate their digestive flora to help determine the safest time to vaccinate, for those who choose to do so
This tactic includes but is not limited to reducing the vaccine load, especially in the US where children receive the most vaccines of any country on the planet. I believe it’s imperative to invoke the precautionary principle with respects to vaccines, and, at the very least, allow people to opt out if they so choose.
While vaccine advocates tend to stress the importance of so-called “herd immunity,” saying the vaccine will not work unless the majority is vaccinated, there’s a great price to pay by forcing everyone into a one-size-fits-all mold.
Not only are some children at greater risk for vaccine damage than others, but we also eliminate the ability to evaluate the health risks of vaccinations if no one is allowed to opt out. We NEED to conduct comparison studies to evaluate the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children, yet such studies are not done.
An oft-cited reason for that is that it would be unethical to not vaccinate certain children… But this is not really a reasonable excuse today, as many parents want to opt out of one or more vaccines for their children.
Deciding whether or not to vaccinate your child is a VITAL decision with very high stakes. I implore you to avoid exclusively relying on the advice of public health officials and the media, which are clearly biased and influenced by vaccine industry money. There is a revolving door between many federal regulatory, policymaking and research agencies, like the FDA, CDC and NIH. Former heads of several of these government health agencies are now executives in two of the largest pharmaceutical corporations marketing vaccines in the world.
There are major conflicts of interest between the vaccine industry and government health agencies, which virtually makes it impossible to receive objective advice from them. It is crucial to investigate the other side of the vaccine story and evaluate the risks of vaccines before you make your decision.
One good place to start is NVIC.org as they have been providing accurate and balanced vaccine information and insights to parents on this topic for the last 30 years.
This is a Flash-based video and may not be viewable on mobile devices.
By Dr. Mercola
Australian research scientists have developed a strategy for fighting Dengue fever, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes that affects more than 50 million people annually and causes fever and crippling joint and muscle pain—and in some cases even death.
Dengue kills FAR more people worldwide than influenza, yet it is rarely even mentioned by Western media.
A bacterium named Wolbachiapipientis naturally infects many insect species and has the ability to interfere with its host’s reproductive ability in such a way that entire populations become infected within just a few generationsi. When Wolbachia infects mosquitoes, the mosquitoes’ ability to transmit Dengue virus is almost completely blocked.
Researchers are encouraged that these bacterially infected mosquitoes are safe to humans and, once set loose, are capable of spreading on their own and overtaking the wild mosquito populations that transmit disease to humans.
In two northern Australian towns, between 10,000 and 20,000 of these infected mozzies were released (“mozzie” is Australian for mosquito), and wild mosquito infection rates neared 100 percent—meaning, mosquitoes that can infect humans were almost completely replaced by the ones that can’t.
This approach is a change from the swarms of genetically engineered mosquitoes being bred by companies like Oxitec, a British biotechnology company that has released millions of mutant mosquitoes into the fields of unsuspecting Australians.
Oxitec has found a way to genetically manipulate Aedes aegypti, the mosquito species mainly responsible for transmitting Dengue and yellow fever viruses to humans. These “frankenskeeters” represent a new and terrifying twist in potential GMO (genetically modified organisms) dangers—another product of modern science outpacing common sense when big money is thrown into the equation.
Dengue is a Far Worse Problem than Influenza
Dengue fever is on the rise worldwide and spreading faster than any other insect-borne viral disease. It is a threat to people in more than 100 countries, potentially affecting 2.5 billion people worldwide. Dengue infection typically causes high fever, crushing headache, severe pain behind your eyes, rash, and excruciating pain in your joints and spine, which is why it’s sometimes called “break bone fever.” Dr. Renu Daval-Drager of the World Health Organization says some cases of Dengue can be fatal, particularly the more serious Dengue hemorrhagic fever.
This under-recognized infectious disease used to be restricted to tropical areas; however, it has recently made its way into Texas, Florida and other southern states and is endemic in 125 countries. And Dengue has reached epidemic levels in Central America.
Outbreaks of Dengue virus occur primarily in areas where Aedes aegypti and sometimes Aedes albopictus mosquitoes live and breed. This includes most tropical areas of the world—the same places where malaria is found. Dengue is also spread by travelers who become infected while visiting Dengue-infested regions.
In the Americas, all four Dengue virus types are now present. Worldwide, there are about three to five million cases of influenza annually. However, there are about 100 million cases of Dengue fever annually, worldwide—20 times more cases than influenza!
In the past, the best means for preventing the spread of Dengue involved sustainable, community-based, integrated mosquito control, with limited reliance on chemical insecticides. However, new high-tech strategies are being developed to further combat the spread of this deadly virus. Some of these strategies involve genetically manipulating mosquitoes and then releasing them back into the wild, which can have any number of unforeseen consequences.
No Biotechnology is Without Some Risk
The scientific community has expressed concern about introducing a new type of mosquito that is infected with a bacterium that could be transmitted to humans. However, researchers claim Wolbachia bacterium is completely benign to humans.
According a report by Institute of Science in Society (ISIS)ii:
“In our research Wolbachia-infected insects are feeding on our researchers all the time and there is no sign of any human illness associated with insect Wolbachia. Wolbachia is an insect bacterium that has not been detected living inside humans or any other vertebrates. It can be made to infect human tissue culture cells in the laboratory but these laboratory systems are very artificial and do not predict the actual ability of Wolbachia to infect an actual human being.”
However, Daniel Strickman, national program leader for veterinary and medical entomology at the US Department of Agriculture, remains unconvinced. Strickman expresses some discomfort with releasing an agent that could spread out of control, in a way that does not occur in nature. He states there is a risk that, by making the mosquitoes less susceptible to dengue infection, they may become more susceptible to other viruses such as Japanese encephalitis.
Lead Australian Wolbachia researcher Scott O’Neill claims this problem is “extremely unlikely” as mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia are actually less susceptible to a wide range of pathogens they would normally transmit.iii
One thing can be said for certain—this approach to combating Dengue fever renders all attempts at genetically engineered (transgenic) mosquitoes obsolete. Transgenic mosquitoes are less effective, less efficient, more costly and far more risky.iv Unfortunately, GE “mutant mosquitoes” have already been released into the environment, without public consent, in several countries.
How all these changes affect other species consuming these altered insects remains to be seen.
Genetically Modified “Suicide Mosquitoes” Secretly Released in Grand Cayman Island
Can scientists simply release flying, human-biting genetically modified creatures into the air anytime they wish? Apparently, the answer to this question is “yes.” And they have.
Oxitec has created male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that live long enough in the wild to mate, but their offspring die before reaching adulthood, reducing the rates at which they can transmit Dengue virus to humans. The genetically engineered bugs contain a gene that kills them unless they are given tetracycline, a common antibiotic. In the lab, with tetracycline provided, multiple generations of the mosquitoes can be bred. Males are then released into the wild, where tetracycline is not available, and their offspring die without it.
The company claims the technique is safe because only the males are released into the environment—it’s only female mosquitoes that bite and spread diseases.
The problem is, millions of these GE bugs have been released into the open air by Oxitec as a means of field-testing their new “Dengue-proof” mosquitoes, without sufficient review and public consultation. They have conveniently chosen several countries with weak regulations. In 2009, Oxitec released their designer insects onto Grand Cayman Island, an island in the Caribbeanv.
The experiment will go down in scientific history as the first release of GM insects that could bite humans. Not surprisingly, it was conducted in secret.
Once the locals got wind of this, they responded with a fair amount of public outrage—and rightly so! But it didn’t stop there. Oxitec subsequently released their frankenskeeters in Malaysia, Brazilvi, Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. And they are seeking approval from the US Agriculture Department to perform similar open-air testing in the Florida Keys.
Even supporters of this technology worry that public reaction will be similar to the one that has stalled acceptance of genetically engineered crops. Regulation has not caught up with science, and GE insects are a brand new adversary in this brave new world of genetic modification. Many companies are “making hay” while regulations are lacking.
Oxitec reports the results of their open-air testing exceeded expectations. The genetically engineered males were found to be only half as successful in mating as the wild ones, which is a rate sufficient to repress the population. Oxitec also reports that a 2010 trial on Cayman Island reduced the population of the targeted mosquitoes by 80 percent for three months. But what is the price of this progress? What will be the cost to humans and to the environment?
Just as with genetically engineered (GE) foods, the long-term effects of GE insects are completely unknown—the Earth and its inhabitants are being used as a laboratory for grand scale genetic experiments. It’s a blatant violation of human rights with regard to human experimentation.
Antibiotic-Dependent, Blood-Sucking Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes… What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Unfortunately, like so many other things, neither the government nor the biotech companies can offer peer-reviewed scientific proof of the safety of their biotechnology—they have blithely rushed ahead without any concern about the long-term effects. Once released, these insects cannot be “recalled.” There are several problemsvii with the assumption that these genetically engineered bugs are safe for the human population. For starters:
- The potential exists for these genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating “insertion mutations” and other unpredictable types of DNA damage.viii
- According to Alfred Handler, a geneticist at the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, mosquitoes can develop resistance to the lethal gene and might then be released inadvertently. Todd Shelly, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, said 3.5 percent of the insects in a laboratory test survived to adulthood, despite presumably carrying the lethal gene.
- The sorting of male and female mosquitoes is done by hand. As a result, up to 0.5 percent of the released insects are female. Even that small of a percentage could lead to a temporary increase in the spread of Dengue—not to mention potentially transmitting the altered gene to humans.
- Tetracycline and other antibiotics are now showing up in the environment, in soil and surface water samples. These genetically engineered mosquitoes were designed to die in the absence of tetracycline, assuming they would NOT have access to that drug in the wild. With tetracycline exposure (for example, in a lake) these mutant insects would actually thrive in the wild, potentially creating a nightmarish scenario.
The problem is that genetically modified female mosquitoes can still bite humans. This means the protein, which kills their own larvae, might be injected into humans when the mosquitoes suck their blood, with unknown and potentially ghoulish consequences.
And those are just the mosquitoes…
Oxitec is also the creator of genetically engineered pink bollworm moths, and swarms of this creature have already been unleashed over the fields of Arizona in an effort to overtake natural bollworm populations, which are a pest.5 The company appears to be edging its way toward becoming the next “Monsanto,” already having a monopoly on genetically modified insects. Their next frankenbug is a genetically engineered diamond-back or cabbage moth, slated for release over England.
Other groups are also developing genetically modified insects. One group has created Anopheles mosquitoes that are immune to the malaria parasite they normally carry, and also manufacturing male Anopheles that lack sperm.9
Realizing genetic engineering is risky technology, the World Health Organization is finalizing new guidelines about how GE insects must be deployed in developing countries, which it expects to release by the end of 2012ix.
Your Best Defense Against Dengue
Building a strong immune system is your best defense against this nasty virus. Your immune health depends on the lifestyle choices you make every day. By supporting your body’s own natural ability to defend itself against pathogens, you will not only have resistance to Dengue fever but to every other infectious illness that comes your way. Make sure you address each of the following:
- Consume a diet rich in fresh, whole foods with abundant organic vegetables, pasture-raised meats, organic eggs and raw dairy; avoid sugar, chemicals and processed foods; be sure to get plenty of omega-3 fats; refer to my nutrition plan for more dietary information
- Optimize your vitamin D level
- Exercise regularly
- Address your stress, and make sure to get plenty of sleep
- Practice good hand washing technique
By Dr. Mercola
It’s common knowledge that drugs, vitamins or supplements contain more than just the active ingredient. Something has to encapsulate them―hold them together―in a form that not only makes them usable, but producible by a manufacturer in massive quantities.
In the U.S. many supplement makers are adding “flow agents” into their capsules. Their only purpose is to keep ingredients from sticking to equipment during mixing and compression. They make manufacturing faster and easier, but it’s not impossible to produce the final product without them. Not using them simply adds to manufacturing costs and final sales price of the product.
Magnesium stearate is a commonly used and potentially harmful additive found in many supplements. This is a substance I have warned about for a long time because of its subtle ability to cause possible harm to your intestine, possibly even preventing the proper absorption of nutrients.
Potentially Harmful Effects of Magnesium Stearate
Magnesium stearate is formed by adding a magnesium ion to stearic acid. The compound has lubricating properties, which is why it’s often used in the making of supplements, as it allows the machinery to run faster and smoother, and prevents the pills or capsules from sticking to each other.
However, previous research has shown that stearic acid suppresses T cells—your natural killer cells—which are a key component of your immune systemi. According to that study, stearic acid causes the collapse of cell membrane integrity—an effect that was found to be time and dose dependent—which, ultimately, can destroy cell function.
Naturally, when you take vitamins and other supplements, you do it with the idea of strengthening your immune system. However, if you take supplements containing magnesium stearate, you could end up doing the exact opposite as you’re actually consuming chalk-like substance with each dose you take.
This filler also stimulates your gut to form a biofilm. You frequently see biofilms when you lift the lid of your toilet reservoir. Biofilms are a sort of sludge lining that acts as an effective barrier to the absorption of not only that particular vitamin but ALL the nutrients you’d normally get from food sources as well.
This is of particular concern for anyone with impaired digestion, which in today’s world includes the vast majority of Americans, due to poor dietary habits.
In my view, this side effect alone is a major reason for focusing on nutritional foods, or, if you’re taking a supplement, making sure it’s a high quality, natural food-based supplement that does not include potentially harmful fillers and additives such as magnesium stearate.
Another issue that has been raised in relation to magnesium stearate is the fact that the stearate is commonly sourced from hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed oil. This crop is oftentimes genetically engineered, but even when it’s not, cottonseed oil tends to have very high levels of pesticide residues.
Other contamination can also occur during the manufacturing process of the magnesium stearate. According to a December 2011 report by the World Health Organization (WHO)ii, several batches of magnesium stearate manufactured by Ferro Corporation were found to contain various levels of harmful contaminants such as:
- Calcium hydroxide: aka “slaked lime,” which is considered toxic, according to the National Institutes of Health
- Bisphenol-A: a toxic chemical and potent endocrine disrupter
- Irganox 1010: a “moderately hazardous” chemical with potential developmental toxicity, according to the Environmental Protection Agencyiii
The cross contamination was determined to be due to incomplete cleaning of air milling equipment introduced into the Ohio Ferro plant in February that same year. Granted, this is not a chronic problem, as far as I know, but it just goes to show how easily contamination can occur in general.
Will Magnesium Stearate Get Axed?
As recently explained in the featured article, magnesium stearate might be on the verge of getting axed from supplements altogether, which probably would not be a bad thing; at least from a health perspective.
During the March 2010 session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA), it was recommended that “magnesium salts of fatty acids” (ie magnesium stearate) be deleted from the Codex, as it has no known use in food. The following year, at the March 2011 CCFA session, the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA) submitted a request to reinstate magnesium stearate as a food additive. It was subsequently reinstated under INS number 470(iii).
However, as explained in the featured article:
“…the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) now requires toxicity data to substantiate magnesium stearate’s new standing, despite its existing history of use in supplements. According to John Venardos, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for the global network marketing company Herbalife, who presented this issue at the recent NIA West conference in Laguna Beach, the estimated cost of this tox data on magnesium stearate would cost $180,000. No manufacturer has yet volunteered to foot the bill.”
It would appear as though, unless someone accepts the task of doing the research necessary to prove its safety as a food additive, it will likely get eliminated from the market. Considering the fact that a vast majority of supplement makers use magnesium stearate, backlash is to be expected. But for companies that already operate without magnesium stearate, it’s just proof that they’ve been right all along.
I count myself in this latter group, as ever since I learned of this ingredient, I’ve taken the necessary steps to remove it from ALL the products I sell.
This is one of the reasons why my products are sometimes a bit more expensive than what you might find at your local supermarket or health food store. Removing it from the finished product equates to slightly higher manufacturing cost, as the machines cannot run as fast and hence cannot produce as much on any given day. But I believe the slight increase in cost is well worth it. It’s really important to me to first do no harm, and to take the extra precautions to ensure the products sold on this site are of the highest quality and purity possible.
How to Identify High Quality Multi-Vitamin Supplements
I do believe that dietary supplements — including vitamins and minerals — can help compensate for some of the damage your body incurs through living in a contemporary culture. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices.
But there are times when supplements can be quite useful, and I believe that some supplements, such as a high quality animal-based omega-3, for example, are essential for nearly everyone. This is because the main source of animal based omega-3 fats in your diet comes from fish – most of which is now so grossly polluted with heavy metals, PCBs and other environmental toxins I can no longer recommend eating fish for optimal omega 3 levels. Another supplement that many people need is vitamin D3, unless you can get sufficient amounts of safe sun exposure year-round, or use a safe tanning bed.
There are other instances when supplements may be useful as well, such as in the case of CoQ10 if you’re taking a statin drug. You may also want to take one or more food-based supplements to ensure you are getting an adequate variety of nutrients. However, I strongly recommend you make whole food supplements your first choice, and steer clear of synthetic vitamins. How do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice? For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:
- It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
- Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
- It works! I always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high quality products that produce good clinical results.
- As this article states, avoid any supplement that uses magnesium stearate. Read the labels carefully as companies need to declare it if they use it, but it is in very tiny print and you might need a magnifying lens to read it.
If you are interested in optimizing your health, your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and eat a wide variety of whole organic foods. You can use my free nutrition plan and work your way up to the advanced stage. Once you have addressed your diet and are looking for further improvement, odds are you would likely benefit from some supplements, like an animal-based omega-3 supplement and a probiotic, for example. There are many others you could consider depending on your specific circumstances, but just about everyone would benefit from these two.
Just remember to do your homework first and use only those that come from a reputable manufacturer using whole-food, natural ingredients that are free of harmful additives, fillers and binders, and have gone through a vigorous quality control process.
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By Dr. Mercola
If you think your birth control pill is the best pregnancy prevention tool there is, you may be surprised by new research looking into its failure rates.
Compared to other forms of protection, the Pill failed miserably, which only adds to the myriad of reasons why you should heavily question its use.
The Pill Fails 20 Times More Often
About 99 percent of sexually active women use at least one method of birth control, the most common of which is the birth control pill (oral contraceptives). The Pill was used by nearly 11 million U.S. women from 2006-2008.i
Meanwhile, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.ii Certainly not all of these are due to a birth control failure, but some of them — estimates suggest about half — undoubtedly are. Which brings me to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.iii Out of the 7,500 women in the study, who used various forms of birth control including an intrauterine device (IUD), implant, birth control pills, patch, ring and contraceptive injection, 334 became pregnant, 156 of which were due to birth control failure.
The contraceptive failure rate among pills, patch or ring was 4.55 percent, compared to 0.27 percent among participants using reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. The effectiveness—or non-effectiveness—was no different in adolescents or young women. The implications—that birth control pills are 20 times more likely to fail than IUDs—should give some women a pause to think about the method of contraception they want to use.
As for the varying degrees of effectiveness, the Pill must be taken daily, preferably around the same time for it to work its best. Study author Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, noted:iv
“This study is the best evidence we have that long-acting reversible methods are far superior to the birth control pill, patch and ring. IUDs and implants are more effective because women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place … If there were a drug for cancer, heart disease or diabetes that was 20 times more effective, we would recommend it first.”
Hormone-Based Contraceptives Have Steep Risks
Unintended pregnancy is clearly a big one, but artificially manipulating your hormones using oral contraceptives, the patch or ring, or an injection like Depo-Provera is also a very risky proposition. Most birth control pills are a combination of the derivatives of the hormones estrogen and a synthetic progesterone (progestin). They work by disrupting the hormones in your body, essentially fooling your intricate hormonal reproductive system into producing the following effects:
- Preventing your ovaries from releasing eggs
- Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg
- Thinning the lining of your uterus, which would make it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized
However, it is naive to believe that these are the only impacts the synthetic hormones are having. Your reproductive system does not exist in a bubble … it is connected to all of your other bodily systems as well. The Pill, too, does not only influence your reproductive status; it’s capable of altering much more.
Ten years ago, in 2002, one of the largest and best-designed federal studies of hormone replacement therapy was halted because women taking these synthetic hormones had a such a higher risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots that continuing forward with the study would have been unethical. The news made headlines because millions of women were already taking these synthetic hormones, but fortunately it prompted many of them to quit. And what do you think happened a year after millions of women quit taking hormone replacement therapy? Incidents of breast cancer fell dramatically — by 7 percent!
What does this have to do with the Pill? Birth control pills contain the SAME type of synthetic hormones — estrogen and progestin — that were used in the ill-fated study!
That’s just one risk. Oral contraceptives have been linked to more than two dozen conditions, including heart disease, liver cancer, deep vein thrombosis and inflammatory bowel disease.v Research suggests they are not only carcinogenic (cancer-causing) but also cardiotoxic (toxic to your heart) and endocrine disrupting.
Why I Advise Most Women to Stop Hormonal Contraceptives
Birth control pills are rarely, if ever, necessary or beneficial. In exchange for the convenience of preventing pregnancy (which you can do naturally perhaps even more effectively, and I’ll explain how below), you are putting yourself at risk of a myriad of health issues.
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that several types of hormone-based birth control methods increased women’s risk of heart attack and stroke.vi The link was found between oral contraceptives as well as contraceptive patches and the vaginal ring. Women using the ring were found to have a 2.5 times greater risk of stroke compared to those not using hormonal contraceptives, whereas the other methods increased the risk to varying degrees.
Other known health risks of hormone-based birth control include:
|Cancer: Women who take birth control pills increase their risk of cervical and breast cancers, and possibly liver cancer as well.||Fatal blood clots: All birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots and subsequent stroke.||Thinner bones: Women who take birth control pills have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women who have never used oral contraceptives.||Impaired muscle gains: A study found that oral contraceptive use impairs muscle gains from resistance exercise training in women.vii|
|Long-term sexual dysfunction: The Pill may limit the availability and/or action of testosterone, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction, including decreased desire and arousal.||Heart disease: Long-term use of birth control pills may increase the buildup of arterial plaque, which may raise your risk of heart disease and cardiac mortality.viii||Migraines and nausea||Weight gain and mood changes|
|Irregular bleeding or spotting||Breast tenderness||Yeast overgrowth||Yeast infection|
The other hormonal-based options are not much better. Birth control patches (Ortho Evra) have resulted in an avalanche of lawsuits over the past several years due to the overwhelming health problems women have experienced from using them. One of the reasons the patch is so risky is that you absorb up to 60 percent more synthetic estrogen than if you were taking an oral contraceptive. Side effects of the patch include:
|Raised risk of heart attack and stroke||Irregular bleeding||Problems wearing contact lenses||Fluid retention or raised blood pressure|
|Nausea||Headache||Breast tenderness||Mood changes|
|Menstrual cramps||Abdominal pain||Skin irritation or rashes at site of patch|
As far as injections like Depo-Provera, or depo medroxyprogesterone (DMPA), go, this synthetic analogue of natural progesterone known as a progestin interferes with hormone signaling to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Progestins carry with them a vast array of negative side effects, including:
Is an IUD a Better Option?
Intrauterine devices are small, plastic, T-shaped sticks with a string attached to the end. The IUD is placed inside the uterus and prevents pregnancy by rendering the sperm unable to fertilize an egg, and by changing the lining of the uterus so that it is less supportive for an embryo. It also works by releasing hormones into your body, specifically a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel, which is often used in birth control pills.
One of its major advantages, and what contributes to its increased effectiveness rate, is that it essentially eliminates the compliance failure issue as all you do is insert it once. There is no daily task to remember to do. However, it, too, carries significant risks, including some that are unique to a foreign body being placed inside your uterus. Among them:
- Pelvic infection: IUDs may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious infection
- The device may attach to or go through the wall of the uterus
- Pregnancy while using an IUD can be life threatening, and may result in loss of the pregnancy or fertility
- Ovarian cysts may occur
- Bleeding and spotting
Take Charge of Your Body Using Natural Birth Control Methods
You may not be aware that there are many effective and safe methods for preventing pregnancy. Some of the more common, barrier methods are:
- Male condoms: Condoms have a 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. A water-based lubricant will increase the effectiveness; do not use an oil-based lubricant, however, as they break the latex and usually are petrochemical in origin.
- Female condoms: These thin, soft polyurethane pouches fitted inside the vagina before sex are 95 percent effective. Female condoms are less likely to tear than male condoms.
- Diaphragm: Diaphragms, which must be fitted by a doctor, act as a barrier to sperm. When used correctly with spermicidal jellies, they are 92 to 98 percent effective.
- Cervical cap: This heavy rubber cap fits tightly against the cervix and can be left in place for 48 hours. Like the diaphragm, a doctor must fit the cap. Proper fitting enhances the effectiveness above 91 percent.
- Cervical sponges: The sponge, made of polyurethane foam, is moistened with water and inserted into the vagina prior to sex. It works as a barrier between sperm and the cervix, both trapping and absorbing sperm and releasing a spermicide to kill them. It can be left in for up to 24 hours at a time. When used correctly, the sponge is about 89-91 percent effective.
Many people are familiar with these barrier methods, and less familiar with natural family planning (NFP) tools, which a woman uses to track when she is ovulating, and then avoid sex during that time (or does so only using a back-up barrier method). Many women feel empowered by NFP because it allows them to get in touch with their fertility cycle.
Some of the most popular methods include:
- Calendar Method: Abstention from sex during the week the woman is ovulating. This technique works best when a woman’s menstrual cycle is very regular. The calendar method doesn’t work very well for couples who use it by itself (about a 75 percent success rate), but it can be effective when combined with the temperature and mucus methods described below.
- The Temperature Method: This is a way to pinpoint the day of ovulation so that sex can be avoided for a few days before and after. It involves taking your basal body temperature (your temperature upon first waking) each morning with an accurate “basal” thermometer, and noting the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation.
Illness or lack of sleep can change your body temperature and make this method unreliable by itself, but when it is combined with the mucus method, it can be an accurate way of assessing fertility. The two methods combined can have a success rate as high as 98 percent.
- The Mucus Method: This involves tracking changes in the amount and texture of vaginal discharge, which reflect rising levels of estrogen in your body. For the first few days after your period, there is often no discharge, but there will be a cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen starts to rise. When the discharge starts to increase in volume and becomes clear and stringy, ovulation is near. A return to the tacky, cloudy mucus or no discharge means that ovulation has passed.
I encourage you to become actively involved in fertility awareness, and embrace natural family planning or barrier methods that will not interfere with your hormones and health. Some excellent reading to get you started on this path include:
- The Ovulation Method: Natural Family Planning, by John J. Billings
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, by Toni Weschler
- Honoring Our Cycles: A Natural Family Planning Workbook, by Katie Singer
By Dr. Mercola
For many years now, my favorite source of omega-3 fats has been krill oil. Every time a new study about krill oil hits the journals, its list of health benefits grows longer and the differences between fish oil and krill oil become more pronounced.
Krill oil is often compared to fish oil as a source of animal-based omega-3 fats.
But krill consistently comes out on top in the research—and the latest study published in the July 2011 issue of Frontiers in Geneticsi is no exception. This study compared the livers of mice fed krill oil to those fed fish oil by looking at the gene expression triggered by each.
Researchers found that krill oil is VASTLY superior to fish oil when it comes to influencing your genes. What do your genes have to do with your metabolism? Everything! Every aspect of your metabolism is controlled by how your genes express themselves.
New Study Shows Krill Oil Flips on Key Metabolic Genes
Genes have “switches” that can be flipped on and off, which control virtually every biochemical process in your body. And nutrients like omega-3 fats control those switches. Your liver plays a major role in controlling how your body uses carbohydrates and lipids, utilizing omega-3 and omega-6 fats to sense your nutritional state and influence gene expression accordingly.
Fatty acids help to direct key metabolic processes such as glucose production, lipid synthesis, cellular energy, oxidation, and dozens of others. We now know that various types and sources of omega-3 fat affect liver tissue differently, which is what this study was designed to examine.
Krill oil actually influences your metabolism and genes to improve! The referenced study found that, although both fish oil and krill oil contain omega-3s, they differ greatly in how they affect the genes controlling your metabolism. Krill oil:
- Enhances glucose metabolism in your liver, whereas fish oil does not
- Promotes lipid metabolism, whereas fish oil does not
- Helps regulate the mitochondrial respiratory chain, whereas fish oil does not
- Decreases cholesterol synthesis, whereas fish oil increases it
So, krill will help lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increase your energy production, whereas fish oil does neither and in fact may even raise your cholesterol level, according to the latest research. According to the researchers:
“Elevated hepatic glucose production is associated with metabolic disease in humans (Natali and Ferrannini, 2006), and we observed that krill oil supplementation favorably alters the expression of genes regulating hepatic glucose metabolism.”
Prior studies show that krill oil may lower your blood glucose level by increasing glucose uptake by tissues other than your liver. In another study that directly compared krill oil with fish oil, krill oil was significantly more effective in reducing liver triglyceride levels. These studies all suggest krill oil may offer significant benefits for those with the metabolic dysregulation seen in obesity and type 2 diabetes—which is a problem of epidemic proportions in today’s world.
Omega-3 fats affect your cellular health and DNA chiefly by how they influence your cell membranes. It is these cell membranes that are critical in switching your genes on and off, because the membranes contain receptors that respond to hormones and other agents, and these are affected by the fatty acids on their surface. Your cell membranes contain EPA, DHA and phospholipids, and all help to shuttle molecules into and out of your cells. Therefore, having ample high quality fatty acids in your system is crucial to keeping your cell membranes working like well-oiled little machines.
Other Advantages of Krill
It is important to understand that krill oil has a number of other advantages over fish oil:
- Some studies have shown that krill oil may be 48 times more potent than fish oil. This means you need far less of it than fish oil, as confirmed by a 2011 study published in the journal Lipidsii.
- This is because krill oil contains phospholipids, so the omega-3 fats are already in the form that your body can use. This bioavailability means krill oil is absorbed very quickly and crosses your blood-brain barrier, so is able to reach important brain structures. Also, phospholipids are one of the principle compounds in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which you want more of.
- Fish oil is quite prone to oxidation, and oxidation leads to the formation of free radicals. Consuming free radicals further increases your need for antioxidants. Fish oil is weak in antioxidant content, whereas krill oil is rich in antioxidants. Krill oil contains astaxanthin—probably the most potent antioxidant in nature—which is why it is so stable and resistant to oxidation.
- Many, if not most, fish and fish oil are now contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals; even fish that is thousands of miles away from coal plants and other environment-polluting industries. Antarctic krill is not prone to this contamination.
- Krill is also far more sustainable as a food source than is fish because it’s the largest biomass in the world, making krill harvesting one of the most sustainable practices on the planet.
Could Omega-3 Deficiency be Killing More People than Breast Cancer?
Three studies in 2009 showed that omega-3 fat deficiency might cause or contribute to up to 96,000 premature deaths each year. Compare that number to the estimated 40,000 women who die from breast cancer in the U.S. annuallyiii, and the implications of omega-3 deficiency become quite clear.
Omega-3 fats from krill have been shown to be far more effective than fish oil in reducing fat levels in your heart and liver. The latest study adds to the mountain of research that krill oil can lower your risk for metabolic syndrome, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
In one study, krill oil was found to reduce fat levels in the hearts of rats by 42 percent, compared to just two percent for fish oil. Similarly, krill was found to reduce fat in the liver by 60 percent, compared to 38 percent for fish oil. The buildup of fat in your liver can lead to insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome and eventually full-blown type 2 diabetes, just as the buildup of fat in your heart can predispose you to a heart attack.
Krill Oil Can Also Help Protect Your Brain
Some omega-3 fats—especially DHA—are critical for your nervous system, particularly your brain. DHA is converted into substances called neuroprotectins. Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a shortage of these neuroprotectins. Fats make up about two-thirds of your brain tissue. Myelin, the protective sheath that covers your neurons, is composed of 30 percent protein and 70 percent fat. These fats are not just important for adults. Omega-3s are crucial for proper brain and eye development in infants and children.
Two different studies have shown that taking 800 to 900 mg of DHA per day for 16 to 24 weeks resulted in significant improvements in memory, verbal fluency scores, and rate of learning.
Low concentrations of EPA and DHA are known to accelerate cognitive decline and increase your risk for mood swings and mood disorders. Those suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 in their blood, compared to nondepressed individuals. A 2010 study involving 46 depressed elderly womeniv concluded that omega-3 supplementation can improve quality of life and effectively treat depression.
According to a report published in 2007 in the Alternative Medicine Reviewv, DHA and EPA in krill oil can lessen a variety of brain and mental disorders, including autism and dyslexia. DHA also protects your cells from gene mutations that can lead to brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and some forms of Alzheimer’s disease, by preventing “misfolding” of certain proteins that occur as a result of those mutations.
Krill Oil is a Potent Anti-Inflammatory
A major reason krill oil has such impressive benefits is that it powerfully reduces inflammation in your body. They produce compounds called resolvins and protectins, which help quell inflammation before it can do too much damage to your tissues. Several studies have been published on the remarkable effectiveness of krill oil in combating inflammation-related disorders, such as arthritis.
One 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest omega-3 levels had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying from inflammatory diseases. Studies have proven krill oil’s ability to reduce pain, stiffness, and functional impairment in people with inflammatory disorders in just one to two weeksvi and reduce the symptoms for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferersvii, viii.
The Verdict is in: Krill Oil May Help with Literally DOZENS of Diseases
GreenMedInfo.com now lists more than than 25 different diseases krill may help prevent or reverse. Of course, if you extend the search to include everything related to omega-3 fats, the list of benefits expands even more, since the gifts of krill oil include everything known to be good about omega-3s. The implications are truly profound, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more krill research in the future. The following table includes links to a number of studiesspecific to krill oil, by disease. There is much more information about krill and omega-3 fats on the GreenMedInfo website.
Cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia Inflammation, and C-Reactive Protein Oxidative stress Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) Metabolic syndrome, including obesity and fatty liver Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea Brain disease: Cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, brain aging, learning disorders and ADHD Cancer Kidney disease
A Final Note on Krill Oil Supplements
Please remember that I don’t advocate taking large amounts of supplements. It is far better to receive you nutrients from food. If it weren’t for the polluted waterways of the world, I would recommend getting your omega-3 fats from fish rather than supplements, but unfortunately, most fish are now so contaminated with mercury and other toxins, I just cannot recommend it any longer.
As you can see from the research above, animal-based omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health. I recommend you consider taking a high quality omega-3 supplement, and I think krill oil is your best option.
The only kind of krill oil I recommend is from genuine Antarctic krill. Look for a brand that is cold-processed, which preserves its biological benefits. Please make sure that hexane is not used to extract the oil from the krill as some of the most popular krill oils on the market use this dangerous chemical agent. It should also be free of heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. You should also make sure the krill you take is harvested in compliance with international conservation standards.
Chakras have been controversial and considered by some as not real. Here I use a cell phone (Motorola Razr) and a simple magnetometor app, one that is known for its accuracy ("Metal Detector" by Radwanski), to measure micro-electromagnetic fields. The detector seems to show a strong spike in microTeslas (a unit of electromagnetic radiation) in the body regions of the traditional chakras. The spikes were independent of body temperature, but dependent on time of day and activity, especially spiritual activity, which is consistent with Ayurvedic teachings. The program settings were: a sensitivity of 7, a sampling priority of high, and the phone was calibrated to zero. I would NOT recommend that you try this at home. The evidence is pretty definitive against the close application of cell phones against the body. ( articles.mercola.com ) Plus, I got a bad headache after applying the active magnetometer to my head. So, am I missing some obvious thing here, or is the electromagnetic field of the chakras detectable in such a simple way?
By Dr. Mercola
Azithromycin (Zithromax) is a macrolide antibiotic used in the treatment of bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and sexually transmitted diseases. It’s known for having unpleasant side effects such as skin rashes, itching, allergic or anaphylactic reactions, and severe, watery diarrhea.
But it’s also associated with more severe side effects, such as myopathy―muscle and tendon pain, weakness and cramping―when taken in combination with statins i. And previous research has shown that use of any type of antibiotic increases the risk of breast cancer in women ii.
Most recently, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that azithromycin increases your chances of dying from a cardiovascular event by a whopping 250 percent within the first five days of usage, compared to those who took amoxicillin iii. This is nearly the same as that for Vioxx, which killed 60,000 people and was voluntarily removed from the market nearly eight years ago.
When researchers looked at people who already had heart problems, their risk of dying while on this drug were even higher. The risk of cardiovascular death was also significantly greater with azithromycin than with ciprofloxacin, while levofloxacin and azithromycin had comparable risks of cardiovascular death.
What You Must Know about Antibiotics
It’s important to recognize that antibiotics are indiscriminate bactericidal agents, meaning they kill all bacteria, both beneficial and pathologic, and many of the immediate and long-term side effects are related to this fact. By killing off the beneficial bacteria in your gut, antibiotics have a detrimental effect on your overall immune system, and if you do not “reseed” your gut with probiotics (good bacteria)—either in the form of a probiotics supplement or fermented foods—your immune function can remain compromised for some time.
Hence, antibiotics should only be taken when absolutely necessary, and care must be taken to rebalance your intestinal flora to prevent long-term effects to your health. Taking probiotics while on an antibiotic can also help reduce diarrhea, which is a common side effect.
About 80 percent of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract, which houses 100 trillion bacteria—about two to three pounds worth of bacteria, plus yeasts. You should have about 85 percent “good” bacteria and 15 percent “bad.” All of these microbes compete for nutrients from the food you eat, but the strength in numbers that beneficial bacteria enjoy helps keep the bad bacteria and the ever-present yeasts in check, and causes them to produce nutrients your body needs, such as B vitamins.
However, when you introduce antibiotics, these beneficial bacteria are decimated along with the pathogenic ones, thereby upsetting the delicate balance of your intestinal terrain. As a result, yeasts can grow unchecked into large colonies and take over, causing a condition called dysbiosis. Using their tendrils (hyphae), yeast can literally poke holes through the lining of your intestinal wall, which results in a syndrome called leaky gut. At this point, you tend to become increasingly susceptible to a wide variety of health problems, such as:
Arthritis Asthma and allergies Skin problems Kidney problems Digestive issues Autoimmune disorders
How Your Gut Influences Your Health
The reason why a dysfunctional bowel can wreak such havoc is well-explained by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, whose groundbreaking work sheds much needed light on how your gut affects your immune system, and how this dynamic interaction has profound impacts on your overall mental-, emotional-, and physical health.
She has written an excellent book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome, the acronym of which—GAPS—also stands for Gut and Physiology Syndrome, which is the name of a second book currently being written. Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS theory eloquently explains how immune abnormalities caused by damaged gut flora are at the root of virtually ALL degenerative diseases, as well as many neurological disorders, including ADHD and autism.
Once your gut becomes porous, or “leaky,” it has openings that can allow undigested food particles in. When foods are absorbed in this partially broken down form they’re viewed as “foreign,” causing your immune system to react to them. Food sensitivities and allergies, digestive issues, and eventually, autoimmune disorders, can all arise as a result.
In addition, parasitic yeasts can also cause you to change what you eat by causing cravings for carbohydrates like sugar, pasta and bread, for example, as this is their preferred fuel. So, it should come as no surprise that weight gain is one of the telltale signs of antibiotic damage and subsequent yeast overgrowth.
Sadly, many doctors dismiss the connection between their patients’ intestinal disorders and the drugs they themselves prescribed. So, beware, and always make sure to repopulate your gut with a high quality probiotic every time you use an antibiotic.
Did You Know You May Be Consuming Hidden Antibiotics Daily?!
Unfortunately, the greatest danger posed by antibiotics does not actually come from prescribed courses of antibiotics, which you have some control over, but rather from the food you eat. The prevalence of antibiotics in both meats and vegetables has the potential to throw off, or contribute to this intestinal imbalance.
Animals such as cattle, chickens and hogs raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) are routinely given antibiotics — both to keep them alive in stressful, unsanitary conditions, and to make them grow bigger, faster. Antibiotics can also be found in conventionally-grown vegetables, and the reason for this is because antibiotics in livestock end up being transferred, via manure, into the soils that vegetables are then grown in.
The widespread practice of using subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics to increase growth in livestock has been pin-pointed as a leading cause for the development of new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as the now-widespread form of staph (MRSA) known as ST398, or “the pig strain” of MRSA.
This livestock-acquired strain of MRSA adds to an already troubling situation… The human community-associated strain of MRSA, USA300, already affects close to 100,000 people a year in the US, and caused 18,600 deaths in 2005 alone iv. To put that number into perspective, HIV/AIDS killed 17,000 people that same year. What’s worse, research has shown that various MRSA strains can be transmitted from humans to animals and vice versa v, putting the health of both humans and animals (including pets) at ever increasing risk.
It’s important to realize that antibiotic-resistant disease like MRSA is a man-made problem, created by the excessive use of antibiotics. Medical overuse of antibiotics is one aspect, but the greatest, and most hidden, factor is the excessive use of antibiotics in food production.
According to the first-ever report by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on this subject, American factory farms used a whopping 29 million pounds of antibiotics in 2009 alonevi. Back in 2001, a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimated that the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock accounted for 70 percent of the total antibiotic use in the US, and when all agricultural uses were considered, they estimated the share could be as high as 84 percent!vii
Clearly, agricultural antibiotic use is the smoking gun in the battle against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. It’s also likely a primary cause of chronic poor gut health and reduced immune system function!
FDA Proposes Phase-Out of Antibiotics in Food Production—Sort of…
The rise of antibiotic-resistance in livestock is so alarming that government officials have finally admitted you can become infected when you eat or simply handle infected meat. They also warn that the microbes can contaminate kitchen counters, utensils and other food. Even the USDA, which usually defends agribusiness interests, proclaimed at a 2009 congressional hearing that there is indeed a link between antibiotic use in animals and drug resistance in humans viii.
But the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is still refuses to tackle this issue head on.
In fact, on December 22 last year, the agency quietly posted a notice in the Federal Register that it was effectively reneging on its plan to reduce the use of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed – a plan it has been touting since 1977. Against all logic, and with virtually no public announcement, the FDA decided to continue allowing livestock producers to use the drugs in feed. According to the Federal Register, dated December 22, 2011 ix:
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is withdrawing two 1977 notices of opportunity for a hearing (NOOH), which proposed to withdraw certain approved uses of penicillin and tetracyclines intended for use in feeds for food-producing animals based in part on microbial food safety concerns.”
This despite the fact that as recently as 2010, the FDA acknowledged the problem in a draft guidance to industryx, which proposed livestock producers stop using subtherapeutic doses of antibiotics in animal feed, stating that:
“Antimicrobial drugs have been widely used in human and veterinary medicine for more than 50 years … The development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat.
Misuse and overuse of antimicrobial drugs creates selective evolutionary pressure that enables antimicrobial resistant bacteria to increase in numbers more rapidly than antimicrobial susceptible bacteria and thus increases the opportunity for individuals to become infected by resistant bacteria.
Because antimicrobial drug use contributes to the emergence of drug resistant organisms, these important drugs must be used judiciously in both animal and human medicine to slow the development of resistance.”
Then, in April of this year, the FDA issued voluntary guidelines suggesting that livestock should only be treated with antibiotics to cure illness, not to enable growth xi. But can we really rely on the honor system with regard to how industry grows our food? I think not. We need measures to ensure antibiotics are used responsibly— and that needs to go beyond mere suggestion.
On a slightly brighter note, in January the FDA announced it would restrict the use of one class of antibiotics, cephalosporin, in cattle, swine, chicken and turkey xii. These antibiotics, which are regularly prescribed to humans, are implicated in the development and spread of drug-resistant bacteria among humans that work with, and eat, the animals. As of April 5, cephalosporin is no longer allowed for use in preventing diseases in livestock, although they will still be allowed for illness treatment in livestock.
How to Protect Your Family from Hidden Antibiotics
Granted, conventional medicine still needs to curtail its prescriptions for antibiotics, but even if you use antibiotics judiciously you’re still exposed to significant amounts of antibiotics from the foods you eat. This is one of the primary reasons why I ONLY recommend organic, grass-fed, free-range meats and organic pasture-raised chickens, as non-medical use of antibiotics is not permitted in organic farming. These foods are also far superior to CAFO-raised meats in terms of nutritional content, which you can read more about in this previous article.
Apart from growing and raising your own foods, your best option is to get to know a local farmer—one who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of community-supported agriculture programs available that offer access to healthy, locally grown foods, even if you live in the heart of the city.
The Weston Price Foundation xiii also has chapters all over the world and many of them are connected with buying clubs in which you can easily purchase these types of foods locally. Another resource you can try is Local Harvest xiv, which you can use to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of safe, sustainably grown food in your area.
By Dr. Mercola
Just when you thought you’d learned everything there was to learn about how to avoid bisphenol-A (BPA), the endocrine-disrupting plastics chemical, new research shows that there’s more hormone-disrupting bisphenols around you than you probably thought.
In answer to consumers’ demands to drop BPA from products, many manufacturers have simply switched to using a different—but equally toxic and perhaps even more toxic—chemical called bisphenol-S (BPS).
It May be BPA-Free, But What About BPS?
BPA, an estrogenic plastic by-product used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics, can leach into food or drinks from the plastic containers holding them. BPA has been identified as an estrogen-mimicking compound since the 1930s, and is known to be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, infants and children. In fact, in the early 1930s BPA was used as an artificial estrogen to not only fatten poultry and cattle, but as a form of estrogen replacement therapy for women of the times. It was only in the 1940s that Bayer and General Electric used BPA to harden polycarbonate plastics and make epoxy resin.
It has since become one of the world’s highest production volume chemicals and has been widely reported in the media as being a suspected disruptor of your body’s hormones.
Canada, in September 2010, declared BPA as a toxic substance, but to date no other country has followed suit, although BPA has been banned in baby bottles in Europe and the US. As a result of the widespread consumer backlash, however, many companies have rolled out “BPA-free” plastic products, ranging from bottles and sippy cups to reusable water bottles, meant to appeal to those health-conscious consumers looking to avoid toxins.
Unfortunately, this may be just a ruse, as studies now show another bisphenol, bisphenol-S (BPS), is now showing up in human urine concentrations at levels similar to those of BPA.i This suggests that many manufacturers are simply swapping one bisphenol for another.
BPS May be Less Known, But That Doesn’t Make it Less Toxic
Similar to the way food manufacturers label a bag of gummy bears as “fat-free,” implying it’s good for you while staying silent about the massive amounts of sugar they contain, plastics manufacturers can legally make it appear their products are safe by labeling them BPA-free, even though they may contain BPS, or another similar toxic chemical, that they don’t mention. More corporate lies of omission that can and do hurt your health.
In the case of BPS, there’s reason to believe it is just as dangerous to human health, and possibly more so, than BPA, although the research is not nearly as abundant just yet. Writing in the journal Toxicology In Vitro, researchers stated:ii
“In 2011, the European Commission has restricted the use of Bisphenol A in plastic infant feeding bottles. In a response to this restriction, Bisphenol S is now often used as a component of plastic substitutes for the production of babybottles. One of the major concerns leading to the restriction of Bisphenol A was its weak estrogenic activity. By using two highly standardised transactivation assays, we could demonstrate that the estrogenic activity of Bisphenol A and Bisphenol S is of a comparable potency.”
Not only does BPS appear to have similar hormone-mimicking characteristics to BPA, but research suggests it is actually significantly less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photo-resistant, than BPA. GreenMedInfo reports:
“… while regulators wait for manufacturers who promote their products with “BPA-Free!” stickers at the same moment that they infuse them with BPS to voluntarily reformulate,there isevidence now that BPS may actually have worse effects to environmental and human health, alike..
“… BPS’ relative inability to biodegrade indicates: 1) once it is absorbed into the human body, it may accumulate there for longer periods of time. 2) it is more likely to persist in the environment, making external exposures to it, and its many metabolites, much more likely than the faster degrading BPA. In other words, its potential to do harm will worsen along the axis of time, not lessen, which is a common argument made for the purported “safety” of BPA.”
Just How Many Chemicals are Lurking in Your BPA-Free Plastic?
You would think labeling a product “BPA-Free” would be some measure of protection against ingesting toxic plastic by-products, but it turns out that tests on plastics using this label have not been conducted under real-world conditions like running the plastics through a dishwasher or heating them in a microwave.
In a study meant to simulate “real-world” use, 95 percent of all plastic products tested positive for estrogenic activity, meaning they can still disrupt your hormones even if they carry a BPA-free label. Even more disconcerting is the finding that BPA-free plastics in some cases leached more BPA than the non-BPA free plastics.iii
In some cases, instead of actually removing BPA from their products, manufacturers are only taking out a percentage of it, which means we’re still being exposed to it, only now in undisclosed amounts. The truth is there’s an alphabet soup of toxic chemicals in almost everything you come in contact with, from plastics to PVC water lines to canned goods, which are lined with BPA-containing plastic. Thermal receipt paper, all world paper currency and those sealants your dentists want to put on your and your children’s teeth also are primary sources of BPA exposure.
But again, BPA is not the only culprit; it’s simply the most highly publicized one. There’s also Bisphenol AB and AF, Bisphenol B and BP, Bisphenol C, Bisphenol E, F, G, M, S, P, PH, TMC and, yes, there’s even a Bisphenol Z. Any one of these can be in your BPA-free baby bottle or sippy cup, unfortunately.
Who’s Minding the “BPA-Free” Store?
Now that BPA-free products are beginning to flood the market, you may be interested to know that we actually know relatively little about what’s really in these new plastics, and what little we do know comes right from the manufacturers. The Atlantic reported:iv
” … because the U.S. system of regulating chemicals relies primarily on information supplied by a material’s manufacturer, we know relatively little about these new plastics.
“… Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. law that regulates chemicals in commerce, it’s entirely permissible to launch a new material into high-volume production without disclosing its precise chemical identity or any information about its toxicity. This makes it impossible for the public to assess product safety independently of manufacturer claims. And currently, despite EPA and FDA policies that support “safe” alternatives to a chemical of concern like BPA, neither federal agency conducts safety testing of new materials destined for consumer products before they come on the market.”
So it’s very much an anything goes attitude when it comes to the chemicals used in countless consumer products. Until the system changes – if the system changes – your safest bet is to avoid plastic products as much as possible.
Glass is One of the Best Alternatives
If you’re interested in avoiding any number of chemical toxins leaching into your food and beverages, choose glass over plastic, especially when it comes to products that will come into contact with food or beverages, or those intended for pregnant women, infants and children. This applies to canned goods as well, which are a major source of BPA (and possibly other chemicals) exposure, so whenever you can, choose jarred goods over canned goods, or opt for fresh instead. Another good idea is to ditch plastic teething toys for your little ones and choose natural wood or fabric varieties instead.
To be fair, you probably can no longer completely eliminate your exposure to BPA, BPS and similar toxins (since they’re likely in our air, water, and food, too) but you can certainly reduce your exposure dramatically by making informed choices like those described above.
- i Environmental Science & Technology June 7, 2012
- ii Toxicol In Vitro. 2012 Aug;26(5):727-31
- iii Environmental Health Perspectives March 2, 2011 (Epub Ahead of Print)
- iv The Atlantic April 13, 2011