Archive for the ‘Toxins’ Category

Sugar Should Be Regulated as a Toxin, Researchers Say

By Christopher Wanjek |

A spoonful of sugar might make the medicine go down. But it also makes blood pressure and cholesterol go up, along with your risk for liver failure, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Sugar and other sweeteners are, in fact, so toxic to the human body that they should be regulated as strictly as alcohol by governments worldwide, according to a commentary in the current issue of the journal Nature by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The researchers propose regulations such as taxing all foods and drinks that include added sugar, banning sales in or near schools and placing age limits on purchases.

Although the commentary might seem straight out of the Journal of Ideas That Will Never Fly, the researchers cite numerous studies and statistics to make their case that added sugar — or, more specifically, sucrose, an even mix of glucose and fructose found in high fructose corn syrup and in table sugar made from sugar cane and sugar beets — has been as detrimental to society as alcohol and tobacco.

Sour words about sugar

The background is well-known: In the United States, more than two-thirds of the population is overweight, and half of them are obese. About 80 percent of those who are obese will have diabetes or metabolic disorders and will have shortened lives, according to the UCSF authors of the commentary, led by Robert Lustig, M.D. [Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology] And about 75 percent of U.S. health-care dollars are spent on diet-related diseases, the authors said.

Worldwide, the obese now greatly outnumber the undernourished, according to the World Health Organization. Obesity is a public health problem in most countries. And chronic diseases related to diet such as heart diseases, diabetes and some cancers — for the first time in human history — kill more people than infectious diseases, according to the United Nations.

Less known, and still debated, is sugar’s role in obesity and chronic disease pandemic. From an evolutionary perceptive, sugar in the form of fruit was available only a few months of the year, at harvest time, the UCSF researchers said. Similarly, honey was guarded by bees and therefore was a treat, not a dietary staple.

Today, added sugar, as opposed to natural sugars found in fruits, is often added in foods ranging from soup to soda. Americans consume on average more than 600 calories per day from added sugar, equivalent to a whopping 40 teaspoons. “Nature made sugar hard to get; man made it easy,” the researchers write.

Many researchers are seeing sugar as not just “empty calories,” but rather a chemical that becomes toxic in excess. At issue is the fact that glucose from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, is safely metabolized by cells throughout the body, but the fructose element of sugar is metabolized primarily by the liver. This is where the trouble can begin — taxing the liver, causing fatty liver disease, and ultimately leading to insulin resistance, the underlying causes of obesity and diabetes.

Added sugar, more so than the fructose in fiber-rich fruit, hits the liver more directly and can cause more damage — in laboratory rodents, anyway. Some researchers, however, remained unconvinced of the evidence of sugar’s toxic effect on the human body at current consumption levels, as high as they are.

Economists to the rescue

Lustig, a medical doctor in UCSF’s Department of Pediatrics, compares added sugar to tobacco and alcohol (coincidentally made from sugar) in that it is addictive, toxic and has a negative impact on society, thus meeting established public health criteria for regulation. Lustig advocates a consumer tax on any product with added sugar.

Among Lustig’s more radical proposals are to ban the sale of sugary drinks to children under age 17 and to tighten zoning laws for the sale of sugary beverages and snacks around schools and in low-income areas plagued by obesity, analogous to alcoholism and alcohol regulation.

Economists, however, debate as to whether a consumer tax — such as a soda tax proposed in many U.S. states — is the most effective means of curbing sugar consumption. Economists at Iowa State University led by John Beghin suggest taxing the sweetener itself at the manufacturer level, not the end product containing sugar.

This concept, published last year in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, would give companies an incentive to add less sweetener to their products. After all, high-fructose corn syrup is ubiquitous in food in part because it is so cheap and serves as a convenient substitute for more high-quality ingredients, such as fresher vegetables in processed foods.

Some researchers argue that saturated fat, not sugar, is the root cause of obesity and chronic disease. Others argue that it is highly processed foods with simple carbohydrates. Still others argue that it is a lack of physical exercise. It could, of course, be a matter of all these issues.

Avoiding Tylenol Could Prevent Your Child From Developing Asthma

(or conversely, Giving Your child Tylenol May Increase Your Child’s Risk of Asthma by 40%)

“Until future studies document the safety of this drug, children with asthma or at risk for asthma should avoid the use of acetominophen” (Tylenol) – pulmonologist John T. McBride MD.

In a recent article, published in the online Pediatrics journal on Nov 7, 2011, written by pulmonologist John T. McBride MD, he describes multiple studies done in the past 10 + years that support the association between tylenol use and the development and severity of asthma.

“A growing number of studies have documented such a strong association between acetominophen exposure and asthma that it is possible that much of the dramatic increase in childhood asthma over the past 30 years has been related to the use of acetominophen.”

 “As a pediatric pulmonologist, I am entrusted with the care of many asthmatic children and, at some level, with the respiratory health of all children in my area.  Given this role, I must decide when and how to act on the possibility that acetominophen is detrimental to asthmatic children.  Considering currently available data, I now recommend that any child with asthma or a family history of asthma avoid using acetominophen.”

Dr. McBride goes to explain that “the metabolism of acetominophen provides a biologically plausibe explanation for causation: depletion in airway mucosal glutathione that could contribute to vulnerability to oxidant stress.”

2 hypotheses as to how acetominophen may contribute to the prevelence or the severity of asthma:

  1. taking acetominophen increases airway inflammation contributing to the severity and frequency of symptoms
  2. those exposed to acetominophen in utero or in the first year of life might be more likely to develop asthma later in childhood

The most powerful study that he describes is that of a huge multi-location study, (122 centers in 54 countries, with each site enrolling at least 1000 children.) In this study, they consistently found a dose dependent increase in prevalence and severity of asthma.  Furthermore, the “association between asthma and acetominophen was identified at almost all sites regardless of geography, culture, or stage of economic development.”

In this study, they estimated that if children no longer were exposed to acetominophen, there may be upwards of a 40% decrease in childhood asthma.

Other pediatric studies suggesting an increased risk of childhood asthma associated with acetominophen use have been reported from Ethiopia to New Zealand.  Many adult studies in the US and in England show similar results in adults as well.  A few even compared the effects of other analgesics and none found any association between asthma with aspirin or other non-steroidals, like ibuprofen.

“The possibility that a measure as simple as limiting acetominophen use might result in so great a decrease in the suffering of children throughout the world is both sobering and exciting.”

“What considerations can guide a clinician faced with the possibility that acetominophen exposure is detrimental to children with asthma when causation has not been incontrovertibly established? The ethical principle of nonmaleficence (“primum non nocere” [… First, do no harm]) can be helpful: in considering the likelihood of benefit and the risk of harm of any therapy, physicians should give particular weight to avoid harm.”

“In my opinion, the balance between the likely risks of benefits of acetominophen has shifted”

“At present … I need further studies not to prove that acetominophen is dangerous but, rather, to prove that it is safe.”

Personally, I think if we took this “first, do no harm” philosophy with all medications and vaccinations, the world would be a far better and healthier place.

Sugar is a Powerful Drug

For any of you who spent time with kids on Halloween and watched some O.D. on candy, you are well aware of the drug like effects of sugar.  I found it very interesting to watch the dramatic behavior change in some kids.  While some just had a few pieces, others binged as if they couldn’t get enough, became rude and unruly, unable to control themselves.
We joke that kids “get high” on candy, and often even “O.D.” on it.  But as jest is usually based on truth, sugar is addictive and this fact was recently supported by an article in the Bloomberg Report.
“We consistently found that the changes we were observing in the rats binging on sugar were like what we would see if the animals were addicted to drugs.”  The animals also showed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, shakes and tremors, when the effect of the sugar was blocked with a drug. The scientists, moreover, were able to determine changes in the levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to those seen in animals on addictive drugs.
While this article makes some powerful statements about sugar, it is misleading in that it also refers to fatty foods being addictive without suggesting research to support this statement, as all fatty foods referred to are exceptionally high in sugar and thus it is far more likely that fat contributes little to the addictive nature of these foods, but rather the addiction lies entirely upon the body’s response to sugar.
A 2007 French experiment suggests that SUGAR may be even MORE ADDICTIVE than COCAINE, as it showed that rats prefer water sweetened with saccharine or sugar to hits of cocaine — exactly the opposite of what existing dogma would have suggested.
If you think a little sugar is ok for your child, think again.  Would you ever approve of your child doing a little cocaine?

Toxins in Car Seats

Toxins are ubiquitous in our world, but some products contain more chemicals than others.

Babies are more sensitive to chemicals than are adults.  Furthermore, these chemicals can potentially have a greater impact on babies developing bodies.  Thus, it is critical to be aware of and to limit your baby’s exposure to toxic chemicals.  Car seats are one of those necessary baby products, which unfortunately often contain toxins.  Many contain polyvinylchloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants, and heavy metal allergens – chemicals found to cause endocrine, reproductive, and developmental problems in both animals and humans.

A recent study tested car seats for several of the most dangerous toxins. (Unfortunately, the study did not test for all chemicals or toxins.)  Click here to see a complete rating of car seats tested.

This 2011 study showed the child car safety seats with the MOST HAZARDOUS chemicals in each of the three categories include:

  • Infant Seat: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black & Graco SnugRide 30 in Asprey
  • Convertible Seat: Britax Marathon 70in Jet Set & Britax Marathon in Platinum
  • Booster Seat: Recaro Pro Booster in Blue Opal & Recaro ProSPORT Toddlerin Misty

By contrast, the best 2011 car seats with the LEAST of these hazardous chemicals included:

  • Infant Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay & Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche
  • Convertible Carseat: Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, Safety 1st OnSide Air in Clearwater, and Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe
  • Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders

Radiation – The Steps You Can Take to Minimize The Effects

I feel the great need to write on my feelings about the tragedy in Japan, which continues to unfold despite us not hearing much about it from the media lately, and how it can affect us here in the US.  Without a doubt, the radiation from Japan has hit our doorsteps.  The amount varies daily depending on wind currents and rain. But, to put things in perspective, a person who smokes cigarettes or has radon in their home has a much greater risk of radiation than from the amount that we are receiving from Japan.  Thankfully, most of my patients don’t have either of these exposures.  Nonetheless, in the US, both milk and water have been found to be contaminated with radioactive iodine, with elevations in water found in 12 states, including Michigan.

While our exposure to radiation is trivial as compared to the devastation that the people of Japan are experiences and will continue to experience for generations to come, it is still important that we be aware of and attempt to reduce our radiation exposure as much as possible.

Steps you can take to reduce the effect of radiation on your body and on your children:

  • Bathe after playing outside – while normally I encourage kids to get dirty and experience all the germs in their environment, washing radiation off of the body helps to reduce continual exposure.
  • Avoid playing outside in the rain as rain may contain more concentrated radiation.
  • Wash ALL fruits and vegetables, even organic. (I advise using a fruit and vegetable wash containing grapefruit seed extract.)  As much of our organic produce comes from California, and as California is the closest of the states to Japan (without any natural barriers like mountains to have absorbed much of the radiation,) our produce likely has a minute amount of radiation coating each and every piece.
  • Take daily vitamin C to counteract free radicals in the environment.  Depending on age and size, I typically recommend anywhere from 250mg twice a day for babies to 1000mg or more twice a day for kids 6 years and up, increasing dose and frequency during acute illness, if nose bleeds, or with adrenal stressors.
  • Ingest iodine daily. Since radioactive iodine binds to iodine receptors in the body, if your body is saturated with good iodine, the radioactive iodine will have no where to bind.  Unfortunately most people in the US, especially those in the midwest “goiter belt” (including Michigan) who don’t live near an ocean, have very low iodine intakes.  Since the tissue that requires the most iodine is the thyroid, the thyroid is at most risk for radioactive iodine uptake and thus consequent disease due to exposure to it.  Women and peri-pubertal girls are at highest risk due increased demand from their female organs – hence, iodine deficiency is extremely common in women with breast cancer.
Iodine Supplementation:  Iodoral and Lugol’s solution are the two supplements that I recommend. If you’re not ready to start iodine, then organic dulse is a good source of iodine that can be added to food (found in the Asian food section at Whole Foods.)

For adults, the average iodine intake of Japanese (previously the nation with the healthiest people) is 13mg/day, and thus this is a logical daily amount and the amount found in one 12.5mg Iodoral tablet.  Dr. David Brownstein M.D, iodine specialist and author of Iodine, Why We Need It and Why We Can’t Live Without It, recommends 6-50mg/day for adults depending on the individual’s situation.  Starting slow, with just 1/2 tablet (6.25mg), is the safest way to begin.

For children, Dr. Brownstein recommends supplementing iodine at 0.08mg/pound daily.

(This converts to 1 drop of Lugols or 1/2 of a 12.5mg Iodoral for a child who is 80 lbs, or 1/2 drop of Lugol’s for a 40 lb child.   How to give 1/2 of a drop?  Put 1 drop in a cup of water.  Split the cup into 2 half cups.  Give your 40lb child 1/2 cup each day.  Lugol’s must always be added to water as it causes irritation to tissues if not diluted.)

Good hydration, daily ingestion of Celtic sea salt and vitamin C are helpful additions to a daily iodine regimen.  These help the body to excrete the bromine, fluorine, chlorine and heavy metals that the added iodine may trigger the body to release.

As with any supplement, there are risks and some people are far more sensitive than others.  While tolerated well by most, some people react poorly to iodine.  Please consult with your health care provider before starting any supplements either for yourself or for your children.


The Story of Cosmetics video

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LEAD Found in Most Juice!

This is unbelievable… the Environmental Law Foundation has found significant quantities of lead in up to 85% of juices.   Additionally, they found lead in many canned fruits and even fruits in glass jars, such as peaches and pears.  They even found lead in baby foods and in organic juices.  For a complete list of all products tested, click here.

There is so much lead in these products that in California, according to Prop 65, there needs to be a disclaimer on these products, letting the public know that they contain lead.

Under Proposition 65, California’s Governor publishes a list of chemicals “known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive harm.” Lead is listed as both. If any consumer product contains a listed chemical at a level that presents a “significant risk” the manufacturer and retailer must give a “clear and reasonable warning” about the exposure

Additionally, lead is a potent neurotoxin, with the potential to cause significant decreases in IQ and even mental retardation.  The American Academy of Pediatrics states that there is no safe level of lead in the body.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, after all there is mercury in 40% of high fructose corn syrup (Hershey’s chocolate syrup, Poptarts, and Smuckers strawberry jelly to name a few top sellers)  and neither the media nor the medical community is talking about it much.

But I really expected more from organic products and Trader Joes.  I wonder if California will be putting Prop 65 labels on high fructose containing foods as well.

The good news is that juice isn’t good for us anyway. Even 100% juice is full of fructose which is damaging to the liver, increases inflammation in our bodies, rots our teeth, and increases our risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

So this just gives us another good reason to eat whole fruit and drink lots of water.

Avoid the Dirty Dozen

More Support for Buying Organic Produce

The Environmental Working Group researched conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and found 12 foods to have the most pesticide residue.  The produce on this list contain between 47 to 67 different pesticides.  Hence, if you are going to buy limited organic produce, the Dirty Dozen below are the ones to make sure are organic.  These include frozen produce as well.

The Dirty Dozen are :

  • Celery

  • Peaches

  • Strawberries

  • Apples

  • Domestic blueberries

  • Nectarines

  • Sweet bell peppers

  • Spinach, kale and collard greens

  • Cherries

  • Potatoes

  • Imported grapes

  • Lettuce

“It’s critical people know what they are consuming,” the Environmental Working Group’s Amy Rosenthal said. ” This list is based on pesticide tests conducted after the produce was washed with USDA high-power pressure water system. The numbers reflect the closest thing to what consumers are buying at the store.”

Babies and children are the most as risk due to their developing brains.  We don’t yet know why we are seeing so many more children with ADD, Autism, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases and cancer.  Pesticide exposure during pregnancy and during early childhood certainly could play a part in the development of these chronic illnesses.

“To the extent you can afford to do so, [parents] should simply buy organic, because there have been some very good studies that shows people who eat mostly organic food reduce 95 percent of pesticides [in their body] in two weeks,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Why Organic Food is Better

Research Links Pesticides with ADHD in Kids

A recent research article was published in Pediatrics, a well respected medical journal, that found children with higher pesticide levels to be twice as likely to have ADD/ADHD. The study was done very well and should be taken seriously. It clearly suggests that our children are being exposed to significant quantities of pesticides, most likely from those sprayed on food, and that these pesticides are damaging our children’s nervous systems, showing up as ADD and ADHD.

Since all children have different genetics and differing biochemistries, some may be more affected than others.  But just because your child doesn’t have ADD or ADHD doesn’t mean that your child’s body is not being damaged by these toxins.

I strongly encourage parents to buy organic vegetables and fruits, especially when it comes to frozen fruits and vegetables.  But if this is not possible, at least ALWAYS wash your vegetables and fruits with a good fruit/vegie wash, like the kind you find at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, or Plum Market.  Make sure it has grapefruit seed extract in it.  This is the best way to remove pesticides from food and thus minimize our exposure to them.

Other reasons why organic food is better for you and family:

  • Organic farming is better for wildlife and the environment.  Organic farming results in less air, water, and land pollution and produces less global warming gases.
  • Organic food isn’t genetically modified.  The effects of genetically modified foods on our bodies is unknown, but many studies suggest the possibility for the genetic modifications to be incorporated into our human DNA.  Other studies link genetically modified foods to an increase in allergies (food and environmental.)
  • Organic food doesn’t contain harmful food additives (ie.sodium benzoate), flavor enhancers (i.e. MSG), artificial sweeteners (i.e. sucralose, aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup), or preservatives (i.e. sodium nitrate), that have been linked to a multitude of health problems.
  • Organic farming standards prohibit the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and genetically modified vaccines in farm animals.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables come from healthier soil and are thus more nutritious and less toxic. Organic foods contain more trace minerals and antioxidants, and less chemicals, nitrites, and other toxins.

Real Athletes Drink Water

Rethink Your Sports Drink

As a pediatrician, I often ask kids: “What is the healthiest drink for an athlete?”  No, it is NOT Gatorade, I find myself saying all too often.  It is water.  “But aren’t sports drinks good?” I hear parents ask.  No!  In fact, most sports drinks are closer to poison.

Have you ever looked at the ingredients in sports drinks?  Water, high fructose corn syrup are the first two ingredients.  Yes, water and lots of poor quality sugar – 10 1/2 sugar packets per 20 oz bottle to be exact!

In other words, one 20 oz Gatorade contains 34 gms of sugar, equivalent to 12 pieces of Starburst!

However it’s even worse because HFCS is genetically modified, contains traces of the neurotoxin mercury, damages our liver and quickly turns into glycogen. What is glycogen? Stored sugar.  What happens to stored sugar?  It turns to fat!

The University of California at Berkeley warns that “students who drink one 20-ounce sports drink every day for a year can gain about 13 pounds!”

Granted, if you were running a marathon, a little glycogen can be a good thing.  But for the average athlete or person exercising, we want to use our glycogen stores, not create more.

How about the rest of the ingredients?  Depending on the flavor, there are natural and artificial flavors, salt, sodium citrate, yellow 6, glycerol ester of wood rosin, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), and red 40.  Most of these are toxins, with BVO being the most dangerous.  BVO is labeled as unsafe by the FDA, capable of causing multiorgan damage, birth defects and growth problems.

Yes, there are electolytes in sports drinks but the negatives of the other ingredients completely outweight any potential benefit.

Don’t think that the other commercial sports drinks are any better.  If you have any diet version, such as Propel, you are substituting the HFCS with sucralose.  This decreases the calories, but now you are drinking a chlorocarbon, similar to DDT and Lindane.  No long term (>12months) human studies have been performed on sucralose.  However, in animal studies, sucralose caused liver and kidney inflammation and damaged the immune system. Don’t be fooled by Vitamin Water which contains crystalline fructose which is very similar to HFCS.  While PowerAde has less salt, it is likely the most toxic sports drink having 40% more sugar, in the form of HFCS, and also chemical sweeteners phenylalanine (which converts into formaldehyde) and sucralose.

If increased weight gain and all the toxins aren’t convincing enough, consider your teeth.  Sports drinks dissolve tooth enamel, but the damage is far worse in athletes who drink them while exercising. This is due to reduced saliva during exercise, frequent sipping, and the fact that most sports drinks have a pH < 3, consequently causing 30x more erosion than if an athlete just drank water.

While water is sufficient hydration for most athletes, coconut water is great for serious athletesCoconut water is high in potassium, chlorides, calcium, and magnesium, with a modest amount of sodium, sugar, and protein. Add a pinch of Celtic Sea salt to add a few more trace minerals and sodium and it’s perfect.  Often called “natures’ sports drink,” coconut water is even given intravenously for dehydration in tropical areas.

The next time you want a drink, READ the ingredients and THINK for yourself about what’s in it and what you are trying to achieve.

Your body will thank you for it!