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Medical News Reports

The Problem with Perfectionism — How to Truly Succeed!
  Follow me on Twitter!   Are you a perfectionist? Many perfectionists are very hard on themselves when it comes to perceived imperfections, faults, and shortcomings. You may think that you’re not good enough in some
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NPR Listeners Show A Keen Ear For Temperature 06 July 2014, 22.30 Medical
NPR Listeners Show A Keen Ear For Temperature
1 min 20 secDownload NPR conducted an online poll asking listeners if they could hear the difference between cold and hot water simply by listening to the sound of the water being poured. Most listeners were
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Pediatric Pit Crew CPR 29 June 2014, 15.19 Medical
Pediatric Pit Crew CPR
A reader asks, “Does your Pit Crew CPR process work for pediatrics?”See also: Pit Crew CPR – The Explicit Details The answer is, “Yes!” with some minor modifications. We are developing a class for Pediatric Pit Crew
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ASD, ADHD, mental health conditions and psychopharmacology in neurogenetic syndromes: parent survey
Original Article C. Reilly1,2,*, J. Senior2 and L. Murtalgh2 Article first published online: 25 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1111/jir.12147 © 2014 MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and
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Depressed? It May Be Celiac Disease 27 June 2014, 16.43 Medical
Depressed? It May Be Celiac Disease
Melanie had been feeling out of sorts for years. No matter how well she slept, she was often fatigued. She had frequent headaches. She had diarrhea so often, she figured it was just how her body worked. She wryly said that she
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Survey: Nurses Harsh on Overweight Patients 27 June 2014, 16.43 Medical
Survey: Nurses Harsh on Overweight Patients
Meeting Coverage Published: Jun 21, 2014 By Ed Susman , Contributing Writer, MedPage Today NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nurse practitioners responding to a survey indicated a critical attitude when dealing with overweight
Read More 57 Hits 0 Ratings
Consensus Guidelines -- Hepatitis C ManagementConsensus Guidelines -- Hepatitis C Management
Koff RS. Review article: the efficacy and safety of sofosbuvir, a novel, oral nucleotide NS5B polymerase inhibitor, in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2014; 39:
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Prenatal and perinatal factors in eating disorders: A descriptive review
Review Anu Raevuori MD, PhD1,2,3,4,*, Milla S. Linna MD1 and Anna Keski-Rahkonen MD, PhD, MPH1 Article first published online: 19 JUN 2014 DOI: 10.1002/eat.22323 Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals,
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Psychological Distress Affects Tobacco Use Differently for Men and Women
Follow us on Facebook A new study in the American Journal of Health Behavior finds that women are more likely than men to use tobacco products after experiencing severe psychological distress. The researchers, led by Mary
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Dr. Oz scolded at Senate hearing on diet scams
Popular TV talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz is defending his claims of "miracle" weight-loss supplements amid criticism from members of Congress. Oz testified at a Senate hearing Tuesday on deceptive advertising for
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Fear of aging moderates post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among older adults exposed to hurricane sandy.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Authors: Palgi Y, Shrira A, Goodwin R, Hamama-Raz Y, Ben-Ezra M PMID: 24927879 [PubMed - in process] (Source: The American Journal of Geriatric
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Expression of SSEA-4 in GBM [Biochemistry] 15 June 2014, 20.23 Medical
Expression of SSEA-4 in GBM [Biochemistry]
Yi-Wei Loua,b, Pao-Yuan Wangb,c, Shih-Chi Yehb,d, Po-Kai Chuangb,e, Shiou-Ting Lib, Chung-Yi Wub, Kay-Hooi Khoof, Michael Hsiaob, Tsui-Ling Hsub, and Chi-Huey Wongb,1 aInstitute of Biochemical Sciences, National Taiwan
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Light Therapy Improves Sleep, Behavior in Alzheimer's PatientsLight Therapy Improves Sleep, Behavior in Alzheimer's Patients
MINNEAPOLIS — Light therapy tailored to increase circadian stimulation during the day has benefits for patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias living in long-term care facilities, a new study
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Practicing Mind-Body Exercises to Prevent or Control Smoking
At the national level, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), estimates that 42.1 million people, or 18.1% of all adults (aged 18 years or older) in the United States smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is more
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Coke ad: It takes 23 minutes to burn off a soda
NEW YORK - Coca-Cola (KO) is taking on obesity, this time with an online video showing how fun it could be to burn off the 140 calories in a can of its soda. In the ad, the world's biggest beverage maker asks what would happen
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Victoza Accused of Causing Pancreatitis 08 June 2014, 22.37 Medical
Victoza Accused of Causing Pancreatitis
Endocrinology Published: Jun 6, 2014 The watchdog group Public Citizen has conducted its own analysis of FDA adverse event reports and concluded that the type 2 diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza) likely causes
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"Godfather of ecstasy" dies at 88 05 June 2014, 15.48 Medical
"Godfather of ecstasy" dies at 88
Alexander ("Sasha") Shulgin, known as the "Godfather of ecstasy," died on Monday. The 88-year-old, who passed away after a long battle with liver cancer, is credited with inventing a number of psychedelic drugs. He is most
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Houttuynia cordata Attenuates Lipid Accumulation via Activation of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Pathway in HepG2 Cells.
Houttuynia cordata (H. cordata) from the family Saururaceae is a perennial herb native to Southeast Asia. It possesses a range of medicinal properties to treat several disease symptoms including allergic inflammation and
Read More 36 Hits 0 Ratings
Acute Lipotoxicity Regulates Severity of Biliary Acute Pancreatitis without Affecting Its Initiation.
Obese patients have worse outcomes during acute pancreatitis (AP). Previous animal models of AP have found worse outcomes in obese rodents who may have a baseline proinflammatory state. Our aim was to study the role of acute
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Committee opinion no. 600: ethical issues in the care of the obese woman.
: Rates of obesity in the United States have increased rapidly over the past several decades, and physicians should be prepared to care for obese patients in a nonjudgmental manner, being cognizant of the medical, social, and
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We're more stressed at home than we are at work: Juggling household chores means a day at the office seems easier in comparison
Preparing meals and getting children ready for school is key stress culprit Levels of stress hormone cortisol in saliva soared in home environmentWomen are more affected by stress in the home than menThis is because they often
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Thousands of dogs, and 3 people, sickened by jerky pet treats
Rewarding your favorite canine with a tasty treat may pose health risks. The Food and Drug Administration released updated information on Friday about an ongoing investigation into illnesses and deaths caused by jerky pet
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Antioxidants 18 May 2014, 19.02 Medical
Antioxidants
May 12, 2014 Eating an antioxidant found in red wine, dark chocolate and berries does not help people live longer new research reveals. An Italian study of over 780 people has found eating a diet rich in the antioxidant
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The guide to perfect sleep - top experts share their best slumber tips and tricks
Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for your cognitive and physical health[GETTY - Pic Posed by Models] AVOID STIMULANTS AND KEEP YOUR ROOM DARK Paul Tierney is an ear, nose and throat consultant at the Spire Hospital
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CAC Scores Predict Aspirin Benefit in Primary PreventionCAC Scores Predict Aspirin Benefit in Primary Prevention
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Predicted benefit from daily aspirin therapy for primary prevention exceeds risk when coronary artery calcium (CAC) imaging scores reach or exceed 100, whereas the risks surpass benefits at a CAC score of 0,
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WITHDRAWN: Low back pain across the lifecourse
[unable to retrieve full-text content](Source: Best Practice and Research. Clinical
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Energy requirements, protein-energy metabolism and balance, and carbohydrates in preterm infants.
Energy is necessary for all vital functions of the body at molecular, cellular, organ, and systemic levels. Preterm infants have minimum energy requirements for basal metabolism and growth, but also have requirements for unique
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I lost 4lb by joining the cult of kale says MARIANNE POWER
Marianne Power spent a week eating kale in different waysShe tried the vegetable in a smoothie, salad, facemask and even ice creamMarianne believes she feels healthier and has continued eating kaleBy Marianne Power
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Woman's wisdom teeth operation left her in agony for SIX YEARS
Without proper scans of teeth, there is a danger of permanent nerve damage Carol Russell, 46, from Birmingham, can't even kiss her children Her wisdom tooth was removed in 2008 but several operations couldn't stop the
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athenahealth Announces 2013 Meaningful Use Attestation Rate and Early Stage 2 Performance Data
WATERTOWN, Mass., April 22, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- athenahealth, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management, and care coordination, today announced
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Can you afford to eat healthily? 26 April 2014, 22.11 Medical
Can you afford to eat healthily?
April 23, 2014 We’ve found out over a third of the UK are struggling to eat healthily. Our survey revealed two thirds of people in the UK wish they could eat more healthily, but 42% said they can't because it’s too
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Risk of completed suicide after bariatric surgery: a systematic review - Peterhänsel C, Petroff D, Klinitzke G, Kersting A, Wagner B.
Affiliation Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; Leipzig University Medical Center, Integrated Research and Treatment Center (IFB) AdiposityDiseases Germany,
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Embryos with Genetic Disease Destroyed for Their Stem Cells, Cell Lines Added to NIH Registry
King's College in London is proud that they have provided 16 new embryonic stem cell lines to the United States' National Institutes of Health (NIH) registry of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding. On the King's
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TEMPORARY REMOVAL: Successful bipolar catheter ablation of ventricular premature complex from the posterior papillary muscle
[unable to retrieve full-text content](Source: Heart
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Major Drop in MI, Stroke, Amputation in Diabetes Since 1990Major Drop in MI, Stroke, Amputation in Diabetes Since 1990
Over the past 2 decades, the incidence of diabetes-related complications among Americans with diabetes has fallen substantially, a new study shows. Rates of MI and death from hyperglycemic crisis have each plummeted by
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Edwards Favored Over Medtronic In Recent Artificial Heart Valve Trials
By Ryan Brinks After back-to-back days of research announcements from makers of competing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) devices, the Edwards Lifesciences Sapien XT recently gained an edge over the Medtronic
Read More 183 Hits 0 Ratings
Many New Parents Unaware of Safety Guidelines 14 April 2014, 18.58 Medical
Many New Parents Unaware of Safety Guidelines
A new parent’s health literacy, defined as their ability to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information, can affect their ability to follow recommendations to protect infants from injury, finds a new study in
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Weight Loss Efforts Start Well, But Lapse Over Time
Learning you have an obesity-related disease motivates many to start a weight loss program, but troubling health news is often not enough to sustain weight loss efforts, finds new research in the American Journal of Preventive
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The silent and apparent neurological injury in transcatheter aortic valve implantation study (SANITY): concept, design and rationale
Study protocol Jonathon P Fanning, Allan J Wesley, Michael Seco, Eamonn M Eeles, Oystein Tronstad, David G Platts, Darren L Walters, Wendy Strugnell, Adrian G Barnett, Andrew J Clarke, Judith Bellapart, Michael P Vallely,
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Obesity, traumatic brain injury, childhood abuse, and suicide attempts in females at risk - Brewer-Smyth K.
Abstract PURPOSE: This study tested the hypothesis that obesity is related to history of traumatic brain injury (TBI), severity and frequency of childhood physical (CPA) and sexual abuse (CSA), and suicide attempts, adjusting
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Selfless schoolteacher saves pupil's life by giving her a kidney
Alya owes her life to her hero teacher Ray (R)[ARCHANT] When generous Ray Coe, 53, heard how Alya Ahmed Ali was seriously ill, he was keen to hear if he could help her. The 13-year-old, from Stratford, east London, suffers from
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The man against meaningful use 03 April 2014, 21.18 Medical
The man against meaningful use
Seeing as healthcare generally lags at least 10 years behind other industries in the realm of adopting technology, it takes a lot to say a health company is doing groundbreaking work. But NantHealth executives believe they've
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Peripheral neuromodulation: a review. 03 April 2014, 21.18 Medical
Peripheral neuromodulation: a review.
Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is likely the most diverse and rapidly expanding area of neuromodulation. Its expansion has become possible due to both technological and clinical advances in pain medicine. The first
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‘Bio-Bot’ That Swims Like Sperm Is An 'Exciting Advance’ In Self-Propelled Biological Robots
  The “bio-bot,” a microscopic biological machine, could be used to explore viscous environments.     Engineers are pioneering a new way to explore the viscous fluids of biological environments, like the inside
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Cardio Notes: Diet, Heart Rate Link Unclear 30 December 2013, 23.30 Medical
Cardio Notes: Diet, Heart Rate Link Unclear
Cardiovascular Published: Dec 29, 2013 By Todd Neale, Senior Staff Writer, MedPage Today The relationship between the Mediterranean diet and heart rate was murky in a randomized trial, and poor sleep spelled trouble
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8,000 people get tummy tucks on NHS 30 December 2013, 23.30 Medical
8,000 people get tummy tucks on NHS
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Baseline obesity status modifies effectiveness of adapted diabetes prevention program lifestyle interventions for weight management in primary care.
Objective. To examine whether baseline obesity severity modifies the effects of two different, primary care-based, technology-enhanced lifestyle interventions among overweight or obese adults with prediabetes and/or metabolic
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China investigates after vaccine suspected in seven deaths
(Reuters) - Chinese health authorities are investigating after seven infants died following inoculation with a hepatitis B vaccine, state media reported on Monday. China has been beset by a series of product safety scandals
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Combination of Umeclidinium Bromide and Vilanterol in COPDCombination of Umeclidinium Bromide and Vilanterol in COPD
Anzueto, A., Decramer, M., Kaelin, T., Richard, N., Taberrer, M., Harris, S. et al. (2013) The efficacy and safety of umeclidinium/vilanterol compared with tiotropium in COPD. In: American Thoracic SocietyCongress,
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Is disordered eating behavior more prevalent in adolescents with early‐onset type 1 diabetes than in their representative peers?
Empirical Article Christina Baechle M.Sc1,*, Katty Castillo Ph.D1, Klaus Straßburger Ph.D1, Anna Stahl-Pehe Ph.D1, Thomas Meissner M.D2, Reinhard W. Holl M.D3, Guido Giani Ph.D1, Joachim Rosenbauer M.D1, In Cooperation with
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Small Vessel Vasculitis and Mononeuropathies in DiabetesSmall Vessel Vasculitis and Mononeuropathies in Diabetes
A Case Report Sahar F Zafar, Jerry Clay Goodman, Eroboghene E Ubogu Disclosures J Med Case Reports. 2013;7(229)  Abstract and Introduction Abstract Introduction We report a rare case of fulminant vasculitic
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13-year-old brain dead after tonsil surgery 23 December 2013, 01.19 Medical
13-year-old brain dead after tonsil surgery
A routine tonsillectomy may have left a 13-year-old girl brain dead, according to her family members who are hoping for a miracle. Jahi McMath went to Children’s Hospital Oakland to get her tonsils removed last week,
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The Consumer: Should We Toss Our Vitamin Pills? 23 December 2013, 01.19 Medical
The Consumer: Should We Toss Our Vitamin Pills?
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press Demand for vitamin and mineral supplements has risen, with 2011 sales of $30 billion.One in two adults takes a daily vitamin pill, and Americans spend tens of billions of
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Cancer rates worldwide on the rise, fueled by breast cancer
GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Worldwide, 14 million people developed cancer last year up from 12.7 million cases in 2008, the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Switzerland said. David Forman, bead of the
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Marker for inflammatory bowel disease linked to bipolar disorder
medwireNews: Researchers have found evidence that the gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays a role in the inflammatory pathology of bipolar disorder, suggesting the need to consider dietary modification and anti-inflammatory
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The Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing 19 December 2013, 22.57 Medical
The Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
Notorious murderer Charles Manson is reportedly engaged. What? Yep, you heard right. The next obvious question is . . . to who? According to a story carried by the Huffington Post in November—would you believe—to a
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Weight Loss Surgery for Severely Obese Teens 14 December 2013, 20.33 Medical
Weight Loss Surgery for Severely Obese Teens
By Rita Rubin WebMD Health News Dec. 10, 2013 (Washington, D.C.) -- Fifteen-year-old Jacob Miller’s body mass index, or BMI, was off the charts. More than 6 feet tall, Jacob weighed 702 pounds at his heaviest. An online
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The relationship of plasma neuropeptide Y levels with coronary collateral development
JavaScript Error JavaScript has been disabled on your browser. You must enable it to continue. Here's how to enable JavaScript in the following browsers:Internet Explorer From the Tools menu, select Options Click the Content
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Alternative approach devised for cancer patients referred to palliative treatment
The Care Oncology Clinic's new approach uses everyday drugs to treat cancer [REX] EVERY year 150,000 cancer patients in the UK are told that they have reached the end of the conventional treatment line. For these patients and
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NHS to test genes of patients for heart defects 13 December 2013, 20.42 Medical
NHS to test genes of patients for heart defects
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Editorial Board 06 December 2013, 19.23 Medical
Editorial Board
European Online Customer ServiceThe BoulevardLangford Lane, KidlingtonOxford. OX5 1GBUKHours: Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm (Greenwich Mean Time/British Summer Time)Tel: +44 (0) 1865-843177 (Within Europe)Fax: +44 (0)
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The link between stress and heart disease 02 December 2013, 23.14 Medical
The link between stress and heart disease
Ongoing stress, whether it's from a traffic-choked daily commute, unhappy marriage, or overbearing boss, has been linked to a wide range of harmful health effects. But can stress cause heart disease? The December 2013 issue of
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Africa: Malaria Net Suppliers Suspended Over Kickbacks
[unable to retrieve full-text content][GFO]Two suppliers responsible for nearly 50% of all long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) purchased by the Global Fund on behalf of malaria projects worldwide have been suspended
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Stockport woman survived malaria: Every organ in my body packed up apart from my heart
BITEN: Last year 1,378 Britions returned to the UK having contracted malaria [GETTY ] VICTORIA, 36, is a nurse from Stockport. She is married to hospital driver Jay, 40, and they have a nine-year-old daughter, Maddison. She
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Occupational differences, cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle habits in South Eastern rural Australia
Research article Nathalie Davis-Lameloise, Benjamin Philpot, Edward D Janus, Vincent L Versace, Tiina Laatikainen, Erkki A Vartiainen and James A Dunbar BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1090 
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[Comment] Antibiotic resistance in Ghana 29 November 2013, 17.08 Medical
[Comment] Antibiotic resistance in Ghana
The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Volume 13, Issue 12, Pages 1006 - 1007, December 2013 Previous Article|Next Article> doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(13)70196-8Cite or Link Using DOI Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd All rights
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CV risk calculator; TACT; ENGAGE AF; CORAL; COAG; TOPCATCV risk calculator; TACT; ENGAGE AF; CORAL; COAG; TOPCAT
For the week ending November 22, 2013, we discuss the following top cardiology news from heartwire : •  How Good Is the New ACC/AHA Risk Calculator? •  'Extraordinary' Chelation Effects in Diabetes: TACT •  ENGAGE
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US Transcatheter Valve Outcomes in Line With RCTsUS Transcatheter Valve Outcomes in Line With RCTs
DALLAS, TX — It's been two years since the first transcatheter aortic valve was approved for use in the US, and in that time, more than 8000 patients have been treated with the Sapien (Edwards Lifesciences) device, according
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Spiritual Life Reports

When you are paralyzed into in-action 20 November 2012, 18.02 Spiritual
When you are paralyzed into in-action
How to put the dynamic of hope into action. You have the same DNA as Gandhi, Václav Havel and Goenawan Mohamad DAVID RICKEY — Hope is a great four-letter word, but it gets lost in the shuffle of our lives if it
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To die for 09 August 2012, 15.37 Spiritual
To die for
Will Baby Boomers choose to expire in hospitals and nursing homes? Or will they take matters into their own hands? BY DAVID RICKEY —  Would you prefer to die on purpose — or with purpose? Late, great writers like Arthur
Read More 5186 Hits 1 Rating
Meditation lite 23 May 2012, 18.50 Spiritual
Meditation lite
They say that meditation is sitting on a cushion and emptying your mind. But I do mine while I’m thinking BY DAVID RICKEY  — I know it doesn’t come as a surprise to say that meditation is important for spiritual growth.
Read More 5457 Hits 0 Ratings
Can an ‘Easter moment’ cure loneliness and fear?
How would you survive the loss if your best friend, mentor or shrink were crucified? You’d have to awaken your own inner guru. DAVID RICKEY — His career was short and ended with his crucifixion. It looked like failure. What
Read More 5547 Hits 0 Ratings
Decoding codependence 20 March 2012, 01.46 Spiritual
Decoding codependence
If we are all co-dependents now, what is America’s turn-around? * BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence” describes a
Read More 7189 Hits 0 Ratings
Haiti, consciousness and charity 20 March 2012, 01.46 Spiritual
Haiti, consciousness and charity
A psychotherapist and Episcopal priest makes healing in Haiti a life – and spiritual – mission BY DAVID RICKEY – Haiti is a fascinating place in its own right, but for me it serves as a kind of microcosm of issues that
Read More 6288 Hits 0 Ratings
What is codependence? 10 March 2012, 17.32 Spiritual
What is codependence?
If we are all co-dependents now, what is America’s turn-around? * BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence” describes a
Read More 6027 Hits 0 Ratings
Are we All codependents now? * 07 March 2012, 16.12 Spiritual
Are we All codependents now? *
If America is the most codependent culture on the planet, what is the turn-around? BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence”
Read More 6286 Hits 0 Ratings
We are All codependents now * 03 March 2012, 23.44 Spiritual
We are All codependents now *
If America is the most codependent culture on the planet, what is the turn-around? BY DAVID RICKEY — Marriages, mortgages, and just-missed connections. In the annals of clinical psychology, the term “Co-Dependence”
Read More 6266 Hits 0 Ratings
On Ash Wednesday: Is your life filled by Ego, or Grace?
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down. Ashes on your forehead can begin a reorientation of your heart. BY DAVID RICKEY — In the Judeo-Christian tradition, ashes are a symbol of penitence and mortality. In the Old
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The Surprising Leading Contributor to Pollution: Agriculture PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Did you know that the modern agricultural system is responsible for putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the actual burning of fossil fuels? Understanding this reveals an obvious answer to pressing global problems.

There are only three places for carbon to go: land, air, and water. Our agricultural practices have removed massive amounts of valuable carbon from land, transferring it into air and water. Carbon management is critically important regardless of one's views of climate change.

By paying greater attention to carbon management, we have the opportunity to make a dramatic difference in this area, which is having major negative consequences to our agriculture, our air, and our oceans, lakes, streams and rivers.

One important factor that some experts believe is KEY for reversing environmental devastation like desertification, which is when land turns to desert, is to return much of our land to grasslands and build a network of herbivore economics.

There is no better way to improve the conditions for animals, solve the carbon problem, bring more revenue to farmers, and improve our health by purchasing nutritious foods from properly pastured animals - vs the horrible CAFO model based on the monocultures of corn and soy fed to the animals in questionable conditions in which they are proactively fed antibiotics to make them fat and keep them alive in such atrocious conditions.

Returning to more sustainable organic farming methods is also necessary in order to support the regeneration of soils which, ultimately, dictates how nutritious the food grown in it will be.

The featured video of Vandana Shiva, recorded at a Food Otherwise conference in the Netherlands earlier this year, does a magnificent job of putting modern agriculture into proper perspective.

In order to make food production sustainable, we have to join forces to keep genetically engineered monoculture and pesticide resistant or pesticide producing crops at bay. This is surely not an easy task in light of the financial (and hence political) clout wielded by the chemical technology industry. And yet we must embrace that challenge.

The easiest thing that anyone can do is to simply stop buying processed foods (including organic traitor brands, which are actually owned by multi-national processed food giants).

The Importance of Grazing Cattle

By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals—meaning allowing livestock to graze freely, and moving the herd around in specific patterns—farmers can support nature's efforts to regenerate and thrive.

This kind of land management system promotes the reduction of atmospheric CO2 by sequestering it back into the soil where it can do a lot of good. Once in the earth, the CO2 can be safely stored for hundreds of years, and adds to the soil's fertility. As noted in the featured blog post by The Carbon Pilgrim:1

"It's more complicated than that, of course. But here's the really exciting part: if land that is bare, degraded, tilled, or monocropped can be restored to a healthy condition, with properly functioning carbon, water, mineral, and nutrient cycles, and covered year-round with a diversity of green plants with deep roots, then the added amount of atmospheric CO2 that can be stored in the soil is potentially high.

Globally... soils contain about three times the amount of carbon that's stored in vegetation and twice the amount stored in the atmosphere. Since two-thirds of the earth's land mass is grassland, additional CO2 storage in the soil via better management practices, even on a small scale, could have a huge impact."

The thing is, while carbon is important for optimal soil health (carbon is the main component of soil organic matter), too much carbon in the air is detrimental.

As described in the featured article, the natural carbon cycle has broken down; due to modern agricultural methods, we've lost between 50 and 80 percent of the carbon that used to be in the soil, so there's plenty of "room" to put it back in.

This is also why ethanol subsidies are so disastrous. While claiming to be a 'green' fuel - what has actually happened is millions of acres of grasslands and forests have been destroyed to make room for more corn. Our tax dollars have been used to destroy the environment and create this dangerous imbalance for the sake of these pesticide producing, life patenting, GMO dealers. Unfortunately, this fabrication has of corn as a 'green' fuel had done exactly the opposite and greatly accelerated the damage we were told would be part of the solution.

Senator Dick Durbin has been one of the most vocal GMO ethanol subsidy supporters, and Hillary Clinton has joined Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo in the cheerleading for biotech companies.

The good news is that we don't need to invent yet another chemical or a new piece of farm equipment to solve this problem. We simply need to revert back to a system that works with nature rather than against it. And this involves grazing cattle. My previous article discussing the work of ecologist Allan Savory goes into this process in greater detail.

Besides the environmental benefits, grass-fed, pastured livestock is also an excellent source of high-quality meat. In fact, it's the only type of meat I recommend eating, as raising cattle in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) alters the nutritional composition of the meat—not to mention such animals are fed antibiotics, growth promoters and other veterinary drugs.

New Land Management Methodology Wins International Certification

Fortunately, there's good news on this front. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), together with the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science (CAAS), the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), and China's Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology (NWIPB), have developed a new methodology to measure carbon sequestration on sustainably managed grasslands.

The method, which involves sampling soil and/or using computer modeling based on soil types and farming activities, has now gained international certification. This will hopefully encourage more farmers to embrace sustainable grazing methods, which will help restore degraded soils, and reduce atmospheric CO2 levels. According to the FAO:2

"Tested over the past several years using field data from a project site in Northern China and computer modeling, the methodology has now won approval by the non-profit Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a voluntary greenhouse gas accounting program used by projects around the world to verify and issue carbon credits in voluntary emissions markets.

According to findings from the case study in Northern China, herders could sequester an average of 3 tCO2 per hectare of grassland each year over the next 20 years, through the application of improved practices, such as reduction and rotation of grazing pressure on overstocked sites and the sowing of improved pastures and fodder crops close to households."

EPA Faked Science of Sewage Sludge Safety, Whistleblower Contends

Clearly, the harm inflicted by modern chemical-based monoculture doesn't end with its detrimental impact on soil health and atmospheric CO2 levels. The chemicals used are a significant threat to both nature and man. What's worse is that there's little scientific backing for our current chemical-based methods. As just one of many examples, former EPA employee and whistleblower David Lewis, PhD3 claims that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually faked science to uphold the status quo of using sewage sludge as fertilizer.

While still an employee of the EPA, Dr. Lewis published evidence showing that a teenager living in New Hampshire died as a result of living near land where sewage sludge was applied. He also provided evidence showing that cows at two Georgia farms were poisoned as a result of grazing on sludged land. He later wrote a book on the subject, called Science for Sale. He contends that multiple agencies, including the EPA and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) engaged in a coordinated scheme to "misleadingly present sewage sludge as scientifically safe."

The deception revolves around the issue of whether the toxins found in the sludge are rendered non-bioavailable. According to the EPA, there are "unique properties" in the sludge matrix that prevent harmful toxins from being taken up by plants, animals, and humans. These properties, the EPA claims, sequester metals and other toxins, thereby rendering them harmless.

According to Dr. Lewis, this is patently false. So what are some of the toxins in question, that the EPA claims cannot harm you when applied in the form of sewage sludge to farms, forests, parks, school playgrounds, and gardens? Independent Science News4 reports:

"According to a recent EPA survey,5 biosolids contain a wide range of mutagenic and neurotoxic chemicals, which are present at a million-fold higher concentrations (ppm versus ppt) compared with their levels in polluted air and water. Biosolids contain all of the lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical wastes that once polluted our rivers and lakes, but which now settle out at sewage treatment plants and become concentrated in sewage sludges. Most biosolids contain ppm concentrations of heavy metals, including chromium, lead, and mercury.

They contain similarly high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and semi-volatiles, such as bis (2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate, Benzo(a)pyrene), and polybrominated diphenyl ether congeners (PBDE flame retardants). Most biosolids also contain pathogenic agents and ppm levels of many common drugs, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro), and fluoxetine (Prozac)."

Monsanto Calls for Europe to Accept GMOs

No discussion on the hazards of modern agriculture can be complete without mentioning genetically engineered (GE) crops. Four years ago, US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks6 showed the US government conspired to find ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use GE seeds, mainly by engaging in aggressive trade wars against reluctant nations.

Earlier this month, this action plan seems to have played out when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack again called for the European Union (EU) to ease restrictions on GE foods and feed crops in order to come to an agreeable trans-Atlantic trade pact. Moreover, as reported in the New York Times:7

"'Europe should also reconsider requirements to label genetically modified foods,' said Mr. Vilsack, who added that consumers could use smartphones to scan packaging to check the contents."

The European Union (EU) has historically taken a strict, cautious stance regarding GE crops, much to the chagrin of Monsanto and in stark contrast to the United States. Hopefully, the EU will not falter now—especially with regards to removing GMO labeling!

GMO Push Intensifies in India with Indian Intelligence Being Seemingly Enlisted

As Henry Kissinger once said, "Food is a weapon," and never has this statement been more descriptively accurate than when applied to GE patented seeds and foods. Who ever imagined that one day people all over the world would have to fight for "seed freedom"? Yet that's exactly what we have to do today.

The reason why there's such heated controversy over the allowance of GE crops is due to their many health dangers, and the fact that their genes are capable of "horizontal transfer" to non-GE plants, which means you cannot contain them. They absolutely WILL contaminate their conventional and organic counterparts, so one day soon there may be no such thing as "GE-free," because everything will be contaminated.

The "seed freedom movement" has perhaps no greater voice than Vandana Shiva, who in the video above and in a recent article expressed her dismay over the biotech lobby's latest efforts to stifle movements for seed and food sovereignty in countries like India:8

"Intelligence agencies are supposed to protect the safety and security of a nation and its citizens from external threats. Tragically, we now have a report from the [Indian] Intelligence Bureau that promotes the very foreign interests that are threatening our seed and food sovereignty, the livelihood of our farmers and the health of our citizens.

The IB report... blindly promotes genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods. The report names seven agitations pursuing 'anti-developmental activities.' The 'Anti-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)' activism is ranked third and this section begins with this sentence: 'The pro-GMO debate in India centers round the resounding success of Bt cotton in the last 10 years.'

This sounds more like propaganda of the GMO industry than the result of an investigation by an Indian intelligence agency. A later paragraph further reinforces the evidence that the IB was not investigating but transmitting messages from the foreign GMO industry and its lobbyists. In paragraph 35, the report cites Ronald Herring of Cornell University. Herring has systematically attacked Indian farmers, scientists and plant breeders and Cornell University has become a hub of the pro-GMO lobby."

Organic Farming and Holistic Herd Management Are the Solutions for World Hunger and Environmental Sustainability

As Vandana Shiva and other activists keep pointing out, we absolutely must shift our focus to emphasize the biological system as a whole. Unfortunately, farmers and the chemical seed technology in particular tend to see "production" as the goal of farming, when in fact the crucial, pressing need is sustainability so that the entire planet can be functional... If we keep going in our current direction, our crop lands will eventually stop producing anything capable of sustaining health.

Soil, for example, is not a static "thing." It's a living symbiotic system, and a voluminous body of research has emerged demonstrating that the microbial balance in soil is critical for growing bountiful, nutritious crops. This is where the real nutrition your plants require is derived from. These organisms take the mineral material that's in your soil and convert it into a plant-available form. Without these bioorganisms, your plants cannot get the nutrients they need.

GE plants have been shown to destroy soil microbes—just as they've been shown to destroy gut microbes in both animals and humans. Take the genetically engineered Bt plants, for example. In these plants, a specific genetic material for a single toxin protein has been separated from the bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt) and placed into the genetic material of a plant, such as corn, soybean, and potatoes. There's clear evidence that Bt plant material harms animals. Typically, they end up with severe ulceration, starting in the digestive system.

Adding to the problem is the fact that GE plants use more pesticides. Many are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's broad spectrum herbicide Roundup. These are the so-called Roundup-Ready crops. And guess what? Glyphosate has also been found to kill off soil and gut microbes! As a result, we're seeing a rapid rise in associated health problems. Remember, about 80 percent of your body's immune system resides in your gut, and when pathogenic bacteria are allowed to take over your gut, disease is virtually inevitable.

What Can You Do?

That said, rebuilding functional ecosystems from the ground up WILL restore them to their fullest potential, and this needs to be our overriding focus. Perhaps you can't do anything about how large-scale commercial farms are being run at the moment, but you can make a difference for yourself, for your family and community that might have residual effects. Buying organic, thereby avoiding any and all GE foods is, I believe, a crucial step. This includes buying grass-fed or pastured animal products, such as beef, chicken, milk, and eggs. Besides that, you can also:

  • Grow your own organic vegetables. Organic gardening isn't something extra you do – in fact it's quite the opposite. It's what you don't do that makes the difference: no chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides on your plate! When you take control of what you eat, you'll naturally enjoy better health, ensure and protecting future generations.
  • Composting is another way to make what you already have work for you in the future. Save those scraps, from egg shells to coffee filters, and use them to feed your vegetable garden.

When shopping for food, be informed regarding where that food was produced. A guide to help you can be found by clicking here. If you take advantage of the farm-fresh sustainability that's becoming more prevalent as people take control of what they're consuming, you'll realize many benefits. First, you'll know where the foods you and your family eat come from, ensure optimal nutrition, and protect the health of future generations.

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US Healthcare: Most Expensive and Worst Performing PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

American health care is the most expensive in the world, with 17.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on healthcare. This is significantly more than other developed countries. Australia, for comparison, which spends the least, spends only 8.9 percent.

For the costs involved, you might assume Americans enjoy the best health care in the world, but this would be a mistaken assumption. According to a new report released by the Commonwealth Fund, the US ranks last or near-last in all aspects of health care, from access and equity to efficiency.1

How Does the US Health Care System Compare Internationally?

Compared to the 11 other nations studied in the Commonwealth Fund report, the US ranks last. Despite spending significantly more, the US underperforms relative to other countries "on most dimensions of performance," according to the report. Countries that beat out the US in terms of health care quality (and affordability) include:

The United Kingdom (UK) Switzerland Australia
Canada France Germany
The Netherlands New Zealand Norway
Sweden

 

Perhaps most glaring, per capita health expenditures in the US were more than $8,500 in 2011… more than double the $3,405 per capita spent in the UK, which ranked first in the report.

As you can see in the Commonwealth Fund chart below, the US scored best on effective care (with a ranking of 3), but that failed to make up for its other dismal results, especially in the realm of preventive care. The Atlantic reported:2

"Particularly laudable were our preventative care efforts, which included things like physicians asking patients to eat healthy and exercise, and doctors' offices sending patients appointment reminders.

The U.S. fared poorly, meanwhile, when it came to managing administrative hassles for both doctors and patients, avoiding emergency room use, and reducing duplicative medical testing, all part of the score for 'efficient care.'"

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/newsroom/img/posts/2014/06/Screen_Shot_2014_06_16_at_9.34.42_AM/e6ceec50d.png

Source: Calculated by The Commonwealth Fund based on 2011 International Health Policy Survey of Sicker Adults; 2012 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care Physicians; 2013 International Health Policy Survey; Commonwealth Fund National Scorecard 2011; World Health Organization; and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD Health Data, 2013 (Paris: OECD, Nov. 2013)

Key Findings About US Health Care: Worst Among Developed Nations

The report mirrors findings from years prior, which also found US health care lagging behind other nations. The Commonwealth Fund noted:

"The claim that the United States has 'the best health care system in the world' is clearly not true. To reduce cost and improve outcomes, the U.S. must adopt and adapt lessons from effective health care systems both at home and around the world."

Key findings from the report show that Americans are receiving little actual value despite their substantial investment in health care:3

People in the US go without needed health care because of cost more often than people do in other countries Americans were the most likely to say they had access problems related to cost
While US patients report rapid access to specialized health care services, they are less likely to report rapid access to primary care than people in the leading countries The US ranks last among the 11 countries on indicators of efficiency
The US has poor performance on measures of national health expenditures and administrative costs, as well as on measures of administrative hassles, avoidable emergency room use, and duplicative medical testing One-third or more lower-income adults in the US said they went without needed care because of costs in the past year
The US ranks last overall on measures of healthy lives, with poor scores on mortality amenable to medical care, infant mortality, and healthy life expectancy at age 60 The US had much higher death rates from conditions amenable to medical care than some other countries (up to 50 percent higher than Australia and Sweden)

Why Are US Health Care Costs So High?

It's a complex issue but one that can really be summed up in one word: greed. From drug companies to hospital billing, costs are out of control and reflect little of the actual value of the procedure or care received. Last year, the New York Times released an investigation on the costs of a simple intravenous bag of sterile saltwater, often used in emergency medicine.4 The average cost to manufacture this medical staple?

About 44 cents to $1 per bag, yet some US patients' were being charged 100 to 200 times that amount by hospitals, and that didn't include the separate charges for IV administration. Other patients were simply charged for an ambiguous "IV therapy" at nearly 1,000 times the cost of the solution. The New York Times reported:5

"At every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals among the major players, including drug companies, purchasing organizations and distributors, and insurers. These deals so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost… And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it."

Consider this: if the US health care system was a country, it would be the 6th largest economy on the entire planet!6 Much of this is due to waste. A review of US healthcare expenses by the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) revealed that 30 cents of every dollar spent on medical care is wasted, adding up to $750 billion annually.7 For perspective, the defense budget proposed by the Pentagon for 2014 was just under $527 billion.8 The IOM report identifies six major areas of medical waste:

Unnecessary services Inefficient delivery of care Excess administrative costs
Inflated prices Prevention failures Fraud

Four Disturbing Reasons for the Exorbitant Cost of US Health Care

The documentary film The True Cost of Health Care by Dr. David Belk, MD (featured above) also reveals a number of shocking details that help explain the exorbitant cost of American health care.9 For example:

  • Generic medications can cost 100 times less than their brand-name equivalent, and usually cost less than most insurance co-pays. This means you might actually pay LESS by purchasing a generic medication out of pocket, compared to using your insurance if you have a co-pay. In essence, going through your insurance amounts to paying extra for the privilege of being overcharged…
  • Hospitals routinely bill 10 or more times what they expect to be paid for any given service. As I discussed in a previous article, most hospitals end up receiving just 35 percent of what they bill, yet they still manage to make tens of millions of dollars in operating profits each year. Some hospitals, including Sloan-Kettering and MD Anderson, who are tougher in their negotiations with insurance companies, end up getting around 50 percent of their total billings.
  • Most diagnostic tests and procedures are inexpensive to perform. However, the charges for these tests and procedures typically have no relation to the actual cost. Each hospital has an internal price list called a chargemaster, which contains every single item you may be given or come in contact with during your hospital stay. The problem is, no one quite knows how the prices in the chargemaster are created. What is clear is that there's absolutely no market feedback to regulate and control the prices that are charged.
  • Health insurance companies deliberately manipulate these costs to maintain their profits. As explained by TheTrueCostofHealthCare.org:10 "Health insurance companies can manipulate a patient's out of pocket payments to make it appear as though health care is more expensive than it really is. Insurance companies sell security against financial risk. If no one really understands what that risk is (because all prices are hidden or deceptive) then the price of the security (insurance) can be grossly inflated."

The US Medical System Could Very Well Kill You

Over a decade ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the US! In 2000, the IOM also reported that medical errors were the eighth leading cause of death in the US, killing between 44,000 and 98,000 people each year.

This was followed by a 2003 article aptly titled "Death by Medicine", authored in two parts by Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, which described in excruciating detail how the modern conventional American medical system has bumbled its way into becoming the leading cause of death and injury in the US, claiming the lives of nearly 784,000 people annually!

These iatrogenic deaths (meaning deaths resulting from the activity of physicians) include everything from adverse drug reactions to medical errors, to hospital-acquired infections and surgeries gone bad—including 37,000 deaths from unnecessary medical procedures alone.

The authors took statistics straight from the most respected medical and scientific journals and investigative reports by the IOM, showing that on the whole, American medicine often causes more harm than good. In 2010, two additional reports published in New England Journal of Medicine11 and the Journal of General Internal Medicine12 respectively, showed just how little things have changed since 2003. For example:

  • Out of 62 million death certificates dated between 1976-2006, almost a quarter-million deaths were coded as having occurred in a hospital setting due to medication errors.13
  • An estimated 450,000 preventable medication-related adverse events occur in the US every year.
  • The costs of adverse drug reactions to society are more than $136 billion annually -- greater than the total cost of cardiovascular or diabetic care.14

The Solution? Take Control of Your Health in 8 Simple Steps

The more you take responsibility for your own health – in the form of nurturing your body to prevent disease – the less you need to rely on the "disease care" that passes for health care in the US. In the majority of cases, you'll likely find that you can prevent or resolve common health conditions by following these basic tenets of optimal health:

  1. Eat a healthy diet focused on fresh, whole foods (ideally organic and/or locally grown). Try to eat a large portion of your food raw. You want to pay careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, which means avoiding sugars and grains of all kinds, and replacing the lost carbs with healthful fats. Also be mindful of your protein sources, making sure they're of high quality (ideally organically-raised and pasture-fed). A high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet is likely to improve the health of most people. My optimized Nutrition Plan can guide you, whether you're at a beginner's or advanced level.
  2. Consume healthy fat. The science is loud and clear on this point: omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health, as are other fats, like natural saturated fats from foods like butter. Unfortunately, most fish commercially available today are polluted with mercury, PCBs, and other toxic substances, which is why I recommend you take a supplement like krill oil instead of getting it from your food. Other healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, and macadamia nuts. All these fats are low in protein and carbs and will not impair insulin, leptin, or mTOR.
  3. Make clean, pure water your primary beverage, and steer clear of all sweetened and/or flavored beverages, including those that contain artificial sweeteners.
  4. Manage your stress.
  5. Exercise regularly. Ideally, you want a comprehensive fitness regimen that includes stretching, high-intensity interval training, core strengthening exercises, and strength training.
  6. Get plenty of appropriate sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels naturally. UV exposure also has additional health benefits beyond vitamin D production. A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for your health. The D*Action project has been initiated by GrassrootsHealth along with 42 leading vitamin D researchers to demonstrate how health can be achieved right now with what's known about vitamin D with a combination of vitamin D measurement and health outcome tracking. I encourage you to participate in the D*Action Project, which has multiple concurrent vitamin D programs going on.
  7. Not only will you be able to take control of your own health by participating, you'll also become part of one of the most profound public health projects of the 21st Century. As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee each 6 months for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

    at Switch

    rder button

  8. Limit your exposure to toxins of all kinds. The number of toxic chemicals and their sources is so large, addressing them all could easily require an entire library, but I believe you can help you keep your toxic load as low as possible by becoming an informed and vigilant consumer. This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  9. Get plenty of quality sleep. Scientists have discovered that your circadian rhythms regulate the energy levels in your cells. In addition, the proteins involved with your circadian rhythm and metabolism are intrinsically linked and dependent upon each other. Therefore, when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can have a profound influence on your physical health. For example, research has linked disrupted sleep cycles to serious health problems like depression, coronary heart diseases, and even cancer.

If you have any kind of sleep problem, whether you're having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, my article "33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep" is packed with great tips to help you finally get some good rest. For even more inspiration and guidance on how to avoid falling victim to conventional health care in the US, check out the following eight "forgotten wisdoms" your grandparents adhered to that could quite literally save your life:

Grow your own food Get back in the kitchen and learn to cook real food from scratch
Make your own cleaning products Learn some home remedies
Discover the power of bone broth Ferment your own foods
Nurture your social network and close friendships Spend time outside/Go barefoot
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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Health  |  
 
Expert Testimony: How Your Drinking Water May Be Damaging Your Brain PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

The fluoride debate is changing, and fast, as more Americans are becoming aware of the known health risks of water fluoridation. City councils across the country are beginning to give their residents a choice when it comes to fluoridated drinking water, with many adding fluoridation measures to upcoming ballots.

Fortunately, Americans are using their votes to keep this highly toxic fertilizer-industry byproduct out of their drinking water (the fluoride added to municipal water supplies is a toxic byproduct from the fertilizer industry—a rarely discussed fact!).

Dallas is among the latest US cities considering whether or not to renew a three-year, $1.8-million contract that provides their drinking water with fluoride. Set to expire January 1, 2015, if Dallas ends fluoridation, it will become the largest city in the US to stop fluoridating its water.1

Dallas Is on the Verge of Ending Water Fluoridation

Earlier this year, in May, there was a shift in attitudes in the Dallas city council meeting regarding water fluoridation. Despite the fact that anti-fluoridation activist Regina Imburgia had spoken to the Dallas city council several times before with no response, at the May meeting three of the 15 council members finally agreed with Imburgia's message that water fluoridation in the city deserves a closer look.

The media picked up the story with the Dallas Observer covering the issue at length, in both column and blog formats, not only citing a recent concerning study about fluoride health risks (see below) but also calling out Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd for engaging in unprofessional behavior (like name-calling) against anti-fluoride activists.

Then, on June 11, retired chemistry professor Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) testified before the Dallas council. His 3-minute (plus questions) expert testimony can be seen in the video above (and it’s time well spent if you’re new to the issue of water fluoridation). Dr. Connett said:

“I was impressed by the willingness of the councilors to listen to me and to ask important questions. This augers well because we have to beat this nonsense one open mind at a time.

I was also very impressed by the local organizers. In addition to my testimony, with only a few days notice, they were able to pull together a public meeting, which over 40 people attended including 3 local dentists.

Like many other cities right now the decision to end fluoridation in Dallas may well hinge on events happening elsewhere, like the potential for a legal challenge to fluoridation in Canada as outlined by a leading lawyer in Canada before the Peel regional council in Ontario on June 26 and the ending of mandatory fluoridation in Israel.” 

During his testimony, Dr. Connett made a strong case for why dentistry should be done in the dental office… not via your water supply, and as he stated, water fluoridation is "the height of arrogance":2

"Organized dentistry, which includes the American Dental Association, the Oral Health Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state dental directors, is the only health profession that seeks to deliver its services via the public's water supply.

The practice of artificial water fluoridation is the height of arrogance when one considers the following undisputed facts and scientifically supported arguments."

12 Reasons Why Water Fluoridation Must Be Challenged

Dr. Connett, who co-authored the book The Case Against Fluoride, is recognized worldwide as a leader in the movement to eliminate fluoride from municipal water supplies, and I'm pleased to be working with him to achieve this goal. He recently compiled a comprehensive and eye-opening list of reasons why water fluoridation must be challenged. Here are some of the highlights:3

Fluoride is not a nutrient; no biochemical process in the human body needs fluoride The level of fluoride in a mother's milk is exceedingly low. Formula-fed infants receive up to 175-250 more fluoride than a breast-fed infant
Once fluoride is added to the water supply, there is no way of controlling the dose; it goes to everyone regardless of age, weight, health, need, or nutritional status Fluoride accumulates in bone and other calcified tissues over a lifetime; early symptoms of fluoride poisoning of the bones are identical to arthritis, and fluoride accumulation may make bones brittle and prone to fracture
The addition of fluoride to the public water supply violates the individual's right to informed consent to medical or human treatment Fluoride is known to have toxic properties at low doses
Children in fluoridated countries are being over-exposed to fluoride as demonstrated by the very high prevalence of dental fluorosis; according to the CDC, 41 percent of American children aged 12-15 have some form of dental fluorosis The effectiveness of swallowing fluoride to reduce tooth decay has never been demonstrated by a randomized control trial
The evidence that fluoridation or swallowing fluoride reduces tooth decay is very weak Fluoridation is designed to treat a disease (dental caries) but has never been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA); the FDA classifies fluoride as an "unapproved drug"
Most dental authorities now agree that the predominant benefit of fluoride is topical, not systemic The vast majority of countries neither fluoridate their water nor their salt, but according to the World Health Organization, tooth decay in 12-year-olds is coming down as fast, if not faster, in non-fluoridated countries as it is in fluoridated countries

Fluoride Added to List of Chemicals That Cause 'Brain Drain' (Along with Mercury and Lead)

In 2006, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai did a systematic review and identified five industrial chemicals as developmental neurotoxicants. This included unquestionable poisons like lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene. Since then, they've documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants and have added them to the list of what are now 11 known industrial chemicals that harm brain development in human fetuses and infants.4 One of the recently added neurotoxicants is fluoride, and one of the study's authors has previously said:5

"Fluoride seems to fit in with lead, mercury, and other poisons that cause chemical brain drain… The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious, especially because the brain power of the next generation is crucial to all of us."

The debate over the dangers of fluoride has been ongoing for more than six decades, despite the fact that study after study has confirmed that fluoride is a dangerous, toxic poison that bio-accumulates in your body while being ineffective at preventing dental decay. So what exactly does fluoride do to your brain?

There are 37 human studies linking fairly modest fluoride exposures with reduced intelligence (nine of these studies found lowered IQ at less than 3 ppm in the water) and 12 human studies linking fluoride with neurobehavioral deficits. There are also three human studies linking fluoride exposure with impaired fetal brain development,6 and approximately 100 animal studies linking it to brain damage. This includes such effects as:7

Reduction in nicotinic acetylcholine receptors Damage to the hippocampus Formation of beta-amyloid plaques (the classic brain abnormality in Alzheimer's disease)
Reduction in lipid content Damage to the Purkinje cells Exacerbation of lesions induced by iodine deficiency
Impaired antioxidant defense systems Increased uptake of aluminum Accumulation of fluoride in the pineal gland

Check Out the Truth: Drinking Fluoride Doesn't Prevent Cavities

Even if you were willing to overlook the proven fact that fluoride is a poison to the human body, would you still want to drink fluoride if it wouldn't protect your teeth? The truth is, it won't. Fluoride advocates often claim that the reduction in tooth decay that's occurred since the 1950s is a benefit of fluoridated water, but the facts just don't add up. For example, in 1999 the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that dental caries declined precipitously during the second half of the 20th Century.

But what they failed to mention is that tooth decay rates "precipitously declined" in ALL Western nations, regardless of whether or not fluoridation was used – and most of those countries did NOT fluoridate!8 According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the US, which fluoridates about two-thirds of public water supplies, actually has higher rates of tooth decay than many countries that do not fluoridate their water, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden.9 Furthermore, if fluoride were effective in preventing caries, you would expect to see an increase in tooth decay when fluoridation is stopped. Yet, this is not what we see! The following demographic studies and fluoridation trends make it clear that fluoridation has very little to do with whether or not you develop cavities.

  • In Japan, fluoridation has been virtually nonexistent since the 1970s, yet rates of dental caries have declined since that time.10
  • In the town of Tiel in the Netherlands, water fluoridation was discontinued in 1973, and by 1993, rates of dental caries had declined.11
  • In the town of Kuopio, Finland, water fluoridation was stopped after 1992. In 1995 and 1998, dental caries had either decreased or stayed the same.12
  • In two towns in former East Germany, a significant fall in the prevalence of dental caries was seen in the 20 years following cessation of water fluoridation.13
  • In Canada, "the prevalence of caries decreased over time in the fluoridation-ended community while remaining unchanged in the fluoridated community."14

Fluoride Has Nothing to Do with the Underlying Causes of Tooth Decay

Dental caries are caused by demineralization of your teeth (enamel and dentin) by the acids formed during the bacterial fermentation of dietary sugars. Demineralization is countered by the deposit of minerals from your saliva, or remineralization, which is a slow process. Enthusiasts report that fluoride prevents dental caries by enhancing mineralization. However, dental caries are not caused by a lack of fluoride, just as depression is not caused by a lack of Prozac. Some of the true primary causes of tooth decay cited in the literature include:

  • Consistent use of refined sugar, sugary soft drinks, and processed foods in general
  • Children going to bed with a bottle of sweetened drink in their mouth, or sucking at will from such a bottle during the day
  • Poor dental hygiene and poor access to and utilization of dental health services, usually related to socioeconomic status
  • Mineral deficiencies, like magnesium, which can weaken bones and teeth15
  • More than 600 medications promote tooth decay by inhibiting saliva

It's often said that fluoride helps to re-mineralize your teeth and make them stronger, but even this must be questioned. A groundbreaking study published in the journal Langmuir uncovered that the fluorapatite layer formed on your teeth from fluoride is a mere six nanometers thick16 -- you'd need 10,000 of these layers to get the width of a strand of your hair! Scientists now question whether this ultra-thin layer can actually protect your enamel and provide any discernible benefit, considering the fact that it is quickly eliminated by simple chewing. They wrote: "…it has to be asked whether such narrow… layers really can act as protective layers for the enamel."

More Than 100 US Communities Have Ditched Water Fluoridation

Since 2009, about 130 communities have stopped water fluoridation. Canada has dropped from about 60 percent of the population drinking fluoridated water down to about 32-33 percent. Victories have also been logged in Australia, Israel, New Zealand, and across the US. The latest fluoride-free victories include:17

  1. Wellington, Florida: After hours of debate and testimony from medical experts and residents, council members voted to end 14 years of fluoridation. A number of pro-fluoride dentists are unfortunately working to overturn the council's vote, but it's still a victory for now.
  2. Amherst County, Virginia: The Service Authority Board voted to discontinue fluoridation because of conflicting opinions on what constitutes "optimal" levels of fluoride. According FAN, "Several board supervisors felt that the additive was unnecessary and a waste of resources."
  3. Wood Village, Oregon: The Woodsville City Council was considering adding fluoride to the city's drinking water, but after polling residents found that 100% of respondents were against it. They have since ended their fluoridation discussions.
  4. Sebastopol, California: City Councilors voted unanimously against fluoridation in Sonoma County because of concerns the fluoride could leach into their groundwater from surrounding communities, putting residents at risk.
  5. Bantry, Ireland: Town Councilors voted unanimously in favor of a resolution calling for an immediate end to fluoridation throughout Ireland. Two other towns--Skibbereen and Clonakitty--also passed similar resolutions in 2013. Support for this historic vote was provided by the local group West Cork Fluoride Free.
  6. Boyne City, Michigan: In early May 2014, city commissioners voted 3-2 to end more than 40 years of fluoridation for the town's approximately 4,000 residents. Commissioner Gene Towne summed up the council's decision, saying: "It comes down to choice. I don't see how you can control the dosage (of fluoride that people ingest) if it's in everything. If there's a chance that it could cause any health problems… this should all come down to your choice."
  7. Buffalo and Union, Missouri: In May 2014, Alderman voted to end a decade of fluoridation, saying the additive damaged equipment, city trucks, and was not economical. Also in May, councilors in Union, Missouri voted 7-1 to end fluoridation after the city's public service committee recommended the city not repair fluoride injection equipment destroyed by the corrosive additive. According to the city engineer, "It's an acid and it eats the pipes. Employees are handling it and they don't want to be."

Do you want to add your city to this growing list? Stay tuned, as the Fluoride Action Network has a game plan to END water fluoridation, both in the US and Canada. Clean pure water is a prerequisite to optimal health. Industrial chemicals, drugs, and other toxic additives really have no place in our water supplies. So, please, support the anti-fluoride movement by making a donation to the Fluoride Action Network today. You might also wish to attend FAN’s Fifth Citizen’s Conference on Fluoride to be held in Washington, DC Sept 5-8. I will be speaking at this on Sept 7 (for more details contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

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New Research Suggests Benefits of Mammography May Be Overstated While Risks Are Underestimated PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Mammograms are in the news again. Former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden recently announced she was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer – two weeks after a mammogram gave her a clean bill of health.1 The diagnosis was made via ultrasound, which revealed a lump the mammogram had missed.

Two studies about the effectiveness of mammogram screening, released just weeks apart, also cast further doubt on the wisdom of subjecting yourself to the risk of routine mammography.

The first study, featured in the above news report, relates to an extensive review of research conducted by Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital and published in the April 2014 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.2

The analysis covered more than five decades of data and examined mortality benefits and harms of mammography screening, with results that were far from glowing.

The study found that while mammograms decreased a woman's risk of dying from breast cancer by an average of 19 percent, the same amount—19 percent—of the cancers found and treated are actually not life-threatening and do not need to be treated.

The study did not take into account whether mammograms reduced (or increased) a woman's risk of dying from other causes, such as from heart muscle damage related to the use of chemotherapy drugs and other cancer treatments.

There's No One-Size-Fits-All Breast Cancer Screening Recommendation

The researchers wisely suggest that what we really need is a more personalized approach3 to breast cancer screening. Younger women get the least benefit, and therefore need to think more carefully about their choice. As reported by USA Today:4

"They estimate that for every 10,000 women in their 40s who undergo annual mammograms for 10 years, 190 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But only five of those women would avoid dying of breast cancer as a result of the screening. Of the remainder, about 25 would die despite being treated, and 36 would be treated unnecessarily because the cancer wouldn't have become life-threatening.

For women in their 50s, 10 breast-cancer deaths would be averted for every 10,000 women screened annually for 10 years. For women in their 60s, 42 breast-cancer deaths would be averted. But as many as 137 women in their 50s, and 194 in their 60s would be diagnosed and treated unnecessarily."

With routine mammogram screenings, cancer is frequently overdiagnosed and therefore overtreated and/or mistreated, significantly increasing women's health risk. In fact, researchers concluded that when it comes to mammography screening, the harm might outweigh the benefit, stating, "Better breast cancer screening tests are needed."5 There is also the fact that mammography misses 20 to 40 percent of cancers.

And if you aren't confused enough about whether or not you should get a mammogram, the findings of yet another new study—curiously absent from mainstream media coverage—are even more disturbing.

Mammogram Screening Raises 'Lethal' Breast Cancer Incidence

The second new study involved 1.8 million Norwegian women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1987 and 2010, and was published in the March 2014 issue of The European Journal of Public Health.6

Researchers found that among women 50 to 69 years of age, breast cancer screening is associated with a significantly higher incidence of early stage, lower lethality cancer (221 percent) and HIGHER rates of late-stage, more advanced breast cancer (35 percent) when compared with women who did not receive mammogram screenings.

This is exactly the opposite of what you would expect to see if mammograms were actually catching malignant tumors earlier—late stage cancers would be lower and not higher. Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo explains the risks of increased early-stage breast cancer diagnoses in light of what we now know about DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ):7

"One of the most dramatic revelations of our time occurred last year when a National Cancer Institute commissioned expert panel concluded that so-called 'early stage cancers' such as DCIS are not cancer at all, but benign or indolent growths.8 This implies that millions of women were wrongly diagnosed with 'breast cancer' over the past 30 years, who would have been better off left undiagnosed and untreated."

All of this comes on the heels of a Canadian study that concluded annual mammography does not reduce your risk of dying from breast cancer if you're a woman between the ages of 40 and 59. That study was published in the February 2014 issue of the British Journal of Medicine and caused quite a media stir.9

But this is not the only research to suggest mammography screening has been oversold. A 2013 British report from the University of Oxford came to the same conclusion, based on an analysis of 40 years of data.10, 11

All of this spells bad news for the cancer industry, for which mammograms are a major profit center. Breast cancer is big business. The lion's share of mammography profits come from routine annual screenings—effective or not. You can count on hefty pushback from the medical industry if public skepticism begins to threaten the bottom line.

With all of these studies intersecting at the same general point, it can no longer be argued that mammograms are a safe and effective screening tool, or that these contradictory findings are due to research anomalies or "poor study design," which is a favorite criticism by mammography proponents.

How Mammography Screening Has Failed

The short presentation in the video above provides an excellent visual illustration of what has happened in terms of breast cancer detection, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment since the advent of screening mammography. Dr. Gilbert Welch, co-author of Effect of Three Decades of Screening Mammography on Breast-Cancer Incidence,12 explains how screening mammography has failed. This study was published in the most prestigious medical journal in the world, the New England Journal of Medicine. According to Dr. Welch, since the advent of screening, we have witnessed the following:

  • The number of women diagnosed with early breast cancer has approximately doubled. These diagnoses are roughly equally divided between two types of early stage breast cancer: DCIS and "localized invasive." Prior to mammography, DCIS was never seen.
  • There has been little compensatory decrease in the number of women presenting with late-stage breast cancer, which is much more lethal. There has been less than a 10 percent decline in breast cancer mortality. However, overdiagnosis harm is substantial—half of all screen-detected breast cancers now represent overdiagnosis and false-positives.
  • There has been very little change in breast cancer rates among younger women (under age 40), suggesting there has NOT been a dramatic change in the underlying amount of breast cancer. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that the extra cancers we see today result from the screening itself.

Other important facts have emerged from this data, according to Dr. Welch. Mammograms are detecting "cancers" that are never going to appear, and these are all being treated as if they are lethal forms of cancer.13 Even the National Cancer Institute itself has suggested narrowing the definition of "cancer," as mounting research shows that many harmless tumors are being overtreated, causing more harm than good.

The rate of metastatic breast cancer has not changed at all—mammograms are not finding these dangerous cancers earlier. The decline in breast cancer mortality is a result of improved treatments, not earlier detection of the more lethal types of breast cancer, and survival rates are improving regardless of whether or not the cancer was found by mammogram screenings.

Mammography May Harm 10 Times More Women Than It Helps

The risks of mammography screening are significant and should not be ignored, including those associated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgeries such as lumpectomies and mastectomies, as well as the stress of receiving a cancer diagnosis and having to undergo invasive medical procedures.14 The Nordic Cochrane Center determined that only ONE out of 2,000 women screened regularly for 10 years will benefit from early cancer detection. Meanwhile, out of the same 2,000 women, 10 healthy women will be misdiagnosed, turned into cancer patients and unnecessarily treated.

All in all, mammography screening results in 30 percent overdiagnosis and overtreatment, which equates to an absolute risk increase of 0.5 percent. What these statistics clearly tell us is that just because you were treated for cancer does not mean you're a cancer survivor. If you really didn't have cancer to begin with, then you're really just a "cancer treatment survivor."

Yet all women treated for cancer who survive become part of the official "cancer survivor" statistic that is then used to justify the effectiveness of the current system of diagnosis and treatment! GreenMedInfo has compiled a list of dozens of studies about the risks of mammography screening, as well as those documenting the lack of any measurable benefit to offset the risk.15 And screening may be even more risky if you are a woman under age 50, according to a 2007 meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.16

Their Solution Is to TRIPLE Your Radiation Exposure by Adding 3D Tomosynthesis

Unfortunately, instead of admitting the flaws and inherent dangers of routine mammography, in 2011 the industry unveiled a "new and improved" type of mammogram called 3D tomosynthesis, which actually exposes you to even HIGHER doses of radiation than a standard mammogram. According to surgeon Dr. Susan Love, tomosynthesis exposes you to about twice the amount of radiation of a standard mammogram.

What's worse, they also recommend you continue receiving your traditional 2D mammogram when you get tomosynthesis, thereby compounding your radiation exposure even further. According to a 2010 study, for women between the ages of 40 and 80, annual screening using standard digital or screen-film mammography is associated with—and is likely a direct cause of—20 to 25 cases of fatal cancer for every 100,000 women getting the test. Using a cancer screening method that causes the very disease it's supposed to be preventing can hardly be considered progress!

Deodorant and Underwire Bras: Possible Breast Cancer Causes?

Research published in the journal of the European Institute of Oncology17 has lent some credence to long-held concerns that chemicals in deodorant, and even underwire bras, could be contributing to breast cancer risk. The paper analyzed health records of Scottish women diagnosed with breast cancer three decades apart (between 1957-1959 and 1997-1999). Breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant (UOQ) of the breast, in particular, was found to be on the rise.

The upper outer quadrant is the area between your armpit and your breast. It's been suggested that the increased cancers in this area could be due to the higher amount of breast tissue found there, but this doesn't explain why incidence has changed over time. The paper suggested several other reasons that may account for the shift in the location of tumors to the upper outer quadrant. Among them:18

  • Repetitive trauma, including blocked sweat ducts from antiperspirants and deodorants, and skin damage from shaving. This could lead to blocked ducts in your breast and the formation of cysts, which is linked to an increased cancer risk.
  • Chemicals and additives in antiperspirants and deodorants, including parabens and aluminum salts, mimic the actions of the hormone estrogen, which may drive cancer
  • Wearing underwire bras, which may constrict breast tissue and the lymphatic system

The researchers explained:

"Explanations for an increase of tumors in the UOQ include the possibility that agents administered topically… might gain access to the breast and be responsible for the initiation/promotion of tumors at that site. Interestingly compounds in deodorants, such as parabens, have been reported to have the ability to penetrate the skin and have estrogenic activity… Since antiperspirants act by blocking sweat ducts, and breast cysts result from blocked breast ducts, it is possible that breast cysts could also arise from repetitive trauma to the ducts in this area… Some studies showed women with breast cysts are at an increased risk of breast cancer, especially at younger ages.

…The constant use of bras (particularly of under-wired which constricts breast tissue and lymphatics mostly in the outer quadrants by the very nature of its design) for long periods might influence lymphatic flow from the breast, this might be a cofactor with other factors in traumatizing tissues in the UOQ of the breast where the wire has the most pressure point. Axillary hair is now frequently removed by different means and is currently performed more frequently than was done four decades ago. This potentially causes repetitive trauma to the axilla and neighboring outer quadrants."

Lowering Your Cancer Risk Begins with Wise Lifestyle Choices

Mammograms are portrayed as the best form of "prevention" a woman can get. But early diagnosis is not the same as prevention. I believe the vast majority of all cancers can be prevented by applying basic, common sense lifestyle strategies, such as the following:

  • Avoid refined sugar, especially fructose, and processed foods. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Refined, highly processed fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible. This means avoiding processed foods, most of which are loaded with fructose, typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should probably be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I'm aware of, with no adverse effects. Ideally, your levels should reach this point by exposure to the sun or a safe tanning bed, not oral vitamin D. For more information on this, please watch my interview with Carole Baggerly.
  • Limit your protein. Newer research has emphasized the importance of the mTOR pathways. When these are active, cancer growth is accelerated. One way to quiet this pathway is by limiting your protein, so that your body has enough protein for cellular turnover and muscle maintenance, but not more. Experts like Dr. Ron Rosedale believe an ideal amount for many would be around one gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, or roughly a bit less than half a gram of protein per every pound of lean body weight. For most people, this ranges between 40 and 70 grams of protein a day, which is typically about two-thirds to half of what they are currently consuming.
  • Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
  • Improve your insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and restricting carbs to mostly fiber vegetables. Exercise is also an important factor in insulin and leptin regulation.
  • Exercise regularly. One of the primary reasons exercise works to lower your cancer risk is because it drives your insulin levels down, and controlling your insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks. It's also been suggested that apoptosis is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die. Studies have also found that the number of tumors decrease along with body fat, which may be an additional factor. This is because exercise helps lower your estrogen levels and improve insulin/leptin sensitivity, which explains why exercise appears to be particularly potent against breast cancer. For more about exercise, please check out my Peak Fitness program.
  • Maintain an optimal body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating wisely and exercising. It's important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
  • Drink a pint to a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
  • Get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
  • Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be a very useful adjunct in the treatment of cancer. Curcumin actually has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any nutrient, including vitamin D.19 For example, it has demonstrated major therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.20 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well. In a recent interview, Dr. William LaValley discusses strategies to help you get around this problem. Fortunately, newer preparations have started to emerge, offering better absorption. For best results, you'll want to use a sustained release preparation.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
  • Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
  • Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy, especially if you have risk factors for breast cancer. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
  • If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.

  • Avoid BPA, phthalates, and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk.
  • Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with certain forms of cancer. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells. For more information, I recommend reading Dr. Brownstein's book.21
  • I have been researching iodine ever since I interviewed Dr. Brownstein and I believe that most of what he states is spot on. The caveat here—I am not convinced his dosage recommendations are correct, I believe they are much too high.

  • Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame-broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide—a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted, or fried—has been found to increase cancer risk as well.

This is not an exhaustive list—there are many other strategies that can be useful as well. One excellent resource is Dr. Christine Horner's book, Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer, which contains research-based all-natural approaches for preventing and treating breast cancer.

What to Do if You Already Have Cancer

One of the most powerful strategies I know of for treating cancer is to starve cancer cells by depriving them of their primary food source, namely sugar. Unlike normal cells that can burn either carbohydrates or fat for fuel, cancer cells have lost that metabolic flexibility, and can only burn sugar. Dr. Otto Warburg was awarded a Nobel Prize more than 75 years ago for figuring this out, but virtually no oncologist actually uses this information.

You can review my recent interview with Dr. D'Agostino for more details, but if I had a family member diagnosed with cancer, my recommendation would be to implement a ketogenic diet combined with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is essentially a double whammy to cut off the cancer from its fuel source. Intermittent fasting can also be invaluable here, as it helps jumpstart your body to start burning fat instead of carbs as its primary fuel. By employing these strategies, along with the guidelines already discussed, your odds of beating cancer will shift significantly in your favor.

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Drug-Free Solutions for Migraines and Headaches PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Headaches affect virtually everyone at one time or another. Wouldn't it be nice to have a simple, natural drug-free solution? "America's Pharmacist," Suzy Cohen, shares a number of alternatives in this interview.

She's been a guest on a number of TV shows, including Dr. Oz, The View, and The Doctors. She's also authored seven books, including the #1 Amazon hit, Headache Free: Relieve Migraines, Tension, Cluster, Menstrual, and Lyme Headaches, which is the focus of this article. You can get a free copy of one of the chapters on her site.

Most pharmacists are deeply rooted in conventional medicine since they're using the primary tool that most doctors use–drugs. Suzy is different in that regard, since her primary focus is on natural approaches not pharmaceuticals.

Part of what ignited her interest in learning more about complementary medicine was the side effects people were experiencing from their prescribed drug therapies.

"How is that happening? That isn't right. I gave them medicine... and these people are sicker with side effects than what they came in for," she says. "While this is all ruminating in my head, my husband was at home, and he wasn't feeling well. He wasn't responding to conventional medicine.

I really started to think outside the pill, if you will, looking at Mother Nature's medicine cabinet and thinking, 'There has to be something that can help my husband... and my patients at the pharmacy that has less toxicity than what I've been taught in pharmacy school.'"

She ended up joining an organization called The Institute for Functional Medicine, ultimately graduating as a functional medicine practitioner. Over the years, she learned how to evaluate the body as a whole system, opposed to treating individual symptoms.

"A person with six symptoms could be reactive to one food, for example. It could be tied to the increase in one inflammatory cytokine, say, histamine, which is a big one with headaches," she explains.

Common Migraine Symptoms

The term "headache" includes a wide variety of head pain, from tension headaches to migraines and cluster headaches. The latter two are clearly the worst. An estimated 13 percent of Americans suffer from migraines. Cluster headaches are far less common, affecting maybe five percent of people, or less.

Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, migraines are still one of the most poorly understood medical disorders of our time. Part of the problem has been that the experiences of those suffering from migraines vary greatly.

Aside from throbbing, searing pain, which may or may not be one-sided, some experience "auras" prior to onset, while others do not. There may also be nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, auditory disturbances, sweating, shortness of breath and/or sensitivity to light, sound, and smells.

Those who have never had a migraine before can be quite frightened by the neurological symptoms, which mimic a mild stroke or seizure. The visual disturbances are most disconcerting because at times, one may experience, short term visual loss (especially if you're dehydrated), visual snow, and/or seeing spots or wavy lines. Neuropathy may occur such as numbness or, tingling in your fingers, arm or leg.

What Causes Migraines?

According to Suzy, certain foods are among the most common triggers for headaches and migraines. She refers to some of the main culprits, as "migrenades," and they include:

Gluten (proteins in wheat) SoyCorn and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)Artificial sweeteners
Casein (dairy)EggsMonosodium glutamate (MSG)Caffeine

 

The pharmaceutical answer to migraines is a class of drugs called "triptans," sold under brand names such as Axert, Zomig, Imitrex, Maxalt, Amerge, and several others. These drugs act as "serotonin receptor agonists" meaning they enhance serotonin levels, which constricts the blood vessels around your brain.

The idea is that by reducing blood flow around your brain, the pain is lessened in severity. The fast-acting dosage forms such as nasal sprays or injectable can sometimes be used to abort a migraine if you take them in time.

The drawback is that these drugs come with significant side effects. They're also very expensive. Clearly, if you suffer from recurrent migraines, you'd be well advised to find and treat the underlying cause. According to Suzy:

"[H]eadaches, especially migraines, are caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. If you can fix the mitochondria, you can relieve migraines and headaches. If not cure them, you can certainly reduce the frequency of them. A mitochondria is an organelle inside your cell. You have trillions of them, and they generate your cellular energy [called] adenosine triphosphate (ATP). It's like a battery or a generator in every single cell.

When your mitochondria are sick, dying, or they're oxidized – because of excessive free radical damage—then your frequency for headaches goes up. This has been shown in a lot of research, which I cover in Headache Free.

What happens is this toxic pathway gets upregulated – nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kappaB) – and it starts spitting out pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). The point is that your body is on fire, and your head is going to hurt."

How to Address Migraines Without Drugs

To successfully treat the underlying cause of your migraines, you need to "regenerate your cellular batteries," the mitochondria, and one way to do that is by taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). The reduced form, ubiquinol, tends to work best for most people.

"CoQ10 is fantastic," Suzy says. "It's an antioxidant that's both lipophilic and hydrophilic, meaning, it loves water and loves fatty parts of the cell. It goes into every single cell all over your body, especially your brain and your heart. You know if you're CoQ10-deficient because you're more prone to headaches. Plus, a prolonged deficiency of CoQ10 can cause significant muscle pain as well as headaches. Now, here's the thing: people are seriously deficient in CoQ10 because there are so many drugs that deplete this nutrient, including the birth control pill, hormone replacements, antacids, diabetes drugs, and statins. These drugs deplete CoQ10."

Other supplements that can improve migraines include:

  • Magnesium. According to Suzy, about 50 percent of those with recurrent headaches are deficient in magnesium. As with CoQ10, a number of drugs rob your body of magnesium, including birth control pills, diuretics, antacids, and acid blockers, in particular the proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as omeprazole, esomeprazole. These medications can wipe out magnesium so severely that it can affect your heart.
  • Suzy recommends taking 400-600 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day. Also increase your consumption of green leafy vegetables, which are rich in bioavailable magnesium. Spirulina is another good source. Avoid magnesium oxide supplements, as they tend to cause diarrhea. This is the form commonly sold in pharmacies and it will say "magnesium oxide" on the label. Again, this can cause gastrointestinal upset.

    My favorite is magnesium threonate, which is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane. You can also improve your magnesium status by taking regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin. Magnesium oil (from magnesium chloride) can also be used for topical application and absorption.

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2). Riboflavin will make your urine bright yellow, which will interfere with your ability to determine if you're drinking enough water. So when taking a B2 supplement, avoid using the color of your urine as an indicator of how much water you need. Use your thirst instead. Suzy recommends taking 200-400 milligrams or B2 per day, which can be divided up by taking half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. That's well over 100 times the recommended daily allowance (RDA), so you're essentially using riboflavin as a drug in this case; but it's a relatively safe drug with virtually no side effects. Ideally, you'll want to balance riboflavin with the other Bs by taking a "B complex" with it.

Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations

Diet is another important component, not only for migraines and headaches, but health in general. In Suzy's experience, a gluten-free diet tends to support both brain and gut health, thereby reducing headaches.

"By gluten-free, I mean eliminating foods with gluten. I don't mean substituting them and getting gluten-free muffins and gluten-free bars, because they're laden with all kinds of things. I just mean avoiding the bread, wheat, and pasta. Just completely taking it out of your diet and going to a more hunter-gatherer type of diet like the Paleo diet."

Another simple intervention is to eliminate aspartame and other artificial sweeteners from your diet. Ditto for artificial colorants and other artificial additives. This means avoiding most if not all processed foods, and preparing home-cooked meals using fresh, whole ingredients instead. Stress, cortisol, and thyroid hormone also play a role in headaches and migraines, making stress relief and addressing your thyroid function essential components of a more comprehensive plan. Selenium and Ashwagandha are two helpful supplements as they both support thyroid function.

If you frequently suffer headaches in combination with insomnia, Suzy recommends trying one to two grams of glycine at night. Glycine increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms and helps you sleep. Tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan, sold as 5-HTP, can also be helpful.

"For some people, [5-HTP] will work. But for other people, they'll convert it down a different pathway, and it'll excite them. If you try tryptophan or 5-HTP and you get stimulated, I would either back down on the dose, take it earlier in the day, or just stop it altogether. You may be one of those people with the pathway issue that's driving it to the excitatory side."

If dietary interventions don't seem to be working, you may need to dig even deeper. In some cases, frequent headaches can be caused by an undiagnosed disease. Such was the case with Suzy's husband, whose headaches were eventually traced back to Lyme disease, a tick-born infection. Once the Lyme disease was treated, the chronic headaches stopped.

How to Address Tension and Cluster Headaches

Tension headaches are by far the most common type of headache. As Suzy notes, if you haven't had a tension headache yet, you will eventually. As the name implies, they're caused by stress and tension. While all of us experience stress and tension, the main difference is how we cope with it. Having an effective coping strategy is essential here. My favorite, as it has a very high success rate, is an energy psychology method known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

"Usually, it's because people are holding tension in their traps (trapezius muscle), or in the back of their head or neck," Suzy notes. "You can still address it with nutrients. One of the best things you can do is take magnesium, because it relaxes your body. It relaxes muscle pain. If you're tight and irritable, magnesium will reverse that.

[The Russian herb] Rhodiola is helpful for someone with a tension headache, because it increases levels of serotonin; it makes you feel good. It helps you adapt—it's a plant adaptogen. It knows what your body needs. It knows how to raise certain hormones. In particular, it can help raise serotonin and reduce cortisol. Massage would also be great. It's known to reduce cortisol. It takes you away from your work and your computer. If you can just try to relax into that, that would be helpful for the long-term fix.

There's study after study that show natural supplements in high-quality forms can help reduce our risk for headaches. The only time I ever think maybe it's not going to help you that much is possibly with cluster headaches. These are the types of headaches that are also dubbed 'alarm clock headaches.' They're also dubbed 'suicide headaches.' They feel like someone's stuck an ice pick in your eye. I'm not kidding. They come at the same time at night usually around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. It'll wake the person up with a jolt."

The real key for treating cluster headaches is to reduce histamine-containing foods (refer to the listing at the beginning of this article). Suzy also recommends keeping an oxygen tank at hand, and begin breathing on it when a cluster headache strikes. In terms of supplements, Suzy claims the only supplement that might help with cluster headaches is high dose melatonin, about 4 to 6 milligrams before bedtime and not indefinitely… just until the cluster episode passes. Since too much melatonin can suppress your morning cortisol levels, you're advised to discuss this with your doctor before trying this route. Symptoms of too much melatonin include morning fatigue and/or feeling like you have a hangover, as well as anxiety, irritability and confusion.

The Solution for Migraines and Headaches Is Rooted in Your Diet

As you can see, your diet is really the foundational core for any long-term solution for headaches and migraines. It's also foundational for optimal health in general. You don't have to "get used to" living with headaches. There are answers, but you need to think differently. As Suzy says:

"Traditional medicine has basically told people that they need to take medications to relieve the pain or to temporarily constrict the blood vessels around the brain to stop the blood flow that is causing your head pain. That is how the most commonly prescribed drug like the triptans work.

I'm here to say that that is not my answer! You can live headache-free if you determine the underlying cause of your headaches. By that, I mean find out what your migrenade is. It could be a food additive. It could be a type of food that you're eating. It could be histamine. It could be artificial sweeteners. Find the migrenade. Get rid of it! That will help you and you should also improve your diet.

And then support the batteries in your cell – the mitochondria. Support them with cell-loving nutrients such as CoQ10 or ubiquinol and acetyl-l-carnitine. You can also use natural minerals to support them, like magnesium. Selenium could be very helpful because it supports thyroid function. Another great one is Ashwagandha... When your thyroid is low, you're more prone to headaches... Also you can consider natural plant-based adaptogens such as rhodiola."

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The Science of Stink: What Causes Garlic Breath? PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Eating a clove or two of fresh garlic a day may indeed keep the doctor away, in part because it has immune-boosting, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects.

A member of the allium family of vegetables, along with other superfoods like onions, scallions, chives, and leeks, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. As reported by the George Mateljan Foundation, garlic was believed to have sacred qualities and was placed in the tomb of Pharaohs.

It was also given to slaves building the Egyptian pyramids as a tool for increasing strength and endurance, a use that was also valued by Greek and Roman civilizations, who served garlic to athletes and soldiers before sporting events or war, respectively.1

Even gravediggers in 18th-century France consumed garlic-infused wine as a way to ward off the plague, and soldiers during World War I and World War II used garlic to prevent gangrene.2 Today, we have a wealth of modern research to back up the centuries’ old claims, as garlic truly is deserving of its reputation for potent healing powers.

Garlic Fights Cancer, Heart Disease, and Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Garlic is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C, so it’s beneficial for your bones as well as your thyroid. It’s thought that much of garlic’s therapeutic effect comes from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its characteristic smell.

Other health-promoting compounds include oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium, and flavonoids.3 GreenMedInfo has assembled a list of studies demonstrating garlic's effects for more than 160 different diseases.4 In general, its benefits fall into four main categories:

  1. Reducing inflammation (reduces the risk of osteoarthritis and other disease associated with inflammation)
  2. Boosting immune function (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties)
  3. Improving cardiovascular health and circulation (protects against clotting, retards plaque, improves lipids, and reduces blood pressure)
  4. Toxic to 14 kinds of cancer cells (including brain, lung, breast, gastric, and pancreatic)

In addition, garlic may be effective against drug-resistant bacteria, and research has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.5 This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume.

Like many natural foods, it’s difficult to confine garlic to just one or two benefits, as it appears to offer benefits throughout your body. The University of Maryland Medical Center summed up some of its most promising uses:6

“…garlic is used to help prevent heart disease, including atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries (plaque buildup in the arteries that can block the flow of blood and may lead to heart attack or stroke), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and to boost the immune system. Eating garlic regularly may also help protect against cancer.

Garlic is rich in antioxidants. In your body, harmful particles called free radicals build up as you age, and may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Antioxidants like those found in garlic fight off free radicals, and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage caused over time.”

Garlic May Help Ward Off Colds and Flu

With both immune-boosting and antiviral effects, it makes sense that garlic would be useful for fighting off infectious disease, and the scientific research backs this up. According to one study, those who consumed garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo.

When they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter – an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group.7 While this may not seem overly impressive, it's still better than the results achieved by the much-advertised flu drug Tamiflu.

If taken within 48 hours of onset of illness, Tamiflu might reduce the duration of flu symptoms by about a day to a day and a half. That's the extent of what this $100-plus treatment will get you. It's virtually identical to just taking garlic on a regular basis...

Garlic’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Garlic has been shown to kill cancer cells in laboratory studies, as well as show promise when consumed via your diet. One study showed that women who regularly ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a 35 percent lower risk of colon cancer. 8 Those who consume high amounts of raw garlic also appear to have a lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers.9

Furthermore, among people with inoperable forms of colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer, taking an extract of aged garlic for six months helped to improve immune function, which suggests it may be useful for helping your immune system during times of stress or illness.10

Garlic Must Be Crushed to Get Its Therapeutic Properties

Fresh garlic is best if it’s health benefits you’re after, and the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.

Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.

A single medium-size clove or two is usually sufficient and is well-tolerated by most people. The active ingredient, allicin, is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic, so garlic pills are virtually worthless. You also won’t reap all the health benefits garlic has to offer if you use jarred, powdered, or dried versions.

Worse yet, at least two supermarket brands containing garlic powder imported from China have been found to be contaminated with high levels of lead, arsenic, and added sulfites.11 If you’re looking for a simple and delicious way to add more raw garlic to your diet, try this organic garlic salad dressing.

What Causes Garlic Breath?

Garlic is called “the stinking rose” for good reason… but unfortunately, many people shy away from too much garlic, fearing it will lead to bad breath. It’s the allicin in garlic, and the four compounds it breaks down into, that give garlic its stench. The worst offender is allyl methyl sulfide, which not only causes bad breath but can also add a unique lingering odor to your sweat and urine.12

The good news is that the smell of garlic goes away once you metabolize the smelly compounds. The bad news is that it can take up to two days for this to happen. I would encourage you to not avoid garlic based on its smell alone, however, as you’ll be missing out on one of the healthiest (not to mention tastiest) foods on the planet.

If you develop a socially offensive odor, try decreasing the amount of garlic you’re consuming until there is no odor present. Eating parsley can also help you to get rid of garlic breath, and citrus may help to mask it. If you drink milk, one study also found that it “may help reduce the malodorous odor in breath after garlic ingestion and mask the garlic flavor during eating.”13

Sprouting Garlic May Magnify Its Nutritional Potential

In an article published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, garlic sprouted for five days was found to have higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting it also makes different substances.14 Researchers concluded that sprouting your garlic might be a useful way to improve its antioxidant potential. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage.15

This isn’t really surprising when you consider the nutritional changes that typically occur in plants when they sprout. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. The same thing is likely happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic.

Black Fermented Garlic Has Twice the Antioxidants of Fresh Garlic

Another little-known anecdote is that black garlic, which is basically fermented garlic, may be even healthier than other forms. In a 2009 mouse study, Japanese researchers found that black garlic was more effective than fresh garlic in reducing the size of tumors, for instance. The study was published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology.16 In another study, black garlic was found to have twice the antioxidant levels as fresh garlic—the aging/fermenting process appears to double the antioxidants.

Black garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, especially one in particular: s-allylcycteine (SAC). Science has shown a number of health benefits from SAC, including inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. Perhaps this is why Mandarin oil painter Choo Keng Kwang experienced a complete reversal of his psoriasis after just four days of eating half a bulb of black garlic a day—this, after trying countless medically prescribed skin creams that were all complete failures.

An advantage of SAC is that it is well-absorbed and much more stable than allicin and 100 percent bioavailable. Researchers are confident it plays a significant role in garlic’s overall health benefits.17 Be mindful, however, that black garlic’s benefits may be more effective than fresh garlic for some conditions but not others, given its allicin content is low. For example, I suspect it may not be as effective if you have an infection, as allicin is thought to be the primary anti-infective agent in garlic, and fresh garlic is higher in allicin than black. According to Blue Fortune Farm (which admittedly sells black garlic), black garlic has the following favorable nutrient profile:18

  SAC (mg/g) Calcium (mg) Phosphorus (mg) Protein (g)
Black Garlic 5.84 36.66 80 12.5
Raw Garlic 0.32 5.0 40 2.2

Visit Our Food Facts Library for Empowering Nutrition Information

If you want to learn even more about what's in the food you're eating, visit our Food Facts library. Most people are not aware of the wealth of nutrients available in healthful foods, particularly organic fruits and vegetables. By getting to know your food, you can make informed decisions about how to eat healthier and thereby boost your brain function, lower your risk of chronic disease, lose weight, and much more.

Food Facts is a directory of the most highly recommended health foods to add to your wholesome diet. Its purpose is to provide you with valuable information about various types of foods including recipes to help you maximize these benefits. You'll learn about nutrition facts, scientific studies, and even interesting trivia about each food in the Food Facts library. Remember, knowing what's in your food is the first step to choosing and preparing nutritious meals each and every day. So visit Mercola Food Facts today to get started.

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Documentary Examines How Stress Kills PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

"Stress is not a state of mind... it's measurable and dangerous, and humans can't seem to find their off-switch." These words of warning come from renowned author and award-winning neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky in the documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer.1

The film, jointly produced by National Geographic and Stanford University where Dr. Sapolsky is a professor and scholar, shows just how dangerous prolonged stress can be.

As we evolved, the stress response saved our lives by enabling us to run from predators or take down prey. But today, we are turning on the same "life-saving" reaction to cope with $4 per gallon gasoline, fear of public speaking, difficult bosses, and traffic jams—and have a hard time turning it off.

Constantly being in a stress response may have you marinating in corrosive hormones around the clock.

This film shows the impact stress has on your body, how it can shrink your brain, add fat to your belly, and even unravel your chromosomes. Understanding how stress works can help you figure out ways to combat it and reduce its negative impacts on your health.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Dr. Sapolsky has learned a great deal about the human stress response and its effects on your body by studying primates in Africa. Every year, he spends a few weeks in the Kenyan wilderness studying baboon societies that have intraspecies social and psychological tumult that mimics the stress of modern man.

He monitors their adrenal hormone levels, namely adrenalin (epinephrine) and glucocorticoids (such as cortisol). The fact that baboons live in communities with hierarchical structures led Dr. Sapolsky to one of his most profound discoveries: baboon stress is related to hierarchy, or social rank.

The higher a baboon's rank, the less stress it experiences. The lower its rank, the higher its stress. More importantly, Dr. Sapolsky discovered that the low ranking "have-nots" of the baboon world experienced higher heart rates and blood pressure than the "haves."

Arteries in the "have-not" monkeys filled up with plaque, restricting their blood flow and increasing their heart attack risk. This was the first time stress was scientifically linked to deteriorating health in wild primates. As it turns out, the same is true for other primates—for example, us!

Mortality Rates Follow a Social Gradient

Professor Sir Michael Marmot performed a 40-year long stress study in which he followed 18,000 men occupying various positions with the British Civil Service. His findings paralleled what Sapolsky found for the baboons: the higher your status, the lower your risk for stress-related diseases.2

Marmot found that men in the lowest employment grades were much more likely to die prematurely than men in the higher grades—there is in fact a "social gradient" for mortality. Subsequent studies involving women had similar findings. But why would this be—what does your status have to do with your stress?

It's All About Your Locus of Control

Dr. Sapolsky explains how psychological distress may turn on your stress response in this short video clip. If the link does not work for you, you can access it on the Stanford University website (click on “Related to this Story” in right column, then the tab “More on Stress”). Sapolsky explains how you are more vulnerable to stress if the following factors are true:

  • You feel like you have no control
  • You're not getting any predictive information (how bad the challenge is going to be, how long it will go on, etc.)
  • You feel you have no way out
  • You interpret things as getting worse
  • You have no "shoulder to cry on" (e.g., lack of social affiliation or support)

Like baboons, people at the top of the social pyramid feel a greater sense of control because they are the ones who call the shots, as well as typically having more social connections and resources at their disposal. This results in less stress, which over the long run translates to lower rates of disease.

Stress is also closely related to the experience of pleasure, related to the binding of dopamine to pleasure receptors in your brain. The brains of "primate CEOs" light up brightly in PET scans, whereas the brains of subordinate monkeys do not, indicating that life is less pleasurable for the subordinates.

Like primates, people of lower socioeconomic status appear to derive less pleasure from their lives. Perhaps this is why laughter therapy is so effective!3, 4

Overall, men and women suffer from the same stress-related illnesses, but they differ in the types of situations they experience as most stressful. The genders also experience stress differently. For example, women suffer more stress-induced anxiety and depression than men.5 One thing is known to be true for both genders: higher stress equates to a shorter life expectancy.

Are You a Stress Junkie?

The paradox here is that humans have essentially become addicted to stress. There is "good stress" (eustress) and "bad stress" (distress)—meaning, you experience certain stressful experiences as unpleasant and seek to avoid them, but others you may actually seek out because they're fun. For example, snowboarding, skydiving, rollercoasters, and scary movies are experiences that may flip your thrill-switch—and your body responds to those stresses in the same way as if a tiger were chasing you. 

Your muscles tense, your heart pounds, your respirations increase, and your body stops all of its non-essential processes.This can be pleasantly exhilarating, and for some rather addictive... you might know someone whom you could describe as an "adrenalin junkie." A thrill is simply the relinquishing of a bit of control in a setting that feels safe. But when you're in that heightened state of arousal 24/7, stress takes its toll on your body—whether you perceive the stress as "good" or "bad."

Stress Takes a Toll on Your Brain and Adds Inches to Your Waistline

Science has established that stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, but did you know that it can also lead to weight gain—of the worst kind? Stress-induced weight gain typically involves an increase in belly fat, which is the most dangerous fat for your body to accumulate, and increases your cardiovascular risk. Stress alters the way fat is deposited because of the specific hormones and other chemicals your body produces when you're stressed.

Prolonged stress can also damage your brain cells and make you lose the capacity to remember things. The brain cells of stressed rats are dramatically smaller, especially in the area of their hippocampus, which is the seat of learning and memory. Stress disrupts your neuroendocrine and immune systems and appears to trigger a degenerative process in your brain that can result in Alzheimer's disease. Stress can also accelerate aging by shortening your telomeres, the protective genetic structures that regulate how your cells age. In the words of Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine:6

"Our bodies know how to fix broken proteins, kill cancer cells, retard aging, and fight infection. They even know how to heal ulcers, make skin lesions disappear and knit together broken bones! But here's the kicker—those natural self-repair mechanisms don't work if you're stressed!"

According to Dr. Sapolsky, the following are the most common health conditions that are caused by or worsened by stress:

Cardiovascular disease Hypertension Depression
Anxiety Sexual dysfunction Infertility and irregular cycles
Frequent colds Insomnia and fatigue Trouble concentrating
Memory loss Appetite changes Digestive problems and dysbiosis

The Dutch Famine Study

The Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study (Hungerwinter Study) shows that stress in utero might be followed by a lifetime of poor health. Survivors of the Dutch famine are now in their 60s, and those conceived during the famine have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and are in poorer overall health than those conceived after the famine ended. Researchers postulate that stress hormones in the blood of those pregnant women triggered changes in their babies' developing nervous systems as they battled against starvation. Decades later, their bodies still "remember" this prenatal stress.7

The Dutch Famine Study is not the only scientific research to show that your mental and physical health can be permanently affected by childhood stress and trauma. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study is an ongoing research project that analyzes the relationship between stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes later in life. There is a very strong correlation between childhood stress and many diseases, including cancer, depression, and heart disease.8

Cortisol Can Be an Important Health Challenge

The stress hormone cortisol, released by your adrenal glands as part of the "fight-or-flight" response, is the master hormone that regulates many aspects of your body's stress response. However, cortisol levels are typically elevated across the board in today's culture, to the detriment of mental and physical health. The impact stress is having on society as a whole is so profound that Psychology Today calls cortisol "Public Enemy Number One:"9

"The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for Americans of all ages. This creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on our economy."

For example, elevated cortisol levels are a potential trigger for mental illness and reduced resilience, especially among adolescents. Evidence of the societal affects of unmanaged stress is disturbingly evident on the evening news, with seemingly ever-increasing episodes of bullying, suicides, and mass shootings, which are unfortunate, albeit extreme examples of what happens when people cannot cope. When you have effective stress reduction tools, you and your children are mentally and physically healthier, more resilient and less likely to be depressed, sick, or violent.

Is It Time to Send Yourself to Cortisol Rehab?

Sapolsky's baboons prove that stress is not inevitable. You can change your environment and your responses. And as you learn how to effectively decrease your stress level, your cortisol will stabilize, your blood pressure will drop, and your health will improve in just about every way. It's important to realize that stress management isn't something you save up to do on the weekend—it needs to be done on a daily basis, because that's how often stress rears its ugly head. There are many different stress reduction techniques, and what works for you may not work for another.

One may enjoy meditating, but another may feel calmer by cleaning house! Stress management is a highly individual thing, and the last thing you want to do is be stressed by your supposedly stress-busting activity. You'll have to find what works best for you. Of course, making good food choices will support your overall health and increase your resiliency. Be sure to get adequate sleep as sleep deprivation dramatically impairs your body's ability to handle stress. Several more stress management approaches are suggested in the following table.

Regular physical activity Meditation: Taking even 10 minutes to sit quietly, such as during work breaks, can help decrease your feelings of stress and anxiety
Mindfulness training and breath work Yoga: Health benefits from regular yoga practice have been shown to decrease stress, improve sleep and immune function, and reduce food cravings, among other things
Social connectedness Laughter and levity
Spend time in nature Music
Have more fun EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): Some of the Most Powerful Tools for Managing Stress

When it comes to managing stress, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) deserves special mention. EFT is a group of energy psychology techniques that involve tapping on several of your body's acupressure points while focusing on and making specific verbalizations about the issue at hand—in this case, stress. Like acupuncture, EFT is based on the fact that your body is an electrical system, and vital energy flows along invisible channels known as meridians. When you're stressed, anxious, traumatized, or sick, your energy flow can become blocked, which EFT can help reverse—without the needles used in acupuncture!

EFT has been scientifically shown to calm your central nervous system and significantly reduce cortisol levels. In 2012, a triple blind study conducted by Dr. Dawson Church (who can be credited for the majority of current research on Clinical EFT), found EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent—more than any other intervention tested.10, 11

Tapping can help your body repair emotional "scarring" and reprogram the way it responds to stressors. Since these stressors are often connected to physical complaints, many people find that pain and other physical symptoms will improve or completely disappear. There are many styles of EFT, but Clinical EFT12 is the one I have the most experience with and is the best established and best supported by scientific research. If you are interested in experiencing EFT for yourself, please refer to the video demonstration of EFT for stress relief above.

Although the basics of EFT can be learned quite easily, for serious issues I recommend your seeking the help of a qualified EFT practitioner.13 There is an art to these techniques and having an expert guide you—someone who has spent years training in these skills—will accelerate your progress. Working with an expert will also prevent you from falsely concluding that EFT doesn't work, when you simply need a little coaching and support, especially if you are working on deeper issues such as trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The beauty of EFT is that it can actually reprogram your body's reactions to the unavoidable stressors of everyday life, providing a lasting effect.

As Sapolsky's baboons have shown you, stress is an extremely significant player in your overall health. The better you get at managing stress on a daily basis, the better your health will be.

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Stress Promotes Memory Decline and Dementia Later in Life PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues, including your brain function.

Most recently, an animal study reveals that higher levels of stress hormones can speed up short-term memory loss in older adults.1 The findings indicate that how your body responds to stress may be a factor that influences how your brain ages over time. As reported by Business Standard:2

"[R]ats with high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone showed structural changes in the brain and short-term memory deficits.

Robert Sapolsky, PhD said that older animals with higher levels of stress hormones in their blood have 'older' frontal cortexes than animals with less stress hormones, thus, stress may act as a pacemaker of aging in this key brain region."

Previous research3 has also linked chronic stress with working memory impairment. Other recent research suggests that stress may even speed up the onset of more serious dementia known as Alzheimer's disease, which currently afflicts about 5.4 million Americans, including one in eight people aged 65 and over.4

Fortunately, there's compelling research showing that your brain has great plasticity and capacity for regeneration, which you control through your diet and lifestyle choices.

Based on the findings linking dementia with chronic stress, having effective tools to address stress can be an important part of Alzheimer's prevention, not to mention achieving and maintaining optimal health in general.

The Effects of Stress on Memory Function and the Aging Brain

As reported by the University of Iowa,5 where the featured research was done, elevated levels of cortisol affect your memory by causing a gradual loss of synapses in your prefrontal cortex.

This is the brain region associated with short-term memory. Cortisol—a stress hormone—basically has a "corrosive" effect, over time wearing down the synapses responsible for memory storage and processing:

"Short-term increases in cortisol are critical for survival. They promote coping and help us respond to life's challenges by making us more alert and able to think on our feet.

But abnormally high or prolonged spikes in cortisol—like what happens when we are dealing with long-term stress—can lead to negative consequences that numerous bodies of research have shown to include digestion problems, anxiety, weight gain, and high blood pressure."

The researchers suggest that you may be able to protect your future memory function by normalizing your cortisol levels. Such intervention would be particularly beneficial for those who are at high risk for elevated cortisol, such as those who are depressed or are dealing with long-term stress following a traumatic event.

Stress May Trigger Clinical Onset of Alzheimer's

Last year, Argentinean researchers presented evidence suggesting that stress may be a trigger for the onset of Alzheimer's disease. The study found that 72 percent—nearly three out of four—Alzheimer's patients had experienced severe emotional stress during the two years preceding their diagnosis.

In the control group, only 26 percent, or one in four, had undergone major stress or grief. Most of the stresses encountered by the Alzheimer's group involved:

  • Bereavement; death of a spouse, partner, or child
  • Violent experiences, such as assault or robbery
  • Car accidents
  • Financial problems, including "pension shock"
  • Diagnosis of a family member's severe illness

According to lead author, Dr. Edgardo Reich:6

"Stress, according to our findings, is probably a trigger for initial symptoms of dementia. Though I rule out stress as monocausal in dementia, research is solidifying the evidence that stress can trigger a degenerative process in the brain and precipitate dysfunction in the neuroendocrine and immune system. It is an observational finding and does not imply direct causality. Further studies are needed to examine these mechanisms in detail."

Stress Wrecks Your Health in Multiple Ways

Robert Sapolsky, PhD, quoted in reference to the featured study, has spent three decades investigating the role of stress on human health. In the 2008 National Geographic special, Killer Stress, he reveals how it affects your body and brain. By understanding how stress affects your biology, you are better equipped to combat it, and mitigate its detrimental impact.

To give you a quick overview, when you're experiencing acute stress, your body releases stress hormones (such as cortisol) that prepare your body to either fight or flee the stressful event.

Your heart rate increases, your lungs take in more oxygen, your blood flow increases, and parts of your immune system become temporarily suppressed, which reduces your inflammatory response to pathogens and other foreign invaders.

When stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes less sensitive to cortisol, and since inflammation is partly regulated by this hormone, this decreased sensitivity heightens the inflammatory response and allows inflammation to get out of control.7 Inflammation, in turn, is a hallmark of most diseases, from diabetes to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's.

It's not so surprising then that researchers have found links between stress and ailments ranging from physical pain8 and chronic inflammation,9 to stillbirths10 and poor gut health (which is critical to maintaining mental and physical health).

Researchers have even found that stress-induced anxiety can rewire your brain in such a way as to alter your sense of smell,11 transforming normally neutral odors into objectionable ones, and, as I will discuss in further detail in a later article featuring an upcoming interview with Greg Marsh, stress is also associated with a loss of visual acuity, and by correcting it, many can eliminate their glasses or contacts.

Conquer Your Stress with Energy Psychology

While it's virtually impossible to eliminate all stress from your life, there are tools you can use that will allow your body to effectively compensate for the bioelectrical short-circuiting that takes place when you're stressed or anxious. Remember, some stress is necessary in life. In many ways it is like exercise, but like exercise, it needs to be addressed properly. My favorite tool for stress management is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It's an energy psychology tool that can help reprogram your body's reactions to everyday stress, thereby reducing your chances of developing adverse health effects.

EFT was developed in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford engineering graduate specializing in healing and self-improvement. It's akin to acupuncture, which is based on the concept that a vital energy flows through your body along invisible pathways known as meridians. EFT stimulates different energy meridian points in your body by tapping them with your fingertips, while simultaneously using custom-made verbal affirmations. This can be done alone or under the supervision of a qualified therapist.12

By doing so, you reprogram the way your body responds to emotional stressors. Since these stressors are usually connected to physical problems, many people's diseases and other symptoms can improve or disappear as well. For a demonstration, please see the following video featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman, in which she discusses EFT for stress relief. For serious or deep-seated emotional problems, I strongly recommend seeing an experienced EFT therapist, as there is a significant art to the process that requires a high level of sophistication if serious problems are to be successfully treated.

Other Tips for Relieving Stress

Exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and meditation are also important "release valves" that can help you manage your stress. Aromatherapy can also have anxiety-inhibiting effects, as can spending time in nature. In fact, so-called eco-therapy is becoming increasingly validated, with many proponents in the mental health field. Two recent articles in The Guardian13, 14 investigates how spending time in nature can "unlock a healthier mind" and promote a sense of inner peace and happiness. Oliver James writes:

"Ecotherapy encompasses a wide variety of interventions, whether they be prolonged periods in wilderness, gardening or individual therapy. They are all united by the concept that exposure to nature will improve wellbeing and healthy living...

[E]gocentricity... is often reduced by awareness of something much bigger than them, whether it be mountains, wide open plains or huge skies. The feeling that the client is the centre of the universe is called into question by the sheer scale and complexity of nature... The solitude and lack of pressure to satisfy the demands of peers and family lead to significant improvements in such self-attributes as esteem, efficacy and control.

There are many reports of clients of all ages having spiritual experiences as a result of exposure to wilderness... A heightened awareness of plants, animals and landscape leads them to ponder existence beyond themselves. The power of nature encourages a sense of higher powers and of connection both to self and to others."

A winning combination is to exercise outdoors. Not only is exercise known to relieve stress and ease depression, it also directly benefits your physical brain. It encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by stimulating nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage. Also, during exercise, nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning. For more stress-busting tips, please see my previous article, "13 Mind-Body Techniques That Can Help Ease Pain and Depression." Clearly, stress is an inescapable part of life—it's how you deal with it that will determine whether it will translate into health problems later on.

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Air Pollution Linked to Cognitive Decline in Later Years PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

You’re probably aware that air pollution affects your heart and lungs, but what about your brain? Like most environmental toxicants, air pollution does not discriminate in its targets… it hits your entire body, with effects on everything from behavior to brain health.

Air pollution, for instance, has been found to have a negative impact on brain development, possibly by causing blood vessels to constrict or causing toxic buildup in your brain.1

A new study published in the Journal of Gerontology has also highlighted the risks of air pollution on cognitive function in older adults, with equally damaging repercussions.2

Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution May Harm Cognitive Function

Particulate matter is air pollution made up of extremely small particles or liquid droplets. Typically, it’s composed of any number of toxicants, including organic chemicals, metals, soil, or dust. The smaller the diameter of the particle, the greater its risk of health damage becomes, as these can easily pass into your lungs, causing well-known damage to your heart and lungs.

“Fine” particulate matter is generally defined as particles that are 2.5 micrometers or less. These particles may come from smoke (such as forest fires) as well as gases emitted from power plants, industries, and, of course, automobiles. For comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers any particles that are 10 micrometers or less as a potential health concern.3

There is growing evidence that fine particulate matter poses a risk to brain health and development, so researchers set out to look at its impact in older adults (those aged 55 and older).

They measured air pollution levels in participants’ neighborhoods, and found the average concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) were 13.8 micrograms per cubic meter – a level higher than the EPA’s air quality standard (which is 12 micrograms per cubic meter).

Then, they assessed cognitive function in comparison to pollution levels and found that those living in the most polluted areas had worse cognitive function. Specifically, those living in areas with 15 micrograms per cubic meter or more of PM2.5 had higher error scores (by 1.5 times) than those living in areas with no more than 5 micrograms per cubic meter. According to the study’s co-author:4

“…particulate matter may affect cognitive function in older adults by its harmful effects on the cardiovascular system – which is connected to the brain through blood vessels - and possibly by directly acting on the brain itself.”

Air Pollution Linked to Accelerated Memory Decline, Behavior Problems

It’s becoming increasingly clear that toxicants in the air you breathe may significantly impact your brain at many stages of life. In 2012, a study revealed that long-term exposure to particulate matter air pollution (at sizes ranging from 2.5-10 micrometers) were associated with significantly faster cognitive decline, including in measures of memory and attention span, in 70- to 81-year-old women.

These are levels typically experienced by many individuals in the US…5 At the other end of the age spectrum, a study found that children exposed to traffic-related air pollution before their first birthday had a higher risk of hyperactivity at the age of 7.6

The research suggests that air pollution may cause damage in both the early and late stages of life. One study even found that “neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's may begin early in life with air pollutants playing a crucial role.”7

Fine Particulate Matter Also Increases Your Risk of Heart Attack

According to a German study presented at the EuroPRevent 2013 congress in Rome, long-term exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution is associated with atherosclerosis, or damage-induced thickening of the arteries.8

The results showed that small particulate matter and proximity to major roads were associated with aortic calcification, and for every increase in particle volume up to 2.4 micrometers, calcification increased by nearly 21 percent.9

Fine particle matter is believed to increase your cardiovascular disease risk by causing an imbalance in your autonomic nervous system (ANS), the part of your brain that is intricately involved in regulating biological functions such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels, clotting, and viscosity. There are actually quite a few mechanisms by which air pollution harms both your heart and your brain.

For starters, it’s known that exposure to one type of air pollution, ozone, may trigger inflammation of your vascular system, increasing risk factors associated with heart disease. Ozone exposure has also been linked to a change in heart rate variability and a reduction in the ability of blood clots to dissolve, both of which can lead to heart problems10 and potentially stroke.

Additional research published in the journal PLOS Medicine showed that, on average, the thickness of the carotid artery increased by 0.014 millimeters per year after other risk factors such as smoking were accounted for.11

Those who had higher levels of exposure to fine particulate air pollution experienced thickening of the inner two layers of the carotid artery (which supplies blood to your head) quicker than those exposed to lower levels of pollution.

How Can You Escape Outdoor Air Pollution?

If you happen to live in a heavily polluted area, the best option is to move, but I realize that isn’t always a practical option. If you can’t move, pay attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI), released by the EPA to calculate five major air pollutants:

  • Ground-level ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Nitrogen dioxide

If the AQI in your area is high, it may be best to stay indoors as much as possible. At the very least, avoid exercising outdoors when air pollutants are high (such as during rush-hour traffic).

Your Indoor Air May Be Even More Polluted

The truth is, you can’t always escape outdoor air pollution, so it’s better to focus your attention on your immediate environment, which you have more, if not full, control over. Amazing as it sounds, indoor air can be 5 to 10 times more polluted than outdoors air!

This is because there's a lack of ventilation, so contaminants build up and stagnant air is re-circulated, further amplifying the problem. Common health problems that can be attributed to poor indoor air quality include:

Headaches Fatigue and lethargy
Depression Allergies
Poor concentration and forgetfulness Rashes
Stomach and digestive problems Neurological problems

 

The most effective way to improve your indoor air quality is to control or eliminate as many sources of pollution as you can first, before using any type of air purifier. This includes accounting for molds, tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds from paints, aerosol sprays, and household cleaners, pesticides, phthalates from vinyl flooring and personal care products, pollutants from pressure-treated wood products, radon gas, and more (see tips below). The next step to take is free—simply open some windows. Of course, this can only take you so far, and works better if your outdoor air isn’t heavily polluted, but it's an important and simple step.

Next, since it is impossible to eliminate all air contaminants, one of the best things you can do is incorporate a high-quality air purifier. My recommendations for air purifiers have changed over the years, along with the changing technologies and newly emerging research. There are so many varieties of contaminants generated by today's toxic world that air purification manufacturers are in a constant race to keep up with them, so it pays to do your homework. At present, and after much careful review and study, I believe air purifiers using Photo Catalytic Oxidation (PCO) seem to be the best technology available.

Tips for Significantly Improving Your Air Quality

Aside from using an air purification system, there are a number of other steps you can take to take charge of your air quality and greatly reduce the amount of air pollutants generated in your home:

  • Vacuum your floors regularly using a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner or, even better, a central vacuum cleaner that can be retrofitted to your existing house if you don’t currently have one. Standard bag or bagless vacuum cleaners are another primary contributor to poor indoor air quality. A regular vacuum cleaner typically has about a 20-micron tolerance. Although that's tiny, far more microscopic particles flow right through the vacuum cleaner than it actually picks up! Beware of cheaper knock-offs that profess to have "HEPA-like" filters—get the real deal.
  • Increase ventilation by opening a few windows every day for 5 to 10 minutes, preferably on opposite sides of the house. This is important even in the extremes of summer and winter so you avoid pollution buildup.
  • Get some houseplants. Even NASA has found that plants markedly improve the air! For tips and guidelines, see my previous article “The 10 Best Pollution-Busting Houseplants.”
  • Take your shoes off as soon as you enter the house, and leave them by the door to prevent tracking in toxic particles.
  • Discourage or even better, forbid, tobacco smoking in or around your home.
  • Switch to non-toxic cleaning products (such as baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar) and safer personal care products. Avoid aerosols. Look for VOC-free cleaners. Avoid commercial air fresheners and scented candles, which can outgas literally thousands of different chemicals into your breathing space.
  • Avoid powders. Talcum and other personal care powders can be problematic as they float and linger in the air after each use. Many powders are allergens due to their tiny size and can cause respiratory problems
  • Don't hang dry-cleaned clothing in your closet immediately. Hang them outside for a day or two. Better yet, see if there's an eco-friendly dry cleaner in your city that uses some of the newer dry cleaning technologies, such as liquid CO2.
  • Upgrade your furnace filters. Today, there are more elaborate filters that trap more of the particulates. Have your furnace and air conditioning ductwork and chimney cleaned regularly.
  • Avoid storing paints, adhesives, solvents, and other harsh chemicals in your house or in an attached garage.
  • Avoid using nonstick cookware, which can release toxins into the air when heated.
  • Ensure your combustion appliances are properly vented.
  • Make sure your house has proper drainage and its foundation is sealed properly to avoid mold formation. For more information about the health dangers of mold and how to address it, please see this previous interview with Dr. Jim Pearson.
  • The same principles apply to ventilation inside your car—especially if your car is new—and chemicals from plastics, solvents, carpet, and audio equipment add to the toxic mix in your car's cabin. That "new car smell" can contain up to 35 times the health limit for VOCs, "making its enjoyment akin to glue-sniffing."12
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US Food Manufacturing—Science Based or Reckless? PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

Historically, the European Union (EU) has taken a far stricter, more cautious stance with regards to genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods. Not only must GE foods be labeled in the EU, but resistance to growing GE crops is high in general.

As reported two years ago, an estimated 75 percent of Germans oppose GE, and few politicians are in favor of genetic technology. Over there, it's actually politically risky to support GMOs.

This is something the chemical technology industry, through the shrewd manipulation of the US government, has fought to change for a number of years now.

Most recently, in mid-June, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for the European Union (EU) to ease restrictions on GE foods and feed crops in order to come to an agreeable trans-Atlantic trade pact.

He also suggested1 that "Europe should reconsider requirements to label genetically modified foods," and urged the EU to reconsider its ban on chlorine-washed chicken and growth-hormone treated beef as well.

None of that is likely to happen. According to a recent report by Reuters,2 the "European Union has ruled out importing meat from animals injected with hormones and said that it will not simply open the door to GM [genetically modified] crops."

US Food Manufacturing—Science Based or Reckless?

According to Vilsack, in order for the US Congress to approve the trans-Atlantic trade pact, the agreement needs to provide "significant" new market openings for American farmers—most of which, as we know, grow GE crops.

In his talk, Vilsack insisted that the EU and US should agree to "let science drive food regulation." But whose science are we really talking about here?

Clearly, Vilsack is choosing to turn a blind eye to the mounting evidence suggesting that GE foods and animal feed tend to promote chronic disease; not to mention the fact that genetically modified organisms (GMO's) cannot be contained in the field.

They transfer to other plants through horizontal gene transfer. Moreover, science has also raised questions about the safety of many other American food manufacturing processes—the use of drugs in particular.

It's already been established that the overuse of antibiotics in US livestock has led to the scourge of antibiotic-resistant infections, for example, which now claims at least 23,000 American lives each year.3

Last year, using data collected by the federal agency called NARMS (National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System), the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in:

  • 81 percent of ground turkey
  • 69 percent of pork chops
  • 55 percent of ground beef
  • 39 percent of raw chicken parts

So much for all the "science-based" processing practices that are supposed to make the food safer, such as washing chicken in chlorine... The fact of the matter is, American food processing methods tend to promote rather than resolve the problem with foodborne pathogens. And Europe recognizes this.

US Meat Production Is Rife with Pharmaceuticals of Questionable Safety

As I recently reported, over the course of just one year, nearly 10 percent of the American swine population (about 8 million animals in all) has been wiped out by a highly lethal virus, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has been—at least in part—traced back to pig's blood used in piglet feed.4

This is just the latest example of the failing factory farm model... Besides the routine practice of feeding animals with foods outside their natural diet, the feeding model used in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) also involves the mixing of animal parts (in this case blood) from a large number of animals, which is then fed to large numbers of animals.

The meat from all of these animals is then mixed together in large processing plants, before ultimately being sold in grocery stores across the nation. All this mixing and cross-contamination allows for pathogens to contaminate huge amounts of food products, and is the reason why a single food contamination can affect people—and, as in this case, animals—across multiple states.

Disease promulgation is in fact a fundamental problem inherent of the American factory farm model. Overuse of antibiotics in particular continuously promotes the mutation of pathogens into ever more virulent strains.

In the case of PEDv, the virus has traditionally been a relatively mild pathogen. Only recently did it suddenly evolve into a far more aggressive version—with a mortality rate of nearly 100 percent among affected animals!5 So what's the answer?

There's an old nursery rhyme about an old lady who swallows a fly. She then swallows a spider to catch the fly, and continues to swallow increasingly larger animals to catch the previously ingested animal. Upon swallowing a horse, the song comes to its inevitable conclusion: "She's dead, of course."

Like the old lady in the song, the American solution to many of its health problems is to come up with strategies that, inevitably, make matters progressively worse.

The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) response to the PEDv outbreak is to develop a vaccine against this now hardier-through-antibiotic-overuse pathogen. (Harrisvaccines was recently granted unconditional licensure of a PEDv vaccine.6, 7, 8)

This knee-jerk reaction to address one adverse drug effect with more drugs is driving our food system into an ever-more dangerous direction, and like the old lady who swallowed a fly, the end result of following this flawed line of thinking should be foreseeable...

CAFO's Can Afford to Alter Practices

A better strategy would be to follow the lead of Dutch large-scale hog farms, where they've experimented with the complete opposite approach. When, in 2009, Dutch farmers discovered a drug-resistant strain of bacteria that posed a risk to human health, the hog farmers cut their use of antibiotics by 56 percent over three years.9

The Netherlands is the largest meat exporter in Europe, so it shows that meat production—even on a very large scale—can be done without growth promoters such as antibiotics. In her report, "The Abstinence Method,"10 Maryn McKenna discusses the Dutch strategy in more detail. The fact of the matter is, it works: the health risks for both animals and humans were lowered, as tests showed it reduced the presence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the animals. Moreover:

"'This was done without any big consequences in efficiency, or financial returns,' marvels Jan Kluytmans, a professor of microbiology who monitors antibiotic resistance at Amphia Hospital in the university town of Breda in the southern part of the Netherlands. 'I think it indicates they were using too much,'" McKenna writes.11

"The Dutch government's new antibiotic system is complex but straightforward. Because antibiotics can only be obtained by prescription — not, as in the US, from a feed mill or a farm-supply store — veterinarians are the gatekeepers. In fact, farmers must register the name of the veterinarian they work with, which prevents them from shopping around.

All farm drug prescriptions become partof a national database, and farms raising the same type of animal are ranked against each other to gauge how well they are doing... Antibiotics are also rated; to prescribe the drugs most likely to stimulate serious resistance, a veterinarian must demonstrate that a susceptibility test has been performed and that no other drug will work."

However, with a reduction in antibiotics, farmers must become more adept at natural disease prevention. They must pay closer attention to diet, hygiene, and stress—three factors that are made more difficult when you're raising very large numbers of animals simultaneously. Still, Dutch farmers show that it can be done.

The KEY is reverting back to older ways of doing things, and adapting them to a larger scale. One farmer explains how he keeps sows and their litters in loose pens a week longer than standard practice. There, he places the feed on the floor rather than having them eat through a trough. This makes them eat more slowly, which reduces their stress.  "Really, what we have done is go back to old systems," he says.

US Uses Many Other Growth-Promoting Drugs Banned in Other Countries

Antibiotics are not primarily used to combat disease in animals. They're actually used in low doses to promote growth. But they're certainly not the only growth promoters used in American livestock. Other examples include Ractopamine and Zilmax, both of which are shunned by many other nations for their potential harms, both to animals and humans.

  • Ractopamine is a beta-agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal. Beta-agonist drugs, as a class, have been used in US cattle production since 2003. The drug is administered in the days leading up to slaughter, and as much as 20 percent of it can remain in the meat you buy. This is disconcerting when you consider that Ractopamine drug label warns: "Not for use in humans," and "individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure."
  • Ractopamine is banned from food production in at least 160 countries, including countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China, and Taiwan, due to its suspected health effects. In an effort to get this dangerous additive out of American meat products, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sued the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year, charging the agency with withholding records pertaining to ractopamine's safety.12

  • Zilmax (Zilpaterol) is another beta-agonist drug used in cattle to increase weight by as much as 30 pounds of lean meat per cow. The drug got a slew of bad press last year when Tyson Foods Inc declared it would no longer buy Zilmax-fed cattle for slaughter, due to concerns over behavioral problems in some of the cattle.13 A special report by Reuters14 revealed some of the more horrific effects Zilmax has on cattle, including the loss of their hooves.
  • The drug is already banned for use in horses due to severe side effects, including muscle tremors and rapid heart rates that can last as long as two weeks after stopping the drug.15 Zilmax is actually about 125 times more potent than ractopamine, and according to a 2008 veterinary report,16 this may be why side effects have been overlooked in ractopamine safety studies. Merck, the manufacturer of Zilmax, has no plans on discontinuing the product however,17 and the FDA has not taken any action against the drug.

Rethink Your Shopping Habits to Protect Your Family's Health

I believe the movement toward sustainable food and ethical meat is important for several reasons, including animal welfare, human health, and environmental impact. In fact, I'm so convinced of the cumulative harms of consuming meat from animals raised in CAFOs that the ONLY type of meat I recommend eating (and the only meat I will eat myself) is organically-raised, grass-fed or pastured meats and animal byproducts. This applies to all types of meat: beef, pork, and poultry, including turkey.18

By purchasing your meat from smaller farms that raise their animals in a humane fashion, according to organic principles—which do NOT permit non-medical use of drugs and growth promoters—you're promoting the proliferation of such farms, which in the end will benefit everyone, including all the animals. It will also help combat the rising tide of antibiotic-resistant infections, which currently affects a staggering two million Americans each year.

As noted earlier, about 23,000 of affected individuals end up dying from their infection... The organic industry also tends to favor far more humane butchering practices, which is an important part of "ethical meat." The following organizations can help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area that has been raised in a humane, sustainable manner:

  1. Local Harvest -- This Web site will help you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
  2. Farmers' Markets -- A national listing of farmers' markets.
  3. Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals -- The Eat Well Guide is a free online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs from farms, stores, restaurants, inns, and hotels, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
  4. Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) -- CISA is dedicated to sustaining agriculture and promoting the products of small farms.
  5. FoodRoutes -- The FoodRoutes "Find Good Food" map can help you connect with local farmers to find the freshest, tastiest food possible. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers, CSAs, and markets near you.
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The Who, Why, and When of Vitamin D Screening PDF Print E-mail

By Dr. Mercola

A robust and rapidly growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely essential for good health and disease prevention, in part due to the fact that it influences about 10 percent of all your genes.

The US Preventive Services Task Force recently proposed new guidelines for vitamin D screening,1 which can be crucial for a number of different health conditions.

Unfortunately, the task force claims there's "inadequate evidence" to make a determination about the value of routine vitamin D screening for people with asymptomatic vitamin D deficiency. As reported by CBS News:2

"Normally, our bodies make all of the vitamin D that we need by being out in the sun. However, the sunscreen that is used to protect us from skin cancer can also prevent us from getting enough vitamin D, especially during the winter.

...Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium for healthy bones. The greatest source is sun exposure... The panel agreed that vitamin D is important, but how much is needed remains unclear.

'What we don't know is exactly what levels really would classify someone as being deficient in vitamin D,' Dr. Bibbins-Domingo explained."

My Recommendation: Get Tested at Least Once a Year

In the end, the task force is leaving it up to individual doctors to make their own determinations as to whether a patient may benefit from vitamin D testing. My recommendation is to get your vitamin D level tested at least once per year, when your levels are likely to be at its lowest.

For people in the northern hemisphere, this would be around January or February. In the southern hemisphere, it would be around June or July. This is particularly important if you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or if you have cancer.

From my perspective, it is simply reprehensible malpractice for a health care professional to fail to address your vitamin D level if you're pregnant or undergoing cancer treatment—it's just that important. For pregnant women, optimizing your vitamin D is more important for your child's health and development than folate, which is routinely recommended for pregnant women.

Recent Studies Confirm Vitamin D's Importance for Cancer Prevention

As for cancer, there are well over 800 references in the medical literature showing vitamin D's effectiveness—both for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Vitamin D has a number of potent anticancer effects, including the promotion of cancer cell death, known as apoptosis, and the inhibition of angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels that feed a tumor).

Carole Baggerly, founder of the vitamin D research group GrassrootsHealth, believes that as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency.

According to a meta-analysis published in the March 2014 issue of Anticancer Research,3 patients diagnosed with breast cancer who had high vitamin D levels were twice as likely to survive compared to women with low levels.4, 5, 6

The high serum group had an average vitamin D level of 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Women in the low serum group averaged 17 ng/ml, which is in fact the average vitamin D level found in American breast cancer patients.7

These findings indicate you need at least 30 ng/ml of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) to prevent cancer from spreading. Other research suggests you'd be better off with levels as high as 80 ng/ml.

An even more recent study,8, 9 published in the British Medical Journal on June 17, links vitamin D optimization to improved cancer prognosis among those with a family history of cancer—regardless of the type of cancer involved—and a reduced risk of death from any cause, courtesy of its multi-varied influence on your health.

Here, data from eight population-based studies were analyzed. All in all, the studies followed more than 26,000 Europeans and Americans, aged 50 to 79, over the course of a 16-year period.

The data showed a clear pattern: those with consistently lower vitamin D levels were more likely to die from various health problems, including cancer, compared to those with higher levels. According to the authors:

"Despite levels of 25(OH)D strongly varying with country, sex, and season, the association between 25(OH)D level and all-cause and cause-specific mortality was remarkably consistent."

Optimizing Your Vitamin D Also Reduces Your Risk of Diabetes, New Study Suggests

In related news, an Indian study found that vitamin D and calcium supplementation in combination with exercise can aid prediabetic individuals by preventing the progression into full blown diabetes. Since exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your insulin and leptin sensitivity, this certainly makes sense. As noted by Nephrology News:10

"Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to prediabetes, which is a blood glucose, or sugar, level that is too high but not high enough to be considered diabetes. It is unclear, however, if bringing low vitamin D blood levels to normal through supplementation will affect progression to diabetes.

In the new study, every unit increase in vitamin D level after supplementation of the vitamin decreased the risk of progression to diabetes by eight percent...

'Without healthy lifestyle changes, nothing works to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals,' said the lead author, Deep Dutta, MD, DM... 'However, our results are encouraging because the addition of vitamin D and calcium supplements is easy and low in cost.'"

Here, a vitamin D level below 30 ng/ml was considered insufficient. All participants in the study were prediabetic.

The treatment group received a once-weekly dose of 60,000 IUs of vitamin D3, along with 1,250 milligrams (mg) of calcium carbonate daily, for eight weeks. A second group received only the calcium supplement. Both groups were advised to get 30 minutes of daily exercise. More than two years' worth of follow-up revealed that:

  • Just under 11 percent of those receiving both vitamin D3 and calcium became diabetic, while 26.5 percent of the calcium-only group developed diabetes
  • Blood sugar levels normalized in over twice as many of those in the vitamin D/calcium group, compared to the calcium-only group (41.8 percent versus 20.4 percent respectively)

Calcium/Vitamin D Supplementation Also Helpful for Gestational Diabetes

Similar results11 were found in another recent randomized placebo-controlled trial12 investigating the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on the metabolic status of pregnant women with gestational diabetes (GDM).  The test group received 1,000 mg calcium daily. They also received 50,000 IUs of vitamin D3 at the outset of the study, and another 50,000 IUs three weeks later. The control group received placebos. After six weeks, the treatment group had "significant reductions" in fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and LDL cholesterol compared to the placebo group. The treatment group also showed improved insulin sensitivity, and had higher HDL cholesterol. According to the authors:

"Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation in GDM women had beneficial effects on metabolic profile... This is important because elevated circulating levels of inflammatory markers and impaired insulin metabolism in GDM can predict the progression to type 2 diabetes later in life and neonatal complications... In addition, increased inflammatory markers in GDM might predict the future development of both metabolic and cardiovascular disease."

The Importance of Optimizing Your Vitamin D Level During Pregnancy Cannot Be Overstated

Optimizing your vitamin D levels prior to, or at the very least during, pregnancy is important for other reasons besides protecting against gestational diabetes. Previous research has shown that your levels need to be above 50 ng/ml to protect you and your baby from even more serious complications such as premature delivery and preeclampsia. So please, if you're pregnant, make sure to get your 25 hydroxy D levels checked.

Previous research by Drs. Hollis and Wagner reveals even more reasons for addressing any vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy. Their preliminary findings were discussed at a 2009 international vitamin D research conference in Brugge, Belgium,13 and included the following (the study was eventually published in 201114):

Mothers who took 4,000 IUs (10 times the RDA of 400 IU) of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half Women taking high doses of vitamin D had a 25 percent reduction in infections, particularly respiratory infections such as colds and flu, as well as fewer infections of the vagina and the gums
Premature babies born to women taking high doses of vitamin D were reduced by half at both 32 and 37 weeks The "core morbidities of pregnancy" were reduced by 30 percent in the women who took the high-dose vitamin D. (Including diabetes, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia -- a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid accompanied by low platelets)
Fewer babies were born "small for dates" Babies getting the highest amounts of vitamin D after birth had fewer colds and less eczema

 

According to Dr. Hollis: "I'm telling every pregnant mother I see to take 4,000 IUs and every nursing mother to take 6,400 IUs of vitamin D a day. I think it is medical malpractice for obstetricians not to know what the vitamin D level of their patients is. This study will put them on notice."

How to Optimize Your Vitamin D Level

When it comes to vitamin D, you don't want to be in the "average" or "normal" range, you want to be in the "optimal" range. Based on the evaluation of healthy populations that get plenty of natural sun exposure, the optimal range for general health appears to be somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. 

vitamin d levels
Sources

As for HOW to optimize your vitamin D levels, I firmly believe that appropriate sun exposure is the best way. In fact, I personally have not taken a vitamin D supplement for over four years, yet my levels are in the 70 ng/ml range. There's a handy smartphone app called DMinder (dminder.info) that will tell you how much UV radiation you're getting and how many IUs of vitamin D you're making based on your local weather conditions (reported from the weather service) and other individual parameters such as your skin tone and age. It will also tell you when to get out of the sun, to protect yourself from sunburn.

If you can't get enough sunshine, then a safe tanning bed would be your next best option. Most tanning equipment use magnetic ballasts to generate light. These magnetic ballasts are well known sources of EMF fields that can contribute to cancer. If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system. I strongly recommend you avoid these types of beds and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.

If your circumstances don't allow you to access the sun or a safe tanning bed, then you really only have one option if you want to raise your vitamin D, and that is to take a vitamin D supplement. GrassrootsHealth has a helpful chart showing the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. Many experts agree that 35 IUs of vitamin D per pound of body weight could be used as an estimate for your ideal dose.

If You Opt for Oral Vitamin D, Remember Vitamin K2

Keep in mind that if you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to take vitamin K2. The biological role of vitamin K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth. It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn't be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.

Vitamin K2 deficiency is actually what produces the consequences similar to vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries. The reason for this is because when you take vitamin D, your body creates more vitamin K2-dependent proteins that move calcium around in your body. Without vitamin K2, those proteins remain inactivated, so the benefits of those proteins remain unrealized. So remember, if you take supplemental vitamin D, you're creating an increased demand for K2. Together, these two nutrients help strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.

Test Your Levels at Least Once a Year—Even if You're Healthy

While the US Preventive Services Task Force may be unclear on whether otherwise healthy people need to test their vitamin D levels, I believe the evidence is overwhelmingly clear: if your levels are consistently low, you will eventually suffer some kind of consequence. And when you consider how inexpensive vitamin D testing is becoming, there's little financial disincentive to get tested at least once a year, in the middle of the winter when your level would be at its lowest.

This will at least give you an idea of the extent of your insufficiency. Ideally, I recommend getting your level tested several times a year, at regular intervals, to ensure you're continuously staying within the ideal range. Once you know your pattern and can comfortably predict that you will not fall below 60 ng/ml, then it would be fine to shift to annual testing.

A Wired15 article published earlier this year discusses the revolutionary work of Elizabeth Holmes, a woman who invented a way to run 30 different lab tests on a single drop of blood. The pricing of these tests are as groundbreaking as the technology itself. For example, a cholesterol test costs less than $3. Her company, Theranos, rolled out its blood testing service in a Walgreens pharmacy in Palo Alto, California in the fall of last year. As reported by Wired:

"Theranos requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood. With that they can perform hundreds of tests, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. The results are faster, more accurate, and far cheaper than conventional methods. The implications are mind-blowing. With inexpensive and easy access to the infor­mation running through their veins, people will have an unprecedented window on their own health. And a new generation of diagnostic tests could allow them to head off serious afflictions..."

I believe vitamin D testing should be at the top of virtually everyone's list—but especially pregnant women and cancer patients. It's important to remember that optimal vitamin D levels appear to offer powerful PREVENTION of a whole host of chronic diseases, so please, do not wait for a problem to appear before addressing your vitamin D status.

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