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Saturday, October 23, 2010

1 in 3 Americans Could Have Diabetes 40 Years From Now

The Centers for Disease Control are estimating now that by the year 2050 as many as 1 in 3 Americans could have diabetes. About 1 in 10 have diabetes now. The CDC says about 24 million Americans have diabetes – and one-quarter of them do not know it.

The latest CDC projections were published October 22 in the journal Population Health Metrics.

Ann Albright, director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, called the new figures "alarming," and said they showed how critical it is for people to improve their lifestyle choices on eating and physical activity.
Also, new government-funded research published September 27 in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that diabetics might benefit more from diet and exercise than drugs. Lifestyle trumps medication if people are serious enough about making changes; overweight individuals with diabetes who radically revamped their eating and exercise habits lowered heart disease risk factors far more than those who just took medications.

In mid-September, the FDA severely restricted, rather than pulled from the market, the diabetes drug Avandia due to reports of increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, osteoporosis and other potentially life-threatening side-effects. Lawsuits are in the works alleging the manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, did not provide adequate warnings to doctors and patients concerning the side effects associated with Avandia use.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

Diabetes does not have to be a life threatening disease. But we seem to have no checks and balances in place, no agency or medical association taking charge and developing a national campaign to change how America eats. There are too many corporate sponsorships with “junk food” companies blocking the path.

The American Diabetes Association says, “Our National Sponsors play an important role in helping the American Diabetes Association raise much needed funds to bring us closer to finding a cure for the disease … Merisant Company, the makers of Equal® Sweetener, has been a national sponsor of the American Diabetes Association for more than 17 years.”  McNeil Nutritionals LLC, maker of Splenda®, is another sponsor. The findings of eight years of solid research on diet soda and weight gain was reported to the American Diabetes Association at its annual meeting in 2005 – there is a 41 percent increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day. If you Google “Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat,” various studies come up – studies that the ADA chooses to ignore.

Other ADA sponsors include Pfizer (markets the diabetes drug Actos) and BD Diabetes Care (medical supplies corporation whose business includes "diabetes care" and "pharmaceutical systems”).

Blogger Dana Carpender says, “Those of us in the low carb community have long shaken our heads, wondering why, oh why, the American Diabetes Association still insists that the best diet for people with severely impaired carbohydrate metabolisms is a low fat diet loaded with starch – aka ‘lots of sugar holding hands.’ Yet the ADA continues to recommend a diet of the very foods that destabilize blood sugar, instructing diabetics to ‘cover’ those ‘healthy’ carbs with higher and higher doses of medication.”

The British medical Journal, The Lancet, said last June that diabetes is more of a social issue than a medical issue: “To lessen the burden of diabetes requires a substantial change in diet and routine, such as that advocated by Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign… The fact that type 2 diabetes, a largely preventable disorder, has reached epidemic proportion is a public health humiliation.”

And have you noticed the new TV commercials put out by the Corn Refiners Association? They’ve dumped the term “high fructose corn syrup” and are now calling it “corn sugar” because “the public now puts HFCS in the same category as trans fats: poison.” And well they should. Despite what the industry salespeople say in the ads, high fructose corn syrup by any name is not the same as refined sugar.

So we cannot expect the CDC or the ADA or anyone other than you and me to change our habits and avoid diabetes. The results of diabetes are ugly enough that it’s worth it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

FDA announces inquiry into chelation supplements

The Food and Drug Administration put eight companies on notice that their over-the-counter (OTC) chelation products are unapproved drugs and devices, and that it is a violation of federal law to make unproven claims about these products. The targeted supplements contain EDTA.

According to the FDA, the targeted companies claim their products treat a range of diseases by removing toxic metals from the body, including autism, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and macular degeneration. The agency said there are serious safety issues associated with chelation products, which can alter the levels of certain substances in the blood. 

In its October 14 press conference, the FDA implied that chelation products were being used by parents of children with autism without a doctor's supervision. But on questioning by reporters, FDA representatives were unable to back up the claim with any evidence of use of OTC chelation products by autism parents or of their use without medical supervision. The FDA asserted that the OTC products being promoted were dangerous. On questioning by reporters, the FDA admitted that it had received no reports of adverse reactions to the products or to chelation in general, other than 1 death 5 years ago which was due to a medical error and in which a prescription drug was used. The FDA suggested that the reason it had received no reports on side effects was because parents and patients were unable to make the connection between the product and any harmful effects, yet they had no documentation to support this claim. The FDA also admitted that its action was prompted by "the prominence of the products on the internet" and was not due to any safety issues. “Just because we don’t have evidence of lots of adverse events doesn’t mean there’s no risk from these products,” said Charles Lee, medical officer at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The eight companies are World Health Products, Hormonal Health, World Health Products, Evenbetternow, Maxam Nutraceutics/Maxam Laboratories, Cardio Renew, Artery Health Institute, Longevity Plus, and Dr. Rhonda Henry.

SafeMinds, an autism organization, said it feels that FDA is trying to cast autism parents in a negative light by implying parents were giving their children dangerous products. “Only on questioning by the media did the FDA have to back off from its wild claims. SafeMinds feels the FDA owes the autism community an apology.”

Dr. Grout’s comment

The FDA acted in the complete absence of consumer complaints, and has acted without substantiating any negative results. This is reminiscent of last year’s heavy handed action against desiccated thyroid, a natural remedy used safely for decades before the pharmaceutical version, Synthyroid, came on the market. This is going to raise questions of whether the FDA, long accused of having a too-cozy relationship with the drug companies, is really trying to protect the revenue streams for statins, stents, and by-pass surgeries – and whether it is trying to dampen claims that mercury in vaccines contributed to developmental disabilities. This is going to raise questions of whether the FDA is being used by special interests to again attack natural medicine. In Arizona, for example, it is already considered “unprofessional behavior” for an M.D. – a cardiologist – to use chelation to treat heart disease. Although I am an M.D., I can use chelation because I also have the homeopathic physician’s license.  

Chelation therapy is used in the treatment of chronic illness because heavy metals are inflammatory and neurotoxic. Inflammation is the underlying cause of much chronic disease. Despite what the FDA asserts in this notice, it is well established that by decreasing the total body load of toxins, the body is more easily able to heal from its injuries and become healthy again. This is true for autism, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

EDTA is an excellent chelating agent, meaning it removes heavy metal contaminants. That is well established. City water systems put it in as a pre-treatment item. Chlorella is used in water treatment facilities to chelate heavy metals as well. You find EDTA listed as an ingredient in many food products because it is an antioxidant – keeps food from spoiling.

Some OTC chelation products use things which are not yet proven (clay foot baths, for instance), but there is no evidence that they do any harm. Other OTC products use homeopathic remedies which operate on the energetic level which we are not yet able to measure. There is no evidence that they do any harm either.

There is a valid question here, however, of whether chelation should be done outside the oversight of a physician’s care. When chelating agents are given either intravenously or orally, I fall into the camp of agreeing that the chelation should be done under medical supervision – whether this be allopathic MD or DO, homeopathic MD(H) or DO(H), chiropractor with internal medicine certification, naturopathic physician, nurse practitioner – anyone who is licensed to practice medicine can become qualified to treat heavy metal toxicity. OTC products place a substantial burden of responsibility on the consumer. That said, I have not heard of anyone dying because of it. Some electrolyte imbalances can occur and need to be monitored for electrolyte replacement during the course of the oral therapy. It’s easy enough to do.

The FDA and the AMA have had a problem with chelation therapy for many years. Often chelation therapy will reduce the symptoms of patients with chest pain to the point where they do not need a cardiac bypass graft or antihypertensive medications… But since the only evidence that we have are the patient’s reported symptoms, these are considered to be “subjective.” The diameter of a coronary artery is so small that it is difficult, if not impossible, to measure small changes in diameter. Since blood flow through an artery is proportional to the 4th power of the radius (i.e. 2x2x2x2) – even a tiny increase in the diameter of the blood vessel (diameter = twice the radius) can result in significantly larger flow, whether we can measure the diameter change or not. Increasingly, the literature points to inflammation and infections as the underlying causes of heart disease and chelation therapy reduces inflammation and infections.

In 2003, the National Institutes of Health launched the first large scale study of chelation for patients with coronary artery disease. Hundreds of medical clinics across the country are participating in this five year, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. We are not. This study was long resisted by the holistic community because many view double-blind studies as unethical; they require withholding treatments from participants who receive just a placebo. 

As of this writing, the study has completed enrollment of patients. Participants will continue to be followed through 2011, and the results will be analyzed in 2012.

Want to see the petition circulating about this? Go to the Alliance of Natural Health at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Norwegian Study Casts Doubts of Value of Mammography Screenings

Norwegian researchers cast fresh doubts on the benefits of screening mammography in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine when they reported that screening mammography accounted for a “modest” one-third of the total 10 percent reduction in breast cancer deaths realized during the staggered implementation of a nationwide screening program.

The Norwegian breast-cancer screening program analyzed data from 40,075 women with breast cancer. During the time period of the study, Norway also established multidisciplinary medical teams focused on the treatment of breast cancer. The combined impact of introducing mammography screening and improving treatment was a disappointing 10% reduction in breast cancer mortality. Moreover, an 8% reduction in mortality was noted in women who did not undergo screening but whose cancers were treated by the multidisciplinary teams. These observations suggest that the relative reduction in mortality that can be attributed solely to screening mammograms is a surprisingly low 2%, indicating that the decline in mortality attributed to screening alone may be as few as 2 deaths prevented per 100,000 women screened
Dr. H. Gilbert Welch wrote in an accompanying editorial that since mammograms may have only reduced the cancer death rate by 2 percent, it is an amount so small it may as well be zero.

On the other hand, Andrew Kaunitz at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville told MedScape: “Although some will view these Norwegian data with confusion or even hostility, I see the findings of this study as good news. We have improved our treatment of breast cancer so dramatically over the last several decades that the benefits of early diagnosis are not as great as they once were.”

Dr. Grout’s comment:

Let’s see if I get that last comment right: we are so much better at managing your later-stage cancers (and making money from it) that it doesn’t matter if the screening isn’t that great (and it makes money too). That may be a somewhat callous way of interpreting Kaunitz’ comments, but that’s basically what it boils down to. It matters less that we diagnose you early, because we can treat you better once you actually have breast cancer. The concept of prevention is completely absent in that paradigm.

Past research has already demonstrated that adding an annual mammogram to a careful physical examination of the breasts does not improve breast cancer survival rates over getting the examination alone. And that 2 percent gain is offset by the dangers of mammography.

The day is coming when women will not put up with the annual mammogram lecture anymore. The word is getting out that this screening is ineffective, and every time you X-ray your breasts, you subject yourself to cancer-causing radiation which can lead to later cancers. Also, the compression is dangerous – squeezing breast tissue that does contain cancer is an open invitation to spreading cancerous cells.

Thermography is by far the better screening technique – no radiation, no compression, and it can pick up the signs of tumor formation years before you feel a lump.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cell Phone Radiation Documented

Devra Davis, an environmental health scientist formerly with the National Academy of Sciences, is making waves with a new book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.

"There's a lot of really compelling experimental evidence on the effect of electromagnetic fields on cells. … I'm an epidemiologist but I'm also a toxicologist, so that means I study patterns of disease in animals and experimental animals with toxicology, as well as in humans.

"But here's what I know about brain cancer: It can take 40 years before it develops after exposure starts. And we know that because, after the bombs fell on Hiroshima, there was no increase in brain cancer 10 years later in the survivors. There was no increase 20 years later. The increase only showed up in a statistically significant way after 40 years of exposure.

"And for tobacco and asbestos, we have a similar story - 10 years after people started to smoke or use asbestos there was no increase in risk of any significance. However, 20, 30 and 40 years later, there's a big risk.

"Here's where it gets really hard and it's really important, and frankly why I wrote the book: We are already seeing a doubled risk of brain cancer in people who have used cell phones heavily for 10 years in the few studies that have been done. And most of us have not used phones heavily for 10 years."

The American Cancer Society says most published studies have not found a link between cell phones and the development of tumors. The Food and Drug Administration says "the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems."

Dr. Grout’s comment:

Davis is the founding director of the Board on Toxicology and Environmental Studies at the United States National Academy of Sciences. Davis has spent her professional career examining the links between the environment and health. She is saying there is a disconnect between what the scientific world knows about cell phone radiation and the benign reputation these slick gadgets have. She claims an industry that depends upon electromagnetic radiation has been able to twist the science just enough to stave off the possibility of regulation. And she’s right.

This book presents a range of recent and long-suppressed research that the CDC and the FDA chose to ignore, including the risk of cancer, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and possibly autism, damage to DNA, breaking down the brain’s defenses, and reducing sperm count while increasing memory loss. 

Young people are at greatest risk. Many people would not think of letting youngsters ride their bicycles without a helmet, but they have no hesitation to put these same youngsters near cell phones, portable phones, crib baby monitors, and wireless networks in the house – all of which send out a constant stream of EMFs that enter human brains. The human brain does not fully mature and reach complete myelination until the twenties.

As Dr. Mark Hyman put it: “The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach of the industry is
irresponsible at best, criminal at worst.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

X-ray Exposure Linked to Childhood Leukemia

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley just published a paper in which they report that exposure to as little as three X-rays in childhood is associated with an almost doubled incidence of childhood leukemia of a particular type – acute lymphoblastic (or lymphocytic or lymphoid) leukemia – ALL for short. In fact, exposure to just one X-ray increased the incidence of another form of leukemia, called B cell leukemia (B cells are a type of lymphocyte involved with recognition of objects – bacteria, viruses, foods, antigens – foreign to the body). The concern about exposure to CT scans is even greater, since they deliver up to 500 times as much radiation as conventional X-rays.

The study included 827 children up to age 15 diagnosed with either ALL or AML. The children with leukemia were each compared with other children randomly selected from the California birth registry who were matched by factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and maternal race.

Interviews were conducted with mothers within four months of the diagnosis of leukemia, and the mothers were asked to report on the number of X-rays received by the child at least 12 months or more before the leukemia diagnosis. Mothers were also asked about their exposures to X-rays during pregnancy and the year prior to pregnancy. Dental X-rays were not included.

Dr. Grout's comment:

With the incidence of childhood cancers rising since 1975, it is important to realize that our children are being exposed to increasing amounts of toxicity throughout their gestation and early in their lives. ALL is known to be increased by prenatal exposure to radiation, as well as exposure to pesticides during gestation, infancy and childhood. This is the first study which shows that it is also increased by exposure to X-rays outside the womb. Remember the EWG study which showed that newborns have an average of 200 toxic chemicals in their umbilical cord blood? These chemicals had to have been downloaded from their mothers, which means that their mothers have been exposed as well. Once the DNA is weakened, because of abnormal methylation – a chemical process which turns genes off and on – it is much easier to develop a further mutation that may lead to abnormal bone marrow cells. These cells are extraordinarily sensitive to radiation – remember the atom bomb and Nagasaki and the huge increase in thyroid and bone marrow cancers? So it’s no wonder that any exposure to radiation could increase the incidence of cancer. As early as 1972, questions were being raised in the New England Journal of Medicine.  We are still attempting to answer them.

That’s not to say that we should never use X-ray as a diagnostic tool. It is, in fact, very helpful. But do we really need to take a chest X-ray every time a child has a cough? Do we in fact have to confirm with X-ray what we can hear with our ears, if we listen? Persistent rales (crackles) in a given area of the lungs is pretty much diagnostic of pneumonia, and doesn’t necessarily need to be confirmed by X-ray. CYA is probably not the safest course to take for the child – although it may make the doctor feel that he/she is standing on firmer legal ground.

And speaking of B cell leukemias – one has to wonder about the relationship between X-ray exposure and multiple myeloma, a cancer of the B cells that develops within the bone marrow in older people. But that’s a question for another study.

And we are asking travelers to go through X-ray scanning every time they get on an airplane? I personally plan to opt for the pat-down version of scanning. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Honeybee study had sweet conflict of interest

The New York Times is taking heat for a poorly done front page article 10/6 that announced a “breakthrough” in knowing what to blame for honeybee colony collapse disorder.

New research puts the blame on the interaction of germs. Problem is, a chief suspect in this mystery has long been the neonicotinoids type of pesticide. They are manufactured by Bayer CropScience. The lead researcher in this "breakthrough" is Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk who has received funding from Bayer CropScience.

Journalist Katharine Eban, writing in Fortune, laid bare the conflict of interest. Eban wrote: “A cheer must have gone up at Bayer on Thursday when a front-page New York Times article” blamed a fungus tag-teaming with a virus. There was no mention of Bayer’s pesticides in the article. Eban also tells us that Bromenshenk once worked with North Dakota beekeepers on their lawsuit against Bayer, but dropped out and was given a grant from the company. And she tells us that Bromenshenk's company, Bee Alert Technology, is developing hand-held acoustic scanners that use sound to detect various bee ailments, and will profit more from a finding that disease, not pesticides, is harming bees.

Bromenshenk defends the study and emphasized that it did not examine the impact of pesticides. "It wasn't on the table because others are funded to do that," he says, noting that no Bayer funds were used on the new study.

The Times reporter who authored the recent article, Kirk Johnson, said that Dr. Bromenshenk "did not volunteer his funding sources."

A leading theory has been that neonicotinoids weaken the bees, making them more susceptible to fungi and viruses.

Dr. Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says Bromenshenk’s study is interesting, but fails to ask the underlying question "Why are colonies dying? Is it because they're getting weak? People who have HIV don't die of HIV. They die of other diseases they get because their immune systems are knocked off, making them more susceptible." In other words, pesticides could weaken the bees – then the virus/fungus combination finishes them off.

Mary Budinger’s comment:

At what point will newsroom standard operating policy state that anytime you deal with a research finding, you ask “who paid for this research?” In this day and age of rampant conflicts of interest and bought-and-paid-for research, it’s mandatory to look at the objectivity of the information. Yet it still doesn’t happen. You are seeing how special interests spin the news and shape what you think.

This episode also raises the issue of a quaint notion of “it’s just a little bit.” The EPA approved neonicotinoids on the idea that the amounts found in pollen and nectar were low enough to not be lethal to the bees. This is a classic case of underestimating the impact of man-made toxins. Studies have shown that at low doses, neonicotinoids have sublethal effects that impair bees' learning and memory.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Monsanto’s Fortunes Are Falling

Last December, Monsanto was named “company of the year” by Forbes Magazine. But just last week, television stock market commentator Jim Cramer proclaimed, “This may be the worst stock of 2010.”

According to the New York Times, company stock has fallen about 42 percent since the beginning of the year and has prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end. The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes.

“My personal view is that they overplayed their hand,” William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consultant to investors in the chemical industry, said of Monsanto. “They are going to have to demonstrate to the farmer the advantage of their products.”

Last January, the Justice Department had formally requested information on its herbicide-tolerant soybean seed business as part of an investigation into anticompetitive practices.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

The best source I know of for objective, big picture information about genetically modified crops is the Organic Center. They recently published their report from Professor Charles Benbrook. It documents the failed promises of GMO crops after 13 years of experience with them:

1 – GM crops use more toxic chemicals. In 2008, GM crop acres required over 26% more pounds of pesticides per acre than acres planted to conventional varieties.
2 – They spawn weeds that are resistant to the main chemical in Round-up, glyphosate, and this is increasing the cost of farming particularly in the Southeast where some weeds must be cleared by hand.

Common genetically modified food ingredients include corn syrup from GM corn; sugar from GM sugar beets; vegetable oils from GM soy, cotton and canola; and cheese, eggs, milk and meat from animals given GM feed or shot up with GM growth hormones and vaccines.

Many of the foods that contribute to the obesity epidemic are genetically engineered: high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats, fryer grease, chicken nuggets, and bacon cheese burgers.

Latest figures indicate 91 percent of the soybean crop grown in the U.S. is GM. Of all the corn planted, 85 percent is GM and most of that is yellow dent, also called field corn. It is used both for animal feed and for human consumption. Because it is high in starch, it is used to fatten animals. Yellow dent GM corn is the primary corn used by the large food manufacturers in making a myriad of products including cereals, corn oil, corn meal, corn chips, tortillas, taco shells, corn sweeteners, and derivatives.  American cotton is about 88 percent GM. Canola grown in the U.S. and Canada is 80-85 percent GM. And some 90 percent of the sugar beet crop is GM.

Can You Believe the Medical Studies?

An article in the September 2010 issue of PLoS Medicine gives us a fascinating look at how pharmaceutical companies use ghostwriters to insert marketing messages into articles published in medical journals. In July 2009, a US federal court decision resulted in the release of approximately 1500 documents. They have now been analyzed by Adriane Fugh-Berman, associate professor in the Department of Physiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC:

·         Dozens of ghostwritten reviews and commentaries published in medical journals and supplements were used to promote unproven benefits and downplay harms of menopausal hormone therapy (HRT), and to cast competing therapies in a negative light.
·         Specifically, the pharmaceutical company Wyeth used ghostwritten articles to mitigate the perceived risks of breast cancer associated with HRT, to defend the unsupported cardiovascular “benefits” of HRT, and to promote off-label, unproven uses of HRT such as the prevention of dementia, Parkinson's disease, vision problems, and wrinkles.

A medical education and communication company called DesignWrite produced ghostwritten articles. DesignWrite, “where we put clinical data to work,” is located in Princeton, NJ. Fugh-Berman found the company was paid $25,000 to ghostwrite articles reporting clinical trials, including four manuscripts on the HOPE trials of low-dose Prempro. DesignWrite was also assigned to write 20 review articles about the drug, for which it was paid $20,000 each.

Mary Budinger's comment:

And it's not just Wyeth, and it's not just what PR companies are paid to do. For example, earlier this year, researchers published a re-examination of the extremely influential JUPITER trial that sold a lot of statins. The original 2008 study was found to be both flawed and biased, in no small part because nine of 14 authors of the JUPITER trial had financial relationships with AstraZeneca, which sponsored the trial. The JUPITER trial basically said that if you give people who have not yet had heart trouble 20 mg of a statin drug, you will see a 44% reduction in nonfatal heart attacks and strokes, and confirmed death from cardiovascular causes. But when researchers re-examined the JUPITER data, they found no evidence of the "striking decrease in coronary heart disease complications" reported in the trial. "The results of the trial do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and raise troubling questions concerning the role of commercial sponsors," the authors wrote in The Archives of Internal Medicine.

A friend of mine argued profusely with me that his doctor told him the JUPITER trial was the reason to be on statins, and that I just didn’t get it. I told him here’s what I do get: (1) cholesterol is not a cause of heart disease, and lowering it can cause other problems, (2) the patient population in that study was not typical – they searched 26 countries to find people who had both normal LDL-cholesterol levels [defined as 130 mg/dl or below) and elevated C-reactive protein levels, (3) JUPITER stands for “Justification for the Use of Statins in Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin.” Translation – by George, we will justify Crestor’s use. We won’t put a hypothesis on the table and see what happens, we will justify the results we want.

No surprise somebody would finally break through all the hype and say that study was a fairy tale – the emperor has no clothes.  

So consumer beware – find out who paid for these studies you read about in the news. Try to find studies done by objective researchers, not ones paid to “justify” a result or sell a drug. There have been many calls to reform these kinds of bad practices in the journals, but so far, its mostly just talk.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"State of the Evidence 2010" Is Out

San FranciscoA report released October 1, 2010 by the Breast Cancer Fund presents a comprehensive summary of the scientific data on the environmental causes of breast cancer. The report catalogues the growing evidence linking breast cancer to, among other factors, synthetic hormones in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and meat; pesticides in food; solvents in household cleaning products; BPA in food containers; flame retardants in furniture; and radiation from medical treatments.  

The report, entitled State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment, is the sixth edition published by the Breast Cancer Fund. “With each new edition of the report, the growing scientific evidence compels us to act to prevent breast cancer,” said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president of the Breast Cancer Fund. “This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our message is clear: we must move beyond awareness to prevention.”

Mary Budinger’s Comment:

Jeanne Rizzo – you nailed it, congratulations. Only people living under a rock would not be “aware” that breast cancer is a problem. We need to prevent it.

I got a “pink bomb” in the mail today from the Susan G. Komen folks. They are “the global leader of the breast cancer movement … second only to the U.S. Government in providing funds for breast cancer research and programs.” They want more money for research, “for new breakthroughs in detection and treatment.”

SGK has been at this 28 years. They say they have thrown $1.5 billion at the problem in that time. Yet there is no "cure" in site, they say. "Imagine if we could treat breast cancer ... with a simple pill." And the moon is full of blue cheese. How many more billions and how many more decades before SGK moves beyond awareness to prevention? Prevention is the cure. Just like smoking - educate people why they should stop taking carcinogens into their lungs and you'll have a whole lot less lung cancer.

Here are some questions to which I want answers before I would even think of opening my checkbook: Why doesn’t SGK tell women that mammograms come with an annual dose of cancer-causing radiation? Why doesn’t SGK sever their ties to the makers of these machines and tell women about thermography which is a much better early screening technology and uses no radiation? Why doesn’t SGK pass out brochures during the “Race For the Cure” that lists common environmental carcinogens? When will SGK stop taking money from companies that sell sugar (cancer cells thrive on sugar), fried chicken, fried chip makers, food companies that use genetically modified ingredients, and personal care products with toxic ingredients? And most of all, when will SGK stop making women feel like helpless victims, waiting for the Big C to befall them some day, letting them think there is nothing they can do to prevent it? No, I see no reason to donate even a penny. They are overdue to change direction.

Kudos to the Breast Cancer Fund; I'd rather donate to them. So let’s get empowered and learn how to prevent breast cancer. Thanks to the Breast Cancer Fund, we can. Download “The State of the Evidence 2010”

Medicinal Salt with Pharmaceuticals

There is an email making the rounds that takes prompts you to look at a website about so-called medicinal salt. In part, the site says:

“Are you feeling depressed? Sick of paying exorbitant rates for birth control? Try Alviso’s Medicinal All-Salt, harvested locally in San Jose. Traditionally, medical conditions are treated through expensive appointments and prescription drugs. Alviso’s Medicinal All-Salt is a unique low-dosage cocktail of our most commonly used drugs, all brought together in one simple salty remedy, naturally. Our process harvests two popular commodities, sea salt and recycled pharmaceuticals from water treatment plants, to produce one fine medicinal product: Alviso’s Medicinal All-Salt. A salt for every condition, hand harvested and sun dried for purity.”

Dr. Grout’s Comment:

You have to give these folks in San Jose, California an A for effort. With dry humor, they make a timely statement about the fact municipal water treatment plants cannot filter out all the pharmaceutical drugs Americans take. Think of the drug menagerie – your husband’s statin to lower cholesterol, your boss’ hypertension pill, your neighbors’ antibiotics and birth control pills…

In one part of the site, they do get serious: “The U.S. represents the largest single national market for pharmaceuticals: 44% of all Americans take at least one or two prescription drugs, and almost one in five take three or more. Our bodies don’t fully absorb all the pharmaceuticals we take, and the unabsorbed compounds end up in the sewer system. After sewage is treated and cleaned by a wastewater treatment plant, the water and any remaining compounds, like pharmaceuticals, are released into the [San Francisco] bay.”

They make a darn good point. Researchers discovered “intersex fish” in the Potomac River and its tributaries in 2006. Two years later, an Associated Press investigation of water providers in all 50 states found a vast array of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones. The amounts were far below the levels of a medical dose and utilities insist their water is safe. But the fact is, as AP pointed out, we “do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies – which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public – have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.”

The EPA looks at traditional water contaminants like pesticides, lead, and PCBs; but they do not look for drugs. However, medications may pose a unique danger because, unlike most chemical pollutants, they were crafted to act on the human body.
The EPA suggests people toss unused prescription drugs in the trash, not to toss the tablets in the toilet. And it’s not just a problem of polluting the water supply – our nation is so awash in prescription drugs that the majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends. This year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) began holding “National Take Back Initiative” events for people to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.