Thursday, June 14, 2012

Infographic: 9 Shocking Facts About the Food Industry

Learn How to Avoid GMOs in Your Food Supply. By Jane Lear

Genetically modified foods are seeping into our food system. Here's how to keep them off your plate.
“When [a food] says ‘organic,’ is that enough to mean non-GMO? Would a Monsanto soybean ever be considered organic? I always buy Trader Joe’s organic and I read somewhere that they do not use GMO ingredients in their own products. Please tell me if this is correct!” —Jillian Simms

The short answers to your questions are 1.) yes 2.) not no, but hell, no, and 3.) I don’t know.
The long answers are a little more complicated, but bear with me. Much will be revealed.
USDA-certified organic foods do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic produce is also cultivated without synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or sewage sludge (“biosolids” is the industry euphemism) for compost, and they haven’t been irradiated. Certified organic meat comes from animals that were given 100% organic feed and no growth hormones or antibiotics. They had access to the outdoors (although generally not the pastoral idyll we all fondly imagine) and the producers meet USDA animal welfare protocols. Any time you see the label “USDA Certified Organic,” in fact, it means that the food was produced under the federal standards specified by the National Organic Program (which is part of the USDA) and verified by an accredited certifying agent. For more information, the Organic Farming Research Foundation is a great place to start.
It took a good ten years to hammer out the organic food regs, and they are far from perfect. Organic food doesn’t have to be local or seasonal, for instance, and it doesn’t have to be harvested by humanely treated workers paid a living wage. The rules can be burdensome for small farms, and as always, it pays to know your producers; I buy fruit and vegetables from several of them who aren’t certified organic, yet follow organic practices. It’s also necessary to parse labels carefully: Underneath the official “Certified Organic” umbrella, there are different shades of meaning when it comes to packaged multi-ingredient foods.
  • “100% Organic” means that the product contains only organic ingredients and processing aids. The USDA seal and the logo of the third-party certifier may appear on the product.
  • “Organic” means that the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. Any remaining ingredients must consist of nonagricultural substances on the approved National List, including specific nonorganically produced agricultural products that aren’t commercially available in organic form. The USDA seal and the logo of the third-party certifier may appear on the product.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that the product must include at least 70% organic ingredients. It may carry the certifier’s seal but not the USDA seal. And it can list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups.
It sounds like common sense to slap a label on foods containing GMO ingredients as well. After all, how hard could it be? They’re in everything. Commodity GM crops such as corn, soybeans, canola, and sugar beets are now present in the sea of processed foods at any supermarket. According to the Non-GMO Project, a nonprofit organization committed to providing verified non-GMO choices to consumers, the back panel of almost any packaged food can contain ingredients derived from GMO risk crops, including “Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (‘natural’ and ‘artificial’), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.”
Yeesh. By the way, in case you are wondering why the name Non-GMO Project rings a bell, it’s probably because Kashi cereals recently jumped on the bandwagon. And for more on why GMO labeling is a good thing—and why it will be an uphill battle—read what the straight-talking policy expert Marion Nestle had to say in her first “Food Matters” column for the San Francisco Chronicle.
As to whether a Monsanto soybean would ever be considered organic, I reached out to Charles Benbrook, chief scientist at The Organic Center, in Troy, Oregon. “The vast majority of the soybean seed they sell has, by their choice, the Roundup Ready gene in it, whether farmers want it or not—and more and more do not, because of resistant weeds,” he explained. “The seed industry holds all the cards, since they must decide what they are going to grow in 2012 to sell to farmers in 2013. If farmer attitudes change in 2013 and a significant percentage—say, one-third—decide they do not want to plant GE soybeans, they will be #hit out of luck, since 90 percent plus of the nation’s soybean seed supply will be GE, and Monsanto cannot wave a magic wand and extract their RR gene.”
Lastly, when shopping, even at Trader Joe’s, don’t check your brain at the door. Private-label products help create a brand; some may be certified organic and some may not. In all honesty, Trader Joe’s lost me as a customer when a manager refused to disclose which poultry producers he buys from. This lack of transparency is nothing new, and don’t get me wrong: The chicken I was eyeing looked beautiful. But without more information, I took a pass. When it came to the trail mix, though, and the peanut-butter–filled pretzel nuggets, I caved. Nobody’s perfect.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

99% of Breast Cancer Tissue Contained This Everyday Chemical (NOT Aluminum)


By Dr. Mercola
New research examining parabens found in cancerous human breast tissue points the finger at antiperspirants and other cosmetics for increasing your risk of breast canceri.
The research, which is also reviewed in an editorial published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, looked at where breast tumors were appearing, and determined that higher concentrations of parabens were found in the upper quadrants of the breast and axillary area, where antiperspirants are usually appliedii.
Parabens are chemicals that serve as preservatives in antiperspirants and many cosmetics, as well as sun lotions. Previous studies have shown that all parabens have estrogenic activity in human breast cancer cells.
Another component of antiperspirants, aluminum chloride, has been found to act similarly to the way oncogenes work to provide molecular transformations in cancer cells. According to the authors of the editorial review, the research shows "signals of concern that such compounds are not as safe as previously generally considered, and further research is warranted." Furthermore:
"The data from this latest study, the most extensive examination of parabens in human breast so far published, confirms previous work and raises a number of questions on the entire parabens, personal care product and human health debate, particularly relating to the source and toxicological significance of the paraben esters."

Ninety-nine Percent of Breast Cancer Tissue Samples Contain Parabens

The featured study by Barr discovered one or more paraben esters in 99 percent of the 160 tissue samples collected from 40 mastectomiesiii. In 60 percent of the samples, all five paraben esters were present. There were no correlations between paraben concentrations and age, length of breast feeding, tumor location, or tumor estrogen receptor content. The median values in nanograms per tissue for the five chemicals were:
  1. n-propylparaben 16.8
  2. methylparaben 16.6
  3. n-butylparaben 5.8
  4. ethylparaben 3.4
  5. isobutylparaben 2.1
While antiperspirants are a common source of parabens, the authors note that the source of the parabens cannot be established, and that 7 of the 40 patients reportedly never used deodorants or antiperspirants in their lifetime. What this tells us is that parabens, regardless of the source, can bioaccumulate in breast tissue.
And the sources are many. Parabens can be found in a wide variety of personal care products, cosmetics, as well as drugs. That said, it appears the dermal route is the most significant form of exposure. In the featured editorial, Philip Harvey and David Everett explain why:
"... [T]he dermal route of exposure is considered more plausible when intact esters are detected, and other authors reporting human exposures and body fluid concentrations of paraben esters consider cosmetics of some form or another as the likely sources... This is because the metabolic esterase activity of the gut and liver (relevant to oral exposure) is considered to greatly exceed that of the skin, and oral exposures would result in rapid liver metabolism of the esters to produce the common metabolite p-hydroxybenzoic acid... Paraben esters typically used in cosmetics pass through human skin in vitro/ex vivo, and Ishiwatrai (2007) has shown persistence of unmetabolized methylparaben in the skin"

Safety of Parabens has NEVER Been Established...

As incredible as it sounds, despite the fact that parabens are used in such a wide variety of products, the toxicology of these chemicals has barely been investigated. There is a complete lack of modern toxicology studies on these ingredients, and according to the featured review, not a single study on the chemicals' carcinogenity follows acceptable regulatory standard carcinogenity study protocols.
The authors point out that one rat study from 1956 is still used as "the pivotal evaluation upon which human safety is judged!"
"This may be acceptable for certain chemicals for which there is limited human exposure but not for chemicals such as parabens for which such a large population is exposed, and which show significant tissue concentrations," they write.
Furthermore, virtually all toxicology studies are based on the oral route of exposure, which means that risk assessment, according to Harvey and Everett, is "largely based on assumption, opinion and the technical regulatory instrument of GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe)."

The Estrogenic Activity of Parabens

Estrogens, whether synthetic or natural are a primary risk factor for breast cancer. Approximately 20 different studies have established that parabens have estrogenic activity, which makes them relevant when it comes to estrogen-sensitive cancers. A common excuse used to defend the absence of toxicological studies is that parabens are weak in terms of potency. For example, propylparaben and butylparaben are approximately 30,000 and 10,000 less potent than estradiol, respectively.
"However, estradiol occurs in breast tissue in the pictogram per gram of tissue range... but the results reported by Barr [the featured study] show tissue concentrations of parabens, in the worst cases, in the microgram per gram of breast tissue range, which is one million-fold higher than that of estradiol. Clearly, the magnitude of exposure would seem to more than compensate for the reduction in potency," Harvey and Everett write.
But that's not all. A 2011 study reported that methylparaben promotes cell cycling and makes human breast cells more resistant to apoptosis, which, according to the authors can provide the molecular basis for malignant tumor proliferation. Harvey and Everett also cite another study from 2007, which found that propylparaben and butylparaben cause detectable DNA damage.

Rise in Breast Cancer Likely Linked to Chemical Exposures

Harvey and Everett point out that the hypothesis that chemicals in personal care products might be harmful to your health and contribute to breast cancer has a basis in two key observations:
  1. Breast cancer rates have increased in recent decades, which correlates with many lifestyle factors that have undergone significant change during that same time, such as diet, obesity, and use of personal care products containing untested chemicals
  2. Tumors are disproportionately located in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast, and more tumors are found in the left breast than the right, suggesting it may be related to products applied topically to those areas (most people are right-handed, which could make you a bit more heavy-handed when applying products under your left arm than your right)
In my view, one of the key observations by Harvey and Everett is that:
"The tenet that there "is no evidence that personal care products (antiperspirants or deodorants) are related to breast cancer" is technically correct, but only because studies have not been conducted to investigate any relationships. Such arguments provide false assurance by masking the inadequacies of empirical evidence and knowledge."

Aluminum—Another Cancer-Promoting Ingredient in Antiperspirants

Antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores that release sweat under your arms—with the active ingredient being aluminum. (If you are using a deodorant-only product it is unlikely to contain aluminum but might contain other chemicals that could be a concern, such as parabens.) Not only does this block one of your body's routes for detoxification (releasing toxins via your underarm sweat), but it raises concerns about where these metals are going once you roll them (or spray them) on.
Like parabens, aluminum salts can also mimic estrogen, and, just like the featured study, previous research has shown that aluminum is also absorbed and deposited into breast tissueiv. The researchers suggested raised levels of aluminum could even be used as a biomarker for identification of women at increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Aluminum salts can account for 25 percent of the volume of some antiperspirants, and a review of the common sources of aluminum exposure for humans found that antiperspirant use can significantly increase the amount of aluminum absorbed by your body. According to the review, after a single underarm application of antiperspirant, about .012 percent of the aluminum may be absorbedv. This may not sound like much until you multiply it by one or more times a day for a lifetime, which adds up to massive exposure to aluminum—a poison that is not supposed to be in your body, and may be more toxic than mercury. Aside from vaccinations, your antiperspirant may be your largest source of exposure to this poisonous metal!

Be Cautious with Natural Deodorants, Too

There are many brands of chemical-free, aluminum-free deodorants on the market, and many of these are safe alternatives. "Crystal" deodorant stones, which are a popular natural deodorant alternative often used by health-conscious shoppers looking to avoid aluminum, often claim to be aluminum-free, but some actually contain a different type of compound known as an alum, the most common form being potassium alum, also known as potassium aluminum sulfate.
Potassium Alum or Ammonium Alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. They form a protective layer on your skin that inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria. These deodorants are recommended by many cancer treatment centers, but while this may be a better alternative to most antiperspirants and deodorants on the market, it is not completely aluminum-free. Also remember to check the remaining ingredients, keeping a watchful eye out for parabens.
For the last few decades I have not used antiperspirants or deodorants--even natural ones. I noticed that they would cause a yellow stain in the armpit of my shirts. At first I thought the stain was due to my sweat but I quickly realized it was the chemicals in the antiperspirants. I routinely substitute soap and water in my armpits and that seems to work. Although last year I noticed that if I sunbathe my axilla regularly, the UV light actually sterilized my armpits in addition to raising my levels of vitamin D. There is no odor even without using soap and water. Essentially you tan your armpits. The effect is not long lasting and the bacteria repopulate in a day or so unless you expose your armpits to sunlight.

What Can You Do to Prevent Breast Cancer?

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women. Unfortunately, while the American Cancer Society widely encourages women to get mammograms, they do not do nearly enough to spread the word about the many ways women can help prevent breast cancer in the first place. The following lifestyle strategies will help to lower your risk of breast cancer:
  • Radically reduce your sugar/fructose intake. Normalizing your insulin levels by avoiding sugar and fructose is one of the most powerful physical actions you can take to lower your risk of cancer. Unfortunately, very few oncologists appreciate or apply this knowledge today. The Cancer Centers of America is one of the few exceptions, where strict dietary measures are included in their cancer treatment program. Fructose is especially dangerous, as research shows it actually speeds up cancer growth.
  • Optimize your vitamin D level. Ideally it should be over 50 ng/ml, but levels from 70-100 ng/ml will radically reduce your cancer risk. Safe sun exposure is the most effective way to increase your levels, followed by safe tanning beds and then oral vitamin D3 supplementation as a last resort if no other option is available.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising using high-intensity burst-type activities, which are part of my Peak Fitness program. It's important to lose excess weight because estrogen is produced in fat tissue.
  • Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as those from krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or limit your drinks to one a day for women.
  • Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows this will reduce your breast cancer risk.
  • Watch out for excessive iron levels. This is actually very common once women stop menstruating. The extra iron actually works as a powerful oxidant, increasing free radicals and raising your risk of cancer. So if you are a post-menopausal woman or have breast cancer you will certainly want to have your Ferritin level drawn. Ferritin is the iron transport protein and should not be above 80. If it is elevated you can simply donate your blood to reduce it. 

"10 Plants That'll Gobble Up the Toxic Air

You probably spend 90% of your time indoors, with pollutant levels 25-100 times higher than the air outside and containing over 1500 substances. But a NASA discovery says if you get 15 to 18 of these type of plants, they'll gobble up 87% of these "bad guys" in 24 hours...

Indoor air quality is a very big concern of mine. The following numbers pretty much speak for themselves, and can be both surprising and quite alarming at the same time…
  • Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors… some estimates go as high as 97%
  • Many homes and offices have airborne pollutant levels 25-100 times higher than the air outside
  • Over 1500 substances may be found in the typical North American home… some of which can emit toxic fumes

These numbers and statistics are not meant to frighten you… but simply to give you a wake-up call to what many folks unknowingly assume is okay… and that's indoor air quality.
Since I last examined this, I believe the average time folks spend indoors may have even increased.
Because very challenging winters in the cold climates of the US coupled with more work-at-home opportunities (and economy-driven employment issues) add up to people spending more time at home and indoors.
The good news is there are some very positive steps you can take to enhance the indoor air you breathe… and I'm here to help you do just that.

Why the Indoor Air in Your Home and Office is So Important
Have you ever spent time in an environment that invigorated you, and inspired you to think clearly and creatively?

Chances are this environment was somewhere outside in nature.
So what causes the air inside your home or office to not come close to having the same effect… or worse, to even reach high pollution levels?
First of all, the EPA tells us that the air outside your home establishes the baseline for your indoor air.
This seems to make perfect sense. It also means if you already live in an area with high levels of outside pollutants, your indoor air probably started out 'bad' before anything inside your house had a chance to impact it even further.
"Ever wonder why spending time in a natural pollution-free environment can be so invigorating?"
But once inside your home or office, the air you breathe can get worse and loads of other pollutants may be added from materials and faulty processes inside your home such as…

What's the First Thing You Can Do to Improve Air Quality in
Your Home or Office?
Bringing a bit of nature indoors with houseplants is an excellent idea and can help make you feel a bit more cheery
Living closer to nature may actually even help increase your quality of life.
"Household plants like this African violet can help to enhance your indoor air quality"
It was NASA, along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), that conducted a classic study on the benefits of plants on indoor air.
NASA reported that houseplants were able to reduce up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours. They recommended using 15 to 18 'good-sized' houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers for an 1800 square-foot house.
And not just any house plants will do… here's a list of the top 10 anti-pollutant plants rated best by The New…
  1. The Feston Rose plant
  2. Devil's Ivy
  3. Phalaenopsis
  4. English Ivy
  5. Parlor Ivy
  6. African Violets
  7. Christmas Cactus
  8. Yellow Goddess
  9. Garlic Vine
  10. Peace Lily
NASA, at the Stennis Space Center, also constructed what they called a BioHome, which incorporated bioregenerative technology with the ultimate goal of providing a life support system for permanent human habitation in space.
And inside the BioHome structure are common houseplants, which NASA says act as living air purifiers to absorb as much chemical pollutants as possible from synthetic materials in the living area.
If houseplants are capable of cleansing the air in the BioHome, imagine what they could do in your home!

Mold Is a Common Issue in Many Homes
One of the major motivating factors for me to seek to identify the highest quality home filter is that my home had a leak in the basement due to a crack in the foundation and the end result was mold.
Unfortunately this is all too common. Many homes are contaminated with mold as a result of flooding, water leaks from indoor plumbing, leaky roofs or leaky basement foundations.
You can use the search engine on this site to find recent detailed articles I have written that comprehensively addresses this, but I want to share a key principle that I learned that will save you loads of grief and potentially many thousands or tens of thousands of repair bills.
Please understand that no air filter in the world will eliminate mold problems. You must find the source of the water leakage and stop water intrusion into your home and make sure you control the humidity. The other key is to jump on this problem the moment you find it, do not delay as the longer you wait the more expensive the repairs will likely be.
Once you have been able to get the mold under control then you can introduce an air purification system based on the discussion below.

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