Thursday, July 26, 2012

Study: Radiation Therapy Can Make Cancers 30x More Malignant

GreenMed Info

Following on the heels of recent revelations that x-ray mammography may be contributing to an epidemic of future radiation-induced breast cancers, in a new article titled, "Radiation Treatment Generates Therapy Resistant Cancer Stem Cells From Aggressive Breast Cancer Cells," published in the journal Cancer July 1st, 2012, researchers from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center report that radiation treatment actually drives breast cancer cells into greater malignancy.

The researchers found that even when radiation kills half of the tumor cells treated, the surviving cells which are resistant to treatment, known as induced breast cancer stem cells (iBCSCs), were up to 30 times more likely to form tumors than the nonirradiated breast cancer cells. In other words, the radiation treatment regresses the total population of cancer cells, generating the false appearance that the treatment is working, but actually increases the ratio of highly malignant to benign cells within that tumor, eventually leading to the iatrogenic (treatment-induced) death of the patient.

Last month, a related study published in the journal Stem Cells titled, "Radiation-induced reprogramming of breast cells," found that ionizing radiation reprogrammed less malignant (more differentiated) breast cancer cells into iBCSCs, helping to explain why conventional treatment actually enriches the tumor population with higher levels of treatment-resistant cells.

A growing body of research now indicts conventional cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiation as a major contributing cause of cancer patient mortality. The primary reason for this is the fact that cancer stem cells, which are almost exclusively resistant to conventional treatment, are not being targeted, but to the contrary, are encouraged to thrive when exposed to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In order to understand how conventional treatment drives the cancer into greater malignancy, we must first understand what cancer is….

What Are Cancer Stem Cells, And Why Are They Resistant To Treatment?

Tumors are actually highly organized assemblages of cells, which are surprisingly well-coordinated for cells that are supposed to be the result of strictly random mutation. They are capable of building their own blood supply (angiogenesis), are able to defend themselves by silencing cancer-suppression genes, secreting corrosive enzymes to move freely throughout the body, alter their metabolism to live in low oxygen and acidic environments, and know how to remove their own surface-receptor proteins to escape detection by white blood cells. In a previous article titled "Is Cancer An Ancient Survival Program Unmasked?" we delved deeper into this emerging view of cancer as an evolutionary throw-back and not a byproduct of strictly random mutation.

Because tumors are not simply the result of one or more mutated cells "going rogue" and producing exact clones of itself (multi-mutational and clonal hypotheses), but are a diverse group of cells having radically different phenotypal characteristics, chemotherapy and radiation will affect each cell type differently.

Tumors are composed of a wide range of cells, many of which are entirely benign.

The most deadly cell type within a tumor or blood cancer, known as cancer stem cells (CSCs), has the ability to give rise to all the cell types found within that cancer.

They are capable of dividing by mitosis to form either two stem cells (increasing the size of the stem population), or one daughter cell that goes on to differentiate into a variety of cell types, and one daughter cell that retains stem-cell properties.

This means CSCs are tumorigenic (tumor-forming) and should be the primary target of cancer treatment because they are capable of both initiating and sustaining cancer. They are also increasingly recognized to be the cause of relapse and metastasis following conventional treatment.

CSCs are exceptionally resistant to conventional treatment for the following reasons:

 CSCs account for less than 1 in 10,000 cells within a particular cancer, making them difficult to destroy without destroying the vast majority of other cells comprising the tumor.

CSCs are slow to replicate, making them less likely to be destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments that target cells which are more rapidly dividing. Conventional chemotherapies target differentiated and differentiating cells, which form the bulk of the tumor, but these are unable to generate new cells like the CSCs which are undifferentiated.

The existence of CSCs explains why conventional cancer treatment has completely missed the boat when it comes to targeting the root cause of tumors. One reason for this is because existing cancer treatments have mostly been developed in animal models where the goal is to shrink a tumor. Because mice are most often used and their life spans do not exceed two years, tumor relapse is very difficult, if not impossible to study.

The first round of chemotherapy never kills the entire tumor, but only a percentage. This phenomenon is called the fractional kill. The goal is to use repeated treatment cycles (usually six) to regress the tumor population down to zero, without killing the patient.

What normally occurs is that the treatment selectively kills the less harmful populations of cells (daughter cells), increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign and/or less malignant cells. This is not unlike what happens when antibiotics are used to treat certain infections. The drug may wipe out 99.9% of the target bacteria, but .1% have or develop resistance to the agent, enabling the .1% to come back even stronger with time.

 The antibiotic, also, kills the other beneficial bacteria that help the body fight infection naturally, in the same way that chemotherapy kills the patient’s immune system (white blood cells and bone marrow), ultimately supporting the underlying conditions making disease recurrence more likely. The reality is that the chemotherapy, even though it has reduced the tumor volume, by increasing the ratio of CSCs to benign daughter cells, has actually made the cancer more malignant.

Radiotherapy has also been shown to increase cancer stem cells in the prostate, ultimately resulting in cancer recurrence and worsened prognosis. Cancer stem cells may also explain why castration therapy often fails in prostate cancer treatment.

Non-Toxic Natural Substances Which Target and Kill CSCs

Natural compounds have been shown to exhibit three properties which make them suitable alternatives to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy:

High margin of safety: Relative to chemotherapy agents such as 5-fluorouracil natural compounds are two orders of magnitude safer

Selective Cytotoxicity: The ability to target only those cells that are cancerous and not healthy cells

CSCs Targeting: The ability to target the cancer stem cells within a tumor population.

The primary reason why these substances are not used in conventional treatment is because they are not patentable, nor profitable. Sadly, the criteria for drug selection are not safety, effectiveness, accessibility and affordability. If this were so, natural compounds would form an integral part of the standard of care in modern cancer treatment.

Research indicates that the following compounds (along with common dietary sources) have the ability to target CSCs:

Curcumin (Turmeric)
Resveratrol (Red Wine; Japanese Knotweed)
Quercetin (Onion)
Sulforaphane (Brocolli sprouts
Parthenolide (Butterbur)
Andrographalide (Andrographis)
Genistein (Cultured Soy; Coffee)
Piperine (Black Pepper)

Additional research found on the Multidrug Resistance page indicate over 50 compounds inhibit multidrug resistance cancers in experimental models.

Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ - Published in Federal Gov't Journal

Market Watch

PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Harvard University researchers' review of fluoride/brain studies concludes "our results support the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposures on children's neurodevelopment." It was published online July 20 in Environmental Health Perspectives, a US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' journal (1), reports the NYS Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. (NYSCOF)

"The children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ than those who lived in low fluoride areas," write Choi et al.

Further, the EPA says fluoride is a chemical "with substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity."

Fluoride (fluosilicic acid) is added to US water supplies at approximately 1 part per million attempting to reduce tooth decay.

Water was the only fluoride source in the studies reviewed and was based on high water fluoride levels. However, they point out research by Ding (2011) suggested that low water fluoride levels had significant negative associations with children's intelligence.

Choi et al. write, "Although fluoride may cause neurotoxicity in animal models and acute fluoride poisoning causes neurotoxicity in adults, very little is known of its effects on children's neurodevelopment. They recommend more brain/fluoride research on children and at individual-level doses.

"It's senseless to keep subjecting our children to this ongoing fluoridation experiment to satisfy the political agenda of special-interest groups," says attorney Paul Beeber, NYSCOF President. "Even if fluoridation reduced cavities, is tooth health more important than brain health? It's time to put politics aside and stop artificial fluoridation everywhere," says Beeber.

After reviewing fluoride toxicological data, the NRC reported in 2006, "It's apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain."

Choi's team writes, "Fluoride readily crosses the placenta. Fluoride exposure to the developing brain, which is much more susceptible to injury caused by toxicants than is the mature brain, may possibly lead to damage of a permanent nature."

Fluoride accumulates in the body. Even low doses are harmful to babies, the thyroid, kidney patients and heavy water-drinkers. There are even doubts about fluoridation's effectiveness. New York City Legislation is pending to stop fluoridation. Many communities have already stopped.

Infant formula when mixed with fluoridated water delivers 100-200 times more fluoride than breastmilk.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Does This Aspartame Make My Butt Look Fat?

From the Trenches World Report

Huffington Post: In April, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study linking diet soda consumption to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Nobody blinked or cared because this research was just going to be thrown on the pile of allegedly conflicting studies about the safety of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame. This pile is referred to as the “aspartame controversy.”

Aspartame is the artificial sweetener sold under the brand names of Equal and NutraSweet. It is used commonly in diet sodas because it tastes the most like sugar, or at least that is what the people selling it say. Despite all the hype about controversy, there is no aspartame controversy. All of the aspartame-industry-sponsored research consistently concludes aspartame is safe, while the independent studies overwhelmingly find side effects and problems. There is no gray area between the two sides. Every study connected to those who sell it says aspartame is safe while the independent studies find concerns. The controversy is really over whether research funded by special interest groups is valid.

Mere mortals, like myself, might be tempted to ignore inconvenient facts if my livelihood or survival were threatened. When I was a teenager, I worked at a family restaurant famous for its generous portions of homemade pies and cheesecake. As a newbie waitress, I was surprised when customers would order dessert while insisting I bring artificial sweetener (saccharine, at that time) with their coffee.

How could any one believe forgoing the 16 calories in a sugar packet (I looked it up) would balance out the 500-plus calories in the coconut cream pie? Since these customers were kindly funding my college education through generous tips and the base salary at the time was $1.15 an hour, I wisely held my tongue. Instead, I asked them if they wanted whipped cream with their Heath bar cheesecake. (“Just a little,” was the usual response.)

At the time, I did not understand why people were counting calories. I grew up in a rural area in the 70s. Everybody I knew guzzled whole milk, and in my family, ice cream was a food group; yet few people were obese. I remember our amazing high school girls’ basketball team. My friend, Nina, was the only one who did not look like she could bench press a Holstein. The girls were tall, fit and strong but there was not a calorie counter among them.

Now, 30-something years later, the average 9-year-old understands calorie-counting, yet a near obsession level with the content of food only seems to be feeding the weight gain epidemic. Despite easy availability of reduced calorie and artificially sweetened food/beverages we are expanding by the minute so that 68 percent of Americans are now overweight.

Caloric sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup certainly deserve some of the blame. Their consumption increased almost 40 percent between the 50s and 1999, when peak consumption levels reached a pancreas-busting 155 pounds per person per year — or 52 teaspoons of sugar a day. Or one of those rain-barrel-sized drinks they sell with your hexane-laced burger at the drive-through. But that is another story. Since 2000, sugar intake has reduced slightly due to a minor decrease in corn-syrup sweetened soda-slurping.

But the diet drink industry is booming.

The primary non-caloric sweetener used in diet sodas and teas is aspartame. Obviously, aspartame (introduced in 1974) and its buddies are not helping people lose weight because as a society, the more diet soda we consume, the heavier we seem to get. The reason for this phenomenon has been consistently found in independent research. That is, the taste for sweets, whether delivered by sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhances appetite. The only people who seem to think diet sodas help with weight loss are the manufacturers and some registered dietitians (RDs).

A majority of RDs recommend artificial sweeteners to their clients. The American Dietetic Association has consistently supported the use of aspartame and in an “evidence-based study” attempted to bust lingering concerns about aspartame. The study reportedly concluded aspartame does not cause side effects, including weight gain. The dietitians claimed to be working independently even though some of the funding for the study came from the aspartame industry. And they want you to know the fact that the aspartame industry has generously supported the ADA through the years has no bearing on their recommendations or research. Pie, anyone?

Study: Popular Sleeping Pill Ambien Linked to Increased Death Rate

US News

A new study has linked popular sleeping pills such as Ambien and Restoril with a nearly five-fold increased risk of early death.

Researchers at Scripps Health, a nonprofit health system in San Diego, estimate that in 2010, sleeping pill use may have contributed to up to 500,000 "excess deaths" in the United States. Heavy users aren't the only ones at risk—even people who took fewer than two pills monthly are three times more likely to die than non-users, researchers say.

"We were pretty startled by the findings," says Robert Langer, one of the authors of the study, which was published in BMJ, a British medical journal owned by the British Medical Association. "Since we started trying to qualify the results of this analysis about a year ago, I'll tell you, my prescription bottle for Ambien has sat on the shelf unopened."

The study followed 10,000 sleeping pill users and 23,500 non-users in Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2006. About 1 percent of non-users died during that time, compared to 6 percent of sleeping pill users. Since the medical records available for the study didn't include the cause of death, it's unclear how sleeping pill use contributed to the higher death rate.

Langer says the team's algorithm considered both users' and non-users' age, race, body mass index, and reported alcohol and tobacco use to determine if any other conditions were contributing to the mortality rates. The team also examined death rates in users and non-users who had a secondary condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or asthma. No matter how the team sliced it, sleeping pill users had higher death rates.

"We thought maybe sleeping pills are being prescribed for sicker people, so we tried to take that out of the mix in several different ways," Langer says. "The risk was the same whichever way we looked at it. To me, that was the most startling finding. It blows things like high cholesterol or diabetes out of the water."

Sleeping pills are among the most widely prescribed medications in the United States—it's been estimated that as much as 10 percent of American adults use them at least occasionally. Some studies link sleeping pill use with higher cancer rates. Langer's team found that heavy users had about a 35 percent higher risk of developing a major cancer during the study, but that pales in comparison to the 450 percent increased mortality rate, Langer says.

Representatives from Sanofi, who makes Ambien, say the Scripps study is flawed.

"Sanofi believes the limitations of the analysis go further than what the authors indicate in the article and that the conclusions drawn based on the data presented are highly questionable," the company said in a statement. "Ambien has more than 17 years of real-world experience and is safe and effective when prescribed and taken according to its labeling."

Jack Cox, a spokesman for the company, added that trouble sleeping is often a symptom of other disorders. "People taking the medicine should discuss what's causing them not to sleep and address those issues," he says.

The Scripps team is exploring potential follow up studies that would examine causes of death. "We're starting to contact places about other populations we might look at," Langer says. "It's important to try and understand what the causes of death are."

Langer says sleeping pill users can wake up in a "hangover" state, where they are at a higher risk for falls or car accidents. Overdose and drug interaction-related deaths were also likely, Langer says.

The short half-life of Zolpidem (Ambien) and Temazepam (Restoril) means they leave a users' body within a couple hours, leading many to believe they are safer than longer-lasting drugs. Langer says his study shows that's not the case.

Gates Foundation Gives $10 Million to Support Genetically Modified Cereal Crops

Natural Society
by Lisa Garber

British scientists at the John Innes Center recently won a $10 million grant from the Gates Foundation. Where’s the money going? Not surprisingly, as Gates owns over 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock, the organization is putting even more money into genetically modified cereal crops (corn, wheat and rice, to name a few).

The pledge seems righteous at face value to some, but what the Gates Foundation failed to mention is that countries like Hungary, France, India, and Poland have battled GMOs because not only do GM seeds and pesticides decrease yields over time, but GM is bad news for farmers and consumers everywhere. Putting farmers in Africa in the pockets of the likes of Monsanto and other GM companies will only lead to crop monoculture, soil depletion, water contamination, pesticide-resistant insects, and a powerless local population of sick and impoverished farmers.

And this should be of no surprise to Bill Gates, who has openly stated that Monsanto’s GMOs are the ultimate ‘solution’ to world hunger yet continues to ignore the bounty of evidence showing that they do just the opposite — crushing soil yields and impoverishing local farmers.

Perhaps even more devastating is the rising suicide toll associated with the use of Monsanto’s seeds, with a farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes thanks in part due to GMO seeds.

Gates Foundation Ignores Fact that “GM is Failing to Deliver”

The John Innes Center’s aims include engineering crops capable of harnessing nitrogen from the air. Peas and beans do this naturally, but cereal crops—as raised by conventional farmers—require chemical ammonia spread upon the field.

Opponents of GM like Pete Riley, campaign director of GM Freeze, decry that “GM is failing to deliver.” He adds, “If you look in America, yields haven’t increased by any significant amount and often go down. Now we’re seeing real, major problems for farmers in terms of weeds that are resistant to the herbicides which GM crops have been modified to tolerate.”

This is old news to farmers in north India, where earlier this year the Maharashtra state government demanded compensation from a German seed company when unsatisfactory yields of their cotton hybrids disadvantaged small farmers.

“Productivity in north India is likely to decline because of the declining potential of hybrids; the emerging problem of leaf curl virus on the new susceptible Bt-hybrids; a high level of susceptibility to sucking pests,” said Keshav Raj Kranthi, head of the Central Institute for Cotton Research. In a paper published in June 2011, Kranthi added that GM crops consume more water and nutrients, depleting the soil and requiring farmers to purchase more fertilizers (putting more money in the hands of the likes of Monsanto).

The High Cost of GM

If the earth suffers, people suffer. In February, a court in Lyon, France railed against GMOs by finding Monsanto guilty of failing to put warning labels on Lasso weedkillers, the use of which caused neurological damage like memory loss and headaches. Dangers of GM end up literally on our—the consumers’—plates; consumption of GM crops has been linked to weight gain and organ disruption.

More courts across the world are fighting genetically modified food, but one wonders how much of an effect they will have in the face of behemoth agribusinesses.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mercury-Packed CFL Bulbs Now Found to Fry Your Skin

Activist Post
by Mike Barrett

Individuals are drawn to compact fluorescent bulbs due to their environmentally-friendly label, but anyone who has really looked into these incandescent alternatives knows of the numerous health and environmental dangers of CFL bulbs.

A recent study sheds light on just one such concern associated with the ‘green’ CFL bulbs, showing how they are capable of actually frying your skin with UVA radiation.

Following a study in Europe examining the effects of CFL bulbs on the skin, researchers from Stony Brook University in New York conducted a similar study to examine the bulbs’ impact on human skin cells. For the study, the researchers purchased CFL bulb from various locations, and then measured the amount of UV radiation emissions. What they found in every single one of the bulbs studied was “significant levels of UVC and UVA” which was a result of cracks that were present in the coating on the bulbs.

After studying the effects of these emissions on human skin cells, they discovered that healthy skin cells experienced the same damage you would find with ultraviolet radiation.

Similar tests were also conducted using incandescent light bulbs of the same intensity along with the implementation of UV-absorbing Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, which are found within many personal care products.

While the incandescent light bulbs had no negative effect on healthy skin cells, the researchers couldn’t say the same for CFL bulbs. Professor Rafailovich recounts:

Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation…Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.

Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs…Our research shows that it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover.

This, of course, isn’t the only issue with compact fluorescent bulbs. In addition to having a potential negative impact on your skin, these bulbs emit toxic chemicals. In fact, only months after it was found that energy saving fluorescent bulbs release carcinogenic chemicals into the air, a new study has found that these harmful chemicals are continually released from the bulbs over a period of weeks to months.

In addition to releasing these cancer-causing chemicals, which are far beyond the “safe” level set by the EPA, these bulbs also release levels of mercury which also exceed the “safe” levels for humans.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New GMO ‘Agent Orange Soy’ Silently Backed by USDA

Natural Society
by Mike Barrett

Millions of pounds of herbicides are applied to crops around the nation each year. In one single year, 2006, 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate was sprayed on soybeans alone; this is a 20-fold increase from the 4.9 million pounds in 1994, the year before Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds were introduced. Well now, biotechnology giant and creator pesticides and herbicides, Dow AgroSciences is bringing forth brand new GMO soybeans and GMO corn to the market that will ultimately cause more herbicides than ever to be sprayed across the nation. What’s more, the USDA is all over the idea.

2,4-D Herbicide and Super GMO Crops

And perhaps even more startling than the drastic increase in herbicide usage is the fact that Dow AgroSciences’ new genetically modified soy is actually specifically designed to resist an especially toxic herbicide known as 2,4-D, a toxic compound used in the well-known Vitetnam War defoliant Agent Orange. Known to kill or maim at least 400,000 and cause an additional 500,000 birth defects according to conservative Viatnamese estimates, Agent Orange is one of the deadliest concoctions on record.

As of now, biotech giant Monsanto still has a tight grasp on the corn and soybean market, with approximately 90 percent of soy and 70 percent of corn engineered to drown in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup. However, it seems that their control over this market may soon dwindle at rapid speeds, as Roundup is creating a whole new category of superweeds that are resistant to Roundup and the active ingredient in Roundup - glyphosate. These resistant weeds were expected by experts to cover at least 120 million hectares worldwide by 2010.

The solution up until now has been to simply spray more Roundup, but now Dow AgroSciences has come up with a new ‘solution’. Dow is creating new corn and soybean super-corps that are not only resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup, but will also be able to withstand large amounts of the company’s aforementioned ‘agent orange’ herbicide, 2,4-D. This way, farmers will be able to apply both herbicides to their fields, with the super toxic 2,4-D killing what Roundup cannot.

That’s right, instead of turning to sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming practices to combat super ‘mutant’ bugs and mega-weeds, the biotech industry is making even stronger and more dangerous super herbicides and toxic recipes.

What Dow is very happy about (while disregarding public health) is that the USDA has shown interest in deregulating both products, with the most recent signaled approval being in early July for the GE soybeans. In fact, the USDA put out a key a document in the regulatory process for GMOs known as the Plant Pest Risk Assessment. Not surprisingly, the USDA’s assessment of Dow’s soy ended with “highly unlikely to pose a plant pest risk.”

So what will be the outcome of all of this? Millions of farmland acreage to be drenched in more herbicides by the millions of pounds. Unfortunately, the claim to safety for the new GE products don’t mean much, as both herbicides and GMOs are consistently shown to cause some form of damage, whether that damage be to the environment, human and animal health, or the biosphere as a whole. Dow’s 2,4-D herbicide, like glyphosate found in Monsanto’s Roundup, is already present in drinking water supplies, so individuals everywhere are already consuming the chemical. But now, exposure to this herbicide is more than likely to exponentially increase, only to cause more complications.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Caltech Finds Link Between Immune Irregularities and Autism

Science Blog

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) pioneered the study of the link between irregularities in the immune system and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism a decade ago. Since then, studies of postmortem brains and of individuals with autism, as well as epidemiological studies, have supported the correlation between alterations in the immune system and autism spectrum disorder.

What has remained unanswered, however, is whether the immune changes play a causative role in the development of the disease or are merely a side effect. Now a new Caltech study suggests that specific changes in an overactive immune system can indeed contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice, and that in some cases, this activation can be related to what a developing fetus experiences in the womb.

The results appear in a paper this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“We have long suspected that the immune system plays a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder,” says Paul Patterson, the Anne P. and Benjamin F. Biaggini Professor of Biological Sciences at Caltech, who led the work. “In our studies of a mouse model based on an environmental risk factor for autism, we find that the immune system of the mother is a key factor in the eventual abnormal behaviors in the offspring.”

The first step in the work was establishing a mouse model that tied the autism-related behaviors together with immune changes. Several large epidemiological studies—including one that involved tracking the medical history of every person born in Denmark between 1980 and 2005—have found a correlation between viral infection during the first trimester of a mother’s pregnancy and a higher risk for autism spectrum disorder in her child. To model this in mice, the researchers injected pregnant mothers with a viral mimic that triggered the same type of immune response a viral infection would.

“In mice, this single insult to the mother translates into autism-related behavioral abnormalities and neuropathologies in the offspring,” says Elaine Hsiao, a graduate student in Patterson’s lab and lead author of the PNAS paper.

The team found that the offspring exhibit the core behavioral symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder—repetitive or stereotyped behaviors, decreased social interactions, and impaired communication. In mice, this translates to such behaviors as compulsively burying marbles placed in their cage, excessively self grooming, choosing to spend time alone or with a toy rather than interacting with a new mouse, or vocalizing ultrasonically less often or in an altered way compared to typical mice.

Next, the researchers characterized the immune system of the offspring of mothers that had been infected and found that the offspring display a number of immune changes. Some of those changes parallel those seen in people with autism, including decreased levels of regulatory T cells, which play a key role in suppressing the immune response. Taken together, the observed immune alterations add up to an immune system in overdrive—one that promotes inflammation.

“Remarkably, we saw these immune abnormalities in both young and adult offspring of immune-activated mothers,” Hsiao says. “This tells us that a prenatal challenge can result in long-term consequences for health and development.”

With the mouse model established, the group was then able to test whether the offspring’s immune problems contribute to their autism-related behaviors. In the most revealing test of this hypothesis, the researchers were able to correct many of the autism-like behaviors in the offspring of immune-activated mothers by giving the offspring a bone-marrow transplant from typical mice. The normal stem cells in the transplanted bone marrow not only replenished the immune system of the host animals but altered their autism-like behavioral impairments.

The researchers emphasize that because the work was conducted in mice, the results cannot be readily extrapolated to humans, and they certainly do not suggest that bone-marrow transplants should be considered as a treatment for autism. They also have yet to establish whether it was the infusion of stem cells or the bone-marrow transplant procedure itself—complete with irradiation—that corrected the behaviors.

However, Patterson says, the results do suggest that immune irregularities in children could be an important target for innovative immune manipulations in addressing the behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder. By correcting these immune problems, he says, it might be possible to ameliorate some of the classic developmental delays seen in autism. In future studies, the researchers plan to examine the effects of highly targeted anti-inflammatory treatments on mice that display autism-related behaviors and immune changes. They are also interested in considering the gastrointestinal (GI) bacteria, or microbiota, of such mice. Coauthor Sarkis Mazmanian, a professor of biology at Caltech, has shown that gut bacteria are intimately tied to the function of the immune system. He and Patterson are investigating whether changes to the microbiota of these mice might also influence their autism-related behaviors.

Along with Patterson, Hsiao, and Mazmanian, additional Caltech coauthors on the PNAS paper, “Modeling an autism risk factor in mice leads to permanent immune dysregulation,” are Mazmanian lab manager Sara McBride and former graduate student Janet Chow. The work was supported by an Autism Speaks Weatherstone Fellowship, National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Grants, a Weston Havens Foundation grant, a Gregory O. and Jennifer W. Johnson Caltech Innovation Fellowship, a Caltech Innovation grant, and a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Idea Development Award.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vaccines & Prions: Keys to the Autoimmune Disease Puzzle

Gaia Health
by Heidi Stevenson

 Apparently, the issue of pig rendering workers developing a neurological disease isn’t supposed to worry the rest of us. The Lancet has reported that there’s no infectious agent. The cause is tiny bits of pig brains being breathed in so that they enter the body through the nasal passages, resulting in an autoimmune disorder. So, we’re supposed to sit back, heave a big sigh of relief, and stop worrying.

I don’t think so. To the contrary, this may be the key that ties a host of neurological disorders, prions, and vaccines together into one neat package—with a tie-in to genetically modified organisms.

Workers who have breathed in aerosolized pig brain mist in abattoirs have been developing a nasty neurological disorder with striking similarities to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease), kuru (a disease that struck southern Pacific cannibal islanders), multiple sclerosis, Gulf War syndrome, and macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF), a new neurological disorder known to be associated with the vaccine adjuvant aluminum.


Prions are a medical mystery. They’re believed to cause mad cow disease. They aren’t, though, infectious agents in the usual sense because they aren’t living in any sense. They don’t even contain fragments of DNA or RNA!

Bacteria are single-celled organisms. Some cause diseases, while others are necessary for life. Each bacterium contains a DNA molecule and RNA, which performs tasks directed by the DNA and carries messages to and from DNA.

Viruses are almost-cells. They have most of the factors of a cell, but are often not considered living organisms. They infect by invading cells and fooling them into creating more of the virus.

Prions, though, are not alive in any sense. Therefore, they cannot be killed, even at extreme temperatures. They are simply bits of proteins—literally parts of molecules. Originally, it was believed that they infected because they were misshapen, abnormally folded. The guess was that they infected cells by causing normal prions to become misshapen, too. That theory, though, has been proven false, though it is still commonly believed. (See Sanctuary: Bad Bad Prions from Discover, dated 9 January 2009 for an example of the ongoing belief.)

The first serious attack on the prion-as-infectious-agent theory was reported in Medical Hypotheses in 1997. The article makes the case that prions trigger an autoimmune response.(1) As becomes clear the more one looks into the issue, this makes sense and fits the facts as known.

The prions-as-infectious-agents theory has never fit the facts, nor does it make any logical sense. Infectious agents are things with a life imperative to keep them functioning and reproducing. Nothing about prions can be demonstrated to have any life. They do not contain any sort of self-maintained existence. An organism becomes infected when another organism, or semi-organism like a virus that contains a genetic code, invades. The invader uses the infected organism to survive and reproduce. There is no life force in a prion to seek out and infect another organism.

Prions are merely bits of protein—not even whole proteins—that are similar to bits of protein in our own bodies. Rather than trying to imply the implausible, that prions have a drive to replicate, it makes far more sense to suggest that their similarity to a molecule in an organism triggers an autoimmune response.

When a prion enters an organism abnormally, such as by inhalation or injection, the immune system sees them as foreign and manufactures antibodies to them. These antibodies seek out anything that’s similar to the protein bits—prions—to destroy them.

In the case of prions, the danger is their similarity to parts of our own bodies. Antibodies that develop to fight prions will attack cells in their own bodies with disastrous results. This is, in fact, the definition of an autoimmune disorder—the immune system going haywire and attacking the body’s own substance.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a central nervous system disease in which the immune system has gone awry, attacking the myelin sheath, which is the covering layer of nerves. The symptoms consist of anything that can be affected by the nervous system. All areas of the body can be affected, but each individual is affected differently. One person may suffer great pain and deranged limb movement. Another may suffer mental impairment and visual loss. Each patient is different.

MS was first diagnosed in 1868 by Jean-Martin Charcot, professor of neurology at the University of Paris. Often referred to as the father of neurology, he examined the brain of a patient who had died from tremors and movement disorders. He found scars, usually referred to as plaques, in the brain.

Before World War II, it was known that some people vaccinated for viral illnesses, especially rabies, developed a neurological disease similar to MS. It had been assumed that the cause was rabies virus that hadn’t been completely inactivated. This, though, proved to be false.

In 1935, Dr. Thomas Rivers of the Rockefeller Institute demonstrated that injecting myelin tissue into laboratory animals would produce a disease similar to MS, thus showing that MS had nothing whatsoever to do with the rabies virus, or any other. Rather, vaccine-induced MS results from an autoimmune response to injected tissues similar to one’s own. The laboratory form came to be known as experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE).


The first known spongiform encephalitis is scrapie, a disease of sheep. It’s believed to be caused by prions. It has been transmitted by innoculation to several other animals, including hamsters, mice, rats, voles, gerbils, mink, cattle, and some species of monkeys. Scrapie has been known for only 250 years, first found in Europe and reaching the US in 1947.

Scrapie is believed to be transmitted between sheep in one of two ways. The more common belief is that it’s transmitted from the ewe to offspring, though how is unknown. The other guess is that it’s harbored in pastures and eaten. Since scrapie is a kind of spongiform encephalitis, which we now know can be transmitted by inhalation, it may be that sheep inhale scrapie prions—protein bits—as they snuffle in their foraging. Many sheep are also fed artificial foods that include animal and fish products. They may inhale protein bits that result in a prion autoimmune disease.


Kuru is a prion disease similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. It is known to have existed only among the cannibalistic Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea, and was first found and studied during the mid-twentieth century.

Accelerated Aging Could be Result of Chronic Anxiety

Natural Society
Kelsey Coy

Recent research from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that chronic panic, phobia and similar anxiety disorders may lead to accelerated aging by shortening telomeres, the DNA-protein complexes whose lengths serves as biomarkers of cells’ biological ages.

Chronic Anxiety Could Result in Accelerated Aging In the study, telomere length was analyzed in 5,243 randomly selected women, 42 to 69 years of age. High phobic anxiety, as measured by the Crown-Crisp Experiential Index, was associated with shorter telomeres, even after accounting for additional factors known to affect telomere length such as paternal age-at-birth, smoking history, body-mass-index and physical activity. Researchers noted that the magnitude of difference in telomere length in the most phobic women corresponded to six years mored aged than average.

Earlier studies have demonstrated the link between chronic stress and accelerated telomere shortening- and consequent biological accelerated aging, but this is the first to so specifically examine anxiety’s role in the process. Accelerated telomere shortening has also been linked to DNA damage that may contribute to cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and dementia.

In their discussion of this phenomenon, the authors of this study emphasize that “phobic anxiety is treatable; thus, any potential impacts on telomere shortening may be amenable to prevention through early identification and treatment.”

There is certainly more investigation to be done in terms of fully understanding this process, its potential consequences and its potential treatments, but it is fairly safe to say that the amelioration of anxiety disorders, the most common mental illness in the U.S., currently affecting 18% of the adult population and more children than ever before, merits our attention.

Rather than feed our anxiety epidemic with this new information, why not slow down, take a deep breath, and consider adding yoga for depression and anxiety? You can also try forest bathing, or simply known as a walk in the woods. Surely the six years you stand to gain will be worth it. Additionally, there are numerous methods to prevent aging – all you must do is recognize them and implement them in your daily life. Accelerated aging can be prevented – you just have to know how to do it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

N. America’s West Coast to be most contaminated by Fukushima cesium of all regions in Pacific in 10 years — “An order-of-magnitude higher” than waters off Japan

ENE News

In the following years, the tracer cloud continuously expands laterally, with maximum concentrations in its central part heading east. While the northern portion is gradually invading the Bering Sea, the main tracer patch reaches the coastal waters of North America after 5–6 years, with maximum relative concentrations ( > 1 × 10−4) covering a broad swath of the eastern North Pacific between Vancouver Island and Baja California. Simultaneously some fraction of the southern rim of the tracer cloud becomes entrained in the North Equatorial Current (NEC), resulting in a westward extending wedge around 20°N that skirts the northern shores of the Hawaiian Archipelago. After 10 years the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 × 10−4) off Baja California. The southern portion of the tracer cloud is carried westward by the NEC across the subtropical Pacific, leading to increasing concentrations in the Kuroshio regime again...

Heat Leaves Ranchers a Stark Option: Sell

Zen Haven

As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dust and dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year.

Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses of a drought that now stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 American counties.

Irrigation ponds are shriveling to scummy puddles. Their pastures are brown and barren. And they say the prices of hay and other feed are soaring beyond their reach.

“If we’re running out of grass and we’re not growing enough feed crops to feed them the other six months of the year, what do you do?” asked R. Scott Barrows, director of Kansas State University’s Golden Prairie District extension office. “You liquidate.”

So, in the latest pangs of a withering heat wave that has threatened crops and sparked furious wildfires, ranchers are loading up their cattle and driving to towns like Torrington, an old byway on the Oregon Trail near the Nebraska border. They come, reluctantly, to sell.

On a normal summer Wednesday, the Torrington Livestock Markets would be quiet, and cows and their calves would be out on waving fields of buffalo grass, gaining weight for the autumn.

But it is doing four times as much early-season business as usual, driven by parched conditions. Last month, 17,144 head of cattle were auctioned off, compared with 3,336 in June 2011.

“They’re getting frustrated, and they’re at a loss for what to do with their cattle,” said Michael Schmitt, an owner of the livestock market. Many cattle producers are selling off less-profitable animals with the hopes of holding onto part of their herd. But the smaller the rancher, the deeper their troubles, and the more they are cutting.

On this 90-degree July morning, anxious ranchers and poker-faced beef buyers filled the theater seats around the auction floor, ready to sell 1,700 cattle at a new weekly special: a drought sale.

“We’ve just been sitting here crying,” said a sixth-generation rancher named Mae Ann Manning, as she and a few friends sat in the cafeteria and waited for the day’s bidding to start. She was half joking. But half not. “We don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Ms. Manning and her daughter Debbie Murray came to sell 160 year-old steers. There had been little winter snow to moisten the ground at their ranches near Lost Springs, and the spring was hot and dry.

A wildfire burned three of their pastures. Now, with the summer sun frying what little grass remained and hay selling for $200 a ton, they decided to winnow the herd.

Because the cattle being sold now are younger and lighter than those fed all summer on prairie grass, ranchers are losing $200 to $400 for each one they are dumping early. That can mean the difference between a year’s profit and loss when multiplied out over herds numbering in the hundreds or thousands.

“It’s going to take two to three years to recover,” said Brit Moen, who was selling 150 black steers. He had raised them on grass under Wyoming’s endless skies, but after they tramped through the manure-covered auction floor, silent and nervous, they were likely bound for a feedlot in Kansas, Nebraska or Iowa, where they would be fattened up for slaughter.

“We’re all cutting down, and we’ll never be able to replace what we’ve got now,” he said. “If this is to go on for another year, it’ll put a lot of people out of business.”

Further down the line, the sales of cows and calves that might have otherwise produced more cows and more calves may play a role in reducing beef production, potentially driving prices higher, experts say.

But right now, ranchers selling early are getting less money per head because of tremors in the markets for corn and other cattle feed.

In its latest forecasts, the Agriculture Department expects overall American beef production to fall by about one billion pounds, to 25.1 billion pounds in 2012 from 26.2 billion a year earlier, and forecasts yet another fall in 2013.

High beef prices, which entice ranchers to sell more of their stock, and a long-term drop in domestic cattle supplies are also factors in the decline.


Diet for Breast Cancer Patients Should Include Omega-3 Fats

Natural Society
by Elizabeth Renter

More research shows how omega-3 fats should be included in a diet for breast cancer patients. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been repeatedly linked to breast cancer prevention and even in positive treatment results. Scientists say more research is needed, as they commonly do, but the findings thus far are promising and definitely make a good argument for adding high quality sources of omega-3 fats to your diet.

Diet for Breast Cancer Patients and Omega-3 Fats

These fats are called essential, not because they are important or necessary (though they are), but because your body doesn’t produce them on its own, so it is essential that you get them in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish, nuts, and some plant sources.

One study looked at women who regularly use fish-oil supplements, the most common omega-3 supplements on the market. It found that women who took the supplements daily had a 32% reduced risk of developing the most common form of breast cancer.

The study selected just over 35,000 post-menopausal women and interviewed them about their supplementation practices. After following the women for six years, 880 had developed breast cancer, but the risk was definitely lower for the fish-oil consumers.

Another related study examining the inclusion of omega-3′s in a diet for breast cancer patients examined the relationship between omega-3 fats and breast cancer outcomes. It found that women who consumed the most EPA and DHA (omega-3s) had a 26 – 28% reduced risk for breast cancer recurrence than those women who consumed the least amount of the fats.

One major difference between the two studies was that the first looked specifically at fish oil supplements and the second was specific to dietary sources of omega 3 fats. As a matter of fact, in the second study, researchers found no link between supplements and breast cancer outcomes.

So, what does this mean for you? While the first study used fish oil supplements, it did not preclude dietary sources of omega 3 fats as being any less useful. Because the second study did find that supplements weren’t as effective as the food sources, you would likely be better off getting your omega 3 fats from food in order to see the most promising breast cancer prevention and treatment results.

The best sources of these fats are fish. But as with any fish, being cautious about mercury consumption is important. Fortunately, some of the fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fats also have the lowest levels of mercury. Salmon and sardines are perhaps the best of both worlds. Also, if you aren’t a fish-eater, include plant based sources like flax seeds, walnuts, and even tofu occasionally.

In addition to omega-3 fats, a diet for breast cancer patients should undoubtedly include the spice turmeric. Proving that beating cancer with nutrition is possible, research has shown that turmeric can slow down the spread of breast cancer. Lastly, a breast cancer prevention diet should also include pomegranates, as they have also been shown to prevent and help treat breast cancer.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Propecia Causes Permanent Impotence in Some Men: Merck and FDA Knew About It

America First

Big Pharma, Merck in this case, is well aware of the problems some of their “wonder drugs” cause. It’s disturbing how our government approves drugs that regularly ruin the lives of a small minority of those prescribed, yet has declared an all out war on natural products like marijuana and raw milk.

This story also shows how vain Americans have become. What’s more important, a full head of hair, or your sexual function, ambition, and overall happiness?

Kevin Malley was almost 30, and he was starting to lose his hair. He went to his doctor to see if there was a way to keep from going bald, and his doctor prescribed Propecia.

“I looked young for my age, so I wanted to hold off my hair loss for a little bit,” Malley said. “I didn’t plan on taking Propecia for more than a year.”

Malley started taking the drug in May 2011, and by October he was completely impotent and had no sex drive whatsoever. His body changed, even his genitals shrank, and he slipped into a mental fog that he just couldn’t clear. His doctor told him the side effects would go away if he stopped taking the drug, so he did. But nothing changed.

“I kept expecting the side effects to go away, but they did not, they only got worse,” he said.

For 96 percent of the men, the sexual problems lasted for more than a year after they stopped taking the drug.

“Our findings make me suspicious that this drug may have done permanent damage to these men,” said Dr. Michael Irwig, the author of the study. “The chances that they will improve? I think it’s lower and lower the longer they have these side effects.”

Later in the story we learn that the FDA and Merck knew that some men would face long-term impotence by taking Propecia:

FDA, Merck Know of Drug’s Side Effects

Finasteride works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into a more potent form, called DHT, which contributes to hair loss. It was originally developed in 1992 by drug giant Merck as a treatment for enlarged prostates and sold as the drug Proscar.

Propecia was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997, and at that time Merck noted that a few men reported sexual side effects during clinical trials of the drug. On its website, the agency said those side effects were resolved when patients stopped taking the drug.–abc-news-wellness.html

The moral of the story? Don’t trust big companies and the FDA with your health. Only take drugs and supplements that are absolutely necessary. Find natural relief and cures when possible.
Gaia Health
by Heidi Stevenson

Two attenuated vaccine viruses have swapped genetic material to form a new and more virulent disease in Australian chickens—an indictment of both Agribusiness farming and vaccine technology.

The viruses from two different vaccines have recombined to form two new and even deadlier diseases than the original. The vaccine virus strains are attenuated, so that they can’t produce serious disease. Nonetheless, these two weakened strains produced more virulent disease than the one they’re meant to prevent.

According to Science, one of the authors of the paper documenting this development, veterinary microbiologist Glenn Browning, states:

This shows that recombination of such strains can happen and people need to think about it.

The disease the vaccines are intended to prevent, infectious laryngotracheitis (ILTV), is no laughing matter. It’s a herpes virus that causes respiratory illness. Chickens can choke on blood and mucus, resulting in the deaths of up to one-fifth of those affected. However, the two new viruses produce even more severe disease.

The Study

Clearly titled “Attenuated Vaccines Can Recombine to Form Virulent Field Viruses”, the study investigated the cause of the new ILTV diseases(2). They performed whole-genome sequencing of the three strains of viruses found in the vaccines and the two new disease strains. The results were consistent with interspecies recombination. They then confirmed those results by comparing the sequences of the new viruses with those of the vaccine viruses. They found the specific regions of genetic crossover, thus confirming that the new viruses are a result of a gene exchange in the attenuated vaccine viruses.

After that, they tested the new viruses for virulence by seeing how rapidly they reproduced. They found that “both recombinants had significantly increased virulence or replication compared with their parent strains.”

The authors concluded:

The rapid emergence of two virulent recombinants suggests that recombination between attenuated herpes virus vaccines and resultant restoration of virulence may be rare but can bring about a fitness advantage, with severe consequences. The findings from this study raise concerns about the use of multiple distinct attenuated herpes virus vaccines under conditions that favor recombination. These findings have implications for the use of herpes viruses, and possibly other DNA viruses, as attenuated vaccines or vaccine vectors.

ABC reports Browning as saying:

We suspect that this sort of event could potentially happen in other animal species as well and with other viruses in addition to infectious laryngotracheitis virus. So we believe that what we’ve seen here has potentially wider implications than just this particular disease in poultry.


This is not only one way in which vaccines can create more virulent diseases. As reported in Whooping Cough Epidemic Caused by Virulent New Pertussis Strain—And It’s the Result of Vaccine, the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine has caused a new and more virulent form of pertussis, which is responsible for most of the current outbreaks. This new form of pertussis probably already existed, but was kept in check by the variety for which the vaccination was made.

In the case of the oral polio vaccine, currently in heavy use in Africa and India, the attenuated virus has apparently evolved in human bodies, rather than in the wild as has been the case with pertussis. This seems to have happened on several occasions, but the result is new and more virulent forms of polio in circulation, as discussed in Mutated Polio From Vaccine Is Spreading in Africa.

Further, vaccines may be fueling increases in seemingly unrelated diseases. Vaccines May Be Fueling the Increasing Rate of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer examines this likelihood.

The Inherent Error

Of course, as shown in the video on the right, the methods now used to raise chickens and eggs are likely the primary reason vaccines are needed to prevent ILTV. Battery farming, where birds are inhumanely crowded in tiny cages stacked on top of each other for their entire lives weaken them so they’re susceptible to even the most minor illness. If one catches something, it’s bound to spread like wildfire.

The Law of Unintended Consequences is at work demonstrating that there’s a price to be paid for trying to circumvent nature rather than work with it. By raising animals in such inhumane and unnatural ways, they’re made unhealthy. That lack of health then requires further unnatural methods. As we’re now seeing, the piper must ultimately be paid. A new and more virulent disease has been created.

At some point, these maniacs need to come to grips with a basic fact: We are part of nature. When we try to operate outside it, we will pay a price. The longer we get away with it, the greater the price becomes. Playing at god does not make us gods. Nature will ultimately restore the balance that we have the hubris to believe doesn’t include us.

Eating Antibiotic-Fed Chicken Leading to Bladder Infection Spike

Natural Society
Lisa Garber

We shouldn’t need much more reason to avoid antibiotic-fed chicken than the abuse and neglect they suffer in cages and “free range” facilities. But in case anyone still has second thoughts, we can safely put them to rest now that conventionally-raised chickens have been linked to urinary tract infections in people. Eating the antibiotic-fed chicken can especially lead to a urinary tract infection in women.

Urinary Tract Infection in Women and Chickens in Slaughterhouses with E. Coli

A group of researchers—in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia—have found genetic similarities between E. coli from slaughterhouse animals, especially chickens, and the bacteria causing a urinary tract infection in women.

Journalist Maryn McKenna said on NPR that:

“The strains of E. coli that they have been tracking [in slaughtered chickens and turkeys] happen to be the kind that leave the gut to create infections elsewhere in the body. Specifically they are the strains responsible for urinary tract infections, which in the US, occur up to eight million times per year.”

The researchers’ findings coincide with a recorded change of a urinary tract infection in women resistant to standard treatment in the past decade.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found the evidence so compelling as to report on 12 July, “ExPEC [Extraintestinal Pathogenic E. coli] transmission from food animals could be responsible for human infections, and chickens are the most probable reservoir.”

Conflicts of Interest

Meanwhile, the National Chicken Council—a pro-poultry industry lobby—retorts that chickens fed antibiotics are not the source of E. coli and that antibiotics in their feed has no effect on people who eat them. (The conflict of interest here hardly needs to be pointed out.)

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the US is administered to livestock, not people. (Ask the financially invested Animal Health Institute, though, and you’ll get a mere 28 percent.) Meanwhile, the FDA—bending to industrial pressure—has done “shockingly little” to combat the widespread and abused implementation of antibiotics in animal feed. Judge Theodore H. Katz ordered the FDA back in June to get its act together rather than ignore scientific evidence and citizen petitions. The future of antibiotics in livestock—and the effects on omnivorous humans—remains hazy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Children with Furry Pets Get Sick Less Often: A Lesson in Vaccine Futility

Gaia Health

Trying to escape from nature doesn’t work. Whether by attempting to sterilize our lives or by trying to simulate nature’s processes, we end up weaker, not stronger.

Babies in homes with dogs are significantly healthier than those without them, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics this month. The researchers suggested that the likeliest reason is earlier activation of the immune system.

This has implications for vaccinations. Vaccines overstimulate the immune system, causing it to focus on developing antibodies at the expense of innate immunity.

Vaccines inject antigens, now frequently multiple as in the DTaP vaccine, not to mention a host of other substances including preservatives, adjuvants, and contaminants from the production process. All of the intended and unintended substances present a burden to a young immune system, derailing it from normal development.

On top of that, introducing antigens through injections is not natural. It bypasses the natural barriers, such as nasal passages and the mouth. This artificial method of creating antibodies results in both temporary and less effective disease prevention, requiring ever more vaccinations in an attempt to produce disease immunity.

The failure of this approach can be seen in the now-prevalent concept of cocooning, which suggests that, if enough people get vaccinated, it will prevent diseases in those who are very young, elderly, or have compromised immune systems—which, by the way, are largely the direct result of autoimmune disorders caused by vaccines.

Obviously, any gains from vaccinations must be balanced against harms, which none of our health agencies have ever bothered to examine. As we can see in the fact that having furry pets is beneficial to babies’ immune systems, natural development results in healthier children. A recent study, State of health of unvaccinated children demonstrates that unvaccinated children are healthier.

The authors of the furry pet study, titled Respiratory Tract Illnesses During the First Year of Life: Effect of Dog and Cat Contacts, wrote:

If children had dog or cat contacts at home, they were significantly healthier during the study period. …

The most protective association was seen in children who had a dog inside at home for up to six hours a day, compared to children who did not have any dogs or who had dogs that were always outside.

We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections.

The study examined children in their first year of life and documented that having furry pets is beneficial to the immune system by helping to mature it. In more straightforward terms, the study found that exposure to natural disease-producing substances gives the immune system a chance to do what it’s meant to do: protect against diseases.

Before this study, the only benefit in pets was believed to be psychological. It’s now clear that naturally triggering a baby’s immune system is beneficial. Understimulation of a baby’s immune system, that is, attempting to keep a child in a sterile environment, prevents it from learning how to protect health. Overstimulation deranges the immune system, making it overactive and creating autoimmune disorders.

Certainly, there are no sure ways to get babies through childhood. However, the more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that trying to circumvent nature virtually always results in far more harm than benefit. Trying to escape from nature doesn’t work. Whether by attempting to sterilize our lives or by trying to simulate nature’s processes, we end up weaker, not stronger.

Isn’t it time to stop medicalizing our lives? We need to stop trying to control and separate ourselves from nature if we want to have any semblance of a healthy existence.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scientists Produce Genetically Modified Cows to Create ‘Human Breast Milk’

Natural Society
by Anthony Gucciardi

It appears genetically modified babies, lab monkeys, genetically modified mosquitoes, and even human-hybrids are not enough for some geneticists who continue to modify the very genetic coding of nature more and more each day. In the latest creation unleashed by scientists, human genes have successfully been inserted into genetically modified cows that now allow them to produce ‘human’ milk — milk that has the very same properties as human breast milk.

Genetically Modified Cows for Human Breast Milk?

This human-cow hybrid milk is now being lined up as an alternative milk formula for babies, with scientists envisioning ‘herds of genetically modified cows’ to ultimately provide the human breast milk needed to feed newborns. The announcement is reminiscent of Monsanto’s genetically modified bovine growth hormone known as rBGH. Now banned in over 27 countries (but still sold widely in the United States), the synthetic hormone is created using molecules and DNA sequences that are a result of molecular cloning. A large amount of peer-reviewed research has identified rBGH as a risk factor for both breast and gastrointestinal cancer, yet many US ‘officials’ and ‘scientists’ continue to claim it is safe. Remember, it is banned in over 27 other nations for legitimate health concerns.

According to the lead researcher Professor Ning Li, this modified human milk is set to hit the dinner table within 10 years or so:

“We aim to commercialize some research in this area in coming three years. For the “human-like milk”, 10 years or maybe more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer’s cup.”

It sounds like a science fiction novel in which morality and reason is but a thing of the past – human milk from genetically modified cows – however, it is actually a daunting reality. You see in the past, after it came out that ‘underground’ labs were actually creating human-hybrid chimeras using the genetic imprint of humans to breed disturbing and horrific ‘creatures’, scientists began to speak out over the serious ethical and moral implications. There is also a great concern of preserving the ‘genetic integrity’ of not only human beings and living animals, but the environment as well.

As one spokesperson for the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals notes, cloned animals have in the past demonstrated serious health conditions that have alarmed researchers. So why are these scientists ready to roll out this genetically modified ‘human breast milk’ into grocery stores nationwide? She said:

“Offspring of cloned animals often suffer health and welfare problems, so this would be a grave concern.”

An example of such a genetic threat can be examined with the introduction of genetically modified salmon. Pushed by the USDA and major biotech corporations, AquAdvantage salmon (the modified brand), was just moments away from approval when Congress blocked the FDA from approving the salmon for consumption due to serious health and environmental concerns.

The fact of the matter is that not only does research exist showing that consuming genetically modified food products is hazardous to your health, but they threaten nature as a whole. Both the genetically modified babies and salmon, if unleashed to the public, can effectively change the very genetic structure of future generations — changes that can cause serious long-term consequences that we do not even fully understand.

The question is how long will scientists continue to endanger public health and the welfare of all living creatures involved with rampant genetic modification of nature before the consequences present themselves in such a manner that invokes serious repercussions.

IQ Ratings Suffer from Car Pollution, Tobacco Exposure

Natural Society

We are all subject to the dangers of air pollution. Even if you live in the country, you are exposed to some level of pollution, from your own vehicle or tobacco if you smoke. But a study from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health finds that high levels of pollution can affect the eventual intelligence of children, making for lower IQ ratings. Other studies link the same pollutants to depression, asthma, and many other health concerns.

Pollution From Cars, Tobacco Linked with Lower IQ Ratings

The study looked at prenatal exposure to air pollution, specifically polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). What they found was pregnant mothers exposed to high levels of these pollutants gave birth to children who would eventually have significantly lower IQ ratings based on intelligence tests at age 5.

These pollutants (PAHs) come from the burning of fossil fuels, used in vehicles and industry. They are also emitted in smaller amounts from the burning of organic materials like tobacco, according to

The study looked at 214 children born to healthy, non-smoking white Polish mothers between 2001 and 2006. During pregnancy the women wore air monitors in small backpacks to measure their exposure to pollutants. They also provided blood and cord samples at the time of delivery.

The children were then tested and monitored through the age of five. They were tested on reasoning and intelligence and were found to have lower IQ ratings as exposure to pollution increased.

A similar study in New York in 2009 found similar results with low IQ ratings among children born to nonsmoking African American and Dominican American women.

Frederica Perera, author of the New York study says these findings are significant because they show air pollution exposure could be “educationally meaningful in terms of school performance.” She also points out, however, that air pollution, in general, has declined somewhat over the past decade or so.

PAH exposure in the womb has also been linked to things like asthma, low birth weight, premature delivery, and heart malformation.

A more recent study from Environmental Health Perspectives found that prenatal exposure to pollutants is associated with a 24% higher score of anxiety and depression in young children. Children as young as six and seven are experiencing depression and anxiety because of toxins in our air.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health, we are exposed to PAHs in a number of ways:

Breathing: Most people are exposed to PAHs when they breathe in smoke, auto emissions or industrial exhausts. Most exhausts contain many different PAH compounds. People with the highest exposures are smokers, people who live or work with smokers, roofers, road builders and people who live near major highways or industrial sources.

Drinking/Eating: Charcoal-broiled foods, especially meats, are a source of some PAH exposure. Shellfish living in contaminated water may be another major source of exposure. PAHs may be in groundwater near disposal sites where construction wastes or ash are buried; people may be exposed by drinking this water. Vegetables do not absorb significant amounts of PAHs that are in soil.

Touching: PAHs can be absorbed through skin too. Exposure can come from handling contaminated soil or bathing in contaminated water. Low levels of these chemicals may be absorbed when a person uses medicated skin cream or shampoo containing PAHs.

Using skin care products containing PAHs, cooking with charcoal, and job choice can all impact our exposure.

Hormone-Mimicking Chemicals Cause Inter-Species Mating

Science Blog
BPA in rivers leads to breakdown of fish species barriers

Hormone-mimicking chemicals released into rivers have been found to impact the mating choices of fish, a new study has revealed. The controversial chemical BPA, which emits oestrogen-like properties, was found to alter an individual’s appearance and behavior, leading to inter-species breeding. The study, published in Evolutionary Applications, reveals the threat to biodiversity when the boundaries between species are blurred.

The research, led by Dr Jessica Ward from the University of Minnesota, focused on the impact of Bisphenol A (BPA) on Blacktail Shiner (Cyprinella venusta) and Red Shiner (Cyprinella lutrensis) fish which are found in rivers across the United States. BPA is an organic compound used in the manufacture of polycarbonate and other plastics. It is currently banned from baby bottles and childrens’ cups in 11 U.S. states.

“Chemicals from household products and pharmaceuticals frequently end up in rivers and BPA is known to be present in aquatic ecosystems across the United States,” said Ward. “Until now studies have primarily focused on the impact to individual fish, but our study demonstrates the impact of BPA on a population level.”

The team collected individuals of both species from two streams in the state of Georgia. The species were kept separated for 14 days in tanks, some of which contained BPA. On the 15th day behavioral trials were undertaken as individuals from different tanks were introduced to each other.

The scientists monitored any physiological or signalling differences the individuals displayed, such as colour, as well as any behavioral differences during courtship, such as mate choice.

BPA disrupts an individual’s endocrine system, which controls the release of hormones. This impacts behavior and appearance, which in turn can lead an individual to mistake a newly introduced species as a potential mate.

This process poses long-term ecological consequences, especially in areas threatened by the introduction of invasive species. BPA and other hormone-mimicking chemicals can escalate the loss of native biodiversity by breaking down species barriers and promoting the invader.

“Our research shows how the presence of these manmade chemicals leads to a greater likelihood of hybridization between species,” concluded Ward. “This can have severe ecological and evolutionary consequences, including the potential for the decline of our native species.”

Related stories: Interspecies Sex: Evolution's Hidden Secret?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Report: 83 percent of doctors have considered quitting over Obamacare

The DC Social Reader

Eighty-three percent of American physicians have considered leaving their practices over President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, according to a survey released by the Doctor Patient Medical Association.

The DPMA, a non-partisan association of doctors and patients, surveyed a random selection of 699 doctors nationwide. The survey found that the majority have thought about bailing out of their careers over the legislation, which was upheld last month by the Supreme Court.

Even if doctors do not quit their jobs over the ruling, America will face a shortage of at least 90,000 doctors by 2020. The new health care law increases demand for physicians by expanding insurance coverage. This change will exacerbate the current shortage as more Americans live past 65.

By 2025 the shortage will balloon to over 130,000, Len Marquez, the director of government relations at the American Association of Medical Colleges, told The Daily Caller.

“One of our primary concerns is that you’ve got an aging physician workforce and you have these new beneficiaries — these newly insured people — coming through the system,” he said. “There will be strains and there will be physician shortages.”

The DPMA found that many doctors do not believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will lead to better access to medical care for the majority of Americans, co-founder of the DPMA Kathryn Serkes told TheDC.

“Doctors clearly understand what Washington does not — that a piece of paper that says you are ‘covered’ by insurance or ‘enrolled’ in Medicare or Medicaid does not translate to actual medical care when doctors can’t afford to see patients at the lowball payments, and patients have to jump through government and insurance company bureaucratic hoops,” she said.

The American Medical Association, which endorsed Obama’s health care overhaul, was not able to immediately offer comment on the survey. Spokesperson Heather Lasher Todd said it would take time to review the information in the survey.

Janelle Davis of the American Academy of Family Physicians said the AAFP could not provide thoughtful commentary without studying the survey’s findings and methodology.

Monday, July 9, 2012

FDA Claims Walnuts to be Illegal Drugs

Natural Society
by Mike Barrett

Well the Food and Drug Administration has really made a name for themselves this time. In response to claims by a company named Diamond Foods that walnuts possess health benefits, the FDA sent the company a letter informing them of their wrongdoing. What did Diamond Foods do wrong? According to the FDA, claims made by Diamond Foods that omega-3′s found in walnuts produce health benefits make their walnuts “drugs”. As far as the FDA is concerned, these “drugs” can not be legally marketed in the United States without an approved new drug application.

FDA Actions Portray Government Lunacy at its Best

It seems bureaucratic tyranny is really taking shape in America. Despite 35 peer-reviewed published papers showing that walnuts improve vascular health and promote heart function being held in the US National Library of Medicine database, the FDA refuses to allow Diamond Foods to make such claims. The evidence revolving around the benefits of walnuts evidently must be authorized by the FDA before those benefits can even be marketed. A letter sent to the company from the FDA states:

“We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.”

The FDA goes on to say that the products are also “misbranded” because they “are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes.”

All the while, the FDA is more than happy to allow marketing of chemical-laden, diabetes-inducing foods such as Apple Jacks or Fruit Loops, often targeted at young children. Not only that, but they would much rather the population ‘treat’ their problems with harmful pharmaceuticals rather than with a healthy diet. The government’s actions against natural solutions are sickening to say the least, and saying that walnuts or pomegranates are drugs is an outright false claim. But why are they even making these crazy statements?

The truth is that the pharmaceutical industry, multi-national corporations, and government officials all have both indiscrete and blatant financial ties. Junk food manufacturers heavily lobby the federal government for favorable treatment in order to vacuum in greater profits. In response to the ingestion of massive amounts of junk foods, your body responds so negatively that various health-complications surface, causing you to search for a solution. It just so happens that the pharmaceutical industry has been pushing ‘solutions’ on you for years through mass advertising, making drug ingestion and medical devices the norm instead of healthy alternatives. As far as the government is concerned, there is absolutely no reason for you to live a healthy lifestyle, since many of the government officials would be losing out on a great sum of money.

The FDA simply does not have your best interest at heart. This kind of action truly reflects government lunacy at its best.