Tuesday, May 1, 2007

It's Time to Take Our Health In Our Own Hands

  • Why are more children reaching puberty at an earlier age?
  • Why is the rate of autism increasing?
  • Why are there more instances of childhood and adult onset asthma?
  • Why does it seem that half of the US male population has ED?

Why does it seem that there is an epidemic of type II diabetes and high cholesterol in minority communities?

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But after you read the following three articles you may begin developing your own theories. Or at least you’ll become a wiser consumer.

Buy organic as much as possible

Buy local whenever you can

Always read product ingredient labels on everything

and stay informed.


An excerpt from:
Preschool Puberty, and a Search for the Causes
Published: October 17, 2006

Read the entire article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/science/17puberty.html?ei=5090&en=ed0729119acbcaee&ex=1318737600&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

Parents often think their children grow up too quickly, but few are prepared for the problem that Dr. Michael Dedekian and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical School reported recently.

At the annual Pediatric Academic Society meeting in May in San Francisco, they presented a report that described how a preschool-age girl, and then her kindergarten-age brother, mysteriously began growing pubic hair. These cases were not isolated; in 2004, pediatric endocrinologists from San Diego reported a similar cluster of five children.

It turns out that there have been clusters of cases in which children have prematurely developed signs of puberty, outbreaks similar to epidemics of influenza or environmental poisonings. In 1979, the medical journal The Lancet described an outbreak of breast enlargement among hundreds of Italian schoolchildren, probably caused by estrogen contamination of beef and poultry. Similar epidemics in Puerto Rico and Haiti were tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the 1980’s.

Increasingly — though the science is still far from definitive and the precise number of such cases is highly speculative — some physicians worry that children are at higher risk of early puberty as a result of the increasing prevalence of certain drugs, cosmetics and environmental contaminants, called “endocrine disruptors,” that can cause breast growth, pubic hair development and other symptoms of puberty.

Most commonly, outbreaks of puberty in children are traced to accidental drug exposures from products that are used incorrectly.

Dr. Dedekian’s first patient was evaluated for possible genetic endocrine problems and a rare brain tumor before the cause of her puberty was discovered. It turned out that her testosterone level was almost 100 times normal, in the range of an adult man. The same problem affected her brother.

The doctors realized that the girl’s father was using a concentrated testosterone skin cream bought from an Internet compounding pharmacy for cosmetic and sexual performance purposes. From normal skin contact with their father, the children absorbed the testosterone, which caused pubic hair growth and genital enlargement. The boy, in particular, also developed some aggressive behavior problems.

Sex hormones are potent because they are easily absorbed through the skin and resist degradation better than many other hormones. Unlike protein-based hormones like insulin, sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen are technically steroids, meaning they are derived from cholesterol.

Primarily made by the liver, cholesterol begins with tiny pieces of sugar that are joined, twisted and oxidized in a dizzying series to make an end product that resembles the interlinked rings of the Olympic emblem. Dr. Joseph L. Goldstein, Nobel Laureate and a biochemist in Texas, once called it “the most highly decorated small molecule in biology,” because 13 Nobel Prizes have been awarded for its study.

Through further processing, primarily in the gonads and adrenal glands, cholesterol is converted into sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Kenneth Lee Jones, the former chief of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, noted pediatric cases similar to those described by Dr. Dedekian in a 2004 report in the journal Pediatrics.

At that time, unregulated “prohormones” like Andro, famously used by Mark McGwire, the former St. Louis Cardinals power hitter, and banned by federal law in 2005, were available as topical sprays used to enhance libido. Dr. Jones said the sprays used by adults in some households permeated the children’s bedsheets, and the early puberty stopped only when the adults stopped using the sprays and also discarded old sheets.

Testosterone-containing products are not the only trigger of disordered puberty in children.

In a 1998 paper in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, Dr. Chandra Tiwary, the former chief of pediatric endocrinology at Brook Army Medical Center in Texas, reported an outbreak of early breast development in four young African-American girls who used shampoos that contained estrogen and placental extract. The early puberty reversed once the shampoo was stopped.

In the tradition of previous physicians who deliberately exposed themselves to possible pathogens, Dr. Tiwary tried the shampoos on himself. He carefully measured his own levels of various male and female sex hormones to establish his baseline, used the shampoos for a few days, then repeated the tests.

While Dr. Tiwary is quick to admit that his unpublished findings must be interpreted with great caution, some of his sex hormone levels changed by almost 40 percent after he used the shampoos. In some cases, substances other than sex steroids may also disrupt normal sexual development. In Boston at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in June, Clifford Bloch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine presented several cases of young men who had developed marked breast enlargement from using shampoos containing lavender and tea tree oils, which are widely used essential oil additives that present no problem for adults. (Unlike Dr. Dedekian’s cases, these cases were not a result of passive transfer from parents. The boys themselves used the shampoos.)

Dr. Bloch collaborated with scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina to test the oils on human breast cells grown in test tubes. Lavender and tea tree oil had the same effect on the cells as estrogen.

Dr. Bloch speculates that the findings, which he is submitting for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, may explain the boys’ breast growth. He noted, however, that cells in a test tube are a far cry from humans, so the relationship of the essential oil to breast growth remains hypothetical.

While pediatric endocrinologists have implicated pharmaceutical or personal care products for causing pubertal problems in children, some environmental scientists also claim that some widespread industrial and pharmaceutical pollutants harm the normal sexual development of fish and animals. By extension, they may also contribute to earlier or disrupted puberty in children, these scientists contend. Robert Kavlock, a senior reproductive toxicologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, said these concerns “caused a shift in worry from cancer to noncancer” effects of environmental pollution over the past decade.

In 1994, scientists found that estrogen-like chemicals from plastics manufacturing plants that had contaminated sewers in England caused genetically male fish to develop into females. In the early 1980’s, major spills of the DDT-like pesticide dicofol in Florida led to the “feminization” of the reproductive tracts of male alligators.

Ralph Cooper, the chief of endocrinology at the reproductive toxicology division of the Environmental Protection Agency, says various sources of endocrine disruptors, like manufacturing chemicals, may be leaching into the environment. While their relation to pubertal problems in children remains highly speculative, he believes further study is needed.

Read the entire article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/science/17puberty.html?ei=5090&en=ed0729119acbcaee&ex=1318737600&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

An excerpt from

Danger in Plastic Baby Bottles?
Common Plastics Chemical Linked to Genetic Damage
By Daniel J. DeNoon WebMD Medical News

Read the entire article at: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20030331/danger-in-plastic-baby-bottles

March 31, 2003 -- A chemical used in plastic baby bottles -- and many other food and beverage containers -- causes genetic damage in mice, a new study suggests. But the plastics industry says there is no cause for alarm.

The damage is seen in egg cells of female mice. When these cells try to divide, their chromosomes don't line up right. In humans this results in spontaneous abortion, birth defects, or mental retardation, says genetic abnormalities expert Patricia A. Hunt, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

In studies published in the April issue of the journal Current Biology, Hunt and colleagues showed that very low doses of a common plastics ingredient may cause these effects. They also found that dangerous amounts of the chemical -- known as BPA -- can seep out of used plastic bottles.

"The effect we saw is pretty dramatic," Hunt tells WebMD. "We were stunned by how low a dose it took. I am becoming pretty convinced there are significant effects [of BPA] at pretty low exposures. I can't say how scared you should be because our studies don't say anything about humans. But that's why we study animals. We assume the processes are pretty well the same in humans."

The chemical is known as bisphenol A or BPA. It's found in all kinds of common products, mostly polycarbonate plastics. Nearly all plastic baby bottles in the U.S. are made of this kind. So are many common food containers, water storage bottles, aluminum can linings, and even some kinds of dental sealants.

Other animal studies have linked BPA to low sperm count, hyperactivity, early puberty, obesity, small testes size, and enlarged prostates. But Hunt's is the first study to suggest that BPA can affect future generations.

Frederick S. vom Saal, PhD, professor of biology at the University of Missouri inColumbia, has studied BPA for many years. He says that some 40 studies show that polycarbonate plastics are dangerous. Hunt's findings scare him most of all.

"What is so important about this finding is we are talking about something that causes spontaneous abortions of babies," vom Saal tells WebMD. "And then there is the horrifying fact that babies are born with these chromosomal abnormities. ... This is a higher level of concern, a major new finding of a really profound adverse effect of this chemical in mice that were just drinking out of old baby bottles."

The findings also frighten Vom Saal's colleague, reproductive endocrinologist Wade V. Welshons, PhD.

"We found bad effects of fetal exposure to BPA, but that is something a pregnant woman can avoid. When my wife was pregnant, we did try to avoid it," Welshons tells WebMD. "But Hunt's study shows exposure may be unavoidable. It is shocking."

Hunt didn't intend to study BPA. She was studying egg development in mice. Suddenly, she started finding genetic defects in eggs from mice that were supposed to be normal. Nearly a year's work was destroyed. Finally, she found the cause. The mice were housed in polycarbonate plastic cages. They drank from polycarbonate bottles. Both had accidentally been washed in a floor cleaner that made them degrade faster.

When Hunt's research team exposed new plastic bottles to floor cleaner, they gave off lots of BPA. Sure enough, they found, BPA by itself caused the genetic changes. But then they found that the bottles gave off BPA much more easily than they'd suspected.

"No, it doesn't take washing the bottle with floor soap," Hunt says. "As these products get reused, they start to leach BPA. The part that will make your hair stand on end is baby bottles. They are made of polycarbonate plastic. People who use them say that after just washing them in the dishwasher they see these same changes in the bottles. When we see bottles start to turn cloudy, they are leaching. And when they get sticky, they are giving off a lot of this stuff."

Read the entire article at: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20030331/danger-in-plastic-baby-bottles

an excerpt from

Imported food can sometimes arrive with danger
By Deb Kollars, Jim Downing and Dorsey Griffith
McClatchy Newspapers

Read the entire article at: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/17151356.htm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With food coming in from all corners of the earth, the simple, necessary, daily act of eating in America has become not just an exercise in the delicious, but also the awe-inspiring:

Peaches in the dead of winter. Golden curries from Asia. Cookies that stay fresh for months. Powders that turn a morning smoothie into fuel for a marathoner.

But the global dinner plate also comes with dangers, as has been painfully demonstrated in the recent scare from the discovery of the industrial chemical melamine in pet food - and now, with experts warning it may have spread to the human food chain.

"This whole debacle where you've got a plastic getting into a food supply shines a huge spotlight on a broken, broken system," said Elisa Odabashian, director of food safety for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

According to consumer and food safety experts, a vast array of foods and ingredients pours into the United States every year with little or no scrutiny. Much of the food comes from countries with less stringent regulations on pesticides, processing and sanitation.

In the past, grapes from Chile, raspberries from Guatemala and onions from Mexico have sickened or even led to the deaths of consumers.

In recent days consumers learned that pet food contaminated with the melamine was fed to hogs destined for market.

The revelations pushed worries over imported foods and ingredients to a new level and forced consumers to ask troubling questions about aspects of the food supply they may have taken for granted:

Who's making all the ingredients and additives going into food these days? What's going into products whose names we often can't even pronounce? Who's keeping an eye on safety?
Only about 1 percent of food from other countries undergoes inspection at U.S. points of entry. Often, reviews include little more than a paperwork check.

"The big red strawberries in the middle of gloomy January are very pretty," Odabashian said. "But they're very likely being produced in countries with far less regulation than what we have here."

For years, the United States exported more food than it imported. Recently that balance shifted. In 2006, the nation exported $62.6 billion in food items and imported $75.1 billion from 175 countries, a jump of more than 60 percent in the last decade, according to inflation-adjusted trade data from the U.S. Agriculture Department's Foreign Agricultural Service.

The bulk of what Americans eat still is produced in this country. About 15 percent comes from other countries, said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. For some categories imports run higher, he noted. For example, 80 percent of seafood, 50 percent of tree nuts and 45 percent of fruits eaten in this country come from elsewhere.

In addition, a growing portion of foods processed here contain ingredients of foreign origin, with China an emerging major supplier.

How much arrives from abroad is anyone's guess. Currently, seafood is the only food required to carry a label showing the country of origin.

Read the entire article at: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/17151356.htm

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