Health & Wellness

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Is it a waste of money to buy organic vegetables from the supermarket?

Organic carrots: not worth your whole paycheck
It has happened to all of us. You're standing in the produce aisle, just trying to buy some zucchini, when you face the inevitable choice: Organic or regular?

It's a loaded question that can mean many different things, sometimes all at once: Healthy or pesticide-drenched? Tasty or bland? Fancy or basic? Clean or dirty? Good or bad?

But here's the most important question for many customers: Is it worth the extra money?

The answer: Probably not.

Comment: Back in 2012 the same 'debate' was being discussed and argued. The author above makes some good points about the turn 'organic food' has taken and how it has become a 'luxury', that being said, it is important to note that pesticide and herbicide laden industrial agriculture still raises cause for concern, the devil is in the details:

Whoa, Is Organic Food No Healthier Than Non-Organic? Controversy Erupts Over Study
There are shelves' worth of studies documenting the health dangers of pesticide exposure. A study published last year found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides - which are often sprayed on crops and in urban areas to control insects - can lower children's IQ. A follow-up investigation into prenatal pesticide exposure concluded that boys' developing brains appear to be more vulnerable than girls' brains. A study by Colorado State University epidemiologist Lori Cragin found that women who drink water containing low levels of the herbicide atrazine are more likely to have low estrogen levels and irregular menstrual cycles; about three-quarters of all US corn fields are treated with atrazine annually. British scientists who examined the health effects of fungicides sprayed on fruits and vegetable crops discovered that 30 out of 37 chemicals studied altered males' hormone production.

I think you get the point: many synthetic herbicides and pesticides are dangerous to humans and should be avoided. And the best way to avoid putting those chemicals into our surroundings is to buy organically grown foods.


Oysters serve as reservoirs and vectors for human norovirus transmission

© AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
Oysters not only transmit human norovirus; they also serve as a major reservoir for these pathogens, according to research published August 28 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology. "More than 80 percent of human norovirus genotypes were detected in oyster samples or oyster-related outbreaks," said corresponding author Yongjie Wang, PhD.

"The results highlight oysters' important role in the persistence of norovirus in the environment, and its transmission to humans, and they demonstrate the need for surveillance of human norovirus in oyster samples," said Wang, who is Professor in the College of Food Science and Technology, Shanghai Ocean University, Shanghai, China.


6.5 million Americans in 27 states drinking water tainted by byproduct of Teflon manufacturing

© Unknown
When you drink a glass of water, you expect it to be clean and pure, not contaminated with invisible toxic chemicals. But nationwide testing has found that 6.5 million Americans in 27 states are drinking water tainted by an industrial compound that was used for decades to make Teflon.

The chemical, known as PFOA, has been detected in 94 public water systems. The amounts are small, but new research indicates that it can be hazardous even at the tiniest doses. PFOA and closely related fluorinated chemicals - including PFOS, once used to make Scotchgard - can cause cancer, birth defects and heart disease and weaken the immune system.

Even the lowest level of PFOA detected by the water testing, which was mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, was about five times higher than what's safe to drink, according to the new research.

Comment: What's the "safe" amount for a toxic compound like this, anyway? The amount that companies can pollute the water without the people overtly noticing by dying?

This means that even if the EPA has not reported finding PFOA in your drinking water supply, it could still be contaminated.

Want to know whether the testing found PFOA, PFOS or any one of four other highly fluorinated chemicals in your drinking water? EWG's interactive map below shows every U.S. county where the chemicals were detected. Click on your county to see if your water utility found any.

Comment: These aren't the only toxic compounds in water:

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Long term exposure to small amounts of Roundup herbicide changes gene expression leading to kidney, liver damage

© Jared Rodriguez; Adapted: IRRI Images, Libertinus)
Long-term intake of the Monsanto's most popular Roundup herbicide, even in very small amounts lower than permissible in US water, may lead to kidney and liver damage, a new study claims.

The research, conducted by an international group of scientists from the UK, Italy and France, studied the effects of prolonged exposure to small amounts of the Roundup herbicide and one of its main components - glyphosate.

In their study, published in Environmental Health on August 25, the scientists particularly focused on the influence of Monsanto's Roundup on gene expression in the kidneys and liver.

Comment: Glyphosate is so prevalent in the food system, that it's difficult to avoid exposure. The International Agency for Research on Cancer reports:
Glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides.The largest use worldwide is in agriculture. The agricultural use of glyphosate has increased sharply since the development of crops that have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate. Glyphosate is also used in forestry, urban, and home applications. Glyphosate has been detected in the air during spraying, in water, and in food. The general population is exposed primarily through residence near sprayed areas, home use, and diet, and the level that has been observed is generally low.


'Leaky Vaccines': Spreading more disease?

In 2001, Andrew Read, evolutionary biologist at Penn State University, and colleagues published a paper stating that imperfect vaccines, which protect the host from death but allow infection and disease transmission to other hosts, may actually trigger the evolution of more virulent forms of the disease.1

"Vaccines rarely provide full protection from disease," the study's abstract begins... and those that are imperfect or "leaky" may protect the host from succumbing to the disease while still allowing them to shed the virus into the community.

Ordinarily, a particularly lethal or "hot" virus is self-limiting because it will kill those it infects relatively quickly, before they have a chance to spread the virus to those around them. With leaky vaccines, this is no longer the case, as infected hosts may spread the lethal virus for weeks or more. In 2001, they wrote:2
The subsequent evolution leads to higher levels of intrinsic virulence and hence to more severe disease in unvaccinated individuals. This evolution can erode any population-wide benefits such that overall mortality rates are unaffected, or even increase, with the level of vaccination coverage."

Comment: Be aware: The forgotten history of vaccinations


'Smart pill' approved by FDA for healthy people with little to no scientific evidence of improved cognitive function

© Srdjan Zivulovic/Reuters
A stimulant drug successfully used to help people with sleep disorders stay awake can boost cognitive functions in healthy people, according to a new study. The 'smart pill' has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Researchers reviewed 24 studies on the drug modafinil which were carried out between 1990 and 2015 and found that it appeared to improve cognitive function. Some of the studies also showed gains in flexible thinking, increasing ability to combine information or cope with novelty. The drug didn't seem to influence creativity either way.

However, researchers found that improvement wasn't seen every time, on every test, or for every person. They also found that the studies failed to show any enhancement in the areas of attention, learning, and memory.

Comment: Is that improved cognitive function? Its seems to be another method of drugging up and dumbing down the population and creating energizer bunnies who can work, work, work and think a bit.

The meta-analysis was recently published in European Neuropsychopharmacology.

"What emerged was that the longer and the more complex the task ... the more consistently modafinil showed cognitive benefits," said Anna-Katharine Brem, a neuropsychologist at Oxford and one of the paper's authors, in an email to the Atlantic.

Modafinil, like Adderall and Ritalin, is increasingly being used by college students and adults who don't suffer from ADHD or sleep disorders, but are searching for greater productivity. The drugs work by increasing the brain's level of dopamine and norepinephrine to boost concentration and alertness.

Comment: All in pursuit of the illusory American dream.


Research finds daily naps could reduce blood pressure and prevent heart attacks

It is the news that nap afficionados have been waiting for.

A mid-day snooze doesn't just have the power to revive - it could reduce blood pressure and prevent a future heart attack.

Research involving almost 400 middle-aged men and women found that those who had a nap at noon later had lower blood pressure than those who stayed awake through the day.

The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual conference in London, showed pressure was lower both when awake and later, during their night time sleep.

The small difference - of around 5 per cent - was enough to have a significant impact on rates of heart attack, researchers said.

Far smaller reductions have been found to reduce the chance of cardiovascular events by 10 per cent, the cardiologists said.

Comment: Taking naps has also been associated with increases in motor learning skills, boosts in memory and enhanced creativity. And since many people are sleep deprived, taking time to get some much needed rest, could make a large difference in your overall health.


Gluten may be found in the most unsuspecting places

Gluten is the general term for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. It acts as a glue to maintain the shape of food and can be found in numerous food products such as breads, baked goods, cereals, pastas, soups, sauces, salad dressings, malt vinegar, beer, and food coloring. Over the last several decades, gluten intolerance have become increasingly problematic within the population - mainly due to 'modern' (destructive) agricultural practices.

According to a recent article published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, an estimated five percent of the global population has a gluten-related disorder such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, some experts say that millions of people have not yet been diagnosed.

What are the signs of a gluten disorder?

Gluten disorders can show up as slight sensitivity such as bloating and gas. However, it can be deathly ill for those who have celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine so that nutrients cannot be absorbed.

Comment: These hidden sources of gluten may explain why some people still have issues when they stop eating wheat. Gluten may be found in many foods, and even so-called gluten-free foods may be contaminated. Dairy products contain casein which creates serious health issues similarly to gluten from wheat and other grains.

Cell Phone

Brain wave warping effect of mobile phones

Your mobile phone is not only a carcinogenic, radiation emitting device, but may alter the structure and function of the brain, including brain wave activity that is intimately connected to cognition, mood and behavior.

A concerning new clinical study published in PLoS One titled, "EEG Changes Due to Experimentally Induced 3G Mobile Phone Radiation," has revealed that so-called 3rd generation (3G) cell phone technology has widespread brain wave disrupting activity in subjects exposed to real-world like conditions, i.e. 15-minute "talk time" exposure to the ear area.

The study abstract describes the experimental design and results:
The aim of this study was to investigate whether a 15-minute placement of a 3G dialing mobile phone causes direct changes in EEG activity compared to the placement of a sham phone. Furthermore, it was investigated whether placement of the mobile phone on the ear or the heart would result in different outcomes. Thirty-one healthy females participated. All subjects were measured twice: on one of the two days the mobile phone was attached to the ear, the other day to the chest. In this single-blind, cross-over design, assessments in the sham phone condition were conducted directly preceding and following the mobile phone exposure. During each assessment, EEG activity and radiofrequency radiation were recorded jointly. Delta, theta, alpha, slow beta, fast beta, and gamma activity was computed. The association between radiation exposure and the EEG was tested using multilevel random regression analyses with radiation as predictor of main interest. Significant radiation effects were found for the alpha, slow beta, fast beta, and gamma bands. When analyzed separately, ear location of the phone was associated with significant results, while chest placement was not. The results support the notion that EEG alterations are associated with mobile phone usage and that the effect is dependent on site of placement. Further studies are required to demonstrate the physiological relevance of these findings."

Comment: The Hidden Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation


Study shows computer can predict if you'll develop psychosis with 100% accuracy

Psychosis is a complicated disorder that has long been left to the expertise of psychiatrists. However, that appears to be changing. A computer program is now able to predict the disorder simply by observing language patterns, according to a new study.

Thirty-four young people underwent computer testing for their language patterns' semantic coherence - the flow of meaning from one sentence to the next - in each person during an open-ended, narrative interview. The speech tests were held quarterly over a period of 2.5 years.

The computer program demonstrated a 100 percent success rate in differentiating the five people who eventually experienced a psychotic episode and the 29 who did not. Unlike the computer used in the experiment, humans only have a 79 percent success rate of predicting whether a person will develop psychosis, based on tracking their speech patterns in interviews.