Health & Wellness


Do our bodies safely break down BPA? Fat chance, study suggests

© Tony Alter/flickr
Industry has long contended bisphenol-A breaks down harmlessly in our bodies. New research suggests that we transform it into a compound linked to obesity.
A new study suggests the long-held industry assumption that bisphenol-A breaks down safely in the human body is incorrect. Instead, researchers say, the body transforms the ubiquitous chemical additive into a compound that might spur obesity.

The study is the first to find that people's bodies metabolize bisphenol-A (BPA) — a chemical found in most people and used in polycarbonate plastic, food cans and paper receipts — into something that impacts our cells and may make us fat.

The research, from Health Canada, challenges an untested assumption that our liver metabolizes BPA into a form that doesn't impact our health.

"This shows we can't just say things like 'because it's a metabolite, it means it's not active'," said Laura Vandenberg, an assistant professor of environmental health at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved in the study. "You have to do a study."

People are exposed to BPA throughout the day, mostly through diet, as it can leach from canned goods and plastic storage containers into food, but also through dust and water.

Comment: The Facts About Bisphenol A:


Similac advance infant formula to be offered G.M.O.-free

© Abbott
Abbott said parents asked for baby formula that was free of genetically modified organisms.
The maker of Similac Advance, the top commercial baby formula brand in the United States, says it will begin selling the first mainstream baby formula made without genetically altered ingredients by the end of the month at Target.

Similac's maker, the global health care company Abbott, said it would first offer a "non-G.M.O." version of its best-selling Similac Advance, followed by a non-G.M.O. version of Similac Sensitive. Depending on sales, Abbott may offer other formulas free of such ingredients.

Abbott will join a growing number of companies offering popular products without genetically modified organisms. Consumer demand for such products has been growing, despite a concerted and expensive effort by trade groups representing major food manufacturers and the biotech industry to convince them that genetically altered ingredients are not harmful to human health.

Comment: Back in 2013 the following article was published on Pressure mounts to remove GMOs from infant formula: 'shareholders of Abbott Laboratories were voting on whether the manufacturer of Similac, a leading brand of infant formula, should adopt a policy of sourcing ingredients that have not been genetically engineered.' Looks like it took 2 years for the 'health concern' information to sink in!
"Until infant formula makers stop using GMO ingredients, hundreds of thousands of newborns, infants and toddlers are unwitting participants in this huge, uncontrolled experiment with the health of the next generation. It's time for formula makers to stop experimenting with the health of babies who consume their products,"

"Unfortunately, not every parent currently has the knowledge or financial wherewithal to choose organic formula for their babies, and every baby deserves to be protected from the potential effects of a GMO diet."


Taking numerous medications to control blood pressure just as dangerous as uncontrolled hypertension for stroke risk

Untreated high blood pressure, or hypertension, wreaks havoc on the body, leading to heart disease and stroke. New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham published in the journal Stroke shows that, although HBP medications are beneficial, it is as risky to wait for the condition to develop and then treat it to a controlled level.

A cohort of 26,785 black and white participants ages 45-plus from the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study were followed for 6.3 years by a research team led by George Howard, Dr.P.H., a professor in the Department of Biostatistics in the UAB School of Public Health. At baseline, 12,327 participants were successfully treated hypertensives, meaning their HBP treatment had their systolic blood pressure < 140 mm HG, the goal level set by the American Heart Association, and 4,090 unsuccessfully treated hypertensives.

At the conclusion of the follow-up period, more than 820 participants had experienced a stroke.

The harder hypertension is to control, the higher the risk for stroke, even if the treatment is successful. Howard says the risk of stroke went up 33 percent with each blood pressure medicine required to treat blood pressure to goal. Compared to people with systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg without treatment, hypertensive individuals on three or more blood pressure medications had a stroke risk of 2.5 times higher.

Comment: For more information on ways to control hypertension, see:


Curcumin just as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression

Turmeric heals a damaged brain
Depressive disorders affect millions of Americans every year. They can damage family relationships, affect job or school performance and be a risk factors for physical health problems as well. There are many prescription drugs available nowadays, and while they are certainly an improvement over first-generation antidepressants, they still carry with them an array of side effects that many people would like to avoid.

There are, however, natural options to help treat depression, especially if it is mild to moderate in nature. A balanced diet, rest, regular exercise and stress management can all help this condition. And, increasingly, researchers are finding that depression is also responsive to treatment with natural supplements like curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric.

New landmark study

A landmark study on curcumin and its effects on depression, however, could spell new hope and an increased quality of life for those suffering from this disorder. The new breakthrough research concluded that curcumin was as effective as Prozac in treating depressive disorders but lacked any serious side effects and was well-tolerated by patients across the board. This could deal quite a blow to the pharmaceutical industry, which makes a whopping $12 billion annually from the sale of antidepressants which carry undesirable side effects and which, for many patients, simply do not work.

Comment: For more on depression and the state of the planet, check out: Epidemic depression as a wake-up call to humanity


Doctors eye implantable antenna for long-term monitoring

RFID has your vital statistics up for grabs.
Tired of using a pesky thermometer to check on your health? If a new project funded by the National Science Foundation proves successful, we may soon have a small antenna implanted into our bodies to report on our vital statistics.

In the interest of what it calls "long-term patient monitoring," the NSF has granted $5,070 to a graduate fellowship project which seeks to develop an antenna that could be implanted inside the human body.

"Antennas operating near or inside the human body are important for a number of applications, including healthcare," reads the project grant. "Implantable medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and retinal implants are a growing feature of modern healthcare, and implantable antennas for these devices are necessary to monitor battery level and device health, to upload and download data used in patient monitoring, and more."

"Radio-frequency identification (RFID) labeling in humans to store medical and biometric information offers promising possibilities to health care and patient safety. Nevertheless, the use of these devices is attached to not only a host of ethical issues, but possible security and physical risks. Active RFID tags, which contain internal batteries, offer benefits such as better reliability, wider transmission ranges, and increased data storage. But wider transmission ranges may threaten data security and patient privacy. Furthermore, because of their small size, RFID human implants may migrate under the skin and complicate removal. They also may interfere with the performance of electronic medical devices, such as surgical equipment and defibrillators, and medication. It is recommended that the medical community further investigate these concerns before accepting or rejecting RFID labeling in humans." -Robert M. Sade is a professor of surgery and director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at Medical University of South Carolina. He is also chair of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association.
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) applications, for which the above bioengineering grant stipulates, are: asset tracking, supply chain, logistics, toll booths, real-time locating systems, container security, library material management and security. And human bio-monitoring? Guess that comes under container security or asset tracking. The medical community might consider the potential social consequences of RFID devices, such as "non-medical" applications in law enforcement.


Airlines spraying fliers with pesticides inside the plane

Chemical pesticide exposure happens... If you live nearby a farm you know what it feels like. Spraying happens. If it's not aerosol spraying high up in the sky or wafts from crop dusting - it's being sprayed while inside a locked, pressurized tube? Is there no escape? What is a chemical sensitive or asthmatic person to do? Have you ever felt sick after a flight but couldn't pin it as a virus? Do you ever feel like a bug?

A few countries require pesticide spraying on flights, yet most countries have quietly reserved the right to do so with or without "need." Many spray for "passenger safety" from rodents and insects - however, bug sprays are among the worst chemicals for human exposure.[1] Previously, flight attendants told Mother Jones that it had nothing to with safety but keeping up appearances - who would want to see pests in their plane? But, is it really necessary to spray you while you're on board?

USA Today corrected "Science Babe" - who incorrectly told Food Babe that airline spraying didn't happen - by verifying that, yes, it does. USA Today claims that misting passengers typically happens on other global airlines but that US airlines usually wait to spray until passengers are gone.

Comment: Pesticides like Chlorpyrifos have some seriously negative health effects:

Piggy Bank

Natural birth & breastfeeding: Replaceable?

How do vaginally delivered, exclusively breastfed infants fare in comparison to their C-section, formula-fed counterparts? Does it impact the delicate infant microbiome?

Now that we know the microbiome exists and is largely responsible for our digestion, immunity, and assimilation and production of nutrients, we are charged with learning about its optimal manifestation. How is it created? What are the ingredients to a healthy microbiome? Are there some more critical and some less critical steps?

As I describe here, it turns out the steps may be as simple as following the evolutionary order of operations.

1. Eat right

2. Birth vaginally in your place of dwelling

3. Breastfeed

A new study in Cell Host & Microbe (don't you love that there are actually journals with these titles?) points a finger at the hubris involved in positioning surgical birth and bottle-feeding as "separate but equal" alternatives.


Researchers find high rate of chronic complications tied to tatoos

© webmd
MRSA Infected Arm Tattoo
In what they believe to be the first survey of its kind in the United States, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have found that as many as 6 percent of adult New Yorkers who get "inked" — in other words, those who get a tattoo — have experienced some form of tattoo-related rash, severe itching or swelling that lasted longer than four months and, in some cases, for many years.

"We were rather alarmed at the high rate of reported chronic complications tied to getting a tattoo," says senior study investigator and NYU Langone dermatologist Marie Leger, MD, PhD, whose team's latest findings appear in the journal Contact Dermatitis online May 27.

"Given the growing popularity of tattoos," says Leger, an assistant professor in NYU Langone's Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, "physicians, public health officials, and consumers need to be aware of the risks involved."

Leger says some adverse skin reactions are treatable with anti-inflammatory steroid drugs, but others may require laser surgery. For stronger reactions, surgery is sometimes necessary to remove tattooed areas of the skin or built-up scar tissue and granular skin lesions, which can rise several millimeters on the skin and cause considerable itching and emotional distress.

According to Leger, an estimated one in five adult Americans now has at least one tattoo.


Study shows abundance and diversity of intestinal bacteria impacts children's behavior

© shocky / Fotolia
Could aggression be attributed to gut microbes?
The next time your toddler acts adventurous, shy, fidgety or cuddly, you might be able to blame the bacteria in his gut.

Researchers from The Ohio State University studied microbes from the gastrointestinal tracts of children between the age of 18 and 27 months, and found that the abundance and diversity of certain bacterial species appear to impact behavior, particularly among boys. The correlation exists even after the scientists factored in history of breastfeeding, diet and the method of childbirth -- all of which are known to influence the type of microbes that populate a child's gut.

Study authors say they aren't looking for a way to help parents modify the 'terrible twos,' but for clues about how -- and where -- chronic illnesses like obesity, asthma, allergies and bowel disease start.

"There is substantial evidence that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones- the same hormones that have been implicated in chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma," said Lisa Christian, PhD, a researcher with Ohio State's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. "A toddler's temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress. This information combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome could ultimately help us identify opportunities to prevent chronic health issues earlier."

Comment: Numerous studies have confirmed the importance that our gut microbes have in determining our behaviors, our food choices and the development of disease:


Monsanto's glyphosate banned by Sri Lanka's newly elected president

As the US government comes up with ever more creative stall tactics, Sri Lanka's newly elected president, Maithripala Sirisena, has announced that the import of Monsanto's favorite killing-tool, glyphosate, will no longer be allowed in the country.

Sirisena is a farmer and ex health minister, and blames glyphosate for rising rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) throughout the Sri Lankan farming community.

Not only has the Sri Lankan president banned glyphosate herbicide, but stocks of already-imported Roundup will be stopped.

CKD has already affected 15% of people working in the northern part of Sri Lanka which amounts to around 400,000 patients and a death count, directly related to Monsanto's chemicals, of 20,000.

This may seem shocking, but these numbers simply relay a truth that another study previously stated: that kidney disease is five times higher in countries that are over-run with glyphosate chemicals. Though this is due in part to the fact that farmers in these countries often where very little in the way of protection when they are spraying Roundup on their rice fields, there is no excuse for such an abominable number of preventable deaths.