Irradiation Heightens Risk for Breast Cancer in Women with BRCA Mutations .

Diagnostic radiation studies, especially if done before age 30, increase the risk that women who carry BRCA mutations will develop breast cancer, according to a BMJ study.

Researchers asked some 2000 carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations to recall their history of radiation exposure. Based on standard tables, the cumulative radiation dose to the breast was calculated. Compared with no exposure before age 30, the hazard ratios for breast cancer increased with quartiles of increasing cumulative exposure, reaching 3.8 in the highest quartile.

The authors estimate that among 100 BRCA carriers at age 40, roughly 9 will have developed breast cancer. The number would increase by 5 if all had had a mammogram before age 30.

They conclude that their results support using non-ionizing radiation imaging techniques, such as MRI, as the main surveillance tool in young BRCA carriers.

Source: BMJ

Surprising methods heal wounded troops.

Scientists are growing ears, bone and skin in the lab, and doctors are planning more face transplants and other extreme plastic surgeries. Around the country, the most advanced medical tools that exist are now being deployed to help America’s newest veterans and wounded troops.

—In Los Angeles, surgeons used part of Michael Mills’ forehead to rebuild his nose after a bomb disfigured him in Iraq.

—In Pittsburgh, doctors used an experimental therapy from pig tissue to help regrow part of a thigh muscle that Ron Strang lost in a blast in Afghanistan.

—In Boston, scientists are making plans for the first implants of lab-grown ears for wounded troops after successful experiments in sheep and rats.

—In San Antonio and other cities, doctors are testing sprayed-on skin cells and lab-made sheets of skin to heal burns and other wounds. The ingenuity is impressive: One product was developed from foreskin left over from circumcisions.

Much of this comes from taxpayer-funded research. Four years ago, the federal government created AFIRM, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a network of top hospitals and universities, and gave $300 million in grants to spur new treatments using cell science and advanced plastic surgery.

“The whole idea is to bring all these researchers together to develop these great technologies that were in early science to eventually be ready for the troops,” said AFIRM’s recently retired director, Terry Irgens.

Now those who served are coming home, and projects that once had been languishing in labs are making strides and starting to move into clinics.

Strang is among those benefiting. The 28-year-old Marine sergeant from Pittsburgh lost half of a thigh muscle to shrapnel, leaving too little to stabilize his gait. “My knee would buckle and I’d fall over,” he said.

Now, after an experimental treatment at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “I’m able to run a little bit” and play a light football game with friends, he said. “It’s been a huge improvement.”

It’s one example of the “new medicine” in the works for troops. The Associated Press conducted more than a dozen interviews and reviewed the latest medical research to measure the progress and extent of novel treatments under way for wounded warriors. The results point to some surprising feats of surgery and bioengineering.


Growing new ears

Up to a thousand troops might need an ear, and prosthetics are not a great solution. A rod or other fastener is required to attach them to the head. They don’t look or feel natural and they wear out every couple of years. A matching ear grown from a patient’s own cells would be a huge improvement.

“People have been working on this for 20 years” but haven’t been able to overcome obstacles to making it practical, said Cathryn Sundback, director of the tissue engineering lab at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Her lab thinks it’s found the solution. Using a computer model of a patient’s remaining ear, scientists craft a titanium framework covered in collagen, the stuff that gives skin elasticity and strength.

They take a snip of cartilage from inside the nose or between the ribs and seed the scaffold with these cells. This is incubated for about two weeks in a lab dish to grow more cartilage. When it’s ready to implant, a skin graft is taken from the patient to cover the cartilage and the ear is stitched into place.

Scientists in her lab have maintained lab-grown sheep ears on those animals for 20 weeks, proving it can be done successfully and last long-term. They also have grown anatomically correct human ears from cells. These have been implanted on the backs of lab rats to keep them nourished and allow further research. But that wouldn’t happen with ears destined for patients — they would just be grown in a lab dish until they’re ready to implant.

“We’ve solved all the technical problems,” Sundback said, and now they are ready to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration to implant these into patients — probably in about a year. “It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made with the AFIRM funding.”


Bioengineering muscles, bone and skin

A soldier lucky enough to keep his arms and legs after a bomb blast still might lose so much of a key muscle, like biceps or quadriceps, that the limb can’t be used properly. In some cases, “the patient has lost so much muscle that there’s nothing left for the surgeon to sew together,” said Dr. Stephen Badylak, a regenerative medicine specialist at the University of Pittsburgh.

He is testing implants of “extracellular matrix” — connective tissue that holds cells together — to boost muscle mass. The matrix is thought to release chemical signals that promote regrowth of healthy tissue instead of scar tissue.

“It changes the body from thinking, ‘I need to respond to injured tissue,’ to ‘I need to rebuild this tissue,'” Badylak said.

The material is supplied by a private company — ACell Inc. of Columbia, Md. — and comes from pigs. The immune system tolerates it because it doesn’t contain cells. It comes in multi-layered sheets like slightly stiff gauze and can be cut or molded to fit the needed shape.

Strang, who lost half of a thigh muscle, is among the five patients treated so far in an 80-patient study. Doctors wait at least six months after an injury to make sure all natural healing has occurred, and put patients through intensive physical therapy before implanting the matrix.

“We want to be able to say after the surgery that they were as good as they could be” and that the matrix accounted for any improvement, Badylak explained.

In early testing, “They’ve shown up to 10 to 20 percent improvement” in strength of the muscle after treatment, said Irgens, the director of AFIRM, which funded some of the early work. The Department of Defense is sponsoring the study under way now, which includes non-military patients as well as former troops. The new study is measuring changes in strength and muscle volume, and doctors are aiming for the kind of quality-of-life improvement Strang has enjoyed.

In other efforts, Pittsburgh and Rice University scientists are working on growing bone to fix jawbone and other facial defects. Researchers at Massachusetts General and Rutgers University are trying to grow eyelid muscles. Blindness can result from not being able to close an eyelid.

Doctors also are testing various ways to make skin. In one method, doctors take a postage stamp-sized piece of a patient’s skin, process it in the lab and spray these cells onto a burn or other wound. The sprayer device that is used for this treatment is already licensed in seven countries, and AFIRM is sponsoring a study aimed at winning U.S. approval so the treatment can be offered here.

The second approach uses sheets of skin developed from cells in the lab that originally came from foreskin after circumcisions.

“That’s in clinical trials now and they’re having tremendous results,” Irgens said.


Beyond “bionic arms” to transplants

For all the advances that have been made in modern prosthetics, the arms and hands are not as effective as the legs and feet. Dozens of wounded troops would rather try a transplant.

The government also estimates that up to 200 troops might need face transplants, although Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Boston surgeon who has done four face transplants on non-military patients, thinks only 50 to 100 ultimately will get one.

One reason is the lifelong drugs needed to prevent rejection. They have side effects and raise the risk of cancer.

Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, plastic surgery chairman at Johns Hopkins University, has been working to minimize those risks. Previously, at the University of Pittsburgh, he led hand transplants on five patients with minimal immune suppression, giving them bone marrow taken from their donors along with the hands to help them better tolerate the new tissue. All five patients have done well and four now take just one anti-rejection drug.

“There’s really no reason to think faces will be any different,” he said.

He also showed that rejection can often be stopped by rubbing on a cream containing immune-suppressing medicine.

“Skin is the primary target of the rejection,” he explained, so with a hand transplant, “we can detect rejection much earlier than we can for organ transplants. The patient literally calls us. They notice a rash on the skin first thing in the morning. We just tell them to put the cream on.”

With military funding, a host of doctors are evaluating troops as potential face transplant candidates. Pomahac told of one man who lost much of his face, jaw and lips in a bomb blast. Despite 25 operations, he still can’t move one side of his face or lips and drools all the time.

“He walks around with a towel on his shoulder. It’s a major quality-of-life issue,” Pomahac said.


Advancing reconstructive surgery

Many troops remain disfigured or impaired despite multiple reconstructive operations. Tackling the toughest cases is the goal of Operation Mend, a program of the UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and the Veterans Affairs-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Army Staff Sgt. Michael Mills, 47, who lives in Freeport, Minn., northwest of Minneapolis, is one such patient. He was injured in Iraq in 2005 by a bomb that left him with major burns and broken bones all over. He lost a finger and thumb. He has a dozen pins in bones and a plate in his hip. He was missing part of an ear and part of his nose.

Mills had 10 surgeries with Operation Mend, including three on his hands. Surgeons repaired his nose with part of his forehead.

“I’m very happy with the new look I have now,” Mills said. “I don’t let my disability run my life. I run my disability.”

Some wounds remain, though. Mills said he suffers from a mild traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Counseling through the Department of Veterans Affairs has helped him cope, and he said he no longer has flashbacks and night sweats and is more able to control anger.

“I have more good days now than I do bad days,” he said. Doctors can fix his bones and his nose, but “they can’t heal what’s inside,” Mills said. “Only I can do that.”



Army regenerative medicine:


VA medical research:

Operation Mend


Follow Marilynn Marchione at

This story is the latest installment in a joint initiative by The Associated Press and Associated Press Media Editors taking a closer look at this latest generation of war veterans as they return to civilian life, and the effect this is having on them, their families and American society.

Source: Yahoo news



“The Cranberry Juice ‘Myth’ Most Women Still Believe…”

Myths, half-truths and urban legends abound… And for this thing that strikes primarily women, this well-known half-truth can be a trap if you don’t know the 360 degree picture. Discover the groundbreaking development

Less-than-Optimal Urinary Tract Health Is a Fact of Life for Many Women…

New and Improved D-Mannose is not a drug. This nutritional supplement occurs naturally in cranberries, peaches, apples, other berries, and some plants.

At some time in their lives, one out of every five women will experience less-than-optimal urinary tract health.  And, it’s not just women who are concerned with urinary tract health – men are, too.

It’s entirely possible that your urinary tract health could be less than optimal… and you don’t even know it. You’ve probably heard of a number of ways to promote optimal urinary tract health naturally. And I bet cranberry juice is one of the things you think can do it the best…


Cranberry juice is NOT my recommended choice for promoting urinary tract health because it is high in fructose that can potentially lead you to health issues.

The D-Mannose found naturally in cranberries, other fruits, and some plants, however, is exceptional for helping you promote a healthy urinary tract.*

Cranberry juice has long been thought to help boost your urinary tract health.  And, you’ll be happy to know that studies do indeed show that drinking cranberry juice can help support a healthy urinary tract.

But, this will come as a surprise to many, drinking blueberry, peach, or apple juice could theoretically have the same beneficial effects, too.

However, there’s a BIG problem with cranberry juice as well all of these other juices: SUGAR.

To be more specific, these juices, including cranberry juice, are loaded with fructose, a monosaccharide (simple sugar) that can potentially cause many health problems, including impacting the normal way your urinary tract functions.

You see, if you eat sugars and grains (which also rapidly break down to sugars), it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy balance of flora. As a result, you’re much more likely to experience less-than-optimal urinary tract health.

So, although cranberry juice can assist your efforts, I would not advise using it in its juice form. It simply has far too much sugar in it.  In a moment, I’m going to expose another way you can get all the benefits of cranberry (and a lot more) that I think you’re going to love.


The D-Mannose for New and Improved D-Mannose comes from a simple sugar found naturally in birch and beech trees.

Is it all bad news? Of course not.

There are simple things you can do to help promote a health urinary tract, including:

  • Drink plenty of water every day – this dilutes your urine and helps you regularly flush your system.
  • Urinate when you feel the need. Don’t resist the urge to go.
  • For women, wipe from front to back, and use unscented and unbleached toilet paper as many women react to the dyes and chemicals in other toilet papers.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  • Cleanse your genital area prior to and after sexual intercourse, or better yet use a bidet.
  • Avoid feminine deodorant sprays, douches, and powders that can lead to irritation of the urethra and genitals.
  • Only use natural cotton sanitary napkins and tampons. 97% of women believe they are made of cotton, but the truth is LESS THAN one percent actually is.

By following these simple, but effective suggestions, you can help support your urinary tract health.

But, what can you do if you already have less-than-optimal urinary tract health or simply want to support your urinary tract health?*

Is there any help out there?

Yes, and I’m really excited to share this groundbreaking new development in urinary tract health with you now…*

D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS®
The Support You Need Is Finally Here*

I’d like to tell you about one of the most advanced urinary tract health formulations available today.*

It’s called D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS and, as you’ll quickly see, I feel it’s hands-down the best supplement you can use to help support your urinary tract … but it does much more, too.*

With its Patent-Pending Triple Action, D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS is a unique combination of DDS® probiotic blend, natural D-Mannose and concentrated Cranberry fruit extract and FOS.

As a natural alternative for women, D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS helps:

  • Support your urinary tract health*
  • Maintain a healthy balance of flora*
  • Promote optimal digestive health*
  • Support your immune system*
  • Contribute to the maintenance of healthy intestinal flora*

This award-winning three-in-one blend works by creating a favorable environment for healthy flora throughout your urinary tract* (see below for more information).   It also helps promote a healthy balance of flora throughout your digestive system.* In simple terms, that means you get more of the good guys.*

And, since we use an innovative compaction technology that puts more “goodness” in every pill than we otherwise could, you don’t have to take a ton of pills to experience the benefits of D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS.

In other words, you can finally experience the ongoing support you’ve always wanted.*

… without worrying about side effects.
… without the worry or fear.

By supporting your urinary tract health and promoting ideal immune and digestive function, you’ll be treating yourself to wellbeing you deserve.* But, I bet you’re wondering… how does it really work?

To find out, we’ll have to uncover…

Cranberry’s Hidden Secret Is Waiting for You

You’ve learned earlier that I don’t recommend cranberry juice because of all the sugar it contains. However, there is a little-known carbohydrate that can be found naturally in cranberry extract, as well as peaches, apples, and other berries and even birch trees that is turning heads everywhere.

It’s called D-Mannose and it’s been mostly ignored … until recently.

That’s because researchers are discovering that it can help support your urinary tract health.*

But it doesn’t stop there.

D-Mannose promotes a healthy balance of flora and – here’s the real winner – it can support urinary tract health.* Although you can find D-Mannose in cranberries, we use a special all-natural D-Mannose harvested from birch trees in D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS.

But, don’t worry… if you’re a cranberry lover, I’ve got great news for you…

Research is showing that – although cranberry juice is filled with what I believe are too many sugars that can lead to other potential health problems – cranberry EXTRACT is another story altogether.  Recent studies suggest that components found in cranberry extract may work the same way as cranberry juice.*

That means you’re getting two ingredients to help support urinary tract health instead of just one with D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS.*

But, what would you say, if I told you that I believe that D-Mannose and cranberry extract alone were just not good enough?

D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS is formulated with a unique combination of DDS® probiotic blend (containing broad spectrum Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium lactis) at 5 billion CFU/g potency.

What’s this mean to you?

Certain probiotic strains, like L. acidophilus, have demonstrated the ability to support a health balance of flora.*  Additionally, studies have also shown that L. acidophilus supports the health of the vaginal and urethral linings.* Plus, it shows positive effects in the support of urinary tract health overall.*

And, since the probiotic strain we use is acid- and bile-resistant, up to 97% of the probiotics reach your intestine after passing through your stomach.*

That means, you can feel confident knowing that you’re doing  something to help support your urinary tract health AND you may also benefit with improved digestive health and support for your immune system.*

Plus, an added benefit, you can use D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS to help boost the “good bacteria” in your gut.* You’ll be especially thankful for this when you help promote your body’s healthy balance of flora.*

D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS offers you the powerhouse solution you’ve been seeking… all in one convenient place to help provide the urinary tract support you want.*

I’m honored to tell you that D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS won the 2010 Best of Supplements award by Better Nutrition, one of the leading health supplement magazines in the USA.

The award recognized Cran-Gyn DDS as an outstanding formulation in the Women’s Health Category based upon extensive input from experts in the field. Manufactured in a NSF-GMP certified facility with strict quality control, you will also be happy to know we demand total transparency throughout the entire quality control process.

The facility is also Kosher and Halal certified.

Plus, this non-GMO product doesn’t contain any major food allergens such as dairy, gluten, wheat, corn, soy, barley, rye, oats, nuts, egg, fish, peanuts, animal fat, or preservatives.

In the final equation, D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS is simply the best product I know of to help support all your urinary tract health needs.*

It’s a three-in-one combination that gives you…

Don’t Forget About Your Urinary Tract Health – Get Yours Today…*

I suggest making sure you always have a supply on hand to support your urinary tract health*:

  • D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS is gentle enough to use as daily.*

Remember, one in five women have less-than-optimal urinary tract health. Take the smart step and order yours today.

  • Imagine how helpful D-Mannose with Cran-Gyn DDS can be.

Get the support you’re seeking with this breakthrough way to support your urinary tract heath.*

So, do yourself a favor and regularly take this product.*




33 Ways to Eat Environmentally Friendly.

If you think eating healthy means only what you eat, then it may be time to reconsider your definition of “healthy living.”

From shopping at farmers’ markets to carefully selecting the bags you carry your food home in, there are ways to take healthy eating to the next level and help save the environment while you take care of yourself.

Time Healthland recently shared 33 tips to help transition your eating style into a sustainable one; even seemingly small changes can make a big difference.

At the Store

1. Use Reusable Bags

Each year about 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide. At over 1 million bags per minute, that’s a lot of plastic bags, of which billions end up as litter each year, contaminating oceans and other waterways.

Plastic bags, like the petroleum they are made from, don’t biodegrade very well at all, rather, they photodegrade. Meaning, they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits, which contaminate soil and waterways, and enters the food chain – animals accidentally eat these bits and pieces, mistaking them for food. It’s estimated that 1 million birds and 100,000 turtles and other sea animals starve to death each year after consuming plastic debris, which blocks their digestive tracts.

Paper bags are not an environmentally friendly alternative, as millions of trees must be cut down to make them each year… and the process is very energy intensive.

Carry reusable shopping bags instead; keep them in the trunk of your car, or stash a couple of the small fold-up varieties in your purse so you’re always prepared. You can also use avoid plastic produce bags (put the produce right into your reusable cloth bag instead) and use reusable cloth bags for packaging your child’s school lunch and snacks.

2. Choose Foods with Minimal Packaging

If you can choose foods in bulk, unwrapped form, do so. Excess packaging only adds to the waste filling up landfills, and often it’s made out of toxic materials (like Styrofoam, which may cause cancer and produces hazardous waste and gasses when manufactured).

One study conducted by Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center, for the Bulk is Green Council (BIG), revealed that Americans could save an average of 89 percent on costs by buying their organic foods in bulk, compared to organic packaged counterparts.2 According to the report, if Americans purchased the following products in bulk for one year, it would save hundreds of millions of pounds of waste from going into landfills:

  • Coffee: 240 million pounds of foil packaging saved from landfills
  • Almonds: 72 million pounds of waste saved from landfills
  • Peanut butter: 7 pounds of waste saved from landfills per family
  • Oatmeal: Saves five times the waste of its packaged equivalent

3. Ditch Bottled Water

Bottled water is perhaps one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries there is. Americans consume about half a billion bottles of water every week! The environmental ramifications of this practice are enormous. The video below, The Story of Bottled Water, brought to you by the folks who created the wildly successful video The Story of Stuff, does an excellent job of illustrating the truth about bottled water. Instead of bottled water, drinking filtered tap water is a healthier, more sustainable option. (Take it with you on the go using a glass water bottled.)

4. Think About Where You Shop

Choose to purchase your food at stores that have a thoughtful selection of local and organic foods, as well as store practices that limit waste, such as putting doors on the refrigerated section or offering a recycling program. Even better, shop at Farmer’s markets to support local farmers and craftspeople.


5. Get Your Produce Locally

Locally-grown produce is not only fresher, it will not have to be shipped across the globe to get to your dinner plate. Remember, food grown locally is not always organic. Though it may be grown just down the road and sold at your local farm stand, it may still be doused in pesticides and grown in chemical fertilizers, and tended by workers being paid unfair wages.

At the same time, the organic certification process established by the federal government is expensive, and some small farmers cannot afford it. This means some local foods are grown according to organic standards but are not “certified organic.” The only way to know for sure is to become “friendly” with your farmer, so that you can learn about his practices.

6. Eat More Produce

If you eat meat that comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) (one of the worst ways to raise food environmentally), then eating more produce in lieu of it will give the environment a break. CAFOs are a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution and deforestation, so whether you eat more produce or choose to get your meat elsewhere, both will help to save the planet.

7. Eat Organic Produce

The fewer chemicals used to grow your food, the better for all concerned. And the only way to ensure your food is as pure as possible, outside of talking to the farmer directly, is to look for the organic seal. There are a few different organic labels out there, but only one relates directly to foods: the USDA Organic seal.

This seal is one of your best commercial assurances of organic quality, so when in doubt: if it doesn’t carry the USDA Organic seal, you might not be getting what you’re paying for.

Growers and manufacturers of organic products bearing the USDA seal have to meet the strictest standards of any of the currently available organic labels. Certified organic crops cannot be grown with any of the following:

  • Synthetic pesticides
  • Bioengineered genes
  • Petroleum-based fertilizers
  • Sewage sludge-based fertilizers

8. Eat Your Produce Raw

There are a myriad of health reasons why you should consume more of your food raw… but from an environmental perspective, you can save some energy by forgoing cooking and chomping on raw (or fermented!) veggies instead.

9. Eat In Season

When you choose produce in season, you can shop locally and support farmers in your area – a huge win for the environment! As a bonus, it’ll taste better too.

10. Ferment or Preserve Your Veggies

If you have a lot of summer fruits and veggies that you need to use up before they spoil, try your hand at preserving them so they’re available to you year-round. You can also ferment your veggies, which is absolutely fantastic for your health, and they will keep for months in your fridge.

11. Grow Your Own

Growing your own organic fruits and veggies is about as environmentally friendly as you can get. In the spring, try your hand at growing your favorites; it only takes a small parcel of land. If you’re thinking of planting veggies but are not sure where to begin, visit a few local plant nurseries around your home, especially those that specialize in organic gardening. The employees are likely to be a great resource for natural planting tips that will help your garden thrive.

Even if you only have access to a patio, you can still grow some of your own veggies using containers. Tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers are examples of plants that thrive in containers, but the sky is really the limit.

12. Join a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) Program

With a CSA, you purchase a “share” of a farm directly from a farmer, and in return get seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season (some CSAs also include other products, like meat, honey, dairy and more). It’s an excellent way to get locally-grown, seasonal produce for your family without any fuss.


13. Avoid CAFO Meats

The trend of large corporate-controlled CAFOs making up the lion’s share of U.S. food production has lead to an abundance of cheap food, but not without serious health, ethical and environmental consequences. Among them:3

  • Loss of water quality through nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in rivers, streams and ground water (which contributes to “dramatic shifts in aquatic ecosystems and hypoxic zones”)
  • Agricultural pesticide contamination to streams, ground water and wells, and safety concerns to agricultural workers who use them
  • A decline in nutrient density of 43 garden crops (primarily vegetables), which suggests “possible tradeoffs between yield and nutrient content”
  • Large emission of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
  • Negative impact on soil quality through such factors as erosion, compaction, pesticide application and excessive fertilization

Most meat sold in grocery stores comes from CAFOs, so avoiding this meat means getting your food from local growers or seeking out certified organic, grass-fed meat (see #17 below).

14. Buy Locally-Grown Meats

As with produce, buying your meat from local sources is best for both your health and the environment.

15. Focus on Organic Meats

Certified organic meat (and milk) must come from animals that have had access to pasture for at least four months of the year. Further, 30 percent of the animals’ feed must come from this grazing time, and the animals cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. The most important foods to buy organic are animal products – not produce – because animal foods, which are raised on pesticide-laced feed, tend to have higher concentrations of pesticides. So when prioritizing your purchases, look for organic meats, eggs and dairy products before anything else.

16. Opt Out of Antibiotics

About 80 percent of all the antibiotics produced are used in agriculture – not only to fight infection, but to promote unhealthy (though profitable) weight gain. Feeding livestock continuous, low-dose antibiotics creates a perfect storm for widespread disease proliferation – and, worse yet, antibiotic-resistant disease. This link is so clear-cut that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has been banned in Europe since 2006…

Antibiotics are not only embedded in your meats, they have made their way into your produce as well, as slow-to-biodegrade antibiotics are transferred, via the manure used as fertilizer, into your corn, lettuce, potatoes, and other crops. Even eating organically may not entirely alleviate this problem, since organic crops, which cannot be fertilized with synthetic fertilizers, are the ones most often fertilized with manure.

As it stands, conventional, factory-farmed animal manure containing antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria is still allowed under the USDA organic label. However, non-medical use of antibiotics is not permitted in organic farming, so going organic is still the best choice for avoiding antibiotics in your food.

17. Choose Grass-Fed Meat

The differences between conventionally-raised, grain-fed livestock, and organically-raised, grass-fed cows are so vast, you’re really talking about two different animals, and two separate industries with entirely different farming practices and environmental impacts.

The carbon footprint of conventional farming is mainly due to the unnatural feed that these animals are given, which requires lots of fossil fuels. Many don’t think about this, but fossil fuels are used in everything from the fertilizers and pesticides that are sprayed onto the crop to the transportation of the feed.

Grass does not require fossil fuels to grow (rotating pastures does the job instead), and other health harming practices, such as injecting the livestock with hormones and antibiotics, are also not allowed in organic farming. Grass-fed cows are also not concentrated into small spaces the way CAFO cows are, meaning their waste is easily re-used as fertilizer, rather than congregating as toxic waste. This equates to healthier meat, a healthier you, and benefits to the planet.


18. Check for This on Your Seafood Label

I don’t normally advise eating seafood, unless you know for certain that it comes from unpolluted waters and is free from contaminants. However, if you choose to, look for The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification on the label. The MSC focuses on the health of ocean stocks and how they are managed, in addition to assessing the effect of the fishery on the wider ecosystem. This includes a range of marine mammals, birds and fish.

Companies who have completed the certification can offer yet another layer of assurance to their customers. The MSC eco-label provides a guarantee of sustainable fishing practices, as well as full traceability through the chain of custody, from beginning to end.

19. Know Your Fish

Certain fish should not be consumed because they are endangered or pose too high of contamination risks. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Seafood Watch guide to help you determine which seafood choices are better off avoided.4 For instance, the following seafood options should be avoided because they are overfished or caught/farmed in ways that harm marine life or the environment:

  • Chilean Seabass
  • Atlantic cod
  • King crab (imported)
  • Orange Roughy
  • Farmed salmon
  • Tuna (canned and Bluefin)

It is also reasonable to assume that radioisotopes from the Fukushima disaster have now accumulated in some fish that are harvested from the Pacific, as was recently confirmed in California Bluefin tuna that had migrated from the ocean off Japan.5 So please exercise caution when choosing your fish.

20. Avoid Imported Fish

As with all food, the farther the fish has to travel to get to you, the worse it is for the environment. More than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, and over 40 percent of all seafood is produced in aqua-farms in China and other Asian countries.6

21. Avoid Farmed Fish

It’s estimated that about half of the world’s seafood comes from aquaculture, which is the term used to describe industrial fish farming. Like the land-based CAFOs, industrial fish farming has had problems from the start, including overcrowded conditions, pollution and unnatural diets.

Feed has been an area of controversy, as sometimes wild fish are used to prepare the fishmeal fed to farmed fish, depleting the natural fish supply in some areas. Further, the soy industry, Monsanto, Cargill and other agribusiness giants are trying to position genetically modified (GM) soy as a “sustainable” choice for aquaculture feed. But since soy is not a natural food found in the oceans, it poses serious risks of pollution, lack of nutrient content in seafood, and contamination of the oceans with herbicide-saturated GM soy.


22. Choose Hormone-Free Dairy

Recombinant (genetically engineered) bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is used to significantly increase milk production in cows to highly unnatural levels. Treated cows can produce as much as 15-25 percent more milk. But this increase in milk production, and hence profit, has hidden costs, namely the cows’ and your health (including links to cancer). In addition, this hormone is primarily used by dairy cows raised on CAFOs, which pose all of the same environmental, health and ethical concerns as CAFOs for other types of animals.

23. Choose Local Dairy Products

Notice a theme yet? The more of your food you can buy locally, the better.

24. Choose Organic Dairy Products

Organic dairy products are important because they’ll be free from pesticides and Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone rBGH creation. However, the real issue is not organic vs. non-organic milk, but pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized, or raw, milk (the latter is the superior choice).

25. Raw Dairy Products Reign Supreme

If you want to continue consuming milk and milk products, I suggest you get them in the raw from organic dairy farmers who are set up specifically to produce high-quality, clean, nutritious raw dairy products.

You can find milk, cheese, and other dairy products in raw form, although it may take a little searching. High-quality raw milk has an abundance of nutritional elements, including enzymes, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and natural butterfat that are destroyed or lacking in pasteurized dairy, and will not subject the environment or the cows to the horrors of CAFOs.

Conventional dairy farms are not typically set up to produce milk that is safe and pure enough to be consumed raw, whereas milk that’s been produced with the intention of being consumed raw should come from a small, dairy farm that raises grass-fed cows in natural, healthy conditions.

At a Restaurant

26. Skip the Bottles

Just as you avoid bottled water at home, skip it in restaurants too (if you’re worried about quality, bring your own from home). You can also save waste by ordering beer on tap instead of in a bottle.

27. Eat at Restaurants That Purchase Local Food

Increasing numbers of restaurants are supporting local farmers to find the freshest, most sustainable sources of produce and other food. Support these restaurants and their efforts to make the world a better place.

28. Ask About the Food When You’re Eating Out

It’s ok, and encouraged, to ask your server or restaurant manager about where they get their food or how it’s processed, and state your preferences as well. While they may be surprised by your interest, if enough people begin to inquire it could prompt them to start sourcing their foods from more natural, sustainable sources.

Eating at Home

29. Reduce Waste

If you use plastic utensils or paper plates, swap them for real dishes and cloth napkins. It’s also important to cut down on food waste, which another unnecessary drain on an environmental and financial resources.

I’ve long stated that planning your meals is important for a number of reasons, one of which is reducing the amount of food that will go to waste, since you’ll only buy what you need each time you visit the store.

30. Try Composting

Leftover fruit and veggies scraps, leaves and grass clippings (only if not chemically treated) can turn into a valuable natural fertilizer if you compost them instead of throwing them in the trash.

31. Eat Your Leftovers

Rather than simply throwing leftover food in the trash, reduce the waste and save the energy of cooking another meal by revamping them into a new dish. You can, for instance, use the bones from a roast chicken to make stock for a pot of soup, extending a Sunday roast to use for weekday dinners, or throw some extra veggies in the fridge into your juicer to make a fresh green drink.

32. Double Your Recipes

This is a great way to save some cooking energy (yours and the oven’s), as you can use one batch to eat right away and put the other in the freezer for another day.

33. Cook One or More “Local” Meals Per Week

If you’re new to buying locally-grown foods, challenge yourself to create one meal a week solely from these foods. You can even invite some friends or neighbors in on the challenge, and have a locally-grown potluck dinner for sustainable, tasty eating and a night of socializing!


Popular Antibiotics May Carry Serious Side Effects.

Antibiotics are important drugs, often restoring health and even saving lives. But like all drugs, they can have unwanted and serious side effects, some of which may not become apparent until many thousands of patients have been treated.

Such is the case with an important class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. The best known are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin). In 2010, Levaquin was the best-selling antibiotic in the United States.

But by last year it was also the subject of more than 2,000 lawsuits from patients who had suffered severe reactions after taking it.

Part of the problem is that fluoroquinolones are often inappropriately prescribed. Instead of being reserved for use against serious, perhaps life-threatening bacterial infections like hospital-acquired pneumonia, these antibiotics are frequently prescribed for sinusitis, bronchitis, earaches and other ailments that may resolve on their own or can be treated with less potent drugs or nondrug remedies — or are caused by viruses, which are not susceptible to antibiotics.

In an interview, Mahyar Etminan, a pharmacological epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said the drugs were overused “by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”

Dr. Etminan directed a study published in April in The Journal of the American Medical Association showing that the risk of suffering a potentially blinding retinal detachment was nearly fivefold higher among current users of fluoroquinolones, compared with nonusers. In another study submitted for publication, he documented a significantly increased risk of acute kidney failure among users of these drugs.

The conditions Dr. Etminan has studied are relatively easy to research because they result in hospitalizations with diagnoses that are computerized and tracked in databases. Far more challenging to study are the array of diffuse, confusing symptoms suffered by fluoroquinolone users like Lloyd Balch, a 33-year-old Manhattan resident and Web site manager for City College of New York.

In an interview, Mr. Balch said he was healthy until April 20, when a fever and cough prompted him to see a doctor. Nothing was heard through a stethoscope, but a chest X-ray indicated a mild case of pneumonia, and he was given Levaquin. Although he had heard of problems with Levaquin and asked the doctor if he might take a different antibiotic, he was told Levaquin was the drug he needed.

After just one dose, he developed widespread pain and weakness. He called to report this reaction, but was told to take the next dose. But the next pill, he said, “eviscerated” him, causing pain in all his joints and vision problems.

Debilitating Side Effects

In addition to being unable to walk uphill, climb stairs or see clearly, his symptoms included dry eyes, mouth and skin; ringing in his ears; delayed urination; uncontrollable shaking; burning pain in his eyes and feet; occasional tingling in his hands and feet; heart palpitations; and muscle spasms in his back and around his eyes. Though Mr. Balch’s reaction is unusual, doctors who have studied the side effects of fluoroquinolones say others have suffered similar symptoms.

Three and a half months after he took that second pill, these symptoms persist, and none of the many doctors of different specialties he has consulted has been able to help. Mr. Balch is now working with a physical therapist, but in a phone consultation with Dr. David Flockhart, an expert in fluoroquinolone side effects at the Indiana University School of Medicine, he was told it could take a year for his symptoms to resolve, if they ever do disappear completely.

Guidelines by the American Thoracic Society state that fluoroquinolones should not be used as a first-line treatment for community-acquired pneumonia; it recommends that doxycycline or a macrolide be tried first. Mr. Balch didn’t know this, or he might have fought harder to get a different antibiotic.

Adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones may occur almost anywhere in the body. In addition to occasional unwanted effects on the musculoskeletal, visual and renal systems, the drugs in rare cases can seriously injure the central nervous system (causing “brain fog,” depression, hallucinations and psychotic reactions), the heart, liver, skin (painful, disfiguring rashes and phototoxicity), the gastrointestinal system (nausea and diarrhea), hearing and blood sugar metabolism.

The rising use of these potent drugs has also been blamed for increases in two very serious, hard-to-treat infections: antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (known as MRSA) and severe diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile. One study found that fluoroquinolones were responsible for 55 percent of C. difficile infections at one hospital in Quebec.

Fluoroquinolones carry a “black box” warning mandated by the Food and Drug Administration that tells doctors of the link to tendinitis and tendon rupture and, more recently, about the drugs’ ability to block neuromuscular activity. But consumers don’t see these highlighted alerts, and patients are rarely informed of the risks by prescribing doctors. Mr. Balch said he was never told about the black-box warnings.

Lack of Long-Term Studies

No one knows how often serious adverse reactions occur. The F.D.A.’s reporting system for adverse effects is believed to capture only about 10 percent of them. Complicating the problem is that, unlike retinal detachments that were linked only to current or very recent use of a fluoroquinolone, the drugs’ adverse effects on other systems can show up weeks or months after the treatment ends; in such cases, patients’ symptoms may never be associated with prior fluoroquinolone therapy.

No long-term studies have been done among former users of these antibiotics. Fibromyalgia-like symptoms have been associated with fluoroquinolones, and some experts suggest that some cases of fibromyalgia may result from treatment with a fluoroquinolone.

A half-dozen fluoroquinolones have been taken off the market because of unjustifiable risks of adverse effects. Those that remain are undeniably important drugs, when used appropriately. But doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have expressed concern that too often fluoroquinolones are prescribed unnecessarily as a “one size fits all” remedy without considering their suitability for different patients.

Experts caution against giving these drugs to certain patients who face higher than average risks of bad reactions — children under age 18, adults over 60, and pregnant and nursing women — unless there is no effective alternative. The risk of adverse effects is also higher among people with liver disease and those taking corticosteroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

When an antibiotic is prescribed, it is wise to ask what the drug is and whether it is necessary, what side effects to be alert for, whether there are effective alternatives, when to expect the diagnosed condition to resolve, and when to call if something unexpected happens or recovery seems delayed.

At the same time, when an antibiotic is appropriately prescribed, it is extremely important to take the full prescription as directed and not to stop treatment when the patient simply begins to feel better.

Source: NY Times.



Recently, about thirty women, were asked whose ages were mostly under the age of forty, if they carried chewing gum with them. Twenty seven of the thirty were able to pull out a pack of gum, some even going as far as telling me why they loved a particular brand/flavor of gum.

While this demographic is not representative of all women, 90% of them chewed gum on a daily basis, some consuming more than one stick per day. As with many things that we expose our bodies to on a daily basis, let’s take a moment and analyze the ingredients of chewing gum and ask some important questions that pertain to whether it contributes to good health.

How many of us have looked at the ingredients on a pack of gum?

If you have, do you know what each one of the substances is?

Is a stick of chewing gum more of a “cancer stick” than a cigarette?

As you will see below, commercial gum products are some of the most toxic substances that you can expose your body too and literally can lead to some of the worst diseases on the planet.

Here is a list of the most common ingredients in the most popular chewing gum products on the market:

Sorbitol, Xylitol, Mannitol, Maltitol

Gum Base


Natural and Artificial Flavors

Hydrogenated Coconut Oil and Starch

Aspartame –Acesulfame

Soy Lecithin

Colors (titanium oxide, blue 2 lake, red 40)


Malic Acid, Citric Acid

Ingredient #1: Gum Base.

Imagine if someone came up to you and said, “Hey, would you like to chew on some tire rubber and plastic?” You probably would politely decline and want to report this person to a doctor for a psychological evaluation. “Gum base” is a blend of elastomers, plasticizers, fillers, and resin. Some of the other ingredients that go into this mix are polyvinyl acetate, which is frequently referred to as “carpenter glue” or “white glue”. Paraffin wax is another ingredient that is a byproduct of refined petroleum. Is chewing plastic, petroleum and rubber safe? As you chew, these substances leach into the mouth and body. Yummy.

Ingredient #2: Aspartame.

The controversy surrounding this substance is widespread. It is one of the most body toxic substances we can consume. The political corruption and money trail behind this agent of disease is a mile long. Aspartame has been linked to all of the major brain diseases including Alzheimer’s and ALS. It is also considered a prime contributor to many other diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, asthma, obesity, and many others. It is in many diet products on the market today, but in the long run actually contributes to obesity due to his extreme acidity. Aspartame is an excitotoxin, which over excites neurons in the brain until they burn out and die. Dr. Russell Blaylock is the leading expert on Aspartame and other excitotoxins and I would highly encourage you to see the documentary entitled “Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World”.

#3: Hydrogenated Coconut Oil and Starch.

Hydrogenation is chemical process that adds hydrogen across a double bonded carbon. This is done to increase the shelf life of a product, turning oil into a more plastic like substance. This process also creates Trans fats, which are now known to be very harmful to health.

Ingredient #4: Colors (titanium dioxide, blue 2 lake, red 40).

Titanium dioxide is a nanoparticle that is very common in sunscreen and many other health products, including synthetic nutritional supplements. New evidence is leading in the direction of this substance being carcinogenic, leading to cancer. We as humans are drawn to things that are colorful. Artificial food colorings, such as red 40, are made from petroleum and are dangerous to our health. Many people have extreme allergies to these substances and they have been implicated in contributing to ADD and other disorders and diseases.

Ingredient #5: Sorbitol, Xylitol, Mannitol, Maltitol.

These sugar alcohols are originally made from sugar, but are altered so much that they are considered sugar free. As a general rule, when nature is altered and changed to make a “better” product, more often than not, the result is something that is not healthy. Some even go so far as to say that these products are far worse than sugar and can stimulate weight gain. Other side effects can include abdominal pain and diarrhea. Is sugar alcohol better than sugar? Neither are good substances, so comparing the two is somewhat pointless.

Chewing Gum and Digestion

Every time you chew gum, your brain is tricked into thinking that you are eating food. Therefore, it sends signals to your stomach, pancreas and other organs involved in digestion to prepare for this “food”. Your salivary glands and pancreas will begin to emit enzymes, which are necessary to digest food and absorb nutrients from food. Constant emission of enzymes over time will deplete enzymes and over time this process can slow down. If you are not breaking down and absorbing food properly over time, you will get disease because the body needs nutrients to rebuild and thrive.

A Great Alternative for Fresh Breath

A great alternative to chewing gum is to carry around a small bottle of organic food grade peppermint oil and when you would like fresh breath, just put one drop in your mouth and you will have achieved the same effect. You can find many food grade oils that are wonderful for helping you have fresh breath.

Nothing in chewing gum is natural. It is chemical goop that in no way contributes to health or is good for your teeth. Don’t be fooled by fancy advertising. The five ingredients that we reviewed above, in one form or another, contribute to disease and poor health. Is this really a risk that you want to expose yourself to all for the sake of fresh breath? In the future, perhaps we will see that chewing gum may be as much of a contributor to disease as are cigarettes.

Source :




Depression and Those Nasty Pesticide Residues…

Depression and anxiety affect millions of people in the United States, and is a common complaint of patients seen in doctor’s offices as people look for ways to ease their symptoms. As many of my patients seek to find a more holistic solution to their depression, I decided to focus on this topic for one of my evening lectures. In Naturopathic Medicine, a patient’s diet is one of the first targets for improvement when addressing chronic complaints. I had a rough idea of what I would include in the lecture: Decrease sugars, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine. Increase fruits and vegetables. Lower your toxic burden by eating organic foods. All good information, but I needed some statistics and scientific papers as hard references. Being a perpetual procrastinator, I waited until the night before the lecture to write out the notes. At about 10 pm, I stumbled upon an abundance of scholarly articles connecting depression and pesticides – they were disturbing bedtime stories, indeed.

Now, I’ve always know there were about 2,000 reasons to NOT want pesticides on my food, but what I found out was alarming – hundreds of reputable studies reported connections between multiple classes of pesticides and depression. Study after study revealed an increased instance of fatigue, depression, and physical symptoms caused by an abnormally-functioning nervous system in people exposed to pesticides. Most of these studies were done on people who, by profession or geography, were exposed to pesticides in more concentrated amounts than the average person. However, there was also abundant research on humans not directly involved with agricultural use of pesticides showing negative effects from exposure as well. The literature is out there, and openly available to anyone who wishes to read the research.

It is no surprise that chemicals intended to thwart critical biological processes in insects will affect those same processes in humans. Many pesticides work by stopping enzymes that regulate transmission of nerve impulses – affecting both brain and muscle function. Even in relatively small doses, exposure to these toxins over time can have profound effects on the way our systems operate.

Food (if we are fortunate) is the ONE thing we take every single day. There is no pill, exercise, vitamin, or remedy we think of so often, or take more regularly, than food. If we are constantly taking in foods that are doused with pesticides and grown in pesticide-laden soil, even the most nutritious food choices can become toxic. Our bodies only have what we give them to work with – to utilize, build, store and repair.

Food choices affect the function of both body and mind. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, and fatigue, see your doctor for a physical exam and lab work. Once you are cleared to start your journey to wellness, give yourself the best tools for recovery with nutrient-rich foods free of chemicals and toxins. A quick internet search can help to decipher the most important foods to buy organicallygrown.  Your mind will most certainly thank you.

A note about the author: Sarah Zambarano, RN, ND is the owner and Naturopathic Physician at Bodhi Naturoathic in Old Lyme, Connecticut. She provides integrative, individualized health care to patients of all ages. Prior to getting her degree in Naturopathic Medicine, Dr. Z was a nurse for 13 years. During her times of volunteer work, she realized that true medicine needs to encompass the entire life and spirit of the patient. She believes that healing includes more than just medicines and machines – it is laughter, play, quality moments, understanding the body’s wisdom, listening to the patient, providing nutrients and safe environments, removing obstacles to healing, looking to the planet’s gifts, and embracing the individuality of each person. Contact information for Dr. Zambarano can be found by visiting  


Hantavirus Kills Third Yosemite Visitor, Warning Extended to 22,000 People .

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has now been confirmed in eight people who visited Yosemite National Park this summer, three of whom have died, the National Park Service has announced.

Seven of the cases stayed in the park’s Signature Tent Cabins in Curry Village; the eighth lodged in multiple High Sierra Camps — a more remote area of the park. Accordingly, officials have expanded the initial hantavirus warning to a total of 22,000 Yosemite visitors who may have been exposed to the rodent-borne disease since June 10.

The National Park Service notes that the kinds of hantavirus that cause hantavirus pulmonary syndrome in the U.S. cannot be passed from person to person.

Source: National Park Service hantavirus update


St. Jude’s Riata Defibrillator Leads Again Under the Spotlight .

Patients may have concerns about their cardiac devices after reading a front-page New York Times story about St. Jude Medical‘s embattled Riata defibrillator leads. The leads were recalled in 2011 over the risk for failure associated with lead insulation abrasion.

The Times describes the dilemma now faced by cardiac device specialists and patients: take a potentially faulty lead out, or leave it in? Both strategies carry their own risks, the Times notes, although the FDA advises against preemptive lead removal. A study by the manufacturer suggests that 19% of Riata leads show signs of failing.

In August, the FDA recommended imaging studies for patients with Riata leads to check for possible failures. A specialist practicing near Chicago told the Times he was unaware of the FDA’s action until a reporter told him about it, adding that a St. Jude representative failed to mention the new guidance during a discussion late that month.

Source: New York Times


Tight Glycemic Control Doesn’t Improve Outcomes After Kids’ Cardiac Surgery.

Tight glucose control in pediatric ICU patients following cardiac surgery does not reduce morbidity or mortality, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nearly 1000 children (up to age 36 months) who were admitted to the cardiac ICU after undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass were randomized to receive either tight glycemic control with insulin or standard care. Those with diabetes were excluded.

Overall, the number of healthcare-associated infections (e.g., pneumonia, bloodstream infections) did not differ significantly between the groups. There were also no differences in 30-day or in-hospital mortality; length of ICU or hospital stay; or duration of mechanical ventilation or vasoactive support.

An NEJM editorialist argues why these findings should supersede those from a 2009 study showing a benefit with tight glycemic control. He concludes that the door “should be closed on the routine normalization of plasma glucose in critically ill adults and children.”

Source: NEJM