Sugar Addiction: 76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health

Sugar, in moderate amounts, is essential to our body. As a carbohydrate, it helps supply you with the energy you need for your daily activities. All of your cells use it. But at the same time, sugar is also a calorie, and once it is in consumed in excess, negative effects to your health will follow. Massive sugar addiction can result in obesity, diabetesheart damage or failure, cancer cell production, depletion of brain power, and shorter lifespans.1

Moderation is important in this case. Yet avoiding food with high sugar content is definitely easier said than done these days, given the variety of options in stores. Some of the usual suspects include energy drinks, sodas, candy bars, artificial sweeteners, and so much more. Everyone has access to them.

Sugar Addiction

Story at-a-glance

  • Sugar addiction happens due to intense cravings for sweet food. It is triggered by the brain by sending signals to the receptors in our tongue that were not able to develop from the low-sugar diets of our ancestors
  • Here are 76 ways in which sugar could pose a significant threat to your health, divided into four categories: Increased Risk of Diseases and Sicknesses, Nutrient Imbalance or Deficiency, Bodily Impairments, and Behavioral Changes
  • Your emotions might be more important than you think, as newer and more recent studies show that conditioning yourself and analyzing the impacts of your eating habits can help you curb bad practices – sugar addiction included

What Lies Behind Sugar Addiction

Sugar addiction obviously begins when you crave anything that contains this sweet ingredient. Eating sugar triggers production of natural opioids in your brain. These hormones aid in relieving the pain and are triggered in the same way one would consume illegal drugs.2

According to researchers, your tongue has two sweet receptors in it, which evolved during the early times, when our ancestors ate a typically low-sugar diet. As the years went by, people’s tongues were still not able to adapt to sweet treats. This is why when the receptors in your tongue are highly stimulated, it results in your brain sending out excessive reward signals whenever you eat something with sugar in it, which end up overriding your self-control mechanisms. This leads to addiction.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in The Atlantic that:

“The brain’s pleasure center, called the nucleus accumbens, is essential for our survival as a species… When you consume any substance of abuse, including sugar, the nucleus accumbens receives a dopamine signal, from which you experience pleasure. And so you consume more. The problem is that with prolonged exposure, the signal attenuates, gets weaker. So you have to consume more to get the same effect — tolerance. And if you pull back on the substance, you go into withdrawal. Tolerance and withdrawal constitute addiction.”3

Another major player in possible sugar addiction is the hormone leptin. It is responsible for telling the brain how energy that is stored from fat is to be used. Moreover, it targets taste receptors in your tongue, which could increase or decrease your food cravings. When you lack leptin or if there is a problem with your body’s leptin receptors, then your chances of craving food will be bigger, and more often than not, sugar is always the first pick when it comes to combatting cravings.

76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health

Too much sugar can lead to detrimental effects to your health. I counted at least 76 ways (yes, you read that right!) in which sugar can cause serious health risks for you. These hazards are divided into four categories: Increased Risk of Diseases and Sicknesses, Nutrient Imbalance or Deficiency, Bodily Impairments, andBehavioral Changes.

Nutrient Imbalance or Deficiency

  1. Upsets the mineral relationships in your body
  2. Chromium deficiency
  3. Interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and protein
  4. Increases total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol levels
  5. Decreases good cholesterol levels
  6. Lowers vitamin E levels
  7. Body changes sugar into two to five times more fat in the bloodstream compared to starch

Behavioral Changes

  1. Addictive and intoxicating, similar to alcohol
  2. Rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, and anxiety
  3. Leads to difficulty in concentration, drowsiness, and crankiness in children
  4. Results in decreased activity in children
  5. Reduces learning capacity and can cause learning disorders that could affect schoolchildren’s grades
  6. Increases risk of antisocial behavior
  7. Decrease in emotional stability
  8. Depression
  9. Alcoholism

Increased Risk of Diseases and Sicknesses

  1. Feeds cancer cells
  2. Can induce cell death
  3. Increases fasting levels of glucose
  4. Increases systolic blood pressure
  5. Significant increase in platelet adhesion
  6. Leads to formation of kidney stones and gallstones
  7. Rapid sugar absorption promotes excessive food intake
  8. Obesity
  9. Decreases insulin sensitivity, leading to high insulin levels and eventually diabetes
  10. Reactive hypoglycemia
  11. Headaches, including migraines
  12. Dizziness
  13. Gastrointestinal tract problems
  14. Food allergies
  15. Promotes chronic degenerative diseases
  16. Causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases
  17. Causes cataracts and nearsightedness
  18. May lead to autoimmune diseases like arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis
  19. Causes emphysema
  20. Contributes to osteoporosis
  21. Contraction of appendicitis, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins
  22. Parkinson’s disease (people with said disease have high sugar intake)
  23. Increases risk of gout and Alzheimer’s disease
  24. Acidity in saliva, tooth decay, and periodontal diseases
  25. Gum disease
  26. Greatly promotes uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)
  27. Toxemia in pregnancy
  28. Contributes to eczema in children
  29. Worsens symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  30. Increases risk of polio
  31. May lead to epileptic seizures
  32. Could lead to high blood pressure in obese people
  33. Increased consumption in intensive care units can induce death

Bodily Impairments

  1. Has potential to induce abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual
  2. Suppression of immune system, increasing risk of contracting infectious diseases
  3. Loss of tissue elasticity and function
  4. Weaker eyesight
  5. Premature aging
  6. Increases advanced glycation end products wherein sugar molecules attach to proteins and end up damaging them
  7. DNA structure impairment
  8. Can cut off oxygen to brain via intravenous feedings
  9. Change in protein structure and causes a permanent alteration of protein acts in your body
  10. Changing of collagen structure
  11. Skin aging
  12. Impairs physiological homeostasis of bodily systems
  13. Lowers ability of enzymes to function
  14. Increases liver size by making liver cells divide, increasing the amount of liver fat
  15. Increase kidney size and producing pathological changes
  16. Pancreatic damage
  17. Increase in body’s fluid retention
  18. Affects urinary electrolyte composition
  19. Slows down ability of adrenal glands to function
  20. Compromises lining of capillaries
  21. Brittle tendons
  22. Can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly
  23. Causes hormonal imbalances
  24. Increases free radicals and oxidative stress
  25. Leads to substantial decrease in gestation, with a twofold increased risk for delivering a small-for-gestational-age infant
  26. Dehydration among newborns
  27. Affects carbon dioxide production when given to premature babies.

How to Break Sugar Addiction

Don’t fret – it’s not too late to kick those bad habits to the curb. I have a couple of recommendations on how to safely consume sugar without sacrificing your health.

The first would be to appeal to your emotions. Sometimes, when you crave food, it is triggered by an emotional need such as wanting to relieve stress or feel a little bit happier after a tiring day. More often than not, people tend to ignore their emotions when considering whether to eat healthy or otherwise.

I highly recommend the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a simple and effective psychological acupressure technique that could help you manage the emotional components of your cravings. It has been proven to relieve a lot of emotional traumas, abolish phobias and post-traumatic stresses, break down food cravings, and lessen physical pain and discomfort.

What EFT entails in its practitioners is to have the right mindset when going on a diet or just taking steps to improve on their health. If you’re already curious, you can browse through the basics of EFT here.

Another way to reduce sugar consumption would be to lessen the amount of sugar that you consume on a daily basis – below 25 grams to be exact – including that from whole fruits.

I also advise you to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at all costs. This is a sweetener that is made from corn and found in many of the food items that we eat and drink today. Now, this is considered to be deadly not only because of the amount of sugar that goes in it, but also because of the health risks that can it can cause, most of which were already mentioned above.

Choosing a well-balanced diet tailored to your specific body type helps, with extra emphasis on food rich in fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of sugar, and food rich in high quality omega-3 fats, which are also crucial to lessening the impact of eating excessive sugar. Avoiding food with high sugar content and constantly rehydrating with fresh and pure water are also recommended.

Lastly, exercising every day, along with optimizing your vitamin D levelsgetting enough sleep, and managing your stress levels can also help minimize the effects of excessive sugar intake. Exercise in particular is known to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce stress levels, suppress ghrelin (the appetite hormone), speed up metabolism, strengthen bones, and boost your mood.

It can be quite difficult to say no to sweets, especially if you have been  consuming them on a daily basis, but trust me, once you feel the effects that lowering your sugar intake has on your body,  it will all be worth it.

Physicists create mind-bending ‘negative mass’ that accelerates backwards and could help explain black holes

A rubidium metal sample

Scientists have created a fluid with “negative mass” which they claim can be used to explore some of the more challenging concepts of the cosmos.

Washington State University physicists explained that this mass, unlike every physical object in the world we know, accelerates backwards when pushed.

The phenomenon, which is rarely created in laboratory conditions, shows a less intuitive side of Newton’s Second Law of Motion, in which a force is equal to the mass of an object times its acceleration (F=ma).

 Our everyday world sees only the positive effect of the law: if you push an object, it moves away from you.

“That’s what most things that we’re used to do,” said Michael Forbes, a WSU assistant professor of physics and astronomy and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington. “With negative mass, if you push something, it accelerates toward you.”

To create the negative matter the WSU team cooled rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero, creating what is known as a Bose-Einstein condensate in which particles move very slowly and behave like waves.

First predicted theoretically by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein, a Bose-Einstein condensate is a group of atoms cooled to such a low temperature that there is hardly any movement left in the group. At that point, the atoms begin to clump together becoming identical, from a physical point of view, and the whole group starts behaving as though it were a single atom.

Once scientists reached that stage, they used lasers to kick atoms back and forth until they started spinning backwards. When the rubidium rushes out fast enough, if behaves as if it had negative mass.

 “Once you push, it accelerates backwards,” said Mr Forbes, who acted as a theorist analysing the system. “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

The physicist explained that the ground-breaking aspect of their research is the “exquisite control” they have of the negative mass using their technique.

The heightened control gives researchers a new tool to engineer experiments to study similar behaviours in astrophysics, such as neutron stars, and cosmological phenomena like black holes and dark energy, where experiments are impossible.

“It provides another environment to study a fundamental phenomenon that is very peculiar,” Mr Forbes said.

What is a black hole?

Nasa artist’s impression of debris from a star being flung away from a black hole

A black hole is a region in space with a gravitational field so intense that even light can not get out. Because light can’t escape, black holes can’t be seen. They’re detected by the difference in behaviour of stars nearer to the black hole. Stellar black holes are formed by the collapse of the centre of a massive star. This collapse also causes a supernova, or an exploding star, that blasts part of the star into space.



When Your Doctor Suggests Regular Mammograms, This Is What You Need To Say Back

Dr. Ben Johnson: I wrote a book for women, The Secret of Health Breast Wisdom because we, as a medical society, are giving women breast cancer with our demanding that they get mammograms. Mammograms cause breast cancer. Period. So mammograms are not healthy for women. Women should not be getting routine mammograms. That’s crystal clear, published in the peer review literature.


And yet today, if a woman went to her gynecologist or family doc, she would have this shoved down her throat, extreme coercion to get this mammogram that is causing breast cancer. It’s not saving lives. You have a 4% increased risk of dying if you get mammograms, period.

Ty Bollinger: So the detection technique that we’re using, the primary technique that we use to detect breast cancer, is causing breast cancer.

Dr. Ben Johnson: Absolutely, it’s a terrible test; you know smashing women’s breasts and then irradiating with cancer-causing radiation. And then it’s so insensitive. For women under 50, it’s only like 52% effective, sensitive. That means 52 is pretty close to 50, right?

Ty Bollinger: Yeah.

 Dr. Ben Johnson: So about half. That means that half the women that have breast cancer, it would not detect their cancer. That’s a terrible test. And so there are much better tests. And yet this is what’s still being crammed down women’s throats today. Terrible test causes breast cancer.

Ty Bollinger: And it doesn’t detect, it detects 50% and causes cancer. You said there were better options. What are better options there for detecting breast cancer?

Dr. Ben Johnson: Well there’s two better options. If you’ve got a lump, if you think you’ve got something, ultrasound is great. It’s a test of anatomy. Mammograms are tests of anatomy. Ultrasounds are tests of anatomy. MRIs are tests of anatomy. So if you’ve already got a lump, you want a test of anatomy.

So, that would be like an ultrasound because they can see the lump, they can see its consistency. They can see where there’s calcium in it. And they can look at blood flow because tumors are going to have increased blood flow. So, for instance, a sensitivity of ultrasound is up around 80%. It’s much higher than mammograms. And the sensitivity is higher too.

But if you’re looking for prevention, if you’re talking about screening, there’s really only one device out there, and that is thermography. An infrared thermal camera. Nothing touches the lady. Nothing smashes her breasts. There’s no cancer causing radiation.

 As we sit here, we are omitting heat in the spectrum called infrared. There’s infrared, visual, and ultraviolet. So this is the infrared spectrum of light, which our eyes don’t see, but which is very detectable by the camera. The military developed this so that they could see people sneaking at them at nighttime and so that they could shoot down missiles and things because they’re producing heat.

Ty Bollinger: Sure, like night vision goggles.

Dr. Ben Johnson: There you go. Night vision goggles are infrared goggles. So we use it as a medical application to detect hotspots in the breast.

Well long before there was a tumor there, there were cancer cells. Probably 8 to 10 years before there was a tumor, there were cancer cells starting to grow. Two cells, four cells, 16 cells, 144 cells, etc. It takes about eight years until you get to about a centimeter in size for a mammogram or an ultrasound to detect it. Well, that’s too late. Because of that one-centimeter tumor, about five-sixteenths of an inch, less than half an inch, is about one billion cells.

When you get to one billion cells, cancer has already eroded into the lymphatic system and the venous system, and it’s shedding cancer cells all through the body. So that’s why mammograms—one of the many reasons mammograms don’t save lives,
it is NOT early detection. That’s one of the little lies they’ve propagated along. “Early detection saves lives. Get your mammogram today.”

Ty Bollinger: Right.

Dr. Ben Johnson: Well, that statement’s true. Early detection does save lives. It’s just that mammography is not early detection; it’s too late. And then the cancer-causing radiation. So the long and the short is you’re causing much more breast cancer with mammograms than you are detecting.

The Truth About Cancer

The Truth About Cancer

The Truth About Cancer is committed to ending the cancer pandemic once and for all. Every single day, tens of thousands of people, just like you, are curing cancer (and/or preventing it) from destroying their bodies.

They are dedicated to helping others take matters into their own hands by educating them on real prevention and treatments.


Study Shows Females Who Smoke Marijuana Have Higher IQ’s Than Those Who Don’t.

A study conducted by ScienceDaily proves what Rastas have know for years, and that is; Marijuana is the weed of wisdom.

ScienceDaily reports that researchers followed about 8,000 women from ages 5 to 30.

They tested their IQ twice during childhood — and at 16 and 30, they asked them if they’d used marijuana in the last year. Women who had high IQs at 5 were 50% more likely than other women to use marijuana at 30.

The study authors weren’t sure why women with high IQs were more likely to get high. They cited earlier research showing that smart people are “open to experiences and keen on novelty and stimulation.”

They also noted that kids with high IQs might be more likely to be bored or bullied at school, “either of which could conceivably increase vulnerability to using drugs as an avoidant coping strategy.”

We should note that IQ is controversial as a measure of intelligence, as is the idea that you can even measure intelligence at all.

Still, there seems to be something about doing well on an IQ test that makes you more likely to toke up later in life.

That kid in the back of the class would probably claim it’s because smart people recognize the misery inherent in human life and are forced to do something to escape it. His happier friend in the Phish t-shirt might say they just want to expand their minds, dude.

But you’d have to ask the chick with the purple hair and the Sharpied fingernails who sometimes smokes with them behind the band room why high-IQ girls seem especially prone to marijuana use.

Watch the video. URL:


Nationwide study reveals just how broken the US mental health system is.

More than 8 million Americans now suffer from psychological distress.

A nationwide study has found that more Americans than ever before now report suffering from serious mental health problems – but the country’s healthcare system is struggling to meet the demand.

The survey spanned eight years and involved more than 200,000 people living in the US aged between 18 and 64. It concluded that 3.4 percent of the population now suffer from what researchers call ‘severe psychological distress’ (SPD) – mental health issues so serious that they affect someone’s physical wellbeing.

 Extrapolated, that suggests more than 8.3 million adult Americans suffer from mental health issues, far higher than researchers had previously assumed.

And yet the study also found that access to mental health care services actually deteriorated between 2006 and 2014 for people suffering from SPD, when compared to those who didn’t report mental distress. In other words, the gap is getting bigger.

“Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation,” said lead researcher Judith Weissmanfrom NYU Langone Medical Center.

To get this insight, the researchers looked at data from the 2006 to 2014 US CDC’s (Centres of Disease Control and Prevention) annual National Health Interview Survey, which has been conducted for more than 60 years in about 35,000 US households around the country.

Participants are asked how often over the past month they felt certain feelings, such as being so sad that nothing could cheer them up, or that everything they did was worthless.

Together, the frequency of these symptoms allows researchers to get an idea about whether someone is suffering from SPD or not.

 While SPD itself isn’t a formal diagnosis, previous research has linked a high SPD score with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, as well as chronic diseaselower socio-economic status, and a reduced lifespan.

“Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy,” said Weissman.

“Our study may also help explain why the US suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year.”

For perspective, that’s the highest it’s been in the US in 30 years.

In total, around 3.4 percent of the population showed signs of suffering from SPD – previous estimates had put that number at less than 3 percent.

But despite the increase in people needing support, people with SPD specifically are also finding it harder to get support than before.

Interestingly, the report suggests that the mental health care situation has gotten worse despite the introduction of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Both included provisions that were meant to make it easier for people without insurance to access mental health support.

The team found that, in 2014, 9.5 percent of Americans who reported SPD still didn’t have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or counsellor – a slight increase from 9 percent in 2006.

About 10.5 percent of people who reported SPD in 2014 experienced delays in getting professional help due to insufficient mental health coverage, while only 9.5 percent of people said they experienced such delays in 2006.

And, in 2014, 9.9 percent of people with SPD couldn’t afford to pay for their psychiatric medications, up from 8.7 percent in 2006.

There are some limitations to this research – primarily the fact that the classification of SPD was based on self-reported symptoms, rather than being objectively determined by a healthcare professional.

The team was also specifically looking at the access people with SPD had had to health care, but didn’t investigate whether there were other patterns in demographics that would make it harder for them to get help.

While the results of this latest study paint a pretty grim picture about US health care, the team is now looking at ways the system could be improved, and suggest that getting primary care physicians more involved in mental health support could help.

“Our study supports health policies designed to incorporate mental health services and screenings into every physician’s practice through the use of electronic medical records, and by providing training for all health care professionals, as well as the right resources for patients,” said one of the researchers, Cheryl Pegus.

Source: Psychiatric Services.

Tracheal Intubation During Adult In-Hospital Cardiac Arrest and Survival.

Key Points

Question  Is tracheal intubation during adult in-hospital cardiac arrest associated with survival?

Findings  In a study of 86 628 adults with in-hospital cardiac arrest using a propensity-matched cohort, tracheal intubation within the first 15 minutes was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of survival to hospital discharge compared with not being intubated (16.3% vs 19.4%, respectively).

Meaning  These findings do not support early tracheal intubation for adult in-hospital cardiac arrest.


Importance  Tracheal intubation is common during adult in-hospital cardiac arrest, but little is known about the association between tracheal intubation and survival in this setting.

Objective  To determine whether tracheal intubation during adult in-hospital cardiac arrest is associated with survival to hospital discharge.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Observational cohort study of adult patients who had an in-hospital cardiac arrest from January 2000 through December 2014 included in the Get With The Guidelines–Resuscitation registry, a US-based multicenter registry of in-hospital cardiac arrest. Patients who had an invasive airway in place at the time of cardiac arrest were excluded. Patients intubated at any given minute (from 0-15 minutes) were matched with patients at risk of being intubated within the same minute (ie, still receiving resuscitation) based on a time-dependent propensity score calculated from multiple patient, event, and hospital characteristics.

Exposure  Tracheal intubation during cardiac arrest.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge. Secondary outcomes included return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and a good functional outcome. A cerebral performance category score of 1 (mild or no neurological deficit) or 2 (moderate cerebral disability) was considered a good functional outcome.

Results  The propensity-matched cohort was selected from 108 079 adult patients at 668 hospitals. The median age was 69 years (interquartile range, 58-79 years), 45 073 patients (42%) were female, and 24 256 patients (22.4%) survived to hospital discharge. Of 71 615 patients (66.3%) who were intubated within the first 15 minutes, 43 314 (60.5%) were matched to a patient not intubated in the same minute. Survival was lower among patients who were intubated compared with those not intubated: 7052 of 43 314 (16.3%) vs 8407 of 43 314 (19.4%), respectively (risk ratio [RR] = 0.84; 95% CI, 0.81-0.87; P < .001). The proportion of patients with ROSC was lower among intubated patients than those not intubated: 25 022 of 43 311 (57.8%) vs 25 685 of 43 310 (59.3%), respectively (RR = 0.97; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99; P < .001). Good functional outcome was also lower among intubated patients than those not intubated: 4439 of 41 868 (10.6%) vs 5672 of 41 733 (13.6%), respectively (RR = 0.78; 95% CI, 0.75-0.81; P < .001). Although differences existed in prespecified subgroup analyses, intubation was not associated with improved outcomes in any subgroup.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among adult patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest, initiation of tracheal intubation within any given minute during the first 15 minutes of resuscitation, compared with no intubation during that minute, was associated with decreased survival to hospital discharge. Although the study design does not eliminate the potential for confounding by indication, these findings do not support early tracheal intubation for adult in-hospital cardiac arrest.


Mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and other megafauna went extinct because of ancient climate change

‘We should be quite worried about the warming that is going on now and … about whether again we are going to see a suite of extinctions’

Mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers, giant sloths and other ‘megafauna’ died out across most of the world at the end of the last Ice Age because the changing climate became too wet, according to a new study.

By studying the bones of the long-dead animals, researchers were able to work out levels of water in the environment.

And they found a link between the time large grassland animals and their predators became extinct in different parts of the world over a period of 15,000 to 11,000 years ago and a sudden increase in moisture.

This changed the environment from one dominated by grass to one more suited to trees, bogs and peatlands at the same time as human hunters moved in – creating a lethal “double whammy” that proved too much for many species.

The researchers warned that this process showed how vulnerable today’s large grassland animals could be to climate change, which will result in an increase in rainfall in some places.

One of the researchers, Professor Alan Cooper, of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at Adelaide University, said in a video: “What we have found by looking into the actual bones themselves is a signal of sudden environmental change just before they became extinct.

“We see water, moisture, everywhere, which we think is changing the vegetation patterns away from grass, which is what they want, towards trees. What we are really seeing is a double whammy, where the environment is suddenly shifting, the populations are in major trouble, and humans are turning up and hunting is taking off.”

It had long been a “big mystery” why Africa’s megafauna had remained when populations in the rest of the world died out, he said.

“The idea has been that they evolved with humans and were somehow used to them,” said Professor Cooper.

“What we see instead is, because there were no glaciers and large amounts of water to melt, grasslands were always present in Africa, so the animals never had the stress they had elsewhere.

“So it had nothing to do with being use to humans.”

He said the timing of the extinctions around the world, which hit South America first, then North America and then Europe, correlated with the increase in water.

“What it shows is climate change can have some quite large impacts across landscape-sized environments and that we should be quite worried about the warming that is going on now, the changes in water production, and about whether again we are going to see a suite of extinctions,” he said.

Elephants, rhinos and giraffes could all be at risk. “With added rainfall in these areas, we could actually see some quite major impacts on these populations, relatively quickly,” Professor Cooper said.

The international team of researchers, from the US, Russia and Canada as well as Australia, looked at levels of nitrogen isotopes from bone collagen that had been radiocarbon dated. This gave an indication of levels of moisture in the landscape, they said in a paper about the research in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

“Grassland megafauna were critical to the food chains. They acted like giant pumps that shifted nutrients around the landscape,” said Dr Tim Rabanus-Wallace, also of Adelaide University.

“When the moisture influx pushed forests and tundras to replace the grasslands, the ecosystem collapsed and took many of the megafauna with it.”

The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years

Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables

Story at-a-glance

  • Ninety-three percent of seeds were lost from 1903 to 1993
  • Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply
  • The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction

Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds.

It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage.”1 But this is no longer the case.

Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply.

Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies that control most seeds today have flourished.

According to Worldwatch:2

“…by the early 1900s, the U.S. and Canadian governments began promoting the development of large export-oriented agriculture industries based on only a few crops and livestock species.

To maximize uniformity and yields, seed breeding moved off the farm and into centralized public research centers, such as U.S. land grant universities. Variety development became commodity-oriented.

Scientific advances in the 1970s and ’80s heralded a new era in agriculture. To boost flat sales, Monsanto and other agrichemical companies ventured into genetic engineering and transformed themselves into the biotechnology industry.

They bought out traditional seed companies and engineered their herbicide-resistant genes into the newly acquired seed lines.”  It’s been all downhill from there…

93 Percent of Seeds Have Been Lost in the Last 80 Years

If you were alive in 1903, you would have been able to choose from more than 500 varieties of cabbage, 400 varieties of peas and tomatoes, and 285 varieties of cucumbers.

Eighty years later in 1983, the varieties had dwindled sharply, to just 28 varieties of cabbage, 25 varieties of peas, 79 for tomatoes, and just 16 varieties of cucumbers.

In a comparison of seeds offered in commercial seed houses in the early 1900s to the seeds found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983, researchers found 93 percent of seeds were lost over eight decades.

The National Geographic infographic below shows just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables appear near extinction.3  Even more concerning is the fact that the data is already more than 30 years old, and the problem may have gotten even worse since.

For the record, it’s not only fruits and vegetables that are disappearing. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.4

Food Variety Infographic

Loss of Seed Diversity Coincides with the Consolidation of Seed Companies

Seeds have traditionally been saved and shared between farmers from one harvest season to the next. Farmers rarely ever had to buy new seed. Nature, when left alone, provides you with the means to propagate the next harvest in a never-ending cycle.

Now, however, farmers relying on patented seeds must buy them each year from pesticide companies like Monsanto. Saving such seeds is illegal because it is considered to be patent infringement.

Many farmers depend on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) (and patented) seeds. More than 90 percent of US soybeans and 80 percent of corn acreage is planted with Monsanto’s patented GM seeds.5

For 200 years, the patenting of life was prohibited, especially with respect to foods. But all of that changed in 1978 with the first patent of a living organism, an oil-eating microbe, which opened the proverbial floodgates.

Patenting of life forms was never approved by Congress or the American public. But as far the GMO industry is concerned, they own a gene, wherever it ends up.

According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as of August 2013 Monsanto owned 1,676 seed, plant, and other similar patents.6 This was the plan all along. As reported by Friends of the Earth International:7

“At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years.

The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it.

They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.”

Seed Industry Consolidation Increases Along with Seed Costs

In 1996, there were still about 300 independent seeds companies left in the US. By 2009, there were fewer than 100.8 With the rise of GM crops and seed patents, meanwhile, the pesticide industry has been snapping up an ever-growing share of the seed industry.

Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply, and 10 multinational corporations hold 65 percent of global commercial seed for major crops.9 According to Philip Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University:10

“The commercial seed industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last 40 years as transnational corporations entered this agricultural sector, and acquired or merged with competing firms.

This trend is associated with impacts that constrain the opportunities for renewable agriculture, such as reductions in seed lines and a declining prevalence of seed saving.”

He further stated,“[t]he Big Six chemical/seed companies [Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF] have increased their cross-licensing agreements to share genetically engineered traits, strengthening the barriers to entry for smaller firms that don’t have access to these expensive technologies.”11

Howard has also compiled the graphic below, which depicts changes in ownership involving major seed companies and their subsidiaries from 1996 to 2013.12

As for seed costs, prices for GM soybean seeds rose 325 percent from 1995 to 2011, with GM soybean seed costing about 47 percent more than non-GM soy.13 GM corn seed is also about double that of conventional seed, and according to the Center for Food Safety:14 “In addition to the cost of seeds, a ‘trait fee’ is charged—this fee has also precipitously risen from $4.5[0] per bag of soybean seed in 1996 to an estimated $17.50 by 2008.”

As the Worldwatch Institute reported:15 “With the profitability of seed increasing over the last 15 years, largely because of patents and contracts, the money and incentive for public institutions to develop new varieties are declining. Farmers also are saving less seed.”

seed industry structure

Insane Government Policy Targets Seed Swap at Community Library

The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library last year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”16

All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…17

“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’

Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’…While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.”18

In reality, “old-fashioned” seed swaps such as the one attempted at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library are one of the best ways to secure non-GMO, heirloom seeds for your garden. You can try this on your own with friends and neighbors or local gardening clubs. The National Gardening Association, for instance, has an online seed swap that allows you to post either seeds you’d like to share or seeds you’re looking for. It’s a free service and, as they say on their site, “one gardener’s extras are another’s treasures.”19 If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye out for the film “Seed: The Untold Story,” which is slated to be released in 2015.

Drug Overdoses Are the 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US

Story at-a-glance

  • Prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009, and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide
  • Drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids) replaced kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death in the U.S. as of 2015
  • Addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain; 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription

According to the U.S. surgeon general, more Americans now use prescription opioidsthan smoke cigarettes.1 This makes sense when you consider prescriptions for opioid painkillers rose by 300 percent between 2000 and 2009,2,3 and Americans now use 80 percent of all the opioids sold worldwide.4

In Alabama, which has the highest opioid prescription rate in the U.S., 143 prescriptions are written for every 100 people.5 A result of this over-prescription trend is skyrocketing deaths from overdoses.6,7

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths, specifically, include8 methadone, oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®).

As noted by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”9

There are safe options to treat pain, but education — both among doctors and patients — is sorely lacking. This is why I frequently write about this issue, and hope you’ll do your part in spreading the word.

Far too many people in the prime of their life are losing it to painkiller addiction, and often they simply had no idea a prescription painkiller for a temporary injury or pain would send them into the throes of drug addiction.

Drug Overdoses Now 9th Leading Cause of Death in the US

In 2014, prescription drug overdoses, a majority of which involved some type of opioid, killed more Americans than car crashes (49,714 compared to 32,675).10 This held true for 2015 as well, despite 2015 being hailed as the deadliest driving year since 2008.

In all, 38,300 Americans died in car crashes in 201511 — a sharp rise thought to be related to a combination of cheaper gas prices and hence increased travel, and using smartphones while driving.12 A rise in overdoses also suddenly placed drug overdoses in the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.

In 2015, 52,404 Americans died from drug overdoses; 33,091 of them involved an opioid and nearly one-third of them, 15,281, were by prescription.13,14,15 Meanwhile, kidney disease, listed as the 9th leading cause of death on the CDC’s top 10 list, killed 48,146.16

The CDC does not include drug overdoses on this list, but if you did, drug overdoses (63 percent of which are opioids), would replace kidney disease as the 9th leading cause of death as of 2015, inching its way toward the 8th slot, currently occupied by respiratory complications such as pneumonia, which took 55,227 lives in 2015.

Why Are Pregnant Women Prescribed Narcotics?

A statistic that shows just how overprescribed and misused opioid drugs are is the prescription rate for pregnant women and women of childbearing age.

Despite carrying risks of pregnancy-related problems and birth defects, shockingly, nearly one-third of American women of childbearing age are prescribed opioid painkillers17 and more than 14 percent of pregnant women were prescribed opioids during their pregnancy.18

Reasons for prescribing these extremely dangerous drugs include back and/or abdominal pain, migraine, joint pains and fibromyalgia. Clearly, if you are planning a pregnancy or are pregnant, you should go to great lengths to avoid narcotic drugs. If you wouldn’t consider taking heroin, you shouldn’t take a narcotic pain reliever.

Yet, in 2015, 27 million Americans either used illegal drugs and/or misused prescription drugs, and addiction to opioids and heroin now costs the U.S. more than $193 billion each year.

Please, take care to avoid becoming part of this devastating trend. Studies show addiction affects about 26 percent of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy dies from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription.19

According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy for both men and women dropped between 2014 and 2015, for the first time in two decades, and overdose deaths appear to be a significant contributor.20,21,22

Drug Industry Is Responsible for Mass Addiction

Many believe the drug companies that create and sell these drugs need to be held accountable for America’s rapidly escalating drug problem, especially since several have been caught lying about the benefits and risks of their drugs.

As noted by the Organic Consumers Association,23 the drug industry has “fostered the opioid addiction epidemic” by:

Introducing long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which prior to reformulation in 2010 could be snorted or shot. Many addicts claimed the high from OxyContin was better than heroin.

From a chemical standpoint, OxyContin is nearly identical to heroin, and has been identified as a major gateway drug to heroin.

Changing pain prescription guidelines to make opioids the first choice for lower back pain and other pain conditions that previously did not qualify for these types of drugs.

Promoting long-term use of opioids, even though there’s no evidence that using these drugs long-term is safe and effective.

Downplaying and misinforming doctors and patients about the addictive nature of opioid drugs. OxyContin, for example, became a blockbuster drug mainly through misleading claims that Purdue Pharma knew were false from the start.

The basic promise was that it provided pain relief for a full 12 hours, twice as long as generic drugs, giving patients “smooth and sustained pain control all day and all night.”

However, for many the effects don’t last anywhere near 12 hours, and once the drug wears off, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, including body aches, nausea and anxiety. These symptoms, in addition to the return of the original pain, quickly begin to feed the cycle of addiction.24

Drug Enforcement Administration Struggles to Hold Drug Makers Accountable for Black Market Sales

Evidence has repeatedly shown opioid makers have acted with callous disregard for human life, yet they keep getting off the hook with little more than a slap on the wrist. The Washington Post recently published an article detailing the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) failure to bring an opioid maker to justice.25

In 2011, the DEA began investigating Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, one of the largest manufacturers of oxycodone in the U.S. This was the first time the DEA targeted a drug manufacturer for violating laws designed to prevent black market sales of legal narcotics.

To date, it’s also the largest prescription drug case the DEA has ever pursued. Federal prosecutors accused Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals of ignoring “its responsibility to report suspicious orders as 500 million of its pills ended up in Florida between 2008 and 2012.”

In all, 66 percent of all oxycodone sold in Florida between those years was shipped to suspected “pill mills” selling prescription drugs to addicts.

In 2010 alone, one distributor, Cincinnati-based KeySource Medical, shipped 41 million oxycodone tablets made by Mallinckrodt to Florida. That’s enough pills to give every man, woman and child in the state 2.5 pills each. Cardinal Health, one of the largest drug distributors in the U.S., was also sending extremely large amounts of Mallinckrodt-made oxycodone pills to Florida.

One Delray Beach doctor named Barry Schultz received 92,400 oxycodone pills from Sunrise Wholesale in just 11 months. He once prescribed 1,000 pills to a single patient, all in one day — a clearly suspect prescription by any reasonable standard.

At the time these enormous shipments were made, the street value of one “oxy” pill was $30. Schultz was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2016 after being charged with drug trafficking and one case of manslaughter, following the overdose death of one of his patients. As noted in the featured article:26

“‘Mallinckrodt knew through law enforcement reports that Barry Schultz was diverting controlled substances, and that the diverted oxycodone was supplied by Mallinckrodt through Sunrise,’ prosecutors later wrote in an internal document sent to the company. ‘When Mallinckrodt continued to distribute oxycodone to Sunrise for such purposes, and continued to pay incentives in the form of chargebacks for the product sales to Barry Schultz, Mallinckrodt was diverting oxycodone.'”

A pharmacy in Sanford, Florida, also stood in receipt of suspicious amounts of pills. Over the course of four years, it received 5.8 million oxycodone pills — nearly 20 times more than the state average for pharmacies.

By law, drug manufacturers must notify the DEA when suspicious orders such as these occur. Mallinckrodt stood accused of 44,000 federal violations, totaling $2.3 billion in fines. In all, federal prosecutors claimed 222,107 Florida orders were “excessive” and should have been reported to the DEA as suspicious.

Oxycodone Maker Gets Off Scot-Free — Again

Yet, despite a massive five-state investigation spanning several years, the U.S. government has taken no legal action against Mallinckrodt, and likely never will. “Instead, the company has reached a tentative settlement with federal prosecutors,” The Washington Post writes, adding:

“Under the proposal, which remains confidential, Mallinckrodt would agree to pay a $35 million fine and admit no wrongdoing … The case shows how difficult it is for the government to hold a drug manufacturer responsible for the damage done by its product. DEA investigators appalled by rising overdose deaths said they worked for years to build the biggest case of their careers only to watch it falter on uncertain legal territory and in the face of stiff resistance from the company.

‘They just weren’t taking this seriously, and people were dying,’ said a former law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending … ‘It wasn’t their kids, their wives, their husbands, their brothers. It was some hillbilly in Central Florida, so who cares?'”

A $35 million fine is a drop in the bucket for a company that boasts $3.4 billion in annual revenue, with a net profit of $489 million,27,28 and will do absolutely nothing to deter it or other drug companies from continuing business as usual. As noted by The Washington Post:

“Drug manufacturers have paid much larger fines for other misdeeds. Glaxo­SmithKline was fined $3 billion, and Pfizer was fined $2.3 billion for illegally promoting off-label drug use and paying kickbacks to doctors. Purdue Pharma paid a $600 million fine, and three of its executives pleaded guilty to charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the risks of the painkiller that is widely blamed for setting off the nation’s opioid crisis: OxyContin.

All of those cases were initiated by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]. The largest fine the DEA has levied against a drug distributor was the $150 million that McKesson, the nation’s largest drug wholesaler, recently agreed to pay following allegations that it failed to report suspicious orders of painkillers. For a company the size of Mallinckrodt, a $35 million fine is ‘chump change,’ one government official said.”

Drug Industry Ensures Leniency by Hiring DEA and DOJ Agents

Last year, seven U.S. senators demanded to find out why there has been such a sharp decline in enforcement actions by the DEA against wholesalers suspected of distributing prescription narcotics to the black market.29

According to The Washington Post, DEA lawyers began delaying and blocking enforcement efforts by DEA agents against opioid distributors in 2013, suddenly insisting on increasingly higher standards of proof before moving cases forward. This included proof of intent — a factor that is very difficult to prove and typically only required in criminal cases.

In 2011, the DEA took 131 actions against distributors. By 2014, that number had dropped to 40. In that same time frame, the number of “immediate suspension orders” dropped from 65 to nine. (The suspension order allows the agency to freeze shipments of narcotics, effective immediately.) The question is why. I’ve written about the dangers of the revolving door policy that allows regulators to be hired by industry and vice versa on numerous occasions.

In this case, former DEA and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials hired by the drug industry fought for lenience and a “soft approach” to the burgeoning drug addiction problem.30 They succeeded, thereby allowing the problem to grow more or less unrestrained, despite official promises to the contrary. Many DEA officials did in fact suspect Clifford Lee Reeves II, the lawyer in charge of approving their cases, of secretly working for the drug industry.

New FDA Chief Unlikely to Take Hard Line Against Opioids

Unfortunately, President Trump’s nominee for head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is also in the opioid industry’s pocket, having received nearly $45,000 in speaker’s fees from opioid manufacturers and distributors.31 During his confirmation hearing, Gottlieb stated he believes the U.S. opioid crisis is a “public health emergency on the order of Ebola and Zika” that requires dramatic action, and promised that developing a strategy to curb the opioid epidemic would be his “highest and most immediate priority.”32

The question is whether or not he’ll actually follow through. Gottlieb’s drug industry ties are so significant, he’s agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving more than 20 different drug companies with whom he has decades’ long financial connections.

As noted by Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University:33 “Our country is in desperate need of an FDA commissioner who will take on the opioid lobby, not one who has a track record of working for it.” Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass) also criticized Trump’s choice for the FDA saying,34 “Gottlieb’s record indicates that he would not take the epidemic and the FDA’s authority to rein in prescription painkillers and other drugs seriously.”

Prescription Painkillers Are Gateway Drugs to Heroin and Other Deadly Highs

Oxycontin and other opioid pain killers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin.35 Chemically, these drugs are very similar and provide a similar kind of high. According to a 2013 U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, nearly 80 percent of people who use heroin have previously used prescription painkillers.36 Opioids work by attaching to opioid receptors in your brain, thereby blocking pain signals.

This also has the effect of creating a sensation of pleasure or euphoria — and addiction. Over time they can also result in increased pain perception, setting into motion a cycle where you need increasingly larger doses, making a lethal overdose more likely.

Oxycontin’s high rate of addiction is the result of a short half-life (the amount of time the drug stays in your system before you are left wanting more). Opioids are also very potent immune suppressors. As such they can wreck your health in serious ways, leaving you far worse off than where you started.

Many users are also turning to much stronger types of opioids, such as fentanyl, which is seeing the fastest rate of growth in use. Deadly overdoses involving fentanyl rose by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014, and another 72 percent between 2014 and 2015. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be anywhere from 500 to 1,000 percent more potent than morphine.

Besides a more potent high, price is another factor driving its popularity. Since it can be created in a lab, it’s far cheaper than heroin, which in turn is cheaper than prescription opioids.

A recent NPR story37 reveals the tremendous impact fentanyl is having on many people’s lives. Allyson, a 37-year old client at the AAC Needle Exchange and Overdose Prevention Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says she’s lost 30 friends to these deadly painkillers. “Basically, my entire generation is gone in one year,” she said.

Are You or Someone You Love Addicted to Painkillers?

Some of the marketing material for opioids claims the drug will not cause addiction “except in very rare cases,” describing the adverse effects patients experience when quitting the drug as a “benign state” and not a sign of addiction. This simply isn’t true. Panic is one psychological side effect commonly experienced when quitting these drugs, and this can easily fuel a psychological as well as physical dependence on the drug.

It’s important to recognize the signs of addiction, and to seek help. If you’ve been on an opioid for more than two months, or if you find yourself taking higher dosages, or taking the drug more often, you’re likely already addicted and are advised to seek help from someone other than your prescribing doctor. Resources where you can find help include:

With all the health risks associated with opioid painkillers, I strongly urge you to exhaust other options before resorting to these drugs. For a long list of alternative pain treatments, please see my previous articles, “Treating Pain Without Drugs,” and “New Treatment Guidelines for Back Pain Stress Non-Drug Interventions.”

Light at Night Damages Health and Potentially Future Generations

There is a significant cost to your health from light pollution resulting from living in a 24/7 society. A growing number of street lights and lit signs obscure the night sky, and your bedroom is likely dimly lit from street lamps, digital equipment or alarm clocks.

light exposure at night

Story at-a-glance

  • Light pollution triggers significant health changes in humans, animals and plants and may be a hidden cost of a 24/7 lifestyle
  • Recent research identified health problems in the offspring of laboratory animals exposed to even dim light at night, showing it affects the animals’ immune and endocrine systems
  • Both dim light at night and electromagnetic fields from electronic devices trigger mitochondrial damage, potentially affecting epigenetic expression in future generations

It’s not possible to “feel” the changes in your brain and body from outdoor street light that seeps in around your bedroom curtains or the dim glow from your alarm clock.

Yet, even a dim light at night affects your natural sleep cycle and produces biological changes which, in turn, may affect your risk for health conditions such as obesitydiabetescancer and depression.

I have been a long-time advocate of sleeping in complete darkness. Even a small amount of light is enough to make a difference in your health. And now, recent research demonstrates your exposure to light pollution may affect the health of your children.

Light Exposure at Night May Alter Immunity of Future Generations

In a study at Ohio State University, researchers concluded exposure to light at night may produce immune and endocrine disruptions.1 To isolate the effect light has on sleep quality and not on interruption of sleep, they used naturally nocturnal hamsters that normally sleep during daylight hours.

The hamsters were separated into two groups; for nine weeks one group was exposed to dim light all night while the other was exposed to standard light days and dark nights. Following this the hamsters were allowed to mate and then all were returned to standard lighting conditions.

Initially, the researchers noted an increase in body mass of both male and female hamsters exposed to dim light at night.2 The next generation was also raised under standard lighting conditions. The researchers ran a series of tests on the hamster pups once they achieved adulthood.3

They found parental history of light exposure prior to conception left the following generation of hamsters with an impaired immune response and decreased endocrine activity.

These health conditions were passed down through either parent’s genetic material, meaning it didn’t matter whether it was the mother or father that was exposed to dim light at night; the effect could be traced to either parent.

The impaired adaptive immune function noted in the hamster offspring illustrates a transgenerational effect of light at night.

While the exposure did not change the DNA sequence of the hamsters, it did affect the epigenetic expression of that DNA. Epigenetics describes changes to genetic expression not occurring from an actual sequence change in DNA, but rather how the genes are expressed.

For instance, exposure to environmental factors such as nicotine or alcohol may trigger sections of DNA to be switched on or off.

These changes in genetic expression can be passed to offspring while still maintaining the exact genetic sequencing. In this study, light exposure at night changed the epigenetics of the hamster offspring, negatively affecting their immune system.

Light Pollution Also Affects Your General Health

Senior author Randy Nelson, Ph.D., professor and chair of neuroscience at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center commented on the significance of the results:4

“Now, we’re seeing for the first time in these hamsters that it’s possible this damage isn’t just being done to the affected individuals, but to their offspring as well. These weren’t problems that developed in utero. They came from the sperm and the egg.

It’s much more common to see epigenetic effects from the mothers, but we saw changes passed on from the fathers as well.

I think people are beginning to accept that light pollution is serious pollution and it has health consequences that are pretty pronounced — an increase in cancers, depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and anxiety disorders.

We should be concerned about the increasing exposures to light at night from our tablets and phones and TVs.”

Exposure to light at night, even when awake doing shift work or dim light exposurewhen sleeping, may be associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal ailments and mood disorders, regardless of the type of illumination.5

In both the recent study and others,6 animals exposed to light during night hours had greater weight gain. In some mice, up to 50 percent more weight was gained over eight weeks, despite identical activity levels and available food.

Other studies show that rates of cancers dependent on hormones, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer, increase with exposure to light at night.7

The suppression of melatonin, a sleep regulating hormone, by blue light emitted from electronic media and other lighting, is linked with reduced sleep quality and interrupted sleep.8 Poor sleep quality increases your risk of depression and may impact your reproductive health as well.9

Mitochondrial Damage Is at the Center of Poor Health

Mitochondrial function plays an important role in many of the diseases and changes associated with aging, and melatonin plays a unique part in stabilizing the function of molecular mechanisms and biogenesis of your mitochondria.10 Melatonin acts as an antioxidant and regulator of mitochondrial functions.11

It is selectively used by mitochondrial membranes, a function not exhibited by other antioxidants. The hormone effectively prevents oxidative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction.

As exposure to light, and specifically blue light, severely impacts your melatonin production, it also has a substantial effect on your overall health.

Your mitochondria are tiny powerhouses inside the cells of your body. They are the primary source of energy for your cells, and thus your body. Since mitochondrial function is at the heart of everything that happens in your body, optimizing it is extremely important for good health and disease prevention.

For example, one of the universal characteristics of cancer is serious mitochondrial dysfunction with radically decreased numbers of functional mitochondria.

A disruption of your circadian rhythm, and therefore your secretion of melatonin and subsequent effect on mitochondria, has been associated with aberrant cell proliferation and cancer.12

Mitochondrial dysfunction also plays a central role in insulin resistance, the hallmark symptom of diabetes.13,14 Glucose and lipid metabolism are principally dependent on mitochondria to generate energy. Insulin resistance from mitochondrial dysfunction may contribute to subsequent increases in heart disease.

Cell death and survival are critical to neurodegeneration, and mitochondrial function is an important determinant of both.15

The relationship between melatonin and mitochondrial function has led to the emergence of melatonin as a potential therapeutic tool for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.16

How Much Light Is Too Much?

Your body requires exposure to bright daylight, especially in the early morning, to produce healthy amounts of melatonin each night. While melatonin helps regulate sleep and protects your mitochondria, that isn’t all it does.

It is also a free radical scavenger that helps support your immune system and thymus gland, and helps you feel good in the morning. It also may protect your brain against aging. Your body secretes all the melatonin it needs based on natural circadian rhythms that are largely reliant on light.

Getting sunlight in the morning is one way to help reset your circadian clock daily. Ten to 15 minutes of morning sunlight sends a strong message that it’s time to rise and shine. In this way, your body is less likely to be confused by weaker light signals later in the day.

My rule of thumb is, if there is enough light in your bedroom at night to see your hand in front of your face, then there is too much light. Your body requires light during the day to produce healthy amounts of melatonin, but at night light inhibits production. So, it’s difficult to get too much light during the day and easy to get too much at night.

The problem of light pollution has become so pervasive that the American Medical Association (AMA) has issued statements warning against light at night. In 2012, during their annual meeting, the AMA voted on a policy recognizing that exposure to light at night can disrupt sleep and LED street lamps could create dangerous driving conditions.17

In 2016, the AMA again voted on guiding principles for the selection of public lighting options.18 The policy statement specifically addressed the new “white light” LED street lamps being erected around the U.S. to save energy, and the vote was unanimous.19

The concern is prompted by the color spectrum used in the LED street lights. The AMA recommends a color temperature no greater than 3000 Kelvin (k). The color temperature of the LED lighting currently being installed ranges between 4000 k and 5000 k, containing high levels of short-wavelength blue light in the spectrum.

Color of Your Light Matters

As detailed in my interview with Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology, lighting is an important health consideration. Natural sunlight simply cannot be beat, but unless you spend a majority of your time outside, you’ll need to give some serious consideration to the kind of artificial lighting you use at home and at work.

Not all artificial light is created equally. The LED lights installed in major cities are harsh, triggering complaints from local residents. Blue lighting from LED lights reduces contrast at night and therefore reduces visibility. While this limits everyone’s ability to see potential danger, it is especially difficult for people over 50 to see well in this lighting.20 According to the AMA statement:21

“Unshielded LED lighting causes significant discomfort from glare. Discomfort and disability glare can decrease visual acuity, decreasing safety and creating a road hazard. Various testing measures have been devised to determine and quantify the level of glare and vision impairment by poorly designed LED lighting.”

Electric lighting is not inherently dangerous to humans or animals. However, it is important to balance safety at night against long term health. Light pollution has an effect on plants and animals, including preventing some trees from recognizing seasonal variations, and affecting the breeding cycles and foraging of wildlife.22 According to the AMA statement in 2016:23

“Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting. The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects.”

Additionally, the AMA estimates that LED street lights have a five times greater impact on natural sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps they are replacing.24 Recent surveys have found these brighter residential blue wavelength street lights are associated with excessive sleepiness during the day, impaired daytime functioning, obesity and dissatisfaction with sleep quality.

These effects may be improved when cities begin using LED lighting options operating at 3000 k or less, often called warm white lights. These lights help balance the need for safety, reduced financial cost and smaller carbon footprint against your long-term health and the health of plants and animals exposed to external lighting.

Use REVERSE Sunglasses After the Sun Sets

In addition to eliminating all light exposure when you go to bed, it is also really important to filter light after sunset. The only light source our ancient ancestors had at night was from fire, which has virtually no blue or green light. Exposure to these light frequencies after the sun sets virtually assures that you will lower your melatonin and melanopsin levels. It also increases your risk of blindness from macular degeneration.

So, head on over to Amazon25 and pick up a pair of reverse sunglasses to protect your vision after dark. The glasses are only $9 and they are far superior to traditional blue-blockers as they also filter out the yellow and green that can impair retinal health. They are my absolute new favorite now, and I only use the amber blue-blockers during the day when I need to lecture in a dark hall illuminated by artificial light.

Also Beware of Electromagnetic Frequency Emitted From Electronic Light Sources

While wearing a sleep mask may help reduce the amount of light seeping through your eyelids, it is also important to address the electromagnetic field (EMF) emitted from electronic devices that is at least as dangerous as the light. Although blue light at night reduces your melatonin secretion, and therefore antioxidant protection for your mitochondrial function, EMF from electronic devices also damages mitochondria by producing oxidative damage.

Thus, your computer, cell phone and other electronic devices may be doing double duty health damage. One major concern of exposure to EMF has been the development of cancer.26 Scientists have long believed that cancer is initiated by damage to a cell’s genetic structure, but the initial damage can actually be traced to mitochondrial damage.

DNA damage triggered by EMF also leads to changes in cell function and cell death. EMF sources in your home, such as WiFi routers, cell phones and microwave ovens, may increase your risk of cancer.27,28,29 In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as a 2B carcinogen, or possibly carcinogenic to humans.30

It is REALLY important that you turn off your Wi-Fi every night before you go to bed to minimize your exposure. In future articles I will discuss how you can use a Faraday cage to really improve protection from these sources.

EMF also has a detrimental effect on the health of your brain, altering function and potentially fueling dementia. Even though measured EMF from cell phones is considered low, studies have demonstrated it can alter your brain function and activity.31 EMF from cell phones and Wi-Fi is also linked to changes in brain neurons that affect memory and the ability to learn.32

Interestingly, EMF from cell phones may also reduce the number of antioxidants available in your saliva, one of the first lines of defense your body has against microbial infections.33 Talking on a cell phone for up to one hour may reduce your salivary antioxidant levels by 25 percent. The proximity of your parotid salivary glands to where your cell phone is held during a conversation increases exposure to EMF.

EMF Found Where You May Not Expect It and How to Guard Your Health

Protecting yourself from EMF radiation begins by knowing what devices are emitting EMF and then developing alternatives to reduce exposure. This is not an exclusive list, but while you may have expected to see some of the devices on the list, others may come as a surprise.

Cellphones Cordless phones Bluetooth headsets
Refrigerators Radios Televisions
Wi-Fi modems and routers TV remote controls Microwave ovens
Alarm clocks Lamps Outlets
Powerlines and cell phone towers Smart meters (transmitting your utility usage wirelessly to your utility company) Computers including laptops, e-readers and tablets

The importance of the health of your mitochondria cannot be overstressed.

One of the strategies I’ve recently started having great success with is a modified Faraday cage over my bed. You may easily incorporate shielding material at home using different types of EMF conductive fabric for different applications, such as bedding, curtains or canopies.

Remember, as you spend at least seven or eight hours each day in your bedroom, it is an important place to start reducing EMF exposure. If building your own bed canopy with proper conductive material is not something you want to attempt, you can purchase a bed canopy kit fitting twin to king size beds.