STUDY PROVES REFINED SUGAR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REMARKABLE RATE OF DISEASE


refined sugar
  • Sugar has become a daily habit in the past 100 years, during which rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses have skyrocketed
  • Recent research demonstrates cancer cells use sugar as their primary fuel and are functionally starved when sugar is withheld, upholding previous research by German biochemist, Otto Warburg
  • The metabolic theory of cancer holds sugar damages mitochondrial function and energy production, triggering cell mutations that are then fed by ongoing sugar consumption
  • Your healthiest choice is to avoid or eliminate refined sugar from your diet by eating whole, organic foods, and carefully reading labels of any packaged foods you buy

Refined sugar was not consumed on a daily basis until the past 100 years. Before that, it was a treat afforded only by the very rich as sugar cane was a difficult crop to grow. In the past 100 years, rates of obesityheart diseaseType 2 diabetes and numerous other chronic diseases have skyrocketed.

When sugar and tobacco were introduced by Native Americans to Europeans as they began to settle America, the average life span was relatively short.1 This meant health consequences from sugar and tobacco were easily buried in the myriad of other life challenges the early settlers faced.

As early as the 1920s, research documented the damage sugar does to your body. To this day, tobacco continues to be a leading a cause of premature death.2 Unfortunately, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., that title may well belong to sugar. Yet people who would never consider smoking may have little concern over the amount of sugar and starch eaten each day.

From a nutritional standpoint, your body does not need refined sugar. Although you need glucose, your body manufactures the glucose it needs in your liver through a process called gluconeogenesis. If you never ate another morsel of candy, sugar or starch again, you would live quite comfortably and likely in far better health.

Sugar Feeds the Growth of Cancer Cells

 

Recent research reported in this short news video demonstrates that the amount of sugar you eat each day should be an important consideration in your nutritional plan. In 1926, German biochemist Otto Warburg observed cancer cells fermented glucose to lactic acid, even in the presence of oxygen (known as the Warburg effect), and theorized it might be the fundamental cause of cancer.3 This led to the idea that tumor growth could be disturbed by cutting off the energy supply, namely sugar.

For decades, scientists and researchers dismissed the idea, and the sugar industry backed them up. Warburg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1931 for his work in cellular respiration and energy production. His life’s mission was to find a cure for cancer, but his findings were largely ignored by the conventional medical community as they were considered simplistic and didn’t fit the genetic model of disease that was widely accepted.

Recent research from Belgium4 shows there is indeed a strong link between glucose overstimulation and mutated proteins often found inside human tumor cells, which make the cells grow faster.5 The study began in 2008, triggered by the researchers’ desire to gain a greater understanding of the Warburg effect.

The rapid breakdown of glucose in tumor cells is not seen in healthy cells, making glucose the primary energy source for cancer. Researcher Johan Thevelein, Ph.D., a molecular biologist from LU Leuven in Belgium, commented on the results of the study in a press release, saying:6

“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness.

This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences. Our results provide a foundation for future research in this domain, which can now be performed with a much more precise and relevant focus.”

Cell Mutation Not Limited to Sugar Consumption

They’re quick to point out that while they believe the presence of added sugar in your diet may increase the aggressive growth of cancer cells, their research does not prove it triggers the original mutation.7 That said, previous research has shown that the genetic mutations found in cancer cells are actually a downstream effect caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, not the original cause, and excessive sugar consumption is one of the things that triggers mitochondrial dysfunction. I’ll discuss this more in a section below.

Granted, there are thousands of manufactured chemicals in your home, car and workplace that may cause or contribute to cell mutations. Air pollutionpersonal care productsplastics and chemical treatments often contain chemicals with carcinogenic properties, and such exposures also play a role.

The mutation of a cell, fed by your daily sugar habit, may grow into cancer. Cell mutation from sugar consumption occurs after mitochondrial damage. However, sugar also provides nutrition to cells mutated by contaminant exposure, and is required for these mutated cells to grow and multiply. As such, your sugar intake becomes an important factor, and one that you have a great deal of control over.

This means that even in the absence of oxygen, tumor cells can extract energy from glucose molecules. Rapid cell division of cancer cells to fuel growth requires the presence of a lot of sugar. Warburg believed a defect in the mitochondria of cancer cells allows the cells to use glycolysis to fuel growth, which suggests cancer is actually a metabolic disease that is affected by your diet.

Research Supports Cancer Is a Metabolic Disease

In the U.S. an estimated 600,000 people will die from cancer this year, costing over $125 billion in health care expenses.9 The World Health Organization finds cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide, responsible for nearly 8.8 million deaths in 2015.10 Imagine if that many people were dying each year from the flu or polio. This would be headline news each day. Have we become so used to the idea of cancer that 1.6 million new cases every year in the U.S. is old news?

Conventional cancer treatment focuses on surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. However, many of these treatments have only been successful at lengthening lives by months and not in curing the disease. The basis for these treatments is that cancer is a genetic problem and not one triggered and fed by mitochondrial dysfunction. As a result, the nutritional link is typically overlooked.

The featured study exposes the flaw in using only pharmaceutical, surgical and radiation treatments on tumors and other cancer growths. Warburg postulated that by cutting off the food supply cancer cells rely on for survival, you effectively starve them.

Research has also shown that genetic mutations are not the trigger for cancer growths but rather a downstream effect resulting from defective energy metabolism in cell mitochondria. This defective energy metabolism changes the way your cells function and promotes the growth of cancer cells.

In other words, if your mitochondria remain healthy, your risk of developing cancer is slim. Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., author of “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease: On the Origin, Management and Treatment of Cancer,” has received many awards and honors through his long and illustrious career for the work he’s done expanding knowledge of how metabolism affects cancer.

He is one of the pioneers in the application of nutritional ketosis for cancer. While in nutritional ketosis, your body burns fat for fuel instead of starches and carbohydrates. By eating a healthy high-fat, low-carbohydrate and low- to moderate-protein diet, your body begins to burn fat as its primary fuel. Research from Ohio State University demonstrates athletes who eat a ketogenic diet experience significant improvements in their health and performance.11

Nutritional ketosis is also showing great promise in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease,12 Type 2 diabetes13 and seizures14 that are unresponsive to medications. This recent research from Belgium confirms the work Warburg, Seyfried and others have done, and supports the hypothesis that cancer is a metabolically based disease and not a genetic problem.

Chemotherapy May Not Be the Answer

Traditional administration of chemotherapy may increase your risk of metastasis (the spread of cancer cells through your body) and may trigger additional tumor growth. Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended prior to surgery to help shrink the size of the tumor, increasing the likelihood a woman could have a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy.

Recent research reveals that giving chemotherapy prior to breast cancer surgery may promote metastasis of the disease, allowing it to spread to other areas of your body.15 This greatly increases the risk of dying. The study found that mice had twice the amount of cancer cells in their blood and lungs after treatment with chemotherapy. The researchers also found similar results in 20 human patients whose tumor microenvironments became more favorable to metastasis after chemotherapy.

Other studies in men with prostate cancer have demonstrated chemotherapy may cause DNA damage in healthy cells that boosts tumor growth and helps the cancer cells resist treatment.16 Research continues to reveal the effect chemotherapy has on your body and the devastating effect it has on healthy cells. At least as far back as 2004, researchers have known that “chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival.”17

Your Healthiest Choice Is to Avoid Sugar

Sugar is a primary factor driving the development of a number of different health conditions and chronic diseases. Sugar contributes to several of the leading causes of death in the U.S., including:18

Heart disease Hypertension Atherosclerosis Cancer
Stroke Diabetes Chronic liver disease Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease19

While all forms of sugar are harmful when consumed in excess, processed fructose — the most commonly found sugar in processed foods — appears to be the worst. Manufacturers use the addictive property of sugar to drive sales, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) allows them to achieve their goals at a lower price. Although it tastes like sugar, HFCS gives your body a bigger sugar jolt. Dr. Yulia Johnson, family medicine physician with The Iowa Clinic, comments on the use of HFCS:20

“Your body processes high fructose corn syrup differently than it does ordinary sugar. The burden falls on your liver, which is not capable of keeping up with how quickly corn syrup breaks down. As a result, blood sugar spikes quicker. It’s stored as fat, so you can become obese and develop other health problems, such as diabetes, much faster.”

It stands to reason that if you want to live a healthier life and reduce your health care costs and your risk for cancer, you’d be wise to avoid refined sugar as much as possible, if not eliminate it from your diet entirely.

Eating real food (ideally organic), following a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein diet described in “Fat for Fuel,” and fasting are all things you can do to optimize your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. For inspiring stories of others who have used a ketogenic diet to stabilize their health, read my article, “Promoting Advances in Managing Cancer as a Metabolic Disease Need Your Support.”

If you do pick up packaged foods, read the labels carefully so you can make an informed decision about the sugar you’re adding to your diet. Sugars may masquerade under several different names on food labels. Some of the more common names are listed below, but there are more than are listed here.

Labels list ingredients in order of the amount in the product. In other words, there is more of the first ingredient than the second, and so forth. When evaluating sugar, remember if it is listed in the fourth, sixth and ninth positions, the combined total may put it in the first or second position.21

Fruit juice concentrate Evaporated cane juice Cane juice crystals Blackstrap molasses
Buttered syrup Fruit juice Honey Carob syrup
Caramel Brown rice syrup Corn syrup solids Florida crystal
Golden syrup Maple syrup Molasses Refiner’s syrup
Sorghum syrup Sucanat Treacle Turbinado
Barley malt Corn syrup Dextrin Dextrose
Diastatic malt Ethyl maltol Glucose Glucose solids
Lactose Malt Syrup Maltose D-ribose
Rice syrup Galactose Maltodextrin Castor

How Clothes and Personal Care Products Destroy the Environment and Circulate Plastic Back Into the Food Supply


Story at-a-glance

  • Plastics can be found in virtually every area of your household: in containers of all kinds, bags, baby items, electronics and even clothing and personal care products, in the form of microfibers and microbeads
  • Microbeads, tiny plastic pellets found in body washes, facial scrubs and toothpaste travel right through wastewater treatment plants, clogging waterways and filling the bellies of sea animals with plastic that acts as a sponge for toxins
  • Plastic microfibers from clothing also pose a serious threat to marine life and migrate into fields and onto our plates, inside of fish and other seafood

While most of our grandparents used natural products packaged in reusable, recyclable or degradable containers made from glass, metals and paper, the current generation has grown up surrounded by non-biodegradable plastics made with toxic chemicals.

Saying that plastics are “everywhere” is hardly an exaggeration anymore. You can find it in virtually every area of your household: in containers of all kinds, bags, baby items, electronics and even clothing and personal care products, in the form of microfibers and microbeads.

Discarded plastic — both large and microscopic — circles the globe, choking our oceans and polluting our food supply, ultimately finding their way into your body where they can accumulate over time.

And, the potential for catastrophic environmental and biological consequences grows with every discarded bottle and bag, with every shower and every load of wash.

Plastic — A Most Harmful Convenience

Many of the chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics, like bisphenol-A (BPA) and bisphenol-S (BPS), disrupt embryonic development and have been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Phthalates dysregulate gene expression and hormones, causing anomalies that may be passed down to future generations. DEHP (di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate), found in PVC pipes, may lead to multiple organ damage.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, the world produces about 299 million tons of plastics annually, and up to 20 million tons of it ends up in our oceans each year.1The UN’s Environmental Program claims there are at least 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean.2

Polycarbonate, polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate (PETE) damage the ocean floor, and plastic that floats, such as low-density polyethelene (LDPE), high-density polyethelene (HDPE), polypropylene and foamed plastics accumulate into massive floating islands of trash.3

Microfibers4 from clothing pose a serious threat to marine life and migrate into fields and onto our plates.

And microbeads, the tiny plastic pellets found in body washes, facial scrubs and toothpaste travel right through wastewater treatment plants, clogging waterways and filling the bellies of sea animals with plastic that acts as a sponge for other toxins.

Whether you look at environmental or biological effects, our careless use of plastics really needs immediate attention and revision.

Microbeads Pose Severe Environmental Hazards

According to a previous National Geographic report,5 an estimated 4,360 tons of microbeads were used in personal care products sold in the European Union (EU) in 2012, all of which get flushed down the drain.

According to one 2015 study,6 there may be as much as 236,000 tons of microbeads filling the water columns of our oceans. As noted by National Geographic:

“A study completed in 2015 from Environmental Science & Technology alarmingly found that [8] trillion microbeads were entering aquatic environments throughout the United States every day.

This troubling statistic poses the question of how such massive quantities of microplastics are impacting aquatic wildlife

… As reiterated from the study by the French Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea, ‘Oysters that consume microplastics eat more algae and absorb it more efficiently … [their] ability to reproduce is almost halved’ …

Filter feeding organisms are vital components of marine food webs, and their demise could mean severe threats to numerous trophic levels, and perhaps to the humans who rely on these species as a source of food.

Another concern with these foreign particles entering the oceans is that the chemicals comprising microplastics are causing reproductive complications in oysters, which is a very important point …

Chemical toxins such as DDT and BPA have been found to adhere to microplastic particles … which then ‘enter the food chain when ingested by aquatic life, accumulating in birds, fish, marine mammals and potentially humans.'”

US and Canada Ban Microbeads While EU Dawdles

In response to the Environmental Science & Technology study mentioned above, then-President Obama signed a bill in December, 2015, banning the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products to protect U.S. waterways.7 The ban takes effect as of July this year.

Beginning July, 2018, microbeads will also no longer be permitted in cosmetics, and as of July 2019, they must be eliminated from over-the-counter drugs sold in the U.S. as well.8 As of July, 2018, a ban on microbeads in personal care products also takes effect in Canada,9 while the EU has taken no action on the matter.

According to a recent article in the British paper Independent,10 the U.K.’s decision to follow suit in banning microbeads from cosmetics “could be in breach of EU free trade law,” and if it’s determined that banning microbeads would “restrict free movement of trade,” the U.K.’s ban would likely be significantly delayed and ultimately unenforceable. The U.K. alone contributes up to 86 tons of microbeads into waterways each year.11

Microfibers From Clothing Add to the Plastic Pollution

Microfibers are another common water contaminant, and acrylic fibers release the most microparticles.12 Testing reveals each washing of a synthetic fleece jacket releases 1.7 grams of microfiber, and the older the jacket, the more microfibers are released.13

Different types of machines also release different amounts of fibers and chemicals from your clothes. Researchers found that top loading machines released about 530 percent more microfibers than front loading models.14

Up to 40 percent of these microfibers leave the wastewater treatment plant and end up in the surrounding lakes, rivers and oceans. To address the problem, scientists are now calling for appliance companies to consider the addition of filters to catch the microfibers.15

Wexco is currently the exclusive distributor of the Filtrol 160 filter,16 designed to capture non-biodegradable fibers from your washing machine discharge. However, it doesn’t actually solve the problem in the long-term, since the fibers will simply end up in landfills instead.

Plastic Microparticles Threaten Ocean Life in Many Ways

Once in the water column, all this plastic micro-debris blocks sunlight, which plankton and algae require to sustain themselves, and the ramifications of this reverberates throughout the entire food chain. Astonishingly, in some ocean waters, plastic exceeds plankton by a factor of 6 to 1.17

Microfibers released during washing has also been shown to raise mortality among water fleas.18 In another study, the presence of the plastic fibers reduced the overall food intake of crabs, worms and langoustines (aka Norway lobster), thereby threatening their growth and survival rates.19,20 Not surprisingly, researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) have linked microplastics and microfibers to the pollution in fish.21

The tiny beads cleverly mimic natural food sources, and the microfibers, which are even more prevalent than microbeads, are even easier to consume, both by fish and other seafood. Research shows these particles are not likely to leave, however. Once consumed, they tend to remain in the body and accumulate, becoming increasingly concentrated in the bodies of animals higher up the food chain.

When Abigail Barrows, chief investigator for Global Microplastics Initiative, sampled 2,000 marine and freshwater fish, 90 percent had microfiber debris in their bodies. Near identical results were reported by Amy Lusher, a microplastics researcher based in the U.K. who co-authored a 2014 study22 on microplastic pollution in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean.

Microfibers have also been found in most water samples collected from the Hudson River,23 and studies show concentrations of fibers tend to be particularly high in beach sediment near waste water treatment plants.24 Making matters worse, these microscopic plastic fibers soak up toxins like a sponge, concentrating PCBs, flame retardant chemicals, pesticides and anything else found in the water.

And, since many of these toxins bind to fats, the fibers allow the toxins to bioaccumulate in the body much faster, reaching ever higher amounts as you move up the food chain. As noted in the featured video, these chemicals have been shown to cause liver damage, liver tumors and signs of endocrine disruption in fish and other seafood, including lowered fertility and immune function.

Seafood Is a Significant Source of Plastic in Human Food Chain

With all this plastic posing as food in the food chain, it’s no wonder researchers are finding it in our dinners as well. Last year, citing a report25 by the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA], the Daily Mail wrote:26

“Microplastics have been found in a wide variety of species including zooplankton, mussels, oysters, shrimp, marine worms, fish, seals and whales. Chemicals on microplastics ingested by an organism can dissociate from plastic particles and enter body tissues … [DEFRA] said there is evidence from animal studies that small plastic particles can cross membranes into cells, causing damage and inflammation.

Looking at the implications for humans, [DEFRA] said: ‘Several studies show that microplastics are present in seafood sold for human consumption, including mussels in North Sea mussel farms and oysters from the Atlantic. ‘The presence of marine microplastics in seafood could pose a threat to food safety.'”

According to the DEFRA report, eating six oysters could introduce about 50 plastic microbeads into your body. One-third of the fish caught in the English Channel also contain microbeads, as do 83 percent of scampi sold in the U.K.27

How You Can Be Part of the Solution

Our “disposable culture” has left a trail of destruction, in terms of both environmental and human impact. Now, how can you contribute to the solution? In short, by becoming a more conscious consumer. Really give some thought to the manufacturing of the products you buy, how they may affect you during use, and what will happen to them once you dispose of them. Few of us are capable of living a zero-waste lifestyle at this point in time, but every single one of us can take small but definitive steps toward the goal of reducing plastic trash in all of its forms. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

Reduce your use of all things plastic: Purchase products that are not made from or packaged in plastic. While the items involved are near-endless, here are a few ideas:

Use reusable shopping bags for groceries

Bring your own mug when indulging in a coffee drink, and skip the lid and the straw

Bring drinking water from home in glass water bottles, instead of buying bottled water

Store foods in glass containers or mason jars as opposed to plastic containers or bags

Take your own leftover container to restaurants

Request no plastic wrap on dry cleaning

Avoid personal care items containing microbeads. Many products containing microbeads will advertise them on the label, although they may also be listed as “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredients list

Avoid microfiber clothing such as fleece, and/or wash them as infrequently as possible

Recycle what you can: Take care to recycle and repurpose products whenever possible, and/or participate in “plastic drives” for local schools, where cash is paid by the pound

Support legislation: Support legislative efforts to manage waste in your community; take a leadership role with your company, school and neighborhood

Get creative: If you have a great idea, share it! People’s capacity to come up with smarter designs and creative recycling and repurposing ideas are limitless, and creative innovations move us toward a more sustainable world

10 Things You Think Are Healthy, but Aren’t


Awareness is increasing that many household goods, from your personal care products and food packaging to your couch cushions, could harbor dangerous chemicals. Less well known is the fact that even seemingly healthy products may turn out to be bad for you.

If you have any of these “healthy” or at the very least innocuous-seeming items around your home, you may want to think twice…

Story at-a-glance

  • “Healthy” and seemingly innocuous items in your home may have hidden health risks
  • Antibacterial soap and toothpaste often contain harmful chemicals, and the former may increase antibiotic resistance
  • Other surprisingly problematic items include your chair, cotton swabs, humidifier, blender, rubber spatula, and more

10 ‘Healthy’ Items Your Home Is Better Off Without

1. Antibacterial Soap

Washing your hands is your number one protection against the acquisition and spread of infectious disease. But you do not need to use antibacterial soap to get the job done.

Studies have shown that people who use antibacterial soaps and cleansers develop a cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms just as often as people who use regular soaps.1

Part of the reason for this is because most of these symptoms are actually caused by viruses, which antibacterial soaps can’t kill. But even for symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be caused by bacteria, using antibacterial soaps will offer you no advantage over plain soap and water.2

So, the rational conclusion is antibacterial soaps are completely unnecessary for the purpose of washing away bacteria.

A 2007 systematic review published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases confirmed that antibacterial soap containing triclosan did not provide any additional benefit compared with a non-antibacterial soap.3

Antibacterial soap, will, however, expose you to triclosan, an antibacterial chemical that has been linked to concerns over antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption.

Some animal studies showed that triclosan caused fetal bone malformations in mice and rats, which may hint at hormonal effects. Triclosan has also been found to cause estrogenic activities in human breast cancer cells, which may stimulate the growth and development of cancer cells.4

2. Your Chair

 At the molecular level, your body was designed to be active and on the move all day long. When you stop moving for extended periods of time, such as by sitting, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down and prepare for death.

Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, for instance, showed that women who sit for 10 or more hours a day may have a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease than those who sit for five hours or less.5

Research published in Diabetologia also found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.6 Sitting for more than eight hours a day has also been associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.7

Excess sitting may increase your risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, and the more hours you spend sitting in a day, the shorter your lifespan may be.

One study found, for instance, that reducing the average time you spend sitting down to less than three hours a day could increase your life expectancy by two years.8

The evidence is overwhelming at this point — 10,000 studies and growing — that prolonged sitting will reduce your lifespan by promoting dozens of chronic diseases, even if you exercise regularly. I believe the answer is to stand up as much as possible (aiming for less than three hours of sitting daily).

If you work a desk job, a standing workstation will be instrumental for achieving this goal, and I also recommend getting 10,000 steps a day via daily walk, in addition to regular high-intensity exercises.

3. Whitening or Antibacterial Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes may be grittier in order to scrub stains off your teeth, but the grit may actually wear away your enamel or make your teeth and gums more sensitive. Also be on the lookout for antibacterial toothpaste, like Colgate Total, which contains triclosan.

In addition, many commercial brands may be loaded with toxic toothpaste ingredients, like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), artificial sweeteners, fluoride, propylene glycol, and microbeads. The latter pose a risk to the environment and have been found getting trapped under patients’ gums.

This gives food and bacteria an entrance to your gum line, which could actually cause gum disease.9 It’s possible to make your own toothpaste and avoid many of the pitfalls of commercial varieties. You can find two homemade toothpaste recipes here.

4. Cotton Swabs

Your ears should have a healthy amount of earwax, as they’re a self-cleaning part of your body. Excess earwax should move out of your ear canal automatically, as cells there actually migrate naturally.

The removal of earwax is also helped along by movements of your jaw (talking, chewing, etc.), and once it reaches your outer ear it will simply fall out or be removed when you shower or bathe.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF), under ideal circumstances your ear canals should never have to be cleaned, especially with cotton swabs. They state:10

“Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe that earwax should be routinely removed for personal hygiene. This is not so. In fact, attempting to remove earwax with cotton-tipped swabs, bobby pins, or other probing devices can result in damage to the ear, including trauma, impaction of the earwax, or even temporary deafness.

These objects only push the wax in deeper, and can block the ear canal entirely.”

Under normal circumstances, earwax is only produced in the outer one-third of your ear canal. One of the primary risks of cotton swabs is they can push the earwax into the deeper part of your ear canal, near the eardrum. As AAO-HNSF noted:11

“When a patient has wax blockage against the eardrum, it is often because he has been probing the ear with such things as cotton-tipped applicators, bobby pins, or twisted napkin corners. These objects only push the wax in deeper.”

When earwax is pushed deep into your ear where it doesn’t belong, it can bring fungus, bacteria, and viruses from the outer ear into the inner ear, increasing the risk of infection. It can also block your ear canal, leading to hearing loss, or even cause a ruptured eardrum.

It’s a vicious cycle, too, because the more you rub your ears with cotton swabs, the more histamine will be released, which makes your skin irritated and inflamed. This, in turn, may make you want to insert a cotton swab again, leading to additional dryness and irritation.12

5. Humidifier

During the winter months, heaters and cold temperatures may lead to dry air with low humidity. This dry air can lead to dry skin, irritated sinuses and throat, and itchy eyes. Over time, exposure to low humidity can even dry out and inflame the mucous membrane lining your respiratory tract. When this natural barrier is no longer working properly, it increases your risk of colds, the flu, and other infections.

You may be tempted to add humidity to your home’s air using a humidifier, and this is a sensible solution as long as it doesn’t backfire. You must be very careful about making sure your humidity levels are not too high, as high humidity will cause mold to grow, which could devastate your health.

Additionally, the moist, warm environment of a humidifier is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which travel out of the unit via a “toxic mist” that you later breathe in.

Research has shown that breathing in dirty mist from humidifiers can lead to lung problems, including infection, and humidifier use is actually associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in children.13 So if you choose to use a humidifier, do so sparingly, making sure humidity levels do not get too high. A hygrometer, which you can find at most hardware stores, can measure the amount of moisture in your home’s air so you can adjust your humidifier use accordingly. Some humidifiers also have a hygrometer built in.

According to Dr. Robert Ivker, D.O., former president of the American Holistic Medical Association, the ideal level of relative humidity for sinus health is between 35 to 45 percent. This level is also generally recommended to avoid mold damage in your home. As far as using a humidifier goes, you’ll also need to make sure you clean it often, at least once every three days using hydrogen peroxide to remove any film or mineral deposits.

The water in the reservoir should be changed daily, and be sure the area around it (tabletops, windows, carpeting, curtains, etc.) are kept dry. If you have a central air heating system, the best humidifier is one that is built directly over your furnace and tied into a humidistat and water source so the entire process is automated and your home is evenly humidified.

6. Loofah

A loofah provides a perfect environment for bacteria, fungi, and mold to grow, especially when kept in the warm, humid confines of your bathroom or shower. As you run it over your skin, it’s possible that small wounds (including tiny nicks from shaving) could be infected, leading to impetigo, folliculitis, or other skin issues.14 If you love to loofah, choose one made of a natural fiber, which will naturally contain enzymes to inhibit microbial growth, and replace it monthly. After each use, wring it out and allow it to dry thoroughly – and store it in a cool, dry spot.

7. Blender

Blenders are handy for whipping up healthy morning smoothies… but if you’re not washing yours properly, it could be a problem. The blender gasket (the rubber ring that holds the blade portion of the blender in place) has been found to be the third germiest item in the kitchen, and research showed it commonly harbored salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold.15 The solution is simple – when you’re done using your blender, be sure to disassemble it completely and wash each part, including the gasket, well.

8. Nail Tools

Pumice stones, cuticle clippers, and other nail tools harbor bacteria from your skin. If you neglect to wash them, they could potentially cause skin infections (this is especially true if you share your nail tools with friends or family members). Nail tools should be washed with soap and water after each use, and pumice stones should be replaced every three to four weeks.

9. Rubber Spatula

Rubber spatulas were found to be even germier than blender gaskets, coming in at the second germiest item in the kitchen. The problem is that most people do not pull the spatula head off the handle when cleaning, which allows E. coli, yeast, and mold to grow. If your spatula comes apart, always remove the head and wash each piece separately. If not, pay special attention to the joint between the head and the handle when washing.

10. Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals are known to collect dust mites, which are a major cause of indoor dust allergies. If you’re allergic, exposure can lead to sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms. If your child can’t part with theirs, cut the number down to one or two kept on the bed, with the rest stored on a shelf. You can also put the stuffed animals in a plastic bag and leave it in the freezer overnight, as the cold will kill the dust mites.

Do Scented Candles, Incense, and Air Fresheners Cause Cancer, Allergies, and Asthma?

Many people enjoy the ambience that scented candles, incense, and air fresheners can add to their home, but with that pleasant scent come some hidden health risks. Such products are known to contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), allergens, phthalates, and cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Many of the chemicals emitted by these products have been linked to hormone disruption, allergies, asthma, and even cancerous mutations in DNA.

In one recent study, scented candles were found to act as potent sources of VOC emissions whether they were lit or not, and when lit, formaldehyde had the highest emission concentration.16 Incense sticks and air fresheners have also been shown to contribute to poor indoor air quality, including the release of benzene.17 The Daily Mail further reported:18

“In 2013, after a study of more than 2,000 pregnant women, the International Journal of Public Health reported that women who used air fresheners in their homes were significantly more likely to have babies that suffered from wheezing and lung infections. One study that followed 14,000 children from before and after birth found they had higher levels of diarrhea and earache, while their mothers had raised risks of headaches and depression, all linked to the frequent use of air fresheners and aerosols during pregnancy and early childhood.

A 2007 study also found that using air fresheners as little as once a week can raise the risk of asthma in adults. The same report found that the risk of developing asthma was up to 50 percent higher in people who had been exposed to air-freshener sprays.”

Chemicals in Personal Care Products Linked to Increased Risk of Miscarriage

Chemicals known as phthalates, which are used as plasticizers in everything from vinyl flooring to detergents, hoses, raincoats, adhesives, air fresheners, and toys — and even in many soaps, shampoos, lotions, nail polish, and other personal care products.

Phthalates are one of the groups of “gender-bending” chemicals causing males of all species to become more female. Research conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered high levels of phthalates in all 289 adult Americans tested, and the levels of some phthalates in women of childbearing age exceeded the government’s safe levels set to protect against birth defects, leading scientists to conclude phthalate exposures are “much higher and more common than previously suspected.19

A new study also revealed that women with higher levels of phthalates in their urine were more likely to have miscarriages between 5 and 13 weeks of pregnancy than those with lower levels.20 These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife as well, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts, and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales, and otters, just to name a few. Scientists believe phthalates are responsible for a similar pattern in humans as well, and they have been linked to:

Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS) “Decreased dysgenesis syndrome”: A syndrome involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), oligospermia (low sperm count), and testicular cancer
Interference with sexual differentiation in utero Enlarged prostate glands
Disturbed lactation Numerous hormonal disruptions
Early or delayed puberty Breast cancer and uterine fibroids

How to Create a Healthier Home

While it’s important to carefully wash items like your blender to remove germs, and replace loofahs regularly to avoid infections, by far the greatest risks in your home come from the chemicals in common household products. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better, and try to make sure anything you put on or in your body – or use around your home – contains only substances you’re familiar with. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want it anywhere near your family. The following tips will help you to create a healthier home, naturally.

  1. As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
  2. Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, eat smaller fish, or fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild caught Alaskan salmon is about the only fish I eat for these reasons.
  3. Buy products that come in glass bottles or jars rather than plastic or canned, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents.
  4. Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
  5. Use glass baby bottles and avoid plastic sippy cups for your little ones.
  6. Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as BPA and phthalates.
  7. Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
  8. Filter your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
  9. Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic, and/or 100% organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery, and more.
  10. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals.
  11. When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant it contains. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals. As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool and cotton.
  12. Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
  13. Minimize your use of plastic baby and child toys, opting for those made of natural wood or fabric instead.
  14. Only use natural cleaning products in your home or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.21
  15. Switch over to organic brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. You can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example. EWG has a great database22 to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals. I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
  16. Replace feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.
  17. Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
  18. Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds – even thousands – of potentially toxic chemicals.
  19. Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.