Thursday, June 28, 2007

Aspartame may cause cancer

I already don't trust aspartame (found in EQUAL, yogurts, a bunch of "no-sugar" stuff, and in soft drinks) because Donald Rumsfeld used to be the CEO of Searle, the company that makes it. In fact, an article in Vanity Fair by Rich Cohen, which appears in the December 2005 Vanity Fair, Rumsfeld appears to have been the driving force behind FDA approval of aspartame. The FDA was reluctant to approve aspartame--because it seemed to be causing seizures in rats and people--but when Rumsfeld started working for the Reagan Administration, everything fell into place for the sugar substitute:

For two decades, aspartame had failed to win approval. Then Ronald Reagan was elected president, and Donald Rumsfeld, while keeping his position at Searle, worked on the president-elect's interim foreign-policy team. Soon after Reagan was inaugurated, Searle re-applied for approval of aspartame. Within a few months, Reagan had named a new head of the FDA and the chemical got the green light. Rumsfeld had correctly recognized that Searle's problem was not scientific; it was political.

If that ain't enough to get you to drop your Diet Coke, check this out from NewsTarget:

A new study on aspartame conducted by the Ramazzini Foundation reveals that aspartame causes a dose-dependent increase in cancers (lymphomas, leukemias and breast cancers) when consumed at levels approaching those consumed by humans in diet soft drinks. Specifically, the study shows (reprinted from the abstract):

a) a significant dose-related increase of malignant tumor-bearing animals in males, in particular in the group treated at 2000 ppm; b) a significant increase of the incidence in lymphomas/leukemias in males treated at 2000 ppm and a significant dose-related increase of the incidence of lymphomas/leukemias in females, in particular in the group treated at 2000 ppm; c) a significant dose-related increase of the incidence of mammary cancer in females, in particular in the group treated at 2000 ppm. Conclusions. The results of this carcinogenicity bioassay not only confirm, but also reinforce the first experimental demonstration of [aspartame's] multipotential carcinogenicity at a dose level close to the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for humans. Furthermore, the study demonstrates that when lifespan exposure to [aspartame] begins during fetal life, its carcinogenic effects are increased.

The study, entitled "Lifespan Exposure to Low Doses of Aspartame Beginning During Prenatal Life Increases Cancer Effects in Rats" has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), the most widely-read environmental science journal in the world.
If you're looking for weight loss (and there's no studies showing diet drinks do this) there's a better solution than cancer and/or imperiling the next generation (p.s. why doesn't the Pro-life movement jump on this?). Try some fresh water and lemon!

read more here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dr. Beer's Work Continues...

(Julia and her much wanted son Thomas, credit: UK Guardian)

Today, there's a great article in the UK Guardian about the work of Dr. Alan Beer, whose work is being continued by Dr. Raphael Stricker. I'd been following Dr. Beer's protocol originally NOT for fertility but to help calm my disordered immune system. As you know I'm NOT a fan of pharmaceuticals, but his judicious use of them really helped me feel better, and so we're continuing with the clinic for fertility help. The role of the immune system (including thyroid!) is woefully understudied.

For anyone who has trouble getting pregnant, trouble staying pregnant, or has secondary infertility (esp. if you already know you have any autoimmune disorders--you or in your family--such as arthritis, thyroid, diabetes, lupus, etc)., I'd recommend a look at Dr. Beer's Book (see below).

[And, as always, I remind you, I am NOT a medical professional. Please make all decisions in conjunction with your doctor]

After three failed attempts at IVF, Julia Kantecki began to lose hope that she and her husband Robert would ever conceive a child.

"My baby dream was slipping away. I was 40 and fearful of shrivelling into menopause and a childless future," says Julia, 45, a former marketing director.

Robert, 56, had had a vasectomy 20 years earlier and IVF was the couple's only chance of having a child together.

Since her mother had had five children without a problem, Julia, who lived in Doncaster at the time, assumed everything would go smoothly. So it came as an enormous disappointment when she failed to become pregnant.

The worst part was that the IVF doctors couldn't offer any definitive explanation for the failure. But her experience is far from unusual - although many women assume that the wonders of modern medicine mean they will conceive easily with IVF, in fact the success rate is around 20 per cent.

Julia's doctors simply suggested she might get lucky if she kept trying. She did keep trying, twice over - but without any luck.

Then, like many women who have difficulty conceiving, Julia entered a cycle of self-blame, sadness and loss of hope.

"I kept wondering whether I'd done something to kill our future babies," she says.

"Was it because I got stressed, or drank that glass of wine?"

Conventional medicine holds that IVF failure and miscarriage are the result of hormonal problems, abnormalities of the uterus, genetically defective embryos or ageing eggs.

But doctors from the Alan E Beer Center for Reproductive Immunology, in San Francisco, believe they may be caused by a woman's immune system going into overdrive and wrongly attacking her embryos as if they were foreign bodies.

The Beer Center, which has treated more than 7,000 couples for fertility-related immune problems, claims a pregnancy success rate of 85 per cent within three natural cycles or IVF attempts.

While on holiday with her mother, Julia visited a clinic run by Dr Beer.

She was told that three IVF failures indicated possible immune problems. Blood test results showed that Julia had abnormally high levels of natural "killer" (NK) cells - thought to help keep the body from developing cancer - and harmful antibodies that doctors at the clinic said were attacking her embryos.

"They told me that my body was treating pregnancy as if it was dealing with a cancer and killing my babies before they'd had time to implant in my uterus properly," says Julia.

An added complication was an inherited clotting disorder making her susceptible to developing blood clots in the placenta, which could also endanger her embryos.

The good news, one of the nurses told her, was that they knew exactly how to treat these conditions. With the right medications, she stood an 80 per cent chance of having a baby.

It was in the Eighties that Alan Beer, an academic who had trained in immunology and obstetrics, began to suspect that NK cells produced by an over-active immune system could damage embryos and cause implantation failure.

He tested women who were miscarrying and suffering IVF failure and found that they had abnormally high levels of NK cells.

These, he believed, could attack both the developing embryo and hormones essential to maintain pregnancy.

"When women tell me they're always healthy and never get infections, alarm bells start ringing since it suggests their immune systems are working overtime," says Dr Raphael Stricker, who took over as medical director of the Beer Center after the death of Dr Beer last year.

The theory is that this can be redressed artificially, with drugs.

"Immune therapy for reproductive failure is a temporary measure.

"It's designed to replicate the natural suppression of the immune system at the very beginning of a normal pregnancy," explains Dr Stricker.

"The drugs involved are taken for the least amount of time and prescribed at the lowest doses possible."

For Julia, the Beer Center's theories were a revelation.

"I was shocked that my body might be such a non-baby friendly environment," she says. "Symptoms like the mild arthritis I had in my fingers, which is also apparently an immune problem, now made sense.

"It all sounded too good to be true - but it was worth a try."

She returned home with her first prescription for the drugs, but her GP dismissed the treatment as "unorthodox"...

However, the consultant she saw at Doncaster Royal Infirmary was, says Julia, more "open-minded" and agreed to prescribe the drugs privately...

From the happy picture, you can see "the rest is history."

Read the rest here.

Read the tributes and comments passing internet surfers have left on GreenFertility regarding dear Dr. Beer here.

Check out Dr. Beer's (with Julie Kantecki and Jane Reed) book, Is Your Body Baby Friendly?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Autism on trial

This is such a thoughtful blog entry by Sharyl Attkisson, the Capitol Hill Correspondent for CBS News, that I'd like to include some excerpts, especially as some of the autism-vaccine cases are going to trial** and this whole mess is a metaphor for what the BLEEP! are we doing to preserve our own health? Is anyone noticing all the degenerative diseases and how so many kids have neuro/behavioral problems?

(** don't forget years ago that the Homeland Security bill had an anonymous rider slipped in at the last minute that exempted pharma co's from suits by parents of autistic children. They wouldn't be doing such underhanded tricks if they didn't have something they were worried about IMHO).

With the first autism case now being heard in federal vaccine court in Washington D.C., it makes sense to ask: Why is anyone even still debating the possibility of a link between vaccines and autism? After all, for years, many government health officials, advisors and vaccine manufacturers have said there's no association.

Here are a number of reasons why the question remains open:

1. While government scientists, advisors and pharmaceutical companies have been responsible for infinite lifesaving and life improving medical advances, they are not infallible.

• It's the same group that originally thought it was safe to use x-ray machines in shoe stores, gave pregnant women Thalidomide for morning sickness and once allowed mercury in medicines. They assured us Vioxx and Duract were safe painkillers, prescribed Rezulin for diabetics and then denied any of them were responsible for patient deaths. If we never questioned that group, we might not have discovered that Fen-phen and the dietary supplement Ephedra are not safe weight loss products, that antidepressants in kids can lead to suicidality and Viagra can cause blindness. The list goes on.

• When it comes to vaccines, the same group failed to predict that the 1990's rotavirus (diarrhea) vaccine would have to be pulled from the market after infant deaths. They encouraged use of the oral polio vaccine (eventually discontinued after it gave too many children polio). And they allowed the use of a mercury neurotoxin preservative in childhood vaccines, only to admit later that they hadn't thought to calculate the cumulative amount kids were getting as more and more vaccines were added to the childhood immunization schedule.

• Recent history demonstrates that too often, government health officials, mainstream doctors and pharmaceutical companies aren't on the leading edge of alerting us to health risks; they're bringing up the rear. Patients feel left to fend for themselves, seeking independent research and opinions on their own. They and their dogged, relentless determination have often been the catalyst that eventually brings medical dangers to the forefront.

7. Those who say autism and ADD are not linked to vaccines do not know what is causing the epidemics.

• The most frightening part of the autism/ADD epidemics is that if, indeed, they're unrelated to vaccinations, that our best, brightest public health experts still have no idea what is causing it. Excluding ADD, one out of every 150 American children are now being diagnosed with autism.

One scientist who testified for the plaintiff this week in The Vaccine Court said there's a way to test children for a hidden hole in their immune make-up that makes them susceptible to bad immune reactions from vaccinations. He said that, ideally, every child should undergo such a test before their first vaccinations. But he also said the test is very expensive and so "not worth it." Many parents might disagree. If they knew such a test was available, they'd find a way to pay for it. But such information has to be disseminated to the public before a first step can even be considered.

Mainstream medicine initially said that autism was caused by mothers who weren't affectionate enough with their children. If that doesn't teach us that we should always seek further knowledge and not necessarily accept what's spoon-fed to us by certain experts…then nothing will.

Definitely, read more here. Thank you for speaking truth to power, Sharyl Attkisson!

My 2 cents: with all the handwringing over possible lead in Thomas the Train (lead gets on hands, gets in mouth, etc.) why isn't there more handwringing about MERCURY, which is much more neurotoxic and we INJECT it, thereby bypassing the digestive system, etc. Just a thought (you might also not want to stick mercury amalgams into your mouth--lead would actually probably be safer!).

Monday, June 25, 2007

McDonald's seeking moms' approval

From the Chicago Tribune
McDonald's has equipped six mothers with laptop computers to record their impressions of its operations over the next few months. The moms were chosen by an independent company from a group of 4,000 applicants, and the blogs and journals will be posted "unedited" beginning June 20 on McDonald's home page, where it hopes to attract other moms interested in seeing the comments, officials said last week.
The sad thing is, I don't think McDonald's really needs approval from moms...look at their sales, and the number of obese kids (these stats are from the article):

According to the Centers for Disease Control, obesity rates have soared over the past 20 years. Now, 32.9 percent of adults are considered obese, and 18.8 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are obese. In children ages 12 to 19, 17.4 percent are obese.

I have friends who are doctors and they bring their kids there several time a week!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ultrasound in pregnancy

Here's a tidbit I found on Medscape:

"Although it is helpful in estimating gestational age, identifying twin pregnancies, and detecting genetic anomalies, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) position is that routine ultrasonographic screening during pregnancy is not mandatory. They deem routine use reasonable when requested by a patient.

...However, some expectant couples have followed the lead of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and purchased (for costs ranging between $15,000 and $200,000) their own ultrasound machines, which they use daily."

I know some natural practioners recommend limiting ultrasounds largely because we dont' know what they do. An OB friend also forwarded a study suggesting a correlation between lots of ultrasounds and autism. Who knows?

Read here about more Unnecessary Testing in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and General Medicine

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

PMS is a sign of imbalance

My acupuncturist is always asking me if I have cramps, breast pain, etc., and I am coming to see that these things are not normal. Of course, in Western medicine, if you come in complaining, they stick you on birth control pills. But PMS is your body telling you it's imbalanced. When I finally did enough acupuncture and herbs to get re-balanced, all my crazy symptoms went away. I'm also talking about PMS that was so bad that I'd have to lay in bed all day...

Here's a post from another list I'm on, not an alternative health one, but just a chatty women's site, and I believe the author is from Brazil. She was nice enough to let me re-post it. Should be of interest to anyone who has PMS, PCOS, infertility, or trouble losing weight:

How I beat PMS

I wanted to share my experience in handling PMS. I was 35 years old, overweighted and diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had painful menstruations and headakes, stress, all the PMS stuff. I started to exercise (swimming and weight train) and lost the weight I've needed to loose (about 90 pounds!), on my own. Then I started a treatment with chinese medicine (acumpuncture, and herb medicine) for stress and PMS, with a chinese doctor. Soon enought my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was gone and PMS disappeared (and I became pregnant at 38 years-old, had a smooth pregnancy and gave natural birth). Well, I could say it was hard and difficult but it wasn't.

Changing my lifestyle to a healthier one was the solution for my gynecologicals problems. And NOT LISTEN to my doctors too, that wanted me to take drugs and hormones and NEVER spoke about my weight problem. They don't know a thing about women. I really think that if we enter the circus of tradicional medicine, the way things are today, we are lost and doomed. We need to be looked at as a whole being, not just organs and hormones. Science can't do that right now. (By the way, I'm physicist and disbeliever in science, because I know it.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coffee can help prevent blindness

The jury's still out on coffee and fertility, but the more I look into it, coffee is not as bad for you as people think (it could be the icky pesticides and the dioxin-y filter--free trade organic French press for me, please)--its been shown to help regulate insulin levels, prevent gout, and now look at this is from the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry:
People who drink coffee are less likely to develop an involuntary eye spasm called primary late onset blepharospasm, which makes them blink uncontrollably and can leave them effectively ‘blind’, according to a study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

The effect was proportional to the amount of coffee drank and one to two cups per day were needed for the protective effect to be seen. The age of onset of the spasm was also found to be later in patient who drank more coffee – 1.7 years for each additional cup per day.

...‘The most obvious candidate for the protective effect is caffeine, but the low frequency of decaffeinated coffee intake in Italy prevented us from examining the effects of caffeine on blepharospasm.

They suggest that caffeine blocks adenosine receptors as has been proposed for its mechanism in protecting against Parkinson’s disease.

The authors estimate that people need to drink one to two cups of coffee per day for the protective effect to be seen.

‘Considering that the caffeine content of a cup of Italian coffee (60–120 mg) is similar to the average content of a cup of American coffee (95–125 mg), the protective effect on the development of blepharospasm might be exerted at caffeine doses greater than 120–240 mg, comparable with the caffeine doses suggested to be protective in Parkinson’s disease,’ they say.

Click here to view the paper in full: press release.pdf

Monday, June 18, 2007

How we eat/consume around the world: Food for Thought

Take a look at this photo essay of what people around the world eat in a month, and think about how much of our food we cede to the food processing corporations..,,29307,1626519,00.html

My thoughts:
  • The US had by far the most food and among the least fresh veggies/fruits
  • Followed by the British
  • The Ecuadoreans look very happy and love their simple potato and cabbage soup
  • Ditto for the Bhutanese
  • The Germans also have very little fresh food and they look kinda dyspeptic
  • Some families had very little food at all...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Thomas and Friends" railway toys recalled for lead

Warn everyone you know who has little boys (and, of course, lead is bad for fertility...):

Yahoo! News: "'Thomas and Friends' railway toys recalled

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 1 million of the popular 'Thomas & Friends' wooden railway toys made in China are being voluntarily recalled because some may contain lead paint.

About 1.5 million wooden vehicles, buildings and other train-set parts for young children are being recalled, the CPSC said in a statement. The toys were sold in the United States from January 2005 through June 2007, the statement said.

Read more here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Soy's new competition: hemp

I'm baaaa-aaack.

At the amazing organic writers' colony, they had hemp and rice and soy milk available, and I was trying to get people to try the hemp. Hemp is an environmental crop--it grows quickly and with little need of fertilizer--and thus I try to promote its use--and in particular it's annoying because IT IS BANNED in the U.S., (although hemp seeds can be imported from Canada). Many of our nation's forefathers grew hemp because it was a smart thing to do--provided food and fiber and didn't wear out the soil (hello, George Washington?) But it's banned here because of a silly, nonsensical association with druuuuuuuuugs, i.e., marijuana. Hemp products do not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Hemp seeds have protein, fiber, and are also a good supplemental source of vegetarian Omega-3s, missing in soy and rice milk. Here's an article from the LA Times:

Soy's new competition: hemp
Hemp foods began filtering into grocery stores about five years ago, after the 1998 legalization of industrial hemp farming in Canada. The U.S. currently prohibits commercial cultivation of industrial hemp, but allows the import of seeds, oil, flour and other byproducts to be manufactured into ready-to-eat foods in the U.S.

The plant's shelled seed, or nut, can be added to baked goods and nutritional supplements and bars, sprinkled onto other foods such as salads and yogurt, or eaten alone as a snack. The seed can also be milled into flour, which can be used for baked goods, and pressed to make oil, which can be used in salad dressings, dips, spreads and sauces. (Due to its high unsaturated fat content, hemp oil must be refrigerated and is unsuitable for frying.)

...Hemp appeals to consumers for several reasons. It can be used as an alternative to soy products such as soy milk, which some people can't tolerate. Some people find hemp foods tasty. (We'll get to that in a minute.) Others are attracted to hemp's nutritional value. This may be its strongest draw.

The runty little nut, which resembles a sesame seed, does pack some stellar nutrients.

Two tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds contains 11 grams of protein, no cholesterol and, most important, about 2 grams of the very healthful unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Hemp oil also contains a good ratio — roughly 3 to 1 — of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s, says Barry Swanson, a professor in the food science and human nutrition department at Washington State University.

"That is an exceptional ratio, as far as balance is concerned, between omega 6s and omega 3s," Swanson says.

Further, he says, hemp has other good constituents: "The gamma-linoleic acid [an omega-6] and stearidonic acid [an omega-3] in hemp are both things our body needs more of, that don't occur in very many food products."...

read more here