Monday, November 30, 2009

2/3s chicken contaminated

If you've been watching great documentaries like Food Inc., or reading any Michael Pollan, you already know how disgusting factory farming is (the animals live in their own poop, pumped full of antibiotics so they won't DIE), so it 's no surprise all this gloop makes it to the grocery store.

We buy our eggs fresh, unwashed (sometimes with feathers stuck to them) and I do my old Korean/Rocky thing of eating them raw. Never have a problem, never have to worry about contaminating the kitchen. The superbugs are endemic to the food, even if they bleach and use ammonia (yes, they do!) and soon will irradiate it. I.e., it's already on the inside of the egg--what you see on my counter (yes, fresh eggs do not need to be refrigerated) looks disgustingly dirty...but it's clean!

So, the latest (via Huffpo):

Consumer Reports' latest test of fresh, whole broilers bought in 22 states reveals that two-thirds of birds tested harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease. The report reveals that organic "air-chilled" broilers were among the cleanest and that Perdue was found to be the cleanest of the brand-name chicken. Tyson and Foster Farms chickens were found to be the most contaminated. The report is available, free online (note, you have to click through the side bars to the left of the story) and in the January 2010 issue of the magazine.

read more here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Simple: Cut Down on Fried Foods, Reduce Disease

We could probably save tons of money on healthcare if we banned high fat fryers, but oh well, in the meantime, on this eve of the over-eatingest holiday, this fancy-schmancy scientific study basically says eating fried foods puts a lot of stress on your body, but your body will nicely bounce back if you stop pummeling it with fried food.

Interesting how we spend so much money investigating this stuff that's pretty common sense...and then when science confirms it, we STILL subsidize cheap fried corn-filled foods who cares about the how it makes us sick in the long term.

Fried turkey is ok, but not every day!

Reduction in Glycotoxins from Heat-Processing of Foods Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease and Restores Innate Biological Defense Mechanisms

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine report that cutting back on the consumption of processed and fried foods, which are high in toxins called Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), can reduce inflammation and actually help restore the body’s natural defenses regardless of age or health status. These benefits are present even without changing caloric or nutrient intake. (Embargo expired on 04-Nov-2009 at 00:05 ET)
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Oct/Nov-2009

—The Mount Sinai Medical Center

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hand Sanitizers have chemicals too...

With the fears of Swine flu, there's more hand sanitizers out there than you can shake a stick at. I saw a huge wipe thing you're supposed to use on your grocery cart (or your kid? the indications were unclear: "For the safety of your children").

Blech, personally, I feel that having a healthy immune system is more important than killing all those microbes--many of which are beneficial, many of which (e.g., staph) are ubiquitous anyway. So I'm a simple soap and water type, and I have no qualms about eating a little dirt with my organic produce that my friend drops off from her farm.

If you want to obsessively use hand sanitizers, however, you might want to check Environmental Working Groups database (and give them a donation so they can keep doing this work) and see what kind of weird stuff may be lurking in your sanitizer. For example, Triclosan is a common ingredient here, but it's banned in the EU, so know what's in there.

Click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Prenatal Smoke Exposure can cause Behavioral Problems

Don't know if this pertains to secondhand smoke as well, but I would assume any smoke isn't good. From Medscape:

November 9, 2009 (Honolulu, Hawaii) — Prenatal tobacco exposure (TE) has been linked to irritability in neonates, poor attention and information processing in infants, and impulsivity in preschool children," according to new research presented here at the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 56th Annual Meeting.

"We found that even in the first year of life, we can see differences in attention and irritability and in regulation of emotions," lead investigator Sandra A. Wiebe, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, Canada, told Medscape Psychiatry.

"Then at age 3, we saw that kids with prenatal [TE] seem to have trouble waiting for an award, which ties in with findings that smoking during pregnancy can have specific impact on the parts of the brain that are involved in regulating behavior," she added.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Off Label Marketing and DEADLY drugs

Here's an article (rather long, but worth it) about off-label marketing schemes by major pharmaceutical companies. Our babysitter was put on neurontin off label even though it didn't DO anything for her. In a clinical trial for Eli Lilly's Zyprexa apparently 31 people DIED.

Read here.

Monday, November 09, 2009

BPA in your canned tomatoes and soup

If you saw my post on Sigg bottles, and are concerned about BPA and other plastic chemical leakage, put canned foods in that category. We only buy tomatoes if they are in glass (the organic "lined" cans weirded me out) especially because they are very acidic, and intuition seems to have proved right. This post on a Consumer Report test via our friends at Treehugger bears a close read (ONE OF EVERY THREE CANS IOF INFANT FORMULA!):

Two new bits of research: A new study by members of the Reproductive Toxicology Branch of the EPA did not find any evidence that Bisphenol A (BPA), was a "gender bender" in female rats. BPA "Does not Alter Sexually Dimorphic Behavior, Puberty, Fertility and Anatomy of Female LE Rats" (Abstract here, via

This is particularly good news in the light of the Consumers Union's recent report that showed leaching of BPA from canned food, as reported in Calorie Lab. The worst product, Progresso Vegetable Soup, had BPA content in the range of 67 to 134 parts per billion. These are levels comparable to those found in the polycarbonate bottles that we have all been dumping like mad.

bpa levels

This shouldn't be news to TreeHugger readers; studies have been finding BPA in cans for years. See:
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles
Bisphenol A Is In Your Tomato Sauce
Is There Bisphenol A In Your Home Canning?
Bisphenol A Found in Baby Food in Glass Jars

So what should one do? Certainly not jump on the one new study and say that proves that BPA is harmless, as many in the plastics industry are doing; The Environmental Working Group lists over a hundred studies that say otherwise.

There were fairly easy substitutes for polycarbonate bottles, either stainless steel or new BPA free plastics. Replacing it in cans is not so simple. But the EPA is no longer taking its orders from the American Chemistry Council, and according to the Los Angeles Times, a review of existing evidence about BPA's health effects was nearly completed and that [Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret] Hamburg would "make a decision how to proceed" by the end of the month.

Conclusion: There is absolutely nothing new in the Consumers Union report. If you are concerned about BPA, we made five recommendations in an earlier post:

Don't use canned baby formula: All U.S. manufacturers use BPA-based lining on the metal portions of the formula containers. If you must use formula, choose powered or liquid in plastic bottles.

Don't eat canned food if you are pregnant. the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says "We don't want to tell people not to eat canned beans or tomatoes," said CSPI nutritionist David Schardt. "But at the same time, it makes sense for all parents, and especially pregnant and nursing women, to minimize the exposure of their kids' developing bodies and brains to BPA."

Buy in bottles, not cans. Many products, like tomato sauces, are available in bottles as well as cans. Does that white epoxy on the inside of the metal lid have BPA? Yes, but there is a lot less surface area than the whole inside of a can.

Start cooking instead of just heating
. The fact that 17% of the American diet comes out of cans is just a scandal when we are surrounded by fresh food. Cook it from scratch and avoid the problem altogether.

Demand BPA-free cans. Not every manufacturer uses it; Some brands, like Eden Foods, are BPA free.

But most of all, don't panic, and lets wait to see what the FDA says at the end of the month.

SSRIs may be bad for sperm

Eeek, besides the disturbing fact that so many of those crazy shooters (now, Columbine, and back) have been on SSRIs, which of course affect the biochemistry of your brain, apparently it looks like SSRIs may cause MAJOR DNA damage in sperm. The study used Paxil (interestingly, I have seen articles pushing Paxil as it's cheaper than other SSRIs) but researchers hypothesize it's ALL SSRIs. From

June 22, 2009 — The selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) paroxetine (Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline) may affect male fertility through its effects on sperm DNA, according to a small study by Weill Cornell Medical Center researchers. In the study of 35 healthy volunteers without psychiatric disorders, the antidepressant induced abnormal sperm DNA fragmentation in more than 40% of participants.

"Sperm DNA fragmentation is thought to be a very sensitive measure of sperm abnormality, independent of sperm counts or standard sperm tests, and predicts natural fertility as well as fertility with the most advanced forms of assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization," said senior author Peter Schlegel, MD, chair of the department of urology and professor of reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center, in New York City. "What the study tells us is that paroxetine could have an effect on fertility that will not show up in standard sperm tests — and cause an increase in genetic damage to sperm," he said.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Present Idea, bamboo + silk scares

You know I love organizations like Kiva that help people make a living, especially with green projects, folk medicines, etc. Well, it's present season and you might want to consider some of these great three-season silk and bamboo scarves that are made with pesticide free materials and low impact dyes, made by these women in Chang Mai, Thailand.

This bamboo and silk scarf is soft, light, and stylish. Tyler, the person who runs this organization,, sent me some of the pictures of the women at work. Check the other colors out here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

UK Guardian

The article was reprised in the UK Guardian. They had a more sober view of cannabis, but then the so-called "health editor" questioned whether the improvement we were seeing was merely coincidental or a delusion on my part. He is welcome to fiddle while Rome burns, in my opinion:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NYtimes, Mammograms: "Just Skip It"

Longtime readers know I've been ranting about the dubious value of mammos and myself have never had one (search the blog for older posts) much to the chagrin of my midwives. Finally, turns out some prominent docs are agreeing, or at least finally questioning the orthodoxy:

Quandary With Mammograms: Get a Screening, or Just Skip It?

Published: November 2, 2009
by Denise Grady

Here we go again. Another study raises questions about the benefits of mammograms, and another set of confusing statements issue forth from experts.

read more here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Soft Drinks Hard on the Body

Interestingly, there is a faction of Coke Connoisseurs who prefer Mexican Coke over any other...reason why? Mexico use real sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. Sad to say SUGAR is much better for you than HFCS. But anyway, lay off the soda pop. It's hard on oyur metabolism, your immune system, your fertility, and it's made with icky old tap water. Diet soda gives you not only chemicals but (ironically) belly fat, anyway:

From the Ask Dr. Mao Column via Yahoo:

Soda, pop, cola, soft drink — whatever you call it, it is one of the worst beverages that you could be drinking for your health. As the debate for whether to put a tax on the sale of soft drinks continues, you should know how they affect your body so that you can make an informed choice on your own.

Soft drinks are hard on your health
Soft drinks contain little to no vitamins or other essential nutrients. However, it is what they do contain that is the problem: caffeine, carbonation, simple sugars — or worse, sugar substitutes — and often food additives such as artificial coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.

A lot of research has found that consumption of soft drinks in high quantity, especially by children, is responsible for many health problems that include tooth decay, nutritional depletion, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.

read more.