Bottom Line's Daily Health News
In This Issue...
The Price of Progress-- How Chemical Exposure is Killing Us
The Ugly Truth About Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Vine-Ripened Nutrition-- Tomatoes Are a Nutritious and
The Price of Progress
As Americans, we often pride ourselves on how far we've come in this country, with the Industrial Revolution and subsequent high-tech progress lifting us to heights that our ancestors could never dream of. But with soaring rates of autoimmune diseases, breast and prostate cancer, neurological and reproductive disorders and more, the question is: At what price? Pollution is not just about the water and the air. It is also about pollution in our bodies and the impact it's having on our health.
EVEN LOW-LEVEL CHEMICAL EXPOSURE CAN BE DANGEROUS
Every day we are routinely exposed to thousands of industrial chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. With photos from space documenting the global drift of pollutants, exposure to these nearly ubiquitous toxins is hard to escape.
For public safety, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits exposure to toxic chemicals to levels that have been found "safe" in studies. However, in many cases there is no such thing as a safe level of exposure, warns Tom McGuire, DDS, author of Tooth Fitness: Your Guide to Healthy Teeth (St. Michael's), an expert on mercury poisoning. He believes that even minimal exposure to this toxic heavy metal can add up over time and eventually lead to serious health problems such as neurological dysfunction. (Read more about mercury poisoning in Daily Health News, September 6, 2005.)
To make matters worse, some industrial chemicals have more damaging effects at low doses than at high ones. For example, bisphenol A (BPA), used in the manufacture of baby bottles, is an estrogen-like chemical that attaches to the same receptor sites on the body's cells as the natural hormone estrogen. When this occurs at key points in development, it can result in brain and reproductive abnormalities. Paradoxically, higher doses of BPA and other endocrine disruptors do not provoke these same abnormal responses. Previous research has shown that BPA can leach out of polycarbonate bottles that are boiled, brushed and dishwashed, possibly due to the plastics degredation -- and it is not necessary to boil formula or breast milk. Instead, choose a polyethylene or polypropylene bottle with recycling numbers 1, 2 or 5.
COMMON INDUSTRIAL TOXINS
Tens of thousands of industrial chemicals pollute the environment and expose you and your children to serious health risks. They include...
Bisphenol A (BPA).As mentioned above BPA is used in plastic baby bottles and food can linings. Tiny amounts of this chemical have caused alterations in immune response, neurochemistry, behavior and reproduction in animals.
Dioxins.Formed mainly as byproducts of industrial processes (such as smelting and bleaching of paper pulp), these dangerous chemicals -- classified as persistent organic pollutants -- are associated with damage to the immune system, developing nervous system, e ndocrine system and reproductive function. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 90% of human exposure to dioxins is through the food supply, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish.
Fossil fuels.Used to generate the bulk ofUSenergy, the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) produces pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, hydrocarbo ns and particulates. These, in turn, are associated with diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and cancer.
Heavy metals.Mercury, lead, aluminum and cadmium are associated with cancer, autism, learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome and more. Sources include silver-mercury-amalgam dental fillings, vaccines, drinking w ater, fish, pesticides and building materials.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).Although banned in the USfor decades, most foods continue to contain some level of these persistent organic pollutants that are most prevalent in farmed salmon. PCBs contribute to cancer development, particularly hormone-related varieties such as breast cancer.
Perchlorate. A chemical used in weapons manufacture, traces of perchlorate have been found in the drinking water of 25 states. Perchlorate inhibits thyroid hormone production, which children require for brain development.
Pesticides.The influence of pesticides from both commercial and residential use on human health, not to mention the environment, are well documented. They include hormonal disruption, nervous system damage and increased cancer risk.
Phthalates.Even at minute levels, these tongue-twisting chemicals, pronounced "tha-lats" -- used in plastic wrap, plastic food storage containers, toys, drug capsules, cosmetics, perfumes and building materials -- have been linked with asthma and allergies in children, and sperm abnormalities in men.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCSs).These carcinogenic chemicals are present in dry-cleaning fluids, carpeting, paints, cleaning fluids, air fresheners, varnishes, cosmetics and drinking water.
LIMIT YOUR CHEMICAL EXPOSURE
Tests show that traces of many industrial chemicals already exist in most people's blood and urine. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found traces of BPA in more than nine out of 10 urine samples tested. To make matters worse, life is not a laboratory where we are carefully exposed to one chemical at a time. In the real world, we are routinely bombarded with multiple chemicals, which can add up to even greater health risks.
While you can't live in a bubble, there are many steps you can take to limit your exposure to industrial chemicals...
Whenever possible, use glass rather than plastic. With plastic, there is always the chance of dangerous chemicals leaching out. Because heat accelerates this process, don't microwave food in plastic containers or plastic wrap.
When caring for your lawn, consider natural alternatives to pesticides.
Likewise, consider natural alternatives to chemicals in commercial personal care items (shampoos, cosmetics, etc.) and household cleaners. Alternatives are readily available at your local health-food store, or in many cases you can make your own. Many environmentally friendly household cleaners can be found at Melaleuca as well (http://melaleuca.com).
Get your water tested and, if it's not up to par, install a water filter in your home.
Stay inside on ozone alert days. This is especially important for the very young and the very old, and for those who suffer from chronic diseases like asthma.
FOLLOW A HEALTHFUL LIFESTYLE
You can also protect yourself by boosting your immune system and overall health to the greatest extent possible, notes Dr. McGuire. This means getting a good balance of exercise and rest, maintaining a healthy weight, and watching what you eat...
Eat a variety of whole foods and, as much as possible, buy organic, free-range foods that are cultivated without pesticides and hormones.
Avoid processed foods that are packed with chemical additives and preservatives.
Choose wild rather than farmed fish, because it is less likely to contain chemical contaminants -- dioxins or PCBs.
Eat low-mercury fish, such as wild salmon, shrimp, pollack and trout. Because mercury can damage neurological development, it's especially important for pregnant and nursing women and young children to avoid eating high-mercury fish, including shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and tuna (including canned white or albacore tuna).
The WHO recommends trimming fat from meat and consuming low-fat dairy products, because toxins tend to accumulate in fat.
Keep in mind that drugs are chemicals too, and take them only when you need them... and in the smallest possible amounts for the shortest possible periods of time.
Consider supplements. In addition to a good, all-around multivitamin, Dr. McGuire recommends antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and selenium to prevent free radical damage... alpha-lipoic acid to help the liver flush toxins from the body... milk thistle to support the liver... Lactobacillus acidophilus< /span> and fiber to strengthen the intestine... and N-acetyl cysteine and s-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM-e) to boost the body's levels of glutathione, which is a natural toxin remover and intracellular antioxidant.
Take good care of yourself, body and soul. The stronger and healthier you are, the better able you will be to withstand our society's chemical onslaught.
The Ugly Truth About Cholesterol and Heart Disease
Why, in a country ravaged by heart disease is no one telling you that 50% of those who have heart attacks do not have elevated cholesterol?
The truth is scary! Discover why you haven't been told about the real cause of heart attacks and learn about a new successful strategy to prevent them.
Get this free special report from Medical Maverick Dr. Russell Blaylock.
One of the glories of summer is vine-ripened tomatoes. They're easy to grow, beautiful to look at and, research shows, they're also incredibly healthful. How remarkably good tomatoes are for us surfaced a few years ago in a study that showed tomatoes in the diet decreases risk for prostate cancer. New studies show a growing array of other benefits to eating tomatoes, including regulating blood pressure, lowering risk for emphysema and decreasing risk for heart disease and other cancers, including lung cancer.
Richard C. Baybutt, PhD, an associate professor of human nutrition, Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, specializes in tomato research. When I asked him about the wonders of tomatoes, he told me that lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, usually gets the attention as the key health-promoting property, but it would be a mistake to overlook their many other important nutrients.
But first, let's talk about lycopene, an especially powerful carotenoid. It is one of approximately 600 carotenoids which are the pigments that give birds, flowers and other plants their bright colors. Carotenoids have antioxidant properties that help defend against free radicals, oxidants that are created in tissues and roam the body, and when out of balance, stress the tissues and, over time, cause any number of diseases. It's because of lycopene, says Dr. Baybutt, that tomatoes protect against prostate cancer and heart disease, and future research is likely to show that it helps protect against even more diseases.
While tomatoes' lycopene power is enough to classify them a nutritional powerhouse, they are also full of vitamin A (separate from lycopene because unlike rats, humans convert very little of it into vitamin A), folate, potassium and vitamins C and E, he says. Vitamin A, which like lycopene is anti-inflammatory, is of special interest to Dr. Baybutt for its role in lung health. Dr. Baybutt's research team found that when they put rats on a vitamin A-deficient diet, the rats developed emphysema without any exposure to cigarette smoke. When the researchers exposed a group of normal rats to cigarette smoke, the rats developed vitamin A deficiency. These findings have led Dr. Baybutt and his colleagues to speculate that the difference between smokers who get lung cancer and emphysema and those who don't may have to do with vitamin A.
Eating tomatoes fresh provides all of their vitamins and minerals, but tomatoes need oil and heat to make the lycopene bioavailable. Either olive oil or butter will do. Dr. Baybutt says to stir the cooked mixture well for maximum effect. He recommends home-made tomato sauces if possible rather than sodium-filled processed ones, and he advises using uncoated cast iron skillets for cooking. The reason: The iron from the skillet leaches into the tomato sauce and tomatoes' acidity makes the iron soluble and so available to the body. To get the best from tomatoes, Dr. Baybut says eat and enjoy both fresh and cooked, as often as you can. If you are growing tomatoes this summer, consider making some sauce for future use. This way you can enjoy this gift of nature all year long.
Bottom Line's Daily Health News
Getting old can be awful. Aches... pains... illnesses... constant bouncing from doctor to doctor. We all dread it.
You can't stop the clock, but you can banish the miseries that sometimes come with it.
Brain failure and fatigue
Weakness and impotence
Frozen joints or back pain
Spotted, decrepit skin
Tumors taking over your body
Fading, cloudy vision
And all other indignities of aging!
The Price of Progress
Tom McGuire, DDS, a leading authority on dental wellness, mercury amalgam fillings and mercury poisoning. Dr. McGuire is president of the Dental Wellness Institute, founder of the International Association of Mercury Free Dentists (IAMFD) and author of T ooth Fitness: Your Guide to Healthy Teeth (St. Michael's).
Richard C. Baybutt, PhD, associate professor, Kansas State University, department of human nutrition, Manhattan, Kansas.
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