Tuesday, July 30, 2013

12 reasons to scrap GMOs

Alliance for Natural Health Europe's GM ‘Dirty Dozen’: 12 reasons to not research, cultivate or consume genetically modified crops
  1. GM has yet to demonstrate its potential to alleviate poverty [1], while non-GM farming practices have [2]
  2. GM and intensive, conventional agriculture crops do not consistently provide either improved yields, or reduced agricultural (including energy) inputs [1, 3, 4]
  3. Nearly all major developments in improving yields, drought resistance, insect or pathogen resistance, even in recent years, have been the result of non-GM plant breeding techniques [1, 5]
  4. There are no benefits that have yet to be attributed to commercial GM crops that have not already been attributed to non-GM crops (e.g. insect or herbicide resistance, drought or heat tolerance, nutritional enhancement) [5]
  5. GM crops may pose serious, unexpected and unpredictable long-term risks to human health and the environment [6, 7]
  6. GM threatens the biodiversity and the viability of wild plant and animal species [7]
  7. GM crops may generate ‘superweeds’ and ‘superpests’ [8, 9, 1011, 12]
  8. GM places the control of the world’s staple crops in the hands of a few corporations [1]
  9. GM threatens the viability of organic farming systems [13, 14, 15]
  10. ‘Co-existence’ of GM and non-GM agriculture is untenable [14, 1516]
  11. Safety assessments used for approving GM cultivation are inadequate [17, 18]
  12. The public has demonstrated a consistent rejection of GM crop technology and consumes it usually only when it is unaware of its presence [19, 20, 21].
References (for evidential support, including references contained therein)
  1. IAASTD, Agriculture at a crossroads, 2008, Island Press, USA.
  2. INRA-CIRAD. Agrimonde: Scenarios and Challenges for Feeding the World in 2050. 2009. INRA-CIRAD, France. 
  3. Rodale Institute. The Farming Systems Trial. Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA, USA.
  4. Pimentel D. 2006. Impacts of organic farming on the efficiency of energy use in agriculture. An Organic Center State of Science Review, Washington DC, USA
  5. Conway G. One Billion Hungry Can We Feed the World? 2012, Comstock, USA.
  6. Smith JM. Genetic Roulette: The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods.2007. Yes! Books, USA.
  7. Garcia MA, Altieri MA. Transgenic Crops: Implications for Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture. Bull Sci Technol Soc, 2005; 25: 335-353. [Abstract]
  8. Funke T et al. Molecular basis for the herbicide resistance of Roundup Ready crops. PNAS, 2006; 103: 13010-13015. [Full paper
  9. Nandula VK et al. Glyphosate-resistant weeds: current status and future outlook. Out. Pest Manage. 2005; 16:183–187. [Full paper
  10. Ives AR, Andow D. Evolution of resistance to Bt crops: directional selection in structured environments. Ecol. Lett. 2002; 5: 792–801. [Abstract]
  11. Ives AR et al. The evolution of resistance to two-toxin pyramid transgenic crops. Ecol Appl. 2011; 21: 503–515. [Abstract]
  12. Gilbert N. Case studies: A hard look at GM crops. Nature, 2013; 7447: 24-26. [News feature
  13. Organic Agriculture Protection Fund, Saskatchewan, Canada
  14. Levidow L, Boschert K. Coexistence or contradiction? GM crops versus alternative agricultures in Europe. Geoforum. 2008; 39: 174-190. [Abstract and full paper
  15. Devos Y et al. Coexistence in the EU—return of the moratorium on GM crops? Nature Biotechnology. 2008; 26: 1223-1225. [Abstract]
  16. Lee M, Burrell R. Liability for the Escape of GM Seeds: Pursuing the ‘Victim’? The Modern Law Review. 2002; 65: 517–537. [Abstract
  17. Chopra S. Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada whistleblower. 2009. KOS Publishing, Canada.
  18. Antoniou M et al. GMO Myths and Truths Report. An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops. June 2012. London. 
  19. Frewer L et al. Societal aspects of genetically modified foods. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2004; 42: 1181-1193. [Abstract
  20. Gaskell G et al. GM foods and the misperception of risk perception. Risk Analysis. 2004; 24: 185-194. [Abstract
  21. Durant RF, Legge JS. Public opinion, risk perceptions, and genetically modified food regulatory policy reassessing the calculus of dissent among European citizens. European Union Politics. 2005; 6: 181-200. [Abstract

Monday, July 29, 2013

Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer: An Opportunity for Improvement


Friday, July 26, 2013

FDA steps up standards for imported food (it's about time!)


Magnesium critical for child bone health

Although the importance of magnesium for bone health is known, little is known about magnesium absorption and its relationship to bone mineral content and density both factors that relate to bone strength. In a new study, researchers found that the magnesium content of a diet is significantly related to these two factors. The report appears in Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

In the study, researchers measured the intake and absorption of magnesium in children between the ages of 4 and 8 using special techniques involving stable isotopes to measure the absorption of the mineral. They found that magnesium intake and absorption, but not calcium intake or absorption, were significantly associated with bone mineral content and density.

Dietary magnesium intake levels tend to be at a healthy level in small children, but we see deficiencies in these levels in teens and young adults.

This is because magnesium is found in foods such as nuts and vegetables, which are not consumed as often by teens and young adults.

Bonnie: As we have said incessantly for the last 30 years, magnesium supplementation is crucial to bridge the deficiency gap between diet and optimal mag levels.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pediatrics: New Recommendations for Reflux, Vitamin D

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial to the growth of healthy bones. It is especially important that babies get enough of it during the first twelve months of their lives when their bones are growing rapidly. This is why health care providers frequently recommend that parents give their babies a daily vitamin D supplement. A new study confirms that 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily is sufficient for infant health. While other countries recommend 800IU-1000IU, which is not harmful, the Pediatrics study found that these doses exhibited no benefit over 400IU.

Two thirds of otherwise healthy infants spit up because of their physiology, and they should be treated not with medication but with modest lifestyle changes as altering their position during feeding. Medications should be reserved for infants who actually have severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to an American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report.
This report came out because of an increasing number of inappropriate prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are being written to treat pediatric patients.

"In the infant with uncomplicated recurrent regurgitation, it may be important to recognize physiologic GER that is effortless, painless, and not affecting growth," the authors write. "In this situation, pediatricians should focus on minimal testing and conservative management. Overuse of medications in the so-called 'happy spitter' should be avoided by all pediatric physicians."

At the heart of the guidelines is the pediatricians' ability to distinguish typical spitting up from the more problematic GERD, in which vomiting is accompanied by such symptoms as irritability, weight loss, refusing to eat, coughing, or wheezing and is confirmed through a series of diagnostic tests.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MUST READ - EWG releases report on bug repellants

We greatly respect most of the findings of Environmental Working Group. While we are vehemently against frequent use of any kind of chemicals, in this case, moderate use of certain conventional bug repellants may be a better alternative to contracting lyme disease or west nile.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Onslaught of autism

Inspiring and sobering piece on how multiple generations can affect autism in offspring.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Iron deficiency linked to psychiatric disorders in kids

Children and adolescents with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are at increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and autism, new research from BMC Psychiatry shows.
According to the authors, "When encountering those with IDA in clinical practice, prompt iron supplementation should be considered to prevent possible psychiatric sequelae, and vice versa, psychiatrists should check the iron level in those children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders."

IDA is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in industrialized countries. Iron plays a key role in brain development, including myelination of white matter and the development and functioning of the different neurotransmitter systems, including the dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin systems.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Flora Imbalance Linked to Autism

In new research appearing in the journal PLoS One, researchers present the first comprehensive bacterial analysis focusing on commensal or beneficial bacteria in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

One of the reasons they addressed the topic is that autistic children have a lot of GI problems that can last into adulthood. Studies have shown that when these problems are managed, behavior improves dramatically.

They found that children with autism had significantly fewer types of gut bacteria, probably making them more vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria. Autistic subjects also had significantly lower amounts of three critical bacteria, Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonellaceae. 
The three genera represent important groups of carbohydrate-degrading and/or fermenting microbes. Such bacteria could be critical for healthy microbial-gut interactions or play a supportive role for a wide network of different microorganisms in the gut.

Up to a quadrillion (1014) bacteria inhabit the human intestine, contributing to digestion, producing vitamins and promoting GI health. Genes associated with human intestinal flora are 100 times as plentiful as the body's human genes, forming what some have referred to as a second genome. Various environmental factors can destabilize the natural microbiome of the gut, including antibiotics and specific diets.

Most gluten-free friendly cities


Pediatric Chronic Pain Admissions Rise 831% in 7 years

The number of pediatric patients admitted to US hospitals with chronic pain diagnoses increased by 831% from 2004 to 2010. The average patient was a white girl about 14 years old with headaches, abdominal and musculoskeletal pain, and depression and anxiety, according to a study published July 1 in Pediatrics.

Of all patients, 65% had gastrointestinal diagnoses, 44% had psychiatric diagnoses, and 9.9% had a coded medication adverse effect, overdose, or substance abuse. Adverse effects of opiates were most common, at 1.4%. Chronic pain patients underwent a mean of 3.18 procedures per patient, with the most common being esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

This study documents for the first time for the pediatric population that readmission rates are substantial and that many patients undergo invasive procedures either diagnostically or therapeutically.

Bonnie: We can draw upon myriad reasons for this chilling statistic:

  1. Parents lack of effort to educate and execute a healthy lifestyle plan for their children
  2. Poor diet
  3. Lack of physical activity
  4. Environmental toxic overload
  5. Reliance upon medication for symptoms instead of getting to the root of the problem
  6. Abdominal pain, constipation, depression, headaches are all symptoms of gut dysbiosis

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Expert: "Biggest setback in heart disease treatment has been the overuse of statins."

One of the foremost researchers of cardiac research, 98 year-old Fred Kummerow, was recently interviewed for the journal Clinical Lipidology. His fascinating viewpoint of why we have made so little progress in reducing chronic and acute cardiac disease conditions echos much of what the integrative medicine community believes.

His first startling quote in the interview is when he was asked if he thought there were any setbacks in how patients are treated for cholesterol and lipid levels. Professor Kummerow stated, "By the end of 1980s, doctors started prescribing statins and in my view, the biggest setback in heart disease treatment has been the overuse of statins for the treatment of high cholesterol. Statins work by reducing the 2 g of cholesterol per day produced by cells in the liver and can cause adverse effects in the body such as raised levels of liver enzymes and muscle issues such as rhabdomyolysis. Sales of statin medications nearly tripled when the National Cholesterol Education Program revised its guidelines to recommend statins as a prophylactic for many heart issues. Although the Education Board cited randomized trials to back statin treatment for primary prevention of occlusive cardiovascular disease, a description in a paper from The Lancet states 'not one of the studies provides such evidence'."

Professor Kummerow went on to say that "Clearly, my focus has been on the biochemistry in the veins and arteries, and dietary and environmental factors, which I think are very important for the prevention of heart disease. I think that the recent societal movement towards eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meat, and minimal amounts of processed foods, to be a great advancement in the future of heart health."

In response to his dismissal of cholesterol as one of the major risk factors in the development of heart disease, the professor states, "Cholesterol was first implicated in progression of coronary heart disease in 1955 and the cholesterol hypothesis was reinforced by the Federal Trade Commission hearing on eggs in 1975. I testified, as did Michael DeBakey, at this hearing in June 1975 that eggs were a good source of nutrition and that cholesterol was a necessary component for bodily function. I also testified that I did not know what caused heart disease in 1975. I did not realize until years later when the entire testimony was published that Dr Cooper, head of the NIH, had testified on 30 May, 1975, stating that eggs contained cholesterol, cholesterol caused heart disease and therefore people should not eat eggs. Reading the final ruling of the Federal Trade Commission makes it evident that only two witnesses testified that cholesterol was not the answer to heart disease. All of the other witnesses (the head of the NIH and many prominent physicians, among others), testified that cholesterol was the cause of heart disease.

The research conducted in my laboratory, as I described above, demonstrated that cholesterol is not a problem unless it is oxidized. Even Ancel Keys, who some consider the father of the cholesterol–heart disease hypothesis said in 1997: 'There's no connection whatsoever between the cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we've known all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn't matter at all unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit'."

Finally, he was asked "Based on Your 60-year Career in the Field and as a Nonagenarian Yourself, What Dietary Advice Would You Give to Aid the Avoidance of Coronary Artery Disease?" His response was, "My best dietary advice is to eat a balanced diet with a differing protein source every day, avoid all trans fats and don't drink soda pop."

Bonnie: At 98, Professor Kummerow has the knowledge and moxie to speak his mind and not worry about every heart group and Big Pharma coming after him. I love it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Parents: it's all on you to perpetuate healthy habits

Kids whose moms encourage them to exercise and eat well, and model those healthy behaviors themselves, are more likely to be active and healthy eaters, according to a study in the June issue of International Journal of Obesity

The researchers call upon health professionals and educators to remind parents that they are role models for their children, and underscore the importance of parental policies promoting physical activity and healthy eating.

The home environment and parenting is critical for influencing a child's health by shaping dietary and physical behaviors, such as providing access to fruits and vegetables or encouraging kids to play outside.

Researchers studied data from kids, ages two to five, whose mothers were overweight or obese. They collected information on the children's food intake over the past week, with foods rated as junk food or healthy food. To gauge their levels of physical activity, the children wore accelerometers for a week, which measured moderate to vigorous physical activity as well as sedentary time.

The mothers reported information about their children's environments, including family policies around food and physical activity, accessibility of healthy versus junk foods, availability of physical activity equipment, and whether they model healthy eating or exercise for their kids.

When they analyzed the data, the researchers found significant associations between these environmental measures and the preschoolers' physical activity and healthy versus junk food intake.
For example, limiting access to junk foods at home and parental policies supporting family meals increased the amount of healthy foods kids ate. Overall, the home environment had more influence on the children's dietary habits than on their physical activity levels.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

ADHD drugs don't boost kids' grades


Poor omega 3:6 ratio increases hip fracture risk

Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood may reduce the risk for hip fractures in postmenopausal women. After analyzing red blood cell samples from women with and without a history of having a broken hip, scientists found that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids from both plant and fish sources were associated with a lower likelihood of having fractured a hip.

In addition to omega-3s, the researchers looked at omega-6 fatty acids, which are generally plentiful in a Western diet. The study also showed that as the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s increased, so did the risk for hip fracture. This should not be a surprising finding as we have said for years that omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory, whereas omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.

The researchers concur. They state in the Journal of Bone and Mineral research study that inflammation contributes to bone resorption, the breaking down of bone caused by the release of cells called osteoclasts. "Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation. So we asked if we would see fractures decrease in response to omega-3 intake," said the lead author of the study.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids, meaning they contribute to biological processes but must be consumed because the body does not produce them on its own. Unfortunately, t
he current typical American diet contains between 15 and 17 times more omega-6 than omega-3, a ratio that should ideally be lowered to 2-to-1. The primary omega-6 fatty acid in the diet is linoleic acid, which composes about 99 percent of Americans' omega-6 intake and is found in corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils.

In addition to eating more fatty fish, supplementing with high quality fish oil is an option to get your fatty acid level in balance.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Birth safer at home than in hospital: study

According to a large population study published in the June issue of British Medical Journal, low risk women in primary care at the onset of labor with planned home birth had lower rates of severe acute maternal morbidity, postpartum hemorrhage, and manual removal of placenta than those with planned hospital birth. There was no evidence that planned home birth among low risk women leads to an increased risk of severe adverse maternal outcomes in a maternity care system with well trained midwives and a good referral and transportation system.

Studies question reduced-fat milk recommendations

In the July 1st issue of JAMA Pediatrics, Harvard researchers question the USDA Dietary Guideline recommendation of three servings of reduced-fat milk for children daily. The researchers find no scientific rationale for this recommendation, including no unbiased qualified studies. Moreover, the researchers state the humans have no nutritional requirement for animal milk. 

Additionally, a study in the June issue of Journal of Nutrition found that the concentrations of six of the eight inflammatory biomarkers tended to be higher on consumption of a low-fat dairy diet than on that of a fermented dairy diet. The concentrations of two plasmalogen lipid classes reported to be associated with increased oxidizability were also higher on consumption of the low-fat dairy diet than on that of the fermented dairy diet. In conclusion, short-term diets containing low-fat dairy products did not lead to a more favorable biomarker profile associated with cardiovascular disease risk compared with the full-fat dairy products.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013