A Common Antibiotic May Blind You
A push by the World Health Organization to eliminate trachoma -- the second leading cause of blindness worldwide -- may have hit a standstill, thanks once again to a toxic drug worsening a condition rather than improving it.
Previous research had found patients given the antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin) one or two times annually reduced the rate of inflammation associated with trachoma that can become so severe the eyelid can become inflamed, forcing eyelashes to stick onto the eyeball.
Researchers tested the antibiotic once again on three villages in Vietnam, two of which received the popular Pfizer antibiotic and the third merely an ointment applied to the eye. In the villages that received Zithromax, however, new cases of trachoma increased and the incidence of re-infections quadrupled.
And, if you think the problem is only one of geography, Canadian researchers discovered a similar surge in re-infections when chlamydia was treated with Zithromax, likely explaining the link to age-related macular degeneration. Cases like these demonstrate why you should be doing all you can to boost your immune system more naturally.
Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 296, No. 12, September 27, 2006
New Scientist September 26, 2006
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Friday, September 29, 2006
A Common Antibiotic May Blind You
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Considering one soft drink maker's very deceptive ploy to promote 7-Up as 100 percent natural, companies will do anything to grab the attention of consumers, particularly teens. So much so, a Las Vegas firm has labeled its newest energy drink Cocaine, even though it contains absolutely none of the ingredients of the illegal drug.
Although a visit to the product's Web site reminds people to consume Cocaine responsibly (along with the expected legal disclaimers warning children and pregnant moms not to drink it), various news accounts say the energy drink is being advertised as a "legal alternative" to the real thing. Far from the "real thing," however, the only kick in a can of Cocaine is 280 milligrams of caffeine, still less than you'd ever get after drinking an expresso.
Understanding its main competition is Red Bull, Redux Beverages claims their new and improved energy drink is "350 percent stronger," hence, I suspect, where the origin of that ridiculous name came from... In my mind, even more dangerous than consuming this misnamed energy drink -- fortunately only available in New York and Southern California -- is a page on its Web site showing some suggested combinations of concoctions with alcohol, a toxic cocktail indeed. And, it's sweetened with dextrose, a component of that anything but natural sugar, Splenda too.
Thankfully, products in a can like Cocaine are transitory, and your health, if you make the right lifestyle choices, can last a very long time. Make an impact on your health that'll last a lifetime by staying away from specialty drinks and soft drinks.
Daily Mail September 21, 2006
ABC News September 18, 2006
MSN Video September 18, 2006 Free Video Link
Not only are the toxic compounds used to make cigarettes more addictive than reported, smoking "light" cigarettes with allegedly fewer contaminants are at least as deadly as the "real thing," and tobacco manufacturers knew about it too, thanks to a ruling from a Brooklyn federal judge.
Unlike other class-action lawsuits against Big Tobacco citing personal injury, however, this one differed in that it wanted to prove light cigarettes were fraudulent products dating 35 years back to when Philip Morris introduced Marlboro Lights. This could be a huge setback for the tobacco industry, as 45 percent of its customers smoke "light" cigarettes.
The response from the general counsel representing Altria, the reformed, renamed Philip Morris that produces 50 percent of America's cigarettes: The federal government -- not Big Tobacco -- was to blame for the belief "light" cigarettes were any safer than the real ones.
Light or not, cutting back on cigarettes -- even down to one a day -- won't lower your risk of cancer. Your best bet is to go cold turkey, with the help of an effective tool like the Emotional Freedom Technique.
New York Times September 26, 2006 Registration Required
Spartanburg Herald-Journal September 26, 2006
If you thought using an artificial sweetener like aspartame or Splenda as an insecticide was a bit far-fetched, consider this study about eliminating malaria using a sugar solution spiked with the deadly Spinosad.
Scientists used a combined solution of sucrose and Spinosad (an oral insecticide) to virtually eliminate the entire mosquito population in an oasis located in southern Israel. The few insects left after the initial spraying were new adults whose growth was controlled by the sucrose/insecticide mix.
Although this article doesn't explore the possibility, obviously, one could use Splenda to address the deadly problem of malaria, responsible for the deaths of an estimated 2 million people every year. (Some experts believe malaria may have killed half the people who ever lived!)
The major conventional approach for malaria is to kill mosquitoes with DDT. In many ways, however, Splenda is similar to DDT as it is a chlorinated hydrocarbon. Also, many do not realize Splenda was discovered by accident when researchers were working with compounds that were insecticides. One of the Indian researchers misunderstood his instructions and thought he heard taste the chemical, when it was test the chemical.
And, as they say, the rest is history...
Still, it would make a lot more sense to use Splenda rather than DDT as the anything but sugar concoction is clearly less toxic.
International Journal for Parasitology, Vol. 36, Nos. 10-11, September 2006: 1077-1080
Science Blog September 25, 2006
The (Lakeland, Fla.) Ledger September 22, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Stay Away From the Birth Control Patch!
Earlier this month, I warned you about an avalanche of lawsuits filed in recent years against four drugs -- one of them being Johnson and Johnson's birth control patch Ortho Evra -- a huge reason a warning, issued yesterday by the FDA, concerning an elevated risk of blood clots in a woman's legs and lungs was way, way overdue.
The FDA claims the warning was issued based on the results of a single study that found women using the patch doubled their risks of blood clots compared to those taking the pill, with, perhaps, six out of 10,000 being at risk.
Those paltry numbers are embarrassingly low, however, compared to previous news reports, including ones by the Associated Press in which the rate in which patients suffer from blood clots or die is actually three times higher than taking the pill. In 2004 alone, a dozen deaths were linked to the patch and many more to strokes and clots.
Even more damning is Johnson and Johnson's recent second quarter filing that reports the company faces 500 lawsuits due to deaths and injuries caused by the Ortho Evra patch (only on the consumer market since 2002). Unlike Merck's ridiculous legal strategy of fighting Vioxx publicly and one case at a time, however, Johnson and Johnson has already settled a dozen lawsuits privately and approached attorneys representing other plaintiffs.
Sounds like Johnson and Johnson is quietly doing damage control to keep women in the dark about a product they should never use, particularly when there are safer birth control alternatives available.
OpEdNews.com September 20, 2006
Yahoo News September 20, 2006
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Not only do present-day pesticides harm you and increase your risks of Parkinson's disease, so does previous exposure to low levels of banned chemicals -- DDT and dieldrin -- that still hang around in our soil, putting more Americans than ever at risk and earlier than expected, according to new studies.
Based on comparisons of Parkinson's patients and those who didn't have the degenerative disease, the brain tissue of Parkinson's sufferers contained three times more dieldrin and high levels of a chemical by-product of DDT.
More research showed the devastating effects of small amounts of dieldrin on the brains of mice. Dieldrin alone boosted the activity of free radicals, not only increasing the amount of brain damage after just a month, but harming the cells that produce dopamine a key Parkinson's catalyst.
Things you can do today to reduce further exposure to pesticides and potentially lower your Parkinson's risks:
Buy organic foods.
Avoid processed meats.
Stay away from spraying insect repellants on your body and find safer options.
USA Today September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
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Vioxx Cousin, Celebrex, Also Found to Cause Heart Attacks
New research shows that Pfizer-made Celebrex, the only COX-2 painkiller still on the market, may pose heart risks, just like its more notorious cousin Vioxx.
Celebrex has been touted not only as a pain reliever but also as a method to prevent colorectal polyps, which can lead to cancer.
And a pair of Pfizer-funded studies, which together included almost 3,600 patients, did in fact find that Celebrex reduced the risk of recurrent polyps. But an analysis of the two studies in the journal Circulation demonstrated that Celebrex also doubles the risk of serious cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and death.
Celebrex elevated blood pressure in patients who took it twice a day, but not in those who took it only once a day, which suggests that the dose may affect safety. But an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, which published the Pfizer studies, still deemed Celebrex too risky to use for polyp prevention.
Many doctors stopped prescribing Celebrex to patients upon learning of the potential heart risks. Because of the potential side effects, the FDA has placed a "black box warning" on Celebrex.
New England Journal of Medicine August 31, 2006
Circulation August 30, 2006 Free Full-Text PDF
USA Today August 30, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
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Hormone-Replacement Therapy Harms Hearing
Women who take the most common form of hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) -- the type that includes progestin -- had 10-30 percent more hearing loss than women who did not have the therapy, according to the largest study to date on the topic.
In the 124-women study, those whose HRT included progestin had worse hearing than those who were taking estrogen alone or no HRT. The women on the progestin HRT had hearing of women five to 10 years older, and tests showed problems existed both in their inner ears and in the portions of the brain used for hearing. Other risks of HRT found by past studies include:
Heart attack, stroke and blood clots
The researchers have plans to study women who have gone off HRT, to see if the hearing loss might be reversible, and they say that women on the birth control pill, which includes progesterone, should also be studied.
Science Daily September 6, 2006
Major Concerns Surround Meningitis Vaccine for College Students
If you are the parent of a college student, or are one yourself, it's important to know the facts about the meningococcal vaccine, which some colleges are making a requirement for incoming students (there are ways around this, though). First, meningitis affects less than one in 100,000 people in the United States each year, and half of these are in infants. O f those who are infected, most recover fully.
The vaccine itself, however, has not been tested to see if it causes cancer or infertility, and it does not protect against at least one-third of the strains of the meningococcal disease, according to the package insert! Before opting for this vaccine, also know that college students who have received it have experienced side effects, including:
Serious symptoms of Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), a condition with similarities to multiple sclerosis
Headaches, fatigue and malaise
Aches and pain in their joints
Past studies have also found that the meningitis vaccine can cause diabetes. For more information on vaccines, including how to exercise your right to decline one, check out my vaccine links page, as well as the site below
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Tobacco Industry Increased Addictive Nicotine in Cigarettes
While public health campaigns to discourage smoking have increased, so has the amount of nicotine in cigarettes -- a sly move by the tobacco industry to keep chronic smokers addicted, and get new smokers hooked. In fact, from 1998 to 2004, the manufacturers increased the amount of nicotine that each average smoker receives by 10 percent.
And a test by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that 166 cigarette brands (out of 179) fell into the state's highest nicotine yield range -- including 59 described as "light" and 14 as "ultra-light." Almost all the brands delivered enough nicotine to cause heavy dependence.
While I still believe that sugar is more dangerous than cigarettes, it is obviously beneficial to not smoke. If you're trying to stop smoking the best route is to go cold turkey and not gradual reduction. Why? Because simply cutting back, even down to as little as one cigarette a day, does virtually nothing to change the risk of cancer.
New York Times August 31, 2006
Older Fathers May be More Likely to Have Autistic Children
Men who wait to have children until they're in their 40s may be more likely to have autistic children than younger men, a study of 130,000 people found. Participants whose fathers were older were almost six times more likely to have autism or related disorders than those who were fathered by men younger than 30, and 1.5 times more likely than children fathered by men aged 30-39.
The study lends some support to the theory that impaired genes may cause or trigger autism, but there are many other correlations to autism as well, including mercury-containing vaccines -- studies have found that children who receive thimerosal-containing vaccinations are 27 times more likely to develop autism than children who do not and -- pasteurized milk.
But, whatever the cause, there are many strategies that typically provide enormous improvement in children with autism, such as adopting not only a gluten- and casein-free diet, but also restricting other grains like rice, corn and potatoes.
Archives of General Psychiatry September 2006;63:1026-1032
USA Today September 4, 2006
Sunscreens Can Generate Harmful Compounds in Your Skin
A new study has found more evidence of what I've been saying for some time: Sunscreens are dangerous and can cause more harm than good. A team of chemists found that three UV filters widely used in sunscreens -- octylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and octocrylene -- penetrate the skin below the surface of the epidermis. This leaves the skin vulnerable to UV radiation, while allowing the sunscreens themselves to generate harmful compounds called reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the skin.
Sunscreens generate ROS when UV filters have penetrated into the skin, and when new sunscreen has not been applied to prevent ultraviolet radiation from reaching these filters. The solution they recommend is to reapply sunscreen often (so UV light cannot reach the sunscreen that's penetrated more deeply into your skin, and produce dangerous compounds), but my advice is to not use sunscreens, unless there is absolutely no alternative (and then choose a natural version).
Sensible sunlight exposure is beneficial, and necessary, for you, and you can avoid the sun's potentially negative effects by not getting burned. This means, go out in the sun gradually until you're able to stay out longer without getting burned, and when you want to cover up, grab a wide-brimmed hat or a light jacket to cover your skin.
Science Blog August 29, 2006