Archive for September, 2009
As highlighted by Kenneth Bock, MD, in the foreword of The Unhealthy Truth, “The landscape of children’s health has changed. No longer can we assume that our children will have a healthy childhood – certainly not in the face of the current epidemics of autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies, childhood cancers, childhood obesity and diabetes.”
“There is a growing body of evidence that supports the belief that the increased incidence of these childhood disorders arises from a genetic predisposition coupled with environmental triggers or insults. Environmental insults to which our children are increasingly being exposed include common chemicals (such as PCBs, flame retardants, plasticizers and pesticides), heavy metals (including mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and aluminum), countless types of food additives, and an ever increasing number of genetically modified foods. These environmental toxicants can increase oxidative stress, wreaking havoc on cellular functions at all levels.” (The Unhealthy Truth, foreword by Kenneth Bock, MD).
According to the Breast Cancer Fund, one in eight women now has breast cancer. But only 10 percent of those cases can be linked to genetics. In other words, 90 percent of breast cancers being diagnosed today are being triggered by factors in our environment.
The American Cancer Society recognizes the tremendous impact that this is having on our families – physically, emotionally and financially – and developed this simple “C.A.U.T.I.O.N.” reminder to help identify symptoms of the disease so that you can protect the health of your family:
C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
A: A sore that does not heal
U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
N: Nagging cough or hoarseness
As highlighted in Premium Health, the 10 commandments of cancer prevention are:
1. Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.
2. Eat properly and try to reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers, while increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
3. Exercise regularly.
4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer.
5. Limit alcohol to one to two drinks a day.
6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus.
9. Consider taking low-dose aspirin (men at the highest risk of prostate and colon cancer tend to reap the greatest benefits).
10. Get enough vitamin D. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies.
As always, prevention is the best medicine.
As headlines swirl about who-knows-what being found in our food supply, another ingredient continues to make the news: probiotics. PRObiotics are increasingly added to the food supply to help replace what the ANTIbiotics are taking away: health-promoting bacteria, the healthy little critters in our digestive tracts that are essential to the digestive process.
In today’s New York Times, Tara Parker Pope highlights the increasing use of these PRObiotics in our food supply. In her smart column, she suggests that Buyer Beware: plenty of manufacturers appear to be exploiting the increasing popularity of these ingredients, as a way to promote their products. Parker Pope then gives smart tips and savvy insight into ways that you can navigate the yogurt aisle (where probiotics are most commonly found), for those of you making a concerted effort to address the growing health impact that ANTIbiotics in our food appear to be having on our health.
Looking Underneath the Yogurt Label is a smart read for those wanting to do more for their health without damaging their pocketbooks and for those hoping to understand the role that PRObiotics play in addressing the ANTIbiotics in our food supply.
Thank you to our friends in the UK for highlighting this interesting (albeit a bit disgusting!) article from the BBC:
Gut Worms Protect Against Allergy
This study is interesting in that it analyzes the role that gut worms play in digestive health, something rarely discussed here in the US, but insightful nonetheless. However, in addressing this in isolation, it fails to acknowledge and analyze the role that dietary factors play in the immune system of these children.
An analysis of the diet consumed in these countries and the role that processed v. unprocessed foods play in the gut health of these children would be an interesting parallel to his rather graphic picture in an effort to learn the whole truth behind what is compromising our health and the health of our children.
Today’s headlines are enough to make any mother wary. As we battle our toddlers in the grocery store, we hardly have the energy left to decipher the headlines: Organics aren’t healthier, death panels await health care reform, bankers receive record bonuses, swine flu pandemics swirl . What has happened to the world that our children are inheriting? And does anyone care?
Perhaps we should. Because the children of today represent the economy of tomorrow. Today’s parents and grandparents are raising the “think tanks” that are going to be the solutions to tomorrow’s problems . Today’s children will reinvent energy technology, redefine reform and regulations and enhance agricultural productivity in ways that we can not even begin to imagine. But only if we give them the tools with which to do it.
Obama insisting on school and education, with the support of Laura Bush, is a start. But more fundamentally, what about health? Today, 1 in 3 American children now has autism, allergies, ADHD or asthma. 90% of the worlds ADHD medications are prescribed to the American kids, while the US only represent 5% of the world’s population. According to MSNBC, sales of EpiPens are up, while test scores are down. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 2 African American kids and 1 in 3 Caucasian kids born in the year 2000 (that is this year’s 4th Graders) will be insulin dependent by the time they reach adulthood.
And while Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart formulate their products differently for children overseas (with reduced fat, salt and synthetic ingredient content), our National School Lunch Program continues to be a dumping ground for the remnants of the agrichemical corporations who are unable to dispose of their technology laced corn and soy in grocery stores, restaurants or to the livestock industry. And while we allocate $600 billion to the Pentagon in 2009, we only allocated $9 billion to the National School Lunch Program and a meager $2.4 billion to the FDA.
And we wonder why our children have earned the title “Generation Rx” or why our economy is heaving under the burden of health care costs.
According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 37th out of 40 countries (on par with Slovenia) in terms of “health care”. According to the American Cancer Society, the US has the highest rate of cancer of any country in the world, with migration studies showing that if you are to move here from somewhere like Japan, your likelihood of developing cancer increases four-fold.
We’ve done a lousy job of preventing illness in our country. And while that’s been good for Big Pharma, the costs being born by the majority of American citizens now far outweigh the benefits being reaped by a few corporate ones.
As we watch family members suffer from diabetes, cancers and asthma, it begs the question: Why? Why are these conditions often referred to as “American epidemics” in international publications like The Economist? Why does health care spending consume over 16% of our economy here in the US, while its associated economic burden in France is closer to 8%? Why does Starbucks spend more on health care than it does on coffee?
The reasons? There are many. But perhaps the most differentiating is that in our country, sickness sells. With Money Driven Medicine, there is little incentive to prevent illness. Sickness is good for business. Disease enhances earnings. So if the processed food we buy in Aisle 9 contains ingredients linked to hyperactivity in children, then rather than ban the use of that synthetic ingredient and insist on the use of a more natural alternative, as countries around the world have done, we simply have to walk a few aisles over in the grocery store to pick up our ADHD medicines from Aisle 2.
And our economy hums along. Or does it?
In 1946, Harry Truman said, “A nation is only as healthy as its children”. And 50 years ago, we paid close heed, reaping the rewards of today’s Bill Gates and Meg Whitmans. Thirty years ago, we were still paying attention, as evidenced by today’s Mark Zuckerbergs and Sergey Brins.
But what about tomorrow? Given that our future productivity, economic viability and financial stability are contingent on the health of today’s children, perhaps we should pause and consider the seeds that we are sowing with “Generation Rx” .
And if you are inclined, you can Do Something about it and be part of the solution.
The riveting, true veggie-tale of the shallots heard ’round the world…
“The garden is really an important introduction to what I hope will be a new way to how the country thinks about food…and I also want to encourage people to think about doing more family meals,” Mrs. Obama says. “We’ve found that we’ve been able to do that, and part of the message is that if the President of the United States can sit down with his family and have dinner, hopefully more families find the time to do the same thing.”