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Profitability or Prevention? “Big Guns” for Big Buns

July 18, 2010 •  3 comments.

 •  Blog

Contributed by Chuck Benbrook, PhD, and Dr. Alan Greene to the AllergyKids Foundation, July 18, 2010

One of the nation’s foremost experts on type 2 diabetes, Thomas Buchanan, said in the June issue of the journal Obesity that our obesity crisis has become so severe that the United States must “bring on the big guns” by widely promoting minimally invasive weight loss surgery.

Given the number of people struggling with overweight and well on the road to diabetes, the total cost and human impact of the tens of millions of surgical procedures that would be required to combat obesity in this way boggles the mind. Plus, the long-term weight-reduction effectiveness of less invasive surgical procedures is unknown, as are rates of complications from “hardwiring” weight loss by physically manipulating a person’s GI tract.

We agree that the crisis is urgent, with 1 in 3 children born today expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes. We also agree that the two major “weapons” now deployed in the fight – moderate lifestyle interventions designed to reduce weight, and drug therapies to slow the progression of diabetes – are just not up to the challenge of reducing the frequency and severity of the disease. For most patients, they only delay the onset of symptoms by a few years.

Promising options
But instead of placing hope primarily in surgical interventions to lose weight, let’s use different “big guns” earlier in life to help prevent overweight and diabetes in the first place. Recent science points to several promising options, many of which impose only modest costs on society and will deliver benefits beyond lowering the risk of diabetes. With effort, we can farm and eat our way around at least some of the problem.

Given that almost everyone is well aware of the basic nutritional imperatives to control weight and lower the risk of diabetes, why are so many people struggling to change dietary patterns sufficient to promote good health?

First, food habits and taste preferences, once formed, are hard to break. It’s time to make forming good food habits in children a national priority. Let’s focus on cultivating Nutritional Intelligence – the ability to recognize and enjoy healthy amounts of good food.

Poor-quality, fast and highly processed foods are the most readily available, convenient and affordable source of calories for many people. These foods are manufactured and advertised by companies that have gotten very good at producing and promoting food products that taste good and trigger pleasing sensations and deliver a short-term boost in energy levels. Incidentally, these well-documented physiological responses to processed and fast foods are brought about via mechanisms not unlike those leading to drug addiction.

Second, the ubiquitous presence in certain foods of chemicals that can promote obesity is another major reason so many people struggle to change diets in a way sufficient to promote good health.

Chemical exposure
Everyone is exposed to dozens of such chemicals every day through their diet. Many are present in food as a result of how the industry preserves and packages food products. Alarming new data link a pregnant woman’s exposure to organophosphate insecticides to increased risk of obesity and diabetes as her child grows up. Residues of about a dozen organophosphate insecticides are an unavoidable part of the daily American diet for everyone consuming conventionally grown food. This is why many health professionals, food companies and consumers are turning to organic food and farming as a commonsense way to take one set of risk factors off the table.

Stronger and more effective steps are clearly needed to combat obesity and diabetes. Nutritional Intelligence is the “big gun” we need. Let’s avoid creating undue hope in the “big gun” of surgical procedures that deliver questionable long-term improvements in quality of life at very high cost.

Instead, as a nation, we need to pursue an aggressive, systematic campaign designed to clean up our food, promote wise food and dietary choices, and invest in the prevention of disease, especially during the early stages of life when the foundation for healthy development and disease prevention is laid, or disrupted, by what we eat.

About the Authors: Chuck Benbrook, an expert on agricultural policy, is the chief scientist for the Organic Center in Boulder, Colo. Dr. Alan Greene is a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine and a senior fellow at UCSF’s Center for Health Professions.

This article appeared on page A – 12 of the San Francisco Chronicle

The H1N1 Vaccine => Your Questions, Answered

July 17, 2010 •  15 comments.

 •  Blog, Uncategorized
Disclaimer: The AllergyKids Foundation is the only national food allergy organization that does not accept money, grants, or sponsorships from the pharmaceutical industry.

The FDA approved four versions of the pandemic H1N1 (or “swine” flu) vaccine.

According to Dr. Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, here is the run down on each of these four vaccines:

Sanofi Pasteur’s injected vaccine: Approved for ALL age groups (infants 6 months of age through adulthood and the elderly). It comes in several forms:

Prefilled single ½ dose syringe with NO mercury – for infants 6 thru 35 months of age. Prefilled single full dose syringe with NO mercury – for anyone 3 years and older.
Single-dose (full-dose) vial with NO mercury – for anyone 3 years and older.
Multidose bottle (contains ten full doses or twenty ½ doses) WITH 25 mcg of mercury per full dose – for anyone 6 months and older (infants 6 to 35 months would get a half dose (0.25 ml), 3 years and older would get the full 0.5 ml dose).
Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, egg proteins, gelatin, formaldehyde, polyethylene glycol p-isooctyphenyl ether, sucrose.

CSL’s injected vaccine: Approved for anyone 18 years and older. It comes in two forms:

Prefilled single-dose syringe with NO mercury.
Multidose bottle with ten doses WITH 24.5 mcg of mercury per dose.
Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, sodium chloride, sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, calcium, taurodeoxycholate, egg protein, 2 antibiotics, and beta-propiolactone.

Novartis’s injected vaccine: Approved for anyone 4 years and older. It comes in two forms:

Prefilled single-dose syringes with a trace amount of mercury (less than 1 mcg because 99% of it is filtered out).
Multidose bottle with ten doses WITH 25 mcg of mercury per dose.

Other ingredients include: the viral proteins, sodium chloride, phosphate, egg proteins, two antibiotics, betapropiolactone, nonylphenol ethoxylate.

MedImmune’s live virus nasal spray vaccine: Approved for anyone 2 years through 49 years of age. There is no mercury.

Other ingredients include: the live viruses, egg protein, MSG, pig gelatin, arginine, sucrose, potassium phosphate, an antibiotic

How many doses are needed?

According to Dr. Sears, all infants and children from 6 months through 9 years of age are supposed to get two doses of this vaccine, one month apart (no matter what brand you are using, and you probably shouldn’t switch brands between the two doses). This is needed to generate an adequate immune response. Anyone who is 10 years and older only needs ONE dose.

Can doses be given along with other vaccines?

According to Dr. Sears, the product inserts make it very clear that no testing has yet been done on these versions of the flu vaccine to determine if they can be given along with other vaccines. The government is operating under the assumption that these vaccines should behave the same way as their regular seasonal flu vaccine counterparts.

According to Dr. Sears,technically you can get them together (both flu shots together) or with any other vaccine. But Dr. Sears’ advice? Get them alone, as far apart as you can from another flu shot or any other shots. More on this below.

What safety and efficacy testing has been done on these vaccines?

According to Dr. Sears,”The product inserts make it VERY clear that the “swine” flu versions of these vaccines have NOT undergone any testing to demonstrate whether or not they are safe and whether or not they even work. They are relying on the fact that they are so similar to the regular flu shots that they should work just as well”.

What about pregnant and/or nursing mothers?

According to Dr. Sears, “The flu shots are ALREADY recommended for pregnant and nursing moms, BUT (and this is a really huge but) the vaccine product inserts make it very clear that the regular flu vaccines have never been tested on pregnant or nursing women to determine if there is any harm to fetuses or young babies (with one exception – the ­­­­Flumist nasal spray brand did have some testing in this area, BUT not enough, as is stated in the product insert).”

According to Dr. Sears, if you do get a flu shot, make sure it is mercury free (or at least only TRACE mercury).

What should I get first, regular or swine flu shots, and how do I space them out?

Dr. Sears’ basic advice for anyone is to only get one flu shot at a time, spaced out one month apart. So, it would take 3 months to work in all four doses (2 regular flu and 2 swine flu).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Sears, the seasonal flu causes about 20 infant and 100 total pediatric deaths each year in the U.S. The swine flu has so far caused 112 pediatric deaths. So, that’s about the same as the regular flu. From April through the end of July, there were about 43,000 confirmed swine flu cases, with 5000 hospitalizations and about 300 deaths in all ages according to the CDC website.
What about other routine childhood vaccines that are also needed during this time?

Dr. Sears advises parents to delay any vaccines for diseases that don’t pose an immediate danger to a baby’s or child’s life and catch up on those vaccines in Feb or March, a couple months after finishing the flu vaccines. Diseases that aren’t usually life-threatening (keeping in mind that ANY disease can be fatal, but the following are less likely to be) include measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and Hep A. Diseases that don’t exist in the U.S. or that don’t occur during infancy in the U.S. (so even though they can be very severe, a child has almost no risk of catching it in the U.S.) that could be safely delayed are polio, Hep B, tetanus, and diphtheria (although to get a pertussis vaccine, tetanus and diphtheria have to come along with it).

Diseases that DO pose an immediate danger to babies and children are HIB and PC meningitis, Rotavitus, and Pertussis. So, Dr. Sears would rather children stay on time with those four vaccines and delay the flu shots (if you feel comfortable delaying flu shots).

If you want to make sure your child has flu coverage and stays up to date on these other shots, you can stagger them by two weeks.
For teens, Dr. Sears would follow the same guidelines – don’t get flu shot around any of the other routine teen shots like HPV, meningococcal, or Tdap. The only disease here that would be more severe than flu would be meningococcal, so that’s more of a priority.

For more information on ingredients contained in the H1N1, please visit the FDA’s site.

For more information about vaccines and candid insight and information from Dr. Sears, please visit Ask Dr. Sears

The content of the AllergyKids’ blog, site and newsletter is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For medical advice, please contact your physician or other qualified healthcare professional. The content of the AllergyKids’ newsletter is not intended to constitute legal advice or substitute for obtaining legal advice from your own counsel.

Got Milk? (Read this before filling another bowl of cereal…)

July 12, 2010 •  7 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Submitted with permission to the AllergyKids Foundation and orginally published by Kelley Suggs at www.healthybychoices.blogspot.com

Did you know, in the United States, we produce more milk than we need? Our government purchases the surplus and provides the farmers with a subsidy, so that they can keep working hard to feed us.

Monsanto, an agricultural, chemical corporate giant, the pioneering force behind DDT, aspartame and Agent Orange is also the creator of Bovine Growth Hormone (a.k.a. rBGH or rBST). Monsanto is the creator and, up until they sold it as Posilac, they were the sole owner and had a monopoly on the drug. Want to know what it is? RBGH is a genetically engineered product designed to mimic some of a cow’s natural hormones. Cows that receive the hormone get it every two weeks, and it causes the old hard working girl to produce about an extra gallon of milk per day. So far, rBGH milk has been on the market, with FDA approval, for about 15 years.

Unfortunately, the hard working girls/cows don’t go unaffected. The cows exposed to (injected with) rBGH have “increases in cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus,” “decreases in gestations length and birth weight of calves” and “increased risk of clinical mastitis.” In other words, cysts, premature calves that weigh less than they should, and an infection in their udders that is very painful, creates milk that has pus and bacteria in it (that you drink) and requires antibiotics that are also transferred to the milk you drink.

Umhm, that is totally gross.

Sometimes the cows even get a kind of mastitis that the farmer can’t see, and they aren’t able to treat. Translation: more pus. Eew! The old girls given rBGH actually only live about two years after their injections begin (a non rBGH cow lives 4-10 years longer), and they can even suffer lameness as a result. Canada, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have actually banned the use of the hormone in their cows.

Want to know what it does to humans? Over exposure to antibiotics can cause immunities; Exposure doesn’t just have to come from the prescription the doctor writes either. Secondly, rBGH milk has ten times more IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor); IGF-1 is shown to help pre-menopausal (young!) women develop breast cancer, a rarity in the past. The risk for prostate and colon cancer also rise as a person consumes more rBGH milk. Not only does it affect rates of cancer, but it can affect the entire endocrine system, responsible for metabolism, and growth and development, including puberty.

If that leaves you thinking, “What about the farmers?” Our taxpayer dollars, which there are never enough of, go to pay for that surplus of milk. More milk equals more tax dollars, which usually goes to the big dairy farmers, processors and Monsanto. Not to the small dairy farmer. More milk also means lower prices of milk, which is great for us, the consumer, but very, very difficult for the small dairy farmer who gets very few subsidies, or maybe even no subsidies.

Wondering what you can do? Vote with your dollars. Vote for your health. Vote for the cows’ health and the small farmer. Look for rBGH or rBST or hormone free milk (or organic milk if you can afford it!). It isn’t any more expensive, and the label on the front of the carton will proudly proclaim its safety (rBGH free!). And it won’t even cost you any more to get it.

Want to know more about genetically modified products? Pick up Robyn O’Brien’s book The Unhealthy Truth.

Consider this…

July 11, 2010 •  one comment.

 •  Blog, News

Consider this quote from the recently released President’s Cancer Panel:

“We have sprayed pesticides which are inherent poisons throughout our shared environment. They are now in amniotic fluid. They are in our blood. They are in our urine. They are in our exhaled breath. They are in our mother’s milk. What is the burden of cancer that we can attribute to this use of poisons throughout our agricultural system? We won’t really know that answer until we do another experiment, which is to take the poisons out of our food chain, embrace a different kind of agriculture, a healthier agriculture, and see what happens.”

Now consider that the Environmental Working Group is being attacked by agribusiness, pesticide companies and chemical farming interests over the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) influential “Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides In Produce,” a popular consumer tool, introduced more than a decade ago, that has helped drive expansion of organic produce sales at the expense conventionally grown, pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables.

Together, we can protect the health of our families from the chemical interests. Learn how you can protect those that you love at www.ewg.org

A Loaded Question: “Why Did You Start the AllergyKids Foundation?”

July 8, 2010 •  2 comments.

 •  Blog, News

I was recently asked in an interview why I started the AllergyKids Foundation. Wow. What a loaded question. My heart took flight as my fingertips danced across the keyboard in response, and here is the reply I gave to one very unsuspecting journalist!

As headlines talk about toxins in our food, air, water and oceans, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the landscape of childhood has changed. No longer are our children guaranteed a safe and healthy childhood, not in the face of the current skyrocketing rates of diabetes, obesity, asthma, allergies, ADHD, autism and childhood cancers.

As a result of this changing landscape, the landscape of motherhood has changed too. We now find ourselves not only juggling homework schedules and soccer carpools, but also drug recalls, vaccine debates and conflicting scientific evidence over the safety of our children’s food supply.

And while headlines like: “Do vaccines cause autism?” – “Should I worry about this artificial growth hormone in my kids’ milk?” – “And what about organics? Are they worth it?” – and the onslaught of childhood epidemics may be paralyzing, paralysis simply isn’t an option when it comes to raising children.

I think as mothers, we have unique insight, skill sets and capabilities that can be leveraged to inspire changes and create the world that we want to see for our children, which is demonstrated in my story. I founded the AllergyKids Foundation in response to the needs of children with allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma. I leveraged my own expertise (as a former Wall Street analyst) when I realized that the American children were being exposed to chemicals in their food supply that aren’t used in children’s foods in other developed countries in the hopes of restoring the health of the American children – 1 in 3 who now has autism, allergies, ADHD or asthma.

I write this to share my story in the hopes that it might inspire other mothers to believe in their ability to affect remarkable change, as I truly believe that together, we can create the change we want to see in the world. And while none of us can do everything, all of us can do one thing.

Hope this helps!

Robyn O’Brien
Founder, The AllergyKids Foundation
Author, Mother of Four