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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thousands of Americans died from H1N1 after receiving vaccine shots


Thousands of Americans died from H1N1 even after receiving vaccine shots

Sunday, January 17, 2010
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

(NaturalNews) The CDC is engaged in a very clever, statistically devious spin campaign, and nearly every journalist in the mainstream media has fallen for its ploy. No one has yet reported what I'm about to reveal here.

It all started with the CDC's recent release of new statistics about swine flu fatalities, infection rates and vaccination rates. According to the CDC:

• 61 million Americans were vaccinated against swine flu (about 20% of the U.S. population). The CDC calls this a "success" even though it means 4 out of 5 people rejected the vaccines.

• 55 million people "became ill" from swine flu infections.

• 246,000 Americans were hospitalized due to swine flu infections.

• 11,160 Americans died from the swine flu.

Base on these statistics, the CDC is now desperately urging people to get vaccinated because they claim the pandemic might come back and vaccines are the best defense.

But here's the part you're NOT being told.

The CDC statistics lie by omission. They do not reveal the single most important piece of information about H1N1 vaccines: How many of the people who died from the swine flu had already been vaccinated?

Many who died had already been vaccinated

The CDC is intentionally not tracking how many of the dead were previously vaccinated. They want you (and mainstream media journalists) to mistakenly believe that ZERO deaths occurred in those who were vaccinated. But this is blatantly false. Being vaccinated against H1N1 swine flu offers absolutely no reduction in mortality from swine flu infections.

And that means roughly 20% of the 11,160 Americans who died from the swine flu were probably already vaccinated against swine flu. That comes to around 2,200 deaths in people who were vaccinated!

How do I know that swine flu vaccines don't reduce infection mortality? Because I've looked through all the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials that have ever been conducted on H1N1 vaccines. It didn't take me very long, because the number of such clinical trials is ZERO.

That's right: There is not a single shred of evidence in existence today that scientifically supports the myth that H1N1 vaccines reduce mortality from H1N1 infections. The best evidence I can find on vaccines that target seasonal flu indicates a maximum mortality reduction effect of somewhere around 1% of those who are vaccinated. The other 99% have the same mortality rate as people who were not vaccinated.

So let's give the recent H1N1 vaccines the benefit of the doubt and let's imagine that they work just as well as other flu vaccines. That means they would reduce the mortality rate by 1%. So out of the 2,200 deaths that took place in 2009 in people who were already vaccinated, the vaccine potentially may have saved 22 people.

61 million injections add up to bad public health policy

So let's see: 61 million people are injected with a potentially dangerous vaccine, and the actual number "saved" from the pandemic is conceivably just 22. Meanwhile, the number of people harmed by the vaccine is almost certainly much, much higher than 22. These vaccines contain nervous system disruptors and inflammatory chemicals that can cause serious health problems. Some of those problems won't be evident for years to come... future Alzheimer's victims, for example, will almost certainly those who received regular vaccines, I predict.

Injecting 61 million people with a chemical that threatens the nervous system in order to avoid 22 deaths -- and that's the best case! -- is an idiotic public health stance. America would have been better off doing nothing rather than hyping up a pandemic in order to sell more vaccines to people who don't need them.

Better yet, what the USA could have done that would have been more effective is handing out bottles of Vitamin D to 61 million people. At no more cost than the vaccines, the bottles of vitamin D supplements would have saved thousands of lives and offered tremendously importantly additional benefits such as preventing cancer and depression, too.

The one question the CDC does not want you to ask

Through its release of misleading statistics, the CDC wants everyone to believe that all of the people who died from H1N1 never received the H1N1 vaccine. That's the implied mythology behind the release of their statistics. And yet they never come right out and say it, do they? They never say, "None of these deaths occurred in patients who had been vaccinated against H1N1."

They can't say that because it's simply not true. It would be a lie. And if that lie were exposed, people might begin to ask questions like, "Well gee, if some of the people who were killed by the swine flu were already vaccinated against swine flu, then doesn't that mean the vaccine doesn't protect us from dying?"

That's the number one question that the CDC absolutely, positively does not want people to start asking.

So they just gloss over the point and imply that vaccines offer absolute protection against H1N1 infections. But even the CDC's own scientists know that's complete bunk. Outright quackery. No vaccine is 100% effective. In fact, when it comes to influenza, no vaccine is even 10% effective at reducing mortality. There's not even a vaccine that's 5% effective. And there's never been a single shred of credible scientific information that says a flu vaccine is even 1% effective.

So how effective are these vaccines, really? There are a couple thousand vaccinated dead people whose own deaths help answer that question: They're not nearly as effective as you've been led to believe.

They may not be effective at all.

Crunching the numbers: Why vaccines just don't add up

Think about this: 80% of Americans refused to get vaccinated against swine flu. That's roughly 240 million people.

Most of those 240 million people were probably exposed to the H1N1 virus at some point over the last six months because the virus was so widespread.

How many of those 240 million people were actually killed by H1N1? Given the CDC's claimed total of deaths at 11,160, if you take 80% of that (because that's the percentage who refused to be vaccinated), you arrive at 8,928. So roughly 8,900 people died out of 240 million. That's a death rate among the un-vaccinated population of .0000372

With a death rate of .0000372, the swine flu killed roughly 1 out of every 26,700 people who were NOT vaccinated. So even if you skipped the vaccine, you had a 26,699 out of 26,700 chance of surviving.

Those are pretty good odds. Ridiculously good. You have a 700% greater chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime, by the way.

What it all means is that NOT getting vaccinated against the swine flu is actually a very reasonable, intelligent strategy for protecting your health. Mathematically, it is the smarter play.

Because, remember: Some of the dead victims of H1N1 got vaccinated. In fact, I personally challenge the CDC to release statistics detailing what percentage of the dead people had previously received such vaccines.

The headline to this article, "Thousands of Americans died from H1N1 even after receiving vaccine shots" is a direct challenge to the CDC, actually. If the CDC believes this headline is wrong -- and that the number of vaccinated Americans who died from H1N1 is zero -- then why don't they say so on the record?

The answer? Because they'd be laughed right out of the room. Everybody who has been following this with any degree of intelligence knows that the H1N1 vaccine was a medical joke from the start. There is no doubt that many of those who died from H1N1 were previously vaccinated. The CDC just doesn't want you to know how many (and they hope you'll assume it's zero).

Where are all the real journalists?

I find it especially fascinating that the simple question of "How many of the dead were previously vaccinated?" has never been asked in print by a single journalist in any mainstream newspaper or media outline across the country. Not the NY Times, not WashingtonPost.com, not the WSJ, LA Times or USA Today. (At least, not that I'm aware of. If you find one that does, let me know and I'll link to their article!)

Isn't there a single journalist in the entire industry that has the journalistic courage to ask this simple question of the CDC? Why do these mainstream journalists just reprint the CDC's statistics without asking a single intelligent question about them?

Why is all the intelligent, skeptical reporting about H1N1 found only in the alternative press or independent media sites?

You already know the answer, but I'll say it anyway: Because most mainstream media journalists are just part of the propaganda machine, blindly reprinting distorted statistics from "authorities" without ever stopping to question those authorities.

The MSM today, in other words, is often quite pathetic. Far from the independent media mindset that used to break big stories like Watergate, today's mainstream media is little more than a mouthpiece for the corporatocracy that runs our nation. The MSM serves the financial interests of the corporations, just as the CDC and WHO do. That's why they're all spouting the same propaganda with their distorted stories about H1N1 swine flu.

But those who are intelligent enough to ask skeptical questions about H1N1 already realize what an enormous con the pandemic was. In the end, it turned out to be a near-harmless virus that was hyped up by the CDC, WHO and drug companies in order to sell hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines that are now about to be dumped down the drain as useless.

Sources for this story include:

Washington Post

Friday, January 15, 2010

Doctors puzzle over woman’s mystery ailment


Doctors puzzle over woman’s mystery ailment

After eight years, they still don’t know what’s wrong with Kelly Klodzinski

By Michael Inbar
TODAYshow.com contributor
updated 10:09 a.m. ET, Thurs., Jan. 14, 2010

For eight years, Kelly Klodzinski has lived through a medical hell. Her jaw clenches so tightly that she can’t eat a peanut butter sandwich; she has an inflamed heart that often makes it difficult to breathe, much less walk; and she spends so much time in hospital beds that she’s on a first-name basis with staff at seven or eight clinics.

Thankfully, though, Klodzinski is now part of a groundbreaking new program: At a clinic in Bethesda, Md., she is examined by some of the leading minds in medicine, who aren’t rushed because they only see three or four patients a week. And the charge to Klodzinski for such acute care? Not one red cent.

There is a catch, however: Patients like Kelly have to be sick, really sick, to be admitted. And what’s more, those patients have already had to suffer through years of medical maladies that don’t even have a name.

That’s the mission of the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, created by the National Institutes of Health in May 2008. And even though it sounds a bit like the medical-mystery TV show “House,” the doctors caution their work can’t be tied into a neat bow in the space of a one-hour episode.

Mysterious symptoms
Still, for Klodzinski, being treated at the UDP clinic is the first light of hope she’s seen after eight years of medical darkness. The young Louisiana wife — focus of the first of a two-part series examining medical mysteries on TODAY — has seen her body steadily break down in many ways, with doctors unable even to give her a diagnosis, much less cure her.

Appearing live on TODAY Thursday, Klodzinski told Matt Lauer she feels like a medical orphan: Concerned friends don’t understand that she suffers from maladies that have no name.

“It’s very, very frustrating,” she told Lauer. “People ask me every day, ‘What’s wrong with you, what do you have?’ And I don’t have an answer; I just tell them it’s undiagnosed. And they will say, ‘Well, what do they call it?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know, they’ve don’t have anything TO call it.’ ”

A growth on Kelly Klodzinski’s jaw was the first of a series of apparently unrelated symptoms to plague her.

Klodzinski’s health began deteriorating at age 15, when a small sore in her mouth grew so large it made it impossible to open her jaw more than a fraction of an inch. It was followed by serious but seemingly unrelated health issues: inflammation in her heart that left her struggling to walk, nodules forming on her lungs and an enlargement of her right kidney.

She’s been in and out of hospitals ever since, and she sometimes has as many as four doctor’s appointments in a week. She’s been looked at by pulmonologists, cardiologists, hematologists and oncologists. Klodzinski has undergone multiple surgeries, one of which she barely survived. But all the while, well-trained doctors have been unable to pinpoint the root cause of her health dilemma.

Now, with treatment at the UDP clinic, Klodzinski told TODAY she can finally see some progress in turning her health crisis around, even if she’s been down the road with doctors too many times to be totally confident.

“It would be a pretty big deal to get a diagnosis after eight years,” she said. “I would be in shock if [they] told me, ‘This is what you have.’ If I could just get some treatment options, how to keep it under control, how to keep it from flaring up again, that would be great.”

Not like ‘House’
The novel program undertaken by NIH can be called forward-thinking; just don’t call it “House” in the presence of Dr. William A. Gahl, one of its founders. “That’s entertainment — we’re not here for entertainment in any respect,” Gahl told TODAY. “That program essentially solves that problem, that story, within an hour. The whole premise is completely unrealistic and completely off track, and it’s intended to be drama. I think also, someone who has Dr. House’s personality characteristics would never be permitted to handle patients or would have his license taken away.”

Despite eight years of examinations by an array of doctors, there is still no diagnosis for Kelly Klodzinski’s symptoms.

Klodzinski told TODAY she knows she’s in better hands with the experts at the UDP clinic, and counts herself lucky she was accepted into the program. Since opening, the clinic has sifted through some 2,100 inquiries and accepted only 140 patients thus far.

Klodzinski feared she wouldn’t be accepted, believing “there were probably a lot weirder cases,” but says she feels like she’s finally found the right place for treatment.

“It’s weird because it’s like, ‘Do I really have the disease that nobody knows what it is?’ Klodzinski told TODAY. “I go to the hospital and there are so many sick people there and they all know what’s wrong with them. What’s so weird about my condition that they don’t know what it is or what doctor to send me to?”

Unrelated ailments
Gahl said the intriguing mystery with Klodzinski is that she suffers from multiple maladies, with one not necessarily being related to the other. She shows signs of ascites (free fluid in her abdomen), pericarditis (inflammation of her heart covering) and hydroneophrosis (enlargement of her kidney), along with mouth cysts that cause her jaw to become inflamed.

“It’s possible [she] has a genetic disorder,” Gahl said, and if “we could find the gene that is responsible and relate mutations in that gene to her symptomatology, [it would be] a great outcome for us and for the profession, too.”

Another one of Klodzinski’s physicians at UDP, pulmonologist Dr. Bernadette Gochuico, said, “Kelly is very unusual, and she’s challenging. We are doing some detective work in that Kelly has something that has not been described before, and we’re trying to identify for the first time what may be causing her disease.”

Klodzinski told Lauer she’s taken steroids and morphine for years, but the UDP clinic has put her on a new drug normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and malaria. She began taking the drug in December, and is due back at the clinic in March to see if it’s helping.

Symptoms first, diagnosis later
Appearing with Klodzinski on TODAY, medical correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman says it is good medicine to try to make Kelly feel better first, then figure out the root cause for all that ails her. “When a patient has real symptoms, sometimes doctors are better off to treat the symptoms, then wait for the diagnosis,” she said.

Snyderman also lauded the NIH program for bringing together experts from various fields. “Not everything fits into a neat package; sometimes Mother Nature has a sort of different plan, and the constellation of symptoms don’t fall into one package,” she said.

Klodzinski told TODAY that she feels ‘pretty helpless’ and still has her dark days but she's optimistic since getting accepted into the UDP clinic.

Klodzinski told TODAY her spirits are somewhat buoyed by visiting the UDP clinic, but she still has her dark days. Recurrence of severe symptoms forced her into a hospital bed last year and made her have to plan her wedding while lying on her back.

“It’s kind of scary,” she said, “especially when it first started happening. I’m never really happy that I have to take steroids to live, basically. I don’t like knowing that without a little pill every day there’s a possibility I might die. I feel pretty helpless, and it is hard knowing that no one has really gone through the same disease process as I have.”

Still, getting accepted into the UDP clinic allows her to see doctors she would never have been able to afford otherwise. “I don’t have insurance; we don’t have the money to fly around the world,” she explained. “When I found out someone was interested in finding out what was wrong with me, I was so excited.”

Undiagnosed Diseases Program

National Institutes of Health
Office of Rare Diseases Research

Undiagnosed Diseases Program

The ORDR Web site aims to answer questions about rare diseases and the activities of the ORDR for patients, their families, healthcare providers, researchers, educators, students, and anyone with concern for and interest in rare diseases. The site provides information about ORDR-sponsored biomedical research, scientific conferences, and rare and genetic diseases. It also serves as a portal to information on major topics of interest to the rare diseases community.

The ORDR Web site links to:

  • Information on many of the rare diseases.
  • Information about the services of the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) and other rare diseases information sources.
  • Planned, ongoing, or completed clinical studies and trials.
  • Research funding opportunities from NIH and other sources.
  • Patient recruitment and referral procedures for the NIH Clinical Center hospital.
  • Rare diseases publications and reports.
  • Sources for genetic testing and counseling.
  • A program to develop new genetic tests and to make them available to the public.
  • Information on transportation and lodging for patients and their families during diagnosis and treatment at NIH and at other research sites across the Nation.
  • Information about ORDR-NIH supported scientific conferences.
  • Opportunities for transfer of technology for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of rare diseases or conditions.

Some patients wait years for a definitive diagnosis. Using a unique combination of scientific and medical expertise and resources at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Undiagnosed Diseases Program pursues two goals:

  • To provide answers to patients with mysterious conditions that have long eluded diagnosis
  • To advance medical knowledge about rare and common diseases

The program is trans-NIH in scope. It is organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the NIH Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR) and the NIH Clinical Center. Many medical specialties from other NIH research centers and institutes will contribute expertise needed to conduct the program, including endocrinology, immunology, oncology, dermatology, dentistry, cardiology, and genetics, which are represented among the dozens of participating senior attending physicians who may participate in the program's clinical research.

Any longstanding medical condition that eludes diagnosis by a referring physician can be considered undiagnosed and may be of interest to this clinical research program. Of the total number of cases that may be referred to this program, a very limited number will be invited to proceed in the study at the discretion of the program’s medical team.

For more information please call (866) 444-8806

Please do not send Undiagnosed Diseases Program-related email or submit medical records to the NIH Office of Rare Diseases. All communication should be handled through the Undiagnosed Diseases Program staff at the NIH Clinical Center.

Program Information
Patient Support
Syndromes Without A Name- USA (SWAN-USA)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sleep Challenge 2010: How Sleep Is Like Steroids ...Without the 'Roid Rage'


Health & Wellness

Sleep Challenge 2010: How Sleep Is Like Steroids ...Without the 'Roid Rage'

By Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post. Posted January 12, 2010.

After finally getting eight hours of sleep a night, I was surprised to discover that getting enough sleep also helps you exercise better.

It's now day 8 of the Sleep Challenge I'm doing along with Glamour's Cindi Leive. So how is my "sleep-hab" -- that's sleep rehab! -- going?

In a word: progress! As of my last sleep challenge post at four days in, I'd yet to reach my goal of eight hours of sleep a night. Well, I am pleased to announce that for the last two nights I've gotten the full eight. That might not sound like a big deal, but it's a lot harder than it sounds (if you don't believe me -- jump in and take the challenge with us).

Not only that, I woke up without an alarm -- which was, in itself, a bit alarming. When I woke up, I looked around anxiously to see what was wrong, wondering what had woken me up, since there was no alarm buzzing. It actually took me a minute or two to realize that the reason why I was wide-awake was because... I didn't need to sleep anymore. Imagine that.

It's well known, of course, that regular exercise helps you sleep better, but what I was shocked to discover is that it's a two-way street: regular sleep also helps you exercise better.

As I hit the machines as part of my morning exercise routine, I couldn't believe it -- I was lifting heavier weights, punching the treadmill button to go faster and giving it a higher incline than normal. If someone who knows my usual approach saw me during these recent workouts, I'd probably be asked to submit to mandatory drug testing. But the only performance-enhancing stimulant I was on was a couple of eight-hour hits of sleep (aka, the new eight-ball).

Our sleep consultant, Dr. Michael Breus, has shown how getting more sleep can actually help you lose weight more effectively than exercise, but I've been finding the two are wonderfully compatible.

And my energy lasted throughout the day. I have a group of friends whom I hike with and it's our tradition that whoever is feeling the most energized that day has to talk on the way up the hill. Let's just say I'm pretty well-known as a consistent downhill talker. But on my last hike I was talking on the way up -- mostly haranguing my hiking partners to get more sleep, of course.

I also took a cue from my sleep challenge mate Cindi. In her last missive, Cindi wrote that it helps her to plan a set bedtime and treat it like an appointment -- with the same importance that we give all our other appointments (work, dinner, medical visits, etc). She calculates what time she needs to be up, counts back 7.5 hours (that's her goal) and whatever time that is becomes her appointment with sleep. If you have Type A tendencies (guilty!), it's a brilliant way to use your compulsion more productively.

And to help you keep your appointment, Cindi also mentioned Dr. Breus's fantastic suggestion to set an alarm to go off -- in your bedroom -- when it's time to go to bed. As she wrote, "you'll be forced to enter your bedroom to turn the damn thing off -- which at least gets you into the right room at the right time."

I also want to take a moment to welcome my wonderful compatriot and friend Nia Vardalos to the sleep challenge. In a post this weekend, Nia said she was inspired by the challenge and decided to join in. "I've always wanted to sleep with you both and figured this is my chance," she wrote. A sleep orgy! Let's do it.

But, as Nia shows, it's not easy. She made a classic rookie mistake -- and fell prey to one of my worst temptations: getting on the computer or Blackberry in bed, just to, you know, check what's going on. (In her case, it was Twitter.) An hour later, or two in Nia's case, you're not only still awake, but you're Really Awake. At least when she was going through the motions like a zombie the next morning, she was reading the Huffington Post. But Nia, while we welcome the clicks, we'd rather have well-rested readers -- and so, I'm sure, would our advertisers!

So make an appointment with sleep, and don't let yourself wiggle out of it. Or tell me when you need to be asleep and I'll tweet you to stop tweeting.

Over the last eight days, there have been hundreds of great comments to our sleep posts, -- and I'd love to respond to a few of them. It's clear from the response that our sleep challenge has touched a tired nerve.

flow555 writes:

Thanks for giving light to this very important issue.

I have spent time in both worlds -- the sleep deprived one-- and the one with good "sleep hygiene."

After my near-melt down as an overwrought, stressed-out, time-starved working mom -- I had no choice -- if I wanted to restore my health and balance -- I had to get more sleep. (And change jobs, relationship, eating habits, commuting time, and end negative self-talk -- but
that's another story).

Really this is about becoming a more conscious person. As I have been on my own healing journey, I can see how cheating myself out of proper sleep -- led to all sorts of problems-- clarity and peace being just a couple of the sacrifices I did not even know I was making."

That's a great point: sleep is at the core of the health-and-balance battle. If it's not going well, not much else will either.

texgal7 writes:

My husband can drink coffee all day long, have a cup before bed, and then immediately go to sleep and sleep soundly for as long as he wants. He thinks it runs in his family.

To that I'd say: I'm jealous! But even if it's true, as Cindi wrote last week: "Even those people who believe they can drink an espresso after dinner and be just fine aren't getting the quality sleep they would without the java." So if you're sleeping well with coffee, you could be sleeping great without it.

dragonfur writes:

I wish my lack of sleep was as simple (ha ha) as a lack of sleepiness. It is instead, a lack of time. I get through with my day's chores around 10:30 or 11:00 pm, and my day starts again at 4:00 am. If I take time to get on my computer, well, that cuts into those 5 hours.

I would like to get more sleep, but unfortunately, my bosses don't approve of sleeping at my computer! Seems like that's the only place I COULD fit in more sleep. (sigh)

Sorry to hear that, dragonfur. As you show, work demands are the primary cause of sleep deprivation for many. This is especially true during a recession, when people have fewer options. But even given these demands, there are ways to maximize the sleep that your schedule does allow. Here are recommendations from Dr. Breus, Dr. Lipman, and Dr. Hyman. And I hope your schedule can change for the better soon, dragonfur.

catcancook writes:

...I also build dream houses while I am trying to fall asleep. I just start creating a dream house in my head and get so engrossed in the planning and actual building of it that I never remember when I fell asleep. I am extremely visual though and can see everything in detail so, I get really into it.

That has worked for me for decades! I have built so many fantasy homes
and it's fun.

That's a great method, catcancook -- and it doesn't re-inflate the housing bubble! (And I hope you're not upside down on the mortgages of any of those houses in your dreams).

And finally, commenters aguas10 and organicthemepark, suggested that instead of coffee I try yerba mate and green tea respectively.

Will do! I'll report back next time.

Until then, make an appointment with sleep -- and our next installment.

See more stories tagged with: arianna huffington, sleep, sleep challenge

Find more Arianna at the Huffington Post.

How Factory Farms Are Pumping Americans Full of Deadly Bacteria and Pathogens


Health & Wellness

We're getting sicker and sicker, thanks to gruesome conditions in animal agriculture nationwide.

After reading www.BirdFluBook.org, by Dr. Michael Greger, I was stunned to realize the extent to which we have endangered our health by allowing factory farms to flourish and produce 99 percent of the meat, dairy and eggs we eat. Not only are dangerous flu viruses mutating because of these concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but we are also being exposed to some other very serious bacteria and pathogens. Things have gotten out of hand in our food production, especially in the livestock sector.

In Part I of my interview with Dr. Greger, he explained the growing potential of deadly flu viruses. In Part 2 of the interview, we discuss E. coli, salmonella and other worrisome pathogens.

Kathy Freston: Where does E. coli come from and how does it get into food? Why is it often found on vegetables?

Michael Greger: E. coli is an intestinal pathogen. It only gets in the food if fecal matter gets in the food. Since plants don’t have intestines, all E. coli infections—in fact all food poisoning—comes from animals. When’s the last time you heard of a person getting Dutch elm disease or a really bad case of aphids? People don’t get plant diseases; they get animal diseases. The problem is that because of the number of animals raised today, a billion tons of manure are produced every year in the United States—the weight of 10,000 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Dairy cow and pig factories often dump millions of gallons of putrefying waste into massive open-air cesspits, which can leak and contaminate water used to irrigate our crops. That’s how a deadly fecal pathogen like E. coli O157:H7 can end up contaminating our spinach. So regardless of what we eat, we all need to fight against the expansion of factory farming in our communities, our nation and around the world.

KF: What percentage of the population gets hit by the bacteria? How many of them die? Could that number increase?

MG: While E. coli O157:H7 remains the leading cause of acute kidney failure in U.S. children, fewer than 100,000 Americans get infected every year, and fewer than 100 die. But millions get infected with other types of E. coli that can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) that can invade the bloodstream and cause an estimated 36,000 deaths annually in the United States.

KF: We only occasionally hear of the very few fatal E. coli cases; is it really a widespread problem?

MG: When medical researchers at the University of Minnesota took more than 1,000 food samples from multiple retail markets, they found evidence of fecal contamination in 69 percent of the pork and beef and 92 percent of the poultry samples. Nine out of 10 chicken carcasses in the store may be contaminated with fecal matter. And half of the poultry samples were contaminated with the UTI-causing E. coli bacteria.

Scientists now suspect that by eating chicken, women infect their lower intestinal tract with these meat-borne bacteria, which can then creep up into their bladders. Hygiene measures to prevent UTIs have traditionally included wiping from front to back after bowel movements and urinating after intercourse to flush out any invaders, but now women can add poultry avoidance as a way to help prevent urinary tract infections.

KF: Are there any long-term problems for people who ingest E. coli and have a bad day or two with diarrhea, or is the problem over once out of the system?

MG: Last month the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention released a report on the long-term consequences of common causes of food poisoning. Life-long complications of E. coli O157:H7 infection include end-stage kidney disease, permanent brain damage and insulin-dependent diabetes.

KF: Is E. coli a problem if the meat is cooked?

MG: With the exception of prions, the infectious agents responsible for mad cow disease and the human equivalent—which can survive even incineration at temperatures hot enough to melt lead—all viral, fungal and bacterial pathogens in our food supply can be killed by proper cooking. Why then do tens of millions of Americans come down with food poisoning every year? Cross-contamination is thought to account for the bulk of infections. For example, chicken carcasses are so covered in bacteria that researchers at the University of Arizona found more fecal bacteria in the kitchen—on sponges and dish towels, and in the sink drain—than they found swabbing the toilet. In a meat-eater’s house it may be safer to lick the rim of the toilet seat than the kitchen countertop, because people aren’t preparing chickens in their toilets. Chicken "juice" is essentially raw fecal soup.

KF: What goes on inside the body when a human ingests E. coli?

MG: Depending on the strain, the number of bacteria ingested, and the immune status of the victim it can fail to cause any disease at all, or in the worst cases, cause multi-system organ failure. Here’s how one mother described what E. coli O157:H7 did to her 3-year-old daughter Brianna:

The pain during the first 80 hours was horrific, with intense abdominal cramping every 10 to 12 minutes. Her intestines swelled to three times their normal size and she was placed on a ventilator. Emergency surgery became essential and her colon was removed. After further surgery, doctors decided to leave the incision open, from sternum to pubis, to allow Brianna’s swollen organs room to expand and prevent them from ripping her skin. Her heart was so swollen it was like a sponge and bled from every pore. Her liver and pancreas shut down and she was gripped by thousands of convulsions, which caused blood clots in her eyes. We were told she was brain-dead.

KF: What a horror. Why is it deadly for some and not others?

MG: We think it has to do with the virulence of the bacteria—some strains are deadlier than others—and the vulnerability of the host. We’re not sure why children under 5 years of age are at the highest risk for dangerous complications, but that is certainly a finding that has been consistent.

KF: Is factory-farmed meat more likely to get E. coli out into the market, or is all meat (even free range) carrying that potential?

MG: In chickens, these bacteria cause a disease called colibacillosis, now one of the most significant and widespread infectious diseases in the poultry industry due to the way we now raise these animals. Studies have shown infection risk to be directly linked to overcrowding on factory chicken farms. In caged egg-laying hens, the most significant risk factor for flock infection is hen density per cage. Researchers have calculated that affording just a single quart of additional living space to each hen would be associated with a corresponding 33 percent drop in the risk of colibacillosis outbreak. This is one of the reasons many efforts to improve the lives of farmed animals is critical not only for animal welfare, but for the health of humans and animals alike.

In terms of other infections like Campylobacter, the most common cause of bacterial food poisoning in the United States, Consumer Reports published an analysis of retail chicken in its January 2010 issue. The majority of store-bought chickens were contaminated with Campylobacter, which can trigger arthritis, heart and blood infections, and a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome that can leave people permanently disabled and paralyzed. Comparing store brands, 59 percent of the conventional factory-farmed chickens were contaminated, compared to 57 percent of chickens raised organically. So there might be a marginal difference, but the best strategy may be to avoid meat completely. With the virtual elimination of polio, the most common cause of neuromuscular paralysis in the United States now comes from eating chicken.

KF: What about salmonella? Is it really a big deal, or is it just a matter of an upset stomach?

MG: Salmonella kills more Americans than any other food-borne illness. There is an epidemic of egg-borne food poisoning every year in the United States. To this day, more than 100,000 Americans are sickened annually by salmonella-infected eggs.

KF: Do we have more salmonella now than we did 25 or 50 years ago? If so, why?

MG: There was a time when our grandparents could drink eggnog and children could eat raw cookie dough without fear of joining the thousands of Americans hospitalized with salmonella infections every year. Before the industrialization of egg production, salmonella only sickened a few hundred Americans every year and Salmonella enteritidis was not found in eggs at all. By the beginning of the 21st century, however, Salmonella enteritidis-contaminated eggs were sickening an estimated 182,000 Americans annually.

There are many industrial practices that contribute to the alarming rates of this disease. Most eggs come from hens confined in battery cages, small barren wire enclosures affording these animals less living space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper for virtually their entire one- to two-year lifespan. Salmonella-contaminated battery cage operations in the United States confine an average of more than 100,000 hens in a single shed. The massive volume of contaminated airborne fecal dust in such a facility rapidly accelerates the spread of infection.

Factory farming practices also led to the spread of salmonella around the world. Just as the feeding of dead animals to live ones triggered the mad cow crisis, this same practice has also been implicated in the global spread of salmonella. Once egg production wanes, hens may be ground up and rendered into what is called “spent hen meal,” and then fed to other hens. More than half of the feed samples for farmed birds containing slaughter-plant waste tested by the FDA were found contaminated with salmonella. CDC researchers have estimated that more than a million cases of salmonella poisoning in Americans can be directly tied to feed containing animal byproducts.

KF: What happens to the body when salmonella gets into the system?

MG: Within 12 to 72 hours of infection the fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps start. If the victim is lucky it’s over within a week. If not, the bacteria can burrow through the intestinal wall and infect the bloodstream, seeding its way to other organs, including the heart, bones and brain.

KF: Are there any long-term consequences from exposure?

MG: Thanks to salmonella infection one breakfast omelet can now trigger persistent irritable bowel syndrome and what’s called reactive arthritis, which can become a debilitating lifelong condition of swollen painful joints. Because salmonella can infect the ovaries of hens, eggs from infected birds can be laid prepackaged with the bacteria inside. According to research funded by the American Egg Board, salmonella can survive sunny-side-up, over-easy and scrambled egg cooking methods.

KF: Would free-range meat or eggs make a difference in preventing it?

MG: There is evidence that eggs from cage-free hens pose less of a threat. In the largest study of its kind (analyzing more than 30,000 samples taken from more than 5,000 operations across two dozen countries in Europe) cage-free barns had about 40 percent lower odds of harboring the egg-related strain of salmonella.

KF: Can we get salmonella just from touching something tainted?

MG: Absolutely. In fact the infective dose for salmonella is as few 15-20 bacteria, and a single egg can be infected with hundreds. It’s important to understand where the egg comes out. Eggs emerge from the hen’s vent, which is kind of a joint opening for both her vagina and anus, which explains the level of fecal contamination one can find on eggs.

KF: Is it contagious?

MG: Person-to-person transmission of salmonella can occur when an infected person's feces, unwashed from his or her hands, contaminates food during preparation or comes into direct contact with another person.

KF: Who is most at risk for serious illness or even death?

MG: More than half of all reported salmonella infections occur in children, who are especially susceptible to serious complications. Elderly and immunocompromised adults are also particularly vulnerable. In the United States, though, some strains of salmonella are growing dangerously resistant to up to six major classes of antibiotics, due in large part to the irresponsible factory farming practice of feeding millions of pounds of antibiotics to animals every year as a crutch to combat the stressful and overcrowded conditions of intensive animal agriculture systems. This puts everyone at risk.

KF: What is the overall solution to prevent these dangerous pathogens and bacteria?

MG: Over the last few decades new animal-to-human infectious diseases have emerged at an unprecedented rate. According to the World Health Organization, the increasing global demand for animal protein is a key underlying factor.

Swine flu is not the only deadly human disease traced to factory farming practices. The meat industry took natural herbivores like cows and sheep, and turned them into carnivores and cannibals by feeding them slaughterhouse waste, blood and manure. Then they fed people “downer” animals—those too sick to even walk. Now the world has mad cow disease.

In 2005 the world’s largest and deadliest outbreak of a pathogen called Strep. suis emerged, causing meningitis and deafness in people handling infected pork products. Experts blamed the emergence on factory farming practices. Pig factories in Malaysia birthed the Nipah virus, one of the deadliest of human pathogens, a contagious respiratory disease causing relapsing brain infections and killing 40 percent of people infected. Its emergence was likewise blamed squarely on factory farming.

The pork industry in the U.S. feeds pigs millions of pounds of human antibiotics every year just to promote growth in such a stressful, unhygienic environment, and now there are these multi-drug-resistant bacteria and we as physicians are running out of good antibiotic options. As the UK’s chief medical officer put it in his 2009 annual report, "Every inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture is a potential death warrant for a future patient."

In the short term we need to put an end to the riskiest practices, such as extreme confinement—gestation crates and battery cages—and the non-therapeutic feeding of antibiotics. We have to follow the advice of the American Public Health Association to declare a moratorium on factory farms and eventually phase them out completely. How we treat animals can have global public health implications.

KF: Sounds like part of the solution is to gravitate toward a vegetarian diet. Check out One Bite At a Time for information on how to do it.

See more stories tagged with: vegetarianism, meat, mad cow, antibiotics, factory farming, greger

Kathy Freston is a health and wellness expert and a New York Times bestselling author. Her latest book is "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse: The 21-Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind, and Spirit." She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The View and Good Morning America. For more information visit www.kathyfreston.com.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One Bite at a Time: A Beginner's Guide to Conscious Eating

The Huffington Post

One Bite at a Time: A Beginner's Guide to Conscious Eating

Kathy FrestonKathy Freston| BIO |

If you read my last two entries, "A Few More 'Inconvenient Truths'" and "Vegetarian Is the New Prius," you know that a plant-based diet is a good choice for the planet, your health, and animals. Of course, there are other things we should be doing--from cutting down on our consumption to working for governmental change to buying organic and on and on--but where diet is concerned, a vegetarian diet is the hands-down best choice for those of us who care about animals and the environment.

I heard from a lot of people who wanted help in making the transition to a vegetarian (or mostly vegetarian) diet. Let's face it: If you've been eating meat all your life, this sort of a change can be daunting even just to think about, let alone act on. Happily, it's easier than ever today to make the transition from meat-eater to vegetarian, and the following suggestions should help even the most die-hard carnivores make the switch.

First: Transition

If you're not ready to give up meat completely, start by eating meatless meals one or two days a week. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Columbia University's School of Public Health, and other public health schools have designed a "Meatless Monday" campaign to help Americans avoid our four top killers--heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer--by eating meat-free at least every Monday. The "Meatless Monday" program provides recipes, meal plans, nutritional guidelines, cooking tips, and more.

My only problem with the campaign is that some of the recipes feature fish, and fish are definitely not vegetables. If you're eating fish, you're eating meat, and the recent studies on fish are even scarier than the studies on beef or any other food. The three-part front page series in the Chicago Tribune about brain damage and other health problems caused by mercury, PCBs, and the other toxins found in fish and the front page piece in the Wall Street Journal about the teen whose fish consumption put him in remedial classes should be enough to turn anyone off fish consumption. For omega-3 fatty acids, go with flax seeds, walnuts, and leafy greens.

Second: Give Up the Little Animals First

Although many people tend to stop eating red meat before they give up chicken, turkey, or fish, from a humane standpoint, this is backwards. Birds are arguably the most abused animals on the planet, and birds and fish yield less flesh than cows or pigs, so farmers and fishers kill more of them to satisfy America's meat habit. If you choose to give up meat in stages, stop eating chickens and turkeys first, then fish, and then pigs and cows. Some will suggest that cattle are the worst for the environment, but that seems like hair-splitting to me. As I discussed in my previous post, the Amazon rain forest is being cut down to grow soybeans to feed chickens; it's chicken and pig farms that are poisoning the Atlantic Ocean, and vastly more energy is required if we eat the chickens who are fed grain rather than eating that grain directly.

Third: If You Can't Give Up One Particular Animal Product, Give Up All the Other Ones

One friend told me that he just loves burgers too much to give them up; I suggested that he give up all animal products except burgers. Some of my friends can't give up ice cream or cream in their coffee or whatever―so give up everything but that. That's a huge step forward, and I suspect that after eating mostly vegetarian for awhile, you'll decide that those burgers or that ice cream aren't so tasty anymore. And you'll probably find that you enjoy the faux meats and dairy-free options just as much.

Fourth: Examine Your Diet, and Substitute

Take a look at the meals that you and your family already enjoy, and you'll probably notice that many of them can be made without any meat or with mock meats (which are great transition foods) instead of animal flesh. For example, instead of spaghetti and meat sauce, make spaghetti and marinara sauce, or instead of beef burritos, try tasty bean burritos. Replace ground beef with the vegetarian variety made by Boca or Morningstar Farms, which can be found in just about any grocery store. Or try Morningstar Farms' faux chicken strips and steak strips and Boca's Chik'n Patties. If you need help putting together a shopping list, check out the product reviews at VegCooking.com before you head out to the store.

Mock meats, nondairy cheeses and milks, and other vegetarian foods are sold in most major supermarkets these days, and health food stores offer even more. Silk soy milk is probably one of the most recognizable vegan products on the market--you can even order it in your latte at Starbucks. And if you like to bake, look for egg replacer, a powdered mix that can be used instead of eggs in cakes and other baked goods, at the local health food store (or just use applesauce). But don't forget to eat your vegetables--as well as plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits, and legumes--before filling up on cake and coffee!

After a few meatless meals, you'll likely realize that you don't miss meat and are ready to go meatless for good. But don't beat yourself up if you slip up every now and again--before long eating vegetarian will come as naturally as breathing.

I know that some readers who are already vegetarian may take issue with the idea of relying on faux meats (I can predict all the raw food comments, the macrobiotic comments, and so on), but mock meats and soy milk are superb transition foods. Certainly going with real foods, as Michael Pollan calls them--things that your grandmother would recognize--is a great idea, but don't worry about it if you find that mock meats make the switch easier for you. Animals are going to be happier either way.

Fifth: Eating Out

If you're eating out, there are countless restaurants that cater to vegetarians and vegans. VegCooking.com features regional vegetarian restaurants, restaurant chains that offer vegetarian options, and links to other Web sites that list vegetarian-friendly eateries. Ethnic restaurants, especially Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Mexican restaurants, are always a good choice, as they offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. If you're still looking for a burger and fries, many restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, Denny's, and Ruby Tuesday's, serve veggie burgers. Just don't drive yourself--and your dining companions--crazy worrying that your veggie burger was prepared on the same surface as the hamburgers. It might be a bit aesthetically troublesome, but it won't harm animals (or the planet) if your food is cooked on the same grill as meat. Unless you absolutely can't stomach it, let it pass.

Sixth: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Vegans and vegan wannabes, I believe that when you're eating out, you also shouldn't be too concerned about ingredients that make up less than 2 percent of your meal. You'll obviously want to avoid dishes served with meat, cheese, or eggs, but it doesn't really matter if there's a modicum of butter or whey or other animal product in the bun that your veggie burger is served on. You won't stop animal suffering by avoiding such minuscule amounts of animal ingredients. But you may give your nonvegan friends--not to mention the restaurant wait staff--the idea that vegans are difficult to please. The goal is to show others how easy it is to eat in an animal-friendly manner and that restaurants can satisfy vegan customers without having to do cartwheels.

I know, again, that some will post their protest, and I understand the desire to eliminate every last bit of animal ingredients from one's diet, but let's face it: Even vegan foods cause some animals to be tilled up in processing. (Note: Since more than 70 percent of all grain, soybeans, and other crops are fed to farmed animals, not to humans, there is a lot more tiller death in chicken, turkey, pork, and beef than in plant foods, but the point should still give vegetarians a bit of humility.) Vegetarianism is not a personal purity test--our positive and reasonable influence on others is just as important as our own commitment to a conscious and compassionate diet.


When you consider your choices--heart disease, colon cancer, plus-size pants, melting ice caps, gale force storms, and animal suffering vs. good health, energy, a trim physique, a livable planet, compassion, and tasty, diverse foods--it's clear that going vegetarian is an excellent choice as we move toward living a more conscious life.

Thank you to all readers for your compassion, and I look forward to meeting you on the journey toward more conscious eating.

Factory Farmed Meat Can Trigger a Global Pandemic That Wipes Out 60% of Those Infected


Health & Wellness

The chicken and pork industries have wrought unprecedented changes in bird and swine flu. Billions could die in a deadly flu pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen.

I was intrigued (and disturbed) by a book I just read online -- www.BirdFluBook.org -- by Michael Greger, M.D. about the potential of a deadly flu pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen. Greger very clearly delineates how a virus begins, mutates, and becomes dangerous. As with so many problems we are seeing lately -- environmental or health -- factory farmed meat seems to be a big part of the cause. A graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., serves as Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. An internationally recognized lecturer, he has presented at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, and was an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial. His recent scientific publications in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Critical Reviews in Microbiology, and the International Journal of Food Safety, Nutrition, and Public Health explore the public health implications of industrialized animal agriculture.

Kathy Freston: How likely are we to have a bird or swine flu that turns into something really deadly and widespread?

Michael Greger: Unfortunately we don't know enough about the biology of these viruses to make accurate predictions, but influenza is definitely the disease to keep an eye on. AIDS has killed millions but is only fluid-borne. Malaria has killed millions but is relatively restricted to equatorial regions. Flu viruses are the only known pathogen capable of infecting literally billions of people in a matter of months. Right now we are in the midst of a flu pandemic caused by the swine-origin influenza virus H1N1. Millions of people have become infected and thousands have died, but H1N1 is not particularly virulent. There are other flu viruses that have emerged in recent decades such as the highly "pathogenic" (disease-causing) bird flu H5N1 that may have the potential to cause much greater human harm.

KF: What kind of damage could it do in terms of population mortality?

MG: Currently H5N1 kills approximately 60% of those it infects, so you don't even get a coin toss chance of survival. That's a mortality rate on par with some strains of Ebola. Thankfully, only a few hundred people have become infected. Should a virus like H5N1 trigger a pandemic, though, the results could be catastrophic. During a pandemic as many as 2 or 3 billion people can become infected. A 60% mortality rate is simply unimaginable. Unfortunately, it's not as far-fetched as it sounds. Both China and Indonesia have reported sporadic outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu in pigs and sporadic outbreaks of the new pandemic virus H1N1 in pigs as well. Should a pig become co-infected with both strains, a hybrid mutant could theoretically arise with human transmissibility of swine flu and the human lethality of bird flu. That's the kind of nightmare scenario that keeps virologists up at night.

KF: How does a virus like that kill? What does it do to the body?

MG: Most often it starts with standard flu-like symptoms--fever, cough, and muscle aches. Instead of just infecting the respiratory tract, though, H5N1 may spread throughout the body and infect the brain, for example, leaving victims in a coma. Other early symptoms atypical of regular seasonal flu include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chest pain, and bleeding from the nose and gums. Death is usually from acute fulminant respiratory distress, in which one basically drowns in one's own blood-tinted respiratory secretions.

Most of the damage is actually done by one's own immune system. H5N1 seems to trigger a "cytokine storm," an overexuberant immune reaction to the virus. These cytokine chemical messengers set off such a massive inflammatory reaction that on autopsy the lungs of victims may be virus-free, meaning that your body wins, but in burning down the village in order to save it you may not live through the process. In fact the reason why young people may be so vulnerable is because they have the strongest immune systems, and it's one's immune system that may kill you.

KF: How easy is it to contract the virus once it's in full swing?

MG: Catching a pandemic flu virus is essentially as easy as catching the regular seasonal flu. During a flu pandemic about 1 in 5 people may fall ill, but there are certainly ways to minimize one's risk via hand-washing and social distancing techniques. In a really severe pandemic, though, the advice would be to "shelter-in-place," isolating oneself and one's family in one's home until the danger passes. During such a pandemic the Department of Homeland Security uses as a key planning assumption that the American population would be asked to self-quarantine for up to 90 days per wave of the pandemic.

KF: Why do we have this potential disaster on our hands?

MG: The industrialization of the chicken and pork industries is thought to have wrought these unprecedented changes in avian and swine influenza. No one even got sick from bird flu for eight decades before a new strain, H5N1, started killing children in 1997. Likewise, in pigs here in the U.S. swine flu was totally stable for 8 decades before a pig-bird-human hybrid mutant virus appeared in commercial pig populations in 1998. It was that strain that combined with a Eurasian swine flu virus ten years later to spawn the flu pandemic of 2009, sickening millions of young people around the world.

The first hybrid mutant swine flu virus discovered in the United States was at a factory farm in North Carolina in which thousands of pregnant sows were confined in "gestation crates," veal crate-like metal stalls barely larger than their bodies. These kind of stressful, filthy, overcrowded conditions can provide a breeding ground for the emergence and spread of new diseases.

So far, only thousands of people have died from swine flu. Unless we radically change the way chickens and pigs are raised for food, though, it may only be a matter of time before a catastrophic pandemic arises.

KF: If factory farms are to blame, why have there been plagues and flu's throughout time, when factory farms were not around?

MG: Before the domestication of birds about 2,500 years ago, human influenza likely didn't even exist. Similarly, before the domestication of livestock there was no measles, small pox, and many other diseases that have plagued humanity since they were born in the barnyard about 10,000 years ago. Once diseases jump the species barrier from the animal kingdom, they can spread independently throughout human populations with often tragic consequences.

The worst plague in human history was the 1918 flu pandemic triggered by a bird flu virus that went on to kill upwards of 50 million people. The crowded, stressful, unhygienic trench warfare conditions during World War I that led to the emergence of the 1918 virus are replicated today in nearly every industrial chicken shed and egg operation. Instead of millions of vulnerable hosts to evolve within back then, we now have billions of chickens intensively confined in factory farms, arguably the Perfect Storm environment for the emergence and spread of hypervirulent, so-called "predator-type" viruses like H5N1. The 1918 virus killed about 2.5% of the people it infected, 20 times deadlier than the seasonal flu. H5N1 is now killing 60% of infected people, 20 times deadlier than the 1918 virus. So if a virus like 1918 gained easy human transmissibility, it could make the 1918 pandemic--the deadliest plague ever--look like the regular flu.

KF: Does handling or eating chicken or pork increase the chances of contracting the virus?

MG: There are certainly lots of viruses people can pick up from handling fresh meat, such as those that cause unpleasant conditions like contagious pustular dermatitis and a well-defined medical condition known as "butcher's warts." Even the wives of butchers appear to be at higher risk for cervical cancer, a cancer definitively associated with wart virus exposure. Cooking can destroy the flu virus, but the same can be said for all the bugs that sicken 76 million Americans a year. The problem is that people can cross-contaminate kitchen surfaces with fresh or frozen meat before pathogens have been cooked to death. There have been a number of cases of human influenza linked to the consumption of poultry products, but it's not clear whether swine flu viruses get into the meat. Regardless, the primary risk is not in the meat, but how meat is produced. Once a new disease is spawned from factory farm conditions it may be able spread person to person, and at that point animals--live or dead--may be out of the picture.

KF: How do we stave off this viral apocalypse?

MG: We need to give these animals more breathing room. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which included a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, concluded that industrialized animal agriculture posed "unacceptable" public health risks and called for gestation crates for pigs to be banned as they're already doing in Europe, noting that "[p]ractices that restrict natural motion, such as sow gestation crates, induce high levels of stress in the animals and threaten their health, which in turn may threaten human health."

Studies have shown that measures as simple as providing straw for pigs so they don't have the immune-crippling stress of living on bare concrete their whole lives can significantly cut down on swine flu transmission rates. Such a minimal act--providing straw--yet we often deny these animals even this modicum of mercy, both to their detriment and, potentially, to ours as well.

The American Public Health Association, the largest organization of public health professionals in the world, has called for a moratorium on factory farms. In fact the APHA journal, the American Journal of Public Health, published an editorial going beyond just calling for an end to factory farms. It questioned the prudence of raising so many animals in the first place: "It is curious...that changing the way humans treat animals--most basically, ceasing to eat them or, at the very least, radically limiting the quantity of them that are eaten--is largely off the radar as a significant preventive measure. Such a change, if sufficiently adopted or imposed, could still reduce the chances of the much-feared influenza epidemic. It would be even more likely to prevent unknown future diseases that, in the absence of this change, may result from farming animals intensively and from killing them for food. Yet humanity does not consider this option....Those who consume animals not only harm those animals and endanger themselves, but they also threaten the well-being of other humans who currently or will later inhabit the planet....[I]t is time for humans to remove their heads from the sand and recognize the risk to themselves that can arise from their maltreatment of other species."

KF: That is a pretty stunning statement! I know people will wonder...."If we give up animal protein, will our immune system be compromised... or will it be enhanced?"

MG: We've known for 20 years that the immune function of those eating vegetarian may be superior to those eating meat. First published in 1989, researchers at the German Cancer Research Center found that although vegetarians had the same number of disease-fighting white blood cells compared to meat eaters, the immune cells of vegetarians were twice as effective in destroying their targets--not only cancer cells, but virus-infected cells as well. So a more plant-based diet may protect both now and in the future against animal-borne diseases like pandemic influenza.

KF: This has been a real awakening. For more information on how to move toward a plant-based, vegan diet, check out my guide to conscious eating on HuffPost.

See more stories tagged with: meat, factory farms, flu

Kathy Freston is a health and wellness expert and a New York Times best-selling author. Her latest book is The Quantum Wellness Cleanse: A 21 Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind and Spirit. Freston promotes a body/mind/spirit approach to health and happiness that includes a concentration on healthy diet, emotional introspection, spiritual practice, and loving relationships. Kathy’s recent television appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The View and Good Morning America. www.kathyfreston.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Knowledge for a Revolution: From Fear to Truth


Knowledge for a Revolution: From Fear to Truth

by: Dr. Gregory Damato, Ph.D., citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) The western world has purposely been misled, intimidated and hypnotized by fear from nearly all established institutions of civilization. The best way to wire an individual's brain for fear is to consistently state the exact same premise over and over again, regardless of the veracity of such statements. As neuroscientists predict, individuals will unconsciously begin to believe such statements and the more often these ideas are reinforced, the stronger the hard wiring becomes.

We live in a semi-conscious state of terrorism where our minds have ostensibly been pre-programmed for fear. As history has consistently shown mankind, the best way to control a population is through the institutionalization of fear. Cancer, debt, disease, terrorism, sleeper cells, war, Al Qaeda, and death are just some of the key words promulgated throughout our daily lives, but how much of these are actually true threats deserving of our fear? Even better, how many of these fears are simply unfounded and misguided to keep us in an uncertain, apprehensive and controlled state of mind?

Transitioning from fear to truth marks an integral shift in the beginning of a revolution. Whether conscious or unconscious, this transformation marks the beginning of the inexorable zeitgeist where truth, knowledge and freedom become the founding principles of the new, emerging society. These changes will not occur overnight, but as western society begins to awaken to the inherent truth that fear is simply a technique to suppress the limitless potential of every human being, only then may we begin to become completely free. Releasing our fear as individuals allows us to take control of our destinies as well as facilitate in the transformation of the shifting revolution from the mindless greed of the majority to the love of the conscious minority. Overtime, this fearless and valiant minority will garner more and more support as the shift of knowledge swings from fear to truth until the minority precipitously becomes the majority. In order to supplant the rule of the incognizant majority, truthful knowledge must spread like wildfire across the earth.

We are free individuals by virtue of birth, yet much of our freedoms are lost through our inherent nature to conform to societal norms, from the unconscious, yet powerful and pervasive trends of socialization. We begin to look, act and model our lives around others. For it is fear of non-conforming that keeps the masses conforming. Presently, society is in the midst of an historical change, one where individuals will be defined by what they do for their fellow earthlings instead of what they physically possess. The facade of the material world is rightfully dissolving at an alarming rate only to make way for the emerging revolution of unending personal freedom, wellness, love, knowledge and truthfulness.

A revolution is an uprising of individuals who believe that enough of their rights have been suppressed, ignored and completely hijacked at the expense of those wanting to keep the status quo. When we break free of our fears, we are truly open to experience our true purpose: to live a passionate, happy and loving life. It is time we begin to take back our freedoms through knowledge and awareness because simply put, we are the ones we have been waiting for. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day".

About the author

Dr. Gregory Damato enjoys a vegan lifestyle and runs a Quantum Biofeedback clinic treating various clients ranging from autism to cancer. He is currently authoring a book for parents educating on the many hidden dangers of vaccines, chemical toxicity in toys, GM foods, the effects of EMFs and EMRs and ways to combat rising childhood illness and neurological disease by naturally building immunity, detoxification and nutrition. His goal is to increase global awareness of the myriad of health issue facing us today and the fact that 100% of them are preventable and completely reversible. His website publishes the latest health and wellness news and information and can be found at www.wellnessuncovered.com.