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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dangerous Fake Blueberries in Wide Variety of Food Products

Natural News TV

Blueberries faked in cereals, muffins, bagels and other food products - Food Investigations

Uploaded 1/18/2011 8:10:02 PM by HealthRanger

The blueberries found in blueberry bagels, cereals, breads and muffins are REAL blueberries right? Wrong! Award-winning investigative journalist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, exposes the deceptive chemical ingredients and dishonest marketing of "blueberry" products from big-name food and cereal companies. The blueberries, it turns out, are made from artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars. See more episodes at www.FoodInvestigations.com


Pictures of blueberries are prominently displayed on the front of many food packages. Here they are on boxes of muffins, cereals and breads. But turn the packages around, and suddenly the blueberries disappear. They're gone, replaced in the ingredients list with sugars, oils and artificial colors derived from petrochemicals.

This bag of blueberry bagels sold at Target stores is made with blueberry bits. And while actual blueberries are found further down the ingredients list, the blueberry bits themselves don't even contain bits of blueberries. They're made entirely from sugar, corn cereal, modified food starch, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial flavor, cellulose gum, salt and artificial colors like Blue #2, Red #40, Green #3 and Blue #1.

What's missing from that list? Well, blueberries.
Where did the blueberries go?

They certainly didn't end up in Total Blueberry Pomegranate Cereal. This cereal, made by General Mills, contains neither blueberries nor pomegranates. They're nowhere to be found. But the cereal is made with red #40, blue #2 and other artificial colors. And it's even sweetened with sucralose, a chemical sweetener. And that's in addition to the sugar, corn syrup and brown sugar syrup that's already on the label.

A lot of products that imply they're made with blueberries contain no blueberries at all. And many that do contain a tiny amount of blueberries cut their recipes with artificial blueberry ingredients to make it look like their products contain more blueberries than they really do.

Kellogg's Blueberry Pop Tarts shows a picture of plump blueberries right on the front of the box. But inside the box, there's a lot more high fructose corn syrup than actual blueberries. And the corn syrup is given a blueberry color with the addition of -- guess what? -- red #40, blue #1 and blue #2 chemicals.

Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats also come in a Blueberry Muffin variety, with fresh blueberries prominently featured on the front of the package. But inside, there are no actual blueberries to be found. Instead, you get "blueberry flavored crunchlets" -- yes, crunchlets -- made from sugars, soybean oil, red #40 and blue #2.

And, if you can believe it, the side panel of this box features the "Frosted Mini Wheats Bite Size" logo, followed by the words "blueberry muffin" with pictures of blueberries, finally followed by "The Whole Truth." Except it really isn't the whole truth at all. It's more like a half truth.

These marketing deceptions even continue on Kellogg's website, where one page claims, "New Special K Blueberry Fruit Crisps are filled with blueberries and drizzled with vanilla icing." Except they aren't, really. What they're really filled with is apple powder, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, fructose, sugar, artificial colors red #40 and blue #1, all enhanced with a dash of blueberry puree concentrate.

Even seemingly "healthy" blueberry products can be deceptive. Betty Crocker's Fiber One Blueberry muffin mix enhances its small amount of actual blueberries with petrochemical colors, too: Red #40, Blue #1 and Blue #2.

At least Betty Crocker's Blueberry Muffin Mix admits it contains no real blueberries. Well, if you read the fine print, that is. It's ingredients reveal "Artificial blueberry flavor bits" which are made from dextrose, Corn Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Sugar, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, and of course the obligatory Blue #1 and Red #40.

When consumers buy blueberry cereals, muffins and mixes, they're under the impression that they're buying real blueberries. No ordinary consumer realizes they're actually buying blue coloring chemicals mixed with hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars. That's why this common industry practice of faking the blueberries is so deceptive.

Why can't food companies just be more honest about it? Nature's Path Organic Optimum Blueberry-Cinnamon Breakfast Cereal contains -- get this -- both blueberries and cinnamon.

Better yet, you won't find any red #40, blue #2 or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils in Nature's Path products. They even use organic blueberries and organic cinnamon.

Health Valley Low-Fat Blueberry Tarts are also made with real blueberries. You won't find any artificial coloring chemicals in this box.

So why can't Kellogg, Betty Crocker, General Mills and Target stores use real blueberries in their products instead of deceptively formulating them with artificial petrochemical colors that mimic the purple color of blueberries?

It's probably because real blueberries are expensive. And artificial blueberry bits, made with sugar, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors, are dirt cheap. If these companies can fool consumers into thinking they're buying real blueberries in their products, they can command a price premium that translates into increased profits.

Once again, in the food industry, deception pays off. And it pays big.

So what can YOU do to make sure you don't get scammed by a food company trying to sell you red #40 and Blue #2 as if they were real blueberries? Read the ingredients. If you see artificial colors on the list -- and they're usually found at the very bottom of the ingredients list -- just don't buy that product.

Put it back on the shelf and choose something else that's not deceptively marketed. And that's how you solve "the case of the missing blueberries."

This is Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, with Food Investigations for the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center, featured on NaturalNews.TV. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends. And watch NaturalNews.TV for a new episode each week. Take care.

Video Keywords: food food additives processed food muffins blueberries blueberry cereals artificial colors bagels food companies dyes

Monday, January 10, 2011

‘Don’t Repeal Health Law – Go Beyond it to Single-Payer Medicare for All’: Doctors' Group

Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

‘Don’t Repeal Health Law – Go Beyond it to Single-Payer Medicare for All’: Doctors' Group

Statement by Physicians for National Health Program

WASHINGTON - A nationwide organization of doctors who favor a single-payer health care system today rejected calls by Republican leaders to repeal the new health law, noting that the law contains modest benefits for patients that should not be spurned.

["We reject the call by Republican leaders to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), even as we recognize the new law is incapable of resolving our health care morass," said Dr. Garrett Adams, president of the 18,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program.]"We reject the call by Republican leaders to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), even as we recognize the new law is incapable of resolving our health care morass," said Dr. Garrett Adams, president of the 18,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program.
At the same time, the doctors said that the enactment of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all program is the only way to assure high quality, comprehensive care to all Americans and the only way to rein in skyrocketing health care costs.

"We reject the call by Republican leaders to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), even as we recognize the new law is incapable of resolving our health care morass," said Dr. Garrett Adams, president of the 18,000-member Physicians for a National Health Program.

"The health law is flawed because it continues our nation's reliance on an inefficient and wasteful private-insurance-based model of financing care - a rickety structure that denies health care access to millions, bankrupts patients, ratchets up costs and frustrates efforts to improve quality," he said.

"That's why we need to move to a single-payer system," he said. "In doing so, we'll save about $400 billion annually by cutting out the unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy inflicted on us by the private insurers. We'll also gain the one-system bargaining power we need to negotiate lower prices for pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies."

Adams said the "modest" benefits in the administration's health law include greater funding of community health centers, the expansion of Medicaid coverage, and "measures to restrict some of the most outrageous practices of the private health insurance companies like denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or rescinding coverage when people get sick."

"These beneficial measures could have been enacted separately," Adams said. "But now that they're part of the law, we cannot in good conscience support the repeal of any provisions that might conceivably benefit our patients."

Adams said Republican leaders' call to repeal PPACA is especially objectionable, given that they have no serious alternative to offer by way of health care reform.

"The GOP and conservatives urge greater reliance on the private sector and ‘free market' mechanisms, including less regulation of the insurance industry," Adams said. "Such measures include allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines, which would lead them to buy junk insurance policies from companies in states where consumer protections have been all but eviscerated. It would mean a race to the bottom to even skimpier insurance policies than people have now."

He also dismissed claims by the Republican leadership that tort reform will significantly affect the U.S. health care scene, noting that research has shown malpractice suits have a marginal impact on the costs of medical care.

"The proposals emanating from the GOP leaders would do nothing to control costs or reduce the enormous administrative waste in our current health care system," he said. "They would do nothing to reduce the number of uninsured. In fact, the number of uninsured, now at 51 million, would likely rise much higher - worsening an already catastrophic situation."

Adams, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who resides in Louisville, Ky., said that, in his opinion, Republican leaders who are vowing to repeal the new health law are not really aiming to do so.

"Despite their bluster, GOP lawmakers don't really want to repeal the law because some of their chief financial backers, the health insurance companies, like its basic provisions," he said. "The insurers especially like PPACA's requirement that millions of people buy insurance from them and that at least $447 billion in federal subsidies will be coming their way over the next 10 years as part of this arrangement.

"We reject such political posturing at the expense of human suffering and human lives," Adams said. "We call for a real, sustainable solution to our health care woes. PPACA should be superseded by a comprehensive health reform that provides quality, affordable care to everyone - single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Illnesses linked to BP Oil Disaster: Widespread Sickness due to Toxic Chemicals

Illnesses linked to BP Oil Disaster: Widespread Sickness due to Toxic Chemicals

Global Research, January 5, 2011

Doctor attributes widespread sickness to toxic chemicals from the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe.

Independent scientists have confirmed that Gulf marine life is heavily contaminated by the dispersed oil and oil sheen in the water. [Photo: Erika Blumenfeld]

Despite BP having capped its well in the Gulf of Mexico in July, the health-related after-effects of the disaster subsist.Gulf Coast residents and BP cleanup workers have linked the source of certain illnesses to chemicals present in BP's oil and the toxic dispersants used to sink it - illnesses that appear to be both spreading and worsening.

Dr. Rodney Soto, a medical doctor in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, has been testing and treating patients with high levels of oil-related chemicals in their blood stream. These are commonly referred to as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's). Anthropogenic VOC's from BP's oil disaster are toxic and have negative chronic health effects.

Dr. Soto is finding disconcertingly consistent and high levels of toxic chemicals in every one of the patients he is testing.

"I'm regularly finding between five and seven VOCs in my patients," Dr. Soto told Al Jazeera. "These patients include people not directly involved in the oil clean-up, as well as residents that do not live right on the coast. These are clearly related to the oil disaster."

Chronic health effects

Lloyd Pearcey, from Bonsecour, Alabama, worked on a BP clean-up team as a foreman for four months.

During that time, he collected oil-soaked boom and drove a bulldozer "filled with the tar balls and tar mats we collected. Other times we stood in the water in Tyvek suits putting out shore boom with oil all over us. The fumes got to you."

"I just got my results from the blood tests," Pearcey told Al Jazeera, "I have the chemicals of the oil and dispersants in my blood."

Pearcey had experienced many of the now common symptoms of acute exposure to BP's chemicals.

Dr. Soto is testing his patients, and said he has ample documentation attesting to the levels of toxins people are being exposed to.

Dr. Soto classifies two types of symptom groups: acute exposure that includes skin and respiratory problems; and a second, larger group of people with no symptoms, but who still have toxicity. He believes the pathways of exposure occur through air, skin, and contaminated seafood.

One of the more extreme cases he treated was a woman who developed acute respiratory problems after a visit to the beach.

"This is a young woman in good health, with good nutritional intake, no health issues, hates to take any medication, and ate only organic foods," he explained, "But shortly after going to the beach, where she was likely exposed to toxins, she developed respiratory illness and developed cancer within weeks. I think this was due to direct exposure to chemicals in the dispersants and VOCs."

According to the US Government, BP's oil disaster released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersants, that are banned in at least 19 countries, to sink the oil.;">Many of the chemicals present in the oil and dispersants are known to cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, kidney damage, altered renal functions, irritation of the digestive tract, lung damage, burning pain in the nose and throat, coughing, pulmonary edema, cancer, lack of muscle coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat, difficulty breathing, delayed reaction time, memory difficulties, stomach discomfort, liver and kidney damage, unconsciousness, tiredness/lethargy, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, and hematological disorders.

While there are many examples of acute exposures like Pearcey and Dr. Soto's patient who developed cancer, his concern is that most residents who are being exposed will only show symptoms later.

"This latter group develops symptoms over years," he told Al Jazeera. "I'm concerned with the illnesses like cancer and brain degeneration for the future. This is very important because a lot of the population down here may not have symptoms. But people are unaware they are ingesting chemicals that are certainly toxic to humans and have significant effect on the brain and hormonal systems."

Dr. Soto is most concerned about the long-term effect of the toxins, because they have "tremendous implications in the human immune system, hormonal function, and brain function."

The toxic compounds in the oil and dispersants are "liposoluble," meaning they have a "high affinity for fat," according to Dr. Soto.

"The human brain is 70 percent fat," Dr. Soto added, "And these will similarly effect the immune cells, intestinal tract, breast, thyroid, prostate, glands, organs, and systems. This is also why this is so significant for children."

His particular concern for children involves toxins which cause "development of the depressed immune system and a resurgence of cancer."

Dr. Soto believes that for residents along the area of the Gulf Coast affected by BP's toxic chemicals, the solution is either to relocate or to engage in an intensive, long-term detoxification regime that includes intravenous detoxification programs.

All clear?

State health departments in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama had issued swimming advisories while BP's well continued to gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico last summer. Since then, however, all three states have declared their beaches, waters, and seafood safe from oil disaster related toxins.

Florida never issued any advisories, despite many residents reporting illnesses they attribute to the oil disaster.

US federal government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with President Barack Obama himself, have declared the Gulf of Mexico, its waters, beaches, and seafood, safe and open to the public.

In addition, most doctors in the effected coastal areas are not treating people as though they are suffering acute exposure to toxic chemicals.

While Al Jazeera has heard of incidences where doctors having received threats, and while many fear litigation for talking openly about patient illnesses being attributed to BP's oil disaster, most doctors are simply not trained to deal appropriately with acute chemical toxicity on a mass scale.

Dr. Mary Jo Ghory a general and pediatric surgeon, and a member of the American College of Surgeons, told Al Jazeera she believes most doctors along the Gulf Coast are unlikely to connect the illnesses they treat to BP’s chemicals, because of a lack of adequate training.

"Toxicology is not usually a course, and there is not much discussion of the toxic effects of chemical exposure," Dr. Ghory said. "When confronted with an array of confusing and widely varying symptoms related to chemical exposure, it is difficult for each individual physician to sort things out, especially without a definite profile of what to expect."

Dr. Soto says he is in a very unique - but isolated - position, as he is one of the only medical doctors he knows in the region who is treating people accordingly.

Like Dr. Ghory, Dr. Soto believes this is largely due to lack of training.

The Exxon Valdez legacy

Merle Savage was a cleanup worker for the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska in 1989, and she is still suffering health effects from chemicals in the oil and dispersants.

"The first few weeks I was on the beach spraying hot water onto the oil covered rocks," Savage explained to Al Jazeera. She was soon promoted to a foreman working on the support barges where workers returned each evening.

"So when they started spraying the dispersant, the crews that came back in from spraying it returned with it all over their suits and boats. They were sprayed off with water, and the steam that came off them was dispersant chemicals and we all breathed this in."

"The symptoms mimicked the flu, and everyone was coughing," Savage added, "Then it came on and stayed. I went to the doctor during some time off the cleanup, and at that time I was congested with bronchial problems. Then it became a stomach disorder. My whole system since then has been jeopardized."

After finishing her work on the oil disaster clean up, she returned to her home in Anchorage, where her problems worsened.

Savage moved out of Alaska, thinking that would improve her health. Yet after moving, a liver biopsy showed cirrhosis of the liver.

"I have always been physically active and very healthy," she explained, "I don't drink or smoke, and I eat health food."

Savage, now 72-years-old, completed a chemical detoxification program three years ago, and is now feeling better.

"There was 21 years of watching my body break down like that, and nothing I could do helped, until I learned I was chemically toxified, and could treat that appropriately," she said.

Reacting accordingly

Independent scientists and activist groups have been carrying out their own blood testing of Gulf Coast residents.

Recent results released in a report involve a 46-year-old male who lives 100 miles from the coast. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, was not a BP cleanup worker, yet tested as having higher levels of chemicals from BP's oil in his blood than the actual cleanup workers.

Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Mcarthur Fellow, analysed his blood and found the highest levels of ethylbenzene than anyone tested to date. Ethylbenzene is a form of benzene present in the body when it begins to break down; it is also present in BP's crude oil.

"Styrene, a chemical produced in industrial quantities from ethylbenzene was also found, along with Hexane. M,p-Xylene, a clear, colorless, flammable liquid that is refined from crude oil and is used as a solvent, was also present in the man's blood.

"I've never even seen a tar ball," the man, from Louisiana, told Al Jazeera, "I tried to stay away from all of it. So for me to have the high levels I have, tells me that everyone must have it."

Gregg Hall lived in Pensacola, Florida, and also had his blood tested by Dr. Subra.

"I have a cough that won't go away, my feet have been numb for months, I have headaches and nausea all the time," Hall said.

Hall recently moved to Idaho, and is among a growing number of Gulf Coast residents who feel that they are victims of an environmental catastrophe that has received inadequate response from the federal government.

Dr. Soto, whose list of patients related to the BP oil disaster continues to grow, feels similarly.

"It's criminal for the government to tell people to eat the contaminated seafood, and that it's alright for people go to our toxic beaches and swim in the contaminated water," Dr. Soto concluded, "This crisis has to be taken seriously by the government and health care community."

Dahr Jamail is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Dahr Jamail

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Great MMR Vaccine Fraud

Mother Jones

Must Reads
| Wed Jan. 5, 2011 10:00 PM PST

The belief that vaccines cause autism got its start in 1998 with a paper in the Lancet authored by Andrew Wakefield. We've known for a long time that it was a piece of crap: it used a nonrandom sample of 12 children, it depended largely on observations by parents, it was marred by egregious conflicts of interest, and in 2004 it was renounced by 10 of its co-authors and later retracted by the magazine. That's all bad enough. But it turns out that it was even worse: the paper was an outright fraud from start to finish. Aaron Carroll summarizes:

How bad was the deception?

First of all, in order for this all to make sense, the children had to have what is known as “regressive autism”. In other words, they had to have been fine — normal, in fact — and then get much worse after the MMR shot, developing autism. Children who obviously weren’t right from the start would have had something wrong already, and not have autism caused by the MMR vaccine. In Wakefield’s paper, he described 9 of the 12 children as having regressive autism. Mr. Deer’s investigation found that three of the 9 children he reported as regressive autism were not. Moreover, an additional 5 of the remaining 6 could not be proven to have regressive autism. So — at best — only 6 of the 12 children in the study had regressive autism; more likely, only one did.

Next, Wakefield’s paper alleged that a colitis brought on by the vaccine is what led the shot to become so damaging. In his paper, he reported that 11 of 12 of the children had a nonspecific colitis. What did the records show? That only 3 of the 12 had nonspecific colitis. The other 6 cases were falsified.

And, of course, the final piece of the puzzle was that symptoms needed to start not long after the vaccine was given. In Wakefield’s paper, 8 of the 12 patients reported symptoms days after the MMR. Mr. Deer’s investigation confirmed that for 10 of the 12 children, this was false. For the other two it was unknown. So — at best — 2 of the 12 children showed symptoms near the vaccine. At worst, none did.

And Lancet's editors added this: "Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted." The punchline, of course, is that parents panicked over Wakefield's results and lots of them decided not to get their kids vaccinated. As a result:

Measles has surged since Wakefield's paper was published and there are sporadic outbreaks in Europe and the U.S. In 2008, measles was deemed endemic in England and Wales.

The vaccine-autism quackery that Jenny McCarthy and her ilk continue to promote isn't just harmless fun and games. It's damaged untold children and might well have killed a few. It's long past time for it to stop.

Kevin Drum is a political blogger for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here. Get Kevin Drum's RSS feed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Psychosocial Genomics: The Body-Mind Connection

logo for horses-helping-troubled-teens.com

Psychosocial Genomics of Mind-Body Healing

What has psychosocial genomics have to do with mind-body healing? The answer is, "A lot." First, we need a few definitions so we can discuss this...


Psychosocial genomics can be defined as how personal consciousness, activities, and social interactions affect gene expression, and how gene expression affects these.

Another definition would be how psychological and social interactions and activities affect the genome in terms of gene expression and gene expression affects our psychology and social behaviors.

Rossi in his 2002 book, The Psychobiology of Gene Expression, defines psychosocial genomics as "how the subjective experiences of human consciousness, our perception of free will, and social dynamics can modulate gene expression, and visa versa."

A mouthful, no? Well, before we go further into this, we need some definitions for the definition. Sigh!

For the uninitiated, what is a "genome" anyway and what is gene expression?

If your "genetics" is a little rusty, you can get a quick review of some basic genetic concepts here.


In the strict meaning to the word, the genome constitutes the entire set of an individual's genes. In a more dynamic sense, it encompasses not only all the genes, but also the way those genes interact with each other.

Gene Expression

It is not just a matter of what genes an individual has, but what genes are being expressed, when they are being expressed, and to what degree or how much they are being expressed. "Express" here refers to the protein or RNA that is encoded by a gene. For example, for protein coding genes, how much of that protein is actually being produced? That is gene expression is regulated.

A gene is not just simply sitting there pumping out proteins (or RNA) but is dynamically adjusting its output based on feedback from the internal and external environments. You can get a further overview of the regulation of gene expression by clicking here.

Dynamic Dance of Gene Expression

From recent findings in the neurosciences and functional genomics we are beginning to understand how the interplay between behavioral state-related gene expression (a.k.a. nature) and activity-dependent gene expression (a.k.a. nurture) bring about healing through neurogenesis and learning.

Functional genomics has to do with how the genes in the genome function in response to the environment. During embryonic development for example, we see cascades of genes being turned on and off to varying degrees. Even from such simple interactions of touch, we see whole communities of genes responding. So when someone comes up and gives you a hug, rubs your back, etc., your genes respond to that. It is specific genes that respond however.

Mind-body healing is about neurogenesis or brain growth. For neurogenesis to occur, the genes involved have to produce their proteins and have them available for nerve cells (neurons) to use.

As reviewed in the neurogenesis webpage, three things stimulate brain growth: novelty, a variable environment, and exercise. One of the most powerful of these for psychosocial genomics is what Rossi (2002) refers to as the novelty-numinosum-neurogenesis process.


Novelty (that is doing or experiencing something really different) can lead to numinous experiences and numinous experiences are novel.

Numinous refers to supernatural or mystical experience. They are filled with the presence of the sacred or divine. Maslow's Peak Experiences are of this nature. Gerald May (see Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology) refers to these as unitive experiences. They have also been called religious conversion experiences. Buddhism would refer to them as enlightenment experiences (satori or samadi). To a lesser degree they are related to the Aha-experiences that occur during psychotherapy.

These experience are novel and powerful and can generate neurogenesis and healing. They can result in major reorganization of our mind's inner world. This can be life changing.

Darwinian evolution at the level of mind

What novelty and numinous experience do is generate a type of Darwinian variability. Darwinian variability is to mind-body healing and psychosoical genomics as genetic variation is to biological evolution.

Darwinian evolution, that is the biological evolutionary process, turns on the presence of genetic variation. Natural selection then selects for those variants that increase survival and/or reproduction.

Our immune system works similarly. When we are confronted with a disease (virus, bacteria, etc.), a lot of variable immune cells are generated--sort of a hyper mutation process. When one of the mutated immune cells matches up with the invading organism, the matching immune cells undergoes rapid growth and division so that lots and lots of those immune cells are produced and we heal.

Likewise, mind-body healing process requires a type of variation, but at the level of neurons and their interconnecting synapses. Powerful experiences like numinous ones, apparently generate a lot of variation and then the minds natural selection mechanism selects those that are adaptive.

Additional reading:

Rossi, Earnest. 2002. The Psychobiology of Gene Expression. Difficult to read but an incredible journey.

When the Body Says No: How Emotions Can Cause or Prevent Deadly Disease



Physician Gabor Maté argues too many doctors ignore what was once a commonplace assumption, that emotions are implicated in the development of illnesses and in their healing.

Editor's note: the following is an interview with Canadian physician and bestselling author Gabor Mate, on the relationship between emotions and the body.

Dr. Maté argues too many doctors seem to have forgotten what was once a commonplace assumption, that emotions are deeply implicated in both the development of illness, addictions and disorders, and in their healing.

Dr. Maté came on Democracy Now! this year to discuss his book When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection. Based on medical studies and his own experience with chronically ill patients at the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital, where he was the medical coordinator for seven years, Dr. Maté argues that stress and individual emotional makeup play critical roles in an array of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Speaking to us this time from Vancouver -- it was actually during the Vancouver Olympics -- Dr. Maté began by explaining his analysis of the mind-body connection.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: You know, the traditional medicines of China for 3,000 years, the ayurvedic medicine of India, and the tribal shamanic medicines of all cultures around the world have always taken for granted that mind and body can’t be separated. Now, Western medicine has cleaved the two apart for, really, 2,000 years. Socrates already criticized the doctors of his day for separating the mind from the body. And the irony -- in fact, the tragedy -- is that now we have the Western science that shows, incontrovertibly and in great detail, that mind and body can’t be separated, and so that any attempt to do so leaves the medical practitioner short of many tools to help clients. And, of course, it leaves patients short of what they need for their own healing.

The point now is that the emotional centers of the brain, which regulate our behaviors and our responses and our reactions, are physiologically connected with -- and we know exactly how they’re connected -- with the immune system, the nervous system and the hormonal apparatus. In fact, it’s no longer possible, scientifically, to speak of these as separate systems, as if immunity was separate from emotions, as if the nervous system was separate from the hormonal apparatus. There’s one system, and they’re wired together by the nervous system itself and joined together by chemical messengers that they all secrete, and so that whatever happens emotionally has an impact immunologically, and vice versa. So, for example, we know now that the white cells in the circulation of our -- of the blood can manufacture every hormone that the brain can manufacture, and vice versa, so that the brain and the immune system are always talking to one another.

So, in short, we have one system. The science that studies it is called psychoneuroimmunology. And scientifically, it’s not even controversial, but it’s completely lacking from medical practice.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, Dr. Maté, by the mind-body -- by the Bermuda Triangle?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the Bermuda Triangle is that the research is done. For example, let me give you a couple of examples. Three years ago or four years ago, a study presented at the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s International Congress on Women’s Health, a study that was written up in the online version of a major North American medical journal called Circulation, showed that women -- over a 10-year period, they followed 1,700 women -- over a 10-year period, women who were unhappily married and didn’t express their emotions were four times as likely to die as those women who were unhappily married and did express their feelings. In other words, the non-expression of emotion was associated with a 400 percent increase in the death rate. And this study was done in the States, part of a major population study.

Now, you would think that study would send every physician in North America trying to figure out the mind-body connection. But these studies get published, and they sink without a trace. There was a study two years ago that showed that children of mothers who are stressed and depressed are themselves, the children, are more likely to have asthma. Again, the mind-body connection. You’d think that study alone would send every physician running to figure out the mind-body connection. But again, these studies are done; they disappear without a trace, and they have no impact on medical practice. And that’s what I mean by the Bermuda Triangle, is that we have the research; we just don’t pay attention to it, as like if it never happened.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about emotions like anger sharing with our immune system the same role of defending our boundaries, saying when we repress emotions, we may also repress our immune defenses. How does that play out in various diseases?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, when I looked at the kind of people that would be coming under my care in palliative care, but also the kind of people who would get sick when I was in family practice, a number of salient characteristics presented themselves. One was the repression of anger. People didn’t know how to express negative emotion. They were afraid to do so or did not know when they were angry. People who were pleasers, they tried to always not to disappoint other people. They never knew how to say no. They took on everything without a murmur, because they saw their role as always being the caregivers and the caretakers. And they had an exceedingly powerful sense of duty, role and responsibility.

Now, if you look at the role of healthy assertion of boundaries and anger, for example, it’s actually there to protect you. I’m talking about healthy anger. It’s not there to attack anybody; it’s just there to protect your boundaries. That’s the same role as the immune system have. The immune system also functions like a brain. It has memory, it has reactive capacity, and it has learning capacity. In fact, the immune system has been called the “floating brain.” And it’s in interaction with the brain up in our heads.

Now, women, for example, with breast cancer, who don’t know how to express anger, they’ve been shown to have diminished activity of a group of immune cells called natural killer cells. Natural killer cells attack foreign bacteria, virus and also malignant cells. In other words, they protect our boundaries. Women who don’t know how to express their boundaries emotionally, they suppress their boundaries immunologically, and therefore they’re more likely to develop disease. The same is true, of course, of men, so that the immune system is in constant interaction with our emotional responses.

In another study with the immune system, medical students under the stress of examination were found to have diminished activity of their natural killer cells, these immune cells. But those students who were emotionally isolated were most likely to have diminished activity of their immune system. In other words, another fact that’s important is our relationship with other people. And the Los Angeles UCLA psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Siegel, has coined a phrase “interpersonal neurobiology,” to indicate that our biology of our brains, but indeed of our whole bodies, is in interaction with our personal relationships. So how we express ourselves in those relationships, or how we suppress ourselves, has a lot to do with our health.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk particularly about autoimmune diseases and their connection -- well, that mind-body connection, like, for example, rheumatoid arthritis.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: A case example I give in the book is a young woman who was preparing Rosh Hashanah dinner one night for the family, Rosh Hashanah being the Jewish new year that falls in September. I called her “Rachel” in the book. And she was working very hard. She was at her mother’s place cooking dinner, and she was in a real hurry, because she had to finish by 5:00, when her brother was going to arrive with his family, and he didn’t like her. He didn’t want to be at the dinner. So she had to finish the dinner and leave before he arrived. And I asked her, “Are you serious? You’re making dinner for a family that you’re not going to take part in yourself? Why?” And she said, “Well, because the family should be together for Rosh Hashanah, shouldn’t they?”

Well, she never finished the meal. Her body said no. She came down with severe inflammation in all her joints, and she was rushed to the hospital with her first malignant outbreak of rheumatoid arthritis. And that self-suppression is typical for people that develop rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s also typical for people that develop ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I talk about the example of Lou Gehrig, if I may tell you about that. Lou Gehrig was this great baseball player, a teammate of Babe Ruth’s on the New York Yankees. And he set a record for consecutive games played that stood for nearly sixty years. Now, Gehrig wasn’t just a great athlete. He was also dutiful. He -- it’s not that he was never hurt. At one point, his hands were x-rayed. It turns out his fingers had been fractured seventeen separate times. And his teammates described him as grimacing like a mad monkey in agony when he fielded the ball. But he never took himself out of a game, because he was too dutiful to his own self-image and also to the fans and to the owners. Now, that sense of responsibility, and not looking after yourself, is totally typical of everybody who develops ALS.

And it goes back to their childhoods. Lou Gehrig’s father was an alcoholic, and Gehrig learned very early in life that he had to take care of others, as the children of alcoholics often do. And that then became his pattern until he could no longer drag himself around the baseball diamond because of the ALS, which in North America, of course, is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about children, when it comes to this? And then expand, because, Gabor, a few weeks ago we were talking about addictions, and that’s both, what, heroin addiction, but expanding it to other addictions, as well, and the role of childhood. And in doing this, though you talked about it before, talk about your own.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, again, in the book When the Body Says No, I give the example of my visiting my mother one day in a nursing home. My mother had muscular dystrophy, which is a degenerative disease of the muscles. It’s hereditary, runs in our family. And so, she could no longer walk, get out of bed, even feed herself very well, so she was in a nursing home, mentally completely with it and emotionally very strong.

So I’m walking down the hall of the nursing home that day, and I’m limping a little bit. And why am I limping? Because that morning I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee, which I had to have because I tore up cartilage in my knee jogging on cement. So I have a little bit of a limp that afternoon. When I get to my mother’s room, I suppress the limp. The limp disappears. I walk to her bed nonchalantly, greet her, we have a lovely visit. I walk out of the room with a perfectly normal gait, and when I shut the door behind me, my limp begins again.

And only later on did I think, “What am I doing here?” It wasn’t conscious. I didn’t do it deliberately. Of course, clearly, I was trying to protect my mom from the awareness of my pain. Now, my mother, at age 78, did not need to be protected from the fact that her middle-age son had to be with a limp the day of surgery. It was a childhood-ingrained mechanism going back, again, to my first year of life in the ghetto of Budapest, when, as I mentioned in my first visit to your program, we lived under Nazi occupation, a Jewish family. My father was away in forced labor. My mother was a highly stressed woman, trying to do her best to ensure my and her survival, which she was barely able to do. I learned as an infant to suppress my pain to protect her from it, because she already had too much, in order to protect my relationship with her. Now, those emotional patterns are ingrained in children from early on. And although I have no recollection of that time in my life, the memory of it lives in my cells and lives in my brain and shows up in my interactions with people, including in that example of trying to protect my mother.

So, the point is that human beings are shaped very early by what happens to them in life. As a matter of fact, they’re shaped already by what happens in uterus. After 9/11, after the World Trade disasters in those terrorist attacks, some women who were pregnant suffered PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. And depending on what stage of pregnancy they suffered the PTSD, when they measured their children’s cortisol levels -- cortisol being a body stress hormone -- at one year of age, those kids had abnormal cortisol levels. In other words, their stress apparatus had been negatively affected by the mother’s stress during pregnancy. Similarly, for example, when I looked at the stress hormone levels of the children of Holocaust survivors with PTSD, the greater the degree of PTSD of the parent, the higher the stress hormone level of the child.

So, how we see the world, whether the world is a hostile or friendly place, whether we have to always do for ourselves and look after others or whether we can actually expect and receive help from the world, whether or not the world is hostile or friendly, and indeed our stress physiology, is very much shaped by those early experiences. And that’s then what we act out much of our lives, and that’s then what interferes and affects our health later on.

The implication of this, Amy, for treatment is that when somebody comes in with a first episode of rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis, or even a diagnosis of cancer, it’s not enough to give them pills. It’s not enough to give them radiation or offer them surgery. They should also be talked to and invited to and encouraged to investigate how they live their lives and how they stress themselves, because I can tell you from personal experience and observation that people who do that, who take a broader approach to their own health, they actually do a lot better.

And I know people who have survived supposedly terminal diagnoses simply because they’ve taken their own mind-body unity, and I would say spiritual unity, as well, seriously, and they’ve gone beyond a narrow medical model of treatment. And I’m not here to disparage the value of the medical approach in which I was trained. I’m just saying that it’s hopelessly narrow, and it leaves many people without appropriate treatment and appropriate support.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Gabor Maté, you talk about adverse childhood -- adverse childhood stresses as ACEs --

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Yes, there was a --

AMY GOODMAN: -- and their connection also to addiction, this latest book that you have written, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: There was a number of large-scale studies in the United States done by very brilliant researchers called the ACE studies, A-C-E, adverse childhood experiences. An adverse childhood experience is a child being abused or violence in the family or a parent being jailed or extreme stress of poverty or a rancorous divorce, a parent being addicted, alcoholic and so on.

When it comes to addiction, these effects are addictive, so that if a child has a number of these adverse childhood experiences, his chance of becoming a drug addict later on, or any kind of an addict, go up exponentially. So a male child with six such adverse childhood experiences has a 4,600 percent increase in the risk of him becoming an injection-using substance addict than a male child with no such experiences -- in other words, a 46-fold increase in the risk.

And interestingly enough, those adverse childhood experiences also exponentially increase the risk of cancer and high blood pressure and heart disease and a whole range of other diseases, as well as suicide, of course, and early death. In other words, there’s a real connection between early childhood adversity and how a person lives their lives and a later appearance of addiction and diseases, physical and of course mental illnesses at the same time.

And if we don’t take this into account in medicine -- most of the time, people are not asked about these things in doctors’ offices, and they’re not explored. They’re not encouraged to explore their childhoods and the kind of impact that the childhood has on their adult behaviors.

AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up this part of our discussion, what do you think are the most useful ways people can deal with stress, with the mind-body connection, both people themselves and also what doctors should be telling their patients, or what patients should be telling their doctors?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: The body has many ways of saying no: almost any symptom, a stomach ache, a back spasm, a headache, nausea, dry mouth, poor sleep, muscle tension. I’m talking about relatively minor symptoms. These are all ways of the body saying no. As of course are the more severe conditions, like psoriasis or ulcerative colitis, all the ones that I’ve already mentioned. These are all ways of the body saying no.

We need to, first of all, to say and pay attention to what the body is saying to us. So if we have a symptom, don’t just go to the doctor and say, “Take this symptom away from me” -- yeah, ask for help -- but also explore what the body is saying no to. Usually you’ll find that in your life you’ve taken on too much, you’re suppressing yourself, you’re trying to please others too much. You’re living life along patterns that don’t express who you really are. So the symptom or the disease ought to be not just something that you want to get rid of; it ought to be the beginning of an exploration and investigation of how you live your life and how you might possibly live your life differently, in a more healthy fashion.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you think modern medicine is dealing better, Western medicine, with this, with the mind-body connection?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: There are encouraging signs. There’s certainly people like Jon Kabat-Zinn, who talks about stress and mindfulness, and Andrew Weil, who talks about the importance of nutrition and a more holistic approach. So there are many people doing great work.

But if I look at the profession as a whole, we’re doing a dismal job. And we’re spending billions of dollars on researches into cancer and so on that are never going to get us anywhere, because we ignore the life stresses that very often, if they don’t by themselves cause, they certainly contribute in a major way to the onset of disease. But we’re not looking at them. We’re not dealing with them. And we’re leaving people without the appropriate tools to restore their own health.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Gabor Maté, the Vancouver-based physician and bestselling author of four books: When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection; Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do about It; and, with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers; oh, and there’s his latest, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's Time to Protect Consumers from Toxic Chemicals

Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

It's Time to Protect Consumers from Toxic Chemicals

Because BPA is in canned food and receipts and on our money, it's virtually impossible to avoid.

by Lindsay Dahl

When most people hear the word "hormones," they have a flashback to high school science class or think of their adolescent children. But rarely do we think about staples of our everyday lives such as receipts, water bottles, and baby bottles. So what do hormones have to do with a host of consumer products?

It turns out there are three sources for hormones. They can naturally occur in our bodies, or you can wind up with them inadvertently through prescription drugs or consumer products. Yes, that's right--consumer products.

The chemical bisphenol A (generally referred to as BPA) has caught the public's attention recently, mainly due to its use in baby bottles, sippy cups, and canned food. BPA is a chemical that acts like a hormone, mimicking estrogen in our bodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies at levels that have shown to cause harm in laboratory studies.

By mimicking naturally occurring hormones, BPA can disrupt the body's normal functions. Because of this, it has been linked to a host of health effects: breast and prostate cancer, insulin resistance, early onset of puberty, and ADD/ADHD, as well as disrupting thyroid function and the body's production of other hormones.

A recent study by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the Washington Toxics Coalition called "On the Money" found that large amounts of BPA were found in receipts, which can transfer the chemical onto our skin. Even if you handle receipts carefully, they're contaminating the money we use everyday, making it virtually impossible to avoid BPA exposure.

So how did we get here? How is it that every day there seems to be a new chemical--in a different product--that could harm us? Unfortunately, our federal system for overseeing chemical safety is sorely broken. Last updated in the 1970s, our federal laws fail to ensure chemicals are safe before they end up on the market. The result has been widespread exposure to toxic chemicals in our homes.

There's formaldehyde in wrinkle-free clothes, lead in children's toys, BPA in receipts--the list is endless. For a consumer, it can be very overwhelming--what's safe to use and what's not? The good news is that there's a solution to the problem that doesn't involve buying more expensive products or having to carry a "products-to-avoid" list to your local retailer.

In the last session of Congress, champions of this issue introduced a bill that would require the government to update federal law governing chemicals in consumer products. The Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 (S 3209/ HR 5820) would take the burden off consumers and would instead require companies to ensure chemicals are safe before they enter our workplaces and homes. Even with the new political landscape, I'm hopeful that this new Congress will put commonsense limits on toxic chemicals.

We're all exposed to chemicals that act like hormones. We should collectively work toward a future where the only hormones in our bodies are those that our bodies naturally produce. I encourage you to call your members of Congress to ask them to support the Safe Chemicals Act in 2011. With leadership from our federal government, we can ensure that commonsense limits on toxic chemicals protect our families and health.

Lindsay Dahl is the deputy director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition dedicated to protect the public from toxic chemicals. For more information on BPA and its effects on our health, visit the coalition's website, www.saferchemicals.org.

What's in Fast Food Chicken? (Hint: It’s NOT Chicken)

Organic Authority

What's in Fast Food Chicken? (Hint: It’s NOT Chicken)

Written by Shilo Urban


Frying chicken is fairly simple, if a little messy. You dip pieces of chicken into a mix of egg and milk, roll them around in flour and spices, then cook the chicken in sizzling hot oil until the pieces are brown, crispy and delicious.

But wait! Don’t forget to add a dash of dimethylpolysiloxane, an anti-foaming agent made of silicone that is also used in Silly Putty and cosmetics.

Now add a heaping spoonful of tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), which is a chemical preservative and a form of butane (AKA lighter fluid). One gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse," according to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. Five grams of TBHQ can kill you.

Sprinkle on thirteen other corn-derived ingredients, and you're only about twenty shy as many ingredients as a single chicken nugget from McDonald’s. And you were using pulverized chicken skin and mechanically reclaimed meat for your chicken, right?

No one in his or her right mind would cook chicken like this. Yet every day, hoards of Americans consume these ingredients in Chicken McNuggets, which McDonalds claims are “made with white meat, wrapped up in a crisp tempura batter.”

However chicken only accounts for about 50% of a Chicken McNugget. The other 50% includes a large percentage of corn derivatives, sugars, leavening agents and other completely synthetic ingredients, meaning that parts of the nugget do not come from a field or farm at all. They come from a petroleum plant. Hungry?

Scariest perhaps is the fact that this recipe is a new and improved, “healthier” Chicken McNugget launched in 2003 after a federal judge called the deep-fried poultry bites “a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook.” Also terrifying is the fact that these McFrankenuggets are overwhelmingly marketed to children who love their fun shapes and kid-friendly size.

While McDonald’s is of course the poster child for fast food ire, if you look at the nutritional information for chicken at any fast food restaurant, the ingredient list will be dozens of items longer than the egg, flour, chicken and oil recipe you might use at home.

Eating fast food is a habit, but it is one that you can break? No doubt you rarely plan to have a delicious meal at Arby’s for dinner, a lingering lunch at Carl’s Jr. or a special breakfast at the Burger King in the airport. It just happens. You are late, tired, hungry, broke, or all of the above. You have no time, and you must find something to eat before you crash. All of a sudden a bright, friendly sign beckons from the side of the road: Drive-through!

In five minutes you are happily chowing down on an inexpensive, filling meal. But don’t be fooled – the true cost of fast food does not come out of your wallet, but out of your body, your health, and your years on this earth.

You can break the unhealthy fast food habit: educate yourself about the true ingredients of fast food items, plan ahead for your meals, carry healthy snacks like nuts to ward off hunger and cook healthy chicken recipes at home. Convince yourself that fast food is the most disgusting stuff on the planet and is harmful to you and to those you love. After reading this, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Full ingredient list for a Chicken McNugget (from McDonald’s website):

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Full ingredient list for my mother’s fried chicken:

Bone-in chicken pieces, egg, milk, flour, canola oil, salt & pepper.

Photo credit: Chargrillkiller



A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives


Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan