Aspartame linked to vision loss, cancer and other illnesses
Aspartame – sold under the brand names NutraSweet, Sugar Twin and Equal – is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners available on the market. It is used as a low-calorie sugar substitute in more than 6,000 processed products worldwide, especially in diet or sugar-free foods and beverages.
While it remains the most used artificial sweetener, it has also faced controversy in recent years. As more and more research links aspartame to severe health effects, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of this hidden poison and are trying to avoid it at all costs. That’s why Pepsi proactively removed it from their diet soda last year.
Complaints of various health issues have been filed since aspartame first appeared on the market in the 1980s. As reported by The Nutritional Source, aspartame is one of the most exhaustively studied chemicals in the human food supply, with more than 200 studies completed.
Dr. Betty Martini, the founder of the worldwide volunteer force Mission Possible World Health International, which is committed to removing aspartame from our food, notes that aspartame has brought more complaints to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than any other additive; it is responsible for 75 percent of such complaints.
Over the years, more than 90 side effects – including vision loss, seizures, brain tumors, cancer and mild rashes – have been associated with regular consumption of aspartame. Furthermore, it can mimic the symptoms of diseases such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, lupus, ADD, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue and depression.
When aspartame is processed by the body it breaks down into phenylalanine (50 percent), aspartic acid (40 percent) and methanol (or wood alcohol, 10 percent).
Aspartame can make you blind
We have all heard the stories about alcoholics ending up blind or dead after drinking methanol during Prohibition. Aspartame consists of 10 percent methanol which our body further breaks down into formaldehyde and formic acid. These compounds accumulate in the retina of the eye and destroy the optic nerve, causing vision loss and blindness.
Furthermore, methanol poisoning may cause central nervous system depression, and can lead to metabolic acidosis and coma.
As reported by Dr. Martini, in 1986 the Community Nutrition Institute petitioned the FDA to ban aspartame because so many people had gone blind and had seizures. Despite the apparent link, the FDA, backed up by the drug and chemical industry, refused to take aspartame out of production.
It messes with your brain
Excessive amounts of phenylalanine block the transport of essential amino acids to the brain, which contributes to reduced levels of dopamine and serotonin. While our brains need this amino acid, too much of it has been linked to emotional and behavioral disorders and brain damage.
Furthermore, too much aspartic acid, another amino acid present in aspartame, can cause over-stimulation and death of brain cells. It leaks too much calcium into the cells and triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which may damage and kill neurons.
G.D. Searle, the company behind the discovery of aspartame, was warned as early as 1971 that excess amounts of aspartic acid caused holes in the brain of mice and posed a serious threat to human health, yet nobody found it necessary to remove aspartame from the shelves.
Induces brain tumors
Before its approval, aspartame had been rejected multiple times over fears of brain tumors and cancer, the Huffington Post reported. In 1996, Dr. John Olney, who founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity, and attorney James Turner, attempted to stop the approval of aspartame.
Even the FDA’s own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross, told Congress that aspartame could cause brain tumors and brain cancer, and that approving it would violate the Delaney Amendment, which forbids putting anything in food known to cause cancer.
Sadly enough, Donald Rumsfeld – who was CEO of G.D. Searle and part of Reagan’s transition team – and Monsanto joined forces. In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the company that held the patent to aspartame. They managed to pull a few strings and played a substantial role in the approval of aspartame by the FDA.
If you need assistance in managing your aspartame intake, especially if you have diabetes, please give us a call and we can help y ou, in the comforts of your home, with all your healthcare concerns.
Health and Wellness Associates
Lack of Sleep and Diabetes Linked
New research links lack of sleep with heightened risk for type 2 diabetes in youth
A new review of scientific literature on the importance of sleep in youth suggests that a lack of sleep can lead to decreased appetite control and body weight regulation, all of which can raise risks for the development of type 2 diabetes.
The largest decline in sleep duration and poor sleep quality over the past decades has been seen in children and adolescents, a trend that earlier studies say may contribute to weight gain, increased risks for cardiovascular disease and poor mental health.
This new review of evidence, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, has looked at 23 studies on the topic of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and sleep variables to try and elucidate the mechanisms that may explain the association between the two.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, in Canada, reviewed studies that not only assessed risks from inadequate sleep, described as sleeping less than six hours per night – a two-hour or so sleep deficit compared to standard advice for children – but also sleep architecture.
A healthy sleep architecture refers to having the right number of restorative sleep cycles and rapid eye movement phases to feel sufficiently well-rested. An out of whack sleep architecture has been associated in past studies with insulin resistance.
In terms of sleep duration, researchers have found that the lowest risk for type 2 diabetes is observed, similar to the figure given for adults, at a minimum sleep duration of seven to eight hours per day.
Drawing from the findings of the different studies evaluated, they have identified a number of mechanisms by which the lack of sleep can elevate risks for type 2 diabetes among children.
One of them, perhaps the most prominent one, is the increased exposure to the stress hormone cortisol due to short sleep duration. This may contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat and subsequent increased insulin resistance.
The reason for this is that the authors also noted that the association between sleep quality and insulin resistance was not independent of the level of adiposity – the increase in the number of fat cells.
There may also be another phenomenon implicated that has to do with the nervous system which, in response to the stress of not sleeping, negatively influences the hormone leptin.
While we sleep, leptin usually rise to control appetite. However, when sleep is restricted, leptin gets inhibited. The inhibition of leptin leads to an increase in hunger and a decrease in satiety. These effects can translate into progressive weight gain.
Sleep is a modifiable lifestyle habit associated with the prevention of type 2 diabetes. One randomised trial that was part of the review conducted among children aged 8 to 11 years showed that increasing sleep duration by just 1.5 hour per night over a week resulted in lower food intake and lower body weight.
Although more studies are needed to shed light on the mechanisms linking insufficient sleep with type 2 diabetes risk, there’s no possible risk in children and teens improving their sleep and getting enough of it on a regular schedule each night.
If you need help, have concerns or just want a healthcare plan for YOU, then contact us and we will help you.
Health and Wellness Associates
The Seven Most Dangerous Prescriptions You Can Take
A damning Harvard University report has advised that according to the European Commission, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year – making prescription drugs the 4th highest cause of death, on a par with stroke.
We could get into legal trouble if we advised you to go against the recommendations of your doctor; however, we can advise you to be as informed as possible about the risks involved in taking prescription meds.
According to the World Health Organization, the pharmaceutical industry is worth 300 billion dollars annually – with an additional hundred million expected to add to the value in the next three years. A third of this entire multi-billion-dollar market is controlled by ten of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. According to CMR International, a partner of Thomas Reuters, global pharmaceutical sales reached one trillion dollars in 2014 and will be booming to 1.3 trillion by 2018.
It goes without saying that this is big business – but like every big business, there is a dark side as well. Can we really trust the research – seeing as the same companies selling the pills are funding many of the medical journals and medical schools? And then we have the issue of doctors receiving kickbacks for prescribing certain drugs, after being “educated” on the benefits of the drugs by pharma salesmen.
Remember that doctors do not get paid from your insurance company unless they write a prescription or a procedure, or a follow up with another doctor.
Take a look at this list of seven of the most dangerous prescription drug types and see how they can hurt you.
#1: Sleeping Pills (OTC and prescribed)
The use of sleeping pills has been associated with an increased risk factor for stroke. A study published by Petrov, et. al. in 2014 revealed that over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills increased a person’s risk for stroke, independently and beyond any of the other known risk factors like blood pressure, personal history of heart disease, and vices like smoking and drinking alcohol. Isn’t it worrying that compared to all other factors that place a person at risk for stroke, sleeping pills top that list?
This includes any medications that make you drowsy i.e. Benadryl, Night time Nyquil, Tylenol Pm, Valerian, and such.
#2: Cholesterol Drugs (Statins)
Did you know that deaths attributed to heart failure more than doubled from 1989 to 1997, while statins were first given pre-market approval in 1987? This is an alarming “coincidence” – to say the least. Interference with production of Co-Q10 by statin drugs has been proposed as the most likely explanation.
Drugs that are meant to control your cholesterol levels may also be damaging your liver. Hepatotoxicity is not completely absent among people who undergo statin therapy, but it is uncommon. However, several studies have discovered that statins cause severe liver damage, especially in in dosages higher than 50 milligrams per day – a scary thing to realize when statin dosages can climb up to 80 milligrams per day when a person has high or uncontrollable cholesterol levels. Atorvastatin, Simvastatin, Fluvastatin, Lovastatin, and Pravastatin have all been linked to liver injury.
#3: Blood Pressure Drugs (Beta-blockers, Calcium channel blockers)
Among the different drugs prescribed to manage hypertension, calcium channel blockers have been found to be the most common ones linked to adverse drugs reactions (ADRs). The most common ones linked to CCBs are bipedal edema, chest pain, hypersensitivity, and difficulty of breathing. A recent study published in 2014 discovered that immediate-release CCB use was positively associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. On the other hand, beta-blockers have been associated with several adverse side effects, such as increased incidence of post-operative dysrhythmia, troponin elevation, and heart failure, risk for hepatic failure, and small-for-gestational age births.
#4: Alzheimer’s Drugs
While the positive effects of psychotropic drugs have been well-documented, there have also been studies revealed their adverse effects. A study conducted on the pharmacological treatment of Alzheimer’s disease found that antipsychotics increased a person’s risk for developing diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and stroke, and even overall mortality. The most popular drug prescribed for Alzheimer’s is Aricept or Donezepil and has been linked to nausea, diarrhea, malaise, dizziness, and insomnia.
#5: Arthritis Drugs (NSAIDs)
It is so easy to be prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for pain, and even easier to purchase one from the pharmacy. What most people fail to realize is that NSAIDs are one of the leading causes of drug-related morbidity, especially in elderly and immunocompromised people. They have been directly linked to gastrointestinal problems, destroying the inner lining of the stomach and increasing the risk for ulceration and internal bleeding. Renal effects have also been linked to NSAID use, causing fluid and sodium retention and hypertension (and eventual cardiovascular problems). In worse case scenarios, people with severe kidney problems might even require dialysis. This seemingly innocuous drug is one of if not the most dangerous ones on this list.
#6: Diabetes Drugs (Actos, Avanida, Byetta, Metformin)
Another class of drugs to watch out for are those prescribed to manage high blood sugar, a characteristic symptom of diabetes. Liver damage has been linked to metformin use. In a study focusing on different ADRs, metformin-induced hepatitis was seen in a case of a person taking 500 milligrams of Metformin three times a day and insulin glargine. Liver damage can manifest as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and discoloration of the urine and stool. Further liver damage can cause uncontrollable bleeding and insufficient clearing of toxins from the blood.
#7: Chemotherapy (Tamoxifen)
The one category of drug on the list that is universally regarded as harmful to a person’s health is chemotherapeutic drugs. When people diagnosed with cancer are advised to undergo chemotherapy, they are prepped for the side effects they will undoubtedly experience along with it. Chemotherapeutic drugs are strong enough to kill rapidly proliferating cancer cells – however there is collateral damage: Healthy cells are also killed and it’s the oft-repeated hope with chemotherapy that it “kills the cancer and doesn’t kill you”. Weakness, hair loss, and appetite loss, are the mildest of these side effects, with more serious ones involving blood in the urine or stool, high-grade fever, severe pain over the chemotherapy infusion site, vomiting and diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Chemotherapy is known to kill a significant number of cancer patients.
Try to do everything you can not to start any of these medications. Once you have taken them for a while, your body gets lazy and does not want to work, and lets the pill do all the work. Then you are on them for life.
Call us if you need help getting off medications, or hopefully never getting on any medications.
Health and Wellness Associates
What are the symptoms of ‘silent killer’ set to kill more than breast tumors?
Pancreatic cancer will claim an increasing number of lives over the next decade and overtake breast cancer to become the fourth most deadly form of the disease overall, a charity has warned.
It is often difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer early enough to stop it from spreading, because the symptoms are so vague.
A lack of new diagnosis methods means that by 2026, 11,279 people are predicted to die every year from the disease – a 28 per cent rise on the 8,817 in 2014, said Pancreatic Cancer UK.
The only live-saving treatment available for pancreatic cancer is an operation to remove the tumor.
However, in 92 per cent of cases, the cancer is not caught early enough for surgery, meaning it has the lowest survival rate of all cancers.
The signs of pancreatic cancer, sometimes called the ‘silent killer’, may come and go at first. These are the most common symptoms.
Anyone with jaundice – yellow skin and whites of the eyes – should see their GP straight away. People who develop jaundice may also feel itchy and notice pale feces and dark urine.
Jaundice is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (Rex Features)
The yellow pigmentation is caused by a build-up of a substance called bilirubin.
It can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions such as hepatitis and gallstones, but should always be taken seriously and everyone over 40 with the condition is referred to a specialist for testing.
The pancreas is a large gland buried deep inside the body and a common symptom of pancreatic cancer is pain the tummy area, which can come and go and spread to the back.
The pain is often worse when lying down or after eating.
Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
Sudden, unintentional weight loss can be the sign of a serious illness like pancreatic cancer, although it can also take place after a stressful event.
Weight loss can take place because the pancreas plays an important role in the digestive system, which can be disrupted by the cancer, so food is not properly absorbed by the body.
Indigestion is a symptom of pancreatic cancer but has many other causes and isn’t usually linked to the disease – making it more difficult for doctors to diagnose.
Changes to bowel habits
Because digestion is affected by pancreatic cancer, the body can stop breaking down fat in food, which is then excreted in large amounts.
This can make stools large, pale and oily, with a particularly disgusting smell. They can also be difficult to flush down the toilet.
Diarrhea and constipation can also be caused by the disease.
Another symptom that can be caused by other health problems, some people with pancreatic cancer find it difficult to swallow and may find themselves coughing, choking or feeling as if food is stuck in their throat.
Pancreatic cancer can make you vomit and feel sick.
Recently diagnosed diabetes
The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels, but cancer can interrupt this process.
Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels become too high. This can be caused by a lack of insulin, so it is recommended that GPs refer patients over 60 who have lost weight and have recently been diagnosed with diabetes for a scan.
Any one of these symptoms can be just that. One Symptom!
If you have any questions, please call us, and we can work with you on a personalized health care plan, and hopefully take those worries away from you.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived: K. Foster Yahoo Health
SILVER SPRING, Md. – The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Friday that a group of drugs used to treat diabetes can cause severe and persistent joint pain.
A warning is being added to the labels of all types of dipeptidyl peptidase-4, or DPP-4, inhibitors, including sitagliptin, saxagliptin, linagliptin, and alogliptin, about the risk for joint pain.
DPP-4 inhibitors are used to lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes as part of treatment programs that also include changes to diet and exercise.
“Patients should not stop taking their DPP-4 inhibitor medicine, but should contact their health care professional right away if they experience severe and persistent joint pain,” the agency said in a press release. “Health care professionals should consider DPP-4 inhibitors as a possible cause of severe joint pain and discontinue the drug if appropriate.”
FDA researchers reviewed cases of severe joint pain due to the drugs as listed in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System database, finding that patients developed persistent pain in their joints anywhere from one day to years after beginning the treatment.
Most patients’ pain went away within a month of discontinuing their use of the drugs, however those who either restarted the same drug or another found their pain returned.
The agency is asking patients and caregivers to report pain connected with DPP-4 inhibitors to their MedWatch program.
Health and Wellness Associates
Do You Already Have This Key Diabetes Warning Sign?
Men have it. Women have it. Even some children have it these days.
It goes by many “cute” names: muffin top, beer belly, love handles…
These names my sound cute, but you need to cringe.
We know there’s nothing cute about belly fat.
That’s because the inflammatory chemicals produced inside belly fat trigger diabetes and other diseases. And if you do develop diabetes, you are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease or stroke.
Your doctor may tell you to lose weight or to exercise — while writing you a prescription that does nothing to cure diabetes.
You find out after a short time, that this does not work for you. You have tried many diet plans, and different approaches to loosing that muffin top, beer belly and love handle.
Give us a call if you need to loose weight, and nothing is working. It is most likely not your fault for trying so hard.
Health and Wellness Assocaites
Not only is this an excellent low carb recipe, it is great for diabetics.
Low Carb: Chinese Broccoli Beef Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutesCook time: 15 minutesYield: Serves 3 to 4
Pro tip: put the steak in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before slicing, it will be firmer and easier to slice thin.
3/4 pound flank or sirloin, sliced thinly across the grain
3/4 pound broccoli florets
2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced or smushed through garlic smusher
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
For the beef marinade
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 Marinate the beef: Stir together the beef marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the beef slices and stir until coated. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2 Prepare the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
3 Blanch or steam the broccoli: Cook the broccoli in a small pot with at least an inch of boiling water until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.
4 Stir-fry the beef: Heat a large frying pan or wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and instantly evaporates upon contact. Add the cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the beef and immediately spread the beef out all over the surface of the wok or pan in a single layer (preferably not touching). Let the beef fry undisturbed for 1 minute. Flip the beef slices over, add the garlic to the pan and fry for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until no longer pink.
5 Add sauce, cornstarch, and broccoli: Pour in the sauce and the cornstarch dissolved in water, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, 30 seconds. Stir in the the broccoli.
Health and Wellness Associates
KEEP IT COOL
A striking new study published in the journal Diabetes suggests that simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in winter may help us attack belly fat while we sleep. Colder temperatures subtly enhance the effectiveness of our stores of brown fat—fat keeps you warm by helping you burn through the fat stored in your belly. Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: a neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the subjects had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. (And yes, that means they lost belly fat.)
Call us for your personalized healthcare plan. Each body is different, and all suggestions are not for all people.
Health and Wellness Associates
Insulin Without a Prescription
Many people do not realize that they can buy insulin without a prescription. But it’s possible to buy insulin over the counter (OTC), or without a prescription, in all states except Indiana.
This less expensive option exists for people caught between a diabetes diagnosis and the difficulty of having inadequate, or no health insurance. Also for people who are on vacation and loose their insulin and can not get another.
If you do not know how to administer the insulin safely, every pharmacist should know how. If not, RUN! To another pharmacist
The insulins available without a prescription are not generics of up-to-date brand name insulins. They are older, less concentrated formulations:
R, or Regular insulin which is short-acting, and
N insulin, an intermediate-acting version that is taken twice daily.
No long-acting OTC insulin is available for people requiring basal doses. So, please do not compare dosages. If you take insulin once a day, you will need to take “N” twice a day, at least.
The FDA points out that these older insulin formulas, used successfully for more than 60 years, were approved for OTC sale since they “did not require a licensed medical practitioner’s supervision for safe use.” Their availability is intended to increase patient safety by making insulin obtainable “quickly in urgent situations, without delays.”
- An incorrect administration (e.g., wrong dosing, poor timing) may lead to erratic glucose levels, and potentially fatal high or low blood sugar episodes. Solution, you will need to check your glucose levels more often.
- The level of daily glucose control people obtain using OTC insulin is questionable. Though the drug quality is high, it takes longer to metabolize in the body than newer versions. This means users of R and N insulins need to maintain stability in their diet and daily activities—something they may not be aware of, or are unable to manage. Solution, more protein in your diet, and eat as close as you can to the same time each day.
“They [patients] need to know what they are doing and understand the units, timing, and type of insulin,” says George Grunberger, PhD, president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. “It comes down to this—will the patient be able to achieve glucose control safely?”
Yet, despite the cautions associated with OTC insulin use, the medical consulting firm IMS Health reports approximately 15 percent of those who purchase insulin get it without a prescription.
Some insulin users can look forward to cutting costs with biosimilar insulins. A biosimilar called Basaglar should be available by the end of this year; savings of about 15 to 20 percent are anticipated.
Bosimilar drugs are nearly exact replicas of previously approved medications. Basaglar, for instance, is a copy of the insulin glargine, popularly known as Lantus. More cost saving biosimilar insulins will be coming down the pike as original drug patents expire.
Please share with family and loved ones. If you are having concerns about your personal healthcare, please call us.
Health and Wellness Associates
- P. Carrothers
“gender-bending” chemicals causing males of all species to become more female “
Fast Food Identified as a Significant Source of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals
Fast food contains many ingredients that compromise health, but did you know these convenience meals also come with an extra serving of endocrine-disrupting chemicals? According to recent research, people who eat drive-through hamburgers and take-out pizzas have higher levels of phthalates in their urine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data on nearly 8,900 Americans of all age groups between 2003 and 2010 as part of a nationwide survey on health and nutrition. Participants reported everything they’d eaten in the past 24 hours and provided a urine sample.
“Fast food” was broadly defined as food from restaurants without table service and/or those with takeout or drive-through service. So besides McDonalds , Pizza Hut, and similar establishments, it also includes sandwich shops, Starbucks, and other “casual dining” restaurants. As reported by Time magazine:4
“The new report,5 published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that people who ate more fast food also had higher levels of two substances that occur when phthalates — which make plastic more flexible — break down in the body. “
Fast Food Consumption Significantly Increases Phthalate Levels in Your Body
The two phthalate metabolites identified in this particular study were:6
- Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a highly lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical that is loosely chemically bonded to the plastic, allowing it to leach out into other fat-containing solutions in contact with the plastic.
Animal studies show that exposure to DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly the developing testes of prenatal and neonatal males.
- Di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), a commonly used plasticizer in flexible PVC products.7While DiNP has been considered harmless from a health and environmental perspective, more recent research suggests it may in fact have similar effects as DEHP and other phthalates.
For example, a 2015 study8 linked both DEHP and DiNP to increased insulin resistance in adolescents.
Approximately one-third of the respondents reported eating fast food in the past 24 hours, and according to the authors, “that alone tells you the public health impact of this type of food preparation.”9
Those who got at least 35 percent of their calories from fast food had nearly 24 percent higher levels of DEHP and 39 percent higher DiNP in their urine compared to those who had not consumed any fast food in that time frame.
In those who ate some fast food, but got less than 35 percent of their calories from it, DEHP and DiNP levels were still nearly 16 and 25 percent higher respectively.
Avoiding Fast Food Can Be a Simple Way to Cut Phthalate Exposure
As noted by the authors, many scientific and clinical bodies, such as the Endocrine Sociery , now suggest reducing exposure to phthalates — especially during pregnancy.
The problem is they’re so widely used, making avoidance difficult. According to this research, simply abstaining from fast food is one way you can significantly reduce your exposure.
Personal care products are another major source of phthalates that are within your control. Pregnant women and young children are at particularly high risk when it comes to these kinds of chemicals. As noted by CNN:10
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a report11in 2013 stating that high levels of exposure to phthalates could lead to adverse reproductive outcomes in women.
Research has linked these chemicals with increased risk of fibroids and endometriosis, which can cause infertility, and reduced IQ and behavioral problems in children exposed in the womb. High phthalate levels have also been linked with diabetes risk in women and adolescents…
‘This study shows that fast food may be an especially important source of phthalate exposure,’ said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program.”
Phthalates From Plastic Gloves, Conveyor Belts, Packaging — It All Adds Up
The researchers point out that one reason fast food exposes you to higher levels of plasticizing chemicals is because workers also use plastic gloves when handling each and every ingredient, and that’s a source of phthalate contamination too, over and beyond the actual packaging.
Japan banned vinyl gloves for use in food establishments back in 2001 due to their phthalate content. In the U.S. however, use of vinyl gloves has actually increased over the years due to the rising prevalence of latex allergies.
While additional research needs to be done to identify which foods pose the greatest risk, the study did find that meats and grain-based food items — even if they were not from a fast food restaurant — tended to result in higher phthalate exposure.
The exact reason for this is still unclear, but it could be related to the way they’re processed, or because the fats they contain bind phthalates more efficiently. That said, fast food as a category had the strongest association with elevated phthalate levels by far.
Researcher Ami Zota notes that previous studies have compared phthalate levels in food before and after packaging, showing that levels rise 100 percent after being packaged. This clearly demonstrates these chemicals do leach out of the plastic and into the food.
Moreover, if the food is packaged when hot, the migration of phthalates is sped up. Findings such as these are hotly refuted by the chemical industry which, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still maintains that phthalates are both safe and relatively stable within the plastic.
Chemical Industry Insists Decades’ Old Safety Levels Are Adequate
Both the National Restaurant Association and the American Chemical Society responded to the study in question saying the phthalate levels found in fast food are “well below” levels the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems potentially harmful to human health.12
However, EPA safety levels for DEHP have not been revised since 1988. And, according to study author Ami Zota: “The same range of concentrations measured in this [group] overlaps with the range of concentrations that have been measured in some of epidemiological studies that find adverse health effects,” so EPA levels may simply be too lenient.
In fact, some researchers suggest there may be NO safe level of phthalates in humans. Dr. Leo Trasande, an associate professor of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine who has researched phthalates in food, told Civil Eats:13
“No studies in humans have found a safe level of phthalate exposure. We know there are effects of low level exposure. For example, the levels found in this new study are comparable to those previously linked to blood pressure increases14 and metabolic effects15 in children.”
Health Risks Associated With Phthalates
Phthalates are one of the groups of “gender-bending” chemicals causing males of all species to become more female “These chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, causing testicular cancer, genital deformations, low sperm counts and infertility in a number of species, including polar bears, deer, whales and otters. Scientists suspect phthalates may affect human fertility and reproduction in similar ways.
Animal studies have also linked phthalate exposure to a wide range of other health problems, including the following (see chart below)16,17,18 The reason for their diverse effects has to do with the fact that they mimic natural sex hormones. This is particularly problematic in children who are still growing and developing, as the glands of your endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of your body.
Besides being instrumental in sexual function and reproductive processes, your endocrine system also plays a role in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism.
|Reduced IQ in children19,20 (phthalates may affect the activity of aromatase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, which plays an important role in brain development)||“Decreased dysgenesis syndrome” involving cryptorchidism (undescended testicles), hypospadias (birth defect in which opening of urethra is on the underside of the penis instead of at the end), and oligospermia (low sperm count)|
|Interference with sexual differentiation in utero||Enlarged prostate glands, testicular cancer, breast cancer, and uterine fibroids|
|Impaired ovulatory cycles and polycystic ovary disease (PCOS)||Numerous hormonal disruptions and metabolic disease|
|Early or delayed puberty||Disturbed lactation|
|Toxicity to developing male reproductive systems21,22||Neurodevelopmental delays, inattention, hyperactivity, and symptoms of autism23|
|Miscarriage and preterm birth||Allergies and respiratory problems24|
Phthalates Are Everywhere
Phthalates are among the most pervasive of all known endocrine disrupters. According to EPA estimates, more than 470 million pounds of phthalates are produced each year.25
They’re primarily used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible and resilient, but they can also be found in air fresheners, dryer sheets, and personal care products like shampoo, shower gels, lotions, and makeup. Their prevalence in personal care products is thought to be the reason why women tend to have higher levels of phthalates in their system than men.
Furniture, upholstery, mattresses, and wall coverings can also contain phthalates. They’ve even been detected in infant formula and baby food (likely because they migrated from the packaging materials). They are also used as “inert” ingredients in pesticides.26
Considering how ubiquitous they are, avoiding phthalates entirely may be near impossible. Being mindful when shopping for food, household, and personal care products can go a long way toward minimizing your exposure, but the risks these chemicals pose really demand a more universal response.
As Zota told Time magazine:27 “Our study helps shed light on one potential way that people can reduce their exposure to these chemicals through their diet, but it also points to a broader problem of widespread chemicals in our food systems that will require many different types of stakeholders to get involved in order to fix it.”
Tips to Help You Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
To limit your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA), keep the following guidelines in mind when shopping for food, personal care and household products.
|Avoid fast-food restaurant fare and processed goods. Eating a diet focused on locally grown, ideally organic, whole foods cooked from scratch will significantly limit your exposure to not only phthalates and BPA but also a wide array of other chemicals, including synthetic food additives and pesticides.||Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Besides phthalates, avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.|
|Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans; be aware that even”BPA-free” plastics typically leach other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad for you as BPA.||Switch over to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics.
EWG’s Skin Deep database28 can help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.
|Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap as it too contains phthalates that can migrate into your food (especially if you microwave food wrapped in plastic).||Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or glass doors.|
|Use glass baby bottles and drinking bottles.||Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.|
|Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants .
Under the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for DEHP of 0.006 mg/dL, or 6 ppb.29
Note that the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates DEHP levels only for public water supplies, not for well water.
|Look for fragrance-free products. One artifical fragrance can contain hundreds — even thousands — of potentially toxic chemicals, including phthalates.
Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a mishmash of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.
|If you have PVC pipes, you may have DEHP leaching into your water supply. If you have PVC pipe from before 1977, you will definitely want to upgrade to a newer material.
This “early-era” PVC pipe can leach a carcinogenic compound called vinyl chloride monomer into your water. Alternatives to PVC for water piping include ductile iron, high-density polyethylene, concrete, copper, and PEX.30
|Consider replacing vinyl flooring with a “greener” material. Also avoid soft, flexible plastic flooring, such as those padded play-mat floors for kids (often used in day cares and kindergartens), as there’s a good chance it is made from phthalate-containing PVC.|
|Read the labels and avoid anything containing phthalates. Besides DEHP, also look for DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate), DEP (diethyl phthalate), BzBP (benzyl butyl phthlate), and DMP (dimethyl phthalate).
Also be wary of anything listing a “fragrance,” which often includes phthalates.
|Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It’s advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.|
Please spread the word to your family and friends. If you don’t understand something in this article, or have any questions, please give us a call.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived Article : JM