Thursday, 1 December 2011

Consumer Reports Find Arsenic and Lead in Juices

December 1, 2011

Findings of a Consumer Reports investigation about arsenic and lead levels in apple juice and grape juice have prompted the organization to call for government standards to limit consumers’ exposure to these toxins.

One of the greatest scams of the industrial food cartel was exposed when it was found that the so-called “fresh” orange juice sold in supermarkets is not fresh at all. Now apple and grape juice can be added to the list of toxic fruit juices.
The tests of 88 samples of apple juice and grape juice purchased in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut by Consumer Reports staffers found that 10 percent of those samples had total arsenic levels exceeding federal drinking-water standards of 10 parts per billion (ppb) and 25 percent had lead levels higher than the 5 ppb limit for bottled water set by the Food and Drug Administration. Most of the arsenic detected in our tests was the type called inorganic, which is a human carcinogen. For our complete test results download Consumer Reports Arsenic Test Results January 2012.pdf.

Arsenic has long been recognized as a poison and a contaminant in drinking water, but now concerns are growing about arsenic in foods, especially in fruit juices that are a mainstay for children.

Controversy over arsenic in apple juice made headlines as the school year began when Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” told viewers that tests he’d commissioned found 10 of three dozen apple-juice samples with total arsenic levels exceeding 10 parts per billion (ppb). There’s no federal arsenic threshold for juice or most foods, though the limit for bottled and public water is 10 ppb. The Food and Drug Administration, trying to reassure consumers about the safety of apple juice, claimed that most arsenic in juices and other foods is of the organic type that is “essentially harmless.”
But an investigation by Consumer Reports shows otherwise:
  • Roughly 10 percent of our juice samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. Most of that arsenic was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.
  • One in four samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. As with arsenic, no federal limit exists for lead in juice.
  • Apple and grape juice constitute a significant source of dietary exposure to arsenic, according to our analysis of federal health data from 2003 through 2008.
  • Children drink a lot of juice. Thirty-five percent of children 5 and younger drink juice in quantities exceeding pediatricians’ recommendations, our poll of parents shows.
  • Mounting scientific evidence suggests that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below water standards can result in serious health problems.
  • Inorganic arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods, too, which suggests that more must be done to reduce overall dietary exposure.
The investigation included an analysis of the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database from 2003 to 2008. The results of that analysis suggest that these juices may be an important contributor to dietary arsenic exposure. Through interviews with physicians and authors of peer-reviewed studies, Consumer Reports also found mounting scientific evidence suggesting that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below federal standards for water can result in serious health problems, especially for those who are exposed in the womb or during early childhood. FDA data and other research reveal that arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods as well.
While federal limits exist for arsenic and lead levels in bottled and drinking water, no limits are defined for fruit juices, which a recent Consumer Reports’ poll of parents confirms are a mainstay of many children’s diets. The FDA says when a fruit juice sample has 23 ppb or more of total arsenic, it will retest the sample to determine how much of it is inorganic, because according to the agency’s 2008 hazard assessment, 23 ppb of inorganic arsenic would represent a potential health risk. But that 23 ppb “level of concern” is not a mandatory limit, nor is it based on arsenic’s well-established cancer risks.
A call for arsenic standards for juice

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, believes the FDA’s “level of concern” is an inadequate reference point for establishing a protective limit for public health. Based on Consumer Reports’ test findings, Consumers Union is urging the FDA to set a more protective standard of 3 ppb for total arsenic and 5 ppb for lead in juice. Such standards are attainable: 41 percent of the samples Consumer Reports tested would meet both thresholds.
Consumers Union was encouraged by recent discussions with FDA officials and by an FDA letter to the consumer advocacy groups Food & Water Watch and Empire State Consumer Project indicating that the agency is considering setting guidance for the level of inorganic arsenic permissible in apple juice. The agency announced that its new initiatives include collecting and analyzing up to 90 samples of apple juice from retailers across the U.S. by the end of 2011 and analyzing levels of organic and inorganic arsenic in other types of juice as well.
Consumers Union believes that the FDA already has the data it needs to set juice standards, and that a guidance level must be followed by the establishment of a legally binding standard.
The FDA’s data

Earlier this month, when the Consumer Reports story was going to press, the FDA had posted on its website results for 70 samples of apple juice and concentrate it had tested from fiscal years 2005 through 2011 as part of a program it launched to test for specific toxins such as arsenic in imported and domestic products.
Then in late November, the agency posted eight previously undisclosed test results for apple juice samples from that data set containing total arsenic levels greater than 23 ppb.
Five samples were from 2008: two samples with arsenic levels of 27 ppb, one with 42 ppb, and two others with 45 ppb. The three other test results included a 2009 sample at 25 ppb and two 2010 samples with levels of 26 ppb and 34 ppb. FDA stated that those results had not been disclosed before because they were “in the process of being further verified.”
When asked why the process took so long, an FDA spokeswoman said that the samples should have been posted at the same time as the other results and that the agency is developing procedures to ensure that in the future, “data that are posted indeed represent the complete set.”

Even though all eight samples exceeded 23 ppb total arsenic, the agency tested only three of them to measure how much of the total was inorganic arsenic. Of those three, one 2010 sample contained 43 ppb inorganic arsenic; the entire shipment associated with that sample was denied entry into the U.S. The two others had less than 23 ppb inorganic arsenic. FDA says four of the samples that did not undergo further testing were collected before the agency established its level of concern for inorganic arsenic in ready-to-drink apple juice, and that it is “currently determining what action was taken” regarding the remaining sample.
When those eight test results were added to the previous 70 samples plus results for another 82 samples the agency collected in the latter part of 2011, the cumulative total posted on FDA’s website rose to 160. Of those, 12 percent had 10 ppb or higher total arsenic and 5 percent had arsenic levels of 23 ppb or higher.
The FDA also cites test results of samples in its Total Diet Study program, which tested another 134 composite apple juice samples from 1991 to 2009. Of those, nearly a quarter tested at 10 ppb or higher and 5 percent had 23 ppb or more of total arsenic. The overall picture is that the vast majority of apple juice samples tested below the FDA’s 23 ppb level of concern, an FDA spokeswoman said.
But the level the FDA deems acceptable should be much lower, Consumers Union believes, because in establishing its level of concern the agency didn’t consider the risks of skin, lung, and bladder cancer that arsenic exposure poses to the public.

Even "100 Percent Pure" Orange Juice Is Artificially Flavoured

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

African viewpoint: Jammeh, Aids and infertility

29 November 2011
President Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh, on 24 November 2011 as he leaves a polling station in the capital Banjul
In our series of viewpoints from African journalists, former BBC Focus on Africa deputy editor and Ghanaian government minister Elizabeth Ohene recalls meeting The Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who was re-elected last week, after he seized power in a coup in 1994.

As I followed the election news coming out of The Gambia last week, my mind invariably went down memory lane.

It came as no surprise that President Yahya Jammeh was declared winner with 72% of the vote, giving him a fourth five-year term.

Seventeen years ago when Mr Jammeh - then aged 29 - staged a coup that overthrew The Gambia's first President Sir Dawda Jawara, I went to report from the country and I met the fresh-faced young man who sounded like all the other young military men in Africa at the time.

Mr Jammeh's inspiration and role-models were Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Valentine Strasser of Sierra Leone and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

I had a memorable interview with him then and again in 1996 when he was under intense diplomatic pressure to return the country to constitutional rule.

I remember he tried to sound confident and even authoritative but every once in a while his nerves failed him.

And last week, when BBC Focus on Africa's Umaru Fofana asked him if he would accept defeat if he lost, Mr Jammeh asked if he looked like a loser, to applause from the crowd around him.

Back in 1996, a few of the friends that he started out with had already fallen out with him and I took a deep breath when someone in the capital, Banjul, told me I should be careful and not think that I was protected by my BBC badge.


A quote from my old notebook reads: "If he thinks you are threatening his position, you will disappear."

I don't remember what I made of that warning but I recall being more amused than frightened by Mr Jammeh's antics.

The post-independence leaders of The Gambia and Guinea, Sir Dawda Jawara (r) and Sekou Toure (R), in this file photo
Post-independence leader Dawda Jawara (l) was toppled by Yahya Jammeh
Fast forward to the year 2005, when a group of 44 hapless Ghanaians and nine other West Africans were to experience what happens when the president of The Gambia is perceived to be under threat.

The security forces arrested and killed them, suspecting they were mercenaries when they were, in fact, migrants trying to make their way to Europe.

Mr Jammeh eventually paid $500,000 to Ghana in compensation for those murders.

Seventeen years ago he hadn't yet acquired all the titles that are now obligatory adjuncts to his name but he already certainly had illusions of grandeur.

You had to be blind not to see that he would be better for The Gambia than Mr Jawara was, Mr Jammeh told me.

His belief that The Gambia has achieved more during his 17 years in office then during 400 years of British rule must have occurred to him later.

When I heard Umaru's interview with him, he came across as unabashed, unapologetic and indeed quite proud to say that The Gambia was "hell for journalists" - even in those early days journalists were not his favourite people and some learnt the hard way not to upset the young leader.

The bit I couldn't have predicted was Jammeh the healer. Not only did he announce in 2007 that he had discovered a herbal cure for HIV/Aids, he now has a cure for infertility as well.

The government's official website carries reports of barren women being kept in villages for the president's wonder cure.

Aged 46 and with no apparent likelihood of Gambians being tempted to lose their marbles at polling booths, the chances are His Excellency Sheikh, Professor, Alhaji, Doctor Yahya AJJ Jammeh will be around for a long time as President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of The Gambia.

The Arab Spring might find it difficult to cross the Sahara desert.

In West Africa, our weather pattern does not include spring - we have only dry and rainy seasons.

I only wish I had the opportunity to interview him again. I suspect he won't talk to me now.

Read original article here

Common Herbicide Used in 60 Countries and Found in Rain Water Causes Infertility

November 30, 2011

An international team of researchers has reviewed the evidence linking exposure to atrazine -- an herbicide widely used in the U.S. and more than 60 other nations -- to reproductive problems in animals. The team found consistent patterns of reproductive dysfunction in amphibians, fish, reptiles and mammals exposed to the chemical.

Atrazine is the second-most widely used herbicide in the U.S. More than 75 million pounds of it are applied to corn and other crops, and it is the most commonly detected pesticide contaminant of groundwater, surface water and rain in the U.S.

Men exposed to high amounts of the substances are far more likely than men with less contact to have diluted or deformed and sluggish sperm. Each of the semen problems can reduce the ability of sperm to reach and fertilize an egg and could make conception harder.

The new review, compiled by 22 scientists studying atrazine in North and South America, Europe and Japan, appears in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

High levels of exposure to the herbicide were previously associated with a 30-fold increased risk of diluted or struggling sperm.

The researchers looked at studies linking atrazine exposure to abnormal androgen (male hormone) levels in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals and studies that found a common association between exposure to the herbicide and the “feminization” of male gonads in many animals.

The most robust findings are in amphibians, said University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Val Beasley, a co-author of the review. At least 10 studies found that exposure to atrazine feminizes male frogs, sometimes to the point of sex reversal, he said.

Beasley’s lab was one of the first to find that male frogs exposed to atrazine in the wild were more likely to have both male and female gonadal tissue than frogs living in an atrazine-free environment. And in a 2010 study, Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley and lead author of the review, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that atrazine exposure in frogs was associated with “genetic males becoming females and functioning as females,” Beasley said.

“And this is not at extremely high concentrations,” he said. “These are at concentrations that are found in the environment.”

Researchers have previously found that long-term exposure to even very low levels of atrazine -- 2.5 parts per billion of water -- emasculated three-quarters of laboratory frogs and turned one in 10 into females. Scientists believe the pesticide interferes with endocrine hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.

The new review describes the disruptions of hormone function and sexual development reported in studies of mammals, frogs, fish, reptiles and human cells exposed to the herbicide. The studies found that atrazine exposure can change the expression of genes involved in hormone signaling, interfere with metamorphosis, inhibit key enzymes that control estrogen and androgen production, skew the sex ratio of wild and laboratory animals (toward female) and otherwise disrupt the normal reproductive development and functioning of males and females.

“One of the things that became clear in writing this paper is that atrazine works through a number of different mechanisms,” Hayes said. “It’s been shown that it increases production of (the stress hormone) cortisol. It’s been shown that it inhibits key enzymes in steroid hormone production while increasing others. It’s been shown that it somehow prevents androgen from binding to its receptor.”

The review also consolidates the evidence that atrazine undermines immune function in a variety of animals, in part by increasing cortisol.

“Cortisol is a nonspecific response to chronic stress,” Beasley said. “But guess what? Wildlife in many of today’s habitats are stressed a great deal of the time. They’re stressed because they’re crowded into little remnant habitats. They’re stressed because there’s not enough oxygen in the water because there are not enough plants in the water (another consequence of herbicide use). They’re stressed because of other contaminants in the water. And the long-term release of cortisol causes them to be immuno-suppressed.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy organization, released a report in August 2009 that documented spikes of atrazine in the water supplies of Midwestern and Southern agricultural areas where the pesticide is primarily applied.

Home or municipal carbon filters can remove atrazine from water but some water filtration systems in small towns are not equipped to filter out atrazine. Water systems in a handful of states have sued atrazine's manufacturers in an effort to force them to pay for removing the pesticide from drinking water.

There also are studies that show no effects -- or different effects -- in animals exposed to atrazine, Beasley said. “But the studies are not all the same. There are different species, different times of exposure, different stages of development and different strains within a species.” All in all, he said, the evidence that atrazine harms animals, particularly amphibians and other creatures that encounter it in the water, is compelling.

“I hope this will stimulate policymakers to look at the totality of the data and ask very broad questions,” Hayes said. “Do we want this stuff in our environment? Do we want -- knowing what we know -- our children to drink this stuff? I would think the answer would be no.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

49 Sudden Deaths, 213 Permanent Disabilities - And the Silent Plan to Poison Your Child

Posted By Dr. Mercola | November 29 2011

Story at-a-glance

  • The HPV vaccine is NOT harmless like it is being promoted and has not been proven to actually prevent cervical cancer
  • The HPV vaccine only protects against TWO strains of HPV associated with cancer but there are MORE THAN 100 different strains of HPV in all.
  • Dr. Diane Harper, one of the lead researchers for Gardasil blew the whistle on the vaccine, saying the available data suggests the HPV vaccine's protective effects do not last beyond five years.
  • The VAERS database continues to swell with reports of autoimmune disorders contracted after receiving the HPV vaccine. These side effects now include 137 reports of cervical dysplasia, and 41 reports of cervical cancer.
  • HPV infection clears up on its own within two years in 90 percent of all cases. It rarely leads to cervical cancer unless the infection becomes chronic and leads to cervical changes that remain untreated. Routine pap smear testing can identify chronic HPV infection and may provide greater protection against development of cervical cancer than reliance on an HPV vaccine that has not been adequately proven to be safe or effective.

By Dr. Mercola
During a Republican debate in Tampa, Florida, presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) alleged that campaign contributions from drug company Merck—the maker of Gardasil—played "a pivotal role in Rick Perry's 2007 executive order that mandated teenage girls in Texas be inoculated against HPV," CNN reports.
The order did not go into effect, however, as it was later overturned by the legislature.
Still, it's hard to overlook the potential for undue influence and conflict of interest. Perry responded that the company gave only $5,000 to his campaign.
However, Merck has contributed:

Even Low Dose Vitamin D Slashes Flu Risk by Nearly Half

Anthony Gucciardi
Activist Post
Tue 29 Nov 2011

Vitamin D3, even when taken in low daily dosages, has been found to slash your risk of developing the flu by 42%.

If optimal ranges of vitamin D intake were utilized, the percentage would most likely climb much higher.

While conducting the study, Mitsuyoshi Urashima and colleagues at the Jikei University School of Medicine in Tokyo administered only 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily to study participants. The researchers examined 430 children between the ages of 6 and 15 between December 2008 and March 2009. Half of the participants received vitamin D3 and the other half received a placebo. 

Simply Taking Vitamin D3 Helps Tackle All Serious Flu Epidemics 
At a dosage of 1,200 IUs per day, 334 of the children fully completed the study.

In order to diagnose the presence of influenza Types A and B, researchers used nose and throat swabs on both groups.

What they found was that only 18 of the children taking vitamin D3 were infected with influenza Type A, while the number rose to 31 in the placebo group.

The difference between the two groups regarding infection rates indicates a 42% decreased risk of developing the flu simply by taking vitamin D3.

Interestingly, Type A influenza includes all serious flu epidemics, including seasonal flus and even the swine flu.

So if 1,200 IUs per day is low, what is the optimal daily dosage of vitamin D?

Amazingly, the children in the study are actually taking 1,300 IUs less than what is recommended to children by Canada’s Public Health Agency. According to the organization, children between the ages of 5 and 10 should be taking 2,500 IUs per day. In addition, the guidelines state that adults should be taking 5,000 IUs daily. Therefore, 1,200 IUs is not even adequate for young children.

It is important to keep in mind that these are typical standardized doses, and only through a blood test will you be able to properly analyze your vitamin D levels. The correct test you should receive is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. You will want to ensure that you are in the optimal vitamin D level range. The optimal range is 50-70 ng/ml, though anything over 100 is in excess. In contrast, 50 ng/ml or below is in the deficient range.

Here is an image to summarize the ranges:

vitamindlevels Even Low Dose Vitamin D Slashes Flu Risk by Nearly Half

Vitamin D supplementation is a simple method of slashing your flu risk and improving overall health. I encourage you to receive a blood test, which can be done through your general doctor, and optimize your vitamin D levels.

Explore More:
  1. Vitamin D Improves Vascular Health and Lowers Blood Pressure
  2. The Supplement that May Spark Your Heart Attack Risk by 30%
  3. Can Vitamin D Lower Your Risk of Melanoma?
  4. Vitamin E May Lower Women’s Lung Disease Risk
  5. Muscle Building Slashes Diabetes Risk
Please visit Natural Society for more great health news and vaccine information.