August 12th, 2011
By: Shona Botes
These days it seems to be the norm for people to be odour-free and perspiration-free and to boast flawless skin and looks. This is often made possible with the use of a host of so-called personal `care` products. Chemical ingredients found in most of these products have been associated with cancer as well as a host of other illnesses and medical conditions including blindness and even death.
Many people are under the impression that because they are `using it on the outside,` they won’t be absorbing any of the chemicals into their bodies. Unfortunately whatever is applied to our hair or skin will be absorbed into the body and organs.
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulphate is used as a cheap foaming agent in shampoos and many other personal care products. This harsh chemical has been known to affect the protein structure in children’s eyes, leading to incomplete eye development. It is a proven skin irritant and is linked to the formation of cataracts. Because it is absorbed through the skin into the body, it is able to penetrate internal organs such as the brain, liver and heart. The nitrates and nitrites found in SLS are also known carcinogens (cancer-causers). SLS impedes hair growth because of the fact that it damages hair follicles. This can in turn lead to hair loss. It has also been linked to damage of the immune system and may also be responsible for altering genetic information in cells.
Phthalates are another highly toxic chemical found in at least 75% of personal care products. This chemical, also found in plastic products, is able to mimic the role of oestrogen, causing the body to develop symptoms such as PMS, fibroids and fibrocystic breast disease. It has also been known to lower sperm count in men and to damage the adrenal glands, kidneys and liver. Musk products also need to be avoided, as they have been linked to female infertility and disruption of the hormonal system.
Triclosan is another ingredient which needs to be avoided. This so-called antibacterial ingredient not only destroys germs and bad bacteria, but it also kills off the good bacteria needed to keep our immune system healthy. The inclusion of this ingredient in many hand wash products and dish detergents has actually led to the formation of highly resistant strains of bacteria, also known as superbugs.
When used externally, Triclosan can lead to skin irritations. Its use has also been reported to temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings in the body. If taken internally (no matter how small the amount), it can cause convulsions, collapse of the circulatory system, coma, cold sweats and even death. Long-term use of products containing this chemical (which is actually classified as a pesticide product) can lead to liver and kidney damage, hormonal disruption, suppression of the immune system, heart and lung damage, sterility, brain haemorrhaging and even paralysis.
Once absorbed, these hazardous chemical products are extremely difficult to eliminate from the body, so care should be taken to ensure that you do not use any product containing these chemical ingredients.
February 14th, 2011
By: Frederik Joelving
With Americans chugging energy drinks like never before, fears are growing among doctors that the ingredients might be putting some consumers at risk.
The beverages contain a hodgepodge of caffeine, sugar and dietary supplements such as vitamins and herbal extracts, whose effects aren’t well understood.
In a new report out Monday, Florida pediatricians describe cases of seizures, delusions, heart problems and kidney or liver damage in people who had downed one or more non-alcoholic energy drinks — including brands like Red Bull, Spike Shooter and Redline.
“Across the world there are signs that for some people who consume these drinks, there are side effects,” said Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, who heads the department of pediatrics at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
“The incidence is low, but in certain groups that pediatricians care for there may be higher risks,” he added.
The report, which calls for regulatory action and more research, comes only months after a U.S. crackdown on alcoholic caffeinated beverages such as Phusion Projects’ Four Loko.
U.S. sales of non-alcoholic energy drinks are expected to hit $9 billion this year, with children and young adults accounting for half the market,
Because the beverages are classified as nutritional supplements, they have received much less scrutiny and are under fewer restrictions than both foods and drugs.
Manufacturers claim their products will enhance both mental and physical performance. Red Bull’s website, for instance, says energy drink will increase concentration and reaction speed, and improve vigilance and emotional status.
“Red Bull’s effects are appreciated throughout the world by top athletes, busy professionals, active students and drivers on long journeys,” the website claims.
In 2010 alone, the company told Reuters Health, it sold in excess of 4 billion cans and bottles of the drink, which is now available in more than160 countries.
But according to the Florida researchers, who reviewed the medical literature on the topic, the industry’s claims of benefit are questionable.
“We couldn’t find any evidence at all of any therapeutic effects,” Lipshultz said.
He began to take an interest in energy drinks a few years ago, when four kids from South Florida were brought to the hospital after swallowing a vitamin concoction their teacher had bottled.
“They all came in feeling tingling all over,” Lipshultz said. “This prompted me to say, we’ve got to really learn about this.”
August 5, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
The FDA has issued a warning that the risk of severe muscle and kidney damage from the cholesterol drug simvastatin is higher than previously thought.
Marketed under brand names including Zocor, Vytorin and Simcor, simvastatin is part of a drug family known as statins, all of which are known to expose patients to a risk of muscle damage. In some cases, this damage can take the form of a condition known as rhabdomyolysis and can lead to kidney failure and even death.
New research suggests that the risk of muscle injury, including rhabdomyolysis, is significantly higher in patients who take the highest approved dose (80 milligrams) of the drug. The risk of muscle damage is an astonishing 50 times higher in patients taking the 80 milligram dose than in patients taking the 20 milligram dose.
Eleven cases of rhabdomyolysis were reported among 6,031 patients taking 80 milligrams of simvastatin per day, and none in those taking 20 milligrams.
Another study found that patients of Chinese descent were at a heightened risk of muscle damage if they took both 80 milligrams of simvastatin on top of any medication containing niacin.
Patients of all ethnic backgrounds taking more than 40 milligrams of simvastatin were at heightened risk of muscle damage if they were also taking the angina/blood pressure medicine diltiazem (marketed as Cardizem, Cartia, Dilacor, Diltia and Tiazac). Patients taking more than 20 milligrams per day were at a higher risk of muscle damage if they also took the arrhythmia drug amiodarone (marketed as Cordarone and Pacerone) or the drug verapamil (marketed as Calan, Covera, Isoptin and Verelan), which is used to treat angina, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, cluster headaches and migraine.
The FDA issued a categorical warning that patients taking any of the following drugs should not take more than a 10 milligram dose of simvastatin: Cyclosporine, Danazol and Gemfibrozil.
Patients who should never take simvastatin include those taking HIV protease inhibitors, Clarithromycin, Erythromycin, Itraconazole, Ketoconazole, Nefazodone or Telithromycin.
August 4, 2010
A new investigation in the September issue of Consumer Reports and available online at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org describes a striking lack of government oversight for the bustling $26.7 billion dietary supplement market and identifies a “dirty dozen” list of supplement ingredients that have been linked by clinical research or case reports to serious adverse events, such as cancer, coma, heart problems, kidney damage, liver damage, or death.
Working with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group, Consumer Reports identified 12 supplement ingredients linked to serious adverse events by clinical research or case reports. Other factors were also evaluated, including evidence of effectiveness for their purported uses, and the extent to which the ingredients are readily available, either alone or in combination products. The dozen are aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, comfrey, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe.
Surprisingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned about at least eight of these, some as long ago as 1993; those eight supplements include chaparral, colloidal silver, comfrey, country mallow, germanium, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe. But warnings have not prevented retailers from selling supplements containing these ingredients.
More than half of the adult population in the U.S. have taken supplements for a variety of reasons-to stay healthy, lose weight, gain an edge in sports, or to improve their performance in the bedroom. What consumers may not realize is that the supplement manufacturers routinely, and legally, sell their products without first having to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. The Consumer Reports investigation states that the FDA has not made full use of even the meager authority granted it by the industry-friendly 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The FDA has only once used its power to ban a supplement ingredient (ephedrine alkaloids) outright.
“Supplements are marketed with very seductive and sometimes overblown sales pitches for increasing your performance in the bedroom, slimming down, or boosting your athletic prowess. And consumers are easily lulled into believing that supplements can do no harm because they’re ‘natural.’ However, some natural ingredients can be hazardous, and on top of that the FDA has repeatedly found hazardous ingredients, including synthetic prescription drugs, in supplements,” said Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor, Consumer Reports.
The report notes that, because of inadequate quality control and inspection, supplements contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or prescription drugs have been sold to unsuspecting consumers. The FDA says hidden drugs or steroids have been found in more than 170 products marketed as supplements since 2008. As evidence of the agency’s inability to properly regulate the supplements industry, Consumer Reports notes that the FDA has yet to inspect a single supplement factory in China, which has become a major supplier of raw supplement ingredients.
Consumer Reports’ investigation also notes that the FDA and Congress have recently taken some action to strengthen the agency’s oversight, such as passing a long overdue law that went into effect in December 2007 requiring supplement companies to report serious adverse events.
The FDA said it received 1,359 reports of serious adverse effects from manufacturers and 602 from consumers and health professionals from 2008 through 2009. Consumer Reports believes that this law is a good step but much more needs to be done to keep consumers safe. In the meantime, here are some steps consumers can take to make sure the supplements they use are safe and beneficial.
– Consult your doctor or pharmacist. Even helpful products can be harmful, for example, if you’re pregnant or nursing, have a chronic disease, taking a medication that interacts adversely with the supplement, or are about to undergo elective surgery.
– Beware of these categories. Supplements for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding have been problematic, the FDA said, because some contain steroids and prescription drugs.
– Look for the “USP Verified” mark. It indicates that the supplement manufacturer has voluntarily asked U.S. Pharmacopeia, a trusted nonprofit, private standard-setting authority, to verify the quality, purity and potency of its raw ingredients or finished products. USP posts a list of verified products on its website at www.uspverified.org.
– Don’t assume more is better. It’s possible to overdose even on beneficial vitamins and minerals. Avoid any product that claims to contain “megadoses.” — Report problems. Let your doctor know if you experience any symptoms after you start taking a supplement. And if you end up with a serious side effect, ask your doctor or pharmacist to report it to the FDA, or do it yourself at www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 800-332-1088.
– Research in the right places. Be skeptical about claims made for supplements in ads, on TV and by sales staff. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consumer Reports provides several online links for assessing supplements at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.
March 17, 2010
By: E. Huff
A report published in the International Journal of Microbiology has verified once again that Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) crops are causing severe health problems. A legal challenge issued against Monsanto forced the multi-national agriculture giant to release raw data revealing that animals fed its patented GM corn suffered liver and kidney damage within just three months.
Adding to the mounting evidence that GM crops are dangerous all around, this information provides a damning indictment against Monsanto which continually insists that its GM products are safe. Not only are GM crops proving disastrous for the environment, but study after study, including those conducted by Monsanto itself, is showing that GM foods are detrimental to health.
Monsanto’s data indicated that the company had conducted tests on three varieties of its GM corn, two of which contain the dangerous Bt protein, and one designed specifically to resist Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. All three are widely grown in the United States while only one is currently grown in Europe.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French researcher from the University of Caen, was tasked with examining the data and providing a review. While stopping short of declaring GM crops to be toxic, he did emphasize that chronic negative effects were apparent and that there were “statistically significant” indications of kidney and liver damage.
The specific effects observed in test rats included a buildup of hormones in the blood, indicating that their liver and kidneys were not functioning properly. One variety of the corn led to elevated blood sugar levels and increased triglyceride levels in female rats given it.
Dr. Seralini concluded that, because GM crops are foreign substances that have never been a part of a normal diet, there is no telling what the long-term effects of consumption will be on people. In animals, significant disruption of normal bodily function has been observed even in the short term.
Genetically manipulated food crops are not fit for human consumption and should not be classified as food. No legitimate study has ever proven them to be safe or nutritious. The burden of proof is on the producers of such crops to verify their safety and, to date, all data has revealed that they are unsafe. Claims that GM foods will end world hunger are baseless, propagated only by those that have a financial interest in converting the world’s food supply to their own patented varieties in order to control it.
October 28, 2009
By Rita Rubin
Anyone who’s ever had a colonoscopy knows the worst part is preparing for it, not the procedure itself. You have to make sure your colon is as clean as a whistle so your doctor can get an unobstructed interior view.
In the old days — the late 20th century, that is — you had to drink a gallon of a special salty liquid to cleanse your bowels in basically one sitting. So patients cheered when tasteless tablets that would accomplish the same thing became available in 2000.
But last week, the Food and Drug Administration tempered that joy by adding a “black box” warning — the sternest warning possible — to the two prescription bowel cleansers that come in tablet form. The new warning stems from reports of kidney damage in patients who took the pills, which contain sodium phosphate, in preparation for a colonoscopy.
Also, the FDA, which can require warnings only on prescription drugs, said no over-the-counter sodium phosphate products should be used for bowel-cleansing. That led C.B. Fleet Co. to announce a voluntary recall of Phospho-soda, a non-prescription laxative that in larger doses has been used for bowel-cleansing.
The FDA says prescription Visicol, approved in 2000, and its successor, OsmoPrep, approved in 2006, should be used with caution by people over 55; those who are dehydrated; those who suffer from kidney disease, acute colitis or delayed bowel emptying; and people on medicines that affect kidney function. Medicines include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers and, maybe, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Indiana University gastroenterologist Douglas Rex says he’s been switching older patients to fluid bowel-cleansers that don’t contain sodium phosphate since the first reports of kidney problems came out in 2005. Rex serves as a scientific adviser to Salix Pharmaceuticals, maker of Visicol, OsmoPrep and MoviPrep, one of the fluid products.
No one knows how many people may have suffered damage from the sodium phosphate bowel-cleansers, because even those who’ve lost 75% of their kidney function feel fine, says Columbia University pathologist Glen Markowitz. Markowitz, a Salix consultant, was lead author of a 2005 report on kidney damage in 21 patients who had taken sodium phosphate bowel-cleansers. Even when detected, he says, a connection to the products could be missed.
Dallas gastroenterologist Lawrence Schiller says a patient who had an easy time with the pills wasn’t thrilled to learn of the kidney issue. Schiller left future choice of prep up to her, noting: “There’s a one-in-a-million chance you could end up on dialysis with (the pills).”
October 2, 2009
By Dawn Crim
Most health experts will agree that vaccine reactions can occur. It is estimated that roughly 1 in every million people will react to their vaccine. Even then, health officials maintain that it is usually a simple case of inflammation at the injection site and/or a slight fever. On a rare occasion, anaphylactic shock may occur due to the patient reacting to a substance that they are allergic to.
However, the FDA recently approved four H1N1 vaccines that not only contain very questionable ingredients, but some of those ingredients have even been proven to cause cancer and death.
The FDA has awarded H1N1 contracts to the following companies: MedImmune, LLC, CSL Limited, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited, and Sanofi Pasteur. Their package inserts became public knowledge in recent weeks.
All four vaccines list hypersensitivity to eggs as a contraindication. This means that it is not advisable to administer any one of these products to a person suffering from a severe egg allergy or egg protein allergy. This contraindication may affect as many as 15 million people (based on a population of 300 million). While parents are instructed not to feed their infant eggs until 1 year of age, these same infants will be exposed to eggs by way of their H1N1 vaccine and/or seasonal flu vaccine beginning at 6 months of age.
CSL’s vaccine also lists hypersensitivity to chicken protein as a contraindication. “While most people who are sensitive to eggs can eat chicken, there is one protein that is present in both eggs and poultry — alpha-livetin, or chicken serum albumin — that can cause allergies to both foods.” It is unknown at this time how many people are allergic to the aforementioned proteins. Going into anaphylactic shock is a very real possibly if one were to receive an ingredient that he/she is allergic to.
Neomycin and polymyxin are listed as contraindications for CSL’s and Novartis’ vaccines. “Neomycin may cause damage to the kidneys and/or nerves. Kidney function and drug levels in the blood may be monitored with blood tests during treatment. Tell your doctor if you experience decreased urination, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, feeling of fullness in the ears, dizziness, numbness, skin tingling, muscle twitching, or seizures which may be signs of kidney or nerve damage.” According to Teva Pharmaceuticals, the effects of neomycin may not be evident until long after the medication has been discontinued. Just exactly how long is unclear at this time. Polymyxin has its own set of possible adverse reactions. “Neurotoxic reactions may be manifested by irritability, weakness, drowsiness, ataxia, perioral paresthesia, numbness of the extremities, and blurring of vision. These are usually associated with high serum levels found in patients with impaired renal function and/or nephrotoxicity.”
Gentamicin is listed as a contraindication for MedImmune’s vaccine. It too, has its own list of possible side effects, which may include nephrotoxicity and/or neurotoxicity.
Nephrotoxicity is when damage or injury occurs to the kidneys as a result of taking certain medications. This may include kidney failure. Neurotoxicity is when the damage involves the nerve tissue, such as paralysis or encephalitis (brain swelling).
A word of caution to parents is warranted here: several vaccine manufacturers list crying or high-pitched screaming for greater than 3 hours as a sign of a serious vaccine reaction. Though this same warning is not applicable to any one of these H1N1 vaccines, it is still a situation that a parent should be alert to. If your child is crying or screaming for a long period of time, it may be a sign of brain inflammation. You know your child better than anyone. If something doesn’t feel right, have your child evaluated immediately.
August 6, 2009
The omega-3 essential fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is more effective at reducing the size of breast cancer tumors than the chemotherapy drug cisplatin, and can also reduce that drug’s harmful side effects, reports a new study published in the journal Cell Division.
“Our results suggest a new, fruitful drug regimen in the management of solid tumors based on combining cisplatin and possibly other chemotherapeutics with DHA,” said researcher A.M. El-Mowafy of Egypt‘s Mansoura University. “DHA elicited prominent chemo-preventative effects on its own, and appreciably augmented those of cisplatin as well. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal that DHA can obliterate lethal cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity [kidney damage] and renal tissue injury.”
Researchers injected a group of mice with breast cancer cells, then treated them with either 125 or 250 milligrams per kilogram of DHA, a regular dose of cisplatin, a mix of cisplatin and 125 milligrams per kilogram of DHA, or a placebo. They recorded tumor size and blood levels of white blood cells, C-reactive protein (CRP) and MDA at the start of the study and again after 20 days.
CRP is a marker of inflammation, a known risk factor for tumor growth. MDA is a marker of lipid peroxidation, which signifies high levels of the free radicals that can lead to cancer. Elevated white blood cell counts are also associated with tumor growth.
The researchers found that compared with mice that had never been injected with cancer cells, the injected mice underwent a significant increase in levels of CRP, MDA and white blood cells. Elevated levels of CRP and white blood cells were significantly correlated with increased tumor size.
Levels of white blood cells, CRP and MDA were all lower in animals that had been treated with either DHA, cisplatin, or a combination, however.
In animals who received 125 milligrams per kilogram of DHA, tumor growth was 38 percent less than in animals who received a placebo. Animals receiving cisplatin had 55 percent less tumor growth, while those treated with 250 milligrams per kilogram of DHA had 79 percent less. The combination of DHA and cisplatin not only reduced tumor growth by 81 percent compared with a placebo, it also returned white blood cell counts to normal levels. The 250 milligram per kilogram dose of DHA was nearly as effective at restoring a normal white blood cell count as the DHA-cisplatin combination.
“The chemoprevention elicited by DHA was dose-dependent, and appeared to be mediated by reduction of leukocytosis [elevated white blood cell count], oxidative stress, and replenishing of endogenous antioxidant machinery,” the researchers wrote. “Most strikingly, a strong anti-inflammatory effect was produced.”
In a second experiment, researchers treated rats with cisplatin, which is known to produce potentially lethal kidney damage. Half the rats were also given a 250 milligram per kilogram dose of DHA, while the other half was given nothing.
All the rats that received only cisplatin died from kidney toxicity. Among animals given both the drug and the omega-3, however, only 12 percent developed lethal kidney damage.
DHA is found primarily in fatty cold-water fish, such as salmon, anchovies, herring, mackerel and sardines, but it can also be found in certain vegetable oils. It is believed to play a critical role in the development of the nervous system, particularly the brain and retina.