More Than Half of Americans Have Chronic Illnesses

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

The cost of health care in the U.S. jumped to over 17 percent of the GDP in 2015.1 However, even though the U.S. tops $3 trillion in spending on health care each year, it is the worst performing system ranked by multiple aspects of care.2

Americans spend, on average, over $9,500 per capita on healthcare. This is the highest amount spent over 11 developed countries, but the U.S. ranks 11th in terms of health. The most glaring difference is that the last ranked U.S. per capita expenditure is more than double that of the first ranked expense in the U.K.

Not only is healthcare in the U.S. more expensive, less effective and performs poorly when compared to other countries, recent research demonstrates half of Americans are living with chronic illness.

Although the study included only a particular group of physical illnesses that create chronic problems, results show half of the population is living with a continuing health problem.

Research Demonstrates Rising Numbers of People With Chronic Illness

Researchers from Emory University scrutinized public health records to determine the number of individuals living with a chronic health problem, substance abuse problem or mental health disability, and how these conditions may be related to living in poverty.3

They found more than half of Americans are living with at least one chronic illness, a substance abuse problem or a mental health condition.

According to study authors Elizabeth Reisinger Walker, Ph.D., assistant research professor and Dr. Benjamin Druss, professor at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University:4

“The health of individuals in the U.S.A. is increasingly being defined by complexity and multi-morbidity, the co-occurrence of two or more chronic medical conditions.”

Overall, the study revealed 18.4 percent of adults have suffered with a mental illness in the past year and 8.6 percent of those have reported a substance abuse or dependence during the same time. Nearly 40 percent of the records studied had one or more chronic medical conditions.5

The researchers acknowledge some limitations to the study, but point out overlapping conditions contribute to multi-morbidity and poor health in the U.S.6

According to the report, the study included only the following chronic conditions in their calculations. If other chronic health conditions were to be included, it would likely increase the percentage suffering from chronic disease.

? Asthma

? Diabetes

? Cirrhosis

? Heart Disease

? Hepatitis


? Lung Cancer

? Stroke

? High Blood Pressure

? Pancreatitis

Prenatal Toxic Exposures Impact Future Health

Exposure to environmental factors that may cause chronic illness may begin even before birth.7 In a unique study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, researchers tested the blood of 77 pregnant women and umbilical cord blood from 65 women once their babies were born.8

Researchers sampled women living in San Francisco between 2010 and 2011. The study is the first to measure exposure to 59 different environmental pollutants and toxic chemicals.

Many of these chemicals have been detected in 99 percent of pregnant women in the U.S., according to National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey results.9

Some of the chemicals measured included polybrominated diphenyl ethers, (PBDEs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), lead, mercury and other chemicals. In this study the median number of chemicals found in maternal blood was 25, and 17 in cord blood.10

Almost 80 percent of the chemicals found in maternal blood were also found in the infant cord blood, with concentrations of mercury and some PBDEs higher in cord blood than maternal samples.11 These chemicals are linked to developmental problems and long-term chronic illnesses.12,13,14,15  

However, one-third of the participants potentially had much less exposure to environmental toxic chemicals as they had been born in Mexico where these chemicals are not as widely used, meaning the percentage of exposure in the study is likely lower than the overall population of the U.S.

Americans Continue to Struggle With Access to Medical Care

In this portion of my lecture at Harper College, I outline some of the problems with our current health care system. The latest report from the Commonwealth Fund has not changed appreciably in the past 15 years despite the recent overhaul to health care access under the Affordable Care Act, colloquially referred to as Obamacare.16

Americans continue to pay far more for health care than other countries, but with little to demonstrate for the outlay. Key findings from the most recent Commonwealth Fund report include:17

Comparing adults in 11 countries, Americans are sicker and more economically disadvantaged, which is subsequently magnified by higher health care costs and low spending on social services.

Americans ranked last, with 41 percent experiencing multiple chronic conditions compared to France’s 23 percent.

Of the chronically ill people in the U.S., 14 percent said they didn’t get needed support from providers to manage their health conditions. This was twice the rate of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia.

American adults were more likely than adults in 10 other countries to go without health care for reasons of high cost.

The number of adults who went without care, failed to fill a prescription or did not see a doctor when sick improved from 37 percent to 33 percent since 2013. However, only between 7 and 8 percent of people in Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and Sweden experienced an issue with affordability.

Commonwealth Fund president Dr. David Blumenthal commented on the results from the latest report:18

“The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, but what we get for these significant resources falls short in terms of access to care, affordability, and coordination.

We can learn from what is working in other nations. If we’re going to do better for our patients, we need to create a health care system that addresses the needs of everyone, especially our sickest patients, and those who struggle to make ends meet.”

Cost Burden of Chronic Illness Impacts Families, Business and Politics

The cost of providing health care in the U.S. is staggering, and individuals are suffering under the burden. In 1960 health care was 5.1 percent of the GDP, but now is expected to be greater than 20 percent by 2020.19 Those costs are not all related to your care.

Hospital administration eats up 8 percent of health care costs, while comparatively those same costs are 2 percent in Finland.20 And the care inside hospitals doesn’t appear to have gotten safer. Ten years after a report released in 2000 from the Institute of Medicine, researchers did not find evidence of widespread improvement.21

The cost of health care is driving many people into bankruptcy. Unpaid medical bills affected nearly 2 million people in 2013.22 Of the total number of bankruptcies filed in 2013 for health care costs, the majority of individuals were between 35 and 54 years old.

NerdWallet analyzed data from Commonwealth Fund, U.S. census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and estimated that 10 million adults who carried insurance year-round would accumulate medical bills they couldn’t pay. NerdWallet Health Vice President Christina LaMontagne said:23

“With an average American family bringing home $50,000 in income, a high medical bill and a high-deductible insurance plan can quickly become something they are unable to pay. If you have an out-of-pocket maximum of $5,000 or $10,000, that’s really tough.”

While the Affordable Care Act has increased the number of low-income people who are insured, it is not a panacea. The incoming U.S. president has promised to make changes to the Act, and possibly completely repeal it. However, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, president-elect Donald Trump said he is considering keeping two popular provisions, an indication he’ll possibly compromise on his campaign promise.24

Is Access to Health Care the Answer?

Whether access to health care is the ultimate answer or not, the reality is that health care in the U.S. is financially out of reach for many, causes a financial burden for others and the return on the investment is not paying dividends for the users.

The research published by Emory University demonstrates that health issues are multifactorial and complex. Poverty, availability of social services and poor lifestyle choices are contributors that a strong hospital system can’t solve. While the Affordable Care Act increased the number of people who can access health care, it has not made a difference in the health of Americans.25

Cost continues to be a barrier to seeking care from physicians and filling prescriptions, as does a growing number of people suffering from heart disease, asthma, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Big Pharma is fueling the opioid epidemic and society continues to shun people with mental illness.

It is highly improbable that addressing just one aspect of health and wellness will make a significant impact on the whole. Making changes to the health of American people will require significant changes to lifestyle choices as our current health care system is more about managing diseases than promoting health.

Disease Management Versus Promoting Good Health

The current health care system is dependent upon a pharmaceutical economy and invasive surgeries without much attention paid to healthy living choices and preventive care. The system is rooted in maximized profits as opposed to helping people maintain or regain their health.

The majority of the diseases we’re trying to “manage” in this manner are lifestyle-related, and if you don’t address this root cause, you’ll never get better. You’re just paying for overpriced bandages that do absolutely nothing to fix the underlying cause and create long-term health and wellness.

I promote integrative medicine (IM), as it offers a combination of conventional medicine and complementary or alternative therapies. IM places a greater emphasis on preventing problems rather than treatment once a problem arises, using conventional drug and surgery approaches sparingly or as a last resort.

Our current system does the exact opposite. Drugs and surgery are employed first and, then, when the patient has exhausted all conventional avenues, he or she will sometimes turn to alternative therapies or nutritional interventions out of sheer desperation, frequently on their own and at their own expense. Often this is what ends up saving that person’s life. Unfortunately, many have been financially ruined by the time they’ve worked their way through the conventional system.

Reducing Prevalence of Chronic Illness 1 Decision at a Time

Incorporating healthy lifestyle choices will increase the potential you’ll enjoy optimal health and will give you the best chance to live longer without disease. Remember, it is never too late to take control of your health. It’s clear the American health care system is flawed and in need of a serious overhaul to reduce cost and improve health.

At the present rate the current system is not sustainable. However, I suggest you don’t wait for a miracle, but start focusing on simple, inexpensive lifestyle changes that can help prevent some of the most common health problems plaguing the U.S. today. The majority of deaths today are due to chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity — all of which are largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes. 

The bonus to making healthy choices is that you’re less likely to need conventional medical care, which is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. In my previous article, “It’s Time to Change American Disease-Management into a Health-Fostering System,” I provide you with a short list of basic choices that are part of my nutrition plan, designed to dramatically improve your health.

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Know the Signs of B12 Deficiency and Top B12 Benefits

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Pregnant women were recently given new information in regard to optimizing their child’s health: Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin B12.

A recent study revealed that babies whose moms had a B12 deficiency during pregnancy may later have higher odds of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as other serious metabolic problems.1

If you’ve ever gotten “that tired feeling” and general lack of energy, you may not realize you have a vitamin B12 deficiency. It can go undetected for years; in fact, around 15 percent of the U.S. population has this condition.

Several seemingly unrelated symptoms, however, such as poor memory, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, depression, and tingling in your extremities, may be an indication that getting your B12 levels checked might be a good idea.

Interestingly, Mary Todd Lincoln, who had a reputation for being emotionally and psychologically unbalanced, had these symptoms and several more that scientists now theorize may have been the reason for her behavior. Doctors of the time called it pernicious anemia, which is a B-vitamin-related malady.2

Found in animal-based foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish and poultry, vitamin B12, aka cobalamin, also comes in supplement form, and it’s added to foods such as breakfast cereal. It’s called “essential” because your body can’t produce it; it must come from an outside source.

Why is B12 necessary?

Vitamin B12 is vital for many functions throughout your body. It:

? Produces adrenal hormones

? Metabolizes folate3

? Metabolizes
fat and carbohydrates

? Forms red blood cells

? Aids in iron absorption

? Helps ensure proper circulation

? Promotes reproductive health

? Aids in digestion

? Supports nervous system function

? Optimizes nerve growth and function

How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH)4 daily recommendation for vitamin B12 supplementation is as follows, with incrementally higher doses as children mature:

But many people aren’t getting enough. This one vitamin is responsible, at least in part, for helping to make DNA, as well as red blood cells and nerves, says Harvard Health:

“And therein lies the problem: Some people don’t consume enough vitamin B12 to meet their needs, while others can’t absorb enough, no matter how much they take in. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency is relatively common, especially among older people.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that 3.2 [percent] of adults over age 50 have a seriously low B12 level, and up to 20 [percent] may have a borderline deficiency.”5

You don’t have to worry about a vitamin B12 overdose because it’s water soluble, so “your body takes what it needs and flushes out the rest,” according to The Washington Post.6

B12 Deficiency — A Vicious Cycle

Ponusammy Saravanan, Ph.D., associate clinical professor at the University of Warwick Medical School in the U.K., and senior author of the featured study, said scientists already knew that pregnant women with low B12 levels often have higher body mass index (BMI) and have babies that have low birth weight.

Studies reveal these babies also have greater insulin resistance as children, which automatically sets up their potential for having type 2 diabetes later in life.

The study team wondered if the symptoms shown in babies whose mothers were low in B12 had anything to do with leptin, the so-called “satiety hormone” that triggers your realization when you’re actually full.

Research shows that knowing when to stop eating is a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy weight. The problem occurs when overweight individuals’ levels of leptin increase, which masks satiety, leading to constant overeating because they still “feel” hungry. This phenomenon is called leptin resistance.

It’s a vicious cycle because even eating an adequate meal may not satisfy your hunger. So slowly, you gain more weight, become increasingly leptin resistant and, therefore, become more insulin resistant. Meanwhile, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes escalates.

More Findings From the Study

Saravanan’s team analyzed 91 blood samples of mothers and their newborn babies to test their vitamin B12 levels. At the same time, they looked at their fat tissue samples and 83 tissue samples from placentas.

Sure enough, the scientists found that the babies belonging to moms with a vitamin B12 deficiency more often than not had leptin levels that were higher than normal. Saravanan explained:

“The nutritional environment provided by the mother can permanently program the baby’s health.

We know that children born to under or overnourished mothers are at an increased risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, and we also see that maternal B12 deficiency may affect fat metabolism and contribute to this risk. This is why we decided to investigate leptin, the fat cell hormone.”7

The scientists hypothesized that when B12 was not adequately represented in expectant mothers, the hormone responsible for programming the leptin gene in their babies was affected. While the researchers aren’t sure which mechanisms determine this outcome, they have a few ideas.

Co-study author Adaikala Antonysunil, associate professor and research fellow, said that either low vitamin B12 causes the fetus to accumulate fat, leading to more leptin, or the B12 deficiency changes the mother’s genes that make the leptin.

Because B12 is involved in methylation reactions that can affect whether genes are turned on and off, it’s probably the latter.

If they’re right, the researchers believe the current U.S. recommendation for B12 levels for expectant moms should be increased.

Signs of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

One-quarter of U.S. adults suffer from low vitamin B12 levels. One of the hallmarks of low B12 is fatigue, which may mean you don’t have enough blood oxygen to supply energy. Health Eternally notes:

“Technically speaking though, vitamin B12 does not contain any ‘real’ energy all on its own. However, if you have megaloblastic anemia, which is famous for making you feel tired and weak, then a sudden increase in B12 can certainly make it seem like you have all the energy in the world!

That’s because vitamin B12 is critical in the production of red blood cells, which transport oxygen all throughout your body. Without oxygen, you die! So it’s not hard to see how oxygenated blood can make you feel very energetic and alive.” 8

Anxiousness and depression may occur because a B12 shortage also depresses the brain chemical serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to your brain’s pleasure centers, and dopamine, the mood regulator registering memory and mood. Unless there’s an intervention, low B12 levels may even lead to paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Other signs include:

? A numb, tingly, “pins and needles” sensation in your hands, legs or feet, which may indicate possible nerve damage.

? Yellow skin, an indication that your red blood cells are degrading, which releases a yellow pigment in the process.

? A swollen, “smooth” tongue with fewer papillae “bumps” containing taste buds.

One patient recovered completely after receiving B12 treatment.9

? Unstable, wobbly and dizzy feelings, which are signs there may not be enough oxygen in your blood, related to low B12.

? Blurry or double vision, or shadows in your field of vision, caused by optic nerve damage from a B12 deficiency.

? Memory loss, which may be a red flag when it has no other potential cause.

What Causes a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

There are a number of key reasons for a B12 deficiency, which doctors sometimes overlook. Individuals at risk for B12 deficiency include:

? Vegetarians and vegans, who are susceptible because B12 is derived from animal products.

? People who regularly drink alcohol, because B12 is stored in your liver.

? Anyone with an autoimmune disease like Crohn’s or celiac, which may prevent your body from being able to absorb B12.

? People who drink more than four cups of coffee daily, who have around 15 percent less B vitamins, including B12, than non-coffee consumers.10

? Those who’ve had gastric bypass surgery and therefore have altered digestive systems, which may be a factor.

? People exposed to nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas, which can wipe out whatever B12 reserves you may have in your body.

? Older adults, because as you grow older, your ability to produce intrinsic factor decreases.

Intrinsic factor is a protein made by stomach cells that’s necessary for B12 absorption.

H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) bacteria can also destroy them, preventing B12 absorption.11

? People who take antacids, which have a tendency to interfere with B12 absorption, especially over time.

? Patients who take Metformin for low blood sugar, as the drug interferes with B12 absorption.

? Anyone taking a proton-pump inhibitor like Prevacid or Nexium or H2 blocker such as Pepcid or Zantac.12

Vitamin B12 is present in its natural form only from animal sources. While vegans are urged to augment their B12 intake by stocking up on nutritional yeast, coconut oil and fortified coconut milk, a strict vegan or even vegetarian diet is not recommended. In fact, there are cases in which a deficiency causes brain abnormalities.

A deficiency can be corrected by weekly shots of vitamin B12 or daily high-dose B12 supplements, and a mild case with a standard supplement or increased intake of vitamin B12-rich foods.13 A more detailed list of the B12 in specific foods can be found at NIH.14

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If Common Chemicals Harm Frogs and Rats, What Are They Doing to Your Children?

Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

The TED Talk above features Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, director of the documentary film “Toxic Baby,”1 and Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, who has dedicated most of his career to studying the health effects of the herbicide atrazine.

According to Chaffer, the average American woman today has 30,000 to 50,000 chemicals in her body that her grandparents did not have. Many of these chemicals have been linked to the rapidly rising incidence of chronic childhood diseases.

Statistics Reveal Our Children Are at Grave Risk

In her talk, Chaffer cites the following statistics, which may well be higher today, since this talk was given six years ago, in 2010:

  • In the U.K., incidence of childhood leukemia rose by 20 percent in one generation
  • In Canada, prevalence of asthma increased by 400 percent in 20 years; 1 in 10 children is now diagnosed with asthma
  • In the U.S., childhood cancers have seen a similar rise as that of childhood leukemia in the U.K. Autism spectrum disorder has also increased by 600 percent in the past 20 years; incidence of autism rose by 57 percent between 2002 and 2006 alone
  • In the Netherlands, Rotterdam has seen a 400 percent increase in genital birth defects

Obesity and juvenile diabetes have also skyrocketed, and while a high-sugar diet likely bears the brunt of the blame, there’s every reason to suspect that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) — many of which enter our system via processed foods — add to the metabolic dysfunction we now see.

Atrazine Is a Common Water Contaminant

Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S., and the most commonly found herbicide in U.S. ground, rain and drinking water. It’s widely used to combat weeds on golf courses, residential lawns and in commercial agriculture. For example, it’s used on half of all corn grown in the U.S.

Atrazine was approved for use in 1958, and its long history of use is often cited as “proof” of its safety. However, history tells us toxic chemicals can remain in use for a very long time before appropriate action is taken against them.

The European Union (EU) banned atrazine in 2005, as suspicions of health problems and environmental damage mounted. In the U.S., atrazine use continued unabated, in large part due to powerful lobbying efforts by Syngenta. In 2005, Syngenta spent $250,000 on lobbying in Minnesota alone, to keep atrazine sales going.

Hayes’ involvement with atrazine began when Novartis (which later became Syngenta) hired him to investigate the effects of atrazine on amphibians. His research showed that atrazine, even at the very low level of 0.1 part per billion (ppb), causes hermaphroditism in frogs.

Atrazine’s Effects on Frogs May Indicate Effects on Children

It turns males into egg-laying females by inducing an enzyme called aromatase, which causes overproduction of estrogen. Even more disturbing, it produced male frogs with TWO sets of each sex organ, meaning two sets of testes and two sets of ovaries.

The voice box in male frogs also did not develop properly, indicating that testosterone was not being produced at appropriate levels for development.

Normally, the male testes make testosterone. Atrazine “turns on” the enzyme aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen. As a result, the male frogs lose their testosterone; they’re essentially chemically castrated, and are feminized as a result of the excessive estrogen being produced.

Recent testing has revealed 85 percent of male smallmouth bass in 19 American wildlife refuges are now carrying eggs. Like amphibians, smallmouth bass are known to be very sensitive to pollutants, hence, researchers use them as an “indicator species” when evaluating the ecological impact of environmental pollutants.

In the case of water pollution with EDCs, the situation does indeed appear to be severe. The lowest incidence of feminization or intersex in the wildlife refuges tested was 60 percent. The highest was 100.2

From Frogs to Babies

On the whole, Hayes’ research raises serious questions about human health effects. Atrazine may be involved in the development of breast cancer, for example, since many breast cancers are triggered by the overproduction of estrogen and are regulated by the enzyme aromatase.

As noted by Hayes, aromatase is so important in the development of breast cancer, the cancer drug Letrozole works by blocking aromatase, which in turn blocks estrogen production. Ironically, Letrozole is also produced by Syngenta, the same company that brought us atrazine.

It should be obvious to anyone that “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure,” but instead of addressing rising breast cancer rates by preventing exposure to the aromatase-inducing chemical (atrazine), Syngenta is allowed to make large profits by selling an aromatase-blocking treatment (Letrozole) instead.

According to Hayes, recent research published by an international team of scientists, including himself, shows atrazine causes sexual reproductive problems in a wide range of animals, including mammals, birds and fish, not just amphibians, which was the focus of his earlier research.

One study also linked atrazine exposure in utero to impaired sexual development in young boys, causing genital deformations, including microphallus (micropenis).

The evidence3,4 also suggests atrazine exposure may contribute to a number of different cancers, specifically ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy-cell leukemia and thyroid cancer.

Elevated concentrations of atrazine in drinking water have been associated with birth defects, including abdominal defects, gastroschisis (in which the baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body) and others.

Syngenta Suppressed Research Showing Atrazine Risks

In another interview (below), Hayes revealed that Syngenta initially tried to convince him to manipulate and misrepresent the data. When he refused, the company retaliated by refusing to grant him permission to publish the results. He also was not allowed to discuss the data outside a closed panel of Syngenta employees.

After cutting ties with Syngenta in 2000, he obtained independent funding to repeat the research, which was subsequently published. Since then, he’s built an educational website dedicated to informing the public about atrazine.5

Atrazine Causes Fertility Problems

According to Hayes, atrazine:

  • Induces breast cancer in females
  • Induces prostate cancer in males
  • Male fertility is reduced by as much as 50 percent, as the chemical produces holes in the testicular tissue. This has been shown in fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals
  • Retards mammary (breast) development in females
  • Induces abortion in female rodents

Peer-reviewed studies also support the notion that atrazine poses similar threats to humans.6 Among female rodents exposed to atrazine, spontaneous abortions are common. And when abortion does not occur, the surviving male pups have higher rates of prostate disease — they’re essentially born with an old man’s disease — and female pups have impaired mammary development.

When the surviving pups go on to reproduce, the following generation suffers impaired growth and development because the mother is unable to make enough milk due to impaired mammary development. Considering these generational effects, those of us who are exposed to this chemical today are affecting not only the health of our own children (predisposing them to obesity, diabetes, breast cancer and more), but also the health of our grandchildren’s grandchildren.

These chemicals not only cross the placenta, entering the baby while still in the womb, they also pass through breast milk. So whatever the mother is exposed to, the baby gets as well, even after they’re born. “We are, in effect, polluting our children,” Chaffer says.

Other Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

Chaffer also touches on other hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical so well-known for its estrogenic effects that it was even considered for use in synthetic hormone replacement therapy at one point. Despite this, and despite research showing it leaches from the plastic, BPA was used in hard plastic baby bottles and sippy cups.

In 2010, the EU banned BPA in infant products such as these, recognizing that dosing infants with estrogen is a bad idea. Around the same time, Canada declared BPA a toxic substance and use of it in baby products has been banned there as well.
The U.S. finally followed suit in 2012, banning BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups.7 However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) went on to reassert the safety of BPA in 2014, even when it comes into contact with, and migrates into, food.8

Based on the evidence, it is beyond irrational to conclude that this verdict is anything but the result of lobbying and the revolving door between the FDA and the chemical industry. Hence, BPA is still widely used in hard plastics, can liners, paper receipts and a wide variety of other plastic goods, so exposure continues to be widespread. EDCs such as BPA and BPS, dioxins, organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, phthalates and others, have been linked to:9

? IQ loss and associated intellectual disability

? Autism

? Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

? Childhood and adult obesity

? Prostate and breast cancers

? Adult diabetes

? Cryptorchidism (undescended testicle)

? Male infertility

? Mortality associated with reduced testosterone

? Male and female reproductive dysfunctions

? Cardiopulmonary disease

? Immune dysregulation

EPA Reassesses Atrazine

Syngenta and other atrazine proponents insist that atrazine is safe for the simple fact that it’s been used for over 50 years and even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has supported its safety. However, that may soon change. On June 6, 2016, the EPA released a new risk assessment for atrazine,10 and it presents a far harsher view of the chemical.

It is not expected to be finalized until 2017, but it may well lead to tighter regulatory limits and possibly even an eventual ban, based on the level of concern found. An EPA “level of concern” describes the threshold above which a chemical may be expected to cause harm.

The risk assessment concluded the chemical may cause reproductive harm to mammals, fish and birds, with the level of concern surpassed nearly 200-fold using real-world scenarios for mammals. For fish and birds, atrazine exceeded the level of concern by 62- and 22-fold, respectively.

How to Protect Yourself From Atrazine and Other Pesticide Exposures

According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75 percent of the U.S. population has detectable levels of pesticides in their urine, and unless you’re a farmer, your diet is one of the most likely routes of exposure, along with your drinking water.11

Eating organic is one of the best ways to lower your overall pesticide burden. The largest study12 of its kind found that people who “often or always” ate organic food had 65 percent lower levels of pesticide residues compared to those who ate the least amount of organic produce. Organic produce also had, on average, 180 times lower pesticide content than conventional produce.13

If food budget restrictions require you to prioritize, refer to the Dirty Dozen list and buy organic as much as possible when you’re choosing foods that are listed as the most-contaminated. If you shop at farmers markets, which I strongly recommend, you can also ask the farmer directly about pesticide usage.

It’s possible to find produce that is not certified organic that may still have a lower pesticide burden than typical conventional produce depending on the farmer. So if you can’t find organic produce, look for a local farmer who has eliminated pesticide use (or uses a minimal amount of such chemicals).

Filtering Your Tap Water Is Important to Reduce Atrazine Exposure

Atrazine is the most commonly detected pesticide in U.S. water supplies, so I recommend filtering your tap water — both for drinking and bathing. To remove atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it.

Fortunately, since it is a relatively large organic molecule it is easily filtered by a quality carbon filter. Look for a filter certified by NSF International to meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard 53 for volatile organic compounds (VOC) reduction.14 This will significantly reduce your exposure to atrazine and other pesticides.

Finally, if you know you have been exposed to pesticides, eat fermented foods like kimchi. The lactic acid bacteria formed during the fermentation of kimchi may actually help your body break down pesticides. In addition, there is some evidence that the antioxidant lycopene, found in watermelon, tomatoes, red bell peppers and more, may protect against some of atrazine’s toxic effects.15

Other Tips to Limit Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

While it may be virtually impossible to avoid all chemical exposure, your diet, personal care and common household products likely pose the most immediate risk to your and your family’s health. This is particularly true when it comes to hormone-disrupting chemicals.16 To limit your exposure to EDCs, 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 and 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 EDCs that are just as bad for you as BPA.

? Switch to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics.

EWG’s Skin Deep database17 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.18

Note that the Safe Drinking Water Act regulates DEHP levels only for public water supplies, not for well water.

Filtering your water is also important to limit exposure to atrazine and fluorinated firefighting chemicals,19 both of which are common drinking water contaminants in the U.S.

? Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain dozens 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.20

? 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.

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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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