Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Evidence Links Mercury Emissions to Rates of Autism

Mercury is bad news, what more do I need to say? In the natural world, exposure to mercury was limited to things like emissions from exploding volcanoes. Now our body burden is enormous from so many sources--including the fillings in your mouth. The autism rate used to be 1 in 10,000 not so long ago, now it's 1 in 150 or even more.

P.S. forget about those compact flourescent lights--they have mercury! When you break 'em you'll be sorry. Get LEDs instead por favor!

(NaturalNews) Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) say that "for the first time in scientific literature, a statistically significant association between autism risk and distance from the mercury source" has been established.

Lead researcher Raymond F. Palmer PhD says, "This is not a definitive study, but just one more that furthers the association between environment mercury and autism". The study, Proximity to point sources of environmental mercury release as a predictor of autism prevalence appears in the journal Health & Place (2008).

"We suspect low-dose exposures to various environmental toxicants, including mercury, that occur during critical windows of neural development among genetically susceptible children may increase the risk for developmental disorders such as autism".

Mercury sources evaluated in the UTHSC study included "coal-fired utility plants (33 percent of exposures), municipal/medical waste incinerators (29 percent) and commercial/industrial boilers (18 percent)". Concrete manufacturing was also listed as a source of mercury emissions.

Autism rates were gathered in 1,040 Texas school districts and distance from mercury sources were measured to a central point in the communities studied.

Researchers noted that children with autism not enrolled in the school districts studied were not included in the data. Therefore autism rates presented in this study may be somewhat under-reported.

Key findings from the UTHSC study news release

* For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by all industrial sources in Texas into the environment in 1998, there was a corresponding 2.6 percent increase in autism rates in the Texas school districts in 2002.

* For every 1,000 pounds of mercury released by Texas power plants in 1998, there was a corresponding 3.7 percent increase in autism rates in Texas school districts in 2002.

* Autism prevalence diminished 1 percent to 2 percent for every 10 miles from the source.

Adding up the mercury body burden

Considering other sources of mercury exposure, from fish consumption, mercury amalgams and mercury preserved vaccinations along with the data from this revealing study, it isn't hard to see that the total body burden of mercury to pregnant and nursing mothers and young children is increasing at a potentially dangerous rate.

read more here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iodine deficiency despite iodized salt

MAN FERTILITY and I were just on Block Island, a pristine (as these things go--almost half the island is conservation land) island with lots of free food just lying around: seaweed! During our romantic walks, I also went a little nuts grabbing all the fresh irish moss and kelp that had just washed up on the beach. People often joke that it's Koreans' consumption of seaweed that gives us our nice hair. However, it's not tat far fetched: you need sufficient iodine for thyroid health, and if deficient, guess what, your hair falls out. In Korea it isn't unusual so see these very elderly men with huge, bushy heads of hair. From Natural News:

(NaturalNews) ...It is highly accepted that iodized salt is sufficient to meet the body's requirements. Although this assertion has been taught in medical schools for several decades, many studies counter that claim. Furthermore, researchers have found that the iodine in salt has poor bioavailability, meaning that the body does not fully absorb the dosage.

...Iodized salt hasn't eliminated iodine deficiency disorders in the U.S. Recent studies by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicate low levels in more than 50% of the population (accounting for all demographic categories including ethnicity, region, economic status, race, and population density).

Adequate iodine levels are crucial for all aspects of health and well-being; in fact, in generations past, physicians routinely used iodine in medical practice. The typical dose was 1 gram of potassium iodide (KI), containing 770 mg of iodine, which far exceeds the current U.S. RDA of 150 mcg.

Iodine's Role in the Body

Principally known for its job in proper metabolism and thyroid function, iodine is also necessary for a healthy immune system and has many therapeutic benefits including antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral and anticancer properties.

The thyroid is the body's main storage site for iodine. The mineral is also concentrated in the glandular system, including the body's sweat glands. The ovaries, breasts, prostate and the brain contain high concentrations of iodine, and virtually every cell in the body is dependant on this important element. When a deficiency exists, the thyroid competes with other storage sites and all become depleted. An unmet deficit puts one at risk for a variety of conditions and illnesses, including cancer.

Iodine is also essential for children's growth and development, and a deficiency in pregnant women is the primary cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage, as disclosed by the World Health Organization.

read more here.
A GreenFertility tip: regular table salt is bleached and has also sort of excipients (i.e., crap!) to make it flow better, etc. I found this out when we put our son on a gluten-free and special low-carb diet, and we were warned to watch out for dextrose, aluminum anti caking agents, etc., in table salt. We've always since then used sea salt and get our iodine the natural way, via seaweed.

To do your own at-home experiment to see what icky things may lurk on your Morton's:
click here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Understanding Heath Ledger's death: How drug company advertisements, doctors, pharmacies and patients intertwine to cause an overdose

I got this from, a nice article that explains it in layperson's terms, but from a clearthinking physician:

Understanding Heath Ledger's death

How drug company advertisements, doctors, pharmacies and patients intertwine to cause an overdose.

By Larry Zaroff, M.D., Ph.D.

Mar. 06, 2008 | Heath Ledger stopped breathing. An accidental overdose of prescribed medicines is the presumed cause of death. Ledger's toxicology report revealed that he had ingested two sleep medications (Restoril and Unisom), two potent narcotics (oxycodone and hydrocodone) and two tranquilizers (Valium and Xanax). The dosages, not documented, were enough to kill him.

The public occasionally hears of drug-related deaths among the famous. Often the drugs involved are illegal: heroin or cocaine. But death or near death from prescribed drugs, as in the cases of Judy Garland and Anna Nicole Smith, is not unusual, and may not be related to addiction or suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor-vehicle crashes rank first among unintentional deaths in America. But poisoning is second, most commonly from the abuse of prescription and illegal drugs. Unintentional deaths from accidental drug ingestion rose significantly from 1999 to 2004. This trend is primarily due to increasing use of prescription opioid analgesics, and not heroin, methamphetamines or other illegal drugs.

Where does the problem start? How do drug company advertisements, doctors, pharmacies and patients intertwine to cause an overdose?

If a tired, stressed-at-work patient is sick, depressed over a relationship, having pain and develops insomnia -- as Ledger apparently did -- what does he do? He has no doubt been exposed to a media blitz, a tsunami of public proclamations asserting the prowess of a sleeping medication. Pop a pill and you get a perfect night's sleep, eight hours of bliss. Only after you see the beautiful people sleeping and waking refreshed to win a Nobel, and after a sweet voice describes the pill's perfection, do you hear a mellow reminder of the side effects. Be careful, don't drive or drink and, oh, yes, sleeping pills can be addictive. The warning may even advise you to talk to your doctor about other medications.

However, no notation is made that with prolonged use, the pills tend to be less effective so that you will want to increase the dose. For the average person, without knowledge of pharmacology, the risk of such blandishments can be high -- serious side effects and death. The risks are also high for the pharmaceutical companies: millions spent for media buys and billions in revenue accrued from the sales.

Now, any patient, unable to sleep because her back aches or her work overwhelms, feeling protected by the Kevlar of information from Big Pharma, goes to her doctor -- internist or family doctor -- or maybe in the case of a prominent athlete or actor, a physician-friend.

What determines the doctor's reaction when he hears of chronic pain or inability to sleep night after night? The doctor's education -- four years of college, four years of medical school followed by a residency of four to eight years -- has been focused on science, emphasizing prompt relief of symptoms. Medical students learn that pills solve problems. Commonly only allowed a 20-minute visit with patients, a limit insisted on by administrators, the physician is often quick to prescribe without probing for the underlying problem.

The physician may not take the time to ask the patient what other drugs are stored in her medicine cabinet, or if she has seen additional doctors for her problem. Even if the doctor asks, "What other medicines have you been on?" the patient may have forgotten, or not wish to tell the doctor, wanting to keep a large supply on hand to meet an increasing need or even an addiction.

Consider the best-case scenario: The doctor gives the patient a prescription for a small supply, warns of side effects, cautions against overdose and interactions with other drugs. But the patient, worried, ill, does not pay attention to the doctor's words. Particularly if she is alone, she forgets or discards the information.

Next the patient brings the script to a drugstore to pick up her medicine. The pharmacist is too busy to chat with her or too overworked (a nationwide shortage of pharmacists exists) to warn of side effects, or the patient is in too great a hurry to listen, so a clerk hands over the pills without any information. Along with the pills, the manufacturer has inserted a parchment, often written in small hieroglyphics, that lists all the information a patient should absorb before absorbing the pills. Stand outside any pharmacy and ask 10 patrons if they have read or plan to digest the onion skin that tells all. You will find, I venture, nine who have no plans to even glance at the printout.

After leaving the drugstore, the patient realizes the wise doctor has given her only 30 pills, not enough, since one pill no longer gives her what she requires: deep, worry-free sleep or relief of pain or anxiety. If she has all three problems, she will need more pills or other kinds. She goes to another doctor and gets a second supply. She is set for the moment. But her work requires travel, sometimes out of the country. She can locate other doctors in other places who will prescribe. Now she has a fine stash both in her medicine cabinet and in her suitcase.

She is young, smart, well regarded by her associates. She is the opposite of careless. But she has no understanding of physiology, how the body works, what controls vital functions -- breathing, heartbeat, circulation -- and how drugs can affect these functions. How drugs work, their rate of absorption, their peak level of activity, is of no interest to her. She only wants relief of her insomnia, her pain, her worries. She has no idea that drugs have an optimum dose, that combinations of drugs might be like taking too much of a single drug, that often dissimilar medicines can affect the same organs and stop their activities. Unknown to her, she may even have a genetic abnormality that makes her more susceptible to the synergistic effects of the drugs.

The patient is not an addict and suicide is the last thing she would consider. But she has a tough day ahead of her. She needs her sleep. She decides to take two sleeping pills since one did not work well enough the previous night. Because she strained her back yesterday and feared the pain might keep her awake, she takes a narcotic, a single dose. She feels edgy despite the sleeping pills and the narcotic, and so she takes a tranquilizer. The witches' brew works. She dozes off but awakes in two hours, her mind jumbled. She must sleep. She slips into the bathroom and repeats the doses. She lies down, sleeps soon, too deeply. An hour later she stops breathing. She is alone, no one to aid her.

What is the answer to prescription drug overdoses? There is no perfect solution, any more than there is a drug without side effects. But a nationwide database of patient records, including a list of prescribed drugs, would help. The database would be available to all prescribing professionals and pharmacists. A similar program is in place in the Kaiser system. Of course, many patients would object vehemently for privacy reasons. A patient who needed codeine for an episode of acute back pain might worry how a prospective employer would interpret the information. Safeguards to protect patient data would need to be maximized.

The prevalence of increasing drug use in our society with the complication of overdose demands a solution. At a minimum, patients need to learn and understand the dangers of mixing and overdosing drugs, which can lead to the collapse of lung, heart and nervous systems. More informative commercials would help. Using Ledger's tragic death as a case study to educate students and other medical personal would be a powerful reminder.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your Baby is What You Eat


How much a mother eats at the time of conception may influence whether she gives birth to a boy or a girl, a new report shows.

The report, from researchers at Oxford and the University of Exeter in England, is said to be the first evidence that a child’s sex is associated with a mother’s diet. Although sex is genetically determined by whether sperm from the father supplies an X or Y chromosome, it appears that a mother’s body can favor the successful development of a male or female embryo.

Read more here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Parents of Autistic Kids Take Income Hit

You know, they put the mercury and aluminum in vaccines to save fifty cents per dose, to keep it clean (ugh, or clean-er) in these multi-dose vials where they could put it in individual doses for just a little more money.

And for parents who have children with "autistic-like" symptoms due to vaccine damage, the psychic cost is overwhelming, there's an over 90% divorce rate, and this study confirms that vaccine damage/autism is so overwhelming that it even affects a family's earning power. I can attest to that, given the endless visits (hospital all day Wednesday, osteopath Thursday, social worker home visit next week etc.) we have to do, and, the thousands and thousands of dollars we pay out of pocket (hello, home equity loan!). We know this, but in case you don't:

Study Shows 14% Lower Income Among Families Facing Autism

By Miranda Hitti, WebMD Medical News

April 2, 2008 -- Parents of children with autism earn 14% less than parents who don't have autistic kids.

That news appears in April's edition of Pediatrics.

The finding is based on 11,000 U.S. children in kindergarten through eighth grade. The group included 131 children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to their parents.

The kids' parents reported their earnings -- including salaries and interest on investments -- along with their education level, age, and other factors.

The survey results suggest that "families with a child with autism attain lower income than expected based on their educational and demographic characteristics," write the researchers, who included Guillermo Montes, PhD, of the Children's Institute in Rochester, N.Y.

"The average loss of annual income associated with having a child with autism spectrum disorder was $6,200," Montes and colleagues calculate.

That figure is only about income. It doesn't include expenses related to autism, such as out-of-pocket costs for therapies and schooling.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Review: Le Creuset Cookware

Okay, okay, everyone's been asking re: all the posts about the crap in cookware, which one is okay? We were so sad to retire our wedding Calphalon cookware because (1) nonstick surface and (2) aluminum.

Even too much iron is not good for you, so cast iron is not our everyday cookware, either.

We mostly were using Visions glass cookware, something that's been discontinued (and they can explode if the temperature change is too abrupt--eeek!), and that's what I use exclusively for our rice because I can see how it's doing (no more automatic rice cooker--sigh!). You can find them by scouring garage sales and Ebay. But sometimes we need something a bit more heavy duty.

Our chef friend tipped me off about Le Creuset, she mentioned that chefs like it because it's "non-reactive" with food. Aha, that says to me, does not leach crap into the food! Le Creuset has been made since 1925 in France and it's enamel over cast iron (makes for some heavy lifting). The enamel is inert and as long as you use enough oil, food doesn't stick. You can go straight from the fridge to the stove and then dishwasher. It says the knobs are okay to 325 degrees in the oven but they ARE plastic, so I'm not recommending that. It also takes a little more love and care--we only use wooden utensils with ours.

In the search for safe, inert cookware, I've also noted that some healthy advice types like Dr. Mercola have their own LeCreuset lookalike stuff. However, I will mention that we were given a Le Creuset lookalike (Belgian made) and it's become so pocked it looks like it has smallpox, and obviously the iron will be leaching through it. I do think you get what you pay for. The sticker price of the Le Creuset is scary, but remember to amortize it over 3 meals/day, 365 days/year and no icky teflon or aluminum of nickel (most stainless steel contains some nickel--if a magnet doesn't stick to it, there's enough corrupting nickel to make it un-magnetic. Nickel isn't going to do you a lot of health favors, either).

Not to mention that it makes cooking a pleasure. Simmer a sauce all day, heat up milk for yogurt, sautee some onions and then add water for soup. Nice heat distribution, makes you want to wear a chef's toque, I like to threaten MAN FERTILITY with the very heavy fry pan (if only Silda Spitzer had had one of those!).

Treat yourself to a pot you'll use 151 different ways and a fry pan and you're set for good cookin' and good lookin'.

Check it out at

Monday, April 21, 2008

Consumers More Open To Marketing Messages If Persuaded To Doubt Their Knowledge About A Brand

You could say the same thing about drugs: time pressured people probably forget the heparin/Vioxx/Zyprexa/ [fill in the blank] scandal when their harried time pressured doc is getting out the prescription pad and telling you to just take the pill and don't call him in the morning.

I actually remember a thyroid doctor trying to get me to doubt my own knowledge of TSH ranges, throwing all these big words at me, while he was actually just talking quickly out of his butt. That's one of the purposes of jargon, to make things seem more difficult.

Caveat emptor!!!

From Newswise, the journalists-only site:

Newswise — Opening yourself up to new ideas may be as easy as furrowing your brow or reading blurry print, according to the research of a Kansas State University marketing professor.

Kyoungmi Lee, an assistant professor of marketing, found that consumers were less likely to hold onto existing ideas about a brand if they were made to feel a sense of difficulty thinking about it, especially when they are time-pressured. That is because a sense of difficulty can lead consumers to doubt their understanding of a brand.

Lee said it's the same thing that happens at a busy fast-food restaurant. If you feel time-pressured to make a decision because there is huge line of hurried people behind you, anything that makes you feel that you don't understand the brand -- a new menu, a redesigned logo or a change in packaging -- may prompt you to choose your meal quickly based on whatever information you have, including in-store advertising telling you the menu item is "new" or "fresh."

Lee's research was conducted with Sharon Shavitt, a professor in business administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They studied consumer perceptions about the healthfulness of foods offered at McDonald's. Their research will appear in a coming issue of the Journal of Marketing Research.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Carcinogens in "Organic" Bodycare Products

This is disappointing, to say the least. Half the products at Whole Foods are on this list!

GreenFertility likes Dr. Hauschka; their products are biodynamic, which goes beyond organic and of course have to hew to much stricter German safety standards. The rare times when I go on TV and I have to wear makeup and want to skip the blechy professional stuff they use, I always go with a German company, usually my pal Dr. H.

Prior GreenFertility posts of interest:


From the Organic Consumers Association:

Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical "known to the State of California to cause cancer" under proposition 65, and has no place in "natural" or "organic" branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading "natural" and "organic" branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program. The products/brands tested are listed on the attached page with the level of 1,4-Dioxane detected, if any, along with ethoxylated ingredients listed on the label.

Some of the Leading Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:

Both the OCA and Steinman are calling for misleadingly labeled "Organic(s)" brands which include ethoxylate ingredients or otherwise utilize petrochemicals in their ingredients, to drop all organic claims from their branding and labeling. "The practice of ethoxylating ingredients or using other petroleum compounds must end for natural personal care, and is that much more outrageous in so-called 'organics' brand products," says Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the OCA.
"At a time when our nation is dangerously dependent on foreign oil and attempting to wean itself off unnecessary dependence on petroleum-based ingredients in major consumer products for national security reasons, it is self-defeating that we are literally bathing ourselves and our children in toxic petroleum compounds," says Steinman. "But consumers should also take heart in the emergence of a growing number of companies who've received the message and who are seeking to completely avoid petrochemicals in their cosmetic and personal care products. Your best bet is to purchase products whose ingredients you can pronounce or better yet are certified under the USDA National Organic Program."

Brands Found not to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
All USDA Certified brands tested in this study were 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
  • Dr. Bronner's
    Sensibility Soaps (Nourish)
All German Natural "BDIH" Certified brands tested
were found to be 1,4-Dioxane-free:
  • Aubrey Organics
    Dr. Hauschka
read more here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Left Brain, Right Brain = WATCH THIS

Wow, I can't even remember who sent me this (good karma to you!). As they say, there are no coincidences. This is fro mone of those TED talks. Please take some time out of your day and watch this--it's worth it! And pass it on!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I think I guest-blogged on Lipstick Chronicles about my uber-cute and charming dentist in NYC--not the greatest way to pick a dentist (recommended by a friend who was also going to him because he was cute), but what was really cool, was that when I dragged MAN FERTILITY in to see him, he needed some fillings (no cavities for the FertilityBitch!), and our adorable dentist automatically put in composite, not mercury fillings. Of course back then what did we know? MAN FERTILITY recently got his mercury fillings out (put in by a different dentist, not Dr. Kent!) and feels so much better. Mercury doesn't belong in your head! Or anywhere near the human body!

(NaturalNews) Effective January 1st of this year, Norway has become the first nation to legislate a sweeping ban on the use of amalgam fillings in dental work. Previous laws forbid the use of mercury-containing fillings in more vulnerable segments of the population, such as pregnant women and children, but the new law is the first to forbid the use of the toxic metal without exemption. Mercury has also been banned from all other products produced, imported, exported, sold, and used in the country.

In a prepared statement, Norway's Minister of Environment and Development, Erik Solheim stated that "Mercury is among the most dangerous environmental toxins. Satisfactory alternatives to mercury in products are available, and it is therefore fitting to introduce a ban."

Sweden has followed suit with a ban on mercury fillings effective April 1st, 2008, and other countries are now contemplating similar moves.

Amalgam fillings, which unbeknownst to many are composed primarily of mercury, raise the level of mercury circulating in the blood. Mercury is listed as one of the most toxic substances on earth and many who are sensitive to the substance have reported improvements in health upon removal of the toxic fillings. The Norwegian and Swedish bans come at a time when alternative composite fillings have become strong enough to replace amalgams under practically any circumstance.

read more here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Morgellons Disease May Be Linked to Genetically Modified Food

This is really creepy. I keep hearing about Morgellons disease, and any time doctors call a bunch of people crazy, my ears perk up (CFS, which I have,had been recognized as a real disease by the CDC, decades of telling it was telling us we're crazy). I also can't imagine a mass hysteria of people claiming they have colored fibers coming out of their skin.

This is an explanation that makes sense: GMOs! We have no idea what the long term effect is, and maybe it's this!

(NaturalNews) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has given care giant Kaiser Permanente over $300,000 to test and interview 150 to 500 patients suffering from Morgellons Disease. The study will be done in northern California where many Morgellons patients live.

Prior to this news, people had written off the disease as a hoax or the result of hypochondria. But recent evidence suggests that the disease is indeed real, and may be related to genetically modified (GM) food.

What is Morgellons Disease?

On August 1, 2007, the CDC issued the following statement regarding Morgellons Disease: "Morgellons is an unexplained and debilitating condition that has emerged as a public health concern. Recently, the CDC has received an increased number of inquiries from the public, health care providers, public health officials, Congress, and the media regarding this condition. Persons who suffer from this condition report a range of coetaneous symptoms including crawling, biting and stinging sensations; granules, threads or black speck-like materials on or beneath the skin; and/or lesions (e.g., rashes or sores) and some sufferers also report systemic manifestations such as fatigue, mental confusion, short term memory loss, joint pain, and changes in vision. Moreover, some who suffer from this condition appear to have substantial morbidity and social dysfunction, which can include decreased work productivity or job loss, total disability, familial estrangement, divorce, loss of child custody, home abandonment, and suicidal ideation."

As of February, 2007, approximately 10,000 families had registered with the Morgellons Research Foundation (MRF) and felt they or a member of their family met criteria for Morgellons as defined by the MRF. Of the U.S. families in the MRF registry, 24% reside in California with geographic clustering in the San Francisco metropolitan areas.

read more here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Health Benefits from Tea

This is from Newswise, the journalists'-only website. What the FertilityBitch finds interesting is that tea supplements do not seem to provide the same benefits that drinking tea does. If you see our kitchen counter, it's full of jars of fermenting kombucha, kimchi, and some of Chang's chickens boiling on the stove to make a minteral rich broth. Our son has recently discovered he really likes bone marrow, so we scrape it out of the chicken bones. I think the word of the day is MICRONUTRIENTS. As much as scientists try to isolate, synthesize, etc., no one really knows all of the cool particles and things that make up food, so while we DO take supplements, we try to get as much from food as possible.

It seems, for e.g., that while you can take capsules of probiotics, if you eat kimchi, you get the good little critters already bathed in lactic acid, which is the correct pH for them, plus enzymes, plus all the cancer-fighting stuff from cabbage, PLUS, the naturally occurring strain of lactobacilli in cabbage, l. plantarum is incredibly hardy. Plus, it's delicious. MAN FERTILITY and I just ate a load of kimchi chigae last night. There you go.


Newswise — Tea drinkers who opt for black, oolong, green or white teas may find that these beverages offer health benefits. The April issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers what is -- and isn’t -- known about the health effects of drinking tea.

Black, oolong, green or white teas have a common origin. Each is produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. The leaves are loaded with flavonoids and other polyphenols that work as antioxidants, possibly lowering the risk of some diseases.

While numerous studies have found possible benefits, the actual benefits of drinking tea are not certain. Most research about tea’s benefits is based on population (epidemiological) studies. Findings are limited because factors other than tea consumption could influence the results. Here’s some of what’s known about tea’s potential benefits:

Cardiovascular: It’s still uncertain if drinking tea over long periods might positively affect cholesterol levels, blood pressure and atherosclerosis. There’s some early evidence that regularly drinking green tea may reduce heart attack risk or atherosclerosis. There’s conflicting evidence on black tea consumption and heart attack risk reduction.

Cancer: It’s still unknown whether regular black tea consumption influences cancer rates. Early lab tests with white tea indicate it may protect against colon cancer in particular. So far, well-designed studies haven’t proven this.

Bone and joint health: Early laboratory research indicates green tea could be beneficial in reducing inflammation related to arthritis and slowing cartilage breakdown. Some early data indicate that regular tea consumption might improve bone mineral density in older women.

Memory: Studies are limited, but a recent one found that older adults in Japan who drank green tea daily showed less risk of memory difficulty, compared with those who didn’t drink tea regularly.

While there’s still much to learn about tea’s health benefits, the potential benefits seem to be in the cup, not in supplements or tea extract capsules. So far, there’s no certainty that the compounds in supplements are the same ones in tea, and even less certainty that these supplements might provide the same potential health benefits as tea.

Friday, April 11, 2008

REVIEW: Fertell--Do tell!

From what I have heard on the blog and beyond, there is nothing sadder that going to the fertility specialist (sometimes having to sit in a room full of pregnant women!) and do all the icky fertility tests. Especially the poor guys and those sticky magazines...

Well, now with Fertell, you can do some of it at home.

The male test looks at sperm motility and quantity (sorry, no pornos included) in some kind of base that simulates cervical mucous. MAN FERTILITY tried it out and his advice was to make sure you have a good hour and a half to concentrate on this because there are a lot of steps.

The female test measures follicle stimulating hormone, FSH (a measure of ovarian reserve) via urine, very simple (you need to let it sit for 30 mins). It worked great for me sending out beams of gratitude for a very healthy ovarian reserve. It doesn't give you a number, however, as a blood test would, but it will indicate if you "need" to see a doctor.[**]

The company says the results are 95% accurate.

Again, I'm all for anything that makes this process more humane and private. And of course I have to say, don't let this test take the place of medical advice.

[**] in an interview I did for my Natural Health article, of course the infinitely wise Dr. Christiane Northrup cautions that one should not put all one's eggs in the FSH basket, i.e., don't let that one number become a hex, if it is high. Lots of times docs will say, you have high FSH, so you're fertility toast, let's start the IVF! That is so not the case. Stories abound of women with high FSH conceiving naturally.

Check it out at

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AP: Estrogen linked to breast lumps

With all the "bonus" estrogen you're getting in the aforementioned patch, not to mention, plastics, cosmetics, the water you drink, please please please do not add in any extra! Note, also that these "benign" breast lumps mean "not yet cancerous." I'm still so mad at our family doc for putting my mother on hormone replacement therapy for decades for no reason other than "it's time" (for more free pens). And her current doc now is telling her she should still consider it, "weigh the risks vs. benefits," estrogen-only HRT is okay, etc. EEEEeeeeeek!


WASHINGTON - Add another risk to hormone therapy after menopause: Benign breast lumps. One type of hormone therapy — estrogen plus progestin — already is well-known to increase the risk of breast cancer. But a major study of women able to use estrogen alone didn't find that link.

Tuesday, researchers reported a new wrinkle: Those estrogen-only users doubled their chances of getting non-cancerous breast lumps. That's a concern not only because of the extra biopsies and worry those lumps cause, but because a particular type — called benign proliferative breast disease — is suspected of being a first step toward developing cancer 10 years or so later.

About one in five women undergo a breast biopsy within a decade of starting annual mammograms, and most are of those abnormalities turn out to be benign. Yet under a microscope, there are different types, from simple fluid-filled cysts to what's called proliferative breast disease because it's made of growing cells.

The latest work, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, re-examines data from the landmark Women's Health Initiative that found a variety of health risks from long-term hormone therapy.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mislabeling Drug OK by FDA even if it hurts people...

Speaking of birth control pills--eeeek! Got this from the Age of Autism.


Bite_the_hand"People" wonder why so many of us do not trust the safety of vaccines or the integrity of the agencies that approve, oversee and administer them. Check out this circuitous debacle. The NYT reported yesterday (HERE) that J&J is claiming it can not be sued for problems with one of its birth control products because the FDA, a federal agency, approved the drug. And it appears that they might win.

Next, Reader's Digest has a scathing report (HERE) about the state of the FDA, saying that the agency is a shambles and that it receives upward of 50% of its funding from "industry."

From the J&J story: For years, Johnson & Johnson obscured evidence that its popular Ortho Evra birth control patch delivered much more estrogen than standard birth control pills, potentially increasing the risk of blood clots and strokes, according to internal company documents.

But because the Food and Drug Administration approved the patch, the company is arguing in court that it cannot be sued by women who claim that they were injured by the product — even though its old label inaccurately described the amount of estrogen it released.

This legal argument is called pre-emption. After decades of being dismissed by courts, the tactic now appears to be on the verge of success, lawyers for plaintiffs and drug companies say.

From the Reader's Digest Online Story: There's pressure to speed decisions, and there's pressure to soft-pedal problems. That means drugs may go on the market without adequate vetting -- or follow-up. Critics of the FDA like to say it's the best agency the pharmaceutical industry can buy. That's a political jab, and agency advocates say it's unfair. "The extraordinary efforts of these committed staff members are the very reason further catastrophic food-and-drug events have been averted," an otherwise scathing review by the FDA's Science Board concluded last November.

But most agree that there's at least a problem of perception, and perhaps more than that, caused by the growing chunk of the agency's budget that comes directly from drug companies. Industry dollars now pay for more than half of the FDA's drug-review budget; in five years, that proportion is expected to jump to 70 percent.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Essay on Fake Memoirs on Bookslut

I have an essay, "Fake Memoirs and the New Racial Passing" on the site My friend Adrian would say, "That's where it belongs!" Actually Bookslut is a great literary site for booklovers. No dirty stuff, sorry.

Anyway, if you want to read it, it's here:

Female vets run twice the risk of miscarriage because of anaesthetic gases and pesticides

Anyone who's regularly exposed (or maybe not so regularly!) to pesticides and/or anesthetics might want to take note. I remember the abandon with which we used to spray the horses for bot-flies in the summer. Who knows WHAT was in that stuff!

From Newswise, the journalists'-only site:

Newswise — Female vets run twice the risk of miscarriage as a result of exposure to anaesthetic gases and pesticides, suggests a study published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The findings prompt the authors to call for young female vets to be more clearly advised of the risks they run, should they want to become pregnant.

The study is based on a survey of women taking part in the Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians Project (HRAV).

This surveyed all those graduating from Australian veterinary schools between 1960 and 2000.

Of the 5700 graduates contacted, some 2800 responded, of whom 1200 were women.

Between them, these women reported a total of 1355 pregnancies, 940 of which occurred while working in clinical practice, and so were eligible for inclusion in the study.

Women carrying out surgery and exposed to anaesthetic gases that were not filtered out of the atmosphere, for an hour or more a week, were almost 2.5 times more likely to miscarry.

Female vets who used pesticides during the course of their work were also twice as likely to miscarry.

And those who performed more than five x rays a week were around 80% more likely to miscarry than those performing fewer procedures.

When the researchers restricted their analyses to those women graduating more recently—between 1980 and 2000—the results were similar.

The authors warn that female vets of childbearing age “should be fully informed of the possible reproductive effects of ionising radiation, unscavenged anaesthetic gases, and exposure to pesticides.”

Women should take protective measures when they are planning to conceive and during pregnancy, they warn. But all staff working in these areas should be aware of the risks and protect themselves accordingly, they suggest.

Click here to view the paper in full:

Friday, April 04, 2008

ANOTHER reason not to use birth control pills

I've heard from Ali and others about the weird things birth control pills seem to do to people healthwise. It's already known that they can cause blood clots (so DO NOT use if you have any kind of thrombophilia, e.g., if your doctors say you are at risk for conditions like deep vein thrombosis), and people report that their cycles became irregular even after only a few cycles.

Last I spoke, Julie Indichova (author of Inconceivable) is also conducting a study on birth control pills and their effect on infertility. It's especially important to make one's self aware of the risks, especially when they are using the pills to STOP MENSES COMPLETELY (eek) and to treat ACNE (double eek).

(NaturalNews) Women who take oral contraceptives may have more plaque buildup in their arteries, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Ghent, Belgium, and presented at a conference of the American Heart Association.

Researchers conducted a long-term observational study on 1,300 healthy women living in the small town of Erpe-Mere, Belgium. Approximately 81 percent of participants had taken birth control pills for at least a year at some point in their lives, and 27 percent were currently taking the contraceptives.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80 percent of U.S. women use oral contraceptives at some point between the ages of 15 and 44.

More here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

For Local Yokels: World Championship Cheese

This is Louella Hill, my friend and local food activist extraordinaire. Besides bringing local food to the Brown campus via the Refectory (a.k.a. the Rat Factory) and the wonderful weekly farmers' market, Louella makes raw milk cheese!

In their own words:

Narragansett Creamery is currently the only producer of cheeses in Rhode Island. Making cheeses locally with fresh, local milk not only helps local dairy farmers (our heroes!) but helps Planet Earth as well. Instead of flying cheeses in from far away, our cheeses are produced RIGHT HERE on the very ground you’re standing on.

It's out-of-this-world delicious (someone got an invitation to the cheese and wine tasting party!) AND it won best of class in the 2008
Wisconsin World Championship Cheese Contest, where, one assumes, they know their cheese.

You find 'em at local stores here:
  • Venda Ravioli (Federal Hill)
  • Winter Farmers' Market at AS220 (Saturdays, 12-3)
  • Farmstead Cheese Shop (Wayland Square)
  • Eastside Marketplace (Pitman Street)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why Italians grab their crotches to ward off bad luck.

I'm really surprised MAN FERTILITY didn't find this article on ancient fertility rituals before I did. From the most excellent

Italy's highest appeals court ruled that a 42-year-old workman broke the law by "ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing" and must pay a 200 euro fine, the Telegraph reported Friday. The U.K. paper also noted that crotch-grabbing is a common habit among superstitious Italian males, who believe the gesture wards off bad luck. What does the crotch have to do with luck?

It's the seat of fertility. The crotch grab goes back at least to the pre-Christian Roman era and is closely associated with another superstition called the "evil eye"—the belief that a covetous person can harm you, your children, or your possessions by gazing at you. Cultural anthropologists conjecture that men would try to block such pernicious beams by shielding their genitals, thus protecting their most valued asset: the future fruit of their loins. Over the centuries, the practice shifted. Men covered their generative organs not only to defend against direct malevolence but also in the presence of anything ominous, like a funeral procession.

These days, an Italian man might also grab his crotch in risky situations, like a high-stakes poker game. In such cases, the grab isn't a defense mechanism against bad luck but rather a way to generate good luck. Once again, this practice relates to the folk belief that the phallus is auspicious because it's the source of masculinity and reproduction.

read more here.