Friday, January 30, 2009

One More Link in the Mercury-High Fructose Corn Syrup Chain: Autism

We really, really have to demand the FDA reforms! Knowingly, for years it's been pushing mercury laden high fructose corn syrup on kids. E.g., HEINZ ketchup--I sadly won't use any ketchup if I'm out...blech, I remember the years as a kid I regarded french fries merely as a vehicle for ketchup.

This is from a different writer on the Huffpo:

Until now, parents of children with autism who have spoken up about their fears that their child's disorder came on the heels of vaccination have been given the status of heretic. But it turns out that the increase in autism we have been witnessing over the last few decades could also be a result of the over-all increase in the body burden caused by mercury in our air and water, and by proxy the fish we eat, our vaccines and dental fillings, and now, in our high fructose corn syrup, a substance marketed and consumed most often by those most at risk: children.

read more: One More Link in the Mercury-High Fructose Corn Syrup Chain: Autism

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our Melamine: There's Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup, and the FDA Has Known for Years

Ooooh, all I can say about this: blech. Ah, and this article also mentions King Corn--you must see this documentary!!! From the Huffpo:

Maybe Jeremy Piven didn't get mercury poisoning from fish at all -- according to the results of a new study released by the Institute for Agriculture and Trace Policy (IATP), the actor may well have been sickened by soda or candy or anything that contains high fructose corn syrup, which, if you eat processed food in this country means, well, just about anything.

Foodies and nutritionists alike have been griping about high fructose corn syrup for years, and the industry has responded with an "astroturf" campaign and a level of secrecy generally reserved for military officials or secret societies (see Corn Refiners' Association president Audrae Erickson's stonewalling performance in King Corn).

read more here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup

If you watch the delightful documentary, King Corn, there's a funny (?) scene where the goofball filmmakers try to make High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)...and it involves a lot of chemicals with skull and crossbone warnings on them. If you read anything about health you already know that HFCS is an unnatural substance that wreaks havoc on the human body. Further, this news story combines nmercury and HFCS, I can't think of a better reason to avoid this COMPLETELY. Sadly, this means no Heinz ketchup:

Much High Fructose Corn Syrup Contaminated With Mercury, New Study Finds

Brand-Name Food Products Also Discovered to Contain Mercury
(A list of products and the study can be found here:

Minneapolis – Mercury was found in nearly 50 percent of tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a new article published today in the scientific journal, Environmental Health. A separate study by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) detected mercury in nearly one-third of 55 popular brand- name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first or second highest labeled ingredient—including products by Quaker, Hershey’s, Kraft and Smucker’s.

HFCS use has skyrocketed in recent decades as the sweetener has replaced sugar in many processed foods. HFCS is found in sweetened beverages, breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS. Consumption by teenagers and other high consumers can be up to 80 percent above average levels.

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, M.D., and a co-author in both studies. “Given how much high fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the FDA to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply.”

In the Environmental Health article, Dufault et al. found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. Dufault was working at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when the tests were done in 2005. She and co-authors conclude that possible mercury contamination of food chemicals like HFCS was not common knowledge within the food industry that frequently uses the sweetener. While the FDA had evidence that commercial HFCS was contaminated with mercury four years ago, the agency did not inform consumers, help change industry practice or conduct additional testing.

For its report “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” IATP sent 55 brand-name foods and beverages containing HFCS as the first or second ingredient to a commercial laboratory to be tested for total mercury. Nearly one in three products tested contained detectable mercury. Mercury was most prevalent in HFCS-containing dairy products, followed by dressings and condiments. Attached is the summary list of the 55 products and their total mercury content.

In making HFCS, caustic soda is used, among other things, to separate corn starch from the corn kernel. For decades, HFCS has been made using mercury-grade caustic soda produced in industrial chlorine (chlor-alkali) plants. The use of mercury cells to produce caustic soda can contaminate caustic soda, and ultimately HFCS, with mercury.

“The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury,” said Dr. Wallinga. “The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients.”

While most chlorine plants around the world have switched to newer, cleaner technologies, many still rely on the use of mercury cells. In 2005, 90 percent of chlorine production was mercury-free, but just 40 percent of European production was mercury-free. Four U.S. chlor-alkali plants still rely on mercury cell technology. In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama introduced legislation to force the remaining chlor-alkali plants to phase out mercury cell technology by 2012.

The Environmental Health article by Dufault et al. can be found at:

“Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury and High Fructose Corn Syrup,” by David Wallinga, M.D., Janelle Sorensen, Pooja Mottl and Brian Yablon, M.D., can be found at:

IATP works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Sailing Thru the Recession Column

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Actually, in French sale means dirty. Anyway, we did a column on being careful about buying gift cards from stores secretly about the go out of business, now here's some interesting tips about avoiding the temptation from those EVERYTHING MUST GO sugns--they DON'T have to go home WITH YOU:

From the

There are bound to be a large number of store liquidation sales this year, but you'd be smart to skip them.

Circuit City recently announced it had hired liquidators to sell off its inventory. While you might think this is a great time to find deals, the truth is that liquidation sales offer few bargains. Keep these facts in mind before spending your hard-earned money.

You don't need it: If you heard about a liquidation sale where a company is selling some type of gadget and now you find yourself wanting one, you did exactly what the liquidator wanted you to do. If you really wanted the gadget, it would have been on your list, after all.

The first rule of smart shopping is that, if you don't need it, it's not a bargain no matter what the price. Liquidation sales are a good way to convince yourself that a want is within reach, and therefore a need.

The prices aren't that good: When people hear the words "liquidation sale," they assume the main purpose is to get rid of merchandise quickly, meaning cheaply. While moving the inventory is one goal, it's not the primary goal. The main point is to make money.

read more here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Risk from Fashion Hair Acessories

So who wasn't totally stunned and moved by the inauguration. Wow!

So I'm a little behind on the posts.

Anyway, I never thought of this, but it's pretty thought provoking, especially if you have a little girl:

Newswise —

Blunt head trauma is commonly encountered by pediatric neurosurgeons and emergency physicians. Every year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides head injury statistics for patients treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms. More than 550 product codes were included in the 2007 Product Summary Report. In 2007, an estimated 1.1 million people were treated for head injuries related to common products found inside the home. Beds are among the top five products that contribute to head injuries, with an estimated 106,513 injuries in 2007, 63,269 of which were in children age 14 and younger. Common household products that can actually penetrate the head include wires, plugs, nails, kitchen utensils, writing instruments, hair accessories, scissors, and toys, among others.

“Children younger than age 2 are at particularly high risk for neurological injury because the skull is not fully ossified and small forces may lead to penetration of the skull and dura,” stated Dr. Anderson. The complications of these injuries can be severe, including skull fracture, subdural and epidural hematoma, pneumocephalus, cerebral hemorrhage, infection, seizure, focal neurological deficits, and vascular complications.

“Hair beads are radiolucent and thus are difficult to differentiate on radiologic scans from the adjacent soft tissue — the air-filled hollow core may be mistaken for benign air that became entrapped at the time of injury. Fashion hair accessories present a hidden and often overlooked health risk in children who have suffered blunt head trauma, significant enough to cause skull fractures and complicate diagnosis and treatment,” remarked Dr. Anderson.

Injury from blunt trauma by common household objects carries the potential for significant morbidity and mortality. “The absence of an obvious foreign body on physical examination in one of these two cases, demonstrates the importance of considering fashion hair accessories in the differential diagnosis when children present with head injury following blunt trauma,” concluded Dr. Anderson.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

F.D.A. Is Lax on Oversight During Trials, Inquiry Finds

Ahhhh, okay, this explains the earlier post, why the FDA seems to approve any old thing:

From the NY Times:

The Food and Drug Administration does almost nothing to police the financial conflicts of doctors who conduct clinical trials of drugs and medical devices in human subjects, government investigators are reporting.

Moreover, the investigators say, agency officials told them that trying to protect patients from such conflicts was not worth the effort.Link

In 42 percent of clinical trials, the agency did not receive forms disclosing doctors’ financial conflicts and did nothing about the problem, according to the investigation, which was conducted by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services and whose results were scheduled to be made public Monday.

In 31 percent of the trials in which the agency did receive the required forms, agency reviewers did not document that they looked at the information. And in 20 percent of the cases in which doctors revealed significant financial conflicts, neither the F.D.A. nor the sponsoring companies took any action to deal with the conflicts, the investigators found.

read more here.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

If this is what the FDA approves...

Yikes, look at what the FDA approves--strong hormones for "vaginal atrophy." May cause blindness, but hey, your lady parts will look better!:

On November 28, the FDA approved synthetic conjugated estrogens-A 0.625 mg/g vaginal cream (SCE-A Vaginal Cream; Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc) for the treatment of moderate to severe vaginal dryness and moderate to severe dyspareunia, which are both symptoms of vulvar and vaginal atrophy due to menopause. SCE-A vaginal cream is administered intravaginally at a recommended dose of 1 g daily for 1 week, followed by a 1-g intravaginal dose twice a week.

SCE-A vaginal cream contains a blend of 9 plant-derived estrogenic substances in a nonliquefying base. According to a company news release, the product is designed to complement Duramed's existing line of therapies for postmenopausal symptoms.

The approval was based on data from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study (n = 275), showing that SCE-A vaginal cream was significantly more effective than placebo for reduction of symptoms of vaginal dryness (P = .0016) and dyspareunia (P = .0002) during a 12-week period.

Other significant results included a mean increase in superficial cells (25.9% SCE-A vs 3.8% placebo), a mean decrease in parabasal cells (36.3% SCE-A vs 5.7% placebo), and a mean reduction in pH (1.47 SCE-A vs 0.30 placebo).

Common adverse effects include headache, vulvovaginal infection, upper respiratory tract infection, and hot flashes. Because the use of unopposed estrogens increases the risk for endometrial cancer, a progestin should be considered for postmenopausal women with a uterus who are treated with an estrogen. The addition of a progestin has been shown to reduce the risk for endometrial hyperplasia, a potential precursor to endometrial cancer, in women taking estrogen therapy.

Estrogen therapy also has been shown to increase the risk for gallbladder disease, and probable dementia in women older than 65 years of age. Women who are also receiving thyroid hormone replacement therapy should be monitored, and estrogen therapy should be discontinued in women who develop severe hypercalcemia, loss of vision, severe hypertriglyceridemia, or cholestatic jaundice.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Caution for Asians on epilepsy drug

My, the seizure/epilepsy emails are coming in by the bagful.

I know, from helping my mom navigate the "senior system," which seems to be chiefly about putting people on lots of drugs, that doctors seem to be the last people to read these studies or FDA notices. Granted, lots of doctors are overburned with patients and our for-profit medical system, but that also means you need to keep current and not assume he/she knows everything just because the doctor is the so-called expert. You have to be the expert of you.

If you are of Asian descent, be very very careful about using the drugs phenytoin and fosphenytoin.

From the 07 alert (where have they been all this time?) for a DIFFERENT drug,

FDA ALERT [12/12/2007]: Dangerous or even fatal skin reactions (Stevens Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis), that can be caused by carbamazepine therapy, are significantly more common in patients with a particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele, HLA-B*1502. This allele occurs almost exclusively in patients with ancestry across broad areas of Asia, including South Asian Indians.

Phenytoin and Fosphenytoin Information

FDA ALERT [11/24/2008] - FDA is investigating new preliminary data regarding a potential increased risk of serious skin reactions including Stevens Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) from phenytoin therapy in Asian patients positive for a particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele, HLA-B*1502. This allele occurs almost exclusively in patients with ancestry across broad areas of Asia, including Han Chinese, Filipinos, Malaysians, South Asian Indians, and Thais. Because fosphenytoin is a prodrug and is converted to phenytoin after administration, any concern regarding this association is also applicable to fosphenytoin. Phenytoin and fosphenytoin are used to control tonic-clonic (grand mal) and complex-partial seizures in epilepsy.

A recent FDA Information for Healthcare Professionals sheet (12/12/2007), described an increased risk of SJS/TEN with another antiepileptic drug, carbamazepine, in Asian ancestry patients with the HLA-B*1502 allele.

The FDA is working to identify additional information to evaluate the possible risk of SJS/TEN from phenytoin and fosphenytoin in patients with HLA-B*1502. Until the evaluation is completed, healthcare providers who are considering the use of phenytoin or fosphenytoin should be aware of the risks and benefits described in the current prescribing information for this drug.

Because this new data suggests a possible association between HLA-B*1502 and phenytoin or fosphenytoin-induced SJS/TEN, and because of the known association between phenytoin and SJS/TEN, healthcare providers should consider avoiding phenytoin and fosphenytoin as alternatives for carbamazepine in patients who test positive for HLA-B*1502.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Jett Travolta, Seizures, Autism

There's been a lot of frenzy in the blogsphere over Jett Travolta (son of John Travolta)'s death. Was he not attended? Is John Travolta gay? Are they covering up his possible autism? What does Scientology have to do with this?

Besides the fact that anti-seizure medicines are quite toxic (to pancreas and kidney, it burns through most plastic), it's worth noting that "seizure disorder" has become a commonplace term...while we gratefully receive the imperfect alms of drugs and fail to contemplate what the suffering of these kids might be telling us.

Dan Olmsted is an ex-UPI reporter who started looking into autism and other neurological disorders and how the exploding rates of these disorders might have something to do with environmental toxins. Even after he was no longer employed with UPI, he kept on, like any good reporter, seeing where this story is taking him. The first few cases of the strange, heretofore unheard of disorder coincided with the widespread use of mercury as a fungicide. Olmsted is methodically going back to the earliest cases...only to find the simple answer may have been sitting in front of our faces (and still is) the whole time.


Olmsted on Autism: The Unnatural History of Seizures

Seizures By Dan Olmsted

The death of Jett Travolta has focused new attention on an old truth -- the benign-sounding "developmental delay," the catchall term for children who are slow to meet their milestones, can be deadly. My hunch is that this is especially true when the "delay" is environmentally induced, as is the case, I believe, with autism. That's why it doesn't matter exactly what diagnosis was assigned to Jett's disorder; its onset followed a febrile illness that seems to have caused brain damage; his parents believe it was connected to toxic exposure. And parents know their children.
For now, I just want to make a simple point: Environmentally induced developmental disorders kill kids. We've known it from day one. And just exactly what are we doing to stop it?

read more here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SSRIs and Pregnancy (and smoking) can cause major birth defects

Here's an article on how taking SSRIs--especially during the early stages when you don't know you're pregnant--can set your child up for birth defects:

December 5, 2008 — Fluoxetine and paroxetine, 2 of the most commonly used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been linked to an increased risk for congenital cardiac abnormalities in the offspring of women who took these medications in early pregnancy, new research suggests.

However, say investigators, the findings do not warrant cessation of antidepressant therapy with these agents in this patient population.

"We did find an increased risk of cardiac anomalies, but the vast majority were not severe, and most were treatable, so we do not recommend women stop their treatment," principal investigator Asher Ornoy, MD, from Israeli Teratology Information Service, in Jerusalem, Israel, told Medscape Psychiatry.

Of much greater concern, said Dr. Ornoy, is the finding that smoking while taking either of these agents has a synergistic effect. The researchers found women taking these medications who smoked more than 10 cigarettes per day while pregnant had a significantly increased risk of giving birth to a child with a major cardiac malformation.

"Pregnant women who take these medications and who smoke should stop smoking immediately," said Dr. Ornoy.

The study is published in the November issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Meals at Restaurants Worse than Fast Food

Wow, this is coming off Dr. Mercola's site. I always thought fast food had more calories. In general, what is sad is the realization that unless the restaurant is organic or you know what goes into the food, you might be getting tons of bad fat and MSG, etc., even in so called fancy restaurants. Sigh.

A new study has compared fast food and table service meals at restaurants. Both types of meals are larger and have more calories than meals prepared at home. However, the typical fast food meal is smaller and has fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.

The study used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals, a large sample of information regarding nutritional intake.

Fast food was found to be more energy dense than food from a table service restaurant, but fast food meals also tend to be smaller. As a result, the typical fast food meal had fewer calories than the average meal from a table service restaurant.

However, table service diners were more likely to reduce their food consumption during the rest of the day, most likely because of the difference in energy density. As a result, fast food may ultimately result in more calories.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Error Seen in E.P.A. Report on Contaminant

Here goes the FDA again. "Ooops, we did it again, hee hee, totally underestimated the health hazard from a horrible chemical."

The chemical in question is perchlorate, a.k.a. perc, found in dry cleaning solvent and rocket fuel. The FDA adamantly would not regulate the amounts of perc in drinking water (significant amounts have been popping up all over the country) but now it's backing up since perc seems to do things like screw up the thyroid, without which fertility cannot happen:

From the NY Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency failed to follow its own guidelines and made a basic error in evaluating how a toxic contaminant in rocket fuel harms human health, according to a report by the agency’s inspector general.

The contaminant, perchlorate, has been found in significant levels in drinking water in at least 400 locations; scientific studies indicate that perchlorate blocks the necessary accumulation of iodide in human thyroid glands. Iodide insufficiencies in pregnant women are “associated with permanent mental deficits in the children,” the E.P.A. said.

...In October, the E.P.A. announced that after “extensive review of scientific data related to the health effects of exposure to perchlorate from drinking water and other sources,” a rule setting nationwide maximum limits for the chemical in drinking water was unnecessary as it would do little to reduce risks to human health.

read more here.

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