Vaccine pushers have pulled out all the stops to promote Gardasil, intensely marketing the new vaccine to the parents of young girls as young as age nine. The vaccine is said to protect against two strains of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which, according to the scare-mongers, cause about 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Cervical cancer is rare, contributing to four deaths per 100,000 in the US, with less than 6 percent of these in women under 35 years of age. And causation by HPV has not been proven–in a controlled study of age-matched women, 67 percent of those with cervical cancer and 43 percent of those without were found to be HPV-positive and these cancers were observed on average only 20-25 years after infection. Apologists insist that it is perfectly safe to vaccinate millions of girls against the remote and unproven possibility of HPV-induced cervical cancer, citing clinical trials in which those receiving a placebo and those receiving the vaccine had a similar number of adverse events. What trusting parents don’t realize is that the placebo used in the trials was not a non-reactive saline solution, but contained reactive aluminum. This is the old “equivalent” placebo trick, which researchers use without the slightest twinge of conscience to “prove” the safety of poisonous additives like MSG and aspartame. The Gardasil vaccine contains 225 mcg of aluminum per jab. Vaccine aluminum adjuvants can allow aluminum to enter the brain, as well as cause inflammation at the injection site leading to fatigue and chronic joint and muscle pain. The media have not seen fit to report on the shocking fact that around 60 (!) percent of those participating in the trials–both those who got the vaccine and those who got the “placebo”–suffered side effects such as headache, fever, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. The side effects were more serious in the group receiving Gardasil, and included asthma, bronchospasm, arthritis and–most ironically–pelvic inflammatory disease. The winners, of course, will not be the poor nine-year-olds subjected to vaccination, but the drug company Merck, which expects sales of at least two billion dollars by lobbying for their vaccine to be required for school admittance (www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/263/28/)
Our mission has always been the scientific validation of health benefits conferred by traditional foodways. But can science validate the wonderful flavor of traditional foods? Apparently it can. A seminar held at the Department of Food Science, Rutgers University explores “Flavor-active components in bovine bone marrow.” According to the abstract, “Bovine bone marrow is well known for its rich distinct savory and umami broth character. Bone marrow composition includes but is not limited to lipids, reducing sugars, collagen, glycogen, polysaccharides, protein, nucleotides, free amino acids, peptides and minerals. These non-volatiles make bone marrow an ideal candidate for Maillard-type reactions. During heating and enzyme hydrolysis, bone marrow proteins are degraded to yield mainly peptides and amino acids, which further serve as flavor precursors and flavor enhancers. Our initial results show that the bones contribute to intense brothy and umami taste. The aqueous phase of the bone marrow and the bones cooked combined contribute a unique umami taste, while the lipid phase provides cooked butter, tallow-like rich mouth feel.” We suggest extracting all this wonderful flavor by gently simmering bones in water, rather than by enzyme hydrolysis, before sitting down to a delicious, heart-warming bowl of soup ( gradsec (at) AESOP.Rutgers.edu ).
The Bad Taste of Pasteurization
Speaking of good flavor, or the lack of it, pasteurization proponents often claim that there is no difference in taste between raw and processed milk. Yet a recent study published in the Journal of Dairy Science (2005;88:3764-3772) begins with the following statement: “Many volatile compounds generated during the thermal processing of milk have been associated with cooked, stale and sulfurous notes in milk and are considered as off-flavor by most consumers.” Researchers at Oregon State University are proposing to solve this problem not by returning to delicious raw milk, but by instituting a new process that pressurizes milk at 85,000 pounds per square inch for five minutes at 130 degrees. The result is not necessarily better flavor or more healthful milk–how can crushing at 85,000 pounds per square inch not have an effect on the fragile proteins and enzymes in milk–but “milk that stays fresh [sic] at least 45 days in the refrigerator.” A news report on the new process makes another interesting admission: “While pasteurization kills most germs, it does not wipe out bacterial spores, the dormant versions of the germs, which are extremely resistant to any form of destruction” (www.foxnews.com, November 10, 2006). Only “heating milk to between 275 and 300 degrees for just three to five seconds can kill both bacteria and their spores, leading to milk that is stable at room temperature for up to six months.” While such ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk sells in Europe and Latin America, it has found limited acceptance in the US because of “strong off-flavors.” In other words, the milk industry knows it has a problem. Conventional pasteurization does not confer the requisite shelf life or even safety, while UHT milk results in loss of customer base. We doubt that expensive, high-tech alternatives like pressurization will solve this fundamental dilemma for the dairy industry.
A total of 508 Peruvian school children were poisoned after eating a government-provided breakfast in Huancayo, the capital of the Junin region in the country’s central highlands. The children, aged between four and 11 years old, suffered from stomach ache, nausea, vomiting and dehydration after consuming pasteurized milk with bread. About 110 were sent to the hospital and the five most seriously ill were kept in intensive care. Health officials fingered the pasteurized milk as the likely cause, based on the children’s symptoms (HISZ alertmail, 2006-11-09).
Lack of Evidence
Recent national recommendations suggest that physicians should use drugs to achieve LDL-cholesterol levels of less than 70 for patients at “very high cardiovascular risk” and less than 100 for patients at “high cardiovascular risk.” In a recent review of all controlled trials, cohort studies and case-control studies that examined the independent relationship between LDL-cholesterol and major cardiovascular outcomes in patients with LDL levels less than 130, researchers were surprised to find no evidence to suggest “that the degree to which LDL-cholesterol responds to a statin independently predicts the degree of cardiovascular risk reduction” (Annals of Internal Medicine, October 3, 2006). In other words, using statin drugs to get your LDL-cholesterol as low as possible does not reduce your risk of heart disease. But rather than question the whole business of cholesterol-lowering for lack of evidence, the research team concluded that “there are no intrinsic barriers to producing such evidence.” The strategy of lowering LDL-cholesterol by drugs is not a bad one, they say, only the studies that fail to support such a strategy are bad. Studies that eliminate conflicting variables and research bias might provide “valid evidence,” they claim, but in the meantime, treatment with statins should continue.
More Lack of Evidence
Another report published this year describes a Finnish study in which researchers enrolled 400 home-dwelling people between the ages of 75 and 90 years who suffered from cardiovascular disease. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either usual care from their primary care physician or specialized care based on “current evidence-based European guidelines for chronic CVD.” Over an average of 3.4 years, the group receiving “specialized care” had significantly higher use of drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, the incidence of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and cardiovascular death were similar between the two groups, and deaths due to any cause also occurred at similar rates (18 percent versus 17 percent). Nor did the time until a first cardiovascular event differ between the two groups (American Heart Journal 2006;152:585-592). So why bother with the expense and aggravation of “specialized” care? The evidence for the aggressive use of drugs in the elderly is just not there–yet the elderly remain prime targets for the pharmaceutical industry.
Not for Babies
On November 9th, the American Dental Association (ADA), long the nation’s strongest advocate for water fluoridation, sent an email alert to its members warning against the use of fluoridated water in formula and foods intended for babies one year and younger. According to the alert, “. . . infants could receive a greater-than-optimal amount of fluoride through liquid concentrate or powdered baby formula that has been mixed with water containing fluoride during a time that their developing teeth may be susceptible to enamel fluorosis.” Enamel or dental fluorosis results in spotting or discoloration of the permanent teeth. The ADA alert follows the Food and Drug Administration’s October disapproval of fluoridated bottled water marketed to babies and a recent report from the National Research Council (NRC) indicating that babies are being overdosed from “optimally” fluoridated water supplies. So the dentists have been alerted to the danger. . . but what about the parents? How many parents bring their newborns to the dentist or visit the dentist for advice on feeding their newborns? The NRC report also revealed fluoridation’s dangers to the thyroid gland and to diabetics, kidney patients and those who drink a lot of water, but so far the ADA is keeping quiet about these effects (www.fluorideaction.net).
Not Just in Water
Our exposure to fluoride is not limited to water. Non-stick pan coatings contain fluoride compounds which can outgas when heated. According to a new study, high exposure to these chemicals radically alters the behavior of mice. The researchers administered a single oral dose of two fluoridated chemicals to mice at age ten days, which corresponds to the post-birth brain growth spurt in humans. At two and four months of age, each mouse was placed in a new cage and evaluated for its ability to adapt to the new surroundings. Untreated and low-dose mice reacted anxiously at first but soon settled down, while mice exposed to high doses of the chemicals remained agitated–evidence that they could not process new stimuli correctly. The high-exposure mice also reacted abnormally on injected nicotine, which made other mice more active but put heavily exposed mice to sleep, an indication that nonstick chemicals affect the brain’s acetylcholinergic system, which responds to nicotine. The nonstick chemicals used in the study have been detected in human infants at birth (Science News, Vol 169, March 25, 2006, p 190).
The recent outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 in bagged spinach, which sickened over 200 people and left three dead, was the twentieth outbreak of virulent E. coli linked to leafy greens in ten years and the ninth traced to the Salinas Valley. Speculation as to the source of the deadly pathogen–officials have fingered everything from poor handwashing practices to confinement animal feeding operations to wild boar–gloss over the most troubling aspect of the situation, namely, the internalization of pathogens into the tissue of the plant. That means they can never be washed off! A study published in the Journal of Food Science (2006, Vol 71, N 8) reported that E. coli O157:H7 when inoculated in manure and added to planting soil, contaminated and survived not only on but inside the lettuce plants grown in that soil. Researchers have found pathogens internalized in the subsurface, root and vascular systems of many species, including lettuce, cress, radish, spinach and tomatoes. “It is important to note,” write the authors, “that because of internalization, pre-harvest contamination control is potentially more critical than the best post-harvest washing strategies.” That means that agriculture cannot rely on post-harvest procedures to guarantee safety–instead the industry must clean up its whole act, which means getting animals out of confinement and back onto green grass and hay. The acid environment of the intestinal tracts of grain-fed cattle favors the proliferation of acid-resistant E. coli O157:H7 and when the manure of feedlot cattle contaminates irrigation water, pathogens end up on and in salad crops. When confinement cattle are switched from a diet of grain to one of hay for only five days, O157:H7 declines 1000-fold (Journal of Dairy Science, 2003).
While the internalization of pathogens in plant tissues is disturbing, it is only the latest escalation of contamination in fruits and vegetables destined for market in this country. Commercial crop treatments currently include both contact and systemic pesticides, the latter designed to be taken up by the roots of the plant and translocated to all its tissues, thereby making the plant itself a pesticide. These systemic poisons also cannot be washed off, and while they may not immediately strike down people who consume them, they certainly contribute their toxic burden and potential for causing degenerative disease slowly over time. According to testing done by USDA, most fruits and vegetables available commercially show residues of multiple pesticides, and just over 10 percent of those are systemic poisons (http://www.ams.usda.gov/science/pdp/Summary2004.pdf). For example, in 2004 88 percent of lettuce examined by USDA tested positive for 47 different pesticides (including systemics), 77 percent of green beans showed 24 varieties of pesticides, 57 percent of wheat flour showed 16 pesticides, and 98 percent of apples had 33 pesticides detected. Interestingly, 100 percent of milk sampled showed evidence of 12 pesticides, and in over 96 percent of the milk DDE, a metabolite of DDT, whose use has been banned since 1972 but which persists in soils, was detected. Several other chemicals similarly banned for approximately the same amount of time continue to be detectable in fruit, vegetable and milk samples, along with the hundreds of pesticides currently approved for use. The centralized, mass production of food that depends upon heavy chemical input cannot provide safe, healthy, nutritious produce for our tables, and is nearing collapse with one food safety disaster after another. Always buy organic, seasonal foods for your family, but best of all, cultivate your local small farmers upon whom we will come to depend more and more.
Trans Ban Scam
In March, the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene asked the city’s 20,000 restaurants and 14,000 food suppliers to eliminate partly hydrogenated oils from kitchens and provide foods free of industrially produced trans fatty acids. The request comes on the heels of accumulating evidence that trans fats are bad news indeed. In a recent review in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that even low levels of trans fats in the diet–a mere 1 or 2 percent of calories per day–were linked to a substantially increased risk of heart disease. In studies of 140,000 individuals, consuming 2 percent of calories as trans fats resulted in a 23 percent increase in heart disease. With the new alarm bells have come a flurry of industry damage control, including Op-Ed pieces appearing in the major newspapers bemoaning the government intrusion into personal food choices and declaring that the alternatives to trans fats are even worse. Some of the most furious back-peddling comes from Jane Brody, nutrition columnist for the New York Times. While admitting that “partially hydrogenated fatty acids in margarine and many processed foods are harmful to health–more harmful, in fact, than the saturated fat in butter,” Brody takes pains to explain why we should not assume that butter is healthier. “Butter is not a heart-healthy choice because its saturated fat far outweights the trans fat in traditional stick margarines. Also, butter contains cholesterol, which can raise blood levels of cholesterol in some people; margarine, which is made from vegetable sources, does not.” Brody also bemoans the fact that substitutions of tropical oils like palm, palm kernel and coconut oils “are reintroducing more heart-damaging saturated fats” (New York Times, September 5, 2006). As a result of all this misinformation, restaurants have started using liquid vegetable oils instead of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The dangerous effects of free radicals and other toxic breakdown products in liquid vegetable oils are one of the reasons the industry switched to hardened vegetable fats several decades ago.