Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a ban on the use of the common toxin and plasticizer phthalates from being used in any product that would come in contact with children under the age of 3. This hormone disruptor is showing up in urine samples of way too many people and has already been shown to damage DNA in male sperm, cause shortening of pregnancies, depression of testosterone in men, possibly causing insulin resistance and obesity. While this is a good first step, more needs to be done.
While banning a toxin like this is important, educating the public is more important. We are constantly being bombarded by thousands of chemicals each day with the only reassurance being given coming from the poison makers themselves. Phthalate users and manufacturers would have you believe that their products are safe and there are no health problems associated with their use but independent researchers would beg to differ. If you want more information about this issue go to either the Environmental Working Group’s website or to the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and search for phthalates. You may never use plastics the same way ever again but you will be protecting your health.
Just when you thought the lead news couldn’t get any worse, it does. Women need to be aware that their lipstick may contain unacceptable levels of the neurotoxin, lead. In a report from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, over 61% of all the lipstick brands out there contained lead. The industry and their spokespeople use the age old excuse that “lead is naturally occuring” instead of recalling their products and vowing to never allow their products to contain lead.
What is disturbing is that children who innocently play with lipstick can ingest levels of lead that can lead to brain damage that may not be able to be reversed. There needs to be tighter restrictions on lead in products as well as other heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Also, industry has to step up and take some damn responsibility instead of acting like a kid who accidently broke the cookie jar and blames it on the dog.
The latest in a series of research papers being published by once respected journals has reared its ugly head today. According to the lastest issue of JAMA and the media, you would think that the drug Topamax, can help cure alcoholism. Turns out that the reality calls for a much different read on things. Not only was the drug also known as topiramate not that much better than placebo, there was a 20% dropout rate amongst the rather small 371 person study.
Now comes the real news about the drug and the study. I won’t embellish anything, I’ll quote the study which is available free of charge here and let you decide whether this treatment modality is worth pursuing.
“Adverse events that were more common withtopiramate vs placebo, respectively, included paresthesia (50.8%vs 10.6%), taste perversion (23.0% vs 4.8%), anorexia (19.7%vs 6.9%), and difficulty with concentration (14.8% vs 3.2%).”
Hmmmm, increases in paresthesia a sensation of tingling or numbness is 5 times higher in those who take topiramate versus placebo, taste perversion 5 times higher, anorexia, a very serious disorder occurred 3 times more in the drug group and a 4 1/2 times higher rate of mental concentration difficulties in those taking the drug. Now let’s think about this. Those taking the drug had lots of side-effects and all they got was an 8% improvement over placebo. That isn’t very good.
Of course, the papers authors all belong to the Topiramate for Alcoholism Advisory Board and/or the Topiramate for Alcoholism Study Group which are funded by Ortho-McNeil, the makers of Topamax which goes for $350 a month. Save your money and look into nutritional ways of reducing alcohol intake at a much lower cost with far fewer side-effects.
This past Sunday, a little girl, 2-years old was sent home by her HMO physician with a case of croup. In the medical/for-profit environment our health system has become, they did not want to admit her, despite her labored breathing because that might cut into the bottom line. So, trying to save some money for the corporation the girl was let go, parents told to get a vaporizer which they did and three hours later, the girl died.
I’ve ranted about our broken health care system many times in my speeches, and here on my blog site but this takes it to another level. Pharmaceutical companies, HMOs, and hospitals are more and more being driven by MBAs who answer to their stockholders, demanding more profits, sacrificing healthcare in a spiriling madness that now has taken yet another life. Isolated incident? Of course not. Preventable? You bet.
Our nation needs to completely revamp its abysmal health care system. It’s broken and it will never get up. When profit is more important than life, we have created a system that has degenerated to its lowest level. Physician error deaths are way too high and I have very little doubt that this is not due to a lack of caring, or gross negligence but more due to a poisonous atmosphere that doctors have to work in that deprives them of giving proper care to their patients. This needs to change and change now. No more innocent lives need to be lost.
In a not too surprising action today, President Bush, decided to once again break a campaign promise he made in 2004 in order to continue to fatten the wallets of his supporters in big business. His veto of an expansion of the Child Health Insurance Bill wasn’t just about “fiscal responsibility” he and his fellow Republicans who supported his veto claim. It was also about removing mercury from vacines. He claimed it would cost too much. To whom? The pharmaceutical industry with it multi-billion dollar profits? Of course. Who pays for this? The poor and lower middle class.
In 2004, President Bush said:
“I support the removal of Thimerosal from vaccines on the childhood national vaccine schedule. During a second term as President, I will continue to support increased funding to support a wide variety of research initiatives aimed at seeking definitive causes and/or triggers of autism. It is important to note that while there are many possible theories about causes or triggers of autism, no one material has been definitely included or excluded.”
He went back on that campaign promise which will allow the further poisoning of children. You might say that there was a paper published that said that thimerasol used in vaccines was safe wasn’t there? Look down a few articles back and see my comments on that horrendous “study” (they called it a study, I call it drivel).
I am a firm believer in cutting back on a bloated government, but not when it comes to health care for children. It is my hope that Congress overturns this veto and shows that they care about our children. This trend of subsidizing big business on the backs of the poor and middle class needs to stop now.
EDIT: I want to add something here about Bush’s reasoning behind his veto. He claims that it would allow people who make over $83,000 to get coverage for their kids. According to this blog, that’s just a lie.
We continue to hear politicians running for President yap about health care reform and how our system is broken and doesn’t help millions of Americans which, on the surface is true, but they refuse to acknowledge another real dillema and that is the need for tens of millions of Americans to reform themselves first. The explosion of type II diabetes in our country is not due to the high cost of medical insurance, it is due to us eating too much fast food, drinking too much soda and thinking that exercise is the use of a remote control and standing up to go to the fridge to get a beer.
We can easily blame the food industry who sells us items they call food but we make our own decisions and many of them are obviously wrong. As I walk through Costco or Wall-Mart and look at the shopping carts of people who are so obese that they waddle, I notice very little in real food. Mostly I see chips, sodas, frozen pre-made meals, and all other sorts of junk with little in the way of fresh or healthy foods. These are the same people who we have to pay for when their open heart surgeries are done, when they line up at the pharmacy to fill their 5 or 6 prescriptions that cover up their decades of unhealthy living.
You want to eat junk, pay higher premiums. You want health care, act like it means something. When it comes to adults, we need to force people to accept responsibility for their actions. For children, we need to give them universal health care and health education. If their parents won’t change, teach the children to. If we don’t, our society will eat itself out of existance. What the terrorists outside our country want to do to us, we are already well on our way to doing to ourselves.
In an interesting article on CNN.com, reporter Judy Fortin talks about how vegetarians need to watch and adjust their protein intake regularly or they run the risk of protein deficiencies. Over the past 20 years, I have been able to view the laboratory test results of a number of vegetarians and rarely do I find normal protein/amino acid levels.
The article talks about how vegetarians seem to like the addition of chicken flavored soy products to their diet to make up for their lack of animal protein but in my opinion, this comes at a cost. From the talks I’ve had with people who run hormone testing labs, excessive soy intake may not be as healthy for you as the media would like you to believe. In a future blog, I’ll discuss the problems with soy.