Dr Gigi Chow

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Exposure to Commercial Pesticides in Pregnancy Linked to Autism

In Environment on June 25, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Pesticides-AutismPrenatal exposure to commonly used agricultural pesticides may be associated with increased risk for autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay, according to an observational study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Researchers studied 970 children (aged 2 to 5 years) in California with autism spectrum disorders, developmental delay, or typical development. Data on the use of commercial pesticides (in places such as farms, golf courses, parks) were linked to the mothers’ addresses during pregnancy.

Among the findings: Children with autism spectrum disorder were 60% more likely to have had organophosphate pesticides applied near their homes (within a mile) when they were in utero, relative to those with typical development. In addition, children with developmental delay were almost 150% more likely to have had carbamate pesticides applied near their homes.

The authors say their study “strengthens the evidence linking neurodevelopmental disorders with gestational pesticide exposures.”

 

Sources: Emerging Health Perspectives article

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/24/pesticide-exposure-during-pregnancy-may-increase-autism-risk/

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Antibiotic Resistance Can be Passed on From Animals to Humans!

In Environment on April 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

I want to share this article that I just read on Mother Jones…antibiotic resistance is on the rise, even though you may not take antibiotics routinely.

For decades, the meat industry has denied any problem with its reliance on routine, everyday antibiotic use for the nation’s chickens, cows, and pigs. But it’s a bit like a drunk denying an alcohol problem while leaning on a barstool for support. Antibiotic use on livestock farms has surged in recent years—from 20 million pounds annually in 2003 to nearly 30 million pounds in 2011.

Over the same period, the entire US human population has consumed less than 8 million pounds per year, meaning that livestock farms now suck in around 80 percent of the antibiotics consumed in the United States. Meanwhile, the industry routinely churns out meat containing an array of antibiotic resistant pathogens.

As former FDA commissioner David A. Kessler recently put it in a New York Times op-ed, “rather than healing sick animals, these drugs are often fed to animals at low levels to make them grow faster and to suppress diseases that arise because they live in dangerously close quarters on top of one another’s waste.” And feeding antibiotics to livestock at low levels may “do the most harm,” Kessler continued, because it provides a perfect incubation ground for the generation of antibiotic-resistant microbes.

The meat industry’s retort to all of this is, essentially: And the problem is? The websites of the major industry trade groups—the American Meat Institute, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council—all insist current antibiotic practices are “safe.” The main reason they can claim this with a straight face is that while scientists have long suspected that drug-resistant pathogens can jump from antibiotic-treated animals to humans, it’s been notoriously difficult to prove. The obstacle is ethics: You wouldn’t want to extract, say, antibiotic-resistant salmonella from a turkey and inject it into a person just to see what happens. The risk of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention politely calss “treatment failure,” i.e., death, would be too great.

But this decades-old industry fig leaf is fraying fast. The latest: a gene-sequencing study from Denmark that documents two cases of the movement of MRSA, an often-deadly, antibiotic-resistant staph infection, from farm animals to people.

Read more on http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/04/study-confirms-antibiotic-resistant-bugs-jump-animals-humans

What can be done about the rise of thyroid disorders?

In Diet, Environment, Hormonal Health on November 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm

By Gigi Chow N.D.

Thyroid disorders are increasingly common. According to statistics by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), approximately 27 million Americans have a thyroid disorder. 1 in 10 Americans, more than the number of Americans with diabetes and cancer combined, suffer from thyroid disease. Yet, half remains undiagnosed because initial signs and symptoms are vague, ambiguous, and often seen in various disorders. The underlying factor in very common disorders such as infertility, hair loss, irregular menses, constipation, fatigue, weight gain, elevated cholesterol, anemia, or depression may be a malfunctioning thyroid. Fortunately, our current understanding of thyroid disorders shed light on actions we can take to maintain a healthy thyroid.

It is well-established that most thyroid disorders are autoimmune. The body’s tissues, here the thyroid, are attacked by its own immune system via the production of antibodies. These antibodies can in turn cause the thyroid gland to be hyperactive, hypoactive, or inactive. Because autoimmune diseases as a whole affect disproportionately women, hormones are seen to play an important role in autoimmunity. Furthermore, it is observed that women with conditions involving hormonal imbalances such as endometriosis and PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) are more susceptible to thyroid disorders. Therefore, ensuring that hormones are balanced is one way to maintain adequate thyroid function.

Autoimmunity may also arise from a very interesting phenomenon known as molecular mimicry. Molecular mimicry describes a type of biochemical forgery in which protein sequences in bacteria, viruses, foods, or other foreign substances are similar or identical to sequences in human tissues. The immune system recognizes these mimicking sequences as foreign and mounts an immune response (a cross-reaction) to both the mimicking sequences and sequences in human tissues. Research has implicated cross-reactions with wheat and milk proteins in autoimmune diseases. Because not everyone who consumes these proteins will develop autoimmune cross reactions, it is a very good idea to obtain tests for food allergies and intolerances in order to determine suspicious foods that might trigger these reactions.

Iodine deficiency is a well-known cause of hypothyroidism. Iodine is an element that is essential for the production of thyroid hormone. Treatment of iodine deficiency by the introduction of iodized salt virtually eliminated goiters due to iodine deficiency in the 1920s in industrialized nations. Yet, a state of iodine deficiency can be created by many common consumer products.

Everyday consumables such as flour products, pesticides/herbicides/fungicides, synthetic perfumes, drinking water, and toothpaste contain halogens. Halogens are a group of highly active chemical elements that include bromine, chlorine, fluorine, and iodine. Bromine, chlorine, and fluorine readily displace iodine; this makes iodine less available to the thyroid gland for the production of thyroid hormones causing hypothyroidism. These halogens may also mimic the actions of iodine; this leads to the production of excessive thyroid hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism. Chlorine and fluorine are commonly found in tap water, toothpaste, and non-stick cookware. Bromine is a chemical frequently used in pesticides/fungicides, fire retardants, and many flour products. Eating unbrominated flour products and organic foods, reducing the use of synthetic chemicals and non-stick cookware, and purchasing a good filter to minimize chlorine and fluorine from drinking water are simple ways to lessen halogen exposure and ensure optimal thyroid function.

The thyroid gland produces hormones that influence essentially every organ, tissue, and cell in the body; it plays an important role in regulating metabolism and calcium balance. This article hopefully sheds light on actions that we can take to optimize the functioning of this very important gland.

Seafood Lovers Beware

In Diet, Environment on November 12, 2012 at 6:15 pm

If you eat a lot of fish, more likely than not you’re eating something that was raised on a farm and hauled in from thousands of miles away. According to NOAA, we import about 86 percent of the seafood we consume, about half of which comes from from aquaculture. And just because you find it in a gleaming supermarket fish case or on a well-presented restaurant plate doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Over at Bloomberg Businessweek, there’s a pretty startling piece on the sanitary conditions on some of those farms. In Vietnam, farmed shrimp bound for the US market are kept fresh with heaps of ice made from tap water that teems with pathogenic bacteria, Businessweek reports. Tilapia in China’s fish farms, meanwhile, literally feed on pig manure—even though it contains salmonella and makes the tilapia “more susceptible to disease.” Why use hog manure as feed? Simple—it’s cheap, and China’s tilapia farms operate under intense pressure to slash costs and produce as much cheap tilapia as possible.

Harmful bacteria like salmonella aren’t the only potential health problem associated with Asia’s fish and shrimp farms. There’s also the threat of residues from the chemicals farm operators use to control those pathogens. Like US meat farmers, Asia’s shrimp farmers rely heavily on antibiotics, traces of which can stay in the shrimp. And many of the antibiotics in use on Asia’s fish farms are banned for use in the United States for public health reasons.
Read more.

ADHD Medication Given to Poor Kids to Improve Academic Performance

In Big Pharma, Environment on October 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm

This is just a down right scary and disturbing trend…

Published in New York Times on Oct 9, 2012

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Dr. Anderson is one of the more outspoken proponents of an idea that is gaining interest among some physicians. They are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money — not to treat A.D.H.D., necessarily, but to boost their academic performance.

It is not yet clear whether Dr. Anderson is representative of a widening trend. But some experts note that as wealthy students abuse stimulants to raise already-good grades in colleges and high schools, the medications are being used on low-income elementary school children with faltering grades and parents eager to see them succeed.

“We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families,” said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, a child mental-health services researcher at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert in prescription drug use among low-income children. “We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications.”

The above excerpt is taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/health/attention-disorder-or-not-children-prescribed-pills-to-help-in-school.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

TSA Removes Body Scanners from Major Airports

In Environment on October 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm

The Transportation Security Administration has been quietly removing its X-ray body scanners from major airports over the last few weeks and replacing them with machines that radiation experts believe are safer.

The TSA says it made the decision not because of safety concerns but to speed up checkpoints at busier airports. It means, though, that far fewer passengers will be exposed to radiation because the X-ray scanners are being moved to smaller airports.

The backscatters, as the X-ray scanners are known, were swapped out at Boston Logan International Airport in early October. Similar replacements have occurred at Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York, the TSA confirmed Thursday.

The X-ray scanners have faced a barrage of criticism since the TSA began rolling them out nationwide after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009. One reason is that they emit a small dose of ionizing radiation, which at higher levels has been linked to cancer.

In addition, privacy advocates decried that the machines produce images, albeit heavily blurred, of passengers’ naked bodies. Each image must be reviewed by a TSA officer, slowing security lines.

The replacement machines, known as millimeter-wave scanners, rely on low-energy radio waves similar to those used in cell phones. The machines detect potential threats automatically and quickly using a computer program. They display a generic cartoon image of a person’s body, mitigating privacy concerns.

“They’re not all being replaced,” TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. “It’s being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time.”

He said the TSA decided to move the X-ray machines to less-busy airports after conducting an analysis of processing time and staffing requirements at the airports where the scanners are installed.

The radiation risk and privacy concerns had no bearing on the decision, Castelveter said.

Asked about the changes, John Terrill, a spokesman for Rapiscan — which makes the X-ray scanners — wrote in an email, “No comment on this.”

The TSA is not phasing out X-ray body scanners altogether. The backscatter machines are still used for screening at a few of America’s largest 25 airports, but the TSA has not confirmed which ones. Last week, Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz., installed two of the machines.

Moreover, in late September, the TSA awarded three companies potential contracts worth up to $245 million for the next generation of body scanners — and one of the systems, made by American Science & Engineering, uses backscatter X-ray technology.

The United States remains one of the only countries in the world to X-ray passengers for airport screening. The European Union prohibited the back scatters last year “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety,” according to a statement at the time. The last scanners were removed from Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom last month.

Read more at: http://www.propublica.org/article/tsa-removes-x-ray-body-scanners-from-major-airports