Anti-bacterial products

The bacteria-fighting ingredient in most antibacterial products is a chemical called tricolsan. In 1998, Tufts University researcher Stuart Levy published a study in Nature, which found that frequent use of antibacterial soap caused genetic changes in bacteria, to the point where Levy speculated that these genetic changes could create antibiotic-resistant "supergerms" and cause a public health crisis, although a follow-up study in October 2005 did not find that the household use of tricolasan-based antibacterial hygiene products resulted in participants carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria on their hands after one year. More research is needed to determine whether or not triclosan can lead to the emergence of harmful, drug-resistant bacteria.

Triclosan is found in a growing number of liquid soaps, hand sanitizers, dishwashing liquids, shaving gels and even clothes: socks, workout clothes, and toys. It is so ubiquitous that it is found in the urine of 75% of the population. Tricolsan is also suspected to be an immunotoxicant by the National Institute of Health.  A 2005 study by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute suggests that triclosan can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, a probable human carcinogen. Another study by the University of Minnesota suggests that sunlight "readily converts" triclosan to carcinogenic dioxin when it's in river water.

The Obama administration is re-evaluating the possible health impacts of chemicals that have in widespread use. YAY!

Herbicides Found in Streams

Male frogs exposed to atrazine, an herbicide which is applied to an estimated 75% of American corn fields to control weeds, turn female so completely that they can mate with other males and lay viable eggs. The study led by Dr. Tyrone Hayes, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also shows that atrazine can drive natural hormone systems haywire in fish, birds, rats and frogs. In some cases, male animals developed female characteristics.

Atrazine has been banned in the European Union but not in the United States.

Chocolate Found to be Medicinal

Chocolate has been found to lower blood pressure, improve circulation and diabetes. Now manufacturers are running out to "cash in" on this information by trying to tease out the players in this food and turn them into drugs and consumable products without the calories. But remember: all things in moderation. The calories are there for a reason. Plant life and human life have evolved over many years. Reduction in one area is going to cause havoc in another area. Don't be fooled by a promise of a "better way through manipulated chemistry."

Brominated Vegetable Oil - found in Gatorade and other "colored" drinks

Brominated Vegetable Oil ( "BVO") is a controversial flame retardant chemical listed as the last ingredient in Gatorade. It has been banned in Japan and the European Union.

According to Scientific American, BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and is found in some beverages including some flavors of Gatorade. It is “under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people's bodies, including breast milk, around the world.” The same article also mentions that there are “links to impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.”

BVO is not in every Gatorade drink -- just a few flavors. Gatorade says they use BVO just to keep certain colors bright -- even though some research suggests it can cause impaired brain development, reduced fertility, and can stay in the body for a long time.  The government and the sports drink industry claim that it’s safe to use BVO below certain levels, but Sarah says she doesn't want dangerous flame retardants of any amount in her Gatorade. 

BPA ( Bisphenol A )

The US Food and Drug Administration initially declared BPA, a component found in plastic, safe for all uses in 2008 based on two studies both paid for by BPA makers. After 3 years of investigative reports by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that despite hundreds of studies that found BPA to cause harm, the government failed to limit the chemical's exposure. The USFDA has now changed its ruling (2010) and says that BPA affects human development and is working to take the chemical out of infant formula cans and baby bottles. The Journal Sentineal found that lobbyists for the chemical industry wrote entire sections of the original decision.

More than 6 billion pounds of the chemical are manufactured each year, accounting for nearly $7 billion in sales. The chemical is used to line nearly all food and beerage cans. It is used to make hard clear plastic for baby bottles, tableware, eyeglasses, dental sealants, DVDs and hundres of other household objects. The chemical leaches into food and drink when heated. It has been linked to prostate and breast cancer, reproductive failure, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and behavior problems. (Times Picayune, Saturday, January 16, 2010 as reported by Meg Kissinger, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Don't just think it is in plastics. The Environmental Working Group found BPA on 40% of receipts collected from supermarkets, automated teller machines, gas stations and chain stores. In some cases, the total amount of BPA on the receipt was 1000 times the amount found in the expoxy lining of a can of food.

Children's Jewelry from China contains Toxic Metal

Chinese manufactures have been using heavy metal cadmium in charm bracelets and pendants because they are barred from using lead. Cadmium is a known carcinogen and like lead, can hinder brain developoment in the very young. Children don't have to swallow an item to be exposed: they can get persistent, low-level doses by regularly sucking or biting jewelry with a high cadmium content. (Times Picayune, Monday, Januarly 11, 2010 as reproted by Justine Pritchard, The Associated Press)

Cleaning Products and Breast Cancer.

In a study of of 400 mostly white and middle aged women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it was found that breast-cancer risk was highest among women who reported the most use of cleaning products and air fresheners. The results are published in the journal Environmental Health and gives weight to previous animal research showing that the same chemicals cause mammary-gland cancer in animals and disrupt the endocrine system, contributing to tumor growth.

The connection was drawn mostly between mold and mildew cleaners and air fresheners. Surface and oven cleaners were not associated with increased risk. Chemicals of concern include synthetic musks, phthalates, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, terpenes, benzene and styrene and some antimicrobial agents, said Julia Brody, the lead researcher and executive director of the Silent Spring Institute.

Vinegar and baking soad do the same job without the risks. Why support manufacture of toxic chemicals for that "mythical" goal of cleanliness. It lasts only a moment while toxins remain for generations on our planet.



Long term high intake of flouride, once touted as the panacea for decaying and rotten teeth and placed in most water systems throughout the United States, is now believed to increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities. About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spots because of too much flouride. It is found in toothpaste, mouthwas, bottled water and soda.

Food Additives

Citric acid

Citric acid is almost always derived from corn made using a mold that feeds on corn syrup. The process of making citric acid from corn also produces manufactured glutamic acid (MSG) as well.


From Read Your Labels Campaign, a recap of the series “Top Ten Food Additives to Avoid”, courtesy of Linda Bonvie

#1. High fructose corn syrup: HFCS has permeated the marketplace in so many foods and beverages it’s just about impossible to create a list. For starters, it’s in most all sodas, and many other beverages such as tea and flavored drinks, and numerous juice drinks made for kids, as well as other sweetened items such as jellies, cookies and pastries. It also turns up in some surprising places like bread and condiments, and oddly, even in some diet foods (where it’s possible that a super-high fructose version is used).

#2. Aspartame Aspartame is apt to turn up in foods labeled as “light” or “low-cal,” diet soft drinks, teas and juice drinks, kid’s vitamins, liquid cold drugs and other pharmaceuticals, chewing gum, cereal, sugar-free candies. Foods containing this artificial sweetener must also bear a warning that the item contains phenylalanine for those with a disorder called PKU.

#3. Hydrolyzed protein
#4. Autolyzed yeast
#5. Monosodium glutamate

These “excitoxins” can be found in soups, broth, flavoring additives, chips, dips, soup mixes, ramen noodles, frozen meals, snack mixes, canned fish, and a wide variety of other dishes –  including “natural,” “vegetarian,” and organic ones.

#6 Potassium bromate

Added to flour, it can be found in breads, flat breads, bakery products, knishes and tortillas. (It may also be listed on ingredient labels as “bromated flour.”)

#7 Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO

Some Gatorade products, Mountain Dew and other drinks containing citrus flavorings.

#8 BHA and BHT

This pair of preservatives turn up in many breakfast cereals (including most Kellogg’s varieties), as well as snack foods, chewing gum, pies, cakes and processed meats.

#9 Trans fats

Any food products containing partially hydrogenated oil contain trans fats, regardless of a zero trans fats listing on the nutrition facts label. These can include bakery items, pizza, dough, pies, cakes and cookies, snack foods and frozen meals.

#10 Artificial colors

They’re present in many cereals, cakes, candy, bakery products, drinks, juice drinks, vitamins and pharmaceuticals.

So there they are in review – the top ten offenders among food additives. They’re best avoided (except in the case of processed glutamic acid), by buying organic processed foods, or, better yet, by cooking your own food from scratch as much as possible. But if you’re too hard pressed to always do all that, you should at least take the time to read those ingredient labels – and keep the items that contain these health-threatening intruders out of your kitchen.


Food Dye

The FDA agrees with studies that say for "certain susceptible children," hyperactivity and other behavioral problems may be exacerbated by food dyes and other substances in food (April, 2011). The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been urging the FDA since 2008 to revoke approval for blue, green, orange, red and yellow dyes linked to behavior changes in hyperactive children.

Food Disorders

More than half a million U.S. teens have an eating disorder. Binge-eating is the most common, with bulimia followed by anorexia. More than half the affected teens had depression, anxiety or some other mental disorder. This is not "just psycological" and blaming it on advertisement takes away from the all too serious impact of the processed foods we eat.

Home Cleanser Contents

In New York, plans are afoot to start enforcing a nearly 40 year old state law and related regulation unique in the country to provide consumers with information about the chemicals in houselhold cleaning products. New York is also seeking any company-led research on the products' health and environmental effects. Remember the amount of chemicals that were released into the waters after Hurricane Katrina. - just from what people had stored under their kitchen sinks? AWARENESS.


Women who use birth-control pills made with the hormone drospirenone (found in Bayer's Yasmin) are 3 times more likely to develop blood clots than those who take an older oral contraceptive (levonorgestrel).

Beneficial Bacteria

Playing in the dirt is actually good for you, with brain-boosting effects caused by naturally occurring bacteria in soil, according to recent research from The Sage Colleges. By studying how quickly mice negotiate a maze, associate biology professor Dorothy Matthews found that mice did better and showed less stress after eating snacks containing the bacteria, which earlier research shows can increase levels of serotonin, a brain chemical linked in humans with increased learning ability and mood. Matthews presented her research, assisted by Sage associate psychology professor Susan Jenks, last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in San Diego.

"When we look at our evolutionary history, we spent a lot of time as hunter-gatherers, or even more recently in agriculture, where we had lots of contact with the soil," Matthews said. "It's only been the last 100 years or so that we've become more urbanized and are eating our foods in a different way."

Her research focused on Mycobacterium vaccae, a strain of bacteria that occurs naturally in soil, and that was first scientifically isolated in cow dung. The Sage study involved 20 lab mice and a maze where eight turns had to be made to reach food. Peanut butter snacks fed to some of the mice contained the bacteria. Mice that ate the bacteria snacks consistently finished the maze almost twice as fast as those that ate untreated food.And the faster mice also showed less visible anxiety behaviors, like hugging against the wall, freezing in place, excessive grooming, peering cautiously around corners, and defecating. Even after the mice stopped snacking on the live bacteria, they still outperformed the other mice. Three weeks later, the effect seemed to taper off.

The Sage research builds on a 2007 study in England, which found mice that received a dead version of the bacteria showed behavioral changes similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs. Researchers began looking more closely at the bacteria after human cancer patients being treated with it unexpectedly reported positive changes in mood and outlook. Later, it was found that the bacteria were activating a group of neurons in the brain that produces the chemical serotonin. A lack of serotonin in the brain is thought to cause depression in people.

Matthews said her research suggests that bacteria may play a role in reducing anxiety and enhancing learning. If that is true, she said, spending time outdoors and interacting with nature -- taking walks in the woods or gardening or playing -- may play a role in the way people learn -- and help reduce their anxieties as well. And being too clean by disinfecting everything a person comes in contact with could reduce or eliminate exposure to helpful bacteria and it might be actually making people feel worse, not better, Matthews said.

By Brian Nearing e-mail at

Internal Germs

We coexist with trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes found in our skin, nose, digestive tract and elsewhere throughout our body. Scientists call the the human microbiome. Many are beneficial, some indispensable especially those in our gut. Gut bacteria communities are fundamentally important in the development of our immune system (says Dr. David Relman of Stanford University). Relman is currently studying the effects of antibiotics during the first or two years of life as children are forming what will become their unique set of gut bacteria and whether this predisposes children to later immune-related diseases.

Everyone is born with an essentially sterile digestive tract, but within days the gut is overrun with bacteria from mom and dad, the environment, first foods. Ultimately, a healthy person's intestinal tract teems with hundreds of species of microbes involved in such things as digestion and immune reaction.

An experiment that gave a fairly mild antibiotic to healthy adults in 2 separate rounds caused a popluation shift in their microbial gut flora: original families of germs plummeted and other types moved in to fill the gap. In the not-so-healthy, scientists have discovered that overweight people harbor different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people. Dr. Martin Blaser, a microbiome specialist at New York University Langone Medical center was quoted as saying: "The main point is that antibiotic use is not free in a biological sense."

Glyphosate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle -- they inhibit a specific enzyme that plants need in order to grow. The specific enzyme is called EPSP synthase. Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce other proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to Roundup. In the same way that many antibiotics gum up enzyme production to kill bacteria, glyphosate gums up enzymes in plants to kill them. Glyphosate kills plants like antibiotics kill bacteria.

Herbicide-Flavored Food

What it is: Glyphosate, the active chemical ingredient in the popular weed killer, Roundup, is a hormone-disrupting chemical now used primarily on corn and soy crops genetically engineered to withstand a heavy dousing of the chemical. Nonorganic farmers dumped 57 million pounds of glyphosate on food crops in 2009, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures. 

Glyphosate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle -- they inhibit a specific enzyme that plants need in order to grow. The specific enzyme is called EPSP synthase. Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce other proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to Roundup. In the same way that many antibiotics gum up enzyme production to kill bacteria, glyphosate gums up enzymes in plants to kill them. Glyphosate kills plants like antibiotics kill bacteria.

Where it is: Roundup is so heavily used around homes and in farm fields that it's now being detected in streams, the air, and even rain. Because it's a systemic herbicide, it's actually taken up inside the plant…meaning we eat it. Yep, it's legally allowed in our food, and in an amount that worries scientists. It's found in most nonorganic packaged foods because most contain corn- or soy-derived ingredients, the crops that are most often heavily doused with Roundup.

Why it's bad: Glyphosate exposure is linked to obesity, learning disabilities, birth defects, infertility, and potentially irreversible metabolic damage. To avoid pesticides in products, eat organic and avoided processed foods as much as possible. And use caution—"all natural" foods often are chockfull of pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients. 

All Natural Foods

“Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormonesantibioticssweetenersfood colors, or flavorings that were not originally in the food. The terms are often misused on labels and in advertisements.

The international Food and Agriculture Organization’s Codex Alimentarius does not recognize the term “natural” but does have a standard for organic foods. Fundamentally, almost all foodstuffs are derived from the natural products of plants and animals; therefore, any definition of “natural food” results in an arbitrary exclusion or inclusion of food ingredients; likewise, since almost all foods are processed in some way, either mechanically, chemically, or by temperature, it is difficult to define which types of food processing are “natural”.


Water Contamination

Scientists are detecting low concenrations of pharmaceuticals in lakes, streams, drinking water and soils irrigated with reclaimed water. More than 80% of waterways tested in America show some traces of common medicines such as acetaminophen, hormones blood pressure medications, codeine and antibiotics, according the the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Philadelphia ranked highest of the 50 cities sampled, with 56 pharmaceuticals and their byproducts in their drinking water. In New Orleans tap water trace amounts of three pharmaceuticals were found: estrogen, the cholesterol lowering drug clofibrate and the anti-inflammatory naproxen.

Other chemicals, such as percholate, used in rocket fuel, are found in water consumed by 5 - 17 million people in the U.S. Percholate can limit the thyroid's ability to absorb iodine and result in hormonal deficiences. Chromium 6 (the chemical at the center of the Erin Brockovich story) is also found in water and has been found to cause cancer.

Long term high intake of flouride, once touted as the panacea for decaying and rotten teeth and placed in most water systems throughout the United States, is now believed to increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities. About 2 out of 5 adolescents have tooth streaking or spots because of too much flouride.


Plastic & Dioxins

Plastics contain dioxins that can be released from the plastic into your food, especially if the plastics are used in the microwave or the freezer. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. When fat, high heat and plastics are put together, dioxins are released into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. The chemical dioxin may cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

IF you buy prepared foods to microwave, remove the container and heat in glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. Plastic wrap is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.