Soda Surcharge, Will it Work?

San Francisco’s mayor wants to charge stores a fee for selling soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Jesse McKinley of The New York Times reports:
In a move he says is necessary to trim the city’s waistline, the decidedly slim mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, has proposed charging big stores a fee when they sell sugar-sweet soda.


The proposal, which was reported by The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, would put an as yet-to-be-defined surcharge on all drinks with high-fructose corn syrup, which puts the sweet pop in most nondiet sodas and many other food products. The syrup also puts on the pounds, something city officials say strains the health care system…

…Mr. Keane said that if Mr. Newsom really wanted to fight the fat, he would take on computer and video game companies, which Kevin Keane, a senior vice president of the American Beverage Association, said lured children inside when they should “be outside burning calories.”

Mr. Newsom, a Diet Coke man who exercises regularly, already earned the ire of beverage companies with a ban this year on bottled water at City Hall, where staff members now drink filtered and cooled tap water. The soda proposal will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors early next year, Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the mayor, said, and would affect only large retailers, not mom-and-pop stores. As for levies on other child-friendly delicacies, Mr. Ballard added, “The mayor has no intention of imposing a fee on pizza.”
Let’s start with the easy issue first. You don’t have to be a medical expert to know high-fructose corny syrup (HFCS) is a scourge. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption in the United States, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.1 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.
The claim that obesity numbers parallel the rate of soft drink-consumption certainly bolsters Mayor Newsom’s proposal. With that being said, this chart is a must read:



Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World,
published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (www.cspinet.org).

Now, the heart of the matter is will this additional fee dissuade customers from buying soft drinks; logic would tell you that if retailers are paying a surcharge they will no doubt pass the cost onto consumers—sounds similar to cigarette taxes. Check this out from Tobacco Free Kids:
Studies, and experience in state after state, show that higher cigarette taxes are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking among both youth and adults. Every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes will reduce youth smoking by about seven percent and overall cigarette consumption by about four percent.
We all know the proof is in the pudding. Feast your eyes on this chart. It’s certainly in the same vein as the obesity-soda consumption chart above. Take a look:


This surcharge doesn’t sound like an unfair proposition, especially when you apply the cigarette-tax-logic, which most people seem to agree with. Now, Water for Life USA Blog provides other reasons why soda is bad, here’s three:
pH of Soda = pH of Vinegar
For one, soda, no matter who makes it, is the most acidic beverage you can buy, with a pH of about 2.5, about the same as vinegar. Why does that matter? Acid oxidizes whatever it comes in contact with. If you put soda or vinegar on metal, it will rust it quickly.


Drink Soda, Leach Calcium
If you drink soda, which also contains high levels of phosphorous, you will leach calcium from your bones. Dr. Michael Murray from the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine concluded, “It appears that increased soft drink consumption is a major factor that contributes to osteoporosis.” Furthermore, Dr. Elson Haas, author of The Detox Diet states, “Tooth loss, periodontal disease, and gingivitis can be problems, especially with a high phosphorus intake, particularly from soft drinks.”

Soda Will Dissolve your Tooth Enamel
Weak bones is just the beginning. According to Dr. James Howenstein. author of A Physician’s Guide to Natural Health Products That Work, the high sugar content of soda is awful. He states, “”In an interesting experiment the sugar from one soft drink was able to damage the white blood cells’ ability to ingest and kill bacteria for seven hours.” Dr. Marion Nestle from his book Food Politics states, “Sugar and acid in soft drinks so easily dissolve tooth enamel.”
And just like soda, cigarettes also pose dangers outside of the most salient, that being cancer. About.com breaks down a list of other smoking hazards. A few of note:
  • Carbon monoxide binds to hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing affected cells from carrying a full load of oxygen.
  • The carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene binds to cells in the airways and major organs of smokers.
  • The body produces antioxidants to help repair damaged cells.
  • Smokers have lower levels of antioxidants in their blood than do nonsmokers.
Clearly, it’s pretty hard to classify soda as less harmless than cigarettes. So, if a tax helps reduce the number of smokers, then why not impose a penalty fee on soft drinks. All indications seem to favor its success. And after all, the cigarette companies are still making millions.
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Behold...MUSHROOM POWER!

Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, “Mushrooms make a great chewy replacement to meat. Exploring their varieties is a great way to add interesting flavors and texture to dishes.” But, did you know mushrooms are also potent prostate cancer-fighters? More from the AFP:
Researchers at the university in northern Israel said they found molecules in the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom, commonly known as the reishi, which help supress some mechanisms involved in the progression of prostate cancer.


"We already knew the mushroom could impede the development of cancer by affecting the immune system. The in-vitro trials we have done show that it attacks the cancer cells directly," chief researcher Ben Zion Zaidman told AFP.

"These results give rise to hope about developing medication to treat prostate cancer," he said of research carried out to date only in Petri dishes. The research still has to be tested on animals.
Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods! In fact, I’m debating adopting one of those truffle-sniffing dogs—kidding. But seriously, mushrooms are the real deal. Here Dr. Fuhrman explains why they’re especially good in the fight against cancer. Take a look:
Even though they are a fungus, and not a real vegetable, mushrooms contain a variety of powerful phytochemicals and have been linked to decreased risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.
And for you mushroom-haters out there—you know who you are—eating mushrooms does not have to be an icky experience. Check out these amazing mushroom recipes:
Doubly Delicious Greens
1 large bunch bok choy, chopped
1 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt)
2 cups shiitake and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Place bok choy, Swiss chard, onions, and garlic in a large steamer and steam until almost tender, about 10 minutes. In a large pot add tomatoes, mushrooms, steamed greens mixture, and seasoning. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cabbage Mushroom Soup
15 oz. carrot juice
10 oz. celery juice
20 oz. water
6 onions
1 head green cabbage
3 stalks broccoli rabe
6 leaves collard greens
4 cups mushrooms, chopped (shiitake preferred)
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Salt-Free 17 Seasoning (Lawry’s)
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash
1/4 cup unhulled raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup red kidney beans
1/2 cup white beans
Cook all ingredients (except the sesame seeds and cashews) on a very low flame in a large covered pot. Remove the cabbage, broccoli rabe, and collards when soft and place in a blender or food processor. Ladle in a little of the soup liquid, purée, and pour the entire mixture back into the soup. Next, put the sesame seeds and cashews into the blender, ladle in some of the soup, purée until silky smooth, and pour the mixture into the soup. Continue cooking until the beans are soft, for about 2 hours. (The basic recipe can be made with any types of greens and beans.)

Sunlight Fights Cancer

Wait, sufficient sun exposure helps prevent disease—NO—you don’t say? Pardon my smart-alecky tone, but this factoid is an old hat for DiseaseProof. Let’s review. Alright, remember this report, Sunlight in Youth Might Shield Against MS? Here’s a refresher:
"Evidence is building up that something in relation to sunlight and/or vitamin D exposure during childhood may play a protective role," said study co-author Dr. Thomas M. Mack, of the department of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. "It's now been suggested by several different studies that this is the case, and if it's true, it would be important."
Okay, okay. That’s Multiple Sclerosis, but what about cancer? Is it possible that something as simple as basking in the sun can reduce our risk of developing something as insidious as CANCER? More learning tree time, remember Ultraviolet: Go into the Light? Take a look:
In two studies with mice, a British team cloaked antibodies -- the immune system proteins that tag germs and cancer cells for elimination -- with an organic oil that blocked them from reacting until illuminated with ultraviolet light.


The researchers used engineered immune system proteins called monoclonal antibodies. They are made to home in on proteins known to be overactive in tumor cells.

When the light unblocked the organic coating, the antibodies switched on and attracted killer T-cells to attack the tumor, said Colin Self, a researcher at Newcastle University, who led the studies.
Still not convinced? Alright, I’ve got a new report for you. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News brings this to the table, under the catchy title, Sunlight Helps Put Lung Cancer in the Shade. Lung cancer too? Yup, lung cancer too! For real, from the report:
A new study finds that lower levels of the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are associated with a higher incidence of lung cancer across 111 countries.


Still, that doesn't mean that spending more time in the sun will ever offset the risks that come with smoking, according to the study, which is published in the January issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It's also not an excuse to trade skin cancer for lung cancer.

"The problem is that people might over-interpret this and stay in the sun for hours," said Cedric Garland, study senior author, professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and participating member at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center in La Jolla.
“For over 60 years, researchers have observed an inverse association between sun exposure and cancer mortality,” explains Dr. Fuhrman,” And those with more sun exposure had fewer cancers.” See, not exactly new news, but how many people listen? That’s the question!

Cancer...Globally Lethal

You don’t like reading stuff like this—you just don’t. Its official, 2007 saw 8 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
Cancer continues to cut a deadly swath across the globe, with the American Cancer Society reporting 12 million new cases of malignancy diagnosed worldwide in 2007, with 7.6 million people dying from the disease.


The report, Global Cancer Facts & Figures, finds that 5.4 million of those cancers and 2.9 million deaths are in more affluent, developed nations, while 6.7 million new cancer cases and 4.7 million deaths hit people in developing countries.

"The point of the report is to promote cancer control worldwide, and increase awareness worldwide," said report co-author Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, director of the society's Cancer Occurrence Office.

The number of cancers and cancer deaths around the world is on the rise, Jemal said, mostly due to an aging population. "There is increasing life expectancy, and cancer occurs more frequently in older age groups," he noted.
I wonder how many of those could have been prevented. The “on the rise” part is the most daunting.

Mammogram Misses

Mammograms are practically the poster-child for breast cancer, but, Dr. Fuhrman contends they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. He talks about it here:
The American Cancer Society, The American College of Radiology, and the National Cancer Institute still support the discredited notion that mammograms “prevent” breast cancer. Mammograms are entrenched in the practice of conventional medicine. The politics and economics within the world of medical policy-making govern the messages that are disseminated to the public. The fact is—at best—mammograms detect, they do not prevent. To use the word prevent in the same sentence as mammograms is a tremendous distortion of reality. The only proven approach to prevention of breast cancer is the adoption of lifestyle modifications that help stop cells from becoming cancerous in the first place.
And now this, it seems that even top doctors are missing the signs of breast cancer on mammograms. Kyung M. Song of The Seattle Times reports:
Researchers examined nearly 36,000 mammograms read by 123 radiologists and found that a woman's odds of getting accurate results vary widely depending on who is doing the reading. The worst radiologists missed nearly 40 percent of the tumors and misidentified 8.3 percent of their patients as having nonexistent cancers.


The top performers tended to be doctors at academic medical centers and those who specialized in breast imaging. But even then, the cancer went undetected in one of five women who turned out to have cancer, while 2.6 percent had false-positive results…

…"Mammography is not perfect. But it's still the best thing at detecting breast cancer," said Diana Miglioretti, an associate investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies and the study's lead author.

Traditional mammograms, taken with low-dose X-rays, are notoriously difficult to read. Benign and malignant lesions can look alike. A speck of tumor can be hard to discern from the surrounding breast tissue. Accurate readings rest largely on a radiologist's skill.
Again, Dr. Fuhrman is not thrilled about mammograms. In fact, he believes all the hubbub about mammograms is largely based on fear. He explains:
More than a decade ago, the American Cancer Society recommended that women get a baseline mammogram at age thirty-five, followed by annual screenings beginning at age forty. The campaign to position mammograms as the key weapon in the fight against breast cancer was initiated by the American Cancer Society, with a number of medical groups joining the fray. Instilling fear about breast cancer was a campaign strategy. To achieve this, the American Cancer Society used greatly exaggerated numbers and faulty math to overstate breast cancer risk. They admitted they did this—and continue to do it—to promote mammograms.1 They still trumpet the claim that women face a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer during their lifetimes.
He’ll also tell you that the idea of “early detection” is essentially a myth, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s more from Dr. Fuhrman:
Mammograms never detect “early” breast cancer. By the time a cancer is visible to the human eye on a mammogram, it is already teeming with over a hundred billion cancer cells—which have been there for at least eight years—and it already has had ample time to spread to other parts of the body. In the majority of cases, the cancer has spread outside the breast, but the small groups of cells that have traveled to other parts of the body may be undetectable for years.
Now, to make matters worse, according to Dr. Fuhrman, mammograms might actually CAUSE breast cancer. Here’s a quote:
Unfortunately, mammography can be the cause of a woman’s breast cancer. When calculating its supposed benefits, we need to include in the equation the percentage of women whose breast cancer was promoted by the radiation exposure from the mammograms themselves. The younger you are when the mammograms are performed, the greater the risk of radiation-induced cancer.2,3 According to Michael Swift, M.D., chief of medical genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, between 5,000 and 10,000 of the 180,000 cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year could be prevented if women’s breasts were not exposed to radiation from mammograms. Over a million American women carry the gene for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T), which makes them unusually sensitive to the ionizing radiation in X rays and five times more likely to develop breast cancer.4
Personally, if I had boobies, I’d think twice about getting them squished—EEK!
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Meat Ups Lung Cancer Risk

Alright, if you Eat to Live, you probably get this question a lot, “So, what are you vegan?” For me, the answer is no—I eat fish—because according to Dr. Fuhrman a near-vegetarian diet and a vegetarian diet are pretty similar. Here’s a quote:
Is a vegetarian diet healthier than a diet that contains a small amount of animal products? We do not know for sure. The preponderance of evidence suggests that either a near-vegetarian diet or a vegetarian diet is the best, especially for patients with heart disease. In the massive China-Oxford-Cornell Project, reduction in heart disease and cancer rates continued to be observed as participants reduced their animal-food consumption all the way down to 1.7 small servings per week. Under this level, there is not enough data available.
And, meat isn’t all bad. Vegans you might want to pay attention to this post, The Healthy Way to Integrate Meat Into Your Diet, it’ll help you figure out what supplements you need to ensure you’re probably nourished. Some points of interests:
  • Plant foods do not contain B12 (all vegans should take B12).
  • Some people have a need for more taurine, and may not get optimal amounts with a vegan diet. (Some vegans need to take a taurine supplement, or they could get a blood test to assure adequacy).
  • Some vegans may not produce ideal levels of DHA fat (from the conversion of short-chain omega-3 fats) found in such foods as flax and walnuts, if they don't eat fish. I advocate that vegans and people who do not eat fish should supplement with DHA or get a blood test to assure adequacy.
But the problem is—and Dr. Fuhrman would agree—people go berserk with the whole protein thing, especially animal protein. So, this begs the question, Do You Need Animal Protein? Dr. Fuhrman discusses it here:
Today, the average American consumes 100 to 120 grams of protein per day, mostly in the form of animal products. People who eat a completely vegetarian diet (vegan) have been found to consume sixty to eighty grams of protein a day, well above the minimum requirement.1 Vitamin B12, not protein, is the missing nutrient in a vegan diet.


In modern times, the plant foods we eat are well washed and contain little bacteria, bugs, or dirt, which would have supplied B12 in a more natural environment such as the jungle or forest. To assure optimal levels of B12 in our diet, we require some form of B12 supplementation when eating a diet with little or no animal products.
Now eating too much animal protein—or meat—can usher in a lot of serious health problems; most notably cancer and heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman briefly talks about the cancer-heart disease-meat connection here. Take a look:
Plasma apolioprotein B is positively associated with animal-protein intake and inversely associated (lowered) with vegetable-protein intake (e.g., legumes and greens). Apolioprotein B levels correlate strongly with coronary heart disease.2


A recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.3
Dr. Fuhrman isn’t the only one talking about the link between various cancers and consumption of animal products. Get a load of this new study, apparently meat raises lung cancer risk. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
People who eat a lot of red meat and processed meats have a higher risk of several types of cancer, including lung cancer and colorectal cancer, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.


The work is the first big study to show a link between meat and lung cancer. It also shows that people who eat a lot of meat have a higher risk of liver and esophageal cancer and that men raise their risk of pancreatic cancer by eating red meat.

"A decrease in the consumption of red and processed meat could reduce the incidence of cancer at multiple sites," Dr. Amanda Cross and colleagues at the U.S. National Cancer Institute wrote in their report, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.
Aren’t you happy you avoid red meat? In the end, I guess it’s important to remember, that while you don’t necessarily have to be vegan or vegetarian, according to Dr. Fuhrman, its best to limit how much meat you eat. One more quote:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.4 The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis.5
So, when people ask you if you miss the proverbial standard American double-cheese burger, you shouldn’t have to fake a sigh and pretend that you do—I don’t!
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Soy Foods and Heart Disease

New research has determined that women who regularly eat soy-based foods lower their risk of heart disease. The AFP reports:
Soybeans -- eaten as tofu, miso soup or Japanese fermented beans known as "natto" -- have a high amount of isoflavones, a natural source of estrogen similar to the female hormone, the study found.


The risk of heart attacks or strokes for a woman who consumed soy at least five times a week was 0.39 compared with 1 for a woman who consumed the least, it said.

The results were even more striking among women past menopause, with the risk falling to 0.25, said Yoshihiko Kokubo, chief doctor of preventive cardiology at Japan's National Cardiovascular Center.
Soy—or edamame—beans are great! Tofu is cool too. But as Dr. Fuhrman points out, soy foods might be tasty, but don’t go overboard. From Eat to live:
Studies have shown soy's beneficial effects on cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors. However, there is no reason not to expect the same results from beans of any type--it's merely that more studies have been done on soy than on any other beans…


…I always recommended the consumption of a broad variety of phytochemical-rich foods to maximize one's health. Beans are no exception--try to eat different types of beans, not just soy.
This report is very similar to an earlier one claiming soy nuts can lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times was on it:
The first group followed the same diet without soy. The second ate a half-cup a day of soy nuts while reducing protein intake from other sources. When hypertensive women were on the soy diet, they averaged a 9.9 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading) and a 6.8 percent decrease in diastolic pressure. Those with normal blood pressure also benefited from the soy diet, reducing systolic and diastolic readings by 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
Now, this is a great time to note that not all soy foods are homeruns. As Dr. Fuhrman explains soy nuts aren’t so great. Take a look:
You should be aware that soy nuts, soymilk, and other processed soy products do not retain many of the beneficial compounds and omega-3 fats that are in the natural bean. The more the food is processed, the more the beneficial compounds are destroyed.
Lucky for us—and the women in the AFP report—Dr. Fuhrman still considers tofu and frozen or canned soybeans are a good source of omega-3 fat and calcium.