Healthy Hearts: Did You Set Your Clocks Back?

Hopefully you did! Because new research in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals 20 years of turning the clocks back has caused a DROP in the number of heart attacks on the Monday following the time switch, the extra hour of sleep could be why; via the Associated Press.

Sleep is good? Wow, who would have thought! A healthy diet and plenty of exercise are also smart ways to SUPERCHARGE your heart. And remember, things like diabetes, asthma and even erectile dysfunction have the opposite effect, they INCREASE heart disease-risk.

Visa Discoblog.
 

Pools: Outdoor and Indoor Boost Kids' Asthma-Risk...

It’s getting a little late in the season, but a new study in the European Respiratory Journal has determined outdoor pools INCREASE children’s asthma risk. Researchers blame prolonged exposure to chlorine vapors; Reuters reports.

Actually, this backs up a previous study about indoor pools. Researchers linked inhalation of chlorine byproducts to lung damage in infants and possible asthma later in childhood. It appeared in the journal Pediatrics; via Reuters.

Keeping excitable kids out of the pool might be hard. Maybe limit their time swimming instead. After all, growing bodies MUST be kept safe from toxic environments.

Bacteria Going Away, Asthma on the Rise...


Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that naturally exists in our stomachs, is on the decline in people, but now asthma is on the rise—are they related? Dr. Martin Blaser M.D., chairman of medicine and microbiology professor at New York University, thinks so. Via NPR:
Several years ago, researchers proposed the provocative idea that bacteria living in the human stomach could be responsible for the development of some stomach ulcers — and the doctors found that treating those bacteria, H. pylori, with antibiotics could reduce ulcer risk. New research suggests, however, that those bacteria may not be all bad — they could help prevent the development of childhood asthma.

Writing in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the scientists report that children between the ages of 3 and 13 are nearly 59 percent less likely to have asthma if they have the bacterium in their gut. The children were also 40 percent less likely to have hay fever and associated allergies such as eczema and rash.

The cause for the link isn't exactly clear, though the researchers believe that people with the bacteria have more immune cells called regulatory T cells. They say the surplus cells prevent the immune system from overreacting to allergens, which can trigger asthma and allergies like hay fever.
Here’s some of the abstract to Dr. Blaser’s study from The Journal of Infectious Disease. Take a look:
Methods: We conducted cross-sectional analyses, using data from 7412 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2000, to assess the association between H. pylori and childhood asthma.


Conclusions: This study is the first to report an inverse association between H. pylori seropositivity and asthma in children. The findings indicate new directions for research and asthma prevention.
Perhaps all these antibiotics we’re shoveling down our throats are REALLY working against us. Again, Dr. Blaser thinks this might be the case. For more, check out the audio to the NPR report: Stomach Bacteria Could Prevent Asthma.

Kids: Nebulization Ups Cardiac Injury Risk


Albuterol nebulization often used to treat acute asthma attacks has been shown to increase cardiac risks in children. Via Family Practice News:
The team speculated that myocardial injury may be due to excessive stimulation of β receptors, perhaps in combination with genetic predisposition to myocardial injury associated with that mechanism.

“We recommend that children receiving continuous albuterol nebulization (10–15 mg/hr or more) for more than 2 hours be closely monitored for evidence of myocardial injury and diastolic hypotension,” Dr. Fagbuyi Dr. Daniel Fagbuyi, a fellow in pediatric emergency medicine said during his oral presentation.

In response to questions from the audience, he acknowledged that much thought went into using the term “myocardial injury” to describe the effect of elevated ST segments or troponin elevations.

“We expected scientists would question whether our measurements reflected true myocardial injury, but our data clearly show that caution is appropriate when using continuous nebulized albuterol,” he said.

A careful review of the literature contains sufficient evidence that those markers correlated with actual myocardial injury, even in children, he added.

The clinical relevance of the findings and their potential contributions to long-term sequelae remain under study in the pediatric population, Dr. Fagbuyi said.
For more asthma news, don’t forget about DiseaseProof’s asthma category.

Thursday: Health Points


Using surveillance of hospital staff to observe the ways the wipes are used routinely, researchers discovered hospital workers were using the same antimicrobial wipe on many surfaces, from bed rails to monitors, tables, and keypads. One wipe was frequently used to wipe down several surfaces or to wipe down the same surface repeatedly before being thrown away.

The research team then replicated the disinfecting methods they’d observed for laboratory analysis. The lab findings showed that some wipes were more effective than others at removing bacteria from hard surfaces but they did not kill them. When the bacteria-laden wipe was used repeatedly on one surface or on several, it spread the bacteria instead of eliminating it.
The Agriculture Department, which detected the flu in samples tested at its Ames, Iowa, laboratories, said the H7N3 strain of influenza isn't dangerous to humans. Although the Tyson flock of 15,000 chickens is being destroyed, regulators aren't blocking U.S. consumers from eating chicken raised in Arkansas, the largest poultry-producing state after Georgia.


The Tyson label has been a point of contention and confusion since it was cleared by the Agriculture Department in May 2007. As the department was moving to rescind the label, Tyson officials tried to beat regulators to the punch by announcing earlier this week that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label.

Removing the label quickly is a logistical and financial headache for Tyson, which said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department's June 18 deadline is "unrealistic." Tyson says it has "several months" of chicken labeled "antibiotic-free" in storage.

Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun said earlier Tuesday that Seoul had asked the U.S. to refrain from exporting any beef from cattle 30 months of age and older, considered at greater risk of the illness.


Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the president told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "it is natural not to bring in meat from cattle 30 months of age and older as long as the people do not want it."

The spokesman also expressed hope that the United States would respect South Korea's position following large-scale anti-government protests over the weekend.
The risk of being hospitalized was greatest among babies 6 months old and younger, but the increased risk persisted up until the children were 8 years old, Dr. M. K. Kwok of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues found. Children who were premature or low birth weight were particularly vulnerable.


The findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure may not only be harmful to children's respiratory tracts, but to their immune systems as well, Kwok and colleagues say.

Hong Kong banned smoking in public places in 2007, but babies and children may still be exposed to secondhand smoke at home, the researchers note in their report in the journal Tobacco Control. While the danger smoke exposure poses to children's developing respiratory systems is well understood, less is known about its effects on overall infection risks.

Scientists previously thought that fat cells were relatively passive and inert. Now they have evidence that fat cells are metabolically active, continuously communicating with the brain and other organs through at least 25 hormones and other signaling chemicals.


For example, fat cells seem to release hormones that inform the brain how much energy is left and when to stop (or start) eating, guide muscles in deciding when to burn fat and tell the liver when to replenish its fat stores.

All this cross talk can be a mixed blessing in the body, however. A healthy population of fat cells, for example, helps the immune system fight off infection by releasing chemicals that cause mild inflammation. But an overactive group of fat cells might keep the inflammation permanently in the "on" position, eventually leading to heart disease.
Adult-onset asthma, like other inflammatory diseases that disproportionately affect women such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, may be a relatively strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke, Dr. Stephen J. Onufrak from the US Department of Agriculture, Stoneville, Mississippi told Reuters Health.


Onufrak and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the association of asthma with the risks of heart disease and stroke according to gender.

They found that, compared with their counterparts without asthma, women with adult-onset asthma had a 2.10-fold increase in the rate of heart disease and a 2.36-fold increase in the rate of stroke.

There was no association between childhood- or adult-onset asthma and heart disease or stroke in men, or between childhood-onset asthma and heart or stroke in women.

Researchers found that among 9,100 middle-aged men at higher-than- average risk of heart disease, those with gout were more likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular cause over 17 years.


The findings should give men with gout extra incentive to have a doctor assess their cardiac risks, lead researcher Dr. Eswar Krishnan told Reuters Health.

And if they have modifiable risk factors -- like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or excess pounds -- it will be particularly important to get them under control, noted Krishnan, an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Give Yourself Permission to Do Less.
If you're struggling to exercise at all, bribe yourself with a mini-workout--it's better than none. You may not need to, once you get going, but the "permission" should be sincere. It's not the end of the world to shave off 10 minutes of cardio or skip a few strength training exercises. Check your routine for duplicate exercises that work the same muscles --you may be able to alternate rather than doing them all every time. If the thought of an easier workout gets you out the door, it's well worth doing "less" sometimes.


Change Routes and Routines.
Another obvious tip, but one we don't do often enough. If you exercise outdoors and have found the "best" route available for your run or walk, it can be tempting to just stick to it until you are totally sick of it but don't even realize it. Find new routes, or if there are none, revisit rejects that seemed too hilly or busy or boring--they may make a good change of pace even if they're not perfect.

Stress and Pregnancy, Asthma and Allergies--Linked

New research contends that stressed out expectant mothers increase their baby’s likelihood of developing asthma or allergies later in life. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News explains:
Babies born to mothers experiencing high levels of stress had more IgE in their blood at birth than did babies born to less-stressed moms. IgE is an antibody involved in allergic and asthmatic reactions.

"Moms who had elevated levels of stress had children who seemed to be more reactive to allergens, even when exposed to low levels of allergens," said study co-author Dr. Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Wright's colleague, and another author of the study, Junenette Peters, said that stress may make women more susceptible to allergens because it "may make the cells more permeable" so that even low levels of exposure trigger a reaction. And, women whose immune systems are altered by stress may, in turn, pass down that trait to their infants.

Peters, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to present the findings Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference, in Toronto.

The study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, included 315 expectant mothers and their infants. All of the mothers lived in an urban environment.
Stressed and pregnant! How do you ladies do it? You all need to relax. Hey, maybe this will help. Check it out:


Keep breathing...

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.


Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.


One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.


"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.


Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.


Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.


Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.


In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.

Reduce Asthma, Delay DPT Vaccination...

“DPT vaccine given at the recommended times, doubles the risk of childhood asthma,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And now, a new study claims delaying DPT may reduce the incidence of childhood asthma. Via Medscape:
The investigators analyzed data from the complete immunization and healthcare records of a cohort of children born in Manitoba in 1995, from birth until age 7 years. Using multivariable logistic regression, they computed the adjusted odds ratio for asthma at age 7 years according to the timing of DPT immunization.

Among 11,531 children who received at least 4 doses of DPT, the risk for asthma was halved in children in whom administration of the first dose of DPT was delayed by more than 2 months. For children with delays in administration of all 3 doses, the likelihood of asthma was 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18 - 0.86).

"We found a negative association between delay in administration of the first dose of whole-cell DPT immunization in childhood and the development of asthma; the association was greater with delays in all of the first 3 doses," the study authors write. "The mechanism for this phenomenon requires further research."
For more on vaccinations check out April’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

Asthma and Obesity Don't Mix

A new study has determined that asthma attacks are worsened by obesity. More from Reuters:
A BMI is the ratio between height and weight, and is used to classify people as underweight, overweight or normal weight.

"The greater dynamic hyperinflation means that obese individuals lose the ability to inhale as deeply or exhale as fully as normal weight individuals," Dr. D. Robin Taylor explains in an American Thoracic Society statement.

Taylor's team at the University of Otago in Dunedin studied the changes in airway expansion and lung volume that occur with acute constriction of the bronchial tubes in a group of 30 adult women with asthma. Ten women each were classified as normal weight, overweight, or obese, and lung volumes were measured.

The degree of bronchial constriction following the airway sensitivity test did not vary by group, the team reports in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The only significant difference among the subjects was a decrease in vital capacity that significantly corresponded with increasing BMI.
“The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese,” warns Dr. Fuhrman.

Bad Diet, Good Diet: Sugar vs. Vegan

According to a new study eating a diet rich in sugar and sweets has been linked to asthma in kids. Charlene Laino of WebMD Medical News is on it:
Sugar might do more than just plump up our children, it could also help give them asthma, animal research suggests.


Asthma now affects nearly 9% of children and teens, a figure that has doubled since the 1980s, according to a study published last year.

Poor eating habits, including frequent consumption of candy and other sugary foods, are among factors blamed for the increase of asthma in children and teens, says Sonja Kierstein, PhD, of the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Kierstein and colleagues hypothesized that a sugar-rich diet may prime the immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation. The inflammation, in turn, can cause a narrowing of the airways and mucus production, resulting in asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

Kierstein, who performed the study while at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the findings here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Okay, better news. Research has determined that a plant food rich vegan diet may help ease rheumatoid arthritis. Reuters reports:
A gluten-free vegan diet full of nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit and vegetables appears to offer protection against heart attacks and strokes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, Swedish researchers said on Tuesday.


The diet appeared to lower cholesterol and also affect the immune system, easing some symptoms associated with the painful joint condition, they said.

The study suggested diet could play an important role for people with rheumatoid arthritis who are often more prone to heart attacks, strokes and clogged arteries, said a team from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

"These findings are compatible with previous results of vegetarian/vegan dietary regimens in non-rheumatoid arthritis subjects which have shown lower blood pressure, lower body mass index and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Don’t eat sugar, and, eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables—sounds like a fantastic idea!

Expensively Sick

Julie’s Health Club relays a list of America’s top ten medical costs. Scary stuff, my wallet hurts just looking at it. Check it out:
  1. Heart conditions ($76 billion)
  2. Trauma disorders ($72 billion)
  3. Cancer ($70 billion)
  4. Mental disorders, including depression ($56.0 billion)
  5. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($54 billion)
  6. High blood pressure ($42 billion)
  7. Type 2 diabetes ($34 billion)
  8. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases ($34 billion)
  9. Back problems ($32 billion)
  10. Normal childbirth* ($32 billion)
*Normal childbirth means without medical complications or surgical procedures. C-sections are not included in the normal childbirth category.
This list gets even more frightening when you consider the over-arching cost of obesity. Dr. Fuhrman offers up some facts and figures:
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2230 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1
Wows, it certainly pays to be healthy.
Continue Reading...

Asthma: Clean House, Dangerous House?

I wish I could have used this excuse to get out of cleaning my room when I was a kid. According to a new study household cleaners and air fresheners can raise asthma risk in adults. Reuters is on it:
Housework might be bad for your health, according to a study suggesting that tidying up as little as once a week with common cleaning sprays and air fresheners could raise the risk of asthma in adults.


Other studies have linked these types of products with increased asthma rates among cleaning professionals but the research published on Friday indicates others are potentially at risk as well.

Exposure to such cleaning materials even just once a week could account for as many as one in seven adult asthma cases, the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"Frequent use of household cleaning sprays may be an important risk factor for adult asthma," Jan-Paul Zock, an epidemiologist at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, who led the study, wrote.
For more on chemical dangers, check out DiseaseProof’s toxins category.

Asthma: Pound the Rock

A Pittsburgh basketball camp is doing its part to help kids with asthma. Jill Daly of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
It's easy to understand why the children don't participate in sports, said Dr. David Skoner, asthma specialist at Allegheny General Hospital's Division of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.


"Exercise triggers [asthma] symptoms in 90 percent" of children with asthma, he said. Sometimes parents don't even know why it is their child is not interested in sports, he said.

"We've got to find a way to get these kids exercising," he said. "Not exercising leads to rising obesity and makes asthma worse."

The two camps are recruiting children from throughout the region. Both combine asthma education and basketball skills.

The new camp is a partnership between AGH and the university's DiSepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness. Other community health organizations are involved as well. Basketball skills are taught by the university's head basketball coach, Bobby Jones, and his players.
For more on exercise and asthma, be sure to check out their categories.

Aerobics and Asthmatic Kids

A new study claims aerobic exercise helps kids control their asthma. Megan Rauscher of Reuters is on it:
In the study of children with appropriately-treated asthma, supervised aerobic exercise training improved aerobic fitness and curbed feelings of breathlessness induced by physical activity.


Moreover, daily doses of inhaled steroids were reduced by 52 percent in children who participated in the exercise training, while the doses remained unchanged or increased for children in a comparison "control" group who did not exercise.

"Physical conditioning in asthmatic children receiving appropriate medical treatment also improved health-related quality of life, especially their asthma symptoms and exercise capacity," study author Dr. Celso R. F. Carvalho, at the University of Sao Paulo, told Reuters Health.
Sure, exercise is important, but did you know asthma can be controlled with proper nutrition? Just check out these success stories:

UPDATE: Asthma feed it Fruit and Fish

I’m a big fruit eater—literally and figuratively—I can eat a whole watermelon in one sitting, no problem. In fact, just this morning I had two white nectarines, a banana, a plum, some grapes, and a few pineapple chunks. According to Dr. Fuhrman eating all this fruit will really help my asthma—if I actually had asthma that is. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
What is needed to battle the development of asthma allergies is the same adequate intake of omega-3 fat as well as diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating high antioxidant- and phytochemical-containing foods is related to lower occurrence of childhood allergies and asthma.1 Nutritional excellence can normalize an excessive inflammatory response. The inflammatory cascade release chemicals that attract white blood cells and fluid into the area, which results in the tightness and swelling that create the symptoms of asthma. When nutrient intake is low, the lung tissues become overly sensitive to irritating stimuli.
Now, the good press for fruit just keeps on coming. A new study has determined that teenagers who eat lots of fresh fruit and fish have healthier respiratory systems; which lowers their risk of asthma. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News explains:
"Teens that have the lowest intake of fruits, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids tended to have lower pulmonary function and reported more respiratory symptoms than those with higher intake," said study author Jane Burns, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.


"This is a time in their lives when they should all have good lung function, and they may not be obtaining optimal lung function. This may affect their lung function later in life," Burns added.

Results of the study are published in the July issue of Chest.

About 20 million Americans -- 9 million of them children -- have asthma, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. While the exact cause of the disease is still unknown, doctors do know that underlying inflammation of the airways is an important factor in the disease. Preventive treatments for asthma are aimed at reducing that inflammation.
The news about the fruit is great, but, why must Omega-3s constantly be shackled to fish or fish oil; take yesterday’s post for example: Fish Oil for Preemies. Fish and fish oils are often polluted with mercury or other toxic compounds. If you’re looking to increase your intake of Omega-3s, Dr. Fuhrman would much rather see you get from a safer source, like flaxseed. Back to Disease-Proof Your Child:
Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.
But, if you simply must have fish, read this post for Dr. Fuhrman’s consumption recommendations, and, contamination levels of popular fishes: Fishing for the Truth.

UPDATE: The good thing about being blogger and not a medical expert is making a mistake is not that big of a deal—i.e. no one dies when I hit the skids. Dr. Fuhrman just pointed out a little blunder I made with Omega-3s, fish, and flaxseed. Here’s our email dialogue about it…go ahead, laugh:
Dr. Fuhrman: I think when you were looking for a substitute for eating fish in that article, it was okay to mention flaxseeds as a source of short chain omega-3, but since they only convert about 2.5 percent into DHA, they do not supply what fish do (EPA and DHA) long-chain omega 3. My DHA Purity is a better option to supply what fish could, not flax. My DHA Purity is refrigerated because these oils can go rancid easily and we take extra care to preserve its cleanliness and freshness.


--Oops!--

Me: Good point! Is your DHA the only source out there? Are there other natural alternatives too?

Dr. Fuhrman: There are other brands of non-fish DHA, but they are not refrigerated the whole time from manufacturing, shipping and storage like ours are. And when I tested the competitive brands in independent analysis they had very high rancidity scores.

You can buy a clean fish oil, a few of the best brands are purified and tested not to have the contamination and mercury that fish does, but that is still a limited resource (over-fishing) not a renewable resource like our DHA made from micro-algae grown under clean indoor conditions.

Me: Gotcha! I'll update the post with this little dialogue…and I’ll fall on my sword later.
Now, for more on Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA Purity, check out Vitamins and Supplements:
Dr. Fuhrman's DHA Purity: DHA Purity now comes in an all-new, purified liquid form of very highly concentrated DHA so that it can be digested easier and hidden easily in food. The children's dose is just one drop (measurable with a built-in graduated dropper) and easily disguised in their food, soup, drink or oatmeal. Just a few drops delivers a daily dose of essential Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA).

Continue Reading...

Asthma Hits the Obese Harder

Obesity seems to make everything worse. Here’s what I mean. New research claims that serious asthma is more likely to develop in obese individuals than the non-obese. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
In their study, a team at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta examined data from the U.S. National Asthma Survey.


"Our analysis showed that out of more than 3,000 patients with asthma, obese patients were 66 percent more likely to report continuous symptoms, 36 percent more likely to miss more days of work and 52 percent more likely to be classified as having either moderate or severe persistent asthma when compared to non-overweight people," Dr. Brian Taylor, a pulmonary fellow, said in a prepared statement.

These findings held true after the researchers adjusted for factors including gender, race, age, smoking status, and family history of asthma.

Taylor said he and his colleagues, "noted that obese patients were more likely to have less education, be unemployed and be African-American."

They also found that obese people with asthma made more frequent emergency room visits and used daily controller and as-needed rescue medications more often. The association between obesity and asthma severity seemed slightly stronger in women than in men, which has been noted in previous studies.

Southern California Dirty-Dirty

Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it looks like there are more smog jokes on the horizon. The American Lung Association has once again fingered Los Angeles as having the most polluted air in the country. The Associated Press reports:
The news wasn't all bad for Los Angeles. Despite the dubious distinction, the number of days residents breathed the nation's worst ozone levels was fewer than in previous years.


"Nobody is surprised that LA has an air pollution problem," said Janice Nolen, the association's assistant vice president for national policy and advocacy. "The problems there are one of the reasons we have the Clean Air Act. But it is important for folks to know that there has been some improvement."

The organization based the rankings on ozone pollution levels produced when heat and sunlight come into contact with pollutants from power plants, cars, refineries and other sources. The group also studied particle pollution levels emitted from these sources, which are made up of a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air.
Pollution and chemicals are a scary. According to Dr. Fuhrman they can bring on things like asthma. He goes into more detail in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Living in an urban area around pollution is an important contributor. Non-dietary risk factors include exposure to day care before four months of age, and exposure to wood smoke, oil smoke, or exhaust anytime from birth to age five all increase asthma risk by 50 percent.1
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Clamping Down on Asthma

We live in an age of disease. It seems like everyone is popping a pill nowadays. And kids are taking the brunt of it. From ADHD and to ADD—surely, something is wrong with your child! But all these new-fangled conditions are overshadowing traditional maladies like asthma. Just like a Hollywood agent, “Sorry baby, you ain’t hip anymore.”

Maybe that’s why new federal guidelines are coming out this summer urging doctors to pay closer attention to children with asthma. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press has more:
Federal guidelines due this summer are expected to urge doctors to more closely monitor whether treatment is truly controlling everyday symptoms and improving patients' quality of life — and to adjust therapy until it does.


Already, a campaign is under way to teach patients to recognize they need better help, and to tell them how to convey that to a doctor. If the doctor's happy that you've had no flare-ups but doesn't know you had to quit playing soccer to do it, you're not achieving good control.

Too often, physicians don't realize how severe symptoms are, says Dr. Jill Halterman, a pediatric asthma specialist at the University of Rochester. With children, their own parents may underestimate symptoms.

It's more complicated than denial: When wheezing while running or waking up at night coughing has been routine for years, people may not know to complain.

"It may be part of what they view as normal," says Halterman, who is studying the control gap. "We're hoping we can change that so the goal can really be for the child to have no symptoms and no limitations on activities."
Now, I’m sure every kid with chronic asthma wants to live without symptoms and have no limitations, but what if they could go one step further? What if they could knock their asthma out of the box? Impossible? Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. In Disease-Proof Your Child he explains that nutritional excellence is a sure-fire way to shake asthma at its foundation:
Eating protein-rich and fat-rich foods of animal origin—meat, cheese, fried food, and saturated fat—is associated with a higher prevalence of both allergies and asthma.1 Eating in fast food restaurants and eating a lower intake of vegetables and other fiber-rich foods has been implicated by numerous studies. The same studies also show that the children in the lowest third of vitamin E intake were found to have three times the incidence of asthma compared to those children in the highest third of vitamin E intake.2 Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in greens, raw nuts, and seeds; it is not found in animal products. The consumption of white bread, butter, and margarine has also been noted to be strongly associated with asthmatic symptoms.3


The same pattern emerges. What is needed to battle the development of asthma allergies is the same adequate intake of omega-3 fat as well as diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating high antioxidant- and phytochemical-containing foods is related to lower occurrence of childhood allergies and asthma.4 Nutritional excellence can normalize an excessive inflammatory response. The inflammatory cascade release chemicals that attract white blood cells and fluid into the area, which results in the tightness and swelling that create the symptoms of asthma. When nutrient intake is low, the lung tissues become overly sensitive to irritating stimuli.
In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman talks about a young asthma sufferer who achieved great results with nutritional excellence. From Asthma Can Often Be Controlled With Proper Nutrition:
Jonathan was an excellent student and was keenly interested in learning how what he ate affected his health and his breathing problem. At the initial visit to my office, Jonathan was instructed on using a spacer with an inhaler and was taken off his three times a day nebulizer treatments. I told him his recovery hinged on the amount of green vegetables he was capable of eating. He was more than cooperative. This eight-year-old said to me, "I will eat dirt if you can fix my breathing." So I said, "How about if I give you great-tasting real food to fix your asthma. You can be a lot better within a year." Jonathan is now in fourth grade. It took about eight months until he no longer required any medication. He is now the picture of health and uses no inhalers or other asthma medications.
Also, according to Dr. Fuhrman breastfeeding is an important part of stopping the development of asthma in children. Here’s a couple of posts talking about that:
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No Really, Obesity is Bad

Obesity news is never good. It’s like stubbing your toe or hitting every traffic light during rush hour. But did you know, at one time carrying a little extra weight was a good thing? No? Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Eat to Live:
Those who genetically store fat more efficiently may have had a survival advantage thousands of years ago when food was scarce, or in a famine, but in today’s modern food pantry they are the ones with the survival disadvantage. People whose parents are obese have a tenfold increased risk of being obese. On the other hand, obese families tend to have obese pets, which is obviously not genetic. So it is the combination of food choices, inactivity, and genetics that determines obesity1. More important, one can’t change one’s genes, so blaming them doesn’t solve the problem. Rather than taking and honest look at what causes obesity, Americans are still looking for a miraculous cure—a magic diet or some other effortless gimmick.
Makes sense to me, especially in this country. We’re bombarded with food—and food commercials—so unless you’re facing economic hardship, how much is good fat storage really helping you? In fact, it sure seems like that ability to store fat is going to do more harm than good.

For example, check out this study concluding that overweight people more likely to get asthma. Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters is on it:
"Overweight and obesity significantly increases the risk of developing asthma," said Dr. E. Rand Sutherland of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, who wrote the study.


"If you can substantially reduce the amount of overweight or obese people, you might also get a reduction in the number of new cases of asthma," Sutherland said in a telephone interview.

Sutherland and colleagues, writing in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, said a significant reduction in the incidence of overweight or obese people could cut the number of new asthma cases in the United States by 250,000 per year.

In children, where the incidence of asthma is five times higher than in adults, the researchers suggested that even small weight reductions could have a big impact in reducing the number of new asthma diagnoses.
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Stronger Warnings for Life-Threatening Asthma Drug

Sounds like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound, doesn’t it? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is urging manufacturers of Xolair to put stronger labels on their medication because it runs the risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
The new alert for Xolair (omalizumab), marketed by Genentech Inc., draws attention to anaphylaxis as a potential side effect of the medication…


… The new warning discusses the possibility of patients developing anaphylaxis after any dose of Xolair, even if there was no reaction to the first dose. Also, the reaction may occur up to 24 hours after administration of the drug.
If medications make you nervous, check out DiseaseProof’s Asthma archive for posts on treating asthma with superior nutrition.
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Childhood Asthma and Allergies

From the May 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

A large prospective study demonstrated an inverse relationship between vitamin D intake in pregnant women and asthma and eczema (allergic skin rash) in their offspring after controlling for multiple confounding factors. This study was reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Lead author Dr. Carlos Camargo reported that the present literature still recommends 200-400 IU vitamin D per day, in spite of multiple studies over the last five years demonstrating that this level of vitamin D is too low to protect our population against diseases promoted by vitamin D deficiency (800-1000 IU a day is a recommendation more consistent with the scientific literature).

More and more, we are finding that vitamin D deficiency is widespread in the modern world, and this problem has far-reaching negative health effects. Most of the modern world no works indoors and does no get sufficient sun exposure to assure optimal vitamin D status. Vitamin D supplementation is simply one of the most critical nutritional supplements to assure optimal health for ourselves and our children.
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Asthma: The Bronx Bomber

I’ve never known that many asthmatics, so my familiarity with the condition is minimal. But until I read Disease-Proof Your Child I didn’t realize that asthma is another condition that can be treated with superior nutrition. Like many Americans I thought it was just one of those things you’re born with and can’t really do much about. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman:
Allergies and asthma are often a reaction to inhaling substances such as pollen, house dust, and cat hair, or the hyperactivity of the airways may be triggered by infections, chemical irritants, exercise, and even emotions. In virtually every case, there is an underlying abnormality—an excessive irritability of the airways that leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.


It is always prudent to avoid and remove things that are known to trigger a reaction in a sensitive child, but what is most important, but rarely even considered, is why an individual is so hypersensitive or allergic to begin with. Learning why a person has allergies or asthma makes it possible to take steps to improve and reverse this common chronic condition.
So, why do I bring this up? Well a couple days ago The New York Daily News ran a rather startling article. Apparently the Bronx is a hotbed of childhood asthma attacks, despite the overall decline in the number of kids being hospitalized for asthma citywide. Lisa L. Colangelo has more:
The overall hospitalization rate for the city decreased last year from 6.5 per 1,000 children to 5.4 per 1,000, according to a recent Health Department study. But the Bronx rate was 8.9 per 1,000, and the numbers in three Bronx neighborhoods were higher still…


…Similar high numbers were found in low-income neighborhoods around the city.
Now, I’m no detective, but maybe these low-income neighborhoods have something to do with it. This excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child might leave you feeling the same way:
The occurrence of asthma and allergies is also related to lifestyle factors and dietary patterns. Genetics play a role, but not the major role. Children’s growing bodies and dividing cells make them more susceptible to damage, but there is an up side, too. Their growing bodies are also more malleable and can make dramatic recoveries from serious diseases such as asthma easier than an adult’s can, when a program of superior nutrition is adopted.


Certainly, living in an urban area around pollution is an important contributor. Non-dietary risk factors include exposure to day care before four months of age, and exposure to wood smoke, oil smoke, or exhaust anytime from birth to age five all increase asthma risk by 50 percent.1 But nutritional influences are also powerfully linked and appear again and again in multiple scientific studies. One important risk for the development of allergies and asthma is lack of breast-feeding and high dietary ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.2 Animal products (except for fish) are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, while flax seeds and walnuts are rich plant sources of omega-3 fats. This same inadequate dietary fatty acid pattern in mother’s diet during pregnancy has also been shown in scientific trial to beget a higher number of allergic and asthmatic children.3
This report reminded me of January's New York Times investigation of diabetes in Manhattan . Check it out and let me know if you see some similarities too.
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NY Times: Breastfeed for Better Health

According to Dr. Fuhrman we're a culture indoctrinated by the message, "Drink your milk. It will help you grow big and strong." So many mothers prematurely abandon breastfeeding and turn to cow's milk. In Disease Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman contends this isn't a good idea:

Humans are designed to be raised on human milk in the first few years of life, not cow's milk. Human milk makes for slower growth. Cow's milk is specially designed for baby cows, and it supplies the nutrients to facilitate the rapid growth natural to cows.

Even baby formula isn't an adequate substitute for the real thing. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

No infant formula can duplicate human milk. Human milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, immunoglobins, and compounds with unique structures that cannot be replicated.

So what's the solution? The answer is to breastfeed. Roni Rabin of The New York Times reports more and more health experts are acknowledging the resounding benefits of breastfeeding. It's worth reading the whole article. It touches on research suggesting breast milk can reduce the likelihood of all kinds of diseases, including obesity:

Ample scientific evidence supports the contention that breast-fed babies are less vulnerable to acute infectious diseases, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, experts say. Some studies also suggest that breast-fed babies are at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome and serious chronic diseases later in life, including asthma, diabetes, leukemia and some forms of lymphoma, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The evidence that breastfeeding is better for children's health is so overwhelming that Rabin reports even the formula manufacturers acknowledge that breast milk is the first choice. Senator Tom Harkin has proposed warning labels on infant formula, making clear that the FDA recommends breastfeeding over formula.

Dr. E. Stephen Buescher says breast milk has special properties:

"I think of human milk not just as food, but as a sophisticated and intricate infant support system that has evolved over millions of years to provide the infant with nutrition, protection and components of information," said Dr. E. Stephen Buescher, a professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, who heads the inflammation section in the school's Center for Pediatric Research.


"It isn't just calories," Dr. Buescher said.

The protection that breast-feeding provides against acute infectious diseases—including meningitis, upper and lower respiratory infections, pneumonia, bowel infections, diarrhea and ear infections—has been among the most extensively studied of its benefits and is well documented, said Dr. Lawrence M. Gartner, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' breast-feeding section.

Breast-fed babies have 50 percent to 95 percent fewer infections than other babies, Dr. Gartner said, adding, "It's pretty dramatic."

When it comes to nursing your child, you can't beat the real thing. Dr. Fuhrman says breastfeeding inspires healthy human development:

The antibodies derived from mother's milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child's immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother's antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother's immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.

Dr. Fuhrman recommends feeding an infant only breast milk for the first six months, but he also suggests mothers continue some breastfeeding even if its only twice a day until the second birthday. There is much more on feeding infants in Disease Proof Your Child.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin in the News

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a study claiming that two popular arthritis supplements don't work. Gina Kolata of The New York Times reports that despite the $734 million Americans spent on glucosamine and chondroitin in 2004, trials revealed few results.

In the member section of his website, Dr. Fuhrman has said "I think glucosamine and chondroitin are safe and have some clinical evidence to show they are mildly helpful. So if they are helping you, great."

He is more interested in looking at the bigger picture. He says that poor diets can cause rheumatoid arthritis and similar conditions. Adopting a nutrient rich vegetable based diet offers you the chance to eradicate it. This is from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Some people, especially other physicians, may be skeptical. There are so many exaggerated and false claims made in health field, especially by those selling so-called natural remedies. Nevertheless, it is wrong to underestimate the results obtainable through appropriate nutritional intervention. Even many of my patients with autoimmune illnesses (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and hyperthyrodism) are able to recover and throw away their medications.


When one of my patients who had a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis went back to her previous physician, a rheumatologist, and told him she was now well and did not require any medication, he replied, "It must just be that you are resting more." She said, "I'm not resting more. In fact, I am more active than ever because my pain is gone, and I stopped the drugs." He replied, "It's just a temporary remission; you'll be back soon with another crisis." She never went back.

He also includes this table of diseases that can be caused by poor diet.

Dietary-Caused Illnesses with High Prevalence
acneallergiesangina
appendicitisasthmaarthritis
atherosclerosisconstipationcolonic polyps
diabetes(adult)diverticulosisesophagitis
fibromyalgiagallstonesgastritis
goutheadacheshemorrhoids
high blood pressurehypoglycemic symptomsindigestion
irritable bowel syndromekidney stoneslumbar spine syndromes
macular degenerationmusculoskeletal painosteoperosis
sexual dysfunctionstrokeuterine fibroids

The Chicago Tribune on Milk

The mounting skepticism about milk consumption and its effects on human health is going mainstream. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune is all over the topic:

Milk, the sacred cow of the American diet, is under attack and not just by animal-rights activists. Though federal dietary guidelines and most mainstream nutrition experts recommend that people age 9 or older drink three glasses of milk a day, researchers are examining the role of dairy in everything from rising osteoporosis rates, Type 1 diabetes and heart disease to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

Last March, the journal Pediatrics published a review article concluding that there is "scant evidence" that consuming more milk and dairy products will promote child and adolescent bone health. Some leading practitioners of integrative medicine, including best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, suggest eliminating dairy products from the diet to help treat irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, eczema and ear infections. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock reversed his support of cow's milk for children in 1998 in his last edition of his world-famous book "Baby and Child Care."

Here at DiseaseProof, we have talked about negatives of drinking milk and how some public schools are actually banning whole milk due to its high fat content. Dr. Fuhrman cites allergies, anal fissures, ear infections, and various cancers much later in life as a few potential dangers of dairy consumption.

The Tribune article encourages people not to see milk as the only viable source of calcium, and it's no secret that green vegetables are loaded with calcium (even the National Dairy Council will tell you so).

The calcium from some vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and kale is absorbed as well as or better than calcium from milk and milk products, according to the National Dairy Council's Calcium Counseling Resource. But the report also says that to get the same amount of calcium absorbed from 1 cup of milk, one would have to eat nearly 2 1/2 cups of broccoli or 8 cups of spinach.
Of course, people are drawn to milk out of habit, because it is a quick compact source of calcium, and because it seems easier to get children to consume milk than vegetables.

But consider the total nutritional picture. Green vegetables are dense with so many kinds of nutrition beyond just calcium.

Also, if you want some pointers about how to get your kids to eat calcium-rich fruits and vegetables, you really should listen to Dr. Fuhrman's free podcast on the topic.

Finally, in his book Disease Proof Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman explains that if you insist on cow's milk nonetheless, do yourself a favor and choose skim.

Energy Through the Roof. Asthma Gone.

DiseaseProof recently sent out e-mail requests for success stories. (E-mail us yours!) One of the first to respond was Michael from the Bahamas:

Started reading your book (Eat to Live), 12 November 2005. Strarted the diet (new way of eating - 6 week plan) 2 December 2005. Weighed 266lbs. To date, 28th December, down to 248lbs (lost 18 lbs). Two more weeks to go. Energy through the roof. Asthma gone.

Is Organic Food Safer?

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is up 10.7 percent over the last twenty years. Brain cancer is up 30 percent; osteogenic sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, is up 50 percent; and testicular cancer is up 60 percent in men under thirty. No one can tell us why. Scientific studies provide clues that are difficult to ignore:

  • Children whose parents work with pesticides are more likely to suffer leukemia, brain cancer, and other afflictions.
  • Studies show that childhood leukemia is related to increased pesticide use around the house.
  • Nine studies reviewed by the National Cancer Institute showed a correlation between pesticide exposure and brain cancer.
  • Exposure to weed killers in childhood increases asthma risk by more than fourfold.
All the dangers stated above are not the result of eating pesticide-treated produce. This clear link between pesticides and cancer is a result of chemical use around the home and farm.1 Clearly, it is not logical to eat organic food to avoid pesticide residue and then spray our homes with carcinogenic insecticides and weed killers used liberally in and around homes, interior plants, lawns, gardens, and even schools.

Because young children are the ones most susceptible to toxic exposures, the National Academy of Science has issued warnings and position papers stating that exposure to pesticides in early life can increase cancer rates down the road as well as increasing the occurrence of mental and immune system disorders.2

We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swings sets have been shown to place children at risk. When children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causers. Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.3 But the question remains, does the low level of pesticides remaining on our food present much of a danger?

Some scientists argue that the extremely low level of pesticide residue remaining on produce is insignificant and that there are naturally occurring toxins in all natural foods that are more significant. The large amount of studies performed on the typical pesticide-treated produce have demonstrated that consumption of produce, whether organic or not, is related to lower rates of cancer and disease protection, not higher rates. Certainly, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables grown and harvested using pesticides than not eating them at all. The health benefits of eating phytochemical-rich produce greatly outweigh any risk pesticide residues might pose.

It has been shown that women with higher levels of pesticides in their bloodstream have a higher risk of breast cancer.4 However, the pesticide shown in these studies to be connected to cancer was DDT, which is no longer used in food production and was banned by the U.S. government in 1972. The problem is that DDT is still in the environment and finds its way back into our food supply, predominately via shellfish and fish consumption. So purchasing organic fruit and vegetables will not lower our exposure to DDT if we are eating fish and shellfish regularly.

Keep in mind, there is a significantly larger exposure to toxic chemicals in animal products compared to plant food. By eating lower on the food chain and reducing our intake of animal products, one automatically reduces exposure to toxic chemicals. Plants have the least fat-soluble pollutants, animals that eat plants have more, and animals that eat animals have the highest levels of these toxic compounds. Fish that eat smaller fish will store the toxic compounds from every fish it ever ate, including all the fish eaten by the fish it just made a meal of. It is important to avoid lobster, shellfish, catfish, and predator fish such as tuna, bluefish, striped bass, shark, and swordfish, where toxins such as PCB, DDT, dioxin, and mercury are likely to build up due to the compounding effects of eating lots of smaller fish. One gets larger doses of more toxic compounds from these contaminated animal products than would be possible to take in from produce.

Organic food is certainly your best bet, to further limit exposure to toxic chemicals. No one knows for sure how much risk exists from pesticide residue on produce, but here's what we do know: the younger you are, the more your cells are susceptible to damage from toxins. It seems wise to feed our young children organic food whenever possible.

Of course, wash your vegetables and fruit with water and when possible, use a drop of dishwashing detergent and then rinse well to remove all detergent residues for a little more efficient cleaning. Specialty pesticide removal products have not clearly demonstrated any more effectiveness than mild soap and water.

Besides the heightened exposure to chemicals and pesticides from animal products, the most hazardous pesticides are used on some plant foods responsible for the majority of the plant-food-related dietary risk. These foods with the most pesticide residue are: strawberries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, cherries, apples, and celery. Imported produce is also more likely to contain higher levels of pesticides.5

There is another reason to feed our children organic food when possible. Organic food usually has more nutrients than conventional.6 One study performed at the University of California at Davis found that foods grown organically had higher amounts of flavonoids, which have protective effects against both heart disease and cancer. The researchers found flavonoids were more than 50 percent higher in organic corn and strawberries. They theorized that when plants are forced to deal with the stress of insects, they produce more of these compounds, which are beneficial to humans.7 Overall, organic foods taste better, and organic agriculture protects farmers and our environment.

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One Patient's Story: Battling Asthma, Allergies, Psoriasis, and Headaches

One of Dr. Fuhrman's patients sent in the following story a few years ago. It appeared previously in his Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times newsletter.:

As a graduate student in the mid-1980s, I suffered from asthma, headaches, and allergies. I took the oral medication theophylline, plus two inhaled medications for my asthma, Tylenol for my headaches, and Sudafed for my allergies. I developed bronchitis at least once each year, for which I took antibiotics and sometimes codeine. After a while, I developed recurring migraine headaches, for which I tried the standard medication.

My diet had always been fairly mainstream. I had experienced many food allergies throughout my life, and found that raw fruits and vegetables made my tongue, throat, and the inside of my mouth itchy and uncomfortable. As a result, I ate all of my vegetables cooked, except for lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I avoided fruit altogether, hoping to prevent allergic reactions. As years went by, I became more aware of the importance of healthful eating and improved my diet somewhat. But it wasn't until after my first child was born that I found out about a truly healthful approach to eating.

My son was born in 1994. By the time he was 18 months old, he was on antibiotics and suffering with his fourth ear infection. Fortunately, I was referred to Joel Fuhrman, M.D. After one consultation with Dr. Fuhrman, I changed my son's diet. He has never suffered another ear infection.

After reading a few articles and information sheets about nutrition by Dr. Fuhrman, and attending one of his lectures, I began to make small changes in my diet. For one thing, I began to eat a large salad with my lunch every day, without fail. I felt a little bit healthier, but I still wasn't committed to following all of Dr. Fuhrman's nutritional advice. The real turning point for me came when Dr. Fuhrman helped me through a severe sinus infection. Only then did I realize I had found an expert on whom I could confidently rely for tangible benefits.

I often got a cold early in the winter. My sinuses would clog up, and I would feel uncomfortable for months. Dr Fuhrman gave me a menu plan of nothing but raw fruits and vegetables, and stated that my sinuses likely would clear in three days. I pointed out that this condition had already lasted almost two months, to which he replied it might take as long as ten days. I followed his instructions exactly, and one week later my sinuses were clear. I was hooked; I use this method whenever I catch a cold and have not had bronchitis or sinusitis since. No more antibiotics for me!

There were more benefits to come. I had my second child in 1999, and during the pregnancy I developed psoriasis. I consulted with a dermatologist who put me on a strong steroidal ointment. When I told Dr. Fuhrman about it, he increased my intake of omega-3 by adding a tablespoon of ground flaxseed and a handful of walnuts each day, increased the amount of vegetables, and had me totally eliminate milk products. The outbreaks came less frequently, which was good, but they didn't go away completely. By the time 2002 rolled around, I was totally fed up with the psoriasis (and using steroid creams). So I went back to Dr. Fuhrman again and asked how I could really fix it. He put me on what I call my "green diet," which is essentially the same as the diet he recommends in his book Eat To Live.

These days, I eat a pound of raw veggies (mostly leafy greens) and a pound of cooked green veggies each day, with unlimited fruits and beans, and eat only a small amount of starchy vegetables and grains. I consume no extracted oils, about one half an avocado, and only a small amount of raw, unsalted nuts and seeds in addition to my flaxseed and walnuts. I include eggs and fish in my diet about once each week.

On this plan, my psoriasis has mostly disappeared, reoccurring only when I deviate from my diet and include too many starches. Even then, it is much milder. I can use the ointment for a few days and the psoriasis won't reappear for months. I feel good. Headaches, asthma, bronchitis, and severe allergies are in the past. I take no medications and breathe easily. Although I did not switch all at once to Dr. Fuhrman's recommended diet, each step I took was permanent. I have made steady improvements in my health over the course of sixteen years. This step-by-step approach has worked wonders for me.

Asthma Can Often Be Controlled With Proper Nutrition

Asthma is an inflammatory disorder of the lungs that has skyrocketed in incidence and mortality worldwide in recent years, doubling within the last 30 years in children. Suffering and deaths continue to rise in spite of declines in air pollution. An amazing 16 percent of children develop asthma, according to a 2001 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I've written before about the dramatic effect a nutritional diet can have on a child's asthma. Jonathan, another patient of mine, serves as another example.

Jonathan is an eight-year-old third grader who had developed asthma when he started first grade two years earlier. He was seen by his pediatrician and given a nebulizer, and later inhaled steroids, to deal with recurrent episodes of wheezing and the inability to exercise without fatigue and breathing difficulties.

Jonathan was an excellent student and was keenly interested in learning how what he ate affected his health and his breathing problem. At the initial visit to my office, Jonathan was instructed on using a spacer with an inhaler and was taken off his three times a day nebulizer treatments. I told him his recovery hinged on the amount of green vegetables he was capable of eating. He was more than cooperative. This eight-year-old said to me, "I will eat dirt if you can fix my breathing." So I said, "How about if I give you great-tasting real food to fix your asthma. You can be a lot better within a year." Jonathan is now in fourth grade. It took about eight months until he no longer required any medication. He is now the picture of health and uses no inhalers or other asthma medications.

This anecdotal case is not the same thing as a double-blind study, but when you consider the overwhelming evidence in the scientific literature and then apply that knowledge to real kids with medical difficulties, you see lots of great kids who have made impressive recoveries from their allergies and asthma after a year or two of nutritional intervention.

The story of Jonathan (not his real name) is from Disease-Proof Your Child.

Success for Twin Asthmatic Children

My experience working with asthmatic children has demonstrated that nutritional excellence enables the asthma to resolve in a predictable time frame and can routinely resolve even in cases when the allergies and asthma could be considered severe.

Jeff and Brian are twin brothers who both had severe allergic reactions. Soy milk, cow's milk, peanuts, corn, strawberries, cats, and dogs, in fact, almost anything set them off with severe skin rashes and breathing difficulties. It seemed they required daily treatment with inhaled asthma nebulizers just to survive. They were my patients since they were three years old. With my guidance, their parents worked very hard to raise them in a clean environment with little exposure to dust mites, and, of course, no cats. They took fatty acid nutritional supplements and ate a very healthy diet. By the time they were five, they had only occasional wheezing when they suffered with a viral illness, and by the time they were seven, their allergic condition had totally resolved. I can't prove their upbringing with superior nutrition resolved their very strong allergic tendencies, but it seems pretty likely that their eventual recovery and excellent health was the result of their wonderful efforts at superior nutrition.

The story of Jeff and Brian (not their real names) is from Disease-Proof Your Child by Joel Fuhrman M.D. To learn more about this new book, or to buy a copy of Disease-Proof Your Child, click here.