Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Poisoned Generation: Living in a Toxic Age

This article first appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Volume 11, Number 5, September 2017. © Brett Lothian.

Poisoned Generation: Living in a Toxic Age.

Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine c. 370 – c. 460 B.C.E.

In an age where new diseases are appearing at an alarming rate and many other diseases are sky rocketing to numbers that we have never been seen before, despite the advances of modern medicine, hygiene and sanitation, where obesity, even amongst the poor is now at pandemic levels, we have to ask ourselves, just what the hell is going on? What has changed in the past few decades that is making us all sick? And perhaps most importantly, how and why is it being allowed to happen at all?

Where-as once upon a time we had clean air, water and simply food, now we have pollution, fluoride and a myriad of different food types which are often misleading in their labelling. With a subject that is so large, it is hard to know where to start, but let us begin with the modern food type that is definitely the worst for you, processed food. The word processed often causes some confusion, so let me clarify what I mean. Obviously, most foods we eat are processed in some way. Apples are cut from trees, ground beef has been ground in a machine and butter is cream that has been separated from the milk and churned. But there is a difference between mechanical processing and chemical processing. If it's a single ingredient food with no added chemicals, then it doesn't matter if it's been ground or put into a jar. It's still real food. However, foods that have been chemically processed and made with refined ingredients and artificial substances, are what is generally known as processed food.

So why is processed food so bad for us? Processed foods are usually loaded with added sugar, and/or its evil twin, High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is well known that sugar, when consumed in excess, is seriously harmful. As is well known, sugar is "empty" calories, meaning it has no essential nutrients, but a large amount of energy. Many studies show that sugar can have devastating effects on metabolism that go way beyond its calorie content. It can lead to insulin resistance, high triglycerides, increased levels of the harmful cholesterol and increased fat accumulation in the liver and abdominal cavity. Not surprisingly, sugar consumption is strongly associated with some of the world's leading killers, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. Processed foods and beverages are by far the biggest sources of added sugar (and HFCS) in the modern diet. In Australia we have lost fewer people to terrorism since September 11, than we lose every single day to the ravages of obesity related conditions.

In recent history, instead of the 2 kilograms a year of sugar that humans are equipped to eat without damage, the average Australian is consuming 20 to 30 times that amount, and when you eat sugar in those doses, it becomes a toxin. The average 600 ml soft drink contains a massive 15 teaspoons of sugar. As part of the chemical process used to make high fructose corn syrup, the glucose and fructose, which are naturally bound together, become separated. This allows the fructose to mainline directly into your liver, which turns on a factory of fat production in your liver called lipogenesis. This leads to fatty liver, the most common disease in America today, affecting 90 million Americans. This, in turn, leads to diabesity, pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. So, high fructose corn syrup is one of the main drivers of the current epidemic of heart attacks, strokes, cancer, dementia, and of course, Type 2 diabetes. An excessive refined carbohydrate consumption (sugars) has also been directly associated with a high incidence of both criminal and antisocial behaviour. An excessive refined carbohydrate consumption can also lead in susceptible individuals to a disordered carbohydrate metabolism, especially to reactive hypoglycemia, which in turn has been found to be particularly prevalent among violent offenders. Reactive hypoglycemia has also been associated with diverse personality and psychiatric disorders, such as neuroses, panic attacks, agoraphobia and schizophrenic episodes.

Beside the ginormous load of pure fructose and sugar found in HFCS, as an added bonus, it contains other chemical toxins.  Chemical contaminants used during manufacturing end up in the HFCS and in our food.  What we know, for example, is that chloralkali is used in making high fructose corn syrup. Chloralkai contains mercury. And there are trace amounts of mercury found in high fructose corn syrup-containing beverages. Now, it may not be a problem if we consume this occasionally, but the average person consumes more than 20 teaspoons a day of high fructose corn syrup and the average teenager has 34 teaspoons a day. Over time, these heavy metals can accumulate in the body, causing health problems. Additionally, when we look at the chemical components of high fructose corn syrup on a spectrograph, we can see that it contains many strange new chemicals that we know nothing about. But sadly, this is just the beginning… Processed foods are also loaded with extra added chemicals, including other artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colourings, flavourings, flavour enhancers, emulsifiers, antioxidants, texturants and the list goes on. Whilst space does not permit me to cover all of these dangerous additives, and their risks to human health, the following are just a few examples of the poisons being added to our foods.

Nitrites and nitrates are chemicals commonly used as colouring agents, preservatives and for flavouring. Nitrites, which can form from nitrates and react with naturally occurring components of protein called amines. This reaction can form nitrosamines, which are known cancer causing compounds. Nitrosamines can form in nitrite or nitrate treated meat or in the digestive tract. Studies have linked nitrites to stomach cancer. Some data also suggest an association with cancer of the oesophagus, one study showed an increased risk in people who eat cured meats more often. There is also evidence that nitrites may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers. In 2010, scientists at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that ingested nitrites and nitrates are probable human carcinogens.

Tartrazine (E102), which is primarily used by the soft drink industry, is one of the colours most frequently implicated in food intolerance studies. Adverse reactions to tartrazine include asthma, urticaria, rhinitis, childhood hyperactivity and vascular permeability, causing edema and inflammation, which is directly associated with various airway constriction disorders, including asthma. A carefully conducted double-blind placebo- controlled trial on 76 children diagnosed as hyperactive, showed that tartrazine and benzoates provoked abnormal behaviour patterns in 79% of them. Although tartrazine seems to be most frequently associated with adverse reactions, there are also other colouring agents which are known to cause mental and/or physical ill-effects.

Sunset Yellow (E110), used in biscuits, has been found to damage kidneys and adrenals when fed to laboratory rats. It has also been found to be carcinogenic when fed to animals. Carmoisine (E122), used mainly in jams and preserves, was found by the US Certified Color manufacturers Association to be unavoidably contaminated with low levels of beta-napthylamine, which is a well known carcinogen; it has also been found to be mutagenic in animal studies. Amaranth (E123) has been found, when fed to laboratory rats, to cause cancer, birth defects, still births, sterility and early foetal deaths. Subsequent work has also found that amaranth can cause female rodents to reabsorb some of their own foetuses. Ponceau (E124), used mainly in dessert mixes, has been found to exhibit a weak carcinogenic action. Erythrosine (E127), used children’s sweets, has been found to act as a potent neurocompetitive dopamine inhibitor when exposed in vitro on a rat brain. There is now some evidence that a reduced dopamine turnover may lead to childhood hyperactivity. Similar findings have been linked with a reduction of noradrenaline. Erythrosine also has been found to have a possible carcinogenic action when tested on animals.

Caramels (E150), of which over 100 different formulations are currently in use, are widely used by the cola drinks industry, as well as the beer and alcohol industry. It is also used as a colouring agent in crisps, bread, sauces, gravy etc. The main recurring problem about the safety of caramels concerns the presence of an impurity called 4-Methylimidazole, produced by processes using ammonia, which leads to convulsions when fed to rats, mice and chicks. It has been also found that ammoniated caramels can affect adversely the levels of white blood cells and lymphocites in laboratory animals. Furthermore, a study on rabbits provided evidence that even small doses of ammoniated caramels seem to inhibit the absorption of vitamin B.

Benzoates (E210-E219), used mainly in marinated fish, fruit- based fillings, jam, salad cream, soft drinks and beer, have been found to provoke urticaria, angioedema and asthma. Furthermore, they have also been directly linked with childhood hyperactivity. Sulphites (E220-E227), used mainly in dried fruits, fruit juices and syrups, fruit-based dairy deserts, biscuit doughs, cider, beer and wine, have been linked with pruritus, urticaria, angioedema and asthma. When fed to animals, sulphites have also been found to have a mutagenic action. Butylated hydroxyanisole BHA (E320), used in soup mixes and cheese spread, has been found to be tumour-producing when fed to rats. In human studies it has been linked with urticaria, angioedema and asthma.

Trans-fat is used to enhance and extend the shelf life of food products and is among the most dangerous substances that you can consume. Found in deep-fried fast foods and certain processed foods made with margarine or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans-fats are formed by a process called hydrogenation. Numerous studies show that trans-fat increase LDL cholesterol levels while decreasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes, and contributes to increased inflammation, diabetes, and other health problems.

That is not to mention the problems associated with various types of food packaging, which leach dangerous chemicals into our foods and the fact that almost always, processed foods are made with genetically modified food products, let alone the radiation from Fukushima, continued nuclear testing etc etc. You might be asking yourself, how is this allowed to be happening? If the average person knowingly poisoned someone, even just making them sick, let alone killing them, they would go to jail for a very long time. So why is big business allowed to get away with this, whilst making enormous profits in doing so? I think the only logical conclusion is that the powers that be want this to be happening or have been paid off, otherwise they quite simply would not allow it.

In June this year the Australian government announced it would be conducting a review of its Health Star Rating System on food products, which is meant to be the official guide as to just how healthy a product is, by virtue of the number of stars it displays on the package. If it gets five out of five stars, it is supposedly as healthy as it gets. If it gets only half a star, not so much. The problem is Big Food and Big Sugar have wrapped their tentacles and exerted their influence around what should be an entirely independent process. Under the current system, straight milk gets four stars, while Up & Go with at least four sources of added sugars, gets four and a half stars! Low-fat strawberry flavoured milk also gets four and a half stars. Some packets of chips even get four stars. But packaged smoked salmon, gets three and a half stars, while plain natural Greek yoghurt falls away to one and half stars! The Coles brand beer-battered frozen steak house chips get four stars. Milo, which is just under half sugar, gets four and half stars. Nutri-Grain, which is about a third sugar, gets four stars. Commercial fruit juice, depending on the brand, gets between four and five stars and yet the World Health Organisation classifies fruit juice as containing "free" sugars that need to be restricted. So while as reputable an organisation as WHO says, that it is bad for you, in Australia the government says it is about the healthiest thing you can drink. Notice a trend here? While the science is in, and there is no doubt that the healthiest option is to choose simple, unprocessed food over processed food with endless sugars and chemicals added, the current Health Star system steers the masses from the edge of the supermarket where you can get the fresh chemical free organic products of Australian farmers to the long aisles where you get the products of Big Food and Big Sugar.

How did the system get so corrupted? Let's start with the fact that the food industry sits on the advisory panel! The food industry is driven by the desire for profit, so why would they be given input to determining a scale which should be driven by health only? The system is predicated on the notion that these stars are not handed out in a measure of overall health, but only how they measure up against other products in their food group. This, is some explanation for the absurd results, but no excuse, and if your product doesn't measure up, you don't have to use it at all because the Health Star Rating System is not mandatory. The system is based on nutrients, not whole foods. This is where it gets complicated, to come up with their stars, they use an algorithm based on a handful of nutrient based criteria, and among other flaws that algorithm does not pinpoint added sugar as the being the prime health indicator. In the words of Dr Kieron Rooney, senior lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney: "The HSR is not much more than a marketing tool for industry. Check out the blurb on the side of an Up and Go, which proudly coerces one to consume on the basis of its 4.5 stars. Look at the long list of ingredients. This is an ultra-processed industrialised product and not as the HSR and marketers would have you believe, a healthy alternative to eating a simple, unprocessed breakfast." Therein lies another problem, the algorithm takes no account of the amount of processing a food has gone through before it gets into that package, before it gets to you. In the Brazilian system however, that is the prime indicator of a food's health.

When it comes to the politics of food, we need a government that insists the public health infrastructure be freed from the influence of Big Sugar and be devoted to one thing and one thing only, public health. But it is not even remotely like that, and the star rating system is far from alone in suffering that influence. Take, for example, the Dietitians Association of Australia. Often you see DAA spokespeople, instead of sounding the sirens on the dangers of sugar as you'd expect, actively playing down the dangers. This is the same organisation that, as documented by David Gillespie, the author of Sweet Poison, that put out a press release titled, "Sweet truths: Eating sugar may not make you fat". Doesn’t that seem odd to you? What is even more disturbing, in April of this year the DAA held a seminar for its dietitians on "The Future of Foods" within the offices of Coca-Cola in North Sydney. Wouldn't that be like the Lung Foundation having a meeting of its medical professionals in the offices of British American Tobacco? These instances are not one-offs, they are part of a consistent pattern. How can this be? The answer lies in the fact the association's "corporate partners" – as they prefer to call them, instead of "sponsors" – include Nestle chocolate, Arnott's biscuits and, until recently, Unilever, the maker of Street's Ice Cream. Over the years, such partners, and other food companies, have lent a helpful hand with the association's activities, with the likes of Kellogg's – purveyors of staggeringly sugary breakfast cereals – sponsoring the association's promotion of Breakfast Week, while a sponsored breakfast seminar at the 2014 DAA national conference promoted "The Healthier Australia Commitment", which sounds great until you understand it is an alliance of Nestle, Coca-Cola South Pacific, Campbell Arnotts, Sugar Australia, General Mills, Lion, Unilever and PepsiCo. Breakfast seminars at the association's national conferences are regularly sponsored by companies such as Nestle and Campbell Arnott's.

Many dietitians are completely appalled by this of course, but they have to be very careful about being too loud about it, because the DAA is the body that accredits dietitians. Yes readers, the controlling body anointed by the government, which gets to decide who is and isn't a fit and proper professional to be dispensing dietary advice, and so having their clients be able to claim their Medicare rebate – is "partnered" by Big Food and Big Sugar. Of course the big food and beverage companies deny having any influence over the DAA whatsoever. But if the likes of Coca-Cola, Kellogg's and Nestle don't have any influence on the DAA, what else could they be getting for their money? It is all too obvious what really is going on… The DAA needs to be financially independent, and funded with taxpayer money. That way, instead of singing for its supper in tune with all those cereal and soft-drink jingles, it can just give uncorrupted dietary advice and support its professionals without trying to steer the advice it gives towards any of its corporate partners/sponsors, which would restore public faith in the DAA. As it stands, it is nothing more than a government approved shill organisation for the Big Food and Big Sugar industries.

But the collusion does not stop there, it is just the beginning. As I covered in my previous articles in this series for New Dawn Magazine, Poisoned Fields: What Glyphosate is doing to us and our environment in issue 161, March-April 2017 and Poisoned Planet: And the Depopulation Agenda in issue 163, July-August 2017, our regulatory bodies here in Australia, America and across the world have been complicit for decades in allowing poisons into our environment and our foods as part of a larger Depopulation Agenda. As we here in Australia largely follow Americas lead on pretty much everything, you can be guaranteed that what is happening over there, is happening here also.

By the end of World War II, chemical manufacturers like DuPont, Shell and Monsanto shifted their military production to the domestic “war on pests.” Today the U.S. chemical manufacturing industry is an $800 billion business that has registered over 80,000 chemicals for use in the United States, with 2,000 new ones introduced each year. You and I are repositories for these chemicals. Toss your cigarettes in the trash bin, but you’re still breathing benzene from vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions. The Centers for Disease Control’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, issued in 2009 with updated data in 2017, looked for 308 synthetic chemicals in the blood or urine of Americans. Most were widely detected. Some, like perchlorate, which can cause endocrine system and reproductive problems and is considered by the EPA to be a “likely human carcinogen,” was found in the urine of everyone tested. With unavoidable exposures to toxicants at every stage of life, stopping the systemic poisoning of our food, water, air, and soil is fundamental to giving individuals a decent chance to optimize their own health.

In 2017, more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States, it is estimated that 134,174 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (72,169 males and 62,005 females). The incidence rate of all cancers combined will generally increase with age for both males and females. In 2017, it is estimated that the risk of an individual in Australia being diagnosed with cancer by their 85th birthday will be 1 in 2. A small percentage of these cancers can be attributed to genetic troubles, whereas the remaining 90-to-95 percent of cancers are from influences outside the body that change what happens inside—some of which you can control and some you cannot. Those that we are told we can control, such as cigarette smoking, diet, alcohol, sun exposure, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity, are labeled "lifestyle factors," or lifestyle for short. 

An individual through their actions can help manage cancer’s progress or lower the risk of getting cancer in the first place; assuming one has the time, money, education and job options that allow one to make choices and know what choices to make. Yet an emphasis on lifestyle always seems to come at the expense of meaningful public policy discussions. It diverts public attention from the collective problem solving and societal decision-making processes about how chemicals can, and under what conditions, cause harm, and what to do about it. A 2015 California study that consisted of a 54-year follow-up of 20,754 pregnancies showed that women exposed in the womb to high levels of the pesticide DDT have a nearly fourfold increased risk of developing breast cancer. At its peak use in 1962, over 85,000 tons of the pesticide were used. A child in her mother's womb exposed to the chemical had no choice in the matter. It is the responsibility of society, not the individual, to control cancer-causing chemicals.

Rory O'Neill, a professor of occupational and environmental health policy at the University of Stirling, Scotland, who is an editor of Hazards Magazine and the Work Cancer Hazards blog, tells us not to be fooled by the limelight on lifestyle for cancer risk. In the following post, slightly edited, he writes: There are several problems with the emphasis on lifestyle, for a slew of chronic disorders, from cancer, to diabetes, to cardiovascular disease, to neurological disease, to…. Heck, all of them, and you can add in mental illness and suicide on top. This is not because the lifestyle effects are not real, but because: Where research shows genuine concerns about occupational and environmental risks, the findings are questioned regardless of the strength of the evidence, and there is a cookie cutter response that says lifestyle is the real problem. This is driven by a berserkly well-resourced cancer industry selling this line, a process described well by Devra Davis, Janette Sherman, Joe LaDou and a noble succession of others.

When changing lifestyle is invoked as the key to prevention, the tone is generally one of blame—you have the wrong diet, you drink too much alcohol, you smoke, you don’t exercise. But these are consequences, not causes. Low wages, bad jobs, under-employment, unemployment, insecurity, and being born into and trapped in the lower socioeconomic strata are the problems that need addressing. These circumstances drive bad habits by removing positive choices. For example, you may have to “choose” processed, sugar-laden foods if your budget and your long hours in multiple minimum wage or less jobs may the alternative practically impossible. Overloaded, stressed workers smoke and are more likely to demonstrate all the other bad habits. Put them on the night shift with no access to decent food and no prospect of decent sleep patterns and you soup up the effect. Add in prejudice based on gender or race, and you amplify these effects. Without looking at the socioeconomic drivers of peoples’ “choices,” blaming lifestyle just adds insult to injury, it is tantamount to victim blaming in a rape case.

Publicly funded independent occupational and environmental health science—by either academics or statutory agencies—is becoming rare. Research is increasingly (and frequently covertly) funded by industries motivated by concerns about the legal implications of medical research and not concerns about public health. Witness the 40-year wait for the new U.S. beryllium standard, which was introduced in March 2016; the respirable silica standard; the “science-fraud” and ongoing defense of chrysotile asbestos use (only just banned in Canada, and thanks to industry lobbying still legal in the United States); denial of low level benzene exposures causing cancers (thanks ACS—American Cancer Society); the links between Parkinsons and manganese; lack of regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals; and the list goes on. The tobacco industry’s playbook gets bounced from one industry to the next, with the highly remunerative process of seeding doubt enough to perpetuate another generation of exposures and another decade or two of profits. The issue is not whether or not we own up to the real role that lifestyle factors play in causing cancer. It is that we understand how the lifestyle excuse is used to diminish or deny the role played by industry, by social prejudice and by economic disadvantage in perpetuating the circumstances that lead to many cancers and that influence cancer survival rates. Yet when we raise these issues we are shouted down and we are financially out-gunned by the same corporate interests that benefit from the cancer status quo.

But luckily for us, there are people like Carol Van Strum who for decades, has collected some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry, with more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and “lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,” said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

Along the way, she amassed disturbing evidence about the dangers of industrial chemicals — and the practices of the companies that make them. Two documents, for instance, detailed experiments that Dow contracted a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist to conduct on prisoners in the 1960s to show the effects of TCDD, a particularly toxic contaminant found in 2,4,5-T. Another document, from 1985, showed that Monsanto had sold a chemical that was tainted with TCDD to the makers of Lysol, who, apparently unaware of its toxicity, used it as an ingredient in their disinfectant spray for 23 years. Yet another, from 1990, detailed the EPA policy of allowing the use of hazardous waste as inert ingredients in pesticides and other products under certain circumstances.

There were limits to what Van Strum could prove through her persistent data collection. The EPA had undertaken a study of the relationship between herbicide exposure and miscarriages and had taken tissue samples from water, animals, a miscarried fetus, and a baby born without a brain in the area. The EPA never released the full results of the “Alsea study,” as it was called, and insisted it had lost many of them. But a lab chemist provided Van Strum with what he said was the analysis of the test results he had been hired to do for the EPA, which showed the samples from water, various animals, and “products of conception” were significantly contaminated with TCDD. When confronted, the EPA claimed there had been a mix-up and that the samples were from another area. Somehow, I don’t believe them…

The sad fact of the matter is that we are being misled, lied to and slowly poisoned for profit. Once more, the almighty dollar has been put before people. In today’s world this is so pervasive, that there is not just one thing that is responsible, but many and the list is ever growing. More and more, our air, water and food are being poisoned, to the point where it is hard to find anything at all that is truly healthy for us. Thankfully people are starting to wake up to this fact and are ever more seeking healthier alternatives, although what is being provided for us as being healthy, is quite often far from the case. Advice from the supposed experts consistently changes, leaving many of us confused and our regulatory bodies are not only doing nothing to protect us, but are in fact colluding with big business to poison us all. Whether this is purely for profit, or part of a larger Depopulation Agenda or both, it doesn’t matter, the facts remain the same, we are being made sick and slowly killed off by the poisons in our food, air and water. But we can try to minimize the damage, by eating organic whole foods and preferably growing our own where possible. We can filter our water and live in cleaner environments where pollution is not so much of an issue, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford to. But sadly this will not stop our governments, regulatory bodies and big business from colluding to poison us all. We have to stop them, before it’s too late.

Nine ways that processed foods are harming people. By Kris Gunnars, BSc          

EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives: Food Additives Linked to Health Concerns.

The Adverse Effects of Food Additives on Health: A Review of the Literature with Special Emphasis on Childhood Hyperactivity. By Tuula E. Tuormaa

Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup. By Mark Hyman, MD

Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid. Dr Joseph Mercola
'It's freaking hopeless': why the Health Star Rating System has to go. By Peter FitzSimons

The not-so-sweet link between Big Sugar and the peak body for dietitians. By Peter FitzSimons

We Can’t Stop Our Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Until We Rein In the Corporations Releasing Them. By Laura Orlando

All cancers in Australia. By Cancer Australia

100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now. By Sharon Lerner

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