The Hidden Risks of Women’s Preventative Health Care

The Hidden Risks of Women’s Preventative Health Care

The Hidden Risks of Women’s Preventative Health Care

For most of my life, I’ve followed doctors’ recommendations for preventative healthcare. I started getting annual PAP smears before I was even sexually active. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Dentists have regularly cleaned and x-rayed my teeth in search of cavities I can’t see or feel. Though my vision hasn’t changed since I was a teenager, I’ve (clearly) seen my eye doctor every year. Dermatologists have transformed my suspicious looking freckles into scars. I spent hours (more like weeks) waiting at prenatal appointments during each of my four pregnancies. Repeat blood work shows that my thyroid still works and that my cholesterol is still low. I’ve had sonograms, mammograms, biopsies, CT-scans and MRIs. Anything covered by insurance seemed like a no-brainer and a win/win. Preventative healthcare is a privilege. Participation is required.

For someone who’s never been seriously ill, I’ve had a lot of medical interventions. Why does good health seem to require so much health care? Why do we go to the doctor when we’re not sick? Is all of this really necessary? It seems prevention is more about tests and procedures these days than a healthy lifestyle.

When I look at the big picture, the reality (for me) is that for every concern I’ve brought to a physician, just as many have arisen as the direct result of a preventative healthcare screen. I’ve spent a lot of time and money (with bonus side effects and stress) on follow up tests and procedures deemed necessary after a wellness check. And I’ve started wondering if I’d be any less healthy (and maybe even better off) if I only went to the doctor when something was wrong. Wellness, by definition, is independent and sustainable. Preventative healthcare, on the other hand, is a very lucrative business. 

Consider my story. Last year, my doctor’s office sent me a scathing reproach when I declined to schedule my annual PAP smear. A letter arrived by certified mail (requiring my signature) warning that I might be dropped from the practice due to this serious insubordination that significantly compromised my health. Since when does missing an annual visit increase the risk of cancer? The notice left me feeling fearful and stressed, as though I was a reckless and irresponsible person (patient).

The reason I opted to forgo the suggested (just kidding—evidently it was mandatory) appointment was because the prior year, abnormal PAP results had led to biopsy and surgery. Even at the time, these precautions felt unnecessary. I knew in my gut there was nothing wrong. And I was right. Everything was fine in the end. You see, I’ve gone through this before. Almost every biopsy I’ve ever had for any reason has revealed the presence of “abnormal” cells. Evidently, I’m an all-around “atypical” person. I don’t think this makes me high-risk (though I’ll admit to being high-maintenance). Unfortunately, the typical care for my atypical results has been invasive and painful.  

I live an atypical, anti-cancer lifestyle. My diet is based on organic, plant-based, unprocessed foods. Wearing homemade deodorant and organic make up reduces my exposure to toxic chemicals. Sleep, exercise and deep breathing are top priorities for me. I pay attention to my body. When there is a problem, I look for the cause as the cure rather than relying on drugs that suppress symptoms. But subjecting myself to medical procedures when there was no reason to think anything was wrong has not proven beneficial.

Our immune systems are designed to eliminate cancer. The body produces 50 million new cells every second. The rate of error during replication is about two percent. That means that every day, the immune system must destroy one million cancerous cells before they proliferate. Most cancers are stopped before they start. Many disappear on their own. (1) Tests and interventions that damage and interfere with immunity increase the risk of disease rather than diminish it. 

But we live in a fear-based, instantly gratified society, and I’m not immune. I had avoided my preventative healthcare appointment for a year and my confidence wavered when they called to schedule me again. I decided it couldn’t hurt to check in with my doctor, especially now that I’ve started experiencing the oh-so-fun symptoms of peri-menopause. I figured a blood-draw to establish my base hormone levels would be helpful in the event my self-prescribed black cohosh supplement and progesterone cream lose their effectiveness. So I made the appointment, plugged my feet into the stirrups and hoped for (at least) some stimulating conversation to offset the intrusion. 

My concerns about my body and my age did not come up, however. Instead, we discussed my doctor’s thoughts on mammograms and colonoscopies. There was no time spared to talk about diet, exercise, sleep, my sex life or general well being. The litany of preventative tests recommended for my age group was the main focus. 

Discussions about night sweats, vaginal dryness and the normal mid-life homicidal ideations (or is that just me?) were preempted as I defended my reasoning for not getting another mammogram anytime soon. I’d done my homework and was prepared. It’s soothing to believe that early detection of breast cancer outweighs the risks of radiation. But 70-80 percent of detected “tumors” seen on the mammogram do not end up being cancer. False positives lead to invasive biopsies, mastectomies, chemotherapy and radiation, not to mention severe emotional trauma. Just as bad are the false negatives. Mammograms don’t catch everything. One in five malignant tumors are missed by mammography.(2)

There’s more. Early and regular exposure to the radiation increases the risk of disease. That’s a fact. And the compression of the breast during the mammogram can help spread existing cancer cells, allowing them to metastasize from the breast tissue. Women who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer carry the highest risk (which calls for more mammograms, not less).

My doctor did concede that mammograms aren’t a catch-all. I was informed that there are aggressive breast cancers that can arise and metastasize between regular screenings. And, there are also slow growing cancers that will never cause symptoms or become life-threatening. In the later case, the “cures” (preventative chemo and radiation) kill more people than the disease.  

The mammogram was still formally recommended, however (and my polite decline was carefully documented to ensure all asses bases were covered). It was clear that the official standard of care does not include reducing preventative healthcare –especially if it’s covered by insurance.

At the conclusion of the appointment, my doctor mentioned how lucky I was that last year’s biopsy and surgery had not resulted in a hysterectomy. “We want to avoid that at all costs.” Um, yeah. Me too! But how much of my good health is “luck” and how much is within my control? That offhanded statement brought a startling realization: if (and when) atypical cells are found, I might find myself in the operating room once again and lose the battle of rights over my own organs.

Since that appointment, I’ve learned that the CDC now recommends PAP smears only every three years. Evidence shows that more frequent screening does not detect more cervical cancer. Philip Castle of the American Society for Clinical Pathology cautions, “If you test every year you find a lot of benign infections that would go away on their own. You end up overscreening, overmanaging and overtreating women who are not actually at risk of getting cervical cancer.” (3)

 As for mammograms, a twenty-five year follow up study of 90,000 women found there is no advantage to finding breast cancers when they are too small to feel. Self-exams are as good as or better than regular mammograms at locating the serious cancers that need treatment. (4) Think about that. If there’s no benefit in discover cancer before we can feel it, why are mammograms pushed upon all women with such life-or-death intensity? If my doctor is aware of this study, how and why are regular mammograms recommended?

There are many people who have undoubtedly benefited from cancer screens. But studies and statistics show there are also many people who have been the victims of the system. No one can know what might have happened had they not known or opted out. Regardless, everyone’s battle with cancer is terrifying and courageous. People who survive diagnosis and treatment have earned their place as a hero with blood, sweat and tears. And doctor’s are doing the best they can to treat us given the information they have. But where is that information coming from besides companies that profit from all of it? I struggle to even admit my skepticism on this topic as I’ve never had a cancer diagnosis and it feels sacrilegious to question the system that appears to have saved so many lives. No one wants to imagine that they might have been one of the false positives and undergone unnecessary treatment, or that if they live to see five more years, it’s the chemo and radiation they survived, not the cancer.

As difficult and emotional as it is, we have to ask these questions. The bottom line is that cancer screenings and treatments net billions of dollars for Big Business. There is no profit to be made on people who are independently well. But my breasts, uterus and cervix aren’t healthy because of invasive preventative healthcare. They are healthy because I take care of them. If something is ever wrong with my body, I won’t need someone to tell me. I pay attention and recognize when something isn’t right. If good food, extra rest and self-care don’t return my body to balance, then I’ll listen to my intuition. I’ll seek help when I need it–not before. 

(1) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27canc.html

(2) https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/patient/breast-screening-pdq – section/_43

(3) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cancer-cervical-uspstf-idUSTRE79I0RZ20111019?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews

(4) http://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g366

Organic Makeup

Organic Makeup

Is organic makeup worth the money? Not always . . .

But don’t let that deter you from reducing your exposure to chemicals. 

The Sitting Disease

The Sitting Disease

The Sitting Disease

With the help of an upside down flower pot and old-fashioned hour glass, I’m taking a stand against the sitting disease . . .

The Sitting Disease

When asked if I am an active person, my answer is always, “Very. Totally. Always. To a fault.” I run, walk, bike, hike, practice yoga and go the gym when the weather isn’t pleasant. I take the stairs and monitor my daily step count. I don’t watch television. PS: I’m vegan, eat my weight in vegetables and I don’t smoke.

#healthy #doingitright #noworries

But when I read The Sitting Disease by Dr. Rudy Kachmann (my father-in-law), I realized that I had missed one major detail. As a writer, I sit for long periods of time. Sometimes so long that when my husband comes home from work, I’m still in my pajamas, sitting in the same position I was in when he left twelve hours earlier. He once told me that he’s never seen anyone with such severe cases of ADD and OCD. (Is that a bipolar joke?)

“You need to move,” he’d say. “Sitting that long is not healthy.”

Common sense logic assured me that wasn’t true. “Sitting is no different than standing in one place for hours on end, like you do in the operating room. I have to focus when I write. It’s part of the job.”

It is fitting that, being wrong for the first (and only) time in the history of our relationship (past and future), the magnitude of error was higher than expected. I was not only wrong, I was dead wrong. Sitting is not the same as standing. And the longer you sit, the worse it gets.

According to Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic, “Excessive sitting is a lethal activity.” Now termed the “sitting disease,” the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that sitting is like smoking and sugar consumption: a slow but sure way to kill yourself.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute followed 240,000 healthy patients (no history of diabetes, heart disease or cancer). People who watched TV for 7 or more hours a day were at a much higher risk of premature death than those who watched less. And exercising an hour a day did not cancel the risks. In fact, every hour of TV viewed after age 25 reduces life expectancy by 22 minutes.[i] 

Seriously? One episode of Sixty Minutes costs 22 minutes of life? At least watching TV lends itself to raiding the refrigerator every half hour, so you are more likely to move. When I’m working on my computer, my hands and brain are so busy that I only get up to avoid peeing my pants.  

It took three years to write Life Off the Label: A Handbook for Creating Your Own Brand of Health and Happiness. Apparently, in the process, I adopted the health habits of a couch potato. I can see the headline now: Vegan and Healthy Living Expert Dies of The Sitting Disease.

But now I know something I didn’t know before. When you know better, you do better.

Prolonged sitting causes premature aging, weight gain, physical pain, reduced mental acuity, depression, heart disease and cancer. Inactivity significantly reduces cellular functions: DNA repair mechanisms are disrupted, insulin response drops, oxidative stress rises, and metabolism slows to a stop. The more we sit, the lower our quality of life and the earlier our death.

But anyone who is on their feet all day knows that sore feet, back pain and even circulation problems aren’t awesome alternatives. The cure for the sitting disease appears to be movement. Frequent switching from one posture to another reduces the problems caused by both. Staying in one position for no more than 30 minutes is ideal.

My workstation is now a standing desk. I want a motorized one with adjustable arms for my monitor and keyboard. For now, I’m using a flowerpot turned upside down. When the sand runs out in my old-fashioned half-hour glass, I stretch and do stair laps, wall pushups and squats. Curing the sitting disease is the equivalent of quitting smoking and it feels great!

I am surprised to report that it feels just as natural to read, type and use the mouse while standing as it does when sitting. (My OCD survives my ADD.) Standing up actually feels better. (I feel like a boss.) My breathing is deeper and I’m more inclined to move around since I’m already on my feet. The pain and tightness that come with long hours stuck in a chair have all but disappeared. After my movement breaks, I am sharper and more focused. In general, I have more energy. 

If work requires you to be in one place, get creative. Life is too short to feel anything but awesome. Share this info-graph with someone you love. Don’t race for the cure to disease. Stand up. 

Sitting Disease by the Numbers

Sources:

[i] Sinha, Sanjai. “The Adverse Metabolic Consequences of Sitting.” Diabetes Learning Center, MedPage Today. August 3, 2013. http://www.medpagetoday.com/resource-center/diabetes/Adverse-Metabolic-Consequences-Sitting/a/34050

Side Effects of Acetaminophen: Medicine or Menace?

Side Effects of Acetaminophen: Medicine or Menace?

The side effects of acetaminophen are a little more complicated than an upset tummy.

A recent study of 20,000 kids in Spain shows that even a single does per year significantly increases the risk of allergies and asthma. Children 6-7 years of age that receive the medicine only once a year are 70% more likely to develop asthma. And Kids given the medication once a month have an increase risk of 540%.

In America, we give it to our kdis before they leave the hospital and every time they sneeze! The only discussion on the side effects of acetaminophen are whether or not it’s flavored with Bubble Gum or Cherry Grape, in a pill or gel capsule.

Watch, learn and share the word! This is not common knowledge…

Check me:

Prymula, R. Siegrist, C. Chlibek, R. Zemlickova, H. Vackova, M. Smetana, J. Lommel, P. Kaliskova, E. Borys, D. Schuerman, L. “Effect of Prophylactic Paracetamol Administration at time of Vaccination on Febrile Reactions and Antibody Responses in Children: Two Open-Label, Randomized Controlled Trials.” The Lancet. Volume 374, Issue 9698, P 1339-1350, October 17, 2009. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)61208-3/fulltext – article_upsell

Gonzalez-Barcala, Francisco. Pertega, Sonia. Castro, Theresa. Sampedro, Manuel. Lastres, Juan. Gonzalez, Miguel. Bamonde, Luciano. Garnelo, Luciano. Valdes, Luis. Carreira, Jose. Moure, Jose. Silvarrey, Angel. “Exposure to Paracetamol and Asthma Symptoms.” The European Journal of Public Health. May 29, 2012. DOI: 706-710 http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706

The Problem with Plastic

The Problem with Plastic

After 40 years of life, I’ve decided on my answer to the life long question: What is the one thing I’d take to be stranded on an island? (The answer to WHO I would bring is a whole separate blog…)
I’d like to announce, for the record, that my official survival kit would only need to include… (drum roll please…)

A box of Heavy Duty Hefty Cinchsaks.

I’ve run various scenarios with sunscreen, a glue gun and a water filter. But I realize I’ll have far more staying power with plastic. I can use the garbage bags to make a poncho, a purse and even a pillow, and they will keep my food, iStuff and off-season clothing safe from the wind, water and wild animals.

I’m know! I’m soooo right!

If you think about it, the only invention that ranks even close to the wheel has only been around about 100 years. And plastic has been a game changer for both the planet and the human race. It certainly makes parenthood easier, and is probably why we are facing a population explosion. Wooden high chairs splinter and metal swing sets rust, but plastic pacifiers keep babies from being tossed with the bath toys.

But as demand for convenience has led to billions of bags, bottles, products and packaging being consumed every day by parents and non-breeders alike, our landfills and oceans are filling up with plastic, and there are daily updates on the concerns for not only marine life, but human health.

Disposable convenience is now an accepted and expected way of life. When my first child was born in 1997, cloth diapers were as extinct as the milk man. But when I realized that even generic urination costs $.25 a squirt, I attempted to manage my budget with the old-fashioned cloth supplies. And after a few weeks of diaper rash, toilet trash and poop in my washer, I decided that these were not the pennies to pinch.

Later, when my kids started school, I invested in metal water bottles. But at $30/each, and a 50% return rate, I decided that cases of disposable water bottles offered the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the logistics of recycling (cardboard in one bin, plastic #2 in the other…)

A few years ago, I made the switch to reusable shopping bags. The average family collects 60-100 of these cheap plastic bags a week. And as they can’t be profitably recycled like other plastics, they end up in landfills and make their way to the oceans, where currents have created huge mountains of trash. There is one in the Atlantic known as Garbage Patch Island, which is the same size as the state of Texas.

As a concerned citizen of the planet, I dutifully use my bags (whenever I actually remember to bring them into the store.) If I forget (often), I punish myself (and the people behind me) by leaving the cashier to run back to the car.

I’m hoping that making a scene inspires others to do the same.

But the consequences of disposable karma might come full circle quicker than expected. My vegan diet has been on trial in the last two years as I’ve struggled with some health concerns that include hair loss, cavities and chronic bloating. And while the stress of moving, divorce, and 4 busy kids is not inconsequential, I have learned that, surprise! even high quality, organic foods can deliver contaminates if they are stored and especially cooked in plastic. Despite my clean diet, a recent hair analysis showed higher than zero levels of several toxins and heavy metals.

The problem with plastic is that it’s made from petroleum and not meant to be eaten. And while I don’t eat plastic, my food is often wrapped in it. There are many ingredients in plastic that are toxic, linked directly to cancers, birth defects, hormone and autoimmune disorders, and childhood developmental issues. To name the biggest offenders, Bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, dioxins, and heavy metals cadmium, mercury and lead can be found in many of our bottles and food packaging.

But since plastic isn’t a food product, manufacturers are not required to disclose the secret ingredients that strengthen, color and define their privately patented formulas. And as most of us use re-use plastic containers in creative “off-label” ways, we can inadvertently be exposed to toxins that create disease.

So in my attempts to go green, I’ve exposed myself and my family to even greater risk! I cringe to think of how many summers I refilled the disposable water bottles for my kids…storing them in the hot garage and leaving them in strollers and cars from season to season. I was on a budget and a mission to live sustainably.

But the problem with plastic is that they ALL can leach when exposed to heat and light of various degrees.

When plastic is exposed to the elements, especially sunlight, heat and water wave action, it degrades into smaller pieces. These toxic particles then contaminate our soil and water, and act as sponges for other organic poisons such as the pesticides and fertilizers that run off of farms.

Plastic pollution is breathed by marine life, and eaten by land animals, where it lodges in digestive tracts, circulates through blood streams and even mutates DNA, compromising not just one generation but future offspring as well. So eliminating fish and other meat from our diets, and drinking only the best filtered water might be pointless. Because we live in a plastic-wrapped world where today’s convenience is tomorrow’s garbage.

I guess that’s just one more reason why I’ll be a Survivor with my chosen Heavy Duty Hefty Cinchsaks….

Read more…http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1976909_1976908_1976938-1,00.html

The Time Has Come For Sustainable Living

The Time Has Come For Sustainable Living

This Native American proverb speaks to the essence of sustainable living. In modern times, we are endowed with a birthright, taught that the accomplishments of our parents may be used as collateral in pursuit of our own dreams. Each generation is promised that their own lives will be fuller, richer and easier than ever before.

And while automated industries, medical advances and educational opportunities offer great improvement in our quality of life, the real cost of the development and use of these technologies is not something that can be paid for with money. Land and energy utilization, as well as soil, water, air quality are complicated commodities that must be protected through sustainable living.

Our lives are part of a delicate system. Our planet is designed as a web; each species has a purpose. Our ability to live independently of nature gives us a false sense of power. But the rules are very elemental.  Call it yin/yang, give/take, or ebb and flow, the universe is a system that must be in balance.

Balance is the essence of sustainability, which requires us to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. It is analogous to a credit card. If we buy things we cannot afford, debt will mount, polluting our happiness and sense of freedom. Eventually, a bill we cannot pay will come due, and we will be held accountable for our careless actions.

The future is not a far-off event over which we have no control; rather it’s a moment by moment manifestation of every decision we make. We can create a legacy, or we can leave a burden.

Everything that we purchase has a lifecycle much longer than the season or two that we have it in our possession. Raw materials must be harvested and delivered to factories for manufacture. Merchandise is placed in boxes, wrapped in plastic, and transported via diesel engine to warehouses for storage. After we buy it, use it, and decide we’re bored, we throw it away…because out of sight is out of mind.

But nothing disappears. And some things will never decompose! If we truly appreciate the technology behind modern convenience, then we must exercise discretion in it’s use. For example, consider the 24-pack case of single-use plastic water bottles…set in cardboard and wrapped in more plastic. And all the un-recycleable plastic bags we acquire with each trip to the store. Consider the environmental impact just one person can make in a year by carrying a metal water bottle and reusable shopping bags.

It’s breathtaking to consider that every single choice, made on any given day, has both consequence and potential. Recognize your own personal power, and use it wisely. You complete the circle of life when you choose sustainable living. 

The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines

The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines

The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines

The reality behind the health claims made by food corporations and the USDA dietary guidelines reveals there is more at steak here than just our taste buds. A bowl of kale and beans just isn’t as sexy as a juicy bacon cheese burger and a milkshake. But motivation to eat healthy isn’t something you can pick up in the drive thru.

We are bombarded daily with marketing images designed to present themselves as education, and manifest themselves as dollars in corporate (and individual) accounts. The logo above makes me feel warm, fuzzy and cared about while simultaneously inducing a craving for a Happy Meal. McDonalds loves my kids, and my kids love McDonalds. Win/win.

We live in a country where our food supply is highly regulated. Everyone knows the Board of Health is not to be messed with. They will Shut. You. Down. So the reality is that our food is not only safe, but exemplary.

Is it?

Consider the USDA dietary guidelines. The guidelines appear to be presented in service to the public health. They are written, however, for the promotion of agricultural commodities.

Awesome.

Promoting the food industries simply translates into a multi-billion dollar PR machine for private corporations designed only to make a profit.

How can the USDA dietary guidelines actually offer unbiased education in diet composition and optimal nutrition, when their true purpose is to market food products?

They can’t. And they don’t.

The reality boils down to “simple” government logic. One sub-agency, discretely named the Agricultural Marketing Service coordinates with the National School Lunch Program to allocate more than $500 million tax dollars to the dairy, beef, egg and poultry industries, to provide animal products for our children.

Interestingly, only $161 million is offered to buy fruits and vegetables.

The dairy industry spends $190 million each year on the “milk mustache” advertisements. Millions more are spent on award-winning campaigns such as “EverythingIdoiswrong.org” and “Milk! It Does a Body Good”. The USDA  is funding these money-makers with federal tax dollars, granting over 10 billion in subsidies to the dairy industry in the last 10 years. And yet the ONLY research that even begins to suggest that the consumption of dairy products might be helpful in strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis has been PAID FOR by the National Dairy Council.

Countries that consume the most dairy products also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Dairy consumption correlates to diabetes, leukemia, ovarian and prostate cancer, not to mention that 75 percent of the population is lactose intolerant to some degree, resulting in bloating, gas, heartburn, allergies, acne, ear infections and more. And non-organic dairy contains antibiotics and growth hormones, resulting in “super-bug” evolution, premature puberty in females and a host of hormone and metabolic disorders.

National Cattleman’s Beef Association spent 25.5 million on promotional efforts in 2005, and the National Pork Board invested

10 million in advertising. When you add that to McDonald’s yearly advertising budget of $2 billion, is it any wonder we all believe meat to be an essential part of our diet, culture and health?

The non-for profit National Chicken Council spends millions each year on programs like it’s National Chicken Month (coming in September!), the National Chicken Cooking contest and eatchicken.com to ‘help’ consumers increase their chicken ‘awareness’ that it is “easy to prepare, tastes good, is healthy and nutritious, reasonably priced and consistent in quality.” (Please note: this is a marketing campaign not a health promotion.)

These reality is that these national non-profits are in business to influence the USDA dietary guidelines. They provide the “information” for articles we all read in our magazines, from Cooking Light to Shape and Oprah; they lobby for legislative support both financial and legal.   My guess is that the 5,000 Americans sickened by Campylobacter poisoning EACH DAY are not featured in the glossy brochure. And I’ll bet the fact that 90 percent of US chickens are infected with leukosis (cancer) at the time of slaughter isn’t mentioned at all.

The chickens we eat are not the same animals we envision on our grandparents farms. Todays chickens are bred to reach slaughter weight in a 6 week life span, instead of the 4 month growth period of the ‘natural’ chicken. CHICK-CHING! Factory chickens get so big so fast that most of them can’t walk because their bone structure can’t support their weight.(maybe there really are ‘boneless’ chickens…) They are pumped full of growth hormones to maximize meat harvest.

These same hormones allow dairy cows to produce more than 10 times the milk they are biologically built for. And by the time they are slaughtered (4-5 years), 40 percent of these milkers are lame due to intensive confinement, filth, and the strain of constant pregnancy and milking. Mmmmm…What’s wrong with the beef?

Chickens, pigs and cows are also pumped full of antibiotics. Why? Well, when you have 20,000 chickens housed in a football field-sized, artificially lit shed for their 40 days of ‘life’, the reality is crowded and stressful. Their sit and breathe their own shit, as it’s never picked up.These conditions promote the growth and mutation of pathogens and increase the global risk of super viruses and bacteria. The poultry industry has convinced the USDA to reclassify feces as a ‘cosmetic blemish’, and consequently, millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, green feces, marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors and skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers. Good thing we bathe the chicken in breading, mayo and lettuce and hide it under that McBun…

Is it any surprise that the CDC estimates there are 76 million cases of food borne-illness each year? We always say we’ve ‘caught’ a bug. No…we probably ate the bug. When the flesh we are putting in our mouth is full of disease, it doesn’t require a huge leap of logic to wonder why our society is so sick.

And don’t think you can switch worry-free to turkey meat. The demand for turkey is quickly producing the same factory, assembly line conditions. 90 percent of turkeys are contaminated with enough campylobacter at the time of slaughter to cause illness in humans. Turkeys are really the least suitable animal for factory conditions (because we haven’t been altering their genetics long enough…), and the natural insectivores are fed a diet of bad meat, sawdust and leather tannery by-products. They require the most antibiotic therapy of all farmed animals.

About 89 percent of US beef patties contain traces of deadly E. coli even though there are over 80 different antibiotics present in cows milk…. and even with all the drug therapy, 30 to 50 percent of dairy cows suffer from mastitis. Got milk?

I visited the CDC websites for various diseases, and the following information is 2010. Consider this: 34.1 million Americans have Asthma…nearly 9 percent are school children. 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes, and another 79 million have ‘pre-diabetes’. And 81.1 million adults have some sort of cardiovascular disease. 23.5 million Americans suffer from chronic and life-threatening autoimmune diseases. And over 11.1 million Americans have had some type of cancer, 1.5 million of whom will die this year.

We can heal our bodies, our nation and our planet. But for now, we are what we eat. The USDA dietary guidelines promote illness.

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