Archive for May, 2009

Cancer Drug Makes Fingerprints Disappear; Patient Detained At Border

May 28, 2009

Cancer Drug Makes Fingerprints Disappear; Patient Detained At Border

Imagine being treated like a suspected criminal or terrorist by immigration officials all because you have cancer and your doctor gave you a drug that causes a strange side effect — your fingerprints have disappeared into thin air. Does that sound like a novel or movie plot? Unfortunately for one 62-year-old cancer patient, and possibly others, this was anything but fiction.

In a letter just published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology, Dr Eng-Huat Tan, a cancer specialist in the medical oncology department at the National Cancer Centre in Singapore, reported on a perplexing case of missing fingerprints due to the cancer drug capecitabine. And he has warned that other people taking the drug should start carrying a doctor’s letter with them if they want to travel to the U.S.

Here’s what happened: Dr. Tan’s 62-year-old patient (known only as Mr. S., due to privacy considerations) was suffering from metastatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma — a head and neck cancer that had spread. Fortunately, the malignancy had responded well to treatment and, in hopes of preventing a recurrence of the malignancy, the patient was put on capecitabine, the generic name for the drug sold in the U.S. as Xeloda. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in some people, capecitabine stops cancer cells from growing and decreases the size of tumors. But it also can produce a host of adverse side-effects including severe diarrhea, life-threatening bleeding and hand-foot syndrome. The latter problem is a condition that stems from chronic inflammation of the palms and/or soles of the feet. It makes the skin peel, bleed and develop ulcers or blisters. “This can give rise to eradication of finger prints with time,” Dr. Tan stated in his letter.

Dr. Tan’s patient had taken capecitabine for three years and developed a mild case of hand-foot syndrome. But he didn’t realize it had robbed him of his fingerprints until, in December of 2008, the cancer survivor went to the U.S. to visit his relatives. Foreign visitors have been required to provide fingerprints at U.S. airports for several years where the prints are compared to millions of visa holders’ prints in a database in order to detect whether a new visa applicant has a visa under a different name. The fingerprints are also matched via a computer base to check for criminals and people who are supposedly security threats.

“He (the patient) was detained at the airport customs for four hours because the immigration officers could not detect his fingerprints. He was allowed to enter after the custom officers were satisfied that he was not a security threat. He was advised to travel with a letter from his oncologist stating his condition and the treatment he was receiving to account for his lack of fingerprints to facilitate his entry in future,” Dr. Tan wrote to the Annals of Oncology.

According to the oncologist, several other cancer patients taking capecitabine have also experienced a loss of fingerprints and have discussed this strange drug side effect on their blog sites. Some have also related that they, too, have had problems entering the U.S. due to their lack of fingerprints.

“In summary, patients taking long-term capecitabine may have problems with regards to fingerprint identification when they enter United States’ ports or other countries that require fingerprint identification and should be warned about this. It is uncertain when the onset of fingerprint loss will take place in susceptible patients who are taking capecitabine. However, it is possible that there may be a growing number of such patients as Mr. S. who may benefit from maintenance capecitabine for disseminated malignancy. These patients should prepare adequately before traveling to avert the inconvenience that Mr. S. was put through,” Dr. Tan wrote.

He recommended that patients on capecitabine carry a doctor’s letter with them and noted that his patient was able to subsequently travel again with a letter from his oncologist which helped him get through immigration and security much easier.

Travel warning with capecitabine. Annals of Oncology, doi:10.1093/annonc/mdp278

For more information:…………


Forensic Scientists Working on Technology to Render Face Photos Solely from DNA Left At Crime Scene

May 24, 2009

Forensic Scientists Working on Technology to Render Face Photos Solely from DNA Left At Crime Scene Forensic scientists are working on a way to reconstruct a person’s face based on their DNA, allowing police to identify people more effectively from something as simple as a piece of hair or flake of skin, according to research presented at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

Currently, researchers can compare DNA samples taken from suspects with those found at a crime scene to help secure convictions, but this is only useful if authorities already have a suspect.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University are hoping to take this ability one step further with the field of “forensic molecular photofitting,” which uses knowledge about how certain genes influence skin pigmentation, facial structure and other characteristics that lead to the individual appearance of a person’s face. Geneticists already know enough to identify a number of specific traits, although full facial mapping is still a ways off.

“We know enough to estimate hair color, eye color, the presence of moles, skin color, hair texture, body size — even if someone’s ear wax is wet or dry,” said researcher Mark Shriver. “We can even determine a whole host of behavioral traits like handedness — is someone left- or right-handed — all of which can help police narrow down the suspect they’re looking for.”

It’s still much easier to identify certain general characteristics — such as skin pigmentation — than others. It was this ability to determine skin color from DNA that led Louisiana police to shift their search for a Baton Rouge serial killer from a white man, who witnesses had reported seeing, to a black man. Eventually a black man, Derek Todd Lee, was arrested and convicted.

Shriver hopes to make this investigative ability even more powerful. He believes that it would only take information from a total of 1,000 genes — “maybe 500 facial markers and 500 ancestry markers” — to construct an accurate picture of a person’s face.

“We’re working with facial images to better understand which genes determine which superficial traits,” he said.

Sources for this story include:;

The Quackery of Chemotherapy, Gunpoint Medicine and the Disturbing Fate of 13-Year-Old Daniel Hauser

May 23, 2009

The Quackery of Chemotherapy, Gunpoint Medicine and the Disturbing Fate of 13-Year-Old Daniel Hauser

You see it in newspapers and websites across the ‘net: People insisting that 13-year-old Daniel Hauser must be injected with chemotherapy in order to “save his life,” and that anyone refusing to go along with that is a criminal deserving of arrest and imprisonment.

What’s most astonishing about the mainstream reaction to the forced chemotherapy of Daniel Hauser is not merely that they believe states now own the children, but that they believe in the entire world there exists but one single treatment for cancer, and it happens to be the one that makes pharmaceutical companies the most money. The arrogance (and ignorance) of that position is mind boggling.

There was once a time when western medical doctors believed that the heavy metal mercury was a medicine, too. They methodically used mercury to treat hundreds of different diseases and conditions, oblivious to the fact that they were actually poisoning people with this toxic heavy metal.

And yet, imagine if authorities had arrested parents for not treating their children with mercury. Imagine if they threw parents in prison for refusing their “mercury medicine.” That would be equivalent to today’s arrogant, misguided and extremely dangerous campaign to outlaw saying “no” to chemotherapy.

A brief history of medical quackery
It was mercury, in fact, that led to the term “quack.” Mercury is called “quicksilver,” and those doctors who prescribed it were eventually discovered to be pushing toxic chemicals rather than any real medicine. They were initially called “quicks” and then later “quacks.”

The quackery of those doctors prescribing mercury wasn’t hard to miss: People taking the mercury would get extremely ill. Their hair would fall out. They would lose their appetite and experience extreme loss of body weight. Many would simply die from the toxicity.

Remarkably, these are the same side effects produced by chemotherapy. And today, chemotherapy doctors describe these side effects in precisely the same terms as the mercury quacks of a century ago, claiming the effects are “part of the healing process” and encouraging patients to find the courage to “just go through with it.”

But let’s pull our heads out of the muck here and acknowledge the obvious: Poisoning patients — whether with mercury or chemotherapy — will never produce healing. And the prescribing of such toxic chemicals to patients is little more than sophisticated quackery, backed by seemingly convincing data (which is actually based on scientific fraud) along with the urgings of cancer doctors who rely on highly manipulative fear tactics to corral patients into treatments that will only harm them.

Do parents have the right to protect their children from poison?
Today, the mother of 13-year-old Daniel Hauser is on the run, having skipped out on the Minnesota court that ordered her to poison her own child. She is now considered criminally negligent by the state — a parent who belongs behind bars and will likely be imprisoned when she is arrested at gunpoint.

And yet, I ask you this: What else could she have done? To appear in court and submit her child to chemical injections of a toxic substance would amount to child abuse. She is doing what any sensible parent would do: She’s protecting her child from the poisons of the world, and standing up against the tyrants of modern medicine who so desperately seek to exploit her child for profit that they have actually turned to enforcing their business at gunpoint in order to do so.

It is interesting that pharmaceutical medicine is the only industry in America that’s forced to recruit its patients at gunpoint.

I call it Gunpoint Medicine, and it is exactly as it sounds: The enforcing of medical quackery at gunpoint.

Looking for New Uses for Spices — in the Medical Lab

May 20, 2009

Looking for New Uses for Spices — in the Medical Lab

18 May 2009


This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, a program in VOA Special English. I’m Bob Doughty.


And I’m Faith Lapidus. Herbs and spices help to sharpen the taste of many foods. Today, we tell about these food additives.



Spices in a market
Spices in a market

People have used herbs and spices in food for thousands of years. Some of these substances are valued for their sharp taste. Others are chosen for their smell.

Generally, herbs come from the green leaves of plants or vegetables. Spices come from other parts of plants and trees. For example, cinnamon comes from the hard outer cover of cinnamon plants. The spice ginger comes from the part of the ginger plant that grows underground.


Herb and spice plants grow in many countries. For example, the Molucca Islands in Indonesia are famous for producing spices like cloves, nutmeg or mace. Vanilla comes from plants growing in South America.

Many people grow herb and spice plants near their homes. Then they dry the plants for later use. Some spices can even be grown in a house if they are placed in sunny areas next to windows.


Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World while seeking a new trade passage to Asia and its spices
Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World while seeking a new trade passage to Asia and its spices

Spices have influenced world history. For example, the Goth people of Europe defeated Roman forces in battle more than sixteen centuries ago. After the fighting ended, the leader of the Goths is said to have demanded five thousand pounds of gold and three thousand pounds of pepper.

More recently, Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus discovered new lands while seeking to expand trade with spice-growing areas in Asia. The Italian cities of Genoa and Venice became powerful because they were at the center of the spice trade. The trade was so important to national economies that rulers launched wars in their struggle to control spices.


Herbs and spices are commonly used because they can make food taste better. Several years ago, two American researchers reported another reason for spice use in cooking.

Researchers Paul Sherman and Jennifer Billing worked at Cornell University when their study was published in nineteen ninety-eight. They said spices contain substances that kill or slow the growth of dangerous bacteria in food. Some spices destroy bacteria. Spices have long been used to keep food safe to eat. In the past, spices also helped to prevent the wasting away of dead bodies.



A more recent study found that adding spices to meat before cooking at high temperatures may reduce harmful chemicals. Researchers from Kansas State University reported last year on their experiments with steaks.

The researchers found a major decrease in unwanted chemicals by preparing the meat with spice and herb marinades. The study showed that this may decrease formation of heterocyclic amines, also known as HCAs. The researchers say these chemicals may cause cancer in some people.


America’s National Cancer Institute says cooking meat at very high temperatures produces the most HCAs. The chemicals form when amino acids react with creatine, a chemical found in muscles. But meats from organs and non-meat protein sources have little or no HCA.

Research on HCAs has made some people afraid to prepare meat on a grill – the place where meat is cooked on hot coals or an open fire. Cooking meat this way is a traditional favorite of many Americans during warm weather.


Grilled beef marinated with peppercorns
Grilled beef marinated with peppercorns

The Kansas State University study, however, may show a way that reduces risk for people who grill on high heat. The K.S.U. researchers placed some steaks in already prepared spice mixes, or marinades. The meat then was grilled for five minutes on each side at a temperature of more than two hundred degrees Celsius. The researchers also cooked steaks marinated without spices, and steaks that were not marinated. They were prepared at the same temperature as meat with the marinade mixes.

The researchers compared levels of the HCAs in all the steaks. They found the HCAs in the meat marinated in spices had decreased up to eighty-eight percent. The study appeared in the publication Journal of Food Science.


The Mayo Clinic operates three medical centers in the United States. Its Health Letter publication of November two thousand seven provided more evidence that herbs and spices can aid health.

For example, Mayo Clinic experts said people could reduce salt use by using herbs and spices instead. Too much salt is a problem for people with health problems like high blood pressure.

The experts said some plant chemicals are high in antioxidants — substances that remove harmful chemicals from the body. These plants include allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, sage, thyme and turmeric.



The experts also said antioxidants like garlic, rosemary, saffron and turmeric have qualities that could fight cancer. And, it said limited evidence shows that cinnamon, fenugreek and turmeric may affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Not all studies agree that spices could help diabetes patients. But some studies have suggested they could because of a suspected link between inflammation and diabetes. Inflammation is the body’s way of reacting to infection or other attack. Cinnamon may help reduce the inflammation in people with diabetes.



Last year, researchers from the University of Georgia reported that cinnamon could help reduce blood sugar. The researchers tested twenty-four common herbs and spices. The tests showed that many of the substances contained high levels of antioxidant chemicals known as polyphenols.

The researchers found that ground clove had the most polyphenols. Cloves were the most effective at calming inflammation of any spice or herb they tested. Cinnamon was second. But K.S.U. scientist James Hargrove noted that cinnamon gets more use in cooking than ground cloves. He said that means it could affect the health of more people. But the Mayo Clinic warns that cinnamon cannot replace proven medicines for diabetes.


Curry is used to add taste to many foods
Curry is used to add taste to many foods

Other studies also note possible health effects from curry, a seasoning or sauce. Many people like to use curry to sharpen the taste of foods like meat, fish, rice and potatoes.

Several years ago, scientists in Singapore investigated curcumin, from the curry spice turmeric. The scientists based their study on earlier evidence that turmeric has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. They said turmeric also has been shown to reduce evidence of damage in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. But they said evidence was lacking about cases of Alzheimer’s in curry users, compared with people who did not use curry.


For that reason, the researchers designed a study that examined results from a mental-performance test of older Asian adults. The people in the study were sixty to ninety three years old. None had severe memory losses. Those who sometimes ate curry, or ate it often or very often, did better than individuals who rarely or never ate curry. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a report about the study. The writers suggested that more studies were needed.


Black cohosh is an herb that comes from the root or underground stems of a tall plant in the buttercup family. Black cohosh is sometimes called bugbane.  American Indians used it for a number of women’s health conditions, including monthly menstrual pain.Add New Post ‹ Sunil Khemaney @ wordpress — WordPress

Some women today have continued the tradition. They use the herb to help fight unpleasant conditions at the end of their reproductive years. These include difficulty sleeping at night and hot flashes, or sudden hot sweats.

Millions of people have used black cohosh without problems. However, the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health notes that pregnant women may want to avoid it. The same is true of women with breast cancer and patients with liver problems. Should signs of liver disease develop, people should stop taking black cohosh and contact a doctor.

Spinach Knocks Out Cancer and Boosts Brain Power

May 15, 2009

Spinach Knocks Out Cancer and Boosts Brain Power

Popeye was the poster boy for spinach, at least in the cartoons. He could swallow down a can and be able to knock out Bluto who was twice his size. Popeye was probably pretty healthy too, avoiding the pitfalls of aging and disease that come from a diet lacking in flavonoids and other nutrients found in spinach. Recent research has highlighted how well these nutrients work to safeguard health.

Spinach gives a knock out punch to cancer

Scientists in Japan recently studied some of the glyconutrients from spinach and found they inhibited destruction of DNA, cancer cell growth, and tumor growth. They used the nutrients to suppress the growth of colon adenocarcinoma in mice. After a two week period of ingesting the nutrients, a 56.1% decrease in solid tumor volume occurred without any side effects. And the nutrients reduced the ability of tumors to supply themselves with blood which they need to fuel their growth. Markers of cell proliferation were drastically reduced. (Lipids, August, 2008)

Spinach is good for combating ovarian cancer too. A newly released study from the Harvard Medical School evaluated the association between dietary flavonoid intake and ovarian cancer risk. Of all the flavonoids they tested, apigenin found in spinach as well as parsley, showed the highest correlation. (International Journal of Cancer, April)

In another study, Harvard researchers calculated flavonoid intake in 66,940 women participating in the Nurses Health Study that ended in 2002. Their work revealed that women eating diets rich in the flavonoid kaempferol had a 40% reduction in ovarian cancer risk compared to women who ate the least amount of food containing the flavonoid. In addition to spinach, foods high in kaempferol include kale, tea, and blueberries. (Journal of Cancer, November 15, 2007)

Prostate cancer responds to a carotenoid found in spinach and other green leafy vegetables. Researchers have found that this carotenoid, neoxanthin, induces death in prostate cancer cells. Then it converts to a different compound in the intestinal tract. In that state, it lulls prostate cancer cells into a state of rest, preventing their replication. (Journal of Nutrition, September, 2004)

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences studied the correlation between breast cancer risk and diets high in beta carotene and vitamin A. They found that eating spinach and carrots more than twice weekly compared to not eating them at all was associated with an odds ratio of .56. This means that the risk of having breast cancer was reduced by 44% in the women who consumed spinach and carrots. (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, November, 1997)

Spinach is great brain food

All those flavonoids that help prevent cancer also act as potent antioxidants that slow the effects of aging on the brain. Researchers have found that spinach helps protect the brain from free radical damage and slow age-related declines in brain power. Feeding spinach to aging laboratory animals significantly improved their learning capacity and their motor skills.

Diets rich in spinach, as well as spirulina and blueberries have been shown to reduce neurodegenerative changes in aged animals. To study whether these diets have neuroprotective ability when blood supply to the brain is limited, animals were fed one of the three dietary components and studied for the effects. Animals receiving each of the supplements had significant reductions in the volume of infarction in the cerebral cortex and an increase in post-stroke locomotor activity. (Experimental Neurology, May, 2005)

The Chicago Health and Aging Project, reported by World’s Healthiest Foods, suggested that eating just three servings of green leafy, yellow, and cruciferous vegetables each day could slow down cognitive decline by 40%. This equates to about five years of younger age, according to researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

This cohort study used 3,718 participants. Their mental functions were assessed on several tests at the beginning of the study, after three years, and again after six years. Researchers found that consuming an average of 2.8 servings of vegetables each day was what it took to produce the 40% decrease in cognitive decline. Of the different type of vegetables, green leafy ones such as spinach had the strongest association. There was no relationship found between fruit consumption and cognitive decline, perhaps because vegetables contain high amounts of vitamin E. Since they are often eaten with fats such as olive oil or dressing, the body’s ability to absorb fat soluble vitamin E is increased.

Spinach improves and protects eyesight

Another important carotenoid from spinach, lutein, is a major fighter against eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Spinach is loaded with lutein as are blueberries. Although egg yolks do not contain nearly as much lutein as spinach, the absorption of the amount they do have is intensified by cholesterol and choline. Since lutein is fat soluble like vitamin E, it should be eaten with fat. This makes a spinach salad dressed with olive oil a great idea. Spinach added to quiche or omelets is another winner.

Spinach is an excellent source of the iron often needed by women. Iron is an integral part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells. When cells are well oxygenated there can be no cancer. Iron is a key part of an enzyme necessary for energy production and metabolism.

Spinach is packed with high quality nutrition

Spinach is one of the best sources of Vitamin K, which functions in retaining calcium in the bone matrix where it promotes bone mineralization. Other minerals in spinach include manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. This combination makes spinach a great fighter of osteoporosis. It’s an excellent source of Vitamin B1, B2, and B6, and a good source of B3. Spinach is also rich in mood relaxing tryptophan, and cancer fighting fiber. One cup of boiled spinach contains over 5 grams of protein, and a decent amount of omega 3 fatty acids. And of course a load of Vitamin A.

What else you need to know about spinach

Spinach is among the 12 foods on which pesticides have been most frequently found. If you want to avoid the health risks posed by pesticides, buy only organic spinach.

Spinach contains goitrogens which are naturally occurring substances in some foods that can interfere with the functioning of the thyroid gland. Cooking helps to inactivate the goitrogenic compounds, but the risk to those with thyroid problems is not fully known.

Spinach contains another naturally occurring substance, purine. Excessive consumption of spinach can lead to excessive accumulation of uric acid in the body. Gout and kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of problems related to excessive consumption of purine-containing foods.

Spinach contains measurable amounts of naturally occurring oxalates. When oxalates become overly concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause problems with kidneys and gall bladder.

This all means that spinach should be a part of a diet that is composed of a wide variety of foods.

Using spinach

There are three widely available types of spinach. Savoy is a kind of spinach that has curly leaves that are springy to the touch. The smooth, flat leaf variety is great for eating or using in a juicer. Baby spinach is usually found in salads because it is the most delicately flavored.

Even if your spinach comes in a bag, it should be washed. Sand and soil tend to cling to the leaves making washing spinach a bit of a chore. Serve with stems on or off.

There’s a reason Popeye’s girl friend was named Olive Oyl

Spinach and olive oil belong together. The fat in the oil releases the nutrients in the spinach and makes them more bioavailable, and the two create a terrific taste when used together.

Saute spinach leaves in olive oil, and top with fresh pressed garlic, lemon juice and sea salt. Or saute in olive oil and add pine nuts and dried cranberries.

For more information:…

Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer Causes Cancer in the Other Breast

May 13, 2009

Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer Causes Cancer in the Other Breast on Treatment for Breast Cancer Causes Cancer in the Other BreastYoung women who receive radiation treatment after breast cancer surgery are significantly more likely to later develop cancer in the other breast than women who did not undergo such radiation.

The findings come from a study, published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, on more than 7,000 women who were treated for breast cancer in Netherlands between the years of 1970 and 1986. All study participants were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 71.

Among study participants in general, the risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast (contralateral breast cancer) after treatment in the first breast was three to four times higher than the rate for new cases of breast cancer. This risk only went up with a number of other risk factors, including family predisposition or treatment with radiation or chemotherapy.

Researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center in Rotterdam examined the cancer risk in women based on whether they were treated with radiation after a lumpectomy (partial breast removal) or mastectomy (complete breast removal). They found that women under the age of 45 who received radiation treatment after a lumpectomy were 1.5 times more likely to develop contralateral cancer than women who received post-mastectomy radiation treatment.

Similarly, the risk of contralateral breast cancer among all patients under the age of 45 increased by 9 percent if they had received radiation treatment. Among women treated before the age of 35, the increase in risk associated with radiation therapy was far higher — 78 percent.

When the participants were examined all together and not divided by age, there was no correlation between radiation treatment and increased cancer risk.

Radiation treatment is commonly used after the surgical removal of cancerous breast tissue in order to kill any cancerous cells that might remain. It is used most often after any lumpectomy, after any mastectomy of a breast that contained a tumor larger than five centimeters, or in any cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.

The chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide, fluorouracil and methotrexate also increased the risk of contraleteral cancer, but only after five years. Within the first five years after treatment, there was no difference in contralateral cancer rates between those who had received the drugs and those who had not.

To date, many researchers have assumed that high rates of contralateral breast cancer can be mostly attributed to the risk factors that contributed to the original cancer, such as genetic predisposition. This study is one of the first to suggest that cancer treatment itself might also increase risk.

That family predisposition affects breast cancer risk is fairly well accepted by researchers, and scientists have identified two genetic mutations in particular (BRCA1 and BRCA2) that seem to play a role. In the current study, the highest risk of contralateral cancer was seen among women who had three or more relatives who had already had breast cancer. But such predispositions appear to have the greatest effect in the presence of environmental risk factors.

In the current study, young women who had received post-lumpectomy radiation treatment and who also had a strong history of breast cancer in their family had their risk of contralateral cancer increased by 3.5 times.


Diet Soda Is Poison

May 7, 2009

Diet Soda Is Poison
I was on a long road trip last week and, feeling rather drowsy, stopped at a convenience store for some coffee and refreshments. As I walked up and down the aisles to find something to munch on for the next leg of the trip, I discovered nothing that seemed to be real food on any of the shelves. So I thought I would at least buy some chewing gum, something I used to do decades ago when gum only cost a penny a stick. I fondly remembered the refreshing taste of Wrigley’s Doublemint, Juicy Fruit or Spearmint gum.

Reading the fine print on the gum labels (a habit I always urged my patients to adopt whenever making purchases in grocery stores), I was annoyed and a bit alarmed to find that NONE of the 20 flavors had good old dextrose or sucrose in them. Instead, 100 percent of the choices contained, as their sweetener, a synthetic chemical called aspartame, a.k.a. NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful.

Now I have read the book Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, written by Russell Blaylock, MD, one of the neuroscientists who has thoroughly studied the toxicities of the common food additives aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG). I have also seen the sobering video documentary about aspartame poisoning entitled: Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World, which proves without any doubt how dangerous this synthetic sweetener can be. (You can order a copy by emailing

Aspartame, which is in thousands of processed food products that are usually labeled “lite” or “diet” products, was synthesized in 1965 by a G. D. Searle chemist who, when he was trying to create an anti-ulcer drug, combined two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine and found that the resulting dipeptide (a molecule consisting of two amino acids) had an intensely sweet taste to the tongue. Searle soon saw aspartame as a product that could compete in the low calorie food industry and obtained, in 1974, FDA approval for its use in dry foods. However the FDA approval was rescinded within six months because of toxic reactions and widespread concerns by a number of scientists.

These scientists knew that aspartame was a lethal poison! In fact, in a 1996 report compiled from 10,000 consumer complaints obtained during the pre-marketing testing period, the FDA listed 92 aspartame-related symptoms, ranging from seizures to death!

Still, the tenacious Searle, led by its cunning management team, refused to give up its effort to obtain FDA approval and denied that they had a sweet poison on their hands.

Interestingly, Searle’s CEO at the time was Donald Rumsfeld (which is why some prefer to call Aspartame Disease Rumsfeld’s Disease).

Here is an excerpt from an article entitled: Aspartame (NutraSweet): Something Evil This Way Comes written by Betty Martini, of Mission Possible World Health International, an organization devoted to exposing aspartame as the dangerous substance it is:

“Listen to Attorney James Turner who, with famed Dr. John Olney, tried to prevent aspartame’s approval. Turner tells what it took to get a deadly poison approved. The FDA attempted to have Searle indicted for fraud and making false statements. Both U.S. prosecutors hired on with the defense team and the statute of limitations expired. For 16 years, the FDA refused to allow it on the market. When Reagan was elected, Don Rumsfeld, CEO of Searle, said he’d call in his markers to get aspartame approved. This is documented by a UPI investigation and congressional record. The day after Reagan took office Arthur Hayes was appointed as FDA Commissioner to get it approved.

“Reagan knew it might take 30 days to get Hayes installed, so he wrote an Executive Order making the outgoing FDA Commissioner powerless to act against aspartame before he departed. Then the FDA set up a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) that revoked Reagan’s petition for approval because it had not been proved safe and causes brain tumors. Hayes overruled the PBOI and let slip the hounds of disease, disability and death on an innocent, unwarned population. Soon he became a consultant for the NutraSweet Company’s public relations outfit on a 10-year contract at $1,000/day. Hayes then refused to talk to the press.”

In 1981, the Reagan FDA approved aspartame in dry food and in 1983, aspartame was approved for use in soda pop. In 1985 Rumsfeld’s Searle was acquired by Monsanto, making Rumsfeld rich and Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries! And the rest, as they say, is history.

Suffice it to say, I passed on the chemically-contaminated chewing gum. I have learned to avoid swallowing synthetic flavor enhancers (or other chemicals in food) whenever I am able, preferring to use natural, unrefined and unbleached table sugar if I feel the need to sweeten tea or coffee. Understanding the chemical breakdown products of aspartame informed my decision long ago and will help the readers to try to break their diet pop habits also. It is my professional duty to warn.

Each molecule of NutraSweet, when it reaches a temperature of 86 degrees F (recall that the body’s normal temperature is 98.6 and warehouses in the summer’s sun can reach temperatures far higher than that)) breaks down into its two amino acids (a molecule each of phenylalanine and aspartic acid, both excitotoxins) and a molecule of methanol (wood alcohol!) which then metabolizes into formaldehyde (embalming fluid and a known carcinogen), formic acid (the acid that causes the intense itching from the prickles of burning weed) and diketopiperazine (a known carcinogen).

Perhaps a small amount of any of these toxins can be tolerated by some people, especially those who are well nourished, but I wouldn’t want to take the chance, for there is too much evidence for its being a poison. The long list of neurodegenerative, psychological and other health problems aspartame can cause can be found here. They include seizures, multiple sclerosis, headaches, lupus, insomnia, fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression, anxiety and dozens more.

If that isn’t enough to convince readers to gradually withdraw (diet soda is also addictive) from your NutraSweet habit, it might give you extra motivation if you recall the list of evil geniuses listed above that have played a part in this tragedy.

There, you’ve been warned.

(Coming up soon, an expose on another toxic artificial sweetener that is in a lot of food products, the trichlorinated sucrose molecule sucralose (Splenda), once marketed as a pesticide in Japan.)

For more on the health-destroying properties of aspartame, check out these resources: Dorway to Discovery ASPARTAMEKILLS.COM

Gary G. Kohls. MD, is a retired family practitioner, who specialized in holistic and preventive mental health care in Duluth, Minnesota.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

What’s Missing From Every Media Story about H1N1 Influenza

May 4, 2009

What’s Missing From Every Media Story about H1N1 Influenza

If you read the stories on H1N1 influenza written by the mainstream media, you might incorrectly think there’s only one anti-viral drug in the world. It’s name is Tamiflu and it’s in short supply.

That’s astonishing to hear because the world is full of anti-viral medicine found in tens of thousands of different plants. Culinary herbs like thyme, sage and rosemary are anti-viral. Berries and sprouts are anti-viral. Garlic, ginger and onions are anti-viral. You can’t walk through a grocery store without walking past a hundred or more anti-viral medicines made by Mother Nature.

And yet how many does the mainstream media mention? Zero.

The totality of influenza preparedness is defined by the mainstream media as the number of doses of Tamiflu a nation has stockpiled. You see it in stories like this one at the Wall Street Journal:…

Tamiflu comes from an herb
To live in a world that’s saturated with natural anti-viral medicine and then not even acknowledge it in the media is beyond bizarre. It’s Twilight Zone-like. It’s like we’ve been teleported to an alternate universe where anti-viral plants have disappeared… or at least everyone is pretending they have.

Where do you think Tamiflu comes from, by the way?

It’s extracted from the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb called Star Anise. It’s one of hundreds of different anti-viral herbs found in Chinese Medicine, not to even mention anti-viral herbs from South America, North America, Australia, Africa and other regions.

I find it downright comedic that Big Pharma and the world’s health authorities extract their “champion” anti-viral drug Tamiflu from a Chinese Medicine herb, and then they go out of their way to announce to people that herbs and natural remedies are useless against influenza. If that’s the case then why are they using herbs to make their own medicine?

How many stories have you read that bother to tell you Tamiflu is made from the star anise herb that’s been used for over 5,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine? Virtually none. The powers that be don’t want anybody to know they could actually grow their own medicine in a garden or a windowsill. If you can grow cilantro, you can grow medicine. If everybody figured that out, Big Pharma wouldn’t be reaping the enormous profits it’s making right now from Tamiflu sales, and the governments of the world wouldn’t be able to scare and control people by promising to distribute Tamiflu (but only if you behave).

The Tamiflu scam is global
H1N1 influenza is not a hoax. But the way it’s being reported by health authorities and the mainstream media certainly is. The scam in all this is what they leave out of the stories — the fact that human beings live among a huge natural medicine chest of anti-viral drugs found in every city park, every forest, every swamp and every open field.

You cannot walk across any patch of natural land in America and NOT find anti-viral medicine. It’s everywhere! It’s in the weeds growing in the cracks in the sidewalks; it’s in weeds on the side of the stream; and it’s growing in the small patch of dirt left remaining in the median between highway lanes.

In the deserts of the American Southwest, you can’t even drive to work without passing mile after mile of abundant anti-viral medicine grown by Mother Nature and just waiting for humans to wake up and be smart enough to recognize it.

I have a sobering prediction about H1N1 influenza (formerly “swine flu”): If it does become a global pandemic, many of those people who refuse to recognize the anti-viral medicine provided by Mother Nature will die. Their misplaced faith in Big Pharma will literally cost them their lives. In contrast, those who have the wisdom to get their medicine from Mother Nature will not only survive the pandemic, they’ll thrive even as others around them are dying. It is those who embrace Mother Nature’s powerful, synergistic and living medicines who will weather any pandemic storm, and they will emerge as the DNA holders of the future of human civilization.

Attorney: Leukemia caused by additive

May 3, 2009

Attorney: Leukemia caused by additive

Poultry companies added dangerous arsenic to chicken feed, but they never warned poultry growers, people who spread chicken litter or children at schools, an attorney told jurors in Washington County Circuit Court on Friday.

Fayetteville attorney Jason Hatfield said the bags containing the arsenic-laced feed additives contain danger warnings, but poultry companies chose not to pass it along.

“Only the companies knew the dangers,” said Hatfield, who represents a Prairie Grove man who is suing Tyson Foods, George’s Farms, Peterson Farms and Simmons Foods.

The lawsuit filed in 2003 by the parents of Michael “Blu” Green, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 1999, alleges poultry producers used chicken feed with Roxarsone, a feed additive that includes arsenic, which led to cancercausing litter.

Attorneys for the poultry companies argued Roxarsone has been safely mixed with feed for 50 years to help keep chickens healthy and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They claim the testimony of worldclass scientists will show that the plaintiff’s case is based on faulty science.

Green lost his previous case against the feed additive maker, but this second trial is against the poultry companies, which were dismissed from the last case before it went to the jury for deliberation.

After a three-week trial in 2006, a jury took 21 minutes to reach its verdict in favor of feed additive maker Alpharma.

However, an Arkansas Supreme Court decision last May ruled that poultry producers can go to trial in the lawsuit, reversing the judge’s granting of a pre-trial motion that eliminated poultry producers as defendants.

Hatfield told jurors Friday poultry litter was spread on pastures near the Prairie Grove schools during the 1990s and that this caused Green and three others to develop leukemia.

Hatfield dismissed the poultry companies’ claim their FDA approved feed additive is safe.

“It’s not FDA approved to dump on children,” he said. “You have to bring common sense in the jury box. When you dump carcinogens on children, some of them will get sick.”

He said dust samples taken from the attics of homes show high levels of arsenic, which he said experts will testify can be linked to Roxarsone contained in the chicken feed.

Steven Quattlebaum, an attorney for Tyson Foods, agreed with Hatfield that high exposure levels of arsenic is known to cause cancers, but he said the studies show that it increases the risk of cancers of the lung, kidney, bladder and skin – not leukemia.

Quattlebaum noted that arsenic is everywhere. It’s the 28th most common element in the earth’s crust and is safe at low levels.

A gag order prevents the parties and the attorneys from making any comments to the media about this case.

Confirmed swine flu cases leapConfirmed swine flu cases leap

May 1, 2009

Confirmed swine flu cases leap

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) — Confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide increased to 257 on Thursday, up significantly from the previous day’s total of 147, the World Health Organization reported.
Mask-wearing people buy coffee and doughnuts Thursday morning in Mexico City, Mexico.

Mask-wearing people buy coffee and doughnuts Thursday morning in Mexico City, Mexico.
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In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has confirmed 109 cases of swine flu, or 2009 H1N1, in 11 states, an increase of 18 from its previous total.

The death toll climbed again Thursday, with Mexican officials announcing that the number of confirmed deaths from the virus in that country had increased to 12. There has been one death in the United States.

More than 150 deaths in Mexico are suspected to have been caused by swine flu and are being investigated, officials there said.

Mexico, with 97 confirmed infections, showed the biggest increase in the world, WHO said. There were 26 confirmed cases there a day earlier.

The higher totals do not necessarily mean that incidence of the disease is increasing, but rather that health investigators are getting through their backlog of specimens, said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general of WHO.

The latest tally was announced one day after WHO raised the pandemic threat level to 5 on a six-step scale. WHO did not change the threat level Thursday.

“There is nothing epidemiologically that points to us today that we should be moving toward Phase 6,” Fukuda said. Video Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta demystify pandemics »

The level 5 designation means infection from the outbreak that originated in Mexico has been jumping from person-to-person with relative ease.
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“It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general. “We do not have all the answers right now, but we will get them.” Photo View images of responses in U.S. and worldwide »

In addition to Mexico and the United States, WHO said, the following countries have confirmed non-lethal cases: Austria (1), Canada (19), Germany (3), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (3), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (8).

An additional 230 cases are being investigated in the United Kingdom, and Spain has 84 suspected cases. See where cases have been confirmed »

On Thursday, Japan reported its first suspected case, which has not been verified by WHO.

In the United States, New York has the most confirmed cases, with 50, followed by Texas, with 26. California has 14 cases.

The CDC on Thursday added an 11th state, South Carolina, with 10 cases.

“There are many more states that have suspect cases, and we will be getting additional results over time,” said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

By Monday, he said, all states will have additional antiviral drugs from the Strategic National Stockpile that can be given to people at high risk for flu. There hasn’t been a decision on whether to attempt making a vaccine specifically for H1N1, he said.

Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and can jump to humans. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Learn about swine flu »

But the 2009 H1N1 virus is a hybrid of swine, avian and human strains, and no vaccine has been developed for it.

The U.S. government has stockpiled 50 million courses of antiviral medication to treat swine flu, Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said Thursday. The states have another 23 million and the Department of Defense has millions more, she said.

Napolitano said some of those treatments, along with gloves, masks and other medical equipment, were being shipped to affected states on Thursday.

“More [will] continue to get distributed every day until we’re complete,” she said.

Nearly 300 U.S. schools with confirmed or possible H1N1 cases were closed Thursday, affecting about 169,000 students, the U.S. Department of Education reported. No colleges or universities were known to be closed, the agency said.

Napolitano said parents of children whose schools closed should keep them at home instead of taking them out in public.

“The entire purpose is to limit exposure,” she said. “If a school is closed, the guidance is and the request is to keep your young ones home.”

Reacting to comments earlier in the day by Vice President Joe Biden, who said he has advised his family to avoid “confined spaces” such as airplanes and subways, Besser said, “If you have a fever and flu-like symptoms, you should not be getting on an airplane. That is part of being a responsible part of our community. You don’t want to put people at risk.

“I think flying is safe, going on the subway is safe. People should go out and live their lives,” he said, but added, “There is shared responsibility when it comes to preventing infectious diseases, shared responsibility when it comes to fighting a new infection for which we have incomplete information.”Video Go behind the scenes at the CDC »

One death from swine flu was confirmed in the United States this week. A toddler from Mexico died at a Houston, Texas, hospital Monday.

Nowhere in the world is the crisis more severe than in Mexico, where the first cases were detected. All schools in the nation have been closed, and about 35,000 public venues in Mexico City were shut down or told to serve only take-out meals.

The Mexican government will close all nonessential government offices and businesses starting Friday. Video Watch how Mexican authorities are dealing with the outbreak »

Mexican President Felipe Calderon took to television late Wednesday night, saying the country has enough medicine to cure the sick.

“In times of difficulty, we’ve always come together,” he said. “Together we will overcome this disease.”

In the United States, President Obama called on schools with confirmed or possible swine flu cases to consider closing temporarily.