Diesel Fumes Now Considered to be a Major Health Hazard

If you are in a metropolitan area and stare into the sky, you will see that the air has a haze-like quality to it. This is likely because the air is tainted with fumes emitted by factories and the thousands of vehicles on the highway.

For the most part, city dwellers are so use to it that it no longer affects them. For them, a smoggy sky is the norm. While it has long been known that diesel fumes pose a health risk, it was never considered a serious threat. However, the World Health Organization is now reconsidering and has plans to upgrade the threat level, which would put diesel fumes on the same level as secondhand smoke.

The odds of developing cancer from exposure to exhaust fumes is minimal, but because so many residents of large cities breathe it in in some form or another, the panel is in talks to elevate the risk status from “probable carcinogen” to “carcinogen.” This would put diesel exhaust in the same classification as passive smoking.

Anyone who lives in an urban area is at a high risk of daily exposure. This includes pedestrians, crew members who work on ships and ports, big rig drivers and heavy machinery operators.

The health panel consisted of members of the International Agency for Research on Cancer and was held in Lyons, France. The potential danger of diesel exhaust has not been considered since 1989 and was then labeled as a probable carcinogen. With the reclassification, it now holds the same status as other hazards, such as ultraviolet radiation and asbestos.

The U.S. government, in the meantime, still lists diesel exhaust as only a likely carcinogen. Officials said this was due to newer vehicle models that emit less fumes. While the overall risk factor has gone down due to more eco-friendly technology, there is still enough for health and environment experts to remain concerned.

Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Soft Drinks

Common sense will tell you that any drink loaded with sugar is not exactly a healthy beverage. Even then, refreshments like soda are consumed by millions of people on a daily basis. The irresistible taste and fizz of a soda pop is just so insatiable for some that the immediate satisfaction of having one outweighs the health risks.

A new study now shows that sugar is not the only factor you should be concerned with when consuming soda. A recent study found that most soda beverages – including the globally popular Coke and Pepsi – contain a caramel coloring ingredient that is linked to cancer. The ingredient in question is a chemical known as 4-methylimidazole, also known more simply as 4-MI. The coloring is not derived from natural caramel; it is produced using a mixture of chemicals that involves ammonia.

4-MI has been shown to induce cancer in lab rats, though whether it can have the same harmful effect on humans remains unknown at this time. 4-MI is found in both regular and diet soda. The amount found in a 12-ounce can exceeds the limit that is recommended by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Despite the health risks posed by 4-MI, health experts insist that there is no cause for alarm. The dosage in a single serving is practically negligible. High fructose corn syrup is a far more serious health risk factor than 4-MI.

There are hundreds of reasons you shouldn’t be drinking soda; its contents are nothing but empty calories, it has no nutritional benefits, and it can lead to obesity. However, 4-MI does not appear to be one of those reasons you should be concerned over. As long as you have soda in moderation, then there is no need to worry about any harm from being exposed to a little caramel coloring.

Lance Armstrong: A Champion on Two Fronts

If you’ve never heard the name Lance Armstrong, you must have been living under a rock for the last decade. Winning the prestigious Tour de France bicycle race for the seventh consecutive year in 2005 made Armstrong one of the most celebrated athletes in the world. But if this is no easy feat on its own – imagine winning all of these races after recovering from testicular cancer – this is Armstrong’s story and this is why he is a champion on two fronts.

Picture to the right: “David Gerstein Armstrong Bike Rider Free Standing Sculpture
David Gerstein "Armstrong Bike Rider" Free Standing Sculpture
Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1971, in Plano, Texas, near the major city of Dallas. His parents were divorced when he was just a small child, and his mother, Linda, who was only seventeen years old when she had Lance, was left to raise her son on her own. When Lance was three, his mother married Terry Armstrong, who adopted him. Later, Linda and Terry were also divorced, and Linda was once again a single mother. Lance often credits his mother for instilling in him the drive and motivation that makes him such a champion.

When he was seven years old, Linda bought Armstrong his first bike. It was a Schwinn Mag Scrambler. When he was in the fifth grade, Lance began running six miles a day after school, and soon was entering long-distance running competitions on weekends. Armstrong also tried team sports like football, baseball, and basketball, but found that he was better at activities which require much endurance. When he joined the local swim club, Lance would ride his bike ten miles to practices early in the morning and then pedal to school. And after school he would jump back on his bike and ride ten miles back to the club to swim more laps.

At age thirteen, Armstrong took home the “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” top prize at the IronKids Triathlon, which includes swimming 200 meters, cycling 6.2 miles, and running 1.2 miles.

In 1987, at age sixteen, Armstrong turned professional in the triathlon. In the same year he was invited to be tested by the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research in Houston, Texas. Researchers measured the amount of oxygen his lungs consumed during exercise and found that Armstrong’s oxygen levels were the highest the clinic ever recorded, which meant that his lung capacity, critical for endurance, made him a natural athlete.

In 1990 Lance became the U.S. National Amateur Champion. In the next year he won Italy’s eleven-day Settimana Bergamasca race, and in 1992, he competed in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. He came in 14th place, and immediately turned professional.

Throughout the next few years Lance dominated in the world circuit.

But on October 2, 1996, just a few weeks after his twenty-fifth birthday, tragedy hit. The young cyclist was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had also spread to his lungs, abdomen, lymph nodes, and brain. Doctors predicted a less than 40% chance for recovery.

Well, the champion read everything he could about the disease and changed his diet, giving up coffee, dairy products, and red meat. After consulting his doctors, Armstrong opted to forego the traditional treatment for brain tumors – radiation. Instead doctors performed surgery to remove his tumors, and then administered an alternative and aggressive form of chemotherapy.

Between rounds of chemotherapy Lance continued to ride his bicycle as much as he could. On February of 1997, he was declared cancer-free.

Being dropped by his former sponsors just pushed Armstrong harder upon his return to the circuit – he eventually won the Tour de Luxembourg. And then went on to be victorious in every Tour de France over the next five years. On July 25, 2004, he set a new Tour de France record by taking home the top prize for the sixth consecutive year.

He formed the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) in 1997. He has emerged as a leading spokesman and activist in the fight against cancer. Because of its many fund-raising and education-based initiatives, the foundation has become recognized throughout the world.

Smoking Laws are on the Rise and so is Cigarette Smoke

cigarette manTo think that cigarette smoking among adults is on a steady decline and has been since the 70’s or 80’s is actually false. Check out some of this new data:

For the first time in 15 years, cigarette smoking slightly rose this year. About 21% of U.S. adults said that they smoked. This report comes from a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This rate is up from 19.8% last year. It is the first increase in adult smoking since 1994.

Because of indoor smoking laws, taxes and a recent decision by congress to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco, it is a fallacy to believe that everyone in the country has stopped the disgusting habit. Tobacco companies are obviously overcoming these new and growing obstacles.

The tobacco industry has been discounting the price of cigarettes, in an attempt to offset tax increases and marketing to kids and minorities has not stopped either.

Between 1997 and 2004, the retail price of a pack of cigarettes, jumped 63% and adult smoking declined about 15%. Between 2004 and 2008, the price rose just 2%, while adult smoking declined by just about 1%.

Cigarette smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death and illness in the U.S. – despite the dropping smoker’s rate since the mid-60’s, when 2 out of 5 adults smoked. Now the ratio is 1 to 5.

The states which have the lowest smoking rates are those that have been the most aggressive about indoor smoking laws and about state taxes which drive up the cost of cigarettes.

800 Year Old Apple The Healthiest

It’s called the Pendragon apple, and it’s been grown in England since the 12th century.

“Of all the organic varieties, Pendragon was the best apple variety and contained seven of the eight kinds of healthy components at the highest levels,” said pharmacist Michael Wakeman, who, like most of the people quoted on the internet, does not get specific enough and it annoys me. At least, the sound bites all sound too general. What are the components, man?

ApplesHere’s a little more information I found. The apples were tested for a range of plant compounds which have been linked to reducing cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar levels. They also had anti-cancer properties, which we’re always for.

And here’s something interesting. The fact that they (organic apples I mean) aren’t grown with pesticides, means that they have to naturally develop more immunity to bugs and pests. Those compounds that the apples naturally develop to protect themselves are the very ones that are the healthy ones. This is theoretical, but it sounds logical, and could prove to be correct with a little more research. We’ll keep you updated.

His findings come just weeks after the Food Standards Agency found little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and non-organic foods.

“This research confirms that while some measures of organic versus non-organic food benefits might appear equivocal, more sophisticated analysis of compounds which are newly recognized as being of importance to good health do show a significant difference.” Until the next study comes out of course.

My opinion is that this is less of an issue of personal health than it is an issue of planetary health. It just seems right that plants should be protecting themselves instead of being pesticided to death, and the planet doesn’t seem to like when people do that too much.

The Pendragon is not available to buy in supermarkets and had to be obtained by the researchers from a private orchard that specializes in conserving old varieties of fruit.

The anti-cancer compounds the apples were tested for are called phenols, which evidence shows may fight the development of lung cancer.

Divorce May Lead to Heart Disease

Divorce Dictionary

Apparently, divorce can be bad for your health. So can being widowed. So says Linda Waite, a sociologist at the University of Chicago. Leave it to sociologists to make such amazingly innovative observations.

But here’s the data she found. Divorced and widowed people have 20 percent more chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer than married people. They even have 23 percent more limitations on their movements, like walking, climbing nonfunctional escalators (or stairs), or doing ballet. Ha ha, that last one was not part of the survey, but I’m guessing it’s true anyway. In all seriousness, though, her survey included the health of 8,652 middle-aged people with different marital histories. There were big differences between those who stayed married and those who divorced.

Though it’s obvious that divorce is just a bit stressful, Waite found that people who remarried still retain the scars of the damage done by the original divorce.

In the surveys, health was assessed in four categories. They are chronic conditions, mobility, symptoms of depression, and what respondents thought of their own state of health.

Here are some more sociological observations Waite made: (Warning: the self-evidence of these may cause temporary blurring of vision.) “Married men have better health habits. They lead a cleaner, healthier life, and less times in bars and eat better. Women tend to manage men’s interactions with the medical system, get him in for a colonoscopy and make sure he gets a flu shot.”

Now that we know, and with Swine Flu on the rise, it’s more important than ever to grab a wife, hold her down, and make her force you go to a proctologist immediately.

Mark Heyward, another sociologist at the University of Texas, found in a similar study that divorce has a lasting impact on cardiovascular disease, even after remarriage, by as much as 60 percent.

Even so, we’ll go out on a limb and make the claim that being stuck in a miserable marriage can also be bad for your arteries. So the best advice is, if your marriage is just boring and you need to revitalize it, try doing that instead of getting divorced. It’ll save you on medical bills and keep your arteries nice and smooth. If you really hate each other’s guts, then you can get out of it if you need to.

Picture a divorce as a guy with a jackhammer drumming on your cardiovascular system as you sit in divorce proceedings and discuss dividing property, visitation rights with kids, and other things that may make you choke. Your system, says Heyward, may never go back to original condition after that.

Something not so obvious is that those who never married are usually better off than people who married, lost a spouse through divorce or death, and didn’t get remarried. I remember seeing 40-year-old cousins of my wife who have never been married looking just a few years older than me, and I’m 25. Though I think that’s more of a function of not having kids and not having to deal with changing soiled diapers several times a day. I’m think that could add decades to your lifespan, at least.

Chemo Treatment Worse Than Cancer Itself?

One of the most painful decisions a parent must make is which treatment to authorize in order to save the life of cancer stricken child. Whether it be radiation isotopes, bone marrow transplants or various types of chemotherapy “cocktails”, subjecting a young person to them can be a very traumatic and painful experience and often doesn’t save the patient anyway, while subjecting them to substances that many consider to be a form of poison. Many people believe there are natural ways to treat various forms of cancer, and this direction appears to be becoming more popular than undergoing the normally prescribed ones endorsed by the medical profession.

Forced ChemoSuch is the case of 13 year old Daniel Hauser, whose parents have been refusing to have him undergo chemotherapy that they consider to be nothing short of lethal poison. The case reached its climax on Tuesday, when a Minneapolis judge agreed to return the youngster back to the custody of his parents, when they agreed to have him undergo the treatments.

Danny had started “chemo” in Janaury, due to the advancement of his malignancy, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which has resulted in a tumor reaching the size of an orange in chest. His parents, Coleen and Anthony, belong to a religious sect that considers all such medicines to be harmful to the body, and even tried to flee the US to Mexico to avoid subjecting Danny to the treatments.

Danny and his parents aren’t the only ones who consider chemotherapy treatments to be poisonous as the drugs often destroy normal tissue as well as tumors. Persons in the medical field, including prominent oncologists, have a different opinion, however as they claim that the boy has a “90% chance for recovery” if he completes the treatments, against only a 5% chance if he doesn’t. Anybody who has undergone chemotherapy, knows that the injection of these chemicals into the body results in a lot more discomfort that merely losing one’s hair or appetite. The adverse reactions to these treatments, including severe cramps, nausea and retching (often with the inability to keep any kind of food down at all), as well as other “side effects’ make these treatments worse than doing “cold turkey” to kick a heroin drug habit.

Danny’s parents only agreed to have their son resume the treatments, after they reached the conclusion that this would be the only way they could have custody of their son, who would anyway be subjected to the treatments by an order of the court. Whether or not the boy undergoes the remaining 4 treatments (or perhaps even five, since his tumor has enlarged further), may now depend on whether or not Danny himself agrees to receive the treatments. This is a dilemma that is very difficult for any family to make, as many people believe that there are natural remedies to the treatment of all forms of cancer including ones like Hodgkin’s Disease and Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After all, there’s got to be something better out there for treating cancer, than poison.

Omega 3 Oils for Prostate Cancer

For all men with enlarged prostate glands, and especially those with early stages of prostate cancer, there may now be a treatment available that is relatively inexpensive and completely painless. In addition this same treatment will protect you against cardio vascular diseases as well. And to make it even more worthwhile, this product can be purchased in bulk sizes and can be found in a number of retail and discount stores, ranging from pharmacies to mega-super markets like Wall Mart or Costco. And if you haven’t guessed the name of this product yet, it’s none other than Omega 3 oil, found in both certain “fatty” fish as well as flax seeds and other plants, including olives.

Omega 3 oils contain some essential fatty acids that appear to be wonderful in not only preventing prostate cancer but even treating existing cases. For those people who dislike fish or are on special vegan vegetarian diets, Omega 3 amounts are even higher amounts of Omega 3 oil than fish. The idea of treating prostate conditions by Omega 3 oils has come partially from research made on men from Asian countries like Japan who eat large quantities of fatty fish ( tuna in particular) and have much lower percentages of both heart disease and prostate cancer than those from western countries. Fish receive the omega 3 fatty acids either directly from easting seaweed or from eating fish that eat the seaweed (i.e. the food chain). Men living in western countries have a disproportionate imbalance between Omega 6 fatty acids, which cause heart disease and cancer, and Omega 3 ones, which actually inhibit these diseases.

Women also benefit greatly from diets high in Omega 3 which not only lower risks of heart disease but breast cancer as well.

Omega 3 fatty acids contain folic acid (vitamin B-9) and lycopene, that bright red pigment found in tomatoes and other red fruit, such as bell peppers. Lycopene has been found to be excellent in the prevention of prostate cancer.

When looking for Omega 3 food supplements, be sure to check to see whether the processing involved in manufacturing is cold processed and not heat processed. Heat processing destroys much of the nutritional value of the oil. If you like fish, however, eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or mackerel may be your best source of Omega 3. People preferring more natural and organic food product sources can find excellent amounts of Omega 3 oil in flaxseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados.