Skip to content

Some good news for women and breast cancer. We are all exposed to endocrine disruptors  around us - such as in personal care items, some household items, some medical devices and medications, plastic raincoats, and vinyl flooring. Phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors, are used as plasticizers in many of these products. We can lower our exposure to phthalates, but can't totally eliminate it. So a big question is: Is exposure to phthalates linked to breast cancer?

Animal and laboratory studies suggest that a number of phthalates have carcinogenic effects (cancer causing), but several retrospective studies of women had mixed results regarding whether higher phthalate levels are associated with breast cancer or not. But now a large study (the Women's Health Initiative) that followed postmenopausal women for 2 decades has found that phthalate levels are not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

The 1257 women (average age 62 1/2 years at the start) in the study gave either 2 or 3 urine samples (once a year) during the first 2 or 3 years of the study, and the urine was analyzed for a number of phthalates. Then the women were followed for 19 years. The researchers found some "suggestive associations", but nothing significant. Whew... We can breathe sigh of relief.

However, there are some real problems with the study. While it does not look likely that phthalates have a large effect, smaller associations are possible, which the researchers discuss.

1) One big problem is that phthalates are rapidly metabolized and excreted from the body, so that the levels can vary tremendously from one point in time to another. (Half of phthalate metabolites are excreted in urine within 12 to 24 hours of exposure.) And the researchers did find that "phthalate biomarker concentrations exhibited high within-person variability over a 3 year period".  More urine samples should have been taken from the women - not just one a year for 2 or 3 years. This study did not look at who routinely got exposed to high levels of phthalates and who wasn't. Half of phthalate metabolites are excreted in urine within 12 to 24 hours of exposure. Just having a week with lots of fast food could raise phthalate levels (the chemicals leach in from the packaging). See why only one measurement a year is inadequate?

2) Another big problem is that most of the postmenopausal women - whether with breast cancer or not, were using hormone therapy - in the past or during the study. As the researchers point out: "Because phthalates are far less estrogenic than hormone therapy formulations, it is possible that hormone therapy use may mask any true effect of phthalate exposure on breast cancer risk." 3) And the last big issue to think about is that this study did not look at early life exposures to phthalates, such as during puberty when the breasts are developing. Other studies suggest that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals are important during critical periods of life, especially earlier in life (e.g. adolescence). Looking just at phthalate exposure of postmenopausal women may be too late.

According to studies and the CDCalmost everyone in the United States is exposed to phthalates in varying degrees, especially by eating and drinking food and liquid that has come in contact with containers and products containing the chemicals, and by inhaling indoor air that has phthalates in the dust. Adult women tend to have higher exposure to certain phthalates (it's measured in the urine) that are used in soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and similar personal care products.  ...continue reading "Breast Cancer and Endocrine Disruptors"

Today's topic: BIRTH. Two recent studies have results that question some current medical practices, which are when to cut the umbilical cord, and hospital vs home birth differences in the baby's gut microbes.

The first study makes a case against the current practice of cutting the umbilical cord immediately after birth. University of Rhode Island researchers found that delaying umbilical cord clamping for more than 5 minutes transfers iron rich blood from the placenta to the baby (resulting in about a 30% increase in blood volume). This resulted in babies at 4 months of age having higher iron storage (ferritin) levels and increased brain myelination. Myelin is a fatty material that wraps around nerve cell fibers - think of it as insulation of the brain's wiring.

The second study found that birth at home results in a more diverse microbiome (microbial community) in the baby at birth and one month later - when compared to babies born in hospitals. This study was conducted in the Hudson Valley region of NY state. All babies were born vaginally and were breastfed. Hospital born babies had decreased levels of some bacteria and increased levels of other bacteria (e.g. Clostridium - with other studies finding that higher levels in children is associated with an increased risk of asthma). It was suggested that certain hospital practices may be causing this (sterile drapes, antibiotics, etc.). 

From Medical Xpress: Study shows benefits of delayed cord clamping in healthy babies

A five-minute delay in the clamping of healthy infants' umbilical cords results in increased iron stores and brain myelin in areas important for early-life functional development, a new University of Rhode Island nursing study has found.  ...continue reading "Birth, Cord Clamping, and Some Microbial Differences"

The horrible disease called chronic wasting disease (CWD) is spreading among deer, moose, and elk throughout the US and Canada, and reindeer in Norway. This prion disease is similar to "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in cattle, scrapie in sheep and goats, or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.  In CWD the brains become progressively like sponges - riddled with holes, along with deterioration in brain function, behavioral changes, and eventually death. Especially worrisome is that it is an infectious disease.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in January 2019 that chronic wasting disease has been reported in deer, moose, and elk across 26 US states and 3 Canadian provinces - in both free ranging herds and also some captive herds (such as in ranches and game farms). The following excerpts are from the  CDC site on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose. It has been found in some areas of North America, including Canada and the United States, Norway and South Korea. It may take over a year before an infected animal develops symptoms, which can include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness and other neurologic symptoms. CWD can affect animals of all ages and some infected animals may die without ever developing the disease. CWD is fatal to animals and there are no treatments or vaccines.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain ...continue reading "Can A Person Get Chronic Wasting Disease From Eating Infected Meat?"

The following is a really nice article about endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can interfere with the body's hormonal system). Journalist Hillary Brueck writes about where they are found (all around us!), some of the many negative health effects, and about NYU physician and researcher Dr. Leonardo Trasande and his new book: "Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future ... and What We Can Do About It." Also, some things we can do to lower our exposure to endocrine disruptors.

By the way, once again Europe is ahead of the US in dealing with this problem. Excerpts from Business Insider: A toxic-chemicals expert is sounding the alarm about 4 cancer-linked chemicals that could be making us sicker and fatter

Through the course of a single day, your hands, mouth, and body come in contact with countless pieces of paper, plastic, fabric, and furniture. You probably don't think about the chemicals these substances might harbor, or consider that they have a drug-like effect on health. But some do. They can make metabolisms slow down, subtly lower IQs, contribute to ADHD in children, and mess with sperm counts in men.

They're called "endocrine disruptors," and they're around us all the time. The chemicals change how our bodies work by shifting the way hormones operate, according to Leo Trasande, a pediatrician and public-health researcher at NYU Langone Health. "Hormones are the basic signaling molecules in our body that take on so many actions for practically every organ system," Trasande told Business Insider. "And endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that scramble those signals, contributing to disease and disability."

In his new book, "Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future ... and What We Can Do About It," Trasande lays out the four big categories of endocrine disruptors he's most concerned about, based on evidence from scientific studies and observations in his patients. They are: Bisphenols, like BPA, which are often found in the linings of aluminum-canned food and drinks and on cash-register receipts. Brominated flame retardants that are in some carpets, furniture, and clothing. Synthetic pesticides on food. "Plasticizer chemicals" called phthalates that show up in plastic food packaging, lotions, and cosmetics.  ...continue reading "New Book Warning Us About Endocrine Disruptors"

Bug bombs don't work in reducing cockroach infestations. At all. A study comparing bug bombs vs gel baits found that while big bombs didn't reduce German cockroach numbers, the baits did. And on top of that, even when used correctly (according to directions) the bug bombs resulted in a lot of pesticide residue throughout the residences - at 6 hours after being used, and one month later. The technical name for bug bombs is total release foggers. Different brands of bug bombs, with different pesticides,  were used in the study - two different kinds of Hot-Shot No-Mess Foggers and two different kinds of Raid foggers. The gel baits used were Combat Insect Control Systems and Maxforce Gel Bait.

The North Carolina State Univ. researchers pointed out that one major problem with bug bombs is that cockroaches have built up resistance to the pesticides used. Another problem is that their use in residences results in pesticide residues, even one month later. That means that people living there will breathe in or ingest the pesticide residues. Which can lead to health problems.

On the other hand, there was no pesticide residue from the baits in the residences. And they reduced numbers of cockroaches. Using baits for cockroach control is a wonderful example of Integrated Pest Management - a least-toxic way of dealing with pests using various methods (e.g. baits, traps, fixing holes, vacuuming pests). Even though they were not used in the study, one should also consider bait gels containing boric acid.

From Beyond Pesticides: Bug Bombs Don't  Work - At All, According to Study

Bug bombs are completely ineffective at reducing German cockroach infestations, according to new research published in the journal BMC Public Health.  Not only are they ineffective, research indicates that these products are putting people at unnecessary risk.  “In a cost-benefit analysis, you’re getting all costs and no benefits,” said Zachary DeVries, PhD, co-author of the study. “Bug bombs are not killing cockroaches; they’re putting pesticides in places where the cockroaches aren’t; they’re not putting pesticides in places where cockroaches are and they’re increasing pesticide levels in the home.” ...continue reading "Bug Bombs Don’t Reduce Cockroach Numbers"

Once again a study found benefits from exercise - specifically that regular exercise is better for the brain and for thinking skills (for "executive function"). Executive function is a person's ability to regulate his or her own behavior, pay attention, manage new information and unexpected challenges, to plan, organize, and achieve goals. Executive functioning can decline in older adults - "age-related declines". So it's definitely beneficial to prevent or slow down a decline in thinking skills.

In this study 132 individuals (aged 20 to 67 years) living in New York City were either randomly assigned to a stretching group or an aerobic exercise group for 6 months. They were given a number of tests (at the start, at 3 mos, and at 6 mos.) to measure executive function, memory, IQ, etc. After 6 months the aerobic exercise group had a number of benefits (compared to the stretching group): they reduced their BMI (body mass index), they increased the cortical thickness in a part of their brain (this is good), and they had improved executive function thinking. The researchers found that the aerobic exercise showed more benefit to older adults than the younger adults.

How much did the aerobic group exercise? The individuals had 4 sessions a week of aerobic exercise (stationary cycling, treadmill, elliptical machine) which consisted of 10 to 15 minutes of warm-up/cool down, and 30 to 40 minutes of exercise. Note that at the start of the study all persons were healthy, sedentary non-exercisers - with "below median aerobic capacity". Meaning that there is hope for all of us to benefit from regular exercise whether a young adult or over 60.

For those persons that dread going to a gym or spend money for exercise equipment  - you don't need it! Just get out and walk briskly, or ride a bicycle, climb stairs regularly - in other words, move! The goal is to get your heart pumping. From Science Daily -

Exercise may improve thinking skills in people as young as 20

Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or climbing stairs may improve thinking skills not only in older people but in young people as well, according to a study published in the January 30, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ...continue reading "Aerobic Exercise, Thinking Skills, and the Brain"

Does the pesticide glyphosate cause cancer or not? The latest in the controversy surrounding glyphosate (in Roundup), which is the most commonly used herbicide (weed-killer) in the world, is a journal article written by Dr. Charles Benbrook. He looked at why 2 government agencies came out with conflicting views regarding glyphosate - the EPA said glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans”, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers glyphosate as  “probably carcinogenic to humans". Benbrook points out a number of problems with the EPA designation. Uh oh.

It appears that the studies the EPA looked at were not as up to date (they ignored at least 27 recent studies), they relied heavily on the manufacturer's own studies (bias!!! after all, the manufacturer wants to sell the pesticide) rather than studies done by independent researchers, and the EPA ignored work that shows that the product Roundup (with its extra ingredients) is more toxic than glyphosate alone. But guess what - in the real world people are exposed to Roundup, not just to pure glyphosate.

Increasing numbers of studies are finding health effects (cancer, kidney problems, endocrine disruption, etc) from exposure to glyphosate, and it turns out we're exposed to it daily in the foods we eat (here, here). And yes, studies show that most of us have glyphosate residues in us (it can be measured in our urine). What is it doing to us to constantly eat foods with low doses of glyphosate residues? What about pregnant women and their unborn babies?

The investigative journalist Carey Gillam has been extensively following and writing for years about the controversies, the corruption, the unethical behavior of big-business (especially Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup), the close ties with Monsanto at the FDA, the refusal of US government agencies to test for glyphosate residues in our food, and the cover-ups surrounding Roundup (glyphosate). In 2017 her incredibly thorough and well-researched book about Roundup was published: Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science. Carey Gillum is also the author of the following article from Environmental Health News:

New analysis raises questions about EPA’s classification on glyphosate weed killer

A little more than a month ahead of a first-ever federal trial over the issue of whether or not Monsanto's popular weed killers can cause cancer, a new analysis raises troubling questions about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) handling of pertinent science on glyphosate safety ...continue reading "Researcher Says EPA Disregarded Evidence About Glyphosate and Cancer"

In the last few years a number of researchers have suggested that microbes may be triggering or somehow causing Alzheimer's disease. Various microbes have been suggested, and research is finding links with herpes viruses, fungi, other microbes, and gum disease (periodontal disease) microbes. Now another study proposes that the common bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis - which causes chronic periodontal disease, is linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers have suggested that during an initial infection, the "infectious agent" (viruses, etc.) reaches the central nervous system and brain, then stays there in latent form (inactive) for years. And then when the immune system declines with age (which is a normal part of aging) - the microbes (virus, fungi, etc.) become reactivated and cause inflammation and the chain of events leading to Alzheimer's disease.

Note that in the recent study implicating P. gingivalis - the Cortexyme, Inc. company is doing the research and they, of course, are developing a product - so beware of bias. Also, the research done so far is in the earliest stages. But...it is exciting to see if further research (from them and from others) supports some sort of microbe, or several types of microbes, behind the development of Alzheimer's disease. Will we find that there is an "infectious cause" of Alzheimer's disease ("infection-induced neuroinflammation")? Because this means that there is a way to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease - some sort of antimicrobial, antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal. Stay tuned for further research.... From Medical Xpress:

Bacterial pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis may contribute to Alzheimer's disease: Study

Cortexyme, Inc., a privately held, clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing therapeutics to alter the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other degenerative disorders, today announced publication of a foundational paper supporting its approach in Science Advances. In the paper, an international team of researchers led by Cortexyme co-founders Stephen Dominy, M.D. and Casey Lynch detail the role of a common bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), in driving Alzheimer's disease pathology, and demonstrate the potential for small molecule inhibitors to block the pathogen.  ...continue reading "Periodontal Disease Link to Alzheimer’s Disease?"

How many times have you heard to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes (beans), and seeds? Study after study finds that eating a diet rich in these foods is linked to all sorts of health benefits. A big reason is that they have lots of fiber - which feeds beneficial microbes in our gut. A recently published review of studies in the prestigious journal Lancet examined studies done over the past 40 years and found numerous health benefits.

The researchers found that people consuming high levels of dietary fiber and whole grains have a lower risk of death from heart disease (cardiovascular mortality) and death from any cause. They also have a lower incidence of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer (as compared to those eating less fiber). There was a dose-response effect - in other words, the more fiber eaten daily, the lower the incidence of these diseases and deaths. They also found that a high fiber diet is also linked to lower cholesterol levels, lower weight, and lower blood pressure.

This study viewed 25 to 29 grams per day as a high fiber diet, but said the findings suggest that higher levels of fiber would be even more protective. Which means put down that delicious white bread and sugary cereal and start eating whole grain foods! Nowadays the average person eats less than 20 grams of fiber per day, but guidelines say to eat at least 30 grams per day. The researchers pointed out that getting fiber from real food is best.

From Science Daily: High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases

People who eat higher levels of dietary fiber and whole grains have lower rates of non-communicable diseases compared with people who eat lesser amounts, while links for low glycaemic load and low glycaemic index diets are less clear. Observational studies and clinical trials conducted over nearly 40 years reveal the health benefits of eating at least 25g to 29g or more of dietary fiber a day, according to a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in The Lancet.  ...continue reading "Eating Lots of Fiber Has Health Benefits"

1

What else can the amazing beneficial bacteria Lactobacilus sakei treat? We know it can treat sinusitis (sinus infections) - based on the original Abreu et al (2012) research, personal experiences, and feedback from hundreds of people since I started this site in 2013. Can it treat bronchitis? Earaches? How about skin infections? L. sakei dominates over and inhibits growth of pathogenic bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Instead of using antibiotics - what else could L. sakei be used for?

I've been hearing interesting stories from people - a number of people have found that it (kimchi, sauerkraut with garlic, or a L. sakei product such as Lanto Sinus) works to treat coughs (bronchitis), or prevents upper respiratory infections from developing into serious sinus infections, gets rid of fungal balls in the sinuses, treats earaches, and even treats small skin infections. People have been using the various products in creative ways - all self-experimentation!

The experiences of some people contacting me, as well as family members - is that it treated bronchitis and coughs for which they would have taken antibiotics in the past - by swishing L. sakei powder (such as Lanto Sinus) in the mouth (but not in the nose). For example, one person reported that she occasionally gets bronchitis, but never sinusitis - and she successfully used Lanto Sinus to treat the bronchitis by swishing it in the mouth. The first two days she used it 2 x per day, and after that once per day until she felt better, but not totally well - and when she stopped the bronchitis (cough, phlegm) came back. So she used the L. sakei again until she felt totally healthy - and this time the cough stayed away. Since I personally know this person (we take walks together) I was able to observe her progress - cough & phlegm, then improvement, then backwards slide, and then total health when she used the product again. Hmmm... Definitely wasn't an imaginary effect or wishful thinking (placebo effect).

Not wanting to dab kimchi juice in the nostrils (the usual way to use kimchi) some gargled with kimchi juice and also swished it in the mouth and then didn't eat or drink for a while - but I don't know how the results compare to the usual kimchi method. One person dabbed kimchi juice in the ear for an earache and thought it helped (see Sinusitis Success Stories). For skin infections some individuals mixed L. sakei with a little water and applied to infection - this has been reported for both frozen Bactoferm F-RM-52 and refrigerated Lanto Sinus. But at any rate, the reports from people of various ways to use a L. sakei product are interesting. Just remember - this is all self-experimentation - which means results can be positive, negative, or no effect. And please be cautious!

For ways people use the various Lactobacillus sakei products to treat sinus infections (both chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis) see the Sinusitis Treatment Summary page. The Best Probiotic For Sinus Infections gives an in-depth look at the different L. sakei products and results.