What Antibiotic Has Had Over 2000 Lawsuits Pending And Will Literally Force You To Crawl — If It’s Not Too Late? Hint: It Was The Best Selling Antibiotic in 2010.

It seems like the U.S. human population is one big guinea pig for pharmaceutical companies to test their drugs on without fully understanding a drug’s implications.  It further seems that more risks are taken with the idea that any harmful effects on human are better dealt with lawsuits after the fact. Maybe that is an unfair perception. Perhaps. In all fairness, there is a constant debate about the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process and whether or not the FDA’s approval process actually permits drugs that prove to provide greater benefit than risk to society.

However, there is one antibiotic that fell through the cracks of the FDA’s safety net (aka its approval process) and that antibiotic is causing serious irreparable harm to people.  It is a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. The best known are Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin) nearly every generic ending in “quin”, “oxacin,””ox,”. According to The New York Times, in 2010, Levaquin was the best-selling antibiotic in the United States.  According to the FDA, which last year issued a warning for this class of drugs, fluoroquinolones are commonly prescribed for patients with acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections.

Fluoroquinolone based drugs, according to one estimate, has been prescribed to millions of Americans.

While there is great concern now in modern medicine about the extreme overuse of antibiotics, as the New York Times reports, Mahyar Etminan, a pharmacological epidemiologist at the University of British Columbia, said the drugs were overused “by lazy doctors who are trying to kill a fly with an automatic weapon.”

Here are the dangers, some appearing to be irreversible, that have been documented by the use of fluoroquinolones:

*retnial detachment   *acute kidney failure  *central nervous system damage

*psychotic hallucinations  *disfiguring rashes  *decreased immune system

*Tendinitis and Tendon Rupture

The author of the “Mountains and Mustard Seeds” blog writes a heart wrenching account of her journey with this drug and her extensive research.

Her advice:

“I am writing this in hopes that you will educate yourself and your families. Don’t take that antibiotic in ignorance one more time. Don’t take your chances. Don’t be afraid to demand an alternative.”

And avoid lazy doctors.

THE FDA’S “LOST PLEASURE” INDEX AND WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT YOU

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

What are the economic costs for the loss of pleasure? For example, what do you lose in economic terms when you choose that healthy apple over the less healthy sugar cookie? Who knows? Apparently, the federal government believes it knows. Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published its final rules on labeling requirements for restaurants, similar retail food establishments, and vending machines. Essentially, these new regulations will require nutrition labeling on restaurant menus and in other similar food vending establishments to increase consumer awareness and information of food choices. An overview of these FDA final rules is here.

However, Reuters recently broke the news that tucked away in these new FDA regulations is a “Lost Pleasure” analysis to determine the “loss of pleasure” when consumers choose healthy foods over less health foods. According to Reuters, the inclusion of such an analysis may be intended to make the regulations vulnerable to legal challenges. How? A new cost factor (e.g. the loss of pleasure) is being introduced as “legitimate” evidence to weigh the pros and cons of the labeling regulations. Thus, opponents of nutrition labeling requirements will argue that the loss of pleasure in economic terms is too great to justify some or all of the nutrition labeling requirements. If this is true, it is a pretty clever legal strategy. Hopefully, it’s too clever of a legal strategy when the new regulations come under judicial review.

Mature man eating chocolate

Obviously, a “Lost Pleasure” analysis is fraught with problems. For example, some people choose healthier food over less healthy food and derive great pleasure from those choices. How the federal government can put an economic value on something as subjective as the so-called “loss of pleasure” in food choices seems absurd. Yet, according to Reuters, U.S. health regulators estimate that consumers will suffer up to $5.27 billion in “lost pleasure” over 20 years when calorie counts on restaurant menus discourage people from ordering french fries, brownies, and other high-calorie favorites.

The Reuters story is a quick and easy read. It can be found here.

Here’s hoping that you get great pleasure from making healthy food choices in your life. That is priceless.

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com

FOOD ADDITIVES ON THE RISE DESPITE DECLINING OVERSIGHT FOR SAFETY

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

Last week, registered dietitian/nutritionist Keri Gans, posted a blog commentary in U.S. News & World Report titled “The Case for Processed Foods.” Ms. Gan’s subtitle urges readers to “stop condemning all boxes, bottles and cans — and start being real.”  She goes on to identify eight common food additives “that you should feel OK about if they happen to appear in your grocery cart.”

Oh, if only there were eight food additives or for that matter, a few hundred food additives to monitor and learn about — but that is far from the case in today’s food shopping environment.

This past summer, Kimberly Kindy of the Washington Post, wrote a very informative article explaining how the use of food additives is rising significantly, while the agency responsible for “ensuring the safety of the chemicals streaming into the food supply” — the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) — is increasingly unable to learn about and provide effective oversight over the safety of more than 9,000 food additives in our U.S. food supply.

According to Ms. Kindy, food additives continue to enter the food supply without the FDA even being notified or in other instances the science of such food additives is being kept secret from the FDA.  Her article is scary but necessary reading. Ms. Kindy cites an example of the  correlation researchers have made between the food additive carrageenan and gastrointestinal disorders. Unfortunately,  the FDA’s refusal to take such research seriously is one example of the FDA’s many serious shortcomings in its work in ensuring food safety.  Consequently, the use of carrageenan in food products is on the rise (especially health oriented and vegan related products).

Word cloud for Preservative

By the way, I avoid carrageenan in all products I buy. Look for it in soy, almond, rice, hemp and similar milks, among other products.  Another good reference on food additives to avoid is an article by Martin Downs for WebMD regarding the dangers of 7 Common Food Additives.

Last week, food market analysts reported that the global market for food additives is expected to exceed 36.1 Billion US Dollars by 2018. Read more here.

Americans are digesting food additives that have not been reviewed by the FDA. This a serious risk for all Americans.  Whether health risks are occurring from the consumption of such food additives cannot be known until it’s too late.  Even worse, where slowly developing health problems occur, the causal correlation to any specific food additive may never be known.

The Bottom Line:  consumers need to read labels and make conscious choices about purchasing products containing suspicious food additives. Take the time to learn about the food additives in commonly purchased products. Avoid unknown food additives wherever practical and possible.

Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate / foodadvocate@ellwoodthompsons.com

HOW SAFE ARE THE PAPER RECEIPTS FROM YOUR PURCHASES?

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

Bisphenol-A is the chemical name for what is commonly referred to BPA.  BPA is chemical found in plastics used for food and drink containers and other plastic items. Researchers have found that BPA interferes with the correct function of human hormones because it is an endocrine disruptor. Some studies link BPA to, among other things, abnormal brain function, breast cancer,  diabetes and sex function.  According to the New York Times, some studies estimate that over 90 percent of people have traces of BPA in their system.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/science/fda-bans-bpa-from-baby-bottles-and-sippy-cups.html?_r=0  Up to now, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to ban BPA.

See http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/03/30/fda-rejects-bpa-ban/  The FDA does recognize BPA as a chemical of concern.

See http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/bpa.html  The FDA earlier this year did conduct a study to determine if there are alternatives to the use of BPA.  That study can be reviewed here.

To provide further perspective, the FDA is notorious for its inability to study and be aware of the many chemicals introduced into our food supply. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/food-additives-on-the-rise-as-fda-scrutiny-wanes/2014/08/17/828e9bf8-1cb2-11e4-ab7b-696c295ddfd1_story.html

BPA is also used on thermal paper which is commonly used on store, travel and other payment receipts. That means nearly everyone who makes a purchase of some type handles paper receipts containing BPA which is then absorbed in their system.  Those instances multiply on a daily basis depending on the number of face-to-face purchases. 

Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA) published a study showing that the handling of thermal receipts significantly increases BPA exposure. See http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1832525 

That study is best summarized and explained in a Newsweek article found here. The results of that study are disturbing.

Just recently another disturbing report has come out:  the use of hand sanitizers increases the absorption of BPA from receipts.  According the study done by the University of Missouri, the use of hand sanitizers increases the absorption factor of BPA by a factor of 100 or more. A good summary and explanation of that study is found in a Newsweek article.

Besides banning BPA, is there an easy answer for this dilemma? The best answer for now is awareness of this problem and to act in a consciousness manner to avoid BPA as much as practically possible. 

 hand holds the check from supermarket

Metal On Your Lips: Recent Study Finds Various Metals In Lipstick

ellwood thompson's, food advocate, kirk schroder, richmond virginia

Metal On Your Lips: Recent Study Finds Various Metals In Lipstick

For more than five years, controversy has brewed over the level of lead in cosmetic lipstick. That controversy has been renewed with a recent study conducted by the University of California at Berkeley this summer indicating that not only is there lead in popular lipstick brands but a wide range also contain as many as eight other metals. This study and the overall issue is discussed in a column by New York Times reporter Deborah Blum at:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/16/is-there-danger-lurking-in-your-lipstick/?_r=0

Continue reading

The Ugly Truth About Cosmetics

Just found this very informative and well composed video done by The Stuff Project. We support and stand by the videos message to keep toxins out of cosmetics! It’s really that simple! Here at Ellwoods we have a very strict checklist for every single product that comes in the door, especially our cosmetics and body care department. You can read more about cosmetics and the project by click here.