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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ontario to join Quebec on pesticide ban.

Today is Earth Day and it looks like the McGuinty government is giving Ontario residents a present. Their election promise to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides & fungicides) on private lawns, gardens and fruit trees is coming to fruition. However, this ban doesn't include farmers, golf courses or managed forests.

A recent study in the journal BioMedCentral (BMC) Neurology states that insecticides and herbicides significantly increase the risk of Parkinson's, especially in families with no history of the disease. These studies are interesting as far as finding contributing factors to disease development, but as far as health is concerned, I don't think we need studies to tell us that these chemicals are bad for us. Now of course your lawns and gardens may not look as pretty and you will have to do a lot more manual labour to pull out all the weeds, but the extra gardening will help you stay active and prevent further contamination of the earth and our water supplies.

As a side note to those of you who love to golf: golf courses are one of the most actively sprayed places, so strictly from a health perspective, one has to balance the relaxation and health benefits of going golfing w/ the toxins you may be inhaling.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Plastics - the DOs & DON'Ts. Health Canada's Ban on Bisphenol A

It looks like Health Canada is close to regulating bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastics. Major retailers like the Hudson's Bay Company, Canadian Tire, Forzani Group (which operates Sport Chek, Athlete's World and Coast Mountain Sports), Lululemon & Mountain Equipment Co-op have pulled products containing bpa off its shelves. BPA is the main component in polycarbonate, a shatter-proof plastic that is used in food and drink containers. It is also found in household items like CDs, electronic products & baby bottles. It is also used to line the inside of metal food and soda cans. Acidic substances such as tomatoes, citrus fruits & sodas release the BPA.

Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it can mimic or wreak havoc on the hormones in your body. Bpa is linked to breast & prostate cancer, obesity, early puberty attention deficit disorder and a host of other developmental problems.

The general rule of thumb for plastics is that it should not be heated or come in contact with hot foods or drinks. That includes leaving your water bottle in the car during the hot summer months.

Have you ever bought bottled water and stored it away from the sun and heat sources? I have and in a few months time, this water had an odd taste to it. I assumed that something was leeching out of the plastic into the water. I'd be curious to know if any tests/studies have been done on this?

Some plastics don't contain BPA and are considered microwave/dishwasher safe, but this naturopath's opinion is that nothing should be microwaved in plastic. Stick with glass!

There are times when glass isn't as convenient to carry like when you're hiking on a trail so you can use stainless steel water bottles which I've seen at Walmart & Mountain Equipment Co-op.

If you have trouble finding glass baby bottles, here's a Canadian web company to help you out: http://www.justbabybottles.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

Even One Drink a Day Increases your Risk of Breast Cancer


Heart disease has been a leading cause of death in the North American population and for the last decade or so, we've heard about the benefits that alcohol provides. Health professionals have been advocating drinking a glass or two or red wine for its heart healthy properties. Numerous studies have shown that alcohol itself benefits the cardiovascular system in moderate amounts. What has been lost in this information is that alcohol consumption affects cancer risks and heart disease risks in an inverse relationship - that is, moderate drinking lowers the incidence of heart disease, but increases the risk on developing cancer.

The latest research from the U.S National Cancer Institute shows that even moderate drinking increases the risk of a woman developing breast cancer.

The study found that the respondents who consumed:

  • Less than one drink a day had a seven per cent increase in relative risk.
  • One to two drinks a day had a 32 per cent increase.
  • Three or more drinks a day had a 51 per cent increase.
This latest study focuses on breast cancer, but we know that alcohol increases the risk of many types of cancer. As an ND, I know these risks and I try to educate and counsel my patients as to what I think is in the best interest of each patient that I see. It is important to look at each patient's family medical history as well as current risk factors to determine what is best for each individual.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

South Asians at an Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Studies have shown people native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka can die from heart disease five to 10 years earlier than those from other ethnic groups.

Atherosclerosis in S. Asians is unlike the classical picture. It is diffuse in nature and doesn't just occur at the top of the arteries which is what is normally seen in other ethnic groups.

Reasons why:

  • South Asians may have smaller than avg blood vessels in the heart. Therefore fat deposited on the blood vessel walls will shrink the available space for blood to flow.
  • Abnormality in glucose and insulin signalling is seen much earlier in life in this segment of the population.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pesticides and the foods you should eat organically.

Have you ever wondered which foods contain the most pesticides? The Environmental Working Group (a US non-profit organization) analyzed over 42,000 of the latest U.S government tests for pesticide residues on commonly-eaten fruits and vegetables. Then they ranked the results based on six measures of pesticide load, even after washing and peeling. It is probably a fair assumption to say that U.S results will mirror that of Canada's. There are three charts and one link to a short video clip below:

1) The dirty dozen

The Dirty DozenScore*% with pesticides% with 2 or more pesticides
Peaches10096.686.6
Apples9693.682.3
Sweet bell peppers8681.562.2
Celery8594.179.8
Nectarines8497.385.3
Strawberries8392.369.2
Cherries7591.475.8
Lettuce6968.244.2
Grapes (imported)6884.253.2
Pears6586.245.7
Spinach 60 7031.2
Potatoes588118


2) The consistently clean

The Consistently CleanScore*% with pesticides% with 2 or more pesticides
Onions10.20
Avocado11.40
Sweet corn (frozen)23.80
Pineapples77.70.6
Mango97.10.5
Sweet peas (frozen)1122.92.3
Asparagus116.70.6
Kiwi1415.33.4
Bananas1641.72.0
Cabbage1717.94.8
Broccoli1828.13.2
Egglpant1923.46.9



3) Here is the full list in order from worst to best:

RANK

FRUIT OR VEGGIE

SCORE

1 (worst)

Peaches

100 (highest pesticide load)

2

Apples

96

3

Sweet Bell Peppers

86

4

Celery

85

5

Nectarines

84

6

Strawberries

83

7

Cherries

75

8

Lettuce

69

9

Grapes - Imported

68

10

Pears

65

11

Spinach

60

12

Potatoes

58

13

Carrots

57

14

Green Beans

55

15

Hot Peppers

53

16

Cucumbers

52

17

Raspberries

47

18

Plums

46

19

Oranges

46

20

Grapes-Domestic

46

21

Cauliflower

39

22

Tangerine

38

23

Mushrooms

37

24

Cantaloupe

34

25

Lemon

31

26

Honeydew Melon

31

27

Grapefruit

31

28

Winter Squash

31

29

Tomatoes

30

30

Sweet Potatoes

30

31

Watermelon

25

32

Blueberries

24

33

Papaya

21

34

Eggplant

19

35

Broccoli

18

36

Cabbage

17

37

Bananas

16

38

Kiwi

14

39

Asparagus

11

40

Sweet Peas-Frozen

11

41

Mango

9

42

Pineapples

7

43

Sweet Corn-Frozen

2

44

Avocado

1

45 (best)

Onions

1 (lowest pesticide load)



4) Video clip:
http://www.ewg.org/node/22100