Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whole Body Detox (Part 1): Lymphatic Cleansing With Rebound Exercise

The story below is from the pages of Natural (formerly News Target. com)

A while ago I wrote an article on the health benefits of rebouding as practiced in the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong: "Baduanjin bouncing…it does a body good!"

Bouncing or rebounding revs your lymph system, and according to Roger Jahnke (a famous qigong expert and author of The Healer Within: Using Traditional Chinese Techniques To Release Your Body's Own Medicine *Movement *Massage *Meditation *Breathing), the lymph system is one of the major ways in which qigong practices help you attain health and wellness.

This article by Mary Laredo gives some additional insight as to why the lymph system is so critical to our health and wellbeing, and how best to use this knowledge to our advantage, avoiding stress and disease, and getting healthy!

Whole Body Detox (Part 1): Lymphatic Cleansing With Rebound Exercise
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 by: Mary Laredo

(NaturalNews) With each passing decade since the end of World War II our planet has become silently, yet increasingly, toxic as pollutants from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, industrial chemicals and other residual offenders choke the land, water and air that sustain us. As our planet becomes dangerously congested with debris so do our bodies, as evidenced by the alarming rate of deaths due to preventable illness and disease. We are neither helpless nor hopeless in this dire state, and just as we can strive to minimize our imprint on the planet, we can also take measures to reduce, eliminate and cleanse toxins from the blood, tissues and organs of our bodies. One of several effective methods of detoxification is through lymphatic cleansing.

Among the various functions of the lymphatic system is its ability to carry waste away from the cells and bloodstream to the body's organs of elimination. The system is comprised of veins and capillaries, with one-way valves, that contain a clear fluid called lymph. This fluid also surrounds cells throughout the body and collects cellular debris before draining it into the lymphatic system. Lymph carries the waste on a one-way path toward the heart and passes through many filters (lymph nodes) where special white blood cells attack and eliminate foreign molecules.

Once the lymph fluid approaches the heart it is returned to circulation and makes its way for further cleansing of toxins by the liver and kidneys. The lymphatic vessels are not connected to the blood circulatory system, and unlike blood which is pumped by the heart, lymph fluid relies on bodily movement and exercise to drive it through the lymphatic system. Forceful flushing of the system cleanses lymph nodes, contributes to healthy, clear lymph fluid, and boosts the immune system. Stagnant, slow-moving and thick lymph fluid is due to a lethargic, toxic body and weakened immune system.

When the lymph fluid remains sluggish the lymph nodes become clogged and lose their filtering ability. Without routine flushing of the lymph, debris becomes trapped in the body, creating a toxic overload and contributing to the onset of disease.

Exacerbating the problem caused by lack of exercise is the constant onslaught of toxins from processed, denatured food and exposure to environmental pollutants. Regular exercise will help to offset these offenders.

Rebounding on a mini trampoline is perhaps the most efficient and forceful means of flushing the lymph while stimulating the immune system and defending against cancer and other ailments. During rebound exercise the forces of the upward and downward bounces – acceleration and deceleration – are vertically aligned on the same plane with gravity. It was proven by Albert Einstein in 1911 that the aligned forces of acceleration, deceleration and gravity result in an increased gravitational load (1). What this means for the body is that during rebound exercise cells adjust to the increased load by becoming stronger. Rebounding strengthens virtually every cell of the body at the same time and is equivalent to resistance training for the cells.

It takes only two minutes of rebounding to flush the entire lymphatic system, while cleansing and strengthening cells and lymph nodes. A further benefit to the body is that during this brief time span the white blood cells of the immune system triple in number and remain elevated for an hour. These specialized cells play a major role in the body's defense against illness and disease. For one full hour their activity is increased as they perform their tasks of destroying and eliminating cancer cells and other toxins, expending themselves in the process. An hour after rebounding for two minutes the white blood cell count returns to normal (1, 2, 3).

At this point another two-minute rebound session would increase the demand for white blood cells as the process of cleansing, strengthening, and the flushing away of spent cells and other cancerous debris is repeated. A therapeutic strategy to rebuild health would be to rebound for two minutes every waking hour, or as many times a day as possible. Two minutes of gentle bouncing throughout the day is more effective for healing than one long session. Repeated short sessions sustain an active immune system, oxygenate and strengthen cells, and continuously cleanse the lymph. Therapeutic rebounding has been shown to reduce cancerous tumors and improve or heal a host of other ailments (3).

Those who are too weak to exercise or have difficulty standing can use a stabilizer bar which is available with most quality rebounders, such as the Needak model. This enables the weak individual to feel secure while bouncing gently. It's important to begin slowly, and gradually increase to two minutes.

Rebounding can be performed by healthy individuals for health maintenance and disease prevention. One or more long sessions of aerobic rebounding will help stimulate the immune system, improve digestion, control weight, tone and strengthen the body, and build endurance – especially when done with hand-held weights.

When beginning a program of regular rebounding it's best to gradually increase time and intensity as the body – including bones and internal organs – adjusts to the increased gravitational load and becomes stronger.

A healthy existence can only be sustained when we recognize the correlation between our toxic planet and our polluted bodies and become conscious stewards of both. One means toward this end is through daily rebounding combined with an alkaline diet to detoxify the body and profoundly contribute to optimum healing.

Future reports will cover the effectiveness and physiology of fasting, enemas and infrared sauna use for therapeutic detoxification.


1. Brooks, Linda: Rebounding and Your Immune System. Urbana, OH: Vitally Yours Press, 29; 33-46, 2003

2. Brooks, Linda: Cancer – A Simple Approach. Urbana, OH: Vitally Yours Press,
33-6, 2002

3. Brooks, Linda: Rebounding to Better Health. Sixth Printing, KE Publishing, 51-2; 39-56; 71-6, 2006

About the author

Mary Laredo is an artist, educator and gallery curator who lives and works in Detroit, MI. As a breast cancer survivor who shunned conventional treatment, she is writing a book about her experience with natural therapies and nutritional healing. Visit


Here are some resources to get you started!

Rebound Exercise book

I would have liked to recommend a rebounder, too, but the product reviews were so inconsistent, that I hesitate to advise you to purchase online. You may be better off at a local merchant so you can really see (any maybe even test) one before you buy. And, if you have trouble with the product, it's usually easier to return to a local merchant.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunlight: Ultraviolet B (UVB) Radiation Reduces Risk of 16 Types of Cancer in U.S.

Can you stand one more story on how sunlight reduces cancer, not causes it?

I was watching my local news on television the other night, and there was a story about cancer. At the end of the segment, the anchorperson said something like: "And we know the causes of cancer are smoking, (something I don't remember), and sunlight."

I wanted to pull my hair out, or call the station, or shout from the rooftop that their misrepresentation to the public of sunlight is probably causing thousands of deaths annually, as well as costing those people months of suffering and millions in insurance and co-pays. We have known for years that the vitamin D that we get from sunlight protects far more than sunlight harms.

Before I get to the feature article though, I want to toss out something else for you to think about. I saw a couple of things that rang all sorts of warning bells for me. These two especially seem to fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle:

Effects of Sun on the Skin

Cellular Skin Changes Caused by UV Radiation

By Heather Brannon, MD,

Updated: March 23, 2007

"UVB Radiation
"UVB affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. It is the most intense between the hours of
10:00 am and 2:00 pm when the sunlight is brightest. It is also more intense in the summer months accounting for 70% of a person's yearly UVB dose. UVB does not penetrate glass. [This is exactly what we need to reduce our risk of sixteen different cancers!]

"UVA Radiation
"UVA was once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass."
[Bold emphasis added]

I really want you to think about this next paragraph. All due respect to Dr Brannon, but maybe this explains why the effect of UVA really was minor in the past and is not now:

"There’s another hypothesis that Johanna Budwig proposed in the sixties concerning how UV light affects the body. She reported that with an increase of polyunsaturated oils and trans fats in our diets came a proportional increase in skin cancer rates; that certain wavelengths of sunlight vibrate at the same frequency as the chemical bonds in unsaturated fatty acids (and partially hydrogenated oils) that can give rise to early mutations; mutations which eventually become cancers." [Bold emphasis added]

I grew up in the '50s and '60s, and we, and often our parents, spent hours every day in the sun, especially in the summer when we kids were playing outside from breakfast to bedtime, and our mothers and grandmothers were tending the garden, hanging clothing to dry, and our fathers were doing yard work or other outdoor tasks. Not one single one of us ever had skin cancer….Not One! (Nor, by the way, was clinical depression a "major childhood affliction" as it is now!)

So, has the sun changed into a more damaging orb in the last 50 years? (Unlikely!) Has the American diet changed into a more damaging feature of our lifestyle. (Probably.)

There is one more vote for the damaging diet most Americans eat, and that is the implication of High Fructose Corn Syrup you now find in about 80% of the processed food items purchased and consumed daily. The use of HFCS ballooned in the mid-1970s, just about the time cancer ballooned also, and is now contained in nearly every processed food on the supermarket shelf. It has enough health-damaging implications without the link to cancer, but I saw this and more bells went off:

The quotes below are from an article on Johanna Budwig:

First there was Otto Warburg who was awarded the 1931 Nobel Prize for medicine for his describing the metabolism of a cancer cell. He stated that the cell suddenly became anaerobic (without oxygen) and required massive amounts of glucose (sugar) to metabolize in a form that could only be described as fermentation: [Bold emphasis added]

"The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the normal oxygen respiration of body cells by an anaerobic cell respiration." -- Otto Warburg

The cell takes in glucose (sugar; cancer loves sugar) and gives off lactic acid which creates an acidic environment. Again, this is something that has been known for years. Cancer needs an acidic environment to flourish, and conversely, cannot survive in a balanced alkaline environment. [Bold emphasis added]

And, what do we find in vast amounts in our processed foods? High Fructose Corn Syrup (a concoction of fructose and glucose) that has been cut with regular corn syrup (more glucose) to create whatever fructose/glucose balance the producer wants between fructose and glucose! This means there is glucose in some measure in about 80% of the foods you eat daily. This was not true before 1975, before the rates for cancer skyrocketed. (Just think about it!)

I don't believe there is any one, single, overwhelming cause of cancer in our society today; it's a mix of pollutants, both environmental and dietary. One way to protect yourself is to do what the educated experts advise: get plenty of sunlight!

Here is the article that started this particular chain of research:

Ultraviolet B (UVB) Radiation Reduces Risk of 16 Types of Cancer in U.S.

Posted online: Saturday, August 05, 2006 at 8:36:20 AM

A study published this week in Anticancer Research confirms that solar UVB irradiance is associated with reduced risk of 16 sites of cancer, apparently through production of vitamin D. These cancers include 6 sites of gastrointestinal cancers, 3 cancers of female sites, 3 urogenital cancers, 2 types of lymphomas, and 2 upper aerodigestive tract cancers.

The analysis examined age-adjusted mortality rate data from 49 states plus the District of Columbia for two periods: 1950-69 and 1970-94. [Note: remember that High Fructose Corn Syrup came into general use in 1975] Other cancer risk-modifying factors were included in the analysis. A proxy indicator of smoking was associated with risk at 10 cancer sites, alcohol consumption with 9 sites, urban residence with 7, and Hispanic heritage with 6.

"This study provides important additional support for the vitamin D/cancer hypothesis" according to William Grant. This new study shows that the approach used, a statistical comparison of cancer mortality rates by state according to several cancer risk factors, is likely to be reliable since the results for known factors other than UVB agreed well with the results in the literature. In addition, the new study replicates many of the links between higher levels of vitamin D and lower risk of cancer that were identified in earlier studies that had less control for risk factors other than vitamin D or UVB deficiency."

"The mechanisms whereby vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer are well known, and include effects on intercellular adhesion, apoptosis (programmed cellular death), the inhibition of angiogenesis around tumors and the inhibition of metastasis." [Bold emphasis added]

According to co-author Cedric Garland, Dr.P.H., "Enhancing vitamin D status appears to be the single most important single simple thing that people can do to reduce their risk of cancer, apart from avoiding tobacco and moderation in intake of alcohol. While solar ultraviolet B is not always available or convenient for synthesis of vitamin D and entails a possible small increase in risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, vitamin D supplements are readily available and nontoxic in the preventive range of 1,000-1,500 IU/day."

According to William Grant, Ph.D. "Other recent studies recently found that it takes 1000 to 1500 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin D per day to reduce the risk of cancer incidence and death by 30-50%. In the U.S., dietary sources provide only 250 to 300 I.U. per day. People with fair skin living in the sunnier regions of the country can make 1500 I.U. of vitamin D in about 20 minutes near solar noon with 10-20% of their body exposed, i.e., arms and back in women and back or chest in men. Those with darker skin require 2-4 times as much time or body exposed for the same vitamin D production. This may help explain why black Americans have higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than white Americans, which was described recently in the Journal of the National Medical Association."

Cedric Garland added, "Briefly exposing a large enough area of skin for adequate vitamin D synthesis is more effective than increasing the amount of time spent in the sun. Protracted exposures to the sun are counterproductive after the 20-30 minutes at most when vitamin D synthesis for the day is complete. People of all ages should wear a hat whenever spending more than a few minutes in the sun, and should spend the time walking or otherwise in motion." [Bold emphasis added]

William Grant added "The public receives a steady barrage of public service messages to avoid the sun and wear sunscreens in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer and melanoma. Unfortunately, such messages do not mention that these risks are counterbalanced to a substantial degree by the advantages of producing vitamin D from solar UVB irradiance. Insufficient UVB irradiance and vitamin D costs society about 10 times what excess solar UVB does, and excess UVB irradiance is not required for optimal vitamin D production." Cedric Garland said "vitamin D in the appropriate dose is giving society new hope in the fight to prevent cancer." [Bold emphasis added]

(Source: Newswise)

For more benefits of natural, healing sunlight, read my article "SAD or Depressed? Antidepressants Are Out, Sunlight Is In!"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Excellent Blog Awards!

I am very honored to have been selected twice in the same day to receive an Excellent Blog Award!

These are from two people whom I also respect and admire for their dedication and excellence and information….Caroline at Earth Friendly Gardening and Geraldine at Veggies, Yarns and Tails.

Here are my choices – in alphabetical order – for "Must read!" blogs: I'm passing along the Excellent Blog Award to:

Two by Jade, AppleJade and Arboreality (Two by the same person count as one so I don't go over the limit of ten blogs! :-)

Mike at Cloud Hands: Mind/Body Movement Arts

Caroline at Earth Friendly Gardening: Sustainable Gardening for a Healthy Planet

Ecumenical Buddhism – "An exploration of what unites Buddhism (and Eastern thought) to other more Western religions, rather than what separates them."

Barbra at Home Business Wiz

Derek at Journey Of A Thousand Miles

Charlsie at Manifesting Universe (or Manifesting From The Inside Out)

Hilary at Online Clarity's I Ching

Amit at The Power of Choice

Geraldine at Veggies, Crafts, and Tails

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Food Pharmacy – Fatal Harvest and GM Sugar

I had planned on reprinting the essay below anyway, but in my email this very morning was a warning about sugar beets and how farmers are being encouraged to plant "Roundup Ready" crops so they can spray the heck out of them with "Roundup" Weed killer without hurting the sugar beet plant. Of course the herbicide ends up in the soil and in the product, but that doesn’t seem to concern anyone.

I have been toying with the idea of getting a small green house and growing my own food organically……see the end of the article for more on that.
Meanwhile, here is an essay on the dangers of industrial agriculture.


The Truth:
Industrial agriculture contaminates our vegetables and fruits with pesticides, slips dangerous bacteria into our lettuce, and puts genetically engineered growth hormones into our milk. It is not surprising that cancer, food-borne illnesses, and obesity are at an all-time high.

A modern supermarket produce aisle presents a perfect illusion of food safety.

Consistency is a hallmark. Dozens of apples are on display, waxed and polished to a uniform luster, few if any bearing a bruise or dent or other distinguishing characteristics. Nearby sit stacked pyramids of oranges dyed an exact hue to connote ripeness. Perhaps we find a shopper comparing two perfectly similar cellophane-wrapped heads of lettuce, as if trying to distinguish between a set of identical twins. Elsewhere, throughout the store, processed foods sit front and center on perfectly spaced shelves, their bright, attractive cans, jars, and boxes bearing colorful photographs of exquisitely prepared and presented foods. They all look unthreatening, perfectly safe, even good for you. And for decades, agribusiness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have proclaimed boldly that the United States has the safest food supply in the world.

As with all the myths of industrial agriculture, things are not exactly as they appear. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that between 1970 and 1999, food-borne illnesses increased more than tenfold. And according to the FDA, at least 53 pesticides classified as carcinogenic are presently applied in massive amounts to our major food crops. While the industrialization of the food supply progresses, we are witnessing an explosion in human health risks and a significant decrease in the nutritional value of our meals.


A central component of the industrialized food system is the large-scale introduction of toxic chemicals. This toxic contamination of our food shows no signs of decreasing. Since 1989, overall pesticide use has risen by about 8 percent, or 60 million pounds. The use of pesticides that leave residues on food has increased even more. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that more than 1 million Americans drink water laced with pesticide runoff from industrial farms. Our increasing use of these chemicals has been paralleled by an exponential growth in health risks, to both farmers and consumers.

The primary concern associated with this toxic dependency is cancer. The EPA has already identified more than 165 pesticides as potentially carcinogenic, with numerous chemical mixtures remaining untested. Residues from potentially carcinogenic pesticides are left behind on some of our favorite fruits and vegetables — in 1998, the FDA found pesticide residues in over 35 percent of the food tested.

Many U.S. products have tested as being more toxic than those from other countries. What’s worse, current standards for pesticides in food do not yet include specific protections for fetuses, infants, or young children, despite major changes to federal pesticide laws in 1996 requiring such reforms. Many scientists believe that pesticides play a major role in the current cancer "epidemic" among children. And the cancer risk does not just affect consumers; it also imperils tens of thousands of farmers, field hands, and migrant laborers. A National Cancer Institute study found that farmers who used industrial herbicides were six times more likely than nonfarmers to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. Along with their cancer risk, pesticides can cause myriad other health problems, especially for young people. For example, exposure to neurotoxic compounds like PCBs and organophosphate insecticides during critical periods of development can cause permanent, long-term damage to the brain, nervous, and reproductive systems.


In addition to increased health risks associated with our current pesticide dependency, industrialized food production has also brought with it a rise in food-borne illnesses. Researchers from the CDC estimate that food-borne pathogens now infect up to 80 million people a year and cause over 9,000 deaths in the United States alone.

This increase is largely attributed to the industrialization of poultry and livestock production. Most meat products now begin in "animal factories," where food animals are confined in shockingly inhumane and overly crowded conditions, leading to widespread disease among animals and the creation of food-borne illnesses. According to the CDC, reported cases of disease from salmonella and E. coli pathogens are ten times greater than they were two decades ago, and cases of campylobacter have more than doubled. The CDC saw none of these pathogens in meat until the late 1970s when "animal factories" became the dominant means of meat production. Even our fruits and vegetables get contaminated by these pathogens through exposure to tainted fertilizers and sewage sludge. Contamination can also occur during industrialized processing and long-distance shipment.
The use of antibiotics in farm animal production may also be accelerating the alarming growth of antibiotic resistance exhibited by dangerous pathogens. Residues of these veterinary antibiotics that make their way into our food supply may confer resistance upon bacteria responsible for a wide variety of human maladies. Infections resistant to antibiotics are now the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. Guided by popular media reports, we may hastily conclude that doctors, by overprescribing antibiotics for people, are solely to blame for growing resistance. This assessment, however, ignores the fact that nearly 50 percent of U.S. antibiotics are given to animals, not people.


The introduction of fast, processed, and frozen foods in the 1950s has forever changed our dietary habits. At least 175,000 fast-food restaurants have sprouted among the gas stations, strip malls, and convenience stores of America’s ever creeping suburban sprawl. Frozen dinners, prepackaged meals, and take-out burgers have, for many people, replaced the home-cooked meal. Consequently, people are consuming more calories, preservatives, and sugar than ever in history, while reducing their intake of fresh whole fruits and vegetables. It is no mystery that these changes have led to overwhelming increases in obesity, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease among Americans. About one in three Americans is overweight, and obesity is now at epidemic levels in the United States.

According to a joint New York University/Center for Science in the Public Interest report "added sugars — found largely in junk foods such as soft drinks, cakes, and cookies — squeeze healthier foods out of the diet. That sugar now accounts for 16 percent of the calories consumed by the average American and 20 percent of teenagers’ calories. Twenty years ago, teens consumed almost twice as much milk as soda; today they consume almost twice as much soda as milk." The Surgeon General has determined that two out of every three premature deaths is related to diet.


The purveyors of industrial food, when confronted with the health crisis that their food has caused, respond by assuring us that new industrial technologies will be a quick fix. For example, in response to the huge increase in food-borne illnesses, the industry promotes the use of irradiation to sanitize our foods. Through this technology, the average hamburger, for example, may receive the equivalent of millions of chest X rays in an attempt to temporarily remove any potential bacterial contaminants. However, as the meat continues to flow through the industrial food supply, it loses its "protection" and is quickly subject to additional contamination.

Meanwhile, numerous reputable studies have shown that consuming irradiated meat can cause DNA damage, resulting in abnormalities in laboratory animals and their off-spring. Moreover, irradiation can destroy essential vitamins and nutrients that are naturally present in foods and can make food taste and smell rancid.

Contrary to our government’s pronouncement, industrial food is not safe. It is, in fact, becoming increasingly deadly and devoid of nutrition. Ultimately, we cannot achieve food safety through simple political fiat or technological quick fixes. Increased dependence on chemical, nuclear, or genetically engineered inputs will only intensify the problem. The real solution is a return to sound organic agricultural practices. It turns out that food production that is safe for the environment, humane to animals, and based in community and independence is also a food supply that is safe and nutritious for humans.


Here is another essay you may want to read, also from the pages of FATAL HARVEST:
Whenever possible, I like to offer suggestions on how to be healthy in spite of all the things going on around us. To that end, as I mentioned at the top of the article, I am looking into greenhouse organic gardening.

I am choosing to use a greenhouse because the street behind my house is a busy one, and if I planted in the yard, my food would be covered with auto and truck exhaust chemicals. Seems like organic gardening under those circumstances would be a bit of a waste!
To get started, I have ordered the two books below. When they come in, I'll take a look at them, and maybe even review them for you here. They are sold as a pair through, and both have excellent ratings.

If you have any time or any space at all, I do encourage you to look into this. It may be the only way to avoid the toxicity of the foods we are being sold since the Food and Drug Administration thinks you don't need to know and so have not required producers to label genetically engineered products.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Life is a cup of coffee

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about the endless stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. He told the group to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "You may have noticed that all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

"Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups . . . and then you began eyeing each other's cups.

"Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money, and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of the Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that has been provided us.

"The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything…So please remember: Live simply. Love generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Enjoy your coffee!"

Friday, February 08, 2008

Is obesity genetic? Some people would like you to think so!

Every once in a while a story comes out that is so ridiculous that I can't help but comment on it. One such story was published today that posted the results of a study stating that childhood obesity is determined more by genetics than by environment, diet, and exercise.

Get real.

If it is true that genetics determines childhood obesity, why is there a sudden childhood obesity crisis that has surfaced only in the last few decades?

It takes thousands of years of adaptation for genes to evolve. If what the scientists say is true, we should have seen a crisis in childhood obesity long before now.

Also, if what they say is true about all these genetic predispositions to chronic diseases, we humans are so genetically flawed that it is ten kinds of miracles that we have lasted more than a few generations. Or, maybe something has happened in the last fifty years to altar our genetic structure, and not for the better, making us more "genetically predisposed" to a host of chronic diseases and conditions from autism to cancer to diabetes to obesity.

I chose the figure of fifty years because it certainly seems that the general health of the people in the United States (not true in other parts of the world) has gone downhill since the 1950s.

When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s "childhood obesity" was so rare that none of us had ever heard of it. On my block alone, just on my side of the street, there were twenty-seven children including me. Not a single one was obese. Not one!

In all my years attending public schools, I don't recall any more than a half-dozen students who were overweight. None were obese! One girl was type-I diabetic, and even she was thin. All the years my son was in school and I volunteered in the classrooms, there were never any obese children in his classes or in our neighborhood.

Maybe I just lived in genetically-blessed areas? I don't think so!

Could it possibly be that the pollutants – both intentional (fluoride) and unintentional (pharmaceutical waste from prescription drugs flushed down the toilet) – in our water are changing our genes?

How about the heavy metals in our fish?

Hormones in the milk, maybe? (Many young girls are now beginning to develop breasts at the age of eight! Rather than determine the cause of this abnormality, the medical community has suggested calling it the "new normal.")

Maybe pesticides and herbicides are changing our DNA, not to mention the genetically engineered and mutated foods we ingest without our knowledge because they need not be labeled for our safety.

What about the pre-packaged foods that contain additives shown to contribute to neurological damage, OTC weight control drugs that force and flush your body a dozen ways it was never meant to be? How about foods that sabotage the message from your stomach to your head to stop eating? Could these be changing our genetic structure, too?

Maybe children eat so much because the food they are given has been grown in soil burned out and depleted of minerals. Maybe it's because their bodies crave nutrients, but that the non-organic foods being served contain only 20% to 50% of the nutrients found in their organic counterparts.

But no…they tell us that it is our own genetic flaws that cause our problems. Parents no longer need to feel guilty for their children's obesity, just keep serving up all that chemically-endowed food!

Parents, if you feed your children bleached-flour and sugary breakfast cereals, pre-packaged processed meats on white bread for lunch, and soda-pop with their dinner-in-a-box in the evening, then yes, you should feel guilty. If the kids were receiving wholesome foods containing the nutrients their bodies needed without the chemical additives and preservatives, they probably wouldn't be overweight.

As I said in the beginning of this article, if our genetic flaws are so severe as to predispose us to all these chronic conditions – that by the way were rare or unheard of 100 years ago – it is absolutely a miracle that we as a species have lasted as long as we have! And, for heaven's sake, please don't tell me it's caused by sunlight! Our ancestors lived for thousands of years spending most of their day in the sun, and half of them didn't get cancer!

I don't believe these so-called flaws are natural. If indeed genetics plays the role we are told it plays in so many chronic conditions, then we have been exposed to something, probably many things, in the last century that has altered out DNA. (Atomic bomb testing, anyone?)

Here is the story that started this tirade:

(Just as a PS to the complexity of the issue, here is an article on DNA and how a particular sequence can be repeated but with a completely different meaning. As the author says: "This is like discovering that your recipe for chicken pot pie also contained the recipe for laundry detergent if you drop every second letter, or that your favorite song is also the national anthem when played backwards." It's a fascinating post, and the source of the DNA graphic at the beginning of this article.)

Nature tops nurture in childhood obesity: study

Thu Feb 7, 2008 1:26 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Diet and lifestyle play a far smaller role than genetic factors in determining whether a child becomes overweight, according to a British study of twins published on Thursday.

Researchers looking at more than 5,000 pairs of twins wrote in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that genes account for about three-quarters of the differences in a child's waistline and weight.

"Contrary to the widespread assumption that family environment is the key factor in determining weight gain, we found this was not the case," said Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK's Health Behavior Centre, who led the study.

Previous studies have pointed to environmental factors as the main cause of obesity, a major problem worldwide that increases the risk later in life of type-2 diabetes, cancer and heart problems.

The World Health Organization classifies around 400 million people worldwide as obese, including 200 million children under the age of five.

The British team looked at pairs of identical twins who share all their genes and compared their measurements with those of non-identical twins who share only half their genes.

A statistical analysis found that the differences in the children's body mass index and waist circumference were 77 percent attributable to genes and 23 percent due to the environment in which the children were growing up.

BMI is calculated by dividing weight by the square of height.

"These results do not mean that a child with a high complement of 'susceptibility genes' will inevitably become overweight, but that their genetic endowment gives them a stronger predisposition," the researchers said.

The results suggest that parents whose children are at the greatest genetic risk may need support to make sure they provide a healthy environment, the researchers said.

"This study shows that it is wrong to place all the blame for a child's excessive weight gain on the parents," the researchers said.

(Reporting by Michael Kahn, Editing by Will Dunham and Tim Pearce)