“Environmental Health Factors” (Part II)
The following is a transcription of the First Quarter 1978 issue of Dr. Royal Lee’s Applied Trophology newsletter, originally published by Standard Process Laboratories.
Environmental Health Factors (Part II)
(This article is continued from Part I, available here.)
It is doubtful anyone can deny that the contamination of our environment is increasing at a very alarming rate. Pollution of our air, soil, and water is now an environmental factor in the health of plants as well as domestic and wild animals—and does its final damage at the top of the food chain in man himself. The wholeness of life is the vital factor, as the chain of life is linked between soil, plants, animal, and man. Organic farming has always contributed to the wholeness of life as an unbreakable link in nutrition and health, but now chemical pollution tends to corrode this link to health. Wholeness demands that the soil must contain all the essential elements, in assimilable form and in the right proportions for the growth and propagation of plant life, in order to obtain wholesome products which in turn are necessary for the normal development and durability of animals and man.
Our polluted world makes us more susceptible to many forms of ill health. Presently, these various environmental poisons to which we are subjected may cause vague irritating subclinical conditions such as headaches, dizziness, digestive disturbances, physical or mental fatigue, or even such dreaded killers as heart and vascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or the newer lung condition, emphysema.
Dr. John H. Hanlon, a former assistant surgeon general of the Public Health Service, warns: “Air pollution in the United States plays a major role in the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.”
More recent investigation reveals that the combined pollution of our environment tends to reduce our general life expectancy to a total below that of many less affluent nations. One reason could be, as Dr. Hanlon reminds us, that exposure to two or more carcinogens does not just double the risk of cancer but could increase the risk many times. As air and crop pollutants have increased, so also have water pollutants, chemical food additives, synthetic food dyes, and the use of many more drugs in chemotherapy. Some components of natural food have been found to react with certain drugs. Even in regularly used treatments new combination reactions or side effects are constantly being suspected. For instance, a patient with two or more maladies may receive two or more drugs that could interfere with each other or interreact and produce side effects with chemicals ingested in food or water.
A recently cited example was a heart patient with a partial vascular blockage for which an anticoagulant was prescribed. When an old football knee injury became painful this patient took aspirin several times a day to reduce the pain. He was unaware that the high doses of aspirin could cause hemorrhage. Luckily, in this instance, a laboratory report showed blood-clotting time dangerously low, so the aspirin dosage was discovered and discontinued in ample time. This is a simple illustration of the fact that such reactions may occur at any time. Many drugs exert unexpected effects other than the one desired.
Not Conducive to Health
Dr. Hanlon also advises:
“Each year the pollution of air, land and water becomes worse. Threats from unsafe foods, water, drugs, chemicals and a variety of consumer products are rapidly increasing, causing the quality of American life to deteriorate.”
He also further advised:
“The medical profession must become much more aware of the fact that a very significant proportion of the so-called chronic, noncommunicable diseases as well as mental illness have their genesis in the environment and that more attention to the environment can prevent many of these illnesses.”
No doubt, this is what Senator Charles Percy of Illinois had in mind when he stated: “More and more health authorities agree that spending money for medical care may have no more positive effect on good health than making changes in the way we eat and live.”
Apparently, in this fast-changing technological era every consumer’s health is affected and he or she must be alerted to the possible effects of any further pollution in regard to the effect on proper nutrition.
Concerned medical doctors must learn prevention through nutrition on their own time, as most medical schools (from 1945 through 1976) devoted only a total of three to possibly ten hours to nutrition. This is a piddling amount when we consider that a student must have approximately four thousand hours on all subjects in order to graduate. It is readily apparent that medical graduates of this period are, without further study, unable to be fully aware of present nutritional and environmental changes. How can they properly advise their patients or even their own family in the prevention of disease? As nutritionist Jean Mayer, president of Tufts University, has stated:
“Most of our major causes of death and disability—heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, liver and kidney diseases—either result from faulty nutrition or from a combination of factors that include poor nutrition. These diseases are far easier to prevent than to cure and are often interrelated…What’s more, only a small group of foods or nutrients contribute to the development of these conditions.”
Prevention through nutrition requires the constant utilization of nutrients that aid in promoting growth, maintenance, and resistance to in situ bacteria or possibly an invading type of bacteria. It is a normal body reaction. On the other hand, medical preventive vaccines apparently tend to frustrate bacteria by setting up obstacles or hurdles in the path of anticipated disease. It is not a normal reaction and results are often hampered and unpredictable.
The recent “swine flu” debacle is an example of possible effects. Swine flu shots were suspended in 1976 because some of the people who had accepted them later developed the sometimes-paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome. Some doctors claim that this was a politically inspired, drug-peddling faux pas and carried out against astute medical judgment. Nevertheless, officials at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta are of the opinion that it will influence people against taking the A-type strains of vaccine being used against the Russian flu epidemic now in progress. As Russian flu appears to affect mostly young people, one wonders if we may perhaps be dealing with a form of malnutrition as a contributing factor. Nutritionists have warned us for several years that our young people are being starved through the ingestion of junk foods. If this is true then all the proposed A-type flu shots available will be of little practical value. Grandma’s old-style chicken soup would probably be a better remedy.
Dr. Gerald S. Berenson, a professor at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, has found that monkeys fed a high sugar-salt diet developed blood pressure of about 175 over 115, to compare with 155 over 95 for monkeys on a normal diet. On just a high salt diet the blood pressure fell in between. During the past five years he also made a study of five thousand children in Bogalusa County in Louisiana and found that many were eating a high sugar-salt diet comparable to that of the monkeys with the highest blood pressure. Examination of the diets of ten-year-old children showed that 34 percent of the total daily calorie intake was from snack foods high in sugar and salt. Apparently, the children’s phrase “sugar and spice and everything nice” is no longer true, as the Bogalusa researchers began to detect elevated blood pressure in school-age children.
Several thousand chemicals are now being added to the food we eat. They are used to make the processed foods have a more appealing look, longer lasting shelf life, and ease in production or home preparation. All these factors contribute to better marketability and greater profit but rarely to better nutrition. Of all the additives, sugar is the one used to the greatest extent. It is included in so many foods that the sugar industry estimates the annual per capita consumption at 130 pounds. Not generally considered is the corn syrup hidden in so many processed foods. It is often an ingredient in baby formulas and is suspected of being the prime cause of sugar addiction in bottle-fed babies.
Grown up babies may become adult “sugarholics.” Nutritionists find that now children have become sugar junkies from eating the highly sugared dry breakfast cereals. Many of them should be labeled as food-flavored sugar. Recently, in a legal action in California, the plaintiff contended that sugar makes up as much as 47 percent of some General Foods cereals compared to 27 percent in a well-known candy bar. This action was taken to protect allergy sufferers who believe that in this instance the labeling term “carbohydrate” is too broad. Also needing better protection are the diabetics and the hyperkinetics who are subject to the same problems produced by broad labeling of “carbohydrate” or “color added.”
Influenced Child Behavior
When doctors or parents have treated hyperkinetic children with natural diets, some have gone through withdrawal pangs similar to those addicted to hard drugs or the caffeine in cola drinks. Few parents realize that a small bottle of cola contains about half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and in addition has a heavy sugar syrup content used to cut the bitter caffeine taste. In an experiment at the college level several years ago, cola drinks were found to be habit forming. It is regrettable that most food advertising directed at and to children usually involves presweetened food with little if any nutritious content.
Of the estimated 940 hours per year that children watch TV, one fifth of the time is spent watching commercials. Highly paid advertising specialists carefully compose these commercials so that the realness of action will impress the children to act likewise. As children are imitators, their nutritional habits and behavioral patterns have been so affected that the Committee on Children’s television has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to end all brand name TV advertisements aimed at preschool children.
Refined foods of high caloric value usually interfere with normal assimilation and elimination. In this regard, nutritional scientist Dr. N.W. Walker advises: “Constipation, more likely than not, begins at birth and is aggravated by the bland and incompatible lifeless ‘baby foods,’ alluringly advertised and even prescribed.”
Additives and Hyperactivity
Several other experts now estimate that additives such as artificial food colors, flavorings, and preservatives may be involved in about 40 percent of the behavior problems of our nation’s children. Some of them believe that this result of modern food processing is a form of subliminal genocide. Newly completed research done by the New York Institute for Child Development indicates that there is also a connection between consumption of sugar and the condition known as hyperactivity or hyperkinesis. Apparently, the condition has steadily increased in proportion to the increased use of food additives. The condition was first observed by Dr. George F. Still in 1902, at the time when food additives came into use. He called the condition a “morbid defect of moral control.”
In 1957 Dr. Maurice W. Laufer, a psychiatrist from Providence, RI, referred to it as a “hyperkinetic impulse disorder.” Since 1937, tranquilizing-type drugs have been prescribed by personal physicians, sometimes demanded by teachers who insisted on better control or restraint of such children. The first inkling of help came in 1973 when Dr. Benjamin F. Feingold found that a diet eliminating food containing artificial coloring, flavoring, and salicylates aided 50 percent of these children in mind and bodily health. Although his favorable effects have been verified in another study by the Food Research Institute of the University of Wisconsin, food processors and additive producers continue to pressure affirmative government action against discontinuing any of those found to be carcinogens or otherwise at fault.
“How Sweet It Is”
The millions of dollars spent by industry for full page advertising against the recent saccharin ban is a good example of profit versus health. As a drug, saccharin has been available for medical prescription for the treatment of diabetes for eighty years. Presently listed as a drug by the FDA, it will continue to be available where medically needed. It has only been used as a food additive since the late 1940s and became available in soft drinks in the 1950s. The ban, which has been postponed for eighteen months by industrial pressure on Congress, was instituted because saccharin caused bladder cancer in rats. In the past, researchers have said that the animal experiments upon which such regulatory decisions are based do have a sensible rationale and a direct bearing on the risk to humans.
Accordingly, Dr. David Rall, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, says that in “comparing the susceptibility of animals and humans at the same dosage, the animals seem to reflect human risks with reasonable accuracy.” And quite logically, “the greater number and variety of living cells in humans that are potential targets for carcinogens suggest that humans, overall, may be more vulnerable than animals.”
Substantial experimental evidence has now been accumulated to show that cancer is a “universal” disease among mammals. It is well to remember that the foreign scientists who made the tests, in the pursuit of food research, were in no way obligated to our food industry. Contrary to insinuations about the authenticity of these tests, we quote a cancer expert. “If anything, the saccharin experiments the Canadian government completed last year (1976) that led to the FDA action were more sophisticated than most such feeding tests,” according to Dr. Marvin Schneiderman of the National Cancer Institute.
“Is It Safe to Use Them?”
The safety of artificial sweeteners in food is not a new issue. They have in fact been under suspicion since 1951. An article in the March 1966 issue of Applied Trophology asked the above question. This was at the time that the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation determined that tests with cyclamates, another popular sweetener, stunted animal growth, affected ability to conceive, and resulted in death in some litters. When further tests revealed they were carcinogenic, the FDA invoked the Delaney Amendment ban. This is the only weapon this agency has to bar cancer-causing products and the only legal protection the consumer has to avoid them. So far, this important protective law has been used far too infrequently. Perhaps this is because every time it is used, it seems the concerned industries battle through the courts or through advertising to reverse the decision.
Examples of such controversy are the cyclamates, FD&C Red Dyes #2, #4, and #40, the synthetic female hormone DES, and now saccharin. FD&C Red Dye #2 has been one of the most widely used additives and suspected as being unsafe as far back as 1966. It was finally taken out of production late in 1977. Because of court appeals by the users it has, as Senator Gaylord Nelson stated, “taken twelve years too long to get Red Dye #2 out of production.”
The joker in a production ban is that the supply on hand will last for years. Then too we still have such highly contested food additives as sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, nitrites, BHA, BHT, DES, and more dyes. Also, the water additives chlorine and fluorine are in practically all of our foods. It seems that fluorine, promoted to prevent cavitated holes in the head, has now been with us long enough for statistics to show that it can also promote cancerous tumors. And lately we have been told that chlorine has been found to unite with proteins to form hazardous compounds. Scientists are almost unanimous in the belief that no “threshold” exists below which the risk of a carcinogen disappears. Apparently, the smaller the dose the longer it takes.
An Old Hazard
The addition of chlorine bleach to cereal products, especially white flour, creates another menace. The resulting oxidation causes a chemical conversion of the nutritional component xanthine into alloxan, a product formed by the oxidation of uric acid. This substance has rendered test animals permanently diabetic. As a result of these experiments, it was determined that alloxan caused degeneration of the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. The symptoms and the degeneration of the pancreatic islets were the same as seen in human diabetes mellitus. Also to be considered is this: with the cereal grain bran covering being stripped off in the making of dry cereals or milling white flour, practically all that remains is starch. And since starch is digested and assimilated as sugar, we may in some instances increase our carbohydrate environmental factor beyond safe limits.
All this processing must be considered hazardous to almost six million Americans, including many children, also victims of diabetes. As in the recent past, it is now presumed that another six hundred thousand may be added this year. According to Carol Lurie, president of the Juvenile Diabetic Foundation, a child born today has a one in five chance of becoming a diabetic if he or she lives to the age of seventy. Clinicians advise that the younger the child is when the disease has its inception, the more difficult it is to keep under control. A high carbohydrate diet is considered contributory. As a highly refined carbohydrate sugar has lost all nutritional value and furnishes only calories.
A New Hazard
Instead of cutting down on sugared carbohydrate foods, obese people have been advised to use saccharin-laced foods and drinks as dietary aids. Now that the truth is known, it doesn’t seem reasonable that obese people will continue to trade their painless fat for an eventual painful cancer. Obesity being a form of malnutrition, apparently the answer lies with each individual and not in the use of food substitutes. Scientists advise that the smaller the dosage of a carcinogen, the more years it takes to accomplish its foul deed. This fact has only recently come to the attention of medical clinicians. Some twenty to thirty years ago it was common medical practice to prescribe female hormones for pregnant women. Now many of the daughters of these women are found to be afflicted with cervical tumors. The synthetic female hormone DES may not have been involved in some of the earlier instances. However, several years ago some young women in England had menstrual problems from eating the meat of cattle fed DES as a fattener in cattle food.
Criticism of Food Additives
These are not just recent criticisms of food additives. In the May 1966 issue of Applied Trophology we advised that the expert committee on food additives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the World Health Organization (WHO) were highly critical of the food dyes considered safe by our FDA. And in 1967, WHO’s Technical Report Series No. 348 emphasized the need for further study into the interrelationships between these food additives and other chemicals in the human environment. The report further stated: “Information on this matter is important since the toxicity of a food additive may be enhanced or diminished by other chemicals in the environment.”
It also suggested efforts should be made to identify possible mutagenic and teratogenic hazards of food additives. Needless to say, this international suggestion has been bypassed in this country, no doubt as a result of protests by the chemical and drug industries. In the meantime, research funds have been, as Senator Proxmire said, “Wasted on trivial and irrelevant things.” Apparently, they have already forgotten the thalidomide catastrophe and the kids with nubbins for hands.
Recently Dr. Jacqueline Verrett, an FDA biochemist, coauthored a book entitled Eating May Be Hazardous to Your Health. In it she is highly critical of the ever-increasing chemicalization of our food. It was Dr. Verrett who in 1969 alerted us to the dangerous effects of sweeteners such as the cyclamates and the suspected cancer potential of saccharin. Now that saccharin has also been identified as a source of cancer the concerned industries are fighting to save their sweetened dollars. They have worked Congress into an eighteen-month postponement of the ban and have found support in the AMA, most of whose members should know about cancer even if they don’t know too much about nutrition. They have solicited the obese parents also to petition Congress for saccharin in their food and in the drinks for their children. Is this going to be another drug tragedy like thalidomide?
Some time ago a soft drink company official advised us that two-thirds of their business came from the diet drinks and that if no substitute was found for saccharin they might be out of business. Should business have a priority over cancer or does business consider health to be just a word in the dictionary to become obsolete or pushed into oblivion? It is true that diabetics have lived with saccharin for a long time, but it is also true that many of them succumb to either cancer or a heart condition with saccharin a probable contributor.
We suspect that our cancer-causing additives have not only killed Canadian rats but also domestic rats, U.S. senators, congressmen, AMA officials, government employees, and other just average consumers who were not proponents. These proponents desire to keep the status quo on diet food and drinks and are only using the saccharin ban to modify the Delaney clause in their favor. Or, as Dr. Verrett declares: “Government and industry, almost in unison, have been quietly hammering away at the Delaney clause, trying to think of politically acceptable ways to modify it, which per se would destroy it.”
Bills to this effect are now in Congress, so it behooves all consumers to contact their representatives in the House and in the Senate to advise them that we as consumers do not like being force fed with mostly untested additives. We should also let them know that our benefactor Representative Delaney was right and that we as consumers do need, and will continue to need, the protection of this legal clause which states:
“No additive shall be deemed to be safe if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal or, if it is found, after tests which are appropriate for the evaluation of the safety of food additives, to induce cancer in man or animal.”
Perhaps some good will come out of the eighteen-month moratorium as tests are proposed for recent controversial chemicals such as hair dyes, fluoridation of water, occupational exposures, and smoking. It will be a massive survey. Guy R. Newell of the National Cancer Institute said: “We’re not going to all this effort just for saccharin.”
We are sure that all consumers appreciate this forced late effort but, as another quotation states, “Better late than never.” And regardless of the result of these proposed tests we still need the Delaney Amendment to protect our future health.