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Resveratrol Causes Rogue Cells to Self-Destruct

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A Swiss study1 involving lab mice suggests the grape constituent resveratrol may be effective in treating lung cancer, at least when administered nasally in high doses. The researchers observed a 45 percent decrease in tumor load in mice treated with resveratrol, noting they also developed fewer and smaller tumors than untreated mice.

Despite the favorable outcome showing resveratrol’s ability to cause rogue cells to self-destruct, more research is needed. This is so mainly because resveratrol, upon ingestion as an oral dose, is metabolized and eliminated within minutes — well before it has time to reach the lungs.

Pterostilbene is another potent plant compound similar to resveratrol that you may want to check out. It is the primary polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries and although it possesses many similar properties, pterostilbene outperforms resveratrol with its superior bioavailability.

Lung Cancer: The World’s Deadliest Cancer

According to The Global Cancer Observatory, a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), lung cancer, which is the deadliest form of cancer in the world, has claimed more than 1.7 million lives so far in 2018.2 Deaths from lung cancer outpace those from cancers of the breast, pancreas and prostate combined.

Notably, the American Lung Association suggests smoking contributes to 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths.3 The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report in 2004 stating men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop this type of cancer than nonsmokers, whereas female smokers face a 13fold increased risk.4

Even if you have never smoked, you still may be at risk for lung cancer. A 2006 report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asserts nonsmokers have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer if exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.5

Given the statistics, there is a clear need to continually emphasize the need to forgo the use of tobacco. If you smoke, this is yet another wake-up call emphasizing the need to quit smoking.

What Is Resveratrol and Why Is It Good for You?

Authors of the Swiss study on resveratrol and lung cancer suggest it is “one of the most studied natural products, notably for its cancer chemoprevention properties.”6 Indeed, more than 11,000 studies involving this compound can be found on the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) PubMed.gov website.7

Given the popularity of resveratrol in scientific research, you may wonder why it commands so much attention. The massive interest in resveratrol comes about mainly due to its ability to act as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are well-known for their antiaging and health-promoting properties, especially with respect to preventing free radical damage.

As mentioned in the featured video, resveratrol can neutralize and control free radicals, which are generated by your body in the course of normal activities like breathing, exercise and metabolism. An overabundance of free radicals can contribute to aging and a host of diseases.

Specifically, resveratrol is a polyphenol designed to increase the life span of plants through disease resistance and stressors such as disease, drastic climate changes and too much ultraviolet light. As you may imagine, humans face some of those same threats, making resveratrol a potential booster of human, as well as plant, health.

Resveratrol is found in food sources such as blueberries, grape skins, pomegranates, raspberries and red wine, as well as dark chocolate and raw cacao, among other plant-based foods. Lest you think, however, that a few extra glasses of wine would bring about the antiaging and neuroprotective benefits of resveratrol, be advised otherwise.

Gregorio Valdez, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and co-author of an earlier study investigating the antiaging potential of resveratrol, notes, “In wine, resveratrol is in such small amounts you could not drink enough of it in your life to have the benefits we found in mice given resveratrol.”8

Because alcohol is a neurotoxin known to damage your brain and organs, I advise you get resveratrol from other food sources or a supplement.

Researchers Cautiously Optimistic About the Effects of Resveratrol on Lung Cancer

As mentioned, research performed by a team of scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland involving the administration of resveratrol to lab mice suggests it may be useful in treating lung cancer.

“We tried to prevent lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol … in a mouse model,” said Muriel Cuendet, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of pharmaceutical sciences at UNIGE.9

The study featured four groups of mice treated three times a week for 25 weeks: an untreated control group, a second group receiving just the carcinogen, a third group getting both the carcinogen and resveratrol treatment and a fourth given resveratrol only.

Given the positive outcomes, Cuendet said, “Resveratrol could therefore play a preventive role against lung cancer.”11 The resveratrol solution given equated to about 1.2 milligrams (mg) per mouse or about 60 mg per kilogram. In terms of outcomes, the researchers observed:10

  • The resveratrol-treated mice showed a 27 percent decrease in tumor multiplicity and developed smaller tumors than the untreated mice
  • A 45 percent decrease in tumor load per mouse in the treated mice
  • When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to the carcinogen, 63 percent of the resveratrol-treated mice failed to develop cancer, compared to just 13 percent of the untreated mice
  • In vitro experiments suggest resveratrol’s chemoprevention mechanism is most likely related to apoptosis (programmed cell death), a process known to destroy rogue cells

Resveratrol’s Low Bioavailability Limits Its Effectiveness When Taken Orally

Despite the results with lab mice, it is unclear if resveratrol would have the same effects in humans afflicted with lung cancer, mainly because of how quickly it is metabolized and eliminated — well before it could reach the lungs. About resveratrol’s low bioavailability, the author of a 2011 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences stated:12

“The oral absorption of resveratrol in humans is about 75 percent and is thought to occur mainly by transepithelial diffusion. Extensive metabolism in the intestine and liver results in an oral bioavailability considerably less than 1 percent. Dose escalation and repeated dose administration of resveratrol does not appear to alter this significantly.

Metabolic studies, both in plasma and in urine, have revealed major metabolites to be glucuronides and sulfates of resveratrol. However, reduced dihydroresveratrol conjugates, in addition to highly polar unknown products, may account for as much as 50 percent of an oral resveratrol dose.

Although major sites of metabolism include the intestine and liver (as expected), colonic bacterial metabolism may be more important than previously thought.”

With that in mind, Aymeric Monteillier, a scientist in the UNIGE school of pharmaceutical sciences and lead study author of the current research, commented, “This is why our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration.”13

Monteillier went on to suggest this mouse-tested formulation could be applicable to humans and may possibly allow the compound to reach human lungs.

Underscoring the benefits of an alternative method of administration, the UNIGE researchers noted the resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs of mice after nasal administration was 22 times higher than what would have been found if the treatment had been given orally.14

Health Benefits Associated With Resveratrol

Previous studies suggest resveratrol may benefit your health in the following ways:






Combats free radicals15


Improves brain blood flow and suppresses brain inflammation16


Contains antimicrobial and antioxidant properties17,18


May protect against depression19,20


Delivers antiaging effects21


Mimics the effects of calorie restriction22


Enhances learning and memory23


Provides neuroprotective benefits24,25

Best Sources of Resveratrol

While resveratrol can be sourced in small amounts from the foods mentioned previously, muscadine grapes contain the highest concentration — most especially in the skin and seeds. As noted, blueberries and raspberries are other sources.

Due to the fact whole fruit contains fructose, be sure to moderate your intake to ensure you consume less than 25 mg of fructose a day if you are healthy. If you are dealing with a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes, you’ll want to further restrict your daily fructose intake to 15 mg or less until your health improves.

Because it is unlikely you will be able to get therapeutic amounts of resveratrol from food, you might consider adding a whole food resveratrol supplement. I regularly take one that features both grape seed extract and grape skin extract from muscadine grapes.

One serving of that supplement, which contains 50 mg of resveratrol, contains the same amount of resveratrol you’d find in 39 eight-ounce glasses of wine. To prevent your body from developing a tolerance to resveratrol, I recommend you cycle it — consuming it on weekdays, for example, and taking a break from it on weekends.

What’s Next for Resveratrol Research and Lung Cancer?

Now that the intranasal method of administration has been established, the UNIGE team is moving on to identify a potential biomarker that will support them in selecting people eligible for preventive treatment with resveratrol.

As noted by the study authors, “This study presents an effective way to overcome [resveratrol’s] low oral bioavailability, encouraging a reevaluation of its use in future clinical trials.”26

Interestingly, the scientists suggest resveratrol could potentially benefit current and former smokers were it to be successfully developed for use in nebulizers and e-cigarettes. Given the health hazards associated with them, I cannot recommend e-cigarettes or vaping as safe alternatives to smoking. That said, the researchers commented:27

“For ex-smokers, one could easily imagine a nebulizer similar to those used for beta-2-sympathomimetic administration in asthma …

A [resveratrol] containing electronic cigarette could combine the advantage of pharmacological cancer chemopreventive activity with promotion of the transition from conventional tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.”

An Alternative to Resveratrol: Pterostilbene May Be Even Better

Besides resveratrol, a lesser-known inflammation fighter called pterostilbene also deserves attention. It is the predominant polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries. Similar to resveratrol, pterostilbene is a stilbene but it has far superior bioavailability.

While resveratrol is considered to be about 20 to 25 percent bioavailable, pterostilbene is known for its 80 percent bioavailability, meaning your body can use it more effectively and efficiently.28 Some experts suggest the two compounds are better when consumed together, noting they will act synergistically to boost your health and help prevent disease. About pterostilbene, authors of a 2013 study designed to review its antioxidant properties stated:29,30

“The antioxidant activity of pterostilbene has been implicated in anticarcinogenesis, modulation of neurological disease, anti-inflammation, attenuation of vascular disease and amelioration of diabetes.

Substantial evidence suggests that pterostilbene may have numerous preventive and therapeutic properties in a vast range of human diseases that include neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and hematologic disorders.

Further benefits of pterostilbene have been reported in preclinical trials, in which pterostilbene was shown to be a potent anticancer agent in several malignancies.”

In terms of pterostilbene’s value as an anticancer compound, the researchers said:31

“Studies suggest pterostilbene exhibits the hallmark characteristics of an effective anticancer agent based on its antineoplastic properties in several common malignancies. In vitro models have shown pterostilbene inhibits cancer growth through alteration of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and inhibition of metastasis.

In vivo, pterostilbene inhibits tumorigenesis and metastasis with negligible toxicity. Pterostilbene has also been shown to be effective as an inducer of antioxidant capacity in multiple cancer cell lines that may facilitate its function as an anticarcinogenic compound.

Additionally, preliminary studies show pterostilbene exhibits much greater bioavailability compared [to] other stilbene compounds.”

Before You Begin Taking Resveratrol and Pterostilbene, Talk to Your Health Care Provider

Beyond the benefits already mentioned, a study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine32 suggests when given in daily doses of 250 mg, pterostilbene also can be useful to lower your blood pressure. Additionally, it has been shown to reduce anxiety in experiments involving lab mice.33

While the news about resveratrol and pterostilbene seems promising, more research is needed to validate the true extent of their health-benefiting potential. Before you begin taking either or both of them in supplement form, I suggest you talk to your health care practitioner first.

As you may imagine, taking any supplement indiscriminately is unlikely to have beneficial effects. Why? Because your body does best when it receives the right nutrients at the right time, in the right amount. Keep that guiding principle in mind as you seek to take control of your health.

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Sweet! Here are 7 reasons to eat sweet potatoes

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(Natural News) Sweet potatoes may not be as popular as regular potatoes, which is too bad — since they’re packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sweet potatoes can provide more than 100 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. It’s also rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Both purple and orange varieties contain antioxidants that can protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Eating sweet potatoes is beneficial for your health

Sweet potatoes are brimming with micronutrients and antioxidants —  making them useful to your health. Below is a list of reasons why you should incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

They improve brain function

The purple variety of sweet potato contains anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that anthocyanins are effective at improving cognitive function. Moreover, the results suggest that purple yams can help protect against memory loss. Antioxidants from the purple variety safeguard the brain against damage from free radicals and inflammation.

They aid digestion

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber. This macronutrient prevents constipation, diarrhea, and bloating by adding bulk and drawing water to the stool. In addition, fiber keeps a healthy balance in the gut by promoting the growth of good bacteria.

They slow down aging

The beta-carotene in orange sweet potatoes can help reduce damage caused by prolonged sun exposure. This is especially true for people diagnosed with erythropoietic protoporphyria and other photosensitive diseases. Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. Free radicals are not only linked to diseases but also premature aging.

They boost the immune system

Orange and purple sweet potatoes are loaded with a good number of antioxidants that help protect the body from harmful molecules that cause inflammation and damage DNA. This, in turn, protects the body from chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

They can prevent cancer

Eating sweet potatoes can help protect against various types of cancers. The compounds in sweet potatoes restrict the development of cancer cells. Test tube studies have shown that anthocyanins can prevent cancers in the bladder, breast, colon, and stomach.

They lower blood sugar

Despite its relatively high glycemic index, studies have shown that the regular intake of sweet potatoes can help lower blood sugar, thanks to the presence of dietary fiber. While fiber falls under carbohydrates, it is digested differently, compared to starchy and sugary forms of carbohydrates. Interestingly, insulin doesn’t process fiber (unlike other types which get turned into glucose), and it only passes through the digestive tract.

They promote healthy vision

Orange sweet potatoes are rich in a compound called beta-carotene, an antioxidant which transforms into vitamin A in the body. Adequate intake of vitamin A promotes eye health. Conversely, deficiencies in vitamin A have been linked to a particular type of blindness called xerophthalmia.

Sweet potatoes are easy to incorporate into your everyday meals. They are best prepared boiled but can also be baked, roasted, or steamed — they can even replace other carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, and toast. (Related: Understanding the phytochemical and nutrient content of sweet potato flours from Vietnam.)

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Frostbite: What it is and how to identify, treat it

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Manitoba’s temperature has plummeted to its coldest level this season, triggering warnings about the extreme risk of frostbite.

Oh, we know it’s cold. We can feel Jack Frost nipping at our noses. But what about when he gnaws a little harder — what exactly does “frostbite” mean?

People tend to underestimate the potential for severe injuries in the cold, says the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. We laugh off the sting of the deep freeze, rub our hands back from the brink of numbness and wear our survival proudly like a badge.

That’s because, in most cases, frostbite can be treated fairly easily, with no long-term effects.

But it can also lead to serious injury, including permanent numbness or tingling, joint stiffness, or muscle weakness. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation.

Bitter cold can cause frostbite in just minutes. Here’s how to recognize the warning signs and treat them. 0:59

Here’s a guide to identifying the first signs, how to treat them, and when to seek medical help.

What is frostbite and frostnip?

Frostbite is defined as bodily injury caused by freezing that results in loss of feeling and colour in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes — those areas most often exposed to the air.

Cooling of the body causes a narrowing of the blood vessels, slowing blood flow. In temperatures below –4 C, ice crystals can form in the skin and the tissue just below it.

Frostnip most commonly affects the hands and feet. It initially causes cold, burning pain, with the area affected becoming blanched. It is easy to treat and with rewarming, the area becomes reddened.

Frostbite is the acute version of frostnip, when the soft tissue actually freezes. The risk is particularly dangerous on days with a high wind chill factor. If not quickly and properly treated, it can lead to the loss of tissues or even limbs. 

Signs of frostbite

Health officials call them the four P’s:

  • Pink: Skin appears reddish in colour, and this is usually the first sign.
  • Pain: The cold becomes painful on skin.
  • Patches: White, waxy-feeling patches show when skin is dying.
  • Prickles: Affected areas feel numb or have reduced sensation.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Reduced body temperature.
  • Swelling.
  • Blisters.
  • Areas that are initially cold, hard to the touch.

Take quick action

If you do get frostbite, it is important to take quick action.

  • Most cases of frostbite can be treated by heating the exposed area in warm (not hot) water.
  • Immersion in warm water should continue for 20-30 minutes until the exposed area starts to turn pink, indicating the return of blood circulation.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on frostbitten nose or earlobes.
  • If you don’t have access to warm water, underarms are a good place to warm frostbitten fingers. For feet, put them against a warm person’s skin.
  • Drink hot fluids such as hot chocolate, coffee or tea when warming.
  • Rest affected limbs and avoid irritation to the skin.
  • E​levate the affected limb once it is rewarmed.

Rewarming can take up to an hour and can be painful, especially near the end of the process as circulation returns. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help with the discomfort.

Do not …

There are a number of things you should avoid:

  • Do not warm the area with dry heat, such as a heating pad, heat lamp or electric heater, because frostbitten skin is easily burned.
  • Do not rub or massage affected areas. This can cause more damage.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not walk on your feet or toes if they are frozen.
  • Do not break blisters.

Seek immediate medical attention

While you can treat frostbite yourself if the symptoms are minor — the skin is red, there is tingling — you should seek immediate medical attention at an emergency department if:

  • The exposed skin is blackened.
  • You see white-coloured or grey-coloured patches.
  • There is severe pain or the area is completely numb.
  • The skin feels unusually firm and is not sensitive to touch after one hour of rewarming.
  • There are large areas of blistering.
  • There is a bluish discolouration that does not resolve with rewarming.

Be prepared

The best way to avoid frostbite is to be prepared for the weather in the first place.

Wear several loose layers of clothing rather than a single, thick layer to provide good insulation and keep moisture away from your skin.

The outer garment should breathe but be waterproof and windproof, with an inner thermal layer. Retain body heat with a hat and scarf. Mittens are warmer than gloves because they keep the fingers together.

Be sure your clothing protects your head, ears, nose, hands and feet, especially for children.

Wind chill and frostbite rates

Wind chill: 0 to –9.
Frostbite risk: Low.

Wind chill: –28 to –39.
Frostbite risk: Moderate.

Exposed skin can freeze in 10-30 minutes

Wind chill: –40 to –47.
Frostbite risk: High.

Exposed skin can freeze in five to 10 minutes.

Wind chill: –48 to –54.
Frostbite risk: Very High.

Exposed skin can freeze in two to five minutes.

Wind chill: –55 and lower.
Frostbite risk: Extremely High.

Exposed skin can freeze in less than two minutes.
 

NOTE: In sustained winds over 50 km/h, frostbite can occur faster than indicated.

Source: Environment Canada

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Awkward Flu Jabs Attempted at Golden Globes

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In what can only be described as a new level of propaganda, hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh featured a flu shot stunt during the 76th Golden Globe Awards ceremony. They told the audience to roll up their sleeves, as they would all be getting flu shots, while people in white coats stormed down the aisles, syringes in hand.

Most of the audience looked thoroughly uneasy at the prospect of having a stranger stick them with a needle in the middle of an awards show. But perhaps the worst part of the scene was when Samberg added that anti-vaxxers could put a napkin over their head if they wanted to be skipped, basically suggesting that anyone opposed to a flu shot deserved to be branded with a proverbial scarlet letter.

The flu shots, for the record, were reportedly fake,1 nothing more than a bizarre gag that left many people stunned by the Globe’s poor taste in turning a serious medical choice into a publicity gimmick.

Flu Shot Stunt Reeks of Desperation

Whoever came up with the idea to turn the Golden Globes into a platform for a public health message probably thought it was ingenious, but the stunt only serves as a seemingly desperate attempt to make flu shots relevant and in vogue. During the 2017 to 2018 flu season, only 37 percent of U.S. adults received a flu shot, a 6 percent drop from the prior season.2

“To improve flu vaccination coverage for the 2018-19 flu season, health care providers are encouraged to strongly recommend and offer flu vaccination to all of their patients,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wrote. “People not visiting a provider during the flu season have many convenient places they can go for a flu vaccination.”3

Yet, perhaps the decline in people choosing to get vaccinated has nothing to do with convenience and everything to do with their dismal rates of efficacy. In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the influenza vaccine was less than 50 percent effective more than half of the time.4

The 2017/2018 flu vaccine was a perfect example of this trend. The overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza A and B virus infection was just 36 percent.5

Health officials blamed the flu season’s severity on the dip in vaccination rates, but as Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told USA Today, “[I]t is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated.”6

But bringing flu shots to the Golden Globes, and calling out “anti-vaxxers,” is nothing more than “medical care, by shame,” noted Dr. Don Harte, a chiropractic activist in California. “But it was entertaining, in a very weird way, including the shock and disgust of some of the intended victims, notably [Willem Dafoe],” he said, adding:7

“This Hollywood publicity stunt for the flu vaccine is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen from celebrities. But it does go with the flu shot itself, which is, perhaps, the stupidest of all the vaccines available.”

Did 80,000 People Really Die From the Flu Last Year?

The CDC reported that 79,400 people died from influenza during the 2017/2018 season, which they said “serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.”8 It’s important to remember, however, that the 80,000 deaths figure being widely reported in the media is not actually all “flu deaths.”

According to the CDC, “We look at death certificates that have pneumonia or influenza causes (P&I), other respiratory and circulatory causes (R&C), or other nonrespiratory, noncirculatory causes of death, because deaths related to flu may not have influenza listed as a cause of death.”9

As for why the CDC doesn’t base flu mortality estimates only on death certificates that list influenza, they noted, “Seasonal influenza may lead to death from other causes, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease … Additionally, some deaths — particularly among the elderly — are associated with secondary complications of seasonal influenza (including bacterial pneumonias).”10

In other words, “flu deaths” are not just deaths directly caused by the influenza virus, but also secondary infections such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, as well as sepsis.11

According to the CDC, most of the deaths occurred among those aged 65 years and over, a population that may already have preexisting conditions that makes them more susceptible to infectious diseases. As Harte said of annual flu deaths, “[M]ost if not all, I would assume, are of people who are already in very bad shape.12

CDC Claims Flu Vaccine Reduces Flu Deaths in the Elderly — But Does It?

Since people aged 65 and over are those most at risk from flu complications and death, the CDC has been vocal in their claims that the flu shot significantly reduces flu-related deaths among this population. The research, however, says otherwise.

Research published in 2005 found no correlation between increased vaccination rates among the elderly and reduced mortality. According to the authors, “Because fewer than 10 percent of all winter deaths were attributable to influenza in any season, we conclude that observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.”13

A 2006 study also showed that even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying during flu season than unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also 61 percent less like to die before the flu season ever started.14

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Journalist Jeremy Hammond summed up the CDC’s continued spreading of misinformation regarding the flu vaccine’s effectiveness in the elderly, as they continue to claim it’s the best way to prevent the flu:15

[T]here is no good scientific evidence to support the CDC’s claim that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations or deaths among the elderly.

The types of studies the CDC has relied on to support this claim have been thoroughly discredited due to their systemic ‘healthy user’ selection bias, and the mortality rate has observably increased along with the increase in vaccine uptake — which the CDC has encouraged with its unevidenced claims about the vaccine’s benefits, downplaying of its risks, and a marketing strategy of trying to frighten people into getting the flu shot for themselves and their family.”

Death of Vaccinated Child Blamed on Not Getting Second Dose

In January 2019, the state of Colorado reported the first child flu death of the 2018/2019 flu season — a child who had received influenza vaccination. But instead of highlighting the vaccine’s failure and clear limitations, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment blamed the death on the child being only “partially vaccinated.”

“It’s an unfortunate but important reminder of the importance of two doses of influenza vaccine for young children who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time,” Dr. Rachel Herlihy, who is the state communicable disease epidemiologist, said in a news release.16 For those who aren’t aware, the CDC notes that one dose of flu shot may not be enough to protect against the flu. Instead, they state:17

“Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season …

The first dose ‘primes’ the immune system; the second dose provides immune protection. Children who only get one dose but need two doses can have reduced or no protection from a single dose of flu vaccine.”

Not only may the flu vaccine fail to provide protection against the flu, but many people are not aware that other types of viruses are responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory infections during any given flu season.18 The flu vaccine does not protect against or prevent any of these other types of respiratory infections causing influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms.

The chance of contracting actual type A or B influenza, caused by one of the three or four influenza virus strains included in the vaccine, is much lower compared to getting sick with another type of viral or bacterial infection during the flu season.

Does Flu Vaccine Increase the Risk of Influenza Infection, Contribute to Vaccine Shedding?

There are serious adverse effects that can come along with annual flu vaccination, including potentially lifelong side effects such as Guillain Barré syndrome and chronic shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA). They may also increase your risk of contracting more serious flu infections, as research suggests those who have been vaccinated annually may be less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.19

Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego also revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.20

There’s also the potential for vaccine shedding, which has taken on renewed importance with the reintroduction of the live virus vaccine FluMist during the 2018/2019 season. While the CDC states that the live flu virus in FluMist is too weak to actually give recipients the flu, research has raised some serious doubts that this is the case.

One recent study revealed not only that influenza virus may be spread via simple breathing (i.e., no sneezing or coughing required) but also that repeated vaccination increases the amount of virus released into the air.21

MedImmune, the company that developed FluMist, is aware that the vaccine sheds vaccine-strain virus. In its prescribing information, they describe a study on the transmission of vaccine-strain viruses from vaccinated children to nonvaccinated children in a day care setting.

In 80 percent of the FluMist recipients, at least one vaccine-strain virus was isolated anywhere from one to 21 days following vaccination. They further noted, “One placebo subject had mild symptomatic Type B virus infection confirmed as a transmitted vaccine virus by a FluMist recipient in the same playgroup.”22

Are There Other Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season?

Contrary to the CDC’s and Golden Globe’s claims that flu vaccinations are a great way to prevent flu, other methods exist to help you stay healthy during the flu season and all year, and they’re far safer than annual flu vaccination. Vitamin D testing and optimization have been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient, for instance.23,24

In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best respiratory illness prevention and optimal health strategies available. Influenza has also been treated with high-dose vitamin C,25 and taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of respiratory illness can also be helpful.

Following other basic tenets of health, like eating right, getting sound sleep, exercising and addressing stress are also important, as is regularly washing your hands.

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