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Whole Foods Market Rated Worst for Toxic Food Packaging

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While you might expect eating at fast-food restaurants would negatively affect your health, you may not think purchasing food at Whole Foods Market, hailed for high food standards, may do the same thing — not due to the quality of the food itself, but rather the packaging in which they’re sold.

Deli foods and hot food bars use packaging coated with fluorinated chemicals in order to prevent grease from leaking through. Fluorinated chemicals and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are so ubiquitous that many are now detected in infants at birth.1

The two PFCs receiving the most publicity have been perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS), once widely used to make nonstick cookware and as a key ingredient in stain-resistant fabrics.2

Both have been associated with cancer, miscarriages, thyroid problems and more. While they have been phased out of use in the U.S., they are part of a family of PFCs, many of which are still in use across the U.S. and Europe.

Some stores have begun changing policies and others have been built on the premise of selling high quality, safe foods.3 However, the pervasive nature of PFCs and other toxic chemicals sometimes make it difficult for companies to live up to their own standards.

Grocery Store Chain Linked to Cancer Causing Chemical

A study released by consumer watchdog groups Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future4 reveals Amazon’s recently acquired grocer — Whole Foods Market — was the biggest offender in their analysis of paper products coming in contact with food. They found high levels of fluorine in five of the 17 items, four of which were containers in the salad and hot food bar.5

In all, samples from 20 stores across 12 states for a total of 78 samples, were tested. Whole Foods Market spokesperson Rachel Alkon told CNBC in an emailed statement:6

“Whole Foods Market introduced compostable containers to reduce our environmental footprint, but given new concerns about the possible presence of PFAS, we have removed all prepared foods and bakery packaging highlighted in the report. We’re actively working with our suppliers to find and scale new compostable packaging options.”

According to the researchers, in many cases retailers have PFAS-free packaging widely available and competitively priced for use in the bakery and deli.

The study found no PFAS treatment in trays used for cook-at-home food. The tests were focused on store brand, rather than name brand products, so the study was not a complete survey of the market.

In previous testing, researchers found PFAS in sandwich wrappers, french fry boxes and bakery bags. Since the chemicals migrate into food and contaminate compost piles and landfills after disposal, the use of PFAS leads to unnecessary long-term exposure to harmful chemicals for humans, wildlife and the environment.

Ranking Well in One Analysis Is Not a Blanket Recommendation

In this recent study sponsored by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future, Trader Joe’s was the only company that had zero items with PFAS.7 A spokesperson from Trader Joe’s pointed out they ask vendors to avoid using PFC substances. Additionally, the stores do not have food bars or delis, so takeout containers are typically not found.

However, in another analysis by the same watchdog group, Trader Joe’s did not fare so well. In their Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families Mind the Store campaign report, which analyzed 14 key safer chemical criteria, Trader Joe’s received an “F,” alongside other companies such as Panera Bread, Publix, Subway, Starbucks and McDonalds.

Mind the Store provided an in-depth evaluation of how each company scored in each criteria, along with recommendations on steps the companies could take to improve.8 They found many retailers failed to address the chemical safety of their products. Almost half lacked even the most basic public chemicals policy.

Unfortunately, food retailers seriously lagged behind other companies in reducing chemical hazards, such as phthalates and PFAS in packaging and other food contact materials.9

The researchers concluded the financial, legal and regulatory risks associated with toxic chemicals continues to grow and retailers cannot afford to wait for slow-paced government regulation to catch up with the backlog of untested chemicals. 10

Relying on self-policing by the chemical industry and product manufacturers will also not satisfy the concerns of consumers who are demanding greater transparency and safer products.

Their recommendations include publishing a written safer chemicals policy for each company with developed goals and metrics, and embracing radical transparency to meet rising consumer demand for full public disclosure.11

Testing Difficult Due to Pervasiveness of Thousands of Chemicals

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compile and keep a list of chemical substances manufactured or processed in the U.S.12 The list includes nearly 85,000 chemicals, among which 10,000 are allowed to be added to food and food-contact materials, either directly or indirectly.

However, few of them have been properly tested for safety. Fluorine and bisphenol compounds are among the chemicals currently used in food packaging with known negative health effects on humans and animals. These man-made chemicals leach from the containers or wrappings into the food.

A recent study analyzed water bottles from nine countries and found at least 93 percent had some sign of contamination from microplastics or plastic debris.13 The concern with exposure to microplastics containing bisphenol is that bisphenol is a hormone disrupting chemical that interferes with important pathways affecting the thyroid gland. The chemical also inhibits the effects of testosterone.14

Ingesting even low doses of chemicals from plastics over the course of years may interfere with your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis. Unfortunately, since most are exposed to these chemicals from many sources simultaneously, it’s difficult to measure their health impact specifically.

Still, compelling evidence has linked these chemicals with obesity, diabetes and problems with reproductive development. Animal studies reveal disturbing specifics when exposure is measured in animals comparable to humans.

How Fluorine and Bisphenol Affects Your Health

Bisphenol-A (BPA), commonly found in plastics, effects aquatic animals in a variety of ways, including as an estrogen imitator, blocking sex hormones and disrupting the thyroid hormone system.15 Chemical substitutes, such as bisphenol-S (BPS), are often structurally very similar to BPA and have similar effects on animals.

BPA has a significant effect on oocyte development, the precursors to female eggs, in rhesus monkeys.16 A review of the literature on plastic ingestion in humans and animals reported a wide range of effects, including dysfunctional sperm development, testicular damage and effect on thyroid hormones essential for normal neurological development.17

In 2006, the EPA determined PFOA is likely a human carcinogen.18 These chemicals are also known to be endocrine disruptors, producing birth defects, reproductive problems and other serious health problems in humans.

For example, researchers found women with higher levels of PFAS have 16 times greater risk of miscarriage than women with lower levels,19 while a recent study from Italy found boys with higher levels of PFAS had shorter and thinner male genitalia than those who had not been exposed.20

A report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on global contaminants, based on 50,000 pages of regulatory studies and documents, include health concerns as cancer, organ damage, hypothyroidism, birth defects and immune system problems.

PFCs are commonly found in takeout containers and sandwich wrappers, nonstick pans, popcorn bags, stain-repellent or water-repellent clothing, carpeting, furniture and certain cosmetics. Many of the earlier studies done on animals were performed by toxicologists giving animals doses much higher than what humans would be exposed to.

However, Dr. Frederick vom Saal, endocrinologist and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, explains that since plastic mimics hormones and are part of a complex feedback system, they don’t have a linear effect related to dose. In one study he found phthalates in food packaging had an adverse effect at doses many times lower than previously imagined.21 He goes on to say:22

“For toxins, the more you’re exposed to, the greater the effect. [But] that is not true of hormones. Hormones aren’t toxins; they’re regulatory molecules that operate at a trillionth of a gram level.”

American Academy of Pediatrics Demands Urgently Needed Oversight

In the face of growing evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), issued a policy statement calling for reforms to the U.S. food additive regulatory process to protect children. While some additives are put directly into food, others have an indirect effect. This includes plastics, glues, dyes and different types of coatings used for processing and packaging.

Of most concern to the AAP are bisphenols, phthalates, PFCs, perchlorates, artificial food coloring, nitrates and nitrites. Dr. Leonardo Trasande, one of the authors of the new AAP policy statement23 commented:24

“Chemicals that affect the endocrine system … can have lasting effects on a child since hormones coordinate complex functions throughout the body. Even small disruptions at key moments during development can have lifelong consequences,”

At the moment it’s up to consumers to manage their own exposure to chemicals since there is a surprising lack of regulatory oversight in the industry. Substances that are considered “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) fall into a category created for food items with a long history of use and no evidence of harmful side effects.

The AAP believes the current list of accepted polymers is too long, as the FDA doesn’t test chemicals on the list, leaving the decision up to the manufacturing companies, which don’t show any peer reviewed evidence before placing their products on the GRAS list. The AAP also explained their deep concern with the current lack of proper assessment for food additives in their statement.

The first of two reasons for this may be that manufacturing abilities far outpaces evidence-based research, making it nearly impossible to produce evidence guaranteeing complete safety. With the way chemicals are now allowed into the market, this places the burden of proof on regulators instead of manufacturers. The second reason may be the result of lobbying by the chemical industry.

For instance, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Dow Chemical spent close to $14 million in 2016 to lobby congress and federal agencies, and the American Chemistry Council, an umbrella organization lobbying on behalf of plastic manufacturers, spent between $5 million and $13 million lobbying annually since 2009.25

Take Action

Toxic chemicals hide in many products you use on an everyday basis. As noted by Mind the Store in their Retailer Report Card,26 “It’s time retailers put the interests of our families’ health above the special interests of chemical corporations. Big retailers can innovate to reduce or eliminate toxic chemicals from the products they carry and safeguard our health.”

If you agree, take action by contacting the CEOs of all 19 retailers with a failing score. Mind the Store makes it easy through their Action Network page.


>>>>> Click Here <<<<<

Limit Your Exposure to Reduce Your Health Risks

Considering all the potential sources of toxic chemicals, it’s virtually impossible to avoid them all, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit silently by while corporations use your home, water, air, food and body as a convenient chemical dumping ground. Until change occurs on a global scale, you can significantly limit your exposure by keeping a number of key principles in mind.



















Eat a diet focused on locally grown, fresh and ideally organic or biodynamically grown whole foods. Processed and packaged foods are a common source of chemicals, both in the food itself and the packaging. Wash fresh produce well, especially if it’s not organically grown.

Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality krill oil, or eat wild-caught Alaskan salmon, anchovies and sardines.

Choose certified organic grass fed meats and dairy to reduce your exposure to hormones, pesticides and fertilizers. Avoid milk and other dairy products containing genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).

Store your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.

Buy products in glass bottles rather than plastic or cans, as chemicals can leach out of plastics (and plastic can linings) into the contents; be aware that even “BPA-free” plastics typically leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are just as bad.

Use glass baby bottles.

Replace your nonstick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.

Look for Earth-friendly, animal-friendly, sustainable, certified organic and GMO-free products. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, furniture, mattresses and more.

Filter your tap water for both drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin readily absorbs contaminants. If your tap water is fluoridated, keep in mind that not all filter systems will filter out this toxic additive.

When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses or carpet padding, consider buying chemical-free varieties containing naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, cotton, silk and Kevlar, to avoid exposure to toxic flame retardants.

Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture and carpets to avoid PFCs.

Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove contaminated house dust. This is one of the major routes of exposure to flame-retardant chemicals.

Make sure your baby’s toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings and anything your child may be prone to suck or chew on — even books, which are often plasticized. It’s advisable to avoid all plastic, especially flexible varieties.

Switch to organic toiletries, including shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants and cosmetics. EWG’s Skin Deep database can help you find personal care products free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals.

Replace your vinyl shower curtain with a fabric one or install glass doors.

Use natural cleaning products or make your own. Avoid those containing 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) — two toxic glycol ethers that can compromise your fertility and cause fetal harm.

Look for fragrance-free products. One artificial fragrance can contain dozens of potentially toxic chemicals. Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets, which contain a plethora of synthetic chemicals and fragrances.

Replace feminine hygiene products (tampons and sanitary pads) with safer alternatives.

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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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