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Clean Up Your Cleaning Products

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This article is included in Dr. Mercola’s All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

With household cleaner use being as dangerous for your lung health as long-term smoking, clearing out your cleaning cabinet could be a really simple way of safeguarding your family’s health. It’s true, research1 from the University of Bergen in Norway has demonstrated that once-weekly use of cleaning products for 20 years may be equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 10 to 20 years.

The authors postulate the damage could be attributed to the irritation most chemicals cause on the mucous membranes lining your lungs. Over time, this can result in persistent changes and airway remodeling. As noted by senior author Cecilie Svanes, Ph.D., professor at the University of Bergen Center for International Health:2

“[W]hen you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising …

The take-home message of this study is that in the long run cleaning chemicals very likely cause rather substantial damage to your lungs. These chemicals are usually unnecessary; microfiber cloths and water are more than enough for most purposes.”

Household cleaning agents and personal care products are also the second and third most frequent cause for calls to poison control in the U.S., beating out both antipsychotics and antidepressants.3

Household Products Create as Much Air Pollution as Cars

Other recent research4 confirmed that many consumer products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as they evaporate, and once these chemicals migrate outside your home, they react with nitrogen oxides and heat, transforming into ozone. When exposed to sunlight, the VOCs transform into fine particulate matter.

In this way, common household products contribute to air pollution, not just inside the home but also outdoors. In fact, according to an air quality evaluation in the Los Angeles area, the amount of VOCs released by consumer products is two to three times greater than previously estimated.5,6

While the list of VOCs is exceedingly long, study team member Jessica Gilman, a research chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), notes that the easiest way to identify VOC-containing products is to look for the word “fragrances” on the label, as up to 2,000 different VOCs can be listed simply as “fragrance.”7

Two popular ones are limonene and beta-Pinene, frequently used in cleaning products and air fresheners as they smell like lemon and pine trees. The investigation was inspired by earlier measurements in Los Angeles demonstrating concentrations of VOCs were higher than could be predicted by burning fossil-fuels alone.8

Previous estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had found 75 percent of VOC emissions were from vehicles, but this study places the split closer to 50 percent, suggesting new air quality models may have to be adopted in order to reduce air pollution originating from consumer products.9

These findings also highlight the importance of addressing your indoor air quality, as VOCs are typically seven times higher indoors than outdoors.10 For a list of strategies you can use to lower and remediate indoor air pollution, see “Reduce Indoor Air Pollution.” A key strategy, however, is to stop introducing toxic chemicals into your home, and cleaning products are a major source.

Exposure to Cleaning Agents Has Both Acute and Long-Term Health Ramifications

While exposure to cleaning products in the long term may be equivalent to smoking, you may also suffer more immediate health consequences. A 2015 study11 evaluating exposure to cleaning products against short-term respiratory effects in women with asthma found the use of specific products at work exacerbated the participants’ condition. Long-term or chronic exposure to household cleaners and disinfectants has also been linked to:

An increase in asthmatic symptoms, increasing your risk of long-term effects associated with asthma, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung infections and scarred lung tissue.12 Individuals who suffer from diseases that fall under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may also experience frequent wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and increasing breathlessness13

Nervous system damage14

Low sperm count15

Irregularities in menstruation16

Miscarriage17

The most acutely dangerous cleaning products are corrosive drain cleaners, acidic toilet bowl cleaners and oven cleaners.18 Corrosive chemicals can cause severe burns, while chlorine bleach and ammonia-containing products produce fumes that are irritating to your eyes, throat and lungs.

Additionally, chlorine and ammonia pose a further threat as they react with other chemicals to form damaging gases. Fragrances added to many cleaning solutions can also trigger headaches and migraines.19

Mixing Cleaning Products Can Have Lethal Effects

Your cleaning products may also have lethal effects if you mix them together. For instance, mixing bleach with an ammonia-based product produces a toxic gas called chloramines, exposure to which may trigger chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath and pneumonia.20

Ammonia is commonly found in glass and window cleaners or interior and exterior paints, making bleach a poor choice for cleanup after painting.21 Combining bleach with an acid-based cleaner produces chlorine gas, which when combined with water will make hydrochloric and hypochlorous acids.22

Even low levels of exposure for a short time will result in eye, nose and throat irritation. Higher-level exposure will result in chest pain, vomiting, breathing difficulty and chemical-induced pneumonia. Vinegar is a mild acid, and mixing bleach with this common household liquid can result in chemical burns of your eyes and lungs.23 Other acid-based products include drain cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner and automatic dishwasher detergents.24

Bleach will also react with oven cleaners, hydrogen peroxide and some insecticides to produce toxic gas. Mixing bleach with products that contain isopropyl alcohol, such as rubbing alcohol, can produce gasses that have the potential to damage your nervous system, eyes, lungs, kidneys and liver.25

Ultimately, mixing any two commercial cleaners or drain cleaners together is a dangerous proposition, and the hazard inherent in the use of these cleaners is significant enough without the additional risks associated with mixing unknown chemicals.

8 Nontoxic Household Cleaning Products You Can Use

One of the primary reasons for cleaning your home regularly is to clear out many of the toxic chemicals accumulating in your dust. Flame-retardant chemicals and phthalates are among them, along with thousands of species of bacteria and fungi.26

A clean and decluttered home is a sanctuary from the outside world, but if you use rubber gloves and spray harsh chemicals to get the job done, you’re likely doing more harm than good. Research shows even products labeled green, natural and organic emit hazardous air pollutants.27

The good news is you really don’t need to buy chemical cleansers to keep your home spick-and-span. Keeping a few natural and nontoxic staples on hand will allow you to clean your home from top to bottom, saving you money to boot. Core staples to consider include the following. In the sections that follow, I’ll provide guidance on how to use them all.





1. Baking soda

2. White vinegar

3. Lemons (both juice and peel)

4. Castile soap

5. Coconut oil

6. Essential oils (citrus essential oil being a good overall choice)

7. Hydrogen peroxide

8. Rubbing alcohol or vodka

Baking Soda and White Vinegar — Two Powerful Multiuse Cleaning Agents

In preparation for the Statue of Liberty’s 100th anniversary in 1986, 99 years’ worth of coal tar had to be removed from its inner copper walls, without causing damage. Baking soda — more than 100 tons — was the cleaner of choice,28 so there’s a good chance it can remove dirt and grime around your home too. Here are a few examples of how it can be used:

  • Nonscratch scrub for metals and porcelain.
  • Nontoxic oven cleaner — Sprinkle 1 cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning, the grease will be easy to wipe off. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge and wash the remaining residue from the oven.
  • Drain cleaner — To unclog a drain, pour one-half to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour one-half to 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it’s working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.
  • Carpet deodorizer — Liberally sprinkle baking soda over the carpet. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum thoroughly.

Distilled white vinegar is another cleaning staple that has a long history of use. Depending on your age, you may recall your grandmother washing windows with a mixture of white vinegar and water. Indeed, it makes for a great window cleaner, but it also has disinfectant properties, with research showing white vinegar is useful for disinfection against Escherichia coli (E. coli), provided it’s a freshly prepared solution of at least 50 percent vinegar.29

For disinfecting purposes, one study found spraying vinegar, followed by hydrogen peroxide, was effective for killing a variety of bacteria, including E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella.30 You can also spray white vinegar onto a dusting of baking soda to clean your tubs and tile floors.

A vinegar and water mixture makes a great all-purpose countertop cleaner as well, but for stone counters, use rubbing alcohol or vodka with water instead, as the acidity of the vinegar may harm surfaces such as marble and granite. For heavier-duty cleaning, like mildew on your bathroom grout, spray vinegar straight onto the area, let set for 30 minutes, then scrub with a sponge and warm water.

15 Ways to Clean With Lemons

Lemons, both the juice and peel, can be used throughout your home for cleaning and deodorizing. For example, you can use them to clean and freshen your:
















Garbage disposal — Freeze lemon slices and vinegar in ice cube trays. Place a few frozen cubes down your disposal for cleaning and freshening. Alternatively, simply run some lemon peel through your disposal.

Refrigerator — Soak a sponge in lemon juice and let it set in your fridge for a few hours; it works better than baking soda to remove odors.

Room freshener — Simmer a pot of water with lemon peels, cloves and cinnamon sticks on your stove.

Humidifier — Add lemon juice to the water in your humidifier, then let the machine run for deodorizing.

Fireplace — Dried citrus peels can act as kindling in your fireplace, adding a wonderful smell and acting as a flame starter. Simply set the peels out to dry for a few days before using.

Trash cans — A few lemon peels added to your garbage can will help with odors.

Cutting boards — Sprinkle coarse salt on your cutting board then rub with a cut lemon to freshen and remove grease. This trick also works for wooden salad bowls and rolling pins.

Coffee maker — Run a cycle with plain water, then add a mixture of lemon juice and water to the water tank. Let it sit for several minutes, then run the cycle through. Repeat this process once more, then run another plain water cycle (you’ll want to wash the coffee pot and filter afterward to remove any lemon taste).

Furniture polish — Combine lemon oil, lemon juice and olive or jojoba oil to make a homemade furniture polish. Simply buff with a cloth.

Hardwood floors — Combine lemon and vinegar for a grime-fighting nontoxic floor cleaner.

Cat box — Place lemon slices in a bowl near your cat box to help freshen the air.

Windows — Lemon juice cuts through grease and grime on windows and glass. Try combining it with one-fourth cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 cups of warm water31 for a phenomenal window cleaner.

All-purpose cleaner — Combine water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and lemon essential oil for a wonderful kitchen or bathroom cleaner.

Hands — Add lemon juice while washing your hands with soap to help remove stubborn odors like garlic.

Breath — Drinking lemon water helps freshen your breath (rinse your mouth with plain water afterward since lemon juice may erode your teeth).

All-Natural Antibacterial Cleaning Suggestions Using Castile Soap, Hydrogen Peroxide and Coconut Oil

Castile soap is natural, biodegradable, chemical-free and incredibly versatile. You can use it for personal care, laundry and cleaning around your home. For instance, mixing baking soda with a small amount of liquid castile soap makes an excellent paste for cleaning your tub and shower.

For a homemade antibacterial solution, mix 2 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of castile soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray onto the surface (such as toilet seat or sink), then wipe off. You can even make a homemade dishwasher detergent by mixing equal parts of liquid castile soap and water.

Hydrogen peroxide is another antibacterial option. For general cleaning around the house, simply add 20 to 30 drops of citrus essential oil to a spritzer bottle filled with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Spray surface and wipe off. It’s great on greasy surfaces such as your kitchen counters.

Coconut oil also has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal compounds that have been shown to inactivate microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and fungi. Around the home, coconut oil is particularly useful for cleaning, sanitizing and conditioning wood items, such as cutting boards and furniture, but you can also use it for lubricating squeaky hinges and sticky mechanisms instead of WD-40.

It also works well for moisturizing and softening leather goods in lieu of leather conditioners and for removing chewing gum from virtually any area, including carpets and hair.

Essential Oils Have Countless Uses

Essential oils deserve a category of their own, as their uses for household cleaning are only limited by your imagination. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity and can be added as a boost to your homemade cleaners.

For instance, to make a homemade cleaning scrub with antibacterial activity, simply add a few drops of lavender oil to baking soda. Some of the most popular essential oils for cleaning include lemon, peppermint and tea tree, with tea tree showing antiviral activity against viruses like influenza A.32 Sweet orange is another option, which has been shown to work against E. coli and Salmonella.33

Essential oils can also be diffused around your home for a natural, therapeutic air freshener. Ditch the toxic sprays, candles and plug-ins for an essential oil diffuser instead. They not only smell wonderful but can have beneficial effects on your mood and stress levels.

Unlike synthetic fragrances, which pollute your air, essential oils may actually help to improve indoor air quality. In the case of fungi and mold, for instance, essential oils from heartwood, marjoram, cinnamon, lemon basil, caraway, bay tree, fir, peppermint, pine, cedar leaf and manuka may be helpful, as they all have antifungal properties.34

In addition, you can easily freshen your laundry without risking your family’s health simply by spritzing your wet laundry with a mix of water and a few drops of essential oil before placing it in the dryer. Alternatively, add a dozen or so drops to an old wool sock, and put it in the dryer with your laundry. For more information on the properties of individual essential oils, be sure to check out our “Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils.”

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Bleach Alternative

Once you dip your toe into the world of natural cleaning, you’ll realize there’s virtually no reason to resort to toxic chemical sprays and powders. You can reach a superior level of clean using simple ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now. And feel free to be creative, as some of the best combinations are found through experimentation.

You can even make your own laundry detergent, adding in any essential oils you like for a natural scent. Here’s a recipe from Mommypotamus to get you started.35 Happy natural cleaning!

Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups washing soda
  • 3 bars coconut oil soap (4.5 to 5 ounces each)
  • Lemon essential oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut soap into small chunks. Add to a food processor along with the washing soda.
  2. Blend until you have a fine powder. You may want to lay a dish towel over the top of your food processor to prevent a fine mist of powder from floating into the air.
  3. Also, let it settle a bit before opening the container or the powder will float onto your kitchen counter.
  4. Pour the powder into a clean container. Keep the essential oil next to the jar and add 5 drops with each load.

For whites, consider this recipe for a bleach alternative, courtesy of Beyond Toxics.36

Bleach Alternative Formula

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Basic Liquid Formula (see below)
  • 1/4 cup borax
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or vinegar
  • 6 drops lemon essential oil
  • Basic Liquid Formula

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 cups liquid castile soap
    • 1 tablespoon glycerin
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 10 to 15 drops lemon essential oil (or other essential oil of your choice)

    Instructions:

    1. This recipe makes enough for one load of laundry. Keep lemon juice separate until ready to use. Combine all ingredients into a plastic container, and shake once or twice before adding to the wash.

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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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