Beware of toxic pizza boxes and other packaging
April 3rd, 2016 by Holly Cornish
Much of the food packaging in the United States is coated with chemicals. In the case of pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags, those chemicals keep grease, water, and fatty foods from saturating the packaging and making it soggy.
A study from Denmark showed that everyday chemicals like those found in pizza boxes and other food packaging could increase the risk of spontaneous miscarriage by as much as 16 times.
The chemicals used are perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. Ironically, their danger isn’t even new. Nearly 10 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency classified PFCs as a likely human carcinogen. But they’re still around.
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The warning from the EPA didn’t require a great deal of debate or soul-searching, considering that PFCs have been linked to scores of health issues including low birth weight in humans, infertility, and cancer. PFCs have also been traced to liver damage, immune system problems, endocrine system disruption, and developmental defects.
As if that wasn’t sobering enough, PFCs can stay in your body for years. Traces of PFCs have been found in the drinking water of 27 states and in the blood of 98% of Americans – just about everybody. Once in the body, most of these chemicals stay there permanently.
Despite all the evidence, along with the longtime knowledge that PFCs are toxic, the FDA only recently got around to banning three of the most common types. And the only reason the agency was spurred to action was a petition filed in October 2014 by nine organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, and the Center for Environmental Health.
The three chemicals the FDA banned contain perfluoroalkyl ethyl and are used to coat everything from pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags to carpet cleaners and camping tents. They are more or less water-proofing chemicals – or “liquid-proofing” might be a better way to put it.
The FDA says it finally acted because use of those chemicals no longer brought with it a “reasonable certainty of no harm.”
8 proven ways to protect yourself
Sadly, this move by the FDA is not effective. The three banned chemicals haven’t been produced in the U.S. since 2011. At that time, top American chemical companies phased out production. But even though they’re not produced in the U.S., the chemicals are used widely.
And here’s a troubling fact. Since that time, the FDA has actually approved dozens of other new PFCs in food packaging. The safety of most of those “next-generation” PFCs is questionable, especially since their chemical structure is a lot like the PFCs that were phased out.
Incredibly, the FDA doesn’t even require that chemicals are proven safe before they get added to food packaging and other products, which means it’s up to us keep ourselves and our families safe—and that goes beyond what we eat to include what we wear and what we put in our houses.
If you’re concerned, here are some proven ways to protect yourself from PFCs:
- Don’t use the microwave to pop popcorn—put it on the stove top instead. It’s really no harder than microwaving. The only downside is you have a pan to clean.
- Stay away from commercially packed food such as French fries and greasy sandwiches (the kind that get wrapped with PFC-coated paper).
- When shopping for new carpets and furniture, avoid buying “stain-proofed.” If you have something that’s been treated, use a cover on it.
- Don’t buy clothes with Teflon® or Scotchgard™ tags.
- Avoid clothes marked as water-resistant or stain-proof.
- Ditch the paper plates and use real plates.
- When storing food, opt for glass or stainless steel food containers as both are nontoxic.
The way the FDA dragged its feet on this illustrates once again that you can’t count on government agencies to protect your health. You’ve got to inform yourself.
A good place to start would be to learn about the way people ate before there was processed factory food. Better yet might be to eat the way people ate before there was farming. If you missed last issue, read it now just below, and see how this “Paleo Diet” may help you avoid cancer…
Note: References for 1st article located at the bottom of the 2nd article.
Can the Paleo Diet
help you fight cancer?
By now, just about everybody who is concerned about staying healthy has heard of the paleo diet. Advocates of this diet argue that it’s a reliable tool for improving your well-being.
Critics see this type of eating plan as just another fad destined to go the way of diets like the drinking man’s diet and the grapefruit diet – previously popular regimens that disappeared suddenly after enjoying a blaze of publicity.
They have reason to be cynical – diet fads come and go.
But a growing group of medical researchers say don’t be so quick to write off the paleo plan.
In fact, they argue, this diet has merits that may help lower your risk for chronic diseases – including cancer. Keep reading for the full scoop…
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The core idea of the paleo diet is to eat the types of foods that humans ate in hunting and gathering (also called foraging) cultures, before the growth of farming about 10,000 years ago. Paleo advocates argue that the human body evolved to consume and function at its best with those foods. Widespread agriculture led to the introduction of grains into our daily meals, and our health has suffered in significant ways ever since.
Now, of course, there’s no way you can precisely replicate the foods people ate thousands of years ago before we began to grow amber waves of grain to be harvested and milled into bread. Nevertheless, researchers who have studied the diets of today’s foraging societies say that the “dietary trends that… represent nearly all the world’s hunter-gatherers” can form the basis of a healthy paleo diet.
Furthermore, in the view of its proponents, the paleo diet offers a healthy selection of the foods we should be eating for optimal health – in contrast to the overly processed packaged foods most of us devour.1
Cutting the carbs
According to researchers at the University of Würzburg in Germany, it makes perfect sense that the paleo diet can significantly lower your risk of diseases like cancer.
They point out that processed foods have figured in our diets for only a small fraction of the time humans have peopled the earth.
They add that for 99 percent of the time humans have been around, they have eaten a foraging diet – a diet that consists of mostly meat and fat with occasional helpings of roots, berries, nuts and other vegetarian sources of unrefined carbohydrates. From the German researchers’ point of view, eating the ancient “caveman’s diet”2 was a “lifestyle factor” that protected early humans against cancer.
The agriculture revolution made it possible for humans to generate vastly greater amounts of food, resulting in much bigger populations and the first settled villages, towns and cities. Before that, people had to keep constantly on the move to find food.
But those large populations consumed less meat – in some cases, almost no meat at all. Raising livestock takes a great deal of land. Therefore, the same area of land supports far more humans if they subsist on grains instead of feeding the grain to animals and then eating them.
In China, which had by far the largest population in premodern times, the peasantry ate almost no meat. Hindu India was famously vegetarian. And in all parts of the world, carbs were the primary food group.
As the saying used to go, “Bread is the staff of life.”
Today’s typical diet, warn advocates of the paleo diet, is “dominated” by easy-to-digest carbohydrates, often consisting of sugar, refined wheat and corn. It also includes processed ingredients that our genes and metabolic systems haven’t had time to adjust to.
And those refined and manufactured foods are making us sick in a variety of ways.
More organic meat may mean less cancer
Research on more than 200 hunter-gatherer societies around the world shows that two-thirds of their calories come from meat. And by this I don’t mean hot dogs, luncheon meats and other processed meats – the kind linked to higher rates of cancer. The meat eaten by foraging societies is from free-range, organic animals.
The meager carbohydrates hunter-gatherers get from plants have little resemblance to the refined carbs found in the products on supermarket shelves.3 The carbohydrates in these foraging diets are accompanied by large amounts of indigestible dietary fiber. As a result, the GI tract absorbs these unrefined carbs slowly.
As I’ve previously noted, the refined carbohydrates in processed foods are “high glycemic” items. That means their quick and easy digestion allows sugar to rapidly enter the bloodstream and spike your blood glucose levels. That elevated level of glucose in the blood not only raises your chances of diabetes and heart problems, say the Würzburg scientists, it seriously adds to your cancer risk.
In their words, when it comes to cells forming tumors, “It’s all about the glucose.”
Ironically, the role of glucose in fostering cancer was discovered way back in the 1920s. Mainstream medicine paid little attention – and the food industry paid no attention at all. The medical profession focuses on treating disease, not preventing it, and scorns the idea that the way we eat helps cause cancer.
Mainstream doctors acknowledge the role of glucose in diabetes – how could they avoid it? – but even there they focus on medications rather than lifestyle changes.
As we’ve often noted in these pages, Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in 1931 for demonstrating the link between sugar and cancer.4 And that means sugar broadly defined – your GI tract quickly converts all grains as well as potatoes into glucose.
Now Dr. Warburg’s discoveries have come back, with a vengeance. Recent research has pinpointed a wide range of specific cancer dangers linked to eating refined carbohydrates and experiencing elevated blood sugar:
- When your blood sugar climbs after a typical fast food meal or junk food snack, that extra glucose running around your body makes it harder for immune cells to take in ascorbic acid (vitamin C).5 When these cells are deprived of this nutrient, they are less effective at destroying cells that are forming tumors.
- When glucose climbs in the blood it stimulates immune cells to release substances that increase inflammation and help tumors grow.6
- High blood sugar also leads to more insulin in the blood along with a protein called IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). Both of these can accelerate the growth of tumors.7
The German researchers warn that the way most of us snack and munch our way through the day – constantly consuming foods that raise our blood sugar – means we spend much of our life with too much glucose and insulin circulating in our blood. And that’s a frighteningly efficient way to boost our risk of cancer.
The paleo advantage
Since the paleo diet is low in sugar, and relatively high in protein and fat, it encourages the liver to produce what are called “ketone bodies,” substances that serve as an energy source for the body when glucose levels drop.
And research on these ketone bodies shows they can potentially exert a direct anti-tumor effect.8 Studies have found that while healthy, normal cells produce enzymes that can convert ketone bodies into useful energy sources, cancer cells generally don’t possess those types of enzymes.9
Plus, lab tests at the University of South Florida show that supplements of ketone bodies, in some cases, may possibly lower the chances of dying from cancer.10
Go grainless, live longer
One of the main features of the paleo diet is the requirement to forgo grains which, in the typical American diet, are the main source of the carbs that spike blood sugar.
Besides that, when you eliminate grains you eliminate several other substances that can increase cancer-linked inflammation in the body. Grains are often rich in omega-6 fatty acids (which are already too high in the processed vegetable oils we take in), lectins (irritating proteins that can damage the walls of the intestines)11and gluten, a source of severely damaging reactions in many people.12
Also do these other things our paleo ancestors did…
Along with cutting back on processed foods, folks who follow a paleo lifestyle, with daily habits that adhere more closely to the daily routines of foraging societies, enjoy other factors that can lower cancer risk.
The Würzburg scientists say that some of the salient elements of this lifestyle include:
- Being more physically active.
- Being out in the sunshine more frequently to allow the skin to make more vitamin D.
- Getting more sleep at night.
- Lowering chronic stress.
In their review of the research surrounding the anti-cancer benefits of the paleo diet, the researchers at the University of Würzburg conclude that “cancer (is) a disease of civilization that has been rare among hunter-gatherer societies until they adopted the Western lifestyle.13
One best-selling author, Yuval Harari, argues in his book Sapiens that pre-agricultural humans were in general happier than the settled farmers who followed them and took over the world. They exercised more, ate better and worked only a few hours a day to get their food, and didn’t have legions of bossy kings, nobles, soldiers and priests to rake off most of what they produced.
Maybe Adam and Eve didn’t fall because they ate an apple – they fell because they learned how to farm.
Harari’s views are controversial. I don’t think I’d want to live in a foraging society. But I do believe the evidence that carbs are a principal cause of the diseases of aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.
The paleo diet isn’t going away soon. Its health advantages and anti-cancer benefits are too powerful to allow its quick demise.
References Article #1:
“Attention, Pizza Lovers: Your Pizza Box Is Probably Toxic.” By Suzy Strutner for HuffPost Healthy Living, 7 January 2016.
“FDA Bans Cancer-Linked Chemicals Found in Pizza Boxes and Popcorn Bags.” Posted on February 16, 2016 By The Alternative Daily.
“FDA bans common chemical in pizza boxes.” Published January 08, 2016 by FoxNews.com.
“Pizza boxes can increase risk of miscarriage by 16 times – study.” For RT.com on 28 Apr, 2015.
“Substitutes for Parchment or Wax Paper.” By Paul Parsons for eHow.
References Article #2: