Welcoming the year of the Rooster!

I am glad to be rid of that pesky Monkey! Not that I am totally into Chinese Astrology, but it is kind of fun to see what the year may hold, and also think about what last year was about.

For me, I had a very difficult time caring for my sick mother, and being with her as she passed over. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do it, but nonetheless, it took a toll for sure. It also brought a little miracle of a re-uniting some family members during her illness, and I am grateful for that. I guess the Yin and the Yang of things…

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I like to reflect on what is important to me now, and for this year. It’s not about resolutions, per se (and they usually don’t work!), but rather about taking time for reflection and direction, or re-direction in some cases.

I am focused on truly taking the time and space to go inside and connect with that Great- Whatever You- Want-To- Call- IT, and live each day in connection with that stillness, peace and power.

I hope you can find time to reflect on what really matters for you, and live connected to that.

I found a great App too, well, My friend Maryn, told me about it–it’s free too–Try Insight Timer for some pretty cool meditations. I find that a great tool.

I also made some pretty great new recipes, with help from Elanaspantry.com that I will be sharing soon-my recipe section is out of order right now, but trying to fix it!

Happy New Year!

Neurological Disorders, Climate Change & Toxins

This week’s section of the NIEH report is about neurological diseases and disorders and climate change. According to the report, the US is experiencing an increase in neurological diseases and disorders. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are occurring at earlier ages. There is also a rise in children’s disorders like learning disabilities and autism. The role of climate is not yet fully understood on the incidence and progression of these issues. And, there are no doubt many confounding factors that are related to these increases. Some theories suggest that malnutrition, hazardous chemical exposures, including pesticides in our backyards and in our food, heavy metal exposure, and biotoxins in our food, air and water are drivers (3)

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Another factor is the growth of harmful algal blooms in both fresh and ocean waters. Climate changes do seem to play a big part in increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of these blooms on a global scale. By ingesting seafood, swimming in these waters, and even being sprayed by the breaking surf, people are becoming sick. (3) One study linked the massive increase in seizures, epilepsy and deaths of sea lions on the California coast in the past decade to these neurotoxin algal blooms.

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There is even concern for the use of mercury in fluorescent light bulbs, especially when they are broken or improperly disposal, and heavy metals in electric car batteries and solar panels. (3)

One factor out of all these issues that stood out to me was the use of pesticides and herbicides. I know that commercial agriculture farms use vast amounts of these pesticides and herbicides. And that overuse of them is creating super weeds that are immune to these chemicals, must like the overuse of antibiotics. And that the use of GMO foods creates a bigger need for more and more pesticides. These pesticides, like Roundup, for example, have been shown to increase sterility, hormone disruption and birth defects in humans. (7) There was a study that showed an increase in non Hodgkins Leukemia with repeated exposure to Roundup. The study was too small to make definitive conclusions, but it is something to be aware of.

Roundup, and other Glyphosate-based herbicides, has been linked to terrestrial and aquatic amphibian deaths and near extinction of many species worldwide. (4)

Well, who cares about frogs and other creatures anyway?

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We all should. Amphibians have been around for 360 million years. They have endured 3 mass extinctions of our planet’s ecosystems throughout history. (5)They are indicators of the earth’s environmental health in general, much like the canary in the coal mine. Every ecosystem on the earth is a part of a complex system. The loss of one can have catastrophic effects on others in ways that we cannot even predict.

While attempting to stop the use of these pesticides in such a large scale can be daunting, we certainly can stop using them in our cities and own backyards.

I myself have no issue with weeds. I see weeds and think of bees and butterflies. However, for those of you, like my mom, who can’t stand them, I would suggest, pulling them, you know, by hand. (She does!)

 Which brings me to the tips of the week:

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Pull your weeds, don’t poison them. (If you must get rid of them.)

 

And do not eat GMO foods-here’s a list of the 10 most common: Corn, Soy, Sugar, Aspartame, Papaya, Canola, Cotton, Dairy, Zucchini & Yellow Squash. (6.)

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1.Annett, Robert, Habibi, Hamid, Hontela, Alice. (2014.) Impact of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-based Herbicides on Freshwater Environments Journal of Applied Toxicology 25 Feb 2014 vol. 34, issue 5, p 458-479 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jat.2997/abstract;jsessionid=CDFE7171350326E35575832D7273D2A5.f01t04

2.De Roos, A J, Zahn, S H, Cantor, K P, Weisenburger, D D, Holmes, F F, Burmeister, L F, Blair. (2003.) Integrated Assessment of Multiple Pesticides as Risk Factors for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in Men. Occupational J of Environmental Medicine 2003; 60: e 11 http://oem.bmj.com/content/60/9/e11.full

3.(NIEH) National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Report, A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

4.Relyea, Rick. (2005.) The lethal impact of Roundup on Aquatic and Terrestrial Amphibians Ecological Society of America Ecological Society of America Aug 2005. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/04-1291

5.http://www.actionbioscience.org/biodiversity/zippel.html

6. http://naturalsociety.com/top-10-worst-gmo-foods-list/

7. http://responsibletechnology.org/10-Reasons-to-Avoid-GMOs

 

 

 

I’m so stressed! Climate Change and Mental Health

This week I will cover the section of the NIEH report relating to mental health and stress related disorders, and climate change. I must admit, before I read it and studied other sources about it, I was thinking that it was probably not a serious or widespread problem.

Well, I was wrong.

There are major stress related affects from climate change events, like natural disasters, from less obvious climate changes like increasing temperatures, which happen more slowly, and also from the threat of climate change itself.

Whichever aspect of climate change stressors, the impacts are more profound with people already experiencing mental illness, as well as for children and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. It is estimated that at least 26.2% of Americans are suffering from a diagnosable mental disorder (NIEH.) With climate change, the amount of support needed is greatly increased, and often the support systems and resources are already strained.th-1

Climate change related events, such as wildfires, floods and intense hurricanes can cause loss of loved ones, housing, employment, social displacement-both temporary and long term, social disruption, loss of ‘place,’ and community. In 2008, 147,722 people were killed worldwide by climatic events (NIEH.) Individuals have different responses to these things, but commonly, these are drivers for increased anxiety, insomnia, depression, anger and fear. There is also a rise in domestic violence, suicide, child abuse and alcoholism following these occurrences. (Fritze.)

The fear about the looming threat of climate change can led to hopelessness, anxiety, apathy and despair, which is one of the greatest challenges we face. Many people do not want to think about it, hear about it, or, of course, do anything about it. 67% of Americans think that environmental conditions are worsening; yet only 28% have made any major changes to combat it (Koger 1.) Some consider our environmental problems to be behavioral problems when you come down to it. That makes a lot of sense to me. If it is our behaviors that have created this, for the most part, it is our behavioral changes that can get us out of it-along with technology advancements and perhaps a new environmental paradigm that makes sustainability a priority for everyone.

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If I look at what the Minnesota Dept. of Health calls, Psychological First Aide: Safety, Calm and Comfort, Connectedness, Self-Empowerment and Hope (MN)- I think that cultivating those things in our day to day lives will go a long way to helping us deal with climate change stressors already happening and prepare for the future.

Which leads me to the Tip of the Week:

Look at your own stressors and see how you can create a greater sense of wellbeing. Are you connected to community? Do you turn off your electronic devices regularly? (That’s one of my favorites!) Do you do things that create peace and calm like being in nature, meditating, singing or anything that brings joy? These are so often said that they seem trite, but creating peace of mind, community and hope can go along way to a better world-whether we are experiencing direct effects from climate change or just the fear about it. So create a calmer world by bringing happiness and hope into your lives.

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Fritze, J Blashki, G Burke, S, Wiseman, J Hope, despair and transformation: Climate Change and the promotion of mental health and wellbeing International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2008 2:13 http://www.ijmhs.com/content/2/1/13

Kroger, S, Nann Winter, D The Psychology of Environmental Problems, 3rd ed. 2010 Psychology Press

Interagency Working group on Climate Change and Health 2010 A Human Health Perspective on Climate Change http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

Minnesota Climate and Health Program, Minnesota Department of Health 2013, Mental Health, Climate Change and Public Health Training Module http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/climatechange/mental.html

 

 

 

Food, Climate & Toxins

Since I have been discussing infectious diseases, I thought I would go to another similar section in the NIEH report, Foodborne diseases and nutrition. Some interesting facts: 3.7 billion, that’s billion, not millions, of people are malnourished in the world right now (3) Globally, food production occupies more land than any other activity (about 40 times the area of all cities and suburbs combined), uses more freshwater than anything else people do and is a major source of carbon pollution in the air and nitrogen pollution in the water (1)

And, while most of us think of developing countries as the main ones affected by food resource issues, when you take into account insufficient food resources and under nutrition, the US and other developing countries are also part of those numbers (3) In fact, even in Arizona, 1 in 5 households reported not having enough money to buy food in the past year. In Flagstaff alone, millions of pounds of food was given to thousands of families last year (2)

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The connection to climate change and food resources is that extreme weather events associated with climate change, such as temperature changes, extreme heat and precipitation, may affect crop production, transportation and distribution. The ability to grow crops may be affected, as well as water availability. These factors may affect the nutritional quality of food as well as the quantity of food availability (3)

With climate change, according to the US Climate Change Science Program, it is likely that the spread of foodborne pathogens will increase and food security will be vulnerable with weather events such as droughts, floods and wildfires (4)

Another factor surrounding food is that it can be a source of chemical toxins, like pesticides, microbe toxins, bio toxins and other toxins. Contaminants include a wide range of chemicals and metals such as PCBs, PAHs, mercury, and cadmium; pharmaceuticals such as synthetic hormones, statins, and antibiotics; widely used industrial chemicals such as fire retardants, stain repellants, and non-stick coatings; and pesticides and herbicides for agricultural use and vector control for public health protection (1, 3)

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So the food choices we make in supermarkets, restaurants and in our homes can have a big influence on the world around us. Making small changes in what we eat can have big environmental and health benefits.

Which brings me to the tips of the week:

While this may not affect the environment, give to your local food bank so people in our own towns have enough to eat. Stock up on staples in your own pantry in case of any food security issues in the future.

And to help minimize the impact on our planet and our health: Watch out for the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the most common foods that have the highest amount of pesticides. If you can’t buy all organic, at least get these foods from a good local source or organic:

 

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1. http://www.ewg.org/agmag/2015/01/lost-opportunity-americans-health-and-environment

2.http://nafoodbank.org/subjects/hungerfacts/hungerfacts.htm

3.http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

4.http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2008/05/0136.xml

 

 

 

 

Water borne diseases, climate change & planes, trains & automobiles

Last week I was finishing up the NIEH report section on zoonotic and vector borne diseases. On that same vein, I thought I would continue on the disease avenue of the report and go to climate change and waterborne diseases.

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When I thought of waterborne diseases, I really was thinking globally rather than domestically as far as the main health threats. I thought of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake with the major outbreak of dysentery and diarrhea from fecal infected river water (1.)

It never occurred to me that this is a very real domestic issue as well.

Ocean and lakes naturally contain bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses, as well as some introduced from sewage runoff. Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found in our waterways. The great lakes, which is a water source for over 40 billion people, correlated with over half the outbreaks of water borne diseases, during increased precipitation levels from 1948-1994, according to the NIEH report (Nieh.) And that Legionnaires disease, Legionella, was transmitted through toxic water in air conditioning units (4.)

The majority of health effects used to be primarily gastrointestinal, like cholera and dysentery. However now waterborne diseases can affect the immune system, the blood, the skin, the neurological system, pulmonary symptom, ocular and renal systems and respiratory systems (4.)

In the US there is spotty surveillance and not uniform diagnoses even during normal climate, so it may be difficult to spot and diagnose these diseases in the future (4.)

According to a New England Journal of Medicine report, waterborne diseases are greatly affected by climatic changes. Malaria transmission requires enough water and heat for the mosquitoes to lay their eggs, so increased heat and precipitation can increase malaria outbreaks. In contrast, West Nile Virus thrives in drought areas (3.) In fact, a man in my office got sick one day last fall, ended up the hospital, then in a coma within 2 days. After days of testing, they finally found out that he had West Nile Virus. It took him months of rehabilitation to get better.

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Waterborne disease outbreaks are expected to climb globally and domestically with the changing climate, including increase of sea and land temperatures, increased precipitation, flooding, sea level rise, degradation of wastewater plants. (4.)

This talk of water made me think of water use. I found a pretty cool test to see your water footprint (2.) Just like carbon, the full price of our water usage is not part of the real price of most everything we buy.

th-6I am attending a conference this weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Which leads me to the Tip of the week:

Planes, Trains or Automobiles?

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I had 324 miles to go and had no idea which method of travel had the smallest carbon footprint. I figured flying would have the most but wondered about trains and cars.

Turns out, there is not a simple answer! Car travel can be as good as a train if the car gets good gas mileage, above 34 mpg, and you have all the seats full. (5.) Well, it was just me, so I took the train. And may I say that it was the most relaxing and enjoyable form of transportation? I only wish we could get more places in the US that way. I was lucky that I happen to be going where the train went. So, check this site out yourself next time you are wondering the best travel option.

1.http://www.iwa-microbiology.org/index.aspx?id=6190

 2.http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/global-water-footprint/

 3.http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0912931

4. http://niehs.nih.gov/climatereport

5.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130617111345.htm

 

Climate Change, Blood Sucking Arthropods & More

Before I spoke about climate change last week, I had been researching measles and how the recent outbreak could be partially related to climate change. That subject led me back to the IWGCC (Interagency Working Group on Climate Change) report I have been reading (2.) Measles are part of a group of diseases classified as Vector Borne and Zoonotic diseases (VBZD.) Vector Borne diseases are those that are transmitted by blood sucking arthropods, like insects and spiders. Zoonotic diseases are transmitted by animals.

thMeasles are a zoonotic disease related to canine (and dolphin!) distemper and were originally transmitted by primates (4.) These diseases include Lyme, Hanta Virus, Rabies, Anthrax, Swine flu, Bird Flu, Plague, Rabies, Ebola, Malaria and West Nile Virus. The transmission can be by virus, bacteria, fungus or parasites (5.) This class of diseases accounts for over 60% of all human diseases!

 

That is a LYME disease tick on the left. (ICK!)

 

The IWGCC report talks about the potential change of rates of VBZD’s with climate change. Some areas may actually see a decrease in those diseases as habitats become less suitable for the host or vector populations. However, most environments may show an increase in these disease outbreaks due prolonged disbursement cycles (3.) This is due to the loss of biodiversity, increase in surface land temperatures, more frequent and intense extreme weather events (see the East Coast!) changes in precipitation, changes in coastal and marine ecosystems, including sea-level rise, altered salinity and acidification in oceans (2.) In fact, a 2008 report clearly showed a correlation to an increase of Bubonic Plague in the Four Corners with hotter and wetter climate (5.)               Four Corners Region Storm-

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I would say that as our climate changes so radically, it is even more important to keep a healthy immune system. And, let’s all try and do one thing about it. Which leads me to the:

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TIP OF THE WEEK TO REDUCE CLIMATE CHANGE: (or, what I can do about it?)

Do not use or buy plastic water bottles. Bring and refilling water bottles can cut down on the manufacture and waste of plastic bottles. In 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. In New York City alone, the transportation of bottled water from Western Europe released an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution.

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And while the bottles come from far away, most of them end up close to home — in a landfill. Most bottled water comes in recyclable PET plastic bottles, but only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled (3.)

That is just crazy! And, this report is from 2006, so who knows how much worse it is now? So, that is one easy thing we can do about it!

 

 Each Second 1500 Plastic Water Bottles are Consumed in the U.S.

 

1.http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/animals.html

2.http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

 3.http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/qbw.asp

4.http://www.veterinaryworld.org/Vol.3/November/Effect%20of%20climatic%20changes%20on%20the%20prevalence%20of%20zoonotic%20diseases.pdf

5.http://faculty.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/faculty/bbchomel/WHO_Zoonoses/PDF/ZooprimMeasles.pdf

6.http://www.ncagr.gov/oep/oneMedicine/noms/2008/Gage%20-%20Vectorborne%20Diseases%20in%20the%20US.pdf

 

 

 

Climate Change?

Before I discuss more of the NIEH report, I realized that while I have been discussing the effects of climate change on health, I have never formally discussed climate change. While it may seem like a given, many people do not understanding what it is, if it is truly happening and what a big cause of it is.

 

The first point is the difference between global warming and climate change. In the past, the term I heard more often was global warming. However, global warming does not take into account the many other effects we are experiencing, and that we will be experiencing more of, in the future. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the other effects besides the increase of the surface temperature of the earth, are changes in rainfall, more flooding, more extreme precipitation events, drought, more severe heat-waves, increased acidity and temperatures in the oceans, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and of course, even higher levels of carbon dioxide concentrations (along with other greenhouse gases,) in the atmosphere. (1) As we can see, using the term global warming is not even close to acknowledging the whole picture.

What bad climate you’re having in Boston right now? Pretty hot climate, Salt Lake City?

 

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Actually, Boston is having some very bad weather, and much of the southwest is having a hot weather spell. So, what’s the difference?

The main difference is time. Weather is minutes to months, according to NASA, while climate is more of a long term average (4) I would personally say that months may be a stretch for weather, but that’s beside the point. So, this mega-snow in Boston and the heat wave in the southwest are weather events. And our weather is being influenced by climate change. (2)

There is an international organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC,) that has been studying the effects of climate change since 1988. The IPCC is comprised of 195 countries and thousands of scientists from around the world contributing to the work on a voluntary basis. The voluntary aspect is a really good thing. It can cut down on bias from funding sources. The latest report, published just last year, is probably the most thorough and up to date resource for understanding the effects of climate change.

The IPCC states that extreme weather events, including increased extreme precipitation, are one aspect of climate change (3) they have confirmed that climate change is a big factor in our changing weather. Whether you are covered in over 3.5 feet of snow in Boston, or getting out your summer clothes in Phoenix this February, you can blame much of it on climate change. (1,3)th-7

Who believes this anyway? Since 1991, of the 12,000 scientific reports studying climate change, 11,640 showed conclusively that the main driver (note, not the driver) was human activity. That is 97% of scientists in the world. (5)

Like one of my professors at NAU said, 97% of the world’s scientists, he included, believe that human activity is a huge contributor to climate change; however, it is the remaining 3% that get on Fox News. Perhaps we get a skewed picture of the reality of it, and who believes in it, at least here in the U.S?

The fact that we are contributing to these changes means we can contribute to stopping them. I hear many people saying that it is too depressing to even talk about. I respond that it would be depressing and hopeless if it was not solvable, or at least if we could do nothing to slow it down, a lot. It is a good thing that we are mainly responsible, so we can be responsible for changing it. Otherwise it really would be pretty hopeless. For more on climate change, a good source is The Skeptical Scientist. (5) There is a side bar addressing all the arguments about it, and the truth behind it, on their home page.

 

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So, in summary, most of the world’s scientists believe that climate change is happening, and that it is greatly related to human activity. No one is arguing that our planet has had some pretty big temperature and CO2 fluctuations in the past. It has. No one is saying that all climate change is completely due to human activity either.

And addressing the issue as climate change rather than global warming can perhaps help some newscasters stop saying things like, ‘If there is global warming, how could Boston be under 3.5 feet of snow? Ha!’ (I heard one newscaster say.) It is really not some radical left-wing agenda for scientists to get more money (by studying it and getting funding.) The CDC and the EPA have information and programs in place to at least adapt to these changes. I don’t think many would call them radical, left wing scientists looking for money. (My Grandfather might have, but that is a different story!) I am sure they are busy enough with other problems to get onboard with this, and spend a lot of money on it, if it were not true.

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Next week, back to climate and health.

 

1.http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/

2. http://www.icevirtuallibrary.com/content/article/10.1680/feng.14.00015

3. http://ipcc.ch

4. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html#.VN-sJSkrfww

5. http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Measles: Politics, Religion and Deniers

While I was discussing the possibility that the recent measles outbreak could be partially related to our changing climate on last week’s post, I purposely chose to skip the whole vaccination debacle. I was hoping to just focus on the potential relationship to the outbreak with warmer temperatures and precipitation changes associated with climate change.

Little did I know that many scientists that I respect are calling anyone who questions mandatory vaccinations for measles, or for anything else, “deniers,” much like those who disagree with the science behind climate change. (5) Some of those scientists went so far to say that it was a right-wing religious stance, as opposed to the common left-wing “hippie” one previously assumed. (5) And they said it was those same people that dismissed climate change, that were behind this ‘anti-science’ opinion against mandatory vaccinations.

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Even President Obama urged citizens for get vaccinated, while 2 potential republican presidential candidates, Governor Chris Christie and Rand Paul both stated that parents should have choices about vaccinating their children. (7)

Like I said, I was hoping to avoid this controversy. However, many of my patients called me to find out about my beliefs around vaccinations, especially for the measles. The truth is that my answer a decade or two ago would have been unequivocally a NO. Period. Well, I guess time, experience and more education have allowed me to be more open minded about it.

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I will say that my opinion now is “maybe, sometimes and with discretion.” What I mean is that there are many studies that show the effectiveness of vaccinations, and there are just as many that show ill-effects, especially when doing too many at once or at too young of an age. (3, 4)

In fact, even the CDC found that vaccinated children are contagious for weeks to months after receiving the immunization, so we cannot just blame them for this most recent outbreak. (6) It is a complicated issue. And I guess like all complicated issues, it is easier to take an “us” vs “them” stance and not listen to the other side because they are clearly wrong! (That goes for whichever side you are on!)

Interestingly, while no health expert, civil rights leader, Mahatma Gandhi considered forced vaccinations barbarous and a threat to civil liberties. He even called those who opposed them “Conscientious Objectors!” (2) I had no idea it was as contentious a debate even then.

In summary, I would just add that perhaps like me, many people could truly be open- minded to both sides of this debate and take the time to educate themselves from different sources and from different points of view. It is not about denying science, nor about religion, politics or just plain ignorance. It is about having different views and different medical modalities that are all based on different scientific studies, and being able to stop blaming each other in such a black and white manner. Maybe both sides of this argument have some truth and science on their side.

 

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Next week I will get back to the NIEH’s climate change and health report!

1.  http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2015/02/04/703096/10118656/en/Corrections-Studies-Show-that-Vaccinated-Individuals-Spread-Disease.html

2. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/gandhis-anti-vaccine-views-ring-true-century-laterA

 3.http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/combined-mmr-and-varicella-live-vaccine-associated-higher-rates-febrile

4. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/anti-therapeutic-action/vaccination-mumps-measles-rubella-mmr

 5. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/measles-rash-misinformation1

6. http://grist.org/politics/its-not-just-climate-change-some-gop-leaders-are-disregarding-the-science-on-vaccines-too

7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC228449/pdf/332485.pd

8. http://www.usatoday.com/search/christie%20paul%20vaccine/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The measles and climate change?

I was one of many thousands upon thousands of people at Disneyland last December. Disneyland was considered the epicenter of the latest measles outbreak. While the NIEH report and the CDC did not specifically link the huge measles outbreak to climate change, they have reported that many other zoonotic (animal transmitted) diseases have been increasing due to climate change. It is an interesting theory that this measles outbreak is also a part of that trend.

 

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Disneyland was the epicenter of a measles outbreak that is in at least 13 states. By the end of January 2015, the cases of confirmed measles was already higher than the yearly totals of 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html

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As I was studying the National Institutes of Environmental Health Report, as I discussed last week, the increase of infectious diseases due to climate change is on the rise. As the climate changes, with increasing temperatures, many disease rates are increasing such as Lyme disease and Hanta Virus due to shifting ecosystem habitats and longer season lengths. http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

According to NOAA, last December was the second warmest on record for the contiguous U.S., with temperatures 4.5 F above 20th century averages. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2014/12

Higher temperatures are related to increase disease outbreaks.

 

‘the greatest threat to our health…’

Well, it just may be that the sound bite “Climate Change is real and not a hoax Senate overwhelmingly decides,” may actually help more people “believe” that climate change is real. Of course for those of us who read more about it, like in the LA Times, the senators refused to say that it was due to human activity! (See whole article, here: http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-senate-climate-hoax-20150121-story.html)

 

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And, interesting that President Obama not only tackled the issue of climate change as a very serious issue, he also mentioned it in terms of health:

“No challenge  —  no challenge  — poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” he warned, proceeding to say, “I will not let this Congress endanger the health of our children by turning back the clock on our efforts.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/21/how-far-obamas-message-on-climate-change-has-come/

So, we are making progress!

On a related note, I am currently studying a very thorough white paper about the effects of climate change on health written in 2009 by The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Health (IWGCCH.) The IWGCCH is made up of many different prestigious organizations and leaders including the Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); the Chief Scientist in the Office of the Science Advisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Senior Scientist for Coastal Ecology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and the Director, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)

While our political parties may be still hashing this topic out, these government agencies have been hard at work for many years researching these very real health concerns and doing what they can to prepare and adapt.

There are many effects the changing climate is already having on our health, and will continue to do in the future.

I will break this report into sections and discuss over the next few weeks.

Here it is for those that would love to read it too!

 http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/a_human_health_perspective_on_climate_change_full_report_508.pdf

Some Basics that are occurring:

  • sea-level rise
  • changes in precipitation resulting in flooding and drought, heat waves
  • more intense hurricanes and storms
  • degraded air quality, indirectly

These are leading to increases in:

  • Asthma, Respiratory Allergies, and Airway Diseases
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
  • Foodborne Diseases and Nutrition
  • Heat-Related Morbidity and Mortality
  • Mental Health and Stress-Related Disorders
  • Vectorborne and Zoonotic Diseases
  • Waterborne Diseases
  • Weather-Related Morbidity and Mortality

The great news is that there are many things we can do to reduce these threats! It is not too late to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ride your bike, walk. Don’t be fooled by these insanely low gas prices, if you have to drive, think about hybrid or electric cars and car-pooling. Use mass transit.

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle!

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Refuse is actually thinking hard about buying anything. Do we really need 10 pairs of shoes?

I will delve into those topics more in depth in the coming weeks.