Heart-breaking season: Christmas Eve the peak time for heart attacks, says study

For some, Christmas can be a time of stress instead of peace and goodwill – and a new Swedish study shows that 10 pm on Christmas Eve is the annual peak time for heart attack risk, particularly for the elderly and those with existing conditions.

Researchers analysed data from 283,014 heart attacks reported to Swedish hospitals between 1998 and 2013, and compared with weeks outside of holiday periods as a control measure.

In Sweden, Christmas Eve is actually the bigger event than Christmas Day, and researchers noted a 37 percent increased risk on this day, peaking at 10 pm. More generally there was a 15 percent increased risk over the Christmas period.

The risk was greatest in the over 75s and those with existing diabetes or heart disease. The study also noted more cases of heart attacks reported on Midsummer holidays, early mornings, and Mondays.

“Christmas and Midsummer holidays were associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction, particularly in older and sicker patients, suggesting a role of external triggers in vulnerable individuals,” the team explains in their study.

Previous studies have also made the link between holiday seasons and more heart attacks, but this new study adds some extra interesting detail from many more years of data.

No increased risk was spotted during sporting events or during the Easter period, for example. And while there was an increased risk at New Year, it was on New Year’s Day rather than New Year’s Eve – perhaps because too much partying the night before was leading to symptoms being ignored or misunderstood.

While this study on its own isn’t enough to prove cause and effect between Christmas and heart attack risk – unmeasured factors might be lurking unseen in the background, as with all observational studies like this – it does fit in well with the existing research out there.

Anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress have all been linked to heart attack risk in the past, and while we hope your Christmas is filled with joy and hope, these emotions can also come into play over the holiday season.

“Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance travelling may also increase the risk of heart attack,” one of the team, David Erlinge from Lund University in Sweden, told ScienceAlert.

“Interestingly, the pattern of increased risk in the morning which dominates the rest of the year was reversed at Christmas, with an increased risk in the evening, indicating that the stress and eating during the day triggered the heart attacks.”

An earlier study from the same team linked increased heart attack risk with cold and cloudy weather, too. Considering the control data in this new study was taken from the weeks close to Christmas, this factor should already be accounted for.

The aim of the study is not to scare you away from indulging in the holiday festivities, but to look out for people who might be at risk and to try and cut down on the number of heart attacks seen over Christmas and New Year.

Erlinge told ScienceAlert that people should be aware of how emotional distress and eating way too much could increase risk – and of course to take good care of friends and family over the holiday season.

“These findings warrant further research to identify the mechanisms behind this phenomenon,” conclude the researchers.

“Understanding what factors, activities, and emotions precede these myocardial infarctions and how they differ from myocardial infarctions experienced on other days could help develop a strategy to manage and reduce the number of these events.”

The findings have been published in the BMJ.

The ‘CICOpaths’ – Who’s to blame for fat-shaming?

In the 1970s, people largely ate 3 times per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you were not hungry, then it was perfectly acceptable to skip a meal. That was your body telling you that you didn’t need to eat, so you should listen to your body.

By 2004, the number of meals per day had increased closer to 6 per day – almost double. Now, snacking was not just an indulgence, it was encouraged as a healthy behavior. Meal skipping was heavily frowned upon. What kind of Bizarro world was this? You need to constantly shove food into your mouth to lose weight? Seriously? If you don’t eat, you’ll gain weight? Seriously? It sounds really stupid, because it is really stupid.

The admonishments against meal skipping were loud. Doctors and dieticians with the heavy backing of corporate $$$, told patients to never, ever skip a meal. They warned of dire consequences. Magazines blared out warnings of the problems of meal skipping. From a physiologic standpoint, what happens when you don’t eat that is really so bad? Let’s see. If you don’t eat your body will burn some body fat in order to get the energy it needs. That’s all. There’s nothing else. After all, that is the entire purpose the body carries fat in the first place. We store fat so that we can use it. So if we don’t eat, we’ll use the body fat.

As people gained more weight, the calls for people to eat more and more frequently grew louder. It didn’t actually work, but that was beside the point. As people became obese, doctors would say to cut calories and eat constantly – graze, like some dairy cow in a pasture.

But this horrible advice didn’t work. So there are two potential sources of the problem. Either the dietary advice for weight loss was bad, or the advice was good, but the person was not following it. On one hand, the problem was the doctor’s advice. On the other, it was a patient problem. Let’s break it down to the basics. Physicians and other nutritional authorities believe religiously that excess calories cause weight gain. They advise patients to eat fewer calories. Either:

  1. The ‘Eat Fewer Calories’ advice is wrong and doesn’t work (Doctor’s fault)
  2. The advice is good, but the patient could not follow it. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. You’ve got the dream but not the drive. (Patient’s fault)

I believe that #1 is correct. Therefore, patients with obesity are victims of poor advice to eat more often, lower dietary fat in a desperate effort to reduce caloric intake. Their weight problems are a symptom of a failure to understand the disease of obesity. I do not believe they have low willpower or character. It is not different to me than treating a patient with cancer.

Many physicians and researchers believe option #2. They think the problem is not the advice. They believe the problem is the patients. It’s the ‘A Calorie is a Calorie’ people who are to blame for the phenomenon of fat shaming. They are blaming the victim because it exculpates their own failed understanding of weight gain. They believe that the obesity epidemic was the result of a worldwide collective simultaneous loss of willpower and character.

The name of this game is ‘Blame the Victim’. That way, doctors can go on believing that the advice they give is perfect. It was the patient’s fault. Does this make sense? Somewhere around 40% of the American adult population is classified as obese (BMI>30) and 70% are overweight or obese (BMI>25). Was this obesity crisis actually a crisis of weak will power?

Consider an analogy. Suppose a teacher has a class of 100 children. If one fails, that may certainly be the child’s fault. Perhaps they didn’t study. But if 70 children are failing, then is this more likely the children’s fault, or is it more likely the teacher’s fault? Obviously the teacher. In obesity medicine, the problem was never with the patient. The problem was the faulty dietary advice patients were given. But the CICOpaths, in their denial have heaped the blame onto those obese patients that were the very victims of the doctors failure to understand obesity as a disease, and not a personal character failing. The Calories people secretly believe that fat people deserve that shame.

This is why obesity is not only a disease with dire health consequences but comes with a huge slice of shame. It is a disease with dire psychological consequences. People blame themselves because everybody tells them it was their fault. Nutritional authorities throw around the euphemism ‘personal responsibility’ when what they really mean is ‘It’s your fault’. But it’s not.

The real problem is the acceptance of underlying assumption that obesity is all about ‘Calories In Calories Out’. This failed CICO mentality has pervaded our entire universe and the natural conclusion of this line of thinking is that if you are obese ‘It’s your fault’ that you ‘let yourself go’. You either failed to control your eating (low willpower, gluttony) or did not exercise enough (laziness, sloth). But it is not true. Obesity is not a disorder of too many calories. It’s a hormonal imbalance of hyperinsulinemia. Cutting calories when the problem is insulin is not going to work. And guess what? It doesn’t.

Not only do people with weight problems suffer all the physical health issues – type 2 diabetes, joint problems, etc., but they also get the blame for it. Blame that is unfairly targeted toward them because the advice they received to lose weight had a 99% failure rate. Should people get angry about it? Absolutely. The next time some physician tells you that ‘It’s all about calories’ you have my permission to slug him/her.

‘Young miracle’: Baby recovers from second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in Congo

They call her the “young miracle.” A baby who was admitted to an Ebola treatment center just six days after birth has now recovered from the virus.

Congo’s health ministry calls the baby the youngest survivor in what is now the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.

The ministry late Thursday tweeted a photo of the infant, swaddled and with tiny mouth open in yawn or squall, surrounded by caregivers who watched over her 24 hours a day for weeks.

The baby’s mother, who had Ebola, died in childbirth, the ministry said.

The infant was discharged from the treatment center in Beni on Wednesday. “She went home in the arms of her father and her aunt,” the ministry said.

Experts have reported worryingly high numbers of children with Ebola in this outbreak, which Congo’s health ministry says now has 515 cases, 467 of them confirmed, including 255 confirmed deaths.

The tiny survivor is named Benedicte. In video footage shared by UNICEF, she is shown in an isolated treatment area, cradled in the arms of health workers in protective gear or cuddled by Ebola survivors, called “nounous,” who can go without certain gear such as masks. The survivors are crucial with their reassuring presence, the health ministry said.

“This is my first child,” her father, Thomas, says. “I truly don’t want to lose her. She is my hope.” He gazes at his daughter through the clear protective plastic.

Children now account for more than one-third of all cases in this outbreak, UNICEF said earlier this week. One in 10 Ebola cases is in a child under 5 years old, it said, and children who contract the hemorrhagic fever are at greater risk of dying than adults.

While Ebola typically infects adults, as they are most likely to be exposed to the lethal virus, children have been known in some instances to catch the disease when they act as caregivers.

Few cases of Ebola in babies have historically been reported, but experts suspect transmission might happen via breast milk or close contact with infected parents. Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids.

The World Health Organization also has noted that health centers have been identified as a source of Ebola transmission in this outbreak, with injections of medications “a notable cause.”

So far, more than 400 children have been left orphaned or unaccompanied in this outbreak as patients can spend weeks in treatment centers, UNICEF said. A kindergarten has opened next to one treatment center in Beni “to assist the youngest children whose parents are isolated” there, it said.

Health expert have said this Ebola outbreak, the 10th in Congo, is like no other as they face the threat of attack from armed groups and resistance from a wary population in a region that had never faced an Ebola outbreak before. Tracking suspected contacts of Ebola victims remains a challenge in areas controlled by rebels.

The latest WHO assessment , released Thursday, simply calls the circumstances “unforgiving.”

And now, Congo is set to hold a presidential election on Dec. 23, with unrest already brewing .

The enormous threat to America’s last grasslands

Over the past few years, Neil Shook has watched his world burn acre by acre.

“I could tell something was happening,” Shook recalled, when he first noticed the plumes of smoke in 2011. By 2013, fires were raging every day, sending smoke billowing into the air – imagery that reminded Shook of Kuwait’s burning oil wells during the Persian Gulf War.

Hundreds of acres of rolling green grasslands in North Dakota were being intentionally burned, plowed and planted in a matter of days. Shook, who manages the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding conservation area, watched as landowners backed out of federally funded conservation programs, opting instead to cash in on the state’s economic boom.

“This was all grass,” Shook shouted as he wildly gestured toward a vast expanse of plowed, brown farmland near the wildlife refuge in June. “Now, what do you see?”

In the mid-2000s, a perfect storm of conditions led to a decade of grassland destruction in North Dakota’s share of the prairie pothole region, a vast expanse of grassland and wetlands that stretches from eastern Alberta to northern Iowa. Corn and soybean prices were high, climate change had extended the growing season and genetically modified crops could now survive in the northern plains. And then the oil boom hit.

Between 2005 and 2015, more than 160,000 acres of Stutsman County mixed grass prairie – an ecosystem that can support more than 100 plant species per square mile – was converted into single-crop farmland. In just six years, North Dakota lost half of its acreage that was protected under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as biodiverse grasslands fell to the plow.

Regionwide, between 2006 and 2011, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa combined lost more than 2,000 square miles of grass-dominated land – a habitat loss rate equal to that of high-profile deforestation rates in Brazil and Malaysia, according to a 2013 study from South Dakota State University.

Now, amid market lulls, North Dakota’s researchers are tallying the ecological cost of the state’s recent economic boom and warn that the ecosystem could be nearing a tipping point as corn and soybeans continue their march north into the last vast stretches of prairie pothole grassland in the eastern Dakotas – more than 90 percent of which is privately owned.

Federal conservation policies have softened the blow, but are only as effective as they are funded.

The prairie pothole region supports more than half of the United States’ migratory ducks, as well as more than 100 other species of birds. The ecosystem is also home to dozens of species of plants – including rare orchids – as well as various insects, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The wetlands are teeming with small fish and invertebrates.

North Dakota has seen significant losses of its CRP acres – a program where the federal government leases tracts of privately owned farmland to be repurposed into conservation acres, thus trying to create incentives for preserving ecosystems. Not only does single-crop agriculture bring in more money than CRP during market booms, but the last Farm Bill also capped the number of CRP acres at 24 million acres nationwide.

“Losing CRP or lowering the cap will reduce the amount of habitat for grassland birds or other species,” said Larry Igl, an ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, N.D. “It’s the equivalent to removing grass from the landscape.”

“Grassland birds are one of the fastest declining [groups] of birds,” he added. “In some cases, when CRP was added to the landscape, for some of these species there was a reversal of the decline. Now, we’re seeing a reduction of CRP on the landscape, and that’s going to result in the decline of some grassland birds. We don’t have much grassland left in this area. Eventually you’re going to reach a point where [the grassland birds] disappear from the state completely.”

The McCown’s longspur, a bird once found throughout most of North Dakota, is now known only on a single 640-acre piece of land in the state’s southwest. The western meadowlark, North Dakota’s state bird, has also declined. Statistical models run by the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center have found that a loss of CRP land in the prairie pothole region also causes a significant reduction in amphibian habitat.

When biodiverse grasslands are converted to one-crop farmland, pollinators also suffer. North Dakota is home to 600,000 of the country’s approximately 2 million registered beehives. Many North Dakota hives are taken to farms in places like California so crops can be pollinated.

“As the landscape has begun to change, beekeepers have noticed a greater rate of mortality,” said Zac Browning, an apiarist near Jamestown.

Pollinators provide an estimated $15 billion in ecosystem services – such as pollinating food crops – annually, said Clint Otto, an ecologist at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Of that amount, $12 billion alone can be attributed to honeybees.

“Or, one in three bites of food,” Otto said.

The prairie pothole region also serves as a significant carbon storage mechanism. Statistical models run by the U.S. Geological Survey show that a hypothetical loss of 100 percent of the region’s CRP acres could result in a release of more than 12 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

It’s not just grasslands that have been uprooted – the region’s glacially formed wetlands are being drained to make room for corn and soybeans. The Fish and Wildlife Service also has money to purchase acres for conservation from landowners, called easements, where the service pays landowners to not plow, drain, burn, or fill certain tracts of prairie or wetland, indefinitely.

But North Dakota’s oil boom has also eaten up a sizable chunk of this protected land. In the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lostwood Wetland Management District – made up of the state’s five northwestern counties that are also in the heart of the Bakken oil boom region – oil rigs are being built on wetland easements.

Even though the federal government paid landowners for the easements, mineral rights – what’s below the soil – have legal precedent over surface areas. Nearly 7,000 oil wells have been drilled in the district since 2005 – 900 of them on easements, the vast majority of which were protecting wetlands.

“Things just happened so fast,” said Kory Richardson, the refuge manager.

This report was supported by a fellowship with the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources.

Former ‘Vaccine bully’ pediatrician now claims unvaccinated children are healthiest

Dr. Bob Zajac is a board-certified pediatrician with additional expertise in asthma/allergy care, developmental/behavioral pediatric care, and natural/holistic care. He received his degree in Child Development, and pursued an additional four years of training in a PhD program (Early Childhood Special Education), followed by his medical degree (MD – University of Minnesota – 2000) and residency training (pediatrics – 2000-2003). Prior to starting New Kingdom Pediatrics, Dr. Bob completed his masters of business degree (MBA, Crown College, 2011-2013).

Dr. Zajac and his wife Julie have been married for over 25 years and have 8 children.

In terms of education and experience, no one can criticize Dr. Zajac as being “uniformed” when it comes to children’s health.

Dr. Zajac starts out in this interview by explaining medical doctors do NOT receive a lot of training in vaccines, so he had to spend years researching vaccines independently. He began his research after seeing some of his patients get injured from vaccines.

During the first two years of his practice, Dr. Zajac explains he saw a “separation” among his patient population.

There were patients who were seeing the local chiropractor who were healthier than my other patients, and they were doing some other things for their health other than just taking medication for whatever condition they might have.

They also had a lower vaccine uptake, and they were healthy. And that was really hard for me to recognize.

My partially unvaccinated patients, and none of us liked them, quite honestly, back then they were going against their medical doctor’s advice. And with the ego that I had, it was really hard to swallow.

It took me a couple of years to start learning about vaccines.

And the moment I started reading research about vaccines, it changed my life forever.

Dr. Zajac admits that he used to be a “vaccine bully,” because his clinic needed to achieve certain vaccine rates. But his attitude changed as he had to start making decisions about vaccines for his own children, and his own clinical practice had shown that the rates of vaccine injuries were not what the CDC and drug companies were claiming, such as “one in a million,” but more like one out of 100 were being hospitalized from vaccine injuries.

How a Board-certified Pediatrician Changed his Views on Vaccines

Then in 2007 or 2008 an important medical discovery was made in his practice:

I experienced my first regression to autism in one of my patients.

Now, you’ve all heard the same story, that they were born with autism and the doctor just didn’t know that they had autism…. No, that’s not true.

My background is in child development. I was working with kids with special needs. I had a perfectly normal child in my practice until they received the 12 month vaccines.

When I walked into the room at the 17 month visit, I literally saw a child I had never met before. I thought I had walked into the wrong room. I stepped out to make sure I was in the right room. I did not recognize this child. He had regressed into autism, one the saddest cases I have ever seen.

That’s when I started reading about vaccines.

Then another medical event really opened up his eyes regarding vaccines:

A few years later we had a patient die after his shots – they called it a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) death, at 2 in the afternoon, a few hours after his vaccines.

He recalls a conversation he had that day:

The coroner asked the E.R. doctor, “Do you think this is related to the vaccines the child had earlier today?”

And the doctor said, “No, it wouldn’t have been the vaccines,” implying of course that vaccines are perfectly safe.

No further inquiry or investigation happened, and Dr. Zajac states: “That’s when I started reading about vaccines, and that led to a transition into who I am today.”

Dr. Zajac says he reads about vaccines for about 1 hour every day, but he works with moms who read about 10 hours a day regarding vaccines.

They know more than I do.

Then he addresses his fellow medical doctors:

To all medical doctors who are watching this: I am sure they (the parents) know more than you do (about vaccines).

There are only a handful of doctors in this country who know as much about vaccines as these parents do. Because once your child is injured by a vaccine, you’ll never stop researching it.

Children with No Vaccines Are Healthiest?

Dr. Zajac then discusses the range of children in his practice, their vaccine status, and their health:

Doing this for 15 years now, I will share with you that the vaccinated kids are the sickest, the partially vaccinated kids are not as sick, and the unvaccinated kids are the healthiest.

Watch the entire interview:

[embedded content]

High levels of glyphosate discovered in K-12 school breakfast foods across America

A new report by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found high levels of the toxic weed killer glyphosate in over 70 percent of the oat-based breakfast foods commonly served in K-12 schools across the U.S..

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is applied on farms that grow corn, soybeans, oats, and hundreds of other crops. From there, it can make its way into our food, especially popular breakfast cereals and nutrition bars.

CEH tested 13 popular breakfast foods served to school children. The report prioritized school districts with high rates of participation in the National School Breakfast Program since low-income children are already disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals. Items containing the highest levels of glyphosate include Quaker Maple, Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, and Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats. CEH did not find glyphosate residues in any of the certified organic cereals tested.

Glyphosate Box

Glyphosate Residue Free Certification for Food Brands – Click Here

Test Your Food and Water at Home for Glyphosate – Click Here

Test Your Hair for Glyphosate and other Pesticides – Click Here to Find Our Your Long-Term Exposure

The World Health Organization identified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 and last year California’s state environmental protection agency listed it as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

Glyphosate is also an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC). EDCs interfere with the body’s hormones, and as such have been linked to cancers, diabetes, stroke, and reproductive problems, health issues which can even be passed onto future generations. EDCs can also be harmful in low, long-term exposures, the kind of dose one would be exposed to by eating foods containing trace amounts of glyphosate.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that exposure to glyphosate residues in our food has increased four times over the past quarter-century, with children more likely to be exposed than adults. Recent biomonitoring studies have detected it in the urine samples of 70 to 93 percent of the U.S. population.

“Our findings are particularly alarming for children’s health because their bodies are still developing, which makes them more vulnerable to these toxic chemicals than adults,” said Caroline Cox, CEH’s Research Director. “School children shouldn’t be exposed to Monsanto’s toxic herbicide, and school nutrition providers and parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether school foods are contaminated with a chemical linked to cancer and hormone disruption.”

The report follows the historic jury ruling in August that Monsanto had caused a man’s terminal cancer and ordered it to pay $289 million in damages (A judge later reduced the award to $78.5 million, citing statutory limits). The decision has paved the way for thousands of other cancer patients and families to seek justice and compensation in court.

CEH’s findings corroborate a growing list of recent studies demonstrating the presence of glyphosate in children’s foods, including preliminary findings by CEH in August, as well as those by Environmental Working Group, Moms Across America, The Detox Project/Food Democracy Now, and the Food and Drug Administration.

“We applaud all of the work that school districts across the country are doing to provide more nutritious meals. The purpose of our report is to alert schools to the problem posed by foods with high levels of glyphosate and assist them in transitioning to healthier alternatives.,” said Sue Chiang, CEH’s Pollution Prevention Director. “Switching to organic cereals in the short-term, and advocating for stronger chemical regulation in the long-term, is beneficial to all eaters, including especially those people who are exposed to the highest levels of pesticides because of their work, such as groundskeepers and farmworkers.”

Transitioning to healthier school breakfasts is further supported by a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that found a significant reduction in cancer risk for individuals who ate more organic foods. While organic foods can be out-of-reach for individuals and institutions alike, the report asserts that access to safe, healthy food isn’t a privilege, but a right. And as institutional purchasers, if schools collectively demand food companies offer healthier alternatives, the price for organic foods would be further driven down.

It wasn’t until 2016 that the FDA started some limited testing for glyphosate residues in food, and after keeping this data secret for more than a year, it finally made the results public last month. The FDA found glyphosate in about two-thirds of corn and soybean samples but did not test any oats or wheat. Glyphosate can be applied to oats and wheat just before harvest resulting in higher levels of contamination.

“Protecting children’s health from pesticides is essential, and cancer-causing chemicals do not belong in children’s meals, whether served at home, at school, or any other child care center,” concluded Cox. “Parents and schools can’t count on the government to provide them with the right to know what toxic chemicals are in the foods their kids are eating or to properly regulate these chemicals. We plan to help schools find ways to serve healthier alternatives.”

CEH’s report recommends that schools request more organic options from suppliers at affordable costs, offers resources for putting pressure on elected officials and agency regulators to better protect children’s health from harmful EDCs, and suggests that schools serving a breakfast product that has not been tested yet to contact CEH about submitting a sample to assess for glyphosate residues.

Erin Brockovich: The weedkiller in our food is killing us

Growing research show that glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the US, causes cancer

On a recent Saturday afternoon, in an estuary near Tampa Bay, Florida, I watched airboats move up and down the river banks, spraying massive plumes of weedkiller on to the vegetation. The state of Florida was trying to control and kill off scores of plant species. Nearby, children were lying out in the sun, though they knew better than to swim in the water, which has recently been blooming with toxic algae. Mists of weedkiller drifted downwind toward them.

The main active ingredient in that mist, and in the weedkiller being sprayed throughout Tampa Bay, is glyphosate, one of the most widely used herbicides in the US. First registered for use here in 1974, it is now an ingredient in more than 750 products, including the most widely deployed herbicide in the world, Monsanto’s Roundup. For more than a generation, Americans have been using Roundup and other glyphosate-based chemicals to improve agricultural yields, manage forests, ripen fruit and kill the dandelions sprouting from our front lawns.

This August, the jury in a civil trial found Monsanto, which was acquired earlier this year by the German chemical behemoth Bayer, guilty of causing the cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper. The jury awarded Johnson $289m (a judge later reduced the award to $78m, citing statutory limits). Roughly 8,700 similar cases against Monsanto are also before the courts.

Growing research suggests that glyphosate causes a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with which Johnson was diagnosed in 2014. At least three studies, in the US, Canada and Sweden, have linked glyphosate exposure to the disease, and, in 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found glyphosate to be a “probable” cause of cancer in humans. California’s state environmental protection agency has also declared it a probable carcinogen.

Almonds, carrots, quinoa, soy products, vegetable oil, corn and corn oil, canola seeds used in canola oil, beets and beet sugar, sweet potatoes – these are just some of the foodstuffs which typically contain high levels of glyphosate. Research released in August by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that Cheerios, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and at least 29 other popular breakfast foods contained what the EWG considers unsafe quantities of the herbicide. The environmental group has been urging public action to get the EPA to revise its outdated standards, which currently fail to protect the public from glyphosate in foods. Levels of glyphosate in the bodies of people in some areas appear to have jumped over 1,300% in the past 20 years, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There is also evidence that glyphosate is an important driver of Florida’s toxic algae bloom and of similar algal efflorescences across the country. According to research conducted on Lake Erie, the algae thrive off the phosphorus released when the compound is sprayed on certain soils. In turn, human exposure to the toxic algae, which regularly kills pets and wildlife, has been linked to neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ALS.

Glyphosate is only one of more than 80,000 registered commercially produced chemicals in the US. Some of these compounds, such as PFOA and the one I made my name investigating, hexavalent chromium, have also been convincingly linked to health crises – testicular cancer in the case of PFOA, and lung cancer in the case of chromium-6.

Unlike pharmaceuticals, which have to go through relatively rigorous (if imperfect) testing before being released on the marketplace, the vast majority of chemicals like glyphosate will never be adequately tested for their effects on ecosystems or human beings. Governments don’t have the resources, and companies don’t have the incentive. Even when safety guidelines and regulations are in place, the rate of chemicals acceptable by law may be far higher than what is genuinely safe.

The fact is we simply have no idea the extent of the harm most chemicals are doing to our bodies or our planet. And as the Trump administration undermines the Environmental Protection Agency and Republicans seek to gut the meagre safeguards that are in place, our exposure to glyphosate and other such chemicals is only likely to increase.

Many people are looking for a simple answer or new insight into the issue, but the answer has always been the same. We need to petition our legislators, exercise our right to vote, rally our communities, lobby for what we believe in, and most importantly, understand that it’s the health and welfare of our families that is at stake.

About the author

Erin Brockovich is an American legal clerk and environmental activist

Your doctor doesn’t know much about nutrition

There are certain things that doctors are great at. How to prescribe medications? Yes. How to do surgery? Yes. Nutrition and weight loss? No, definitely not. You might be a little stunned to hear that admission, coming from a highly trained medical specialist like myself. But, it all comes down to a physician’s training and what they see as their circle of competence.

Medical training extends over more than a decade, and there is barely any attention paid to nutrition or the equally thorny question of how to lose weight. Medical training begins in medical school, where standard curricula include a mandated number of hours for nutrition which varies depending upon where you did your training. Generally, during the 4 years of medical school, it is about 10-20 hours. I did my medical training at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) but my experience was not unlike most other schools in North America.

Medical school consisted of nutritional lectures discussing things like biochemical pathways of vitamin K metabolism or learning the pathway of vitamin D activation in the kidney and skin. Yes, perhaps you might consider them nutrition, but they are really much closer to biochemistry. Vitamin D becomes 25-OH vitamin D in the kidneys and then becomes activated in the skin during sun exposure to the active 1,25-OH vitamin D. So very useful knowledge when trying to understand how to help patients lose weight.

Talk to your doctor about weight loss? Would you ask your plumber to remove your wisdom teeth? Would you ask your barista to check your vision? It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. The obvious thing to do is include more nutrition into the curriculum of medical school or residency training. It would also help if doctors learned a bit more of the physiology behind weight loss and weight gain. About the hormonal regulators of weight, and how to influence them using diet. Weight gain is a hormonal, not a caloric imbalance.

Neti pot misuse: Rare brain-eating amoeba strikes Seattle woman

Cope said all three amoeba types have similar rates of prevalence, but Balamuthia mandrillaris is the least-recognized among the medical community because it is rarely documented, providing limited opportunity for research.

It is thought the amoebas are primarily soil-based, but the “exact environmental niche is really unknown”, Cope said in an email.

“From my understanding it’s everywhere. There are molds and fungi that can kill you if it infects your brain. MRSA (a treatable bacterial infection) is everywhere, but we don’t have a mechanism of injecting it into our brain,” Cobbs said. “It’s always going to be an uphill battle because people learn by seeing things over and over again, but I don’t think that there are going to be an increase in cases in the future. At least I hope not.”

Correction: The image of severe hemorrhaging in the woman’s brain is a CT scan. An earlier version of this story had incorrectly referred to the image in its caption as an MRI. This correction was made Dec. 6 at 12:08 p.m.