France joins Spain and Italy in banning the importation of cherries that have been treated with dimethoate, an organophosphate insecticide. It is widely used in many countries to control insects, worms and mites. It is part of a huge family of poisons that target the nerve transmissions in insect pests and, unfortunately also can poison many unintended species.
Dimethoate is very toxic to bees, birds, amphibians, fish and mammals(which includes humans). In humans, the pesticide may enter the body by skin contact, inhalation or ingestion.
The organophosphates are efficient killers of insects and are routinely used on many food crops. Tiny amounts may be left as residues on fruits and vegetables destined for kitchens. The EPA lists pages of these efficient killers. Some have been banned for use in the USA. More have been banned in the EU and more countries are tightening the regulations regarding their use.
Thirty-six of them are presently registered for use in the United States, and all can potentially cause acute and subacute toxicity. EPA
While some health experts discount the health hazards of foods treated with dimethoate when applied according to recommended dosages, some food growing countries have developed reputations for ignoring safety cautions in order to increase production.
When sprayed crops are cleaned, most dirt and pesticide residue is removed. Some remains and some fruits and vegetables retain more than others. An investigation was conducted by a team working for CNN found that the following list of produce seemed to retain a high level of crop spray. If you are concerned, you might consider choosing the organically grown versions of the following:
Celery, peaches, strawberries, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale, collard greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, lettuce.
The banning of dimethoate treated cherries may be a movement by France, Spain and Italy to recognize the unintended bad consequences of the pesticide, or it may be a financial move aimed at protecting domestic cherry production. The three countries are the top producers of cherries in the EU.
A large study conducted by researchers at the Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has pointed out some troubling statistics. Some people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have their lives cut by 30 years compared to those without.
ASD manifests itself in a wide variety of ways. It is still not well understood, but people who have it may have trouble socializing or communicating. They may find some stimuli overwhelming or change in routines hard to cope with. Some with ASD have intellectual disabilities and seizures.
The study that the Swedish researchers carried out involved 27000 plus people who had been diagnosed with the disorder. They had 2.6 million others who were not affected by it. They found that as they followed them for eight years and recorded deaths and causes of deaths during that time, that those diagnosed with ASD were 2.5 times more likely to die than their age matched controls.
The researchers concluded that those with ASD were likely to die 18 years earlier than their healthy counterparts. Those with intellectual challenges were likely to die 30 years earlier than a healthy person. Those with severe epilepsy fell into this category. Another leading cause of early death was suicide.
In recent years, children are being diagnosed with ASD at earlier ages. With early intervention, many children can learn to cope with regular human interactions. A famous person with ASD is Temple Grandin who has emerged as an expert on animal behavior.
In the US approximately one in every 68 children shows signs of ASD. The incidence is five times as frequent in boys. New brain research is pointing to the action of testosterone produced by the male fetus on the developing brain. A Danish study in 2014 sampled amniotic fluid of more than 300 boys and found that those who exhibited signs of ASD were higher in testosterone levels than those who did not.
It’s early days yet in dealing with this syndrome but the developing science of epigenetics is leading investigators down some interesting pathways.
British Journal of Psychiatry
Medical News Today
Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease that can cripple and kill its victims. It develops when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the myelin sheath that protects and ensures quick nerve impulses reach their target.
Researchers have noted that the disease is more prevalent in northern climates like N. America and Europe. It doesn’t occur with the same frequency in Japan and where a diet rich in oily fish is consumed. The researchers have long theorized that there was a link between the lack of Vitamin D and the disease.
A small Finnish study published in the JAMA Neuology this month indicated a strong association with low levels of the “sunshine vitamin” in mothers of children diagnosed with MS. While no dosage could be measured, the most critical time for sufficient Vit D seems to be in the first trimester.
Other studies did not find as strong a link.
Vitamin D is important in many areas of health. Humans can produce their own supply of it by exposing the skin to the ultraviolet light of the sun, but overexposure can damage the skin. In the northern hemisphere, the sun’s rays are too weak to generate the needed reaction. Also we tend to cover our skin because of the colder temperatures.
People with dark skin are more resistant to ultraviolet radiation and make the vitamin less well in northern latitudes. Those who spend most of their time inside and those who cover all or most of their skin are more at risk for low levels of the vitamin. People who restrict their diets to non-animal products may also need to supplement.
We can gain Vit. D by taking supplements – cod liver and halibut liver oils are rich in the substance. A more palatable method might be to add a small vitamin pill to your winter diet.
People with low levels of this vital substance are at risk for many health problems. Some of them are the following:
Harvard Chan School of Medicine
From Africa it spread to Asia and from there to some of the islands of Micronesia. It was spread by mosquitoes from the Aedes genus. In 2007 a mutation likely occurred which made the virus far more dangerous.
The virus has been transmitted sexually in one documented case. A biologist who was bitten by mosquitos in Africa, contracted the virus. When he returned to the US he had the disease in a mild form. He had sex with his wife and she came down with the disease as well. She was never exposed to the Aedes mosquito.
The Aedes mosquito is a heat loving creature. It has been spreading northward from the Caribbean and S. America. Puerto Rico recorded its first case in December 2015. It is expected to invade the continental US within the year.
Health care providers have no treatment, no vaccines to prevent the disease. They do have advice how to avoid the bloodsuckers. Wear insect repellent, wear long sleeves and long pants.
For many of the countries that depend on the ‘snowbirds’ seeking warm, sunny holidays in the tropics the economic fallout of dire warnings about Zika can stress economies.
The gradual warming of the Earth may bring more of these very unpleasant surprises.
While treatments to battle the virus have become more effective over the years, the disease continues to spread and kill. Canada has a population of around 35 million and has 75 000 people with the disease. Statistics show that until tested 21% of those people were unaware that the virus was at work in their bodies.
Worldwide it is estimated that 36.9 million people carry the virus.
The cost of infection is high. In Canada each province administers medical insurance differently. In Alberta the HIV meds are free. Other provinces charge depending on family income. In Manitoba one survivor pays around $36 000 per annum.
As with any disease, the best course of action is to prevent infection.
New England Journal of Medicine
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