By Todd Bray, Riptide Correspondent
Thanks to the Pacifica Tribune for Jane Northrop's reporting on the pending sale of Seton and Seton Coastside hospitals to Prime Healthcare, a for-profit company headquartered in Delaware. It is clear from Jane's story that the sale was attractive to the Daughters of Charity board of directors largely because of Prime's promise of an $11 million golden parachute for the board. There ought to be a law.
It is clear from Prime's ongoing legal issues with Medicare that it uses and abuses the Medicare process and increases revenues by decreasing services in other hospitals it has purchased. While Prime has "promised" to leave things unchanged for five years, California's attorney general (AG) has stated that a condition of sale must include a 10-year guarantee, among other conditions, before the AG approves the sale. God forbid that this company, headquartered 3,000 miles away, gets its hands on the Seton nursing staff's pension money. I hope the AG rejects Prime's offer. I truly do.
From Riptide Science Grrl
Today we learn that Monsanto has enjoined Starbucks to sue the little State of Vermont to force non-labeling of food products with GMO information. Starbucks doesn't think you have the right to know what's in your coffee. So it's teamed up with Monsanto to sue the small State of Vermont to stop you from finding out.
Neil Young pointed this out on his website, where he sings an awesome song about why food labeling and environmental stewardship are not just something to do; they are for our children's children's children.
Hiding behind the shadowy "Grocery Manufacturers Association," Starbucks is supporting a lawsuit that's aiming to block a landmark law that requires genetically modified ingredients be labeled.
Monsanto money forced the defeat of California and Oregon initiatives to label food with ingredients including GMOs. Not remove food. Just LABEL IT.
Listen to Neil's song:
Learn why Neil is boycotting Starbucks:
Read the news story:
Sign the petition:
Ever since scientists showed the endocrine-system-disrupting effects of the industrial chemical BPA, manufacturers have discontinued its use in water bottles, baby bottle, and binkies. (That's why everyone drinks water out of metal containers these days.) In estimating human exposure to the gender-bending chemical, federal regulators assume that the main source of exposure to BPA is from food and beverage packaging. But a new study by Frederick vom Staal and others in the journal PLOS One (plosone.org) shows that another significant point of entry could be handling of thermal receipts -- those ubiquitous slips of paper that come at the end of nearly every financial transaction -- especially if you have used hand sanitizer or various other skin creams. Doing so, the study found, can increase uptake of BPA 100-fold. Worse, if you handle a BPA-coated receipt and then eat food with your hands, you ingest the BPA as well. Finally, the study's results suggest a prudent course of action for shoppers: Don’t take a receipt. (Paul Rauber, Sierra Magazine)
Vigorous mixing in the air above large cracks in Arctic sea ice that expose seawater to cold polar air pumps atmospheric mercury down to the surface, finds a NASA field campaign. This process can lead to more of the toxic pollutant entering the food chain, where it can negatively affect the health of fish and animals who eat them, including humans. Read More
(Posted by John Maybury, Pacifica Riptide, Pacifica, California)
The following was issued January 10, 2014, by the California Department of Public Health Radiologic Health Branch and its Office of Public Affairs.
“There is no public health risk at California beaches due to radioactivity related to events at Fukushima. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not
aware of any recent activity at Fukushima, or any new data that would cause elevated radioactivity on California shores from the Fukushima incident.
Recent tests by the San Mateo County public health department and CDPH show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the Fukushima incident.
The volume of water in the Pacific Ocean has a significant diluting effect on radionuclides that are present and it is not anticipated that the concentration will increase in the waters off of the west coast.
CDPH has collected and will be analyzing sand samples from Half Moon Bay. Results of the analysis will be posted on the CDPH Radiologic Health (RHB) website as soon as the analysis is completed.”
CDPH also performs routine air and milk samples as required by California law. Slightly elevated air and milk samples were found during the initial phases of the Fukushima incident (March 2011). The results were reported on CDPH RHB’s website (see link above).
CDPH continues to monitor air, milk, kelp, and fish samples. CDPH’s monitoring is part of its ongoing environmental monitoring program. It will publish data on the CDPH RHB website.
CDPH has been in contact with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which monitors the situation with the nuclear reactors in Japan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the private entity Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have monitored fish from the Pacific Ocean. While minute levels of cesium were found in bluefin tuna, most recent tests show even those small levels are declining.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) is the coordinating agency for response to international emergencies involving radioactive materials, and the FDA is responsible for food safety. FDA’s hotline number is 888-723-3366. The USEPA, via its RadNet system, monitors the nation’s air, drinking water, precipitation, and pasteurized milk to determine levels of radiation in the environment.
RadNet sample analyses and monitoring results provide baseline data on background levels of radiation in the environment and can detect increased radiation from radiological incidents, such as the Fukushima incident. Visit the USEPA RadNet website at http://www.epa.gov/radnet/ and see the link for public questions.
Other Useful Links
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) addresses threats to coastal areas. It tracks debris from Japan at:
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) provides publicly available reports on leakage and seawater radioactivity near the Fukushima Daiichi
plant. The last report can be found at: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2013/japan-basic-policy6.html
The State of Oregon continues to test drinking water, rainwater, and seawater for radionuclides that could be associated with Fukushima:
11 Things You're Doing That Could Shorten Your Life
The Huffington Post | By Todd Van Luling
Are you sitting down while reading this? Well, that could be shortening your lifespan. Let's be honest: From the moment we're born, we're all dying just as we're living. But certain mundane things we do every day may actually be helping us get there faster. None of this means we should even try to eliminate these behaviors from our lives entirely, but it's proof that overdoing anything, even when seemingly innocuous, can have serious impacts on our health. Below we've rounded up 11 everyday things you're probably doing that could potentially shorten your lifespan:
1. You're having a hard time finding love. Having a difficult time finding a mate can shave off months of your life, while being single for prolonged periods of time could cost you a whole decade. A study by Harvard Medical School found that communities with gender ratios skewing significantly more male or female caused the minority sex to have shorter lifespans. Even when exposed to short timeframes of competition, such as attending a high school entirely of one gender, participants were found to have generally shorter lives. Lead researcher Nicholas Christakis stressed this ratio had a sexual mating basis, rather than simple social dominance. On top of all this, another study found that never getting married could increase risk of death over a lifetime by 32 percent, and led to the previously mentioned loss of a decade. That said, changing attitudes toward the social necessity of getting married over the 60-year research period could have potentially affected the results. In 1950, Census data shows that 78 percent of households were occupied by a married couple -- by 2010, that figure had dropped to 48 percent. In other words? Being single or partnered and unmarried is no longer the minority status.
2. You're sitting down for more than a few hours every day. Two whole years of your life could be cut just from sitting more than three hours a day. Australian researchers published in the British Medical Journal found that even regular exercise couldn't deter the potential negative effects of sitting for long stretches of time. Another study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine found that sitting for more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of death by 40 percent over the next three years, compared to sitting for under four hours a day. Time to get that stand-up desk.
3. You're neglecting your friends. People with weak social connections were found to die at much higher rates than their counterparts, according to research by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which collected data from 148 different studies. The same researchers found that prolonged loneliness could be as bad for your lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. On top of all this, elderly people with large circles of friends were found to be 22 percent less likely to die over a tested study period, and those social connections generally promote brain health in aging brains.
4. You're vegging out in front of your TV. Watching just two hours of television a day can lead to an increased risk of premature death, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard researchers. The negative effects of watching television seem to overlap with the potential negative effects of sitting too much, but watching television seems to make the negative effects of sitting even worse. According to the New York Times, "every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes."
5. You're eating too much unhealthy food. Perhaps this sounds obvious, but the truth is that so many of us continue to do it. The existence of the "Stroke Belt" -- which includes many southeastern states and ranges from parts of Texas to Virginia, overlapping with much of the "Diabetes Belt" -- has led to many studies trying to figure out why life expectancy is so low and strokes are so common there. One such study focused on a town in East Texas. The residents of this town died seven years earlier than the healthiest Texans, according to the research done by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. As the New York Times reported, "The proof of Anderson County’s live-hard, die-young culture is in the bread pudding — and the all-you-can-eat fried catfish, the drive-through tobacco barns and the dozens of doughnut shops that dot this East Texas county of about 57,000." As far as what foods to especially avoid, eating red meat seems to shorten life expectancy by as much as 20 percent when eating extra portions.
6. You're still looking for a job. Being unemployed can increase a person's risk of premature death by 63 percent, according to findings by Canadian researchers after analyzing 40 years of data from 20 million people in 15 countries. Other more specific studies on the changing mortality rates of American white women found that "the two factors most strongly associated with higher death rates were smoking and not having a job." Another found that older people who lost their jobs during the recession could have seen their lifespan decrease by as many as three years.
7. You're dealing with a long commute. Commutes of about an hour have been found to increase stress and have been linked to the same negative effects as sitting. Long commutes also reduce the likelihood that individuals will consistently participate in health related activities. The greatest lifespan risk is with female commuters, who were found to have significantly shorter lifespans after consistently commuting for 31 miles or more, according to researchers at Sweden’s Umeå University. The cause for the dip in female life expectancies has been the topic of much speculation lately, but while the Swedish research was able to link commuting to obesity, insomnia and a higher rate of divorce, it wasn't able to pinpoint why female mortality rates are higher.
8. You're having a dry-spell. A study among men found that failing to orgasm for extended periods of time can potentially cause your mortality rate to be 50 percent higher than for those who have frequent orgasms. This result was found even when controlling for factors such as age, smoking, and social class. On the opposite spectrum, orgasms have been linked to quite a few additional health benefits.
9. You're putting up with annoying co-workers. Missing out on strong connections with your co-workers can also potentially mean missing out on a longer life. According to researchers at Tel Aviv University, "Peer social support, which could represent how well a participant is socially integrated in his or her employment context, is a potent predictor of the risk of all causes of mortality." Although having feelings of encouragement coming from bosses and managers didn't seem to affect the subjects' lifespans, those who reported feelings of low social support at work were 2.4 times more likely to die over the study period.
10. You're not sleeping enough (or maybe too much?) Harvard Medical School points out that research has shown that life expectancies significantly decrease in subjects who average less than five or more than nine hours a night. Most of us suffer from too little rather than too much sleep, but research suggests there truly is a sleep "sweet spot" -- at least if you're primarily concerned about living for as long as possible. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, dementia, cognitive and memory problems, weight gain and early death. And some research shows that too much (dramatically, unusually too much) regular sleep could be problematic as well. Research has also shown that we need an average of eight hours to function optimally, but another, somewhat controversial study found that getting more than seven hours of sleep a night has been linked to shortened lifespans. A 12 percent increase in mortality rate was found in people who slept eight hours versus those who hovered closer to seven, in a 2002 study from Brigham and Women's Hospital. However, other studies have found that needing to sleep for too long may be a sign of other physical ailments, from diabetes to depression.
11. You're fearing death or that you won't live for as long as you'd like. This is a painful paradox. A fear of a shortened lifespans, or Thanatophobia, can potentially end up causing -- a shortened lifespan. A 2012 study on cancer patients published in the US National Library of Medicine ended up finding that, "life expectancy was perceived as shortened in patients with death anxiety." Outside of cancer patients, an intense fear of death can also lead to a three to five times increase in the risk of cardiovascular ailments, according to research on Americans who feared death from another terrorist attack following Sept. 11, 2001. Although a slight fear of death has been shown to have positive benefits, like an increase in exercise and healthy eating, the fear has been shown to significantly affect lifespans, especially in adults nearing the age of being considered elderly. These effects can also be correlated to especially paranoid people having weaker connections with society and increased feelings of alienation -- the negative effects of which were both discussed above.
SACRAMENTO – State Senator Jerry Hill announced today he will introduce legislation strengthening recently released federal guidelines to phase out the non-medical use of antibiotics in farm animals in California in order to combat growing resistance to these vital drugs. The legislation will effectively make it illegal for farmers and ranchers to use antibiotics to make animals grow bigger.
More than two million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections each year -- resulting in 23,000 deaths. The Food and Drug Administration last week announced that it will ask pharmaceutical companies, livestock and poultry producers, to stop using antibiotics to promote faster growth in animals and to limit their use to medical care only. The FDA’s guidance document, however, is not binding. The document contains only voluntary recommendations asking that pharmaceutical, livestock and poultry producers comply.
“My legislation will make it clear that the FDA guidelines are the law in California,” Hill said. The San Mateo Democrat will introduce his bill when the Legislature re-convenes on Jan. 6.
Medically important antibiotics used in food-producing animals are the same ones used in humans. Farms consume at least 70 percent of the nation’s antibiotic supply -- and repeated exposure to antibiotics can lead germs to become resistant to drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline that are used to treat common bacterial infections in humans. At least 685 different drugs are approved by the FDA for use in animals.
This year, an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella linked to three chicken plants in California sickened nearly 400 people; 40 percent of those infected were hospitalized. Each year antibiotic-resistant infections result in at least $20 billion in direct health care costs and at least $35 billion in lost productivity.
"Antibiotic use in food producing animals for non-medical reasons is a serious public health issue,” Hill said. “My legislation is intended to ensure that medically important antibiotics remain effective in treating bacterial infections in animals and humans.”
Hill’s legislation will ensure that California companies comply with the FDA voluntary guidelines. Drug manufacturers will be required to change their labels preventing farmers from buying antibiotics over the counter and using them for non-medical purposes. Since the 1950s producers have been feeding low doses of antibiotics to animals throughout their lives to increase their size and weight. Pharmaceutical and livestock producers would be subject to penalties if they do not comply.
It will also require food producers to obtain a prescription from a veterinarian to use the drugs to prevent disease in their animals. With veterinary oversight, animal producers will still be able to use medically important antibiotics for legitimate disease treatment purposes.
In its Consumer Update, the Food and Drug Administration stated, “Because all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary.” In 1977, the FDA first reported that the non-therapeutic use of penicillin and tetracycline in livestock could lead to new super-bugs resistant to antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Antibiotics are also commonly used in food animals to prevent, control, and treat disease, and to promote the growth of food-producing animals. The use of antibiotics for promoting growth is not necessary, and the practice should be phased out."
Earlier this year Johns Hopkins University released a study which found that, “Administering nontherapeutic antimicrobials to food animals is particularly problematic since chronic administration of low doses of antimicrobials contributes to the evolution and proliferation of antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria. Accordingly, the widespread use of nontherapeutic antimicrobials in animals and the selection of genes conveying resistance can vastly diminish the effectiveness of antimicrobials to treat animal and human disease.”
The European Union banned the use of antibiotics for non-medical purposes in 2005.
Office of Senator Jerry Hill