Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Grilling Killing?

As we ready again for celebrating several summer holidays many of us will be participating in one of the all time favorite "rituals" of cooking , the traditional Barbeque and cookout. Most of us have bitten into a nice char-grilled  juicey burger or steak  deliciously oozing with barbecue sauce. As we "savor the flavor" of the spicey sweet "Q"  sauce , the majority will not be thinking of the amount of time we leave the meat on the grill and it's cumulative  affects of the  "blackened" material or the soot and smoke that lingers in the air from the fat burning off the juice. Most of us are laughing and joking and having too  much fun  rather than take a few minutes to turn the meat over timely or slow cook it  by giving it enough time to simmer. One or two of us will forget the drip pan collecting the grease run-off that is seaming with  potential toxins in it.
Most of us have heard that over-cooking or "blackened" food creates toxins that are carcinogens that can cause colon cancer by the release of free oxygen radicals,free radicals, and oxidation- perioxidation occuring from overcooking meats.But recent studies by the National Cancer Institute has found  out that the fat that is  cooked off from grilling  meats creates  a carcinogen called Poly-aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHs) . They've also discovered that the protein in red meat and white meats such as chicken , fish and sea foods can be morphed by the excessive heat. The changes in the protein causes chemicals called Heterocyclic Amines(HAs) which also can cause cancer.

The NCI has found a relationship with both breast and colon cancer as well as  prostate and stomach cancer among other types of cancers  caused  due to over heating foods. Grilling, barbecuing,  and pan searing are also related to creating these chemicals from  super heated foods.

Grilled foods can be avoided from becoming your  own worst enemy by pre-cooking foods  to cut down on the time you grill it. Use lemon or other types of fruit marinades or olive oil  to cook in with the meat. Use more fruits or vegetables on the "barby" with the meats as a kebob . Have a drip pan to reduce the soot that flies back in your face with harmful PAHs. Cut up the meat into smaller pieces to cut down on the time  of cooking as well as cutting off the excess fat of the meat. Do not let your meat become blackened. Cook on top of tin foil if you don't have a drip pan. Always clean your grill after use and before firing it up again. Alternative methods of  cooking such as poaching, roasting, baking, pan stewing and boiling helps reduce production of HCAs and PAHs. Some studies have shown that CLA(conjugated linoleic Acid)  can inhibit cancer caused by PAHs. The exact amount of CLA is still to be determined exactly.

Don't forget that heavily smoked foods, overly salted foods particularly pickeled with Nitrates which have been associated with stomach cancer. Pickled foods are particularly fond of in in the Asian countries like Japan.

But, always remember it is the time limit of cooking, the temperature of cooking, the method you utilize to cook at as well as the types of meats you use that are seemingly related to  the chances of acquiring cancer.

Now , go back to your grilling and have a happy  and healthy holidays.

Dr. Marcus Wells, MD, MPH is the author of the books "Fit Family" and "Nano-Nutrition" that both discuss the affects whole foods/organic(macronutrients) and the bio-fuels micronutrients can supply for a healthy balanced lifestyle. Learn more at and

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Toxic Tastes: The Future of Processing Flavor in Foods

It seems that today we are discovering the "catch 22" of having so much technology so quickly which is applied to our daily lives. In food science alone the assembly line production of processed foods into our kitchens may have put other additives we weren't expecting on the kitchen table and has inadvertently created new disorders by overdosing on taste leading to "exotic illness and occasional death by taste".

Sometimes it would appear we are walking into a vitural pharmacy or chemical waste plant when we walk through our own kitchen now-a-days. We  feel that we have to "stash" our high fat high caloric foods in places  where nobody else can get their "measly" hands on our snacks. We boast on television about getting the better "light" beer that has more calories and oh, let's not forget about those good ole' moms who break out the trans fat munchies- after -school -treats with the artificial sweetners. "Thanks mom".

Saturday morning has been a cornucupio of all kinds of "goodies" to make our kids "grow" not just faster , but bigger. "Ho ho ho, it's not the jolly green giant". The latest CDC, NIH, and Academy of Pediatrics show alarming rates of childhood obesity not only from the snacks after school and Saturday morning sugary cereals, but also from so-called  fruit juices, energy drinks and soft drinks filled with artificial flavoring and sweetners. The FDA just reviewed the link between ADHD and artificial sweetners,  artificial flavoring and preservatives and there appears to be a strong case for supporting that conclusion.

Its not just that these kids are bombarded with the acrilimides in  french fries with trans fats, super saturated fats or sodas hyped up with so much MSG or even the plastic wrapping of fast food which has chemicals that alter hormones in the body. Styrene in styrofoam is a carcinogen, try to remember that the next time you're at the coffee grinder or get a  big gulp of some soda in a styrofoam cup. Oh yeahm by the way, heat from added to beverages increases the toxicity particularly in plastic containers. Let's not forget the BPA in plastic bottles , especially baby bottles. They are known to alter the biochemistry of hormones .

The foods are already bombarded with any number of chemicals before they are packed off to market. The antibiotics injected in animals may be problematic as they are making resistance more likely with not only very exotic organisms , but even everyday common ones. Let's not forget the estrogen that's given to them as well. The implications of femininzing boys or precocious puberty spikes we see today with girls may be as a result. But, we are forgetting growth hormone as well thats given to make these "franken-fish, beef,cows and chicken" Not that genetically modification isn't doing a good enough job in doing that by itself already.

The pesticides we use today are of the same ingredients used in agent orange. Yeah, can anyone say nepalm? Even the household insecticides have a bio-equivalent  identical chemistry to estrogens. This is another estrogen source to young girls and boys. By, the way estrogen is made from cholesterol. The higher the fat content in your diet , the more adipose, the more obesity, the more substrate to make estrogen in a 9 year-old girl.

Our foods are often time than not irradiated to destroy harmful particles, but what is the radiation causing us?

The restaurant and beverage industry is another matter all unto itself. The excito-toxin , such as MSG in diet sodas can alter brain chemistry. How many cans of that do you have a day.But, there's more. Aspartame is a nuero-toxic(excito-toxic) agent in sodas too and has been linked to seizures,  , brain tumors and reduced cognitive functioning. Sucralose, "the pink" stuff was first discovered as a pesticide with a chloride component inside it which also another carcinogen.

 Kids are drinking more sodas and energy drinks, but what's in them? High Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS has become the leading artificial sweetner in many cans of soda today. Its high caloric intake is directly impacting the rate of childhood obesity and overweight kids to rise meteoroticlly. As a result the rate of childhood liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes is also on the rise.

We have to also be aware of nitrosamines to preserve meats or smoked meats which are also a carcinogen, high saturated fatty foods and oils still  a clear and present for causing heart disease along with overuse of common salt which is leading to more high blood pressure and stroke. Trans fats in our margarine is another culprit causing problems with metabolism.

The National Cancer Institute/NCI has looked at how America's  favorite past time of grilling out can produce carcinogens by how you cook your food and for how long you cook it for. It seems that grilled meats can seap off chemicals known as heterocyclic amines or HCAs . By changing the chemistry of protein these carcinogens are able to enter into the blood stream and effect harm.

When fats are grilled off a piece of meat, the smoke can contain a carcinogen known as PAHs a form of hydrocarbons called poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

The public has to be warned of all and every possbility by both public health and nutrition experts of these consequences. Technology now needs to apply better science to prevent these innovative methods in food production that are creating dangerous side effects of its own "genius". This can only get worse by creating other problems in the health and economics of healthcare in this nation.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are We Sweetening Up Life Too Much?

We are beginning to see just how chemically toxic our external environment from air, water and land can be , but it's our internal enviorment of our organ systems that are being bombarded by a wave of chemical and non-chemical toxins on a daily basis.

The FDA in 2011 reviewed numerous food colorings, dyes and artificial preservatives and have found a link between ADHD the attention disorder in children and artificial coloring which are made from coal tar derivatives to enhance color. They are also known to cause allergic reactions, fatigue, asthma, skin rash, headaches and hyper-reactivity.

Artificial flavorings are mostly a cheap production of a host of chemicals that try to taste like natural products .They are also linked to allergies, eczema, and can affect cellular enzymes , RNA, and the thyroid gland.

Artificial sweetners come in all shapes , sizes, and colored packages. There are so many to chose from today you just can't  keep up with them all. Whether the name is Acesulfame, sucralose, aspartame, Equal, Nutrasweet, saccharin,Sweet- n- Sow, splenda , Sorbitol, Agave, or Neotame ; they tend to be highly processed with no calories. Many substitute for natural forms of sugar in diet foods are in drinks to reduce calories. However, we are seeing how high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and some forms of Agave  increases caloric intake causing obesity, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in kids.

Sucralose was discovered coincidentally in the lab as a very effective pesticidal agent with chloroform based chemicals used in it. It is known to be linked with cancers.

Aspartame has been well documented in causing brain tumors, brain cancer, seizures and poor brain cognition. It is a high favorite in soft drinks, also. Some experience headaches, hallucinations and dizziness with it.

Early animal studies with saccharin showed it being related to cancer as well, but dose amounts in humans is often controversial.

Many chemicals are used in food such as fats to keep them from becoming rancid. These products such as BHT, BHA, TBHQ  can cause swelling, asthma, tumors, urticaria, and effect estrogen balance. They are noted to raise body fats such as triglycerides.

Marcus Wells, MD, MPH is a previous clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health and has a Master's in Public Health from Emory University with emphasis in Environmental & Occupational health

Common Household Use Could Be Harmful to Life

As technology advances us further in daily life, we are also fraught with the potential complication of toxicities from additives in food and beverages at the cost ot these "advances" especially effecting our health. There are more concerns other than cell phones today which appears to effect neurological function. Many of these other concerns are in our diet, in our air conditioned air and house hold items we use frequently.

Many of us love the idea of a new perfume or cologne and how it makes it smell and who knows it might attract somebody else whom we really like. However, we don't hear often what else these products attract. Many birth defects and hormonal changes occur due to exposures to Phthalates. They are used to bind fragrances particularly perfumes.

Falme retardants have been commonly used in moderns home such as polyurethane foam in couches and nursing pillows as well as baby strollers.

A big one we often use is Trichloroethylene(TCE) .It often causes cancer and defects. It is found in spot removers and rug cleaners, as well. It appears that TCE can be produced from the shower heads of certain showers. The chemical produced in the shower heads is formed when high velocity jet sprays  are made.

Vinyk chloride which is linked to liver disease is often used in flooring , car interiors and kids toys. A cousin of this toxin Tetra-chloride has been used in house hold goods as well. Some of these chloride based chemicals have been used in cleaners for clothing and suit clothes

Marcus Wells , MD, MPH is previous clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health and has a Master's in Public Health from Emory University with emphasis in Environmental & Occupational health

Common Toxicities Beyond Cell Phone Use: Part 2

Cell phone may not be the only common everyday tool or product we use that can cause a health concern in our lives.Everyday we may come in contact with something that triggers a health mechanism that can cause harm to us without knowing it. Physicians, Environmental scientist and Public Health workers are pressing to get better informed messages to the public about these exposures.

Many old homes, shipping yards and brake lines in older cars may have asbestos which is known to cause asbestosis a fibrotic thickening of the lining of the lungas well as cause lung cancer.

Bisphenol or BPA is linked to numerous illnesses. We see it often in babies plastic formula bottles and some metal cans. It can cause biochemical changes that cause hormonal imbalances in the prostate,  some cognitive function in brain.

Many kitchen counter tops have a chemical in them called formaldehyde. It can be found in some in furniture as well. Some companies use it to create couches.

Many household paints contain hexane as well. It is known to cause nerve damage. It is a solven in many paints, spray glues and stain removers, too.

Methylene Chloride can cause death and toxicity and is found in wood flooring cleaners, water repellents and some spray shoe polishes.

Marcus Wells MD, MPH is a previous clinical associate from the NIH and has a Master's in Public Health from Emory University specializing in Environmental & Occupational Health
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Common Toxicities Beyond Cell Phone Use: Part 1

Lately we've heard a lot about the link between cell phones and brain cancer. The FDA and other scientific authorities have come to conclude that this is  a real and not just theoretical possibility. Scientist are looking into how non-ionizing radiation can effect cognitive functioning as well. Non-ionizing radiation unlike its more popularized radiation happening in Fukishima , Japan takes a different approach to cellular damaging. It "slow cooks" matter from within. Cell phones are not the only culprit here. We have to look at other sources also  such as microwave ovens, hand held devices or lap tops as well as those tall cell phone towers that emit ELF.

Non-ionizing radiation may effect high turnover cells or cells that are highly sensitive such as the brain, particularly a childs developing brain or even gonadal organs may be susceptible to them which even greater implications can come from.

Some Neurological scientist are also looking at cognitive functioning of those who use cell phones a lot and see a common link in reducing brain skills, also.

But as we look around our homes further we will see more toxins we use just about everyday that cause disease in autoimmune forms , asthma or cancer.

The National Institutes of Health along with Mount Sinai Medical School have found a link between styrofoam coffee cups and cancer particularly leukemia and lymphoma. The styrofoam contains a chemical called styrene which is toxic.

Pregnant women and children in particularly need to be careful. Hot drinks in these types of containers actually accelerte the toxicity as heat radiates.

Medical scientist at Mount Sinai also have looked at BPA a bisphenol chemical compound often found in babies plastic bottles and other similar plastic bottles, aluminum cans and plastic wrappings. Neonates often given plastic bottles may expereince later some type of  hormonal imbalances. It is better to use glass bottles.

Similar precaustion it to be given to plastic water bottles particularly when kept warmer than normal or cooler than normal as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vitamin D: Part 2

More has come about the effectiveness of Vitamin D not only for strong bones and muscles; but as a anti-cancer fighter. These controversial results come with the recommendation of the vitamin at "super high doses" as high as 4000 to 8000 IU(international units). These doses may be of added benefit for multiple sclerosis and diabetes mellitus from these amazing studies. These studies reported in the Journal of Anticancer Research come out of the University of California San Diego(UCSD) and Creighton.

These studies are reporting benefits from Vitamin D for  reducing the rate of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke and poor cognitive function. The CDC has reported most Americans do not get enough Vitamin D in their diets.

The American Journal of Obesity show a corellation between the lack of Vitamin D and obesity as well. The link finds that the vitamin's deficiency appears to be related to childhood obesity, diabetes and higher body fat. This may be due to the fact that Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and is dissolved in the high adipose tissue.

Some studies are now looking at Vitamin D's  potential role as an inti-inflammatory agent as well.

But, the biggest impact on our life is with Vitamin D protecting us against cancer. In the International Journal of Low Radiation(2008) there seemed to be evidence that Vitamin protects against radiation damage or radio-induced cancer. It does this by upgregulating genes causing cell regulation, controls for cells differentiation(mutation, damage),  the timing of cell death, and that of new vessel createion that feeds a cancer.

It is beleived that there are 16 cancer types that Vitamin D may help protect against.

What are some good sources for Vitamin D?  First from the the most accessible source of all, the sun. One must be cautious, however,  of the sun's ultra-violet rays so, less than 30 minutes outdoors is enough. Do not forget protective SPF when walking or playing outdoors.  It appears however , that foods are probably  a better source for  your Vitamin D than supplements or even our old friend the  sun.

Other  sources of Vitamin D  include oily fish, eggs, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, sardines, milk, margarine*(trans fats in margarine is a concern for use), ceral, beef liver and cheese.

When taking Vitamin D supplements make sure you ask for D3(Cholecalciferol) the more biologically active form and   not D2. Unbeknownst to many health providers they typically write prescriptions for the latter.

Dr. Wells, MD,MPH is a past clinical associate of the NIH -National Heart , Lung & Blood Institute. His tenure included a post at the US Public Health Service, US Health & Human Services at this same. Learn more about Dr. Wells and Vitamin D at