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Drug Prevention In The 21st Century: Why We Need Change & The Program That May Help

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Last week I received a phone call that a 26-year-old relative had passed away from a heroine overdose. I immediately turned to family and friends for answers, and we all seemed to agree that there is a root to this problem that is going unnoticed.

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As children, we go through drug education programs to instill the premise that doing drugs will ruin your life. But, when I think back on my “D.A.R.E.” program, I remember very little about it. I wonder if many of the kids in my class did, either, as I’ve seen friends, acquaintances, and peers succumb to drug addiction.

My friend’s brother is a heroine addict, and I’ve watched how it has affected her life. Families begin to wonder if the addict will make it to tomorrow. And when they do, it becomes some sort of backwards miracle. In society, they are outcasted. Rather than seeing this inherent epidemic as a public crisis, we push addicts away.

The level of unmet need for prevention, treatment, and recovery programs in the United States is alarming. Children aren’t receiving drug prevention messages, and 90 percent of the youth suffering from a drug problem don’t receive the help they need. Federal funding for these programs is largely overlooked, despite the fact that, in 2014, 47,055 people died from drug overdoses, which was 1.5 times greater than those killed in car crashes.

Family members of addicts worry so much about their survival, that jail seems like an answer. But this just forms a vicious cycle. Addicts go down the rabbit hole of illegal undertakings that ultimately land them in jail. They are then released, and begin the process all over again, because they were never properly rehabbed.

Why, instead of wasting time and money on court hearings and racking up criminal records, aren’t we prioritizing access to better prevention and treatment instead?

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Speaking with a family member after the death of the young and beautiful girl we worried would fall to the fate she ultimately did, we contemplated where things went wrong. The programs aren’t working. So what can be done?

Research shows that the public antidrug programs like D.A.R.E. or the “Just Say No” campaign inspired by Nancy Reagan, which depend on education and scare tactics, are mostly ineffective. When something fails to succeed time and time again, and lives are continuously put at risk because of it, when do we wake up and make a change?

A new antidrug program tested in Europe, Australia, and Canada might have the answer, or, at the very least, spark the reality that things aren’t working the way they are currently.

Called “Preventure,” the program was developed by Patricia Conrod, who is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal. The program is tailored toward a child’s temperament, and how it may put them at risk for drug use. The program recognizes that different personality traits form different avenues to addiction.

Early trials of Preventure reveal that personality testing can pinpoint 90 percent of the highest risk children by identifying risky traits prior to the rise of drug use and addiction.

Growing up, my drug education seemed to assume we would fear, and therefore, stay away from, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, or methamphetamine by talking to us, not with us, for an hour once in a while. But this program takes into consideration that most teenagers don’t become addicted to such things, and therefore focuses on the minority who do.

So what are the traits that put kids at the highest risk for addiction? Likely not what you’d expect.

“The traits that put kids at the highest risk for addiction aren’t all what you might expect. In my case, I seemed an unlikely candidate for addiction. I excelled academically, behaved well in class and participated in numerous extracurricular activities,” Maia Szalavitz wrote for The New York Times. “Inside, though, I was suffering from loneliness, anxiety and sensory overload. The same traits that made me “gifted” in academics left me clueless with people.

That’s why, when my health teacher said that peer pressure could push you to take drugs, what I heard instead was: ‘Drugs will make you cool.’ As someone who felt like an outcast, this made psychoactive substances catnip.”

I can relate to Szalavitz’s feelings about peer pressure making you cool. And I know, based on observation and experience, that many others can, too. I smoked a cigarette for the first time as a teenager not because I thought it would taste good, but because I thought it would look cool to those around me. I smoked marijuana for the first time not because I had a desire to try it, but because I had someone over my shoulder telling me not to be such a baby. In fact, most of the things I tried for the first time were not because I was alone in a room and had a desire to.

Preventure focuses on four risky traits: sensation-seeking, impulsiveness, anxiety sensitivity, and hopelessness. Of these four traits, three of them are linked to mental health issues, which is a huge risk factor for addiction. Impulsiveness is common in people with A.D.H.D. Hopelessness is typically a precursor to depression. Anxiety sensitivity is linked to panic disorder.

Sensation-seeking is not recognized as a precursor to other diagnoses, but raises addiction risk because such people are drawn to intense experiences.

The Preventure program begins with an intensive two to three day training for teachers regarding therapy techniques that are proven to battle psychological issues. Then, middle schoolers take a personality test to identify those with outlying personalities that could lead to disordered thinking, and ultimately, drug abuse.

Months later, two 90-minute workshops are set up to help students channel their personality toward success. While they’re offered to everyone, there are only a limited number of slots. Astonishingly, most students sign up for the workshops.

Only those with extreme scores, which has been revealed to pick up 90 percent of those at risk, get to attend, however. They are then assigned to the workshop that targets their most troublesome trait. But the reason for the selection isn’t revealed unless students ask.

“There’s no labeling,” notes Dr. Conrod. The point is to keep kids away from labeling “high risk” as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

In the workshops, students are taught cognitive behavioral techniques to concentrate on emotional and behavioral issues, while encouraging them to use these tools.

Tested in Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada, the Preventure program was able to reduce issues with binge drinking, frequent drug use and alcohol-related problems. And a 2013 study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that the program cut drinking in selected schools by 29 percent, even for those who didn’t go to the workshops. And for the students most at risk, who did attend, drinking was cut by 43 percent.

When we talk about addiction, we shouldn’t just be talking about those who have died, or preventing those addicted from dying. We should be talking about the root of the problem. We should be talking about programs that don’t work, and programs that may work. We should be talking about better funding, about better treatments. We shouldn’t be ignoring those who fell through the cracks to the failing programs, allowing them to go to jail time and time again, allowing them to relapse time and time again. Let’s stop talking about all the people we know who suffer, or who have died, from addiction, and let’s talk about stopping it from ever becoming a problem to begin with.

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Awareness

Glyphosate & Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by By Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN, President of Children’s Health Defense.

  • Reflect On:

    How did our federal health regulatory agencies ever approve something so dangerous and damaging to human health?

In Part I, “The Disturbing Increase in Colorectal Cancer in Young Adults,” we called attention to the steep rise in colorectal cancer incidence in young people in their twenties and thirties and discussed the risks associated with viral vaccines. In Part II, we discuss glyphosate as another plausible culprit in the colorectal cancer epidemic.

Gut bacteria play a pivotal role in shoring up brain health and overall health. This fact has become a widely acknowledged talking point in scientific circles as well as in the popular press. The reverse is also true—when diet or environmental factors produce gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of the microbes that reside in the gastrointestinal tract), the imbalance can “impact the pathologies of many diseases.”

Colorectal cancer has increased by 51% in Americans under age 50 since the mid-1990s, and researchers suggest that “early life exposures…may be contributing to the rise” in that age group. A leading hypothesis is that gut dysbiosis is playing an active part—perhaps by disrupting young people’s immune response and triggering overactivation of cell signaling proteins in the colon. Some researchers have even posited a “bidirectional self-feeding relationship” between the gut microbiome and colorectal cancer, with gut dysbiosis contributing to colorectal cancer growth and progression, and tumor growth in turn disturbing the gut microbiome.

Autism investigators have been at the forefront of research on the gut microbiome. They point to environmental toxins and antibiotic use as two influences that can shift the gut’s microbial composition in an unfavorable direction. Scientists attribute up to 85% of colorectal cancers to environmental and microbial factors. Glyphosate (the leading ingredient of Roundup) is both an herbicide and a patented antimicrobial. Could the upward trend in glyphosate usage that began roughly three decades ago have something to do, therefore, with the skyrocketing incidence of colorectal cancer in young people? Although recent court cases linking Roundup to cancer have focused mostly on other types of cancer such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the evidence that glyphosate wreaks havoc with gut bacteria has led many researchers to suspect that the answer is yes.

Glyphosate in the air and everywhere

These days, glyphosate exposure affects everyone, not just farmworkers. Newsweek reported in 2016 that the world is “awash in glyphosate,” with a fifteen-fold increase in Roundup use since the mid-1990s. American agriculture sprays glyphosate on at least 70 food crops. As a result, glyphosate residues are now rampant in the U.S. food supply, including in the processed Cheerios, Doritos and Oreos so frequently gobbled up by children and adolescents.

Studies have documented concerning levels of glyphosate in Americans’ urine and breastmilk. One study of U.S. adults found that average glyphosate levels in urine increased by a factor of thirteen over the two-decade period between 1993–1996 and 2014–2016—and seven out of ten study participants had glyphosate levels above the limits of detection. Mean levels of a glyphosate metabolite called AMPA measured approximately 36 times higher in the second time period. Moms Across America has reported high levels of glyphosate in three out of ten breastmilk samples tested.

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Glyphosate and the gut

A variety of in-progress clinical trials are exploring the link between the intestinal microbiota and colorectal cancer. Completed studies have already shown that individuals with colorectal cancer “display instability in the composition of their gut bacterial communities when compared with healthy controls” and have elevated levels of unfavorable bacterial species. Several of these species exhibit “pro-inflammatory and pro-carcinogenic properties, which could consequently have an impact on colorectal carcinogenesis.” In fact, researchers suggest that measurement of these out-of-whack bacterial populations could have “potential value as a marker of colon cancer.”

The widespread and intensive use of glyphosate has exacerbated “distortions in microbial communities.” Researchers note that:

Shifts in microbial compositions due to selective pressure by glyphosate may have contributed to the proliferation of plant and animal pathogens. …[W]e hypothesize that the selection pressure for glyphosate-resistance in bacteria could lead to shifts in microbiome composition and increases in antibiotic resistance to clinically important antimicrobial agents.

Researchers Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff have written extensively about glyphosate in a series of papers elucidating “pathways to modern diseases.” They note that in animals, glyphosate “has been shown to disrupt gut bacteria…, preferentially killing beneficial forms and causing an overgrowth of pathogens.” Overgrowth of opportunistic pathogens can lead to a breakdown of the gut lining and the development of “leaky gut” syndrome. Researchers describe “the loss of gut barrier integrity” as “an early event which contributes to chronic inflammation,” and they have observed both gut dysbiosis and a dysfunctional intestinal barrier in colorectal cancer patients.

Turning a blind eye

Far from sticking up for American consumers, U.S. regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have largely turned a blind eye to concerns about glyphosate safety. The environmental website EcoWatch reported in 2016 that although the FDA routinely tests foods for pesticide residues, it had never tested for glyphosate residues until that year; EPA critics believe that the agency “has been unduly influenced by the agrichemical industry.” EcoWatch also observed that U.S. regulators allow a much higher “acceptable daily intake” of glyphosate than is permitted in other countries.

In July, 2019, Children’s Health Defense filed a lawsuit against Beech-Nut Nutrition Company, asserting that the company’s labeling and marketing practices “deceive parents who seek to be mindful of what is contained in the baby foods they provide to their infants.” Independent laboratory testing identified multiple synthetic pesticides, including glyphosate, in Beech-Nut’s “Naturals” line of baby food. Children’s Health Defense and Chairman and Chief Legal Counsel Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. take the health of our most precious resource—our children—very seriously and are at the forefront of legal efforts to challenge fraud and free children from exposure to toxic chemicals.

The rising toll of colorectal cancer deaths in young people who are in the prime of life points to the urgent need to reset regulatory priorities and put people before profits. Glyphosate’s deleterious effects on the gut microbiome—just one of many problems associated with the herbicide—are one more nail in the coffin for a toxic product that is well past its use-by date.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

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Awareness

Johnson & Johnson Found To Have Knowingly Allowed Asbestos In Their Baby Powder

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Johnson and Johnson have recently lost lawsuits for negligence in knowingly allowing carcinogenic substances in their talc-based hygiene products.

  • Reflect On:

    Are we starting to turn the page on an era where human health and safety are not the prime considerations in the manufacturing of consumer products?

We are starting to awaken to the fact that it seems to be the rule, and not the exception, that large Western corporations put profits above human health considerations. The only time they seem to give any regard to human health concerns is when their forecasts of potential lawsuits down the road would likely exceed the cost measures needed to ensure the safety of their product.

Johnson & Johnson is just one of a long line of corporate perpetrators who believed that covering up and lying about known health concerns would make better business sense than taking the time and resources to actually address those health concerns within their products.

Contaminated Baby Powder: The Height Of Indignity

One would think, regardless of an understanding that the bottom line is a priority for most private companies, that the health and safety of a nursing mother and her newborn child would be sacrosanct for any industry. The reality is that this is simply not the case, even though J&J could have mitigated this problem from the start.

Companies that mine talc are required to take extra steps to ensure the absence of asbestos in their talc. Instead, J&J allegedly went to great lengths to fake it.

Not only did the company know about the asbestos contamination, evidence suggests, but J&J also failed to warn its customers about the link between Baby Powder and cancer or replace its talc with a safer alternative. As a result, J&J guaranteed its customers’ exposure to asbestos.

And regardless of their size or numbers, asbestos fibers are lethal at any capacity. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has stressed repeatedly, there is no safe level of exposure. (source)

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The Testimony of Scientist James Webber

Baby Powder’s contamination with asbestos (a mineral that naturally occurs near talc) has long been the subject of lawsuits. But only in recent years has evidence begun to unravel J&J’s defense – that the company had no idea – and threatened its success in lawsuits to come.

In March, a California jury awarded $29 million to Terry Leavitt, a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder-based products caused her terminal mesothelioma. Environmental scientist James Webber testified in her high-profile California trial and made these observations:

During several hours on the stand, Webber explained how he ran tests that showed “clear” evidence of asbestos contamination in the mines from which J&J sourced talc.

“The testing I have seen [shows] that it was present at least as early as 1971 and up through the late 1990s,” said Webber, who ran an asbestos laboratory in New York state.

Despite denying it publicly, J&J had observed this contamination in internal memos. Its notes dismissed the amount of asbestos in its talc as “but a trace,” Webber alleged. But that was just an optimistic interpretation of superficial testing, he said: the tests used methods too weak to detect microscopic asbestos fibers. Webber insisted the actual tests results revealed there could be millions of asbestos fibers per gram of talc.

And J&J’s inaccurate reports were allegedly only the tip of the iceberg. In some instances, Webber said, photos attached to J&J’s reports revealed that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.”  (source)

And It’s Getting Worse

The $29 million verdict, in California Superior Court in Oakland, was the latest defeat for the healthcare conglomerate facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide. And things may be getting even worse for J&J, according to ZeroHedge:

Johnson & Johnson shares are down over 5% after Bloomberg reports that, according to people with knowledge of the matter, the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talcum powder…

Now, a grand jury in Washington is examining documents related to what company officials knew about any carcinogens in their products, the people said.

The Takeaway

It seems as though corporations have long been willing to take the calculated risk of short-cuts and denials instead of ensuring that their products are safe for public use. My suspicion is that a part of our collective awakening process will be issuing in a new business paradigm in which human health and safety become paramount.

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Awareness

Prescription Infant Formulas Found To Be Contaminated With Aluminum

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple brands of prescription infant formula were found to contain high levels of aluminum.

  • Reflect On:

    Should we be questioning the quality of products that come from pharmaceutical production? Do we veer away from natural methods of raising children more than we should? At what cost?

You may not think aluminum is a big deal, but it is. For anybody who has looked into aluminum toxicology, it’s quite clear and apparent that it has no place inside of any living biological organism. Putting it simply, it wreaks havoc on our biology. High amounts of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, with experts in the field believing that aluminum brain accumulation may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also been discovered within the brains of MS patients, and some of the highest aluminum content ever recorded in brain tissue has also been discovered in people with autism. Aluminum is associated with several diseases. But an adult body can do a great job of flushing out aluminum.

Despite the fact that aluminum has no place within earth’s biota, it’s still present in many of our medications, our food, and even in the water that we drink due to contamination since the industrial revolution. Aluminum inside the body is a new phenomenon and still understudied. Again, there is a threshold, and aluminum that is injected via vaccines doesn’t exit the body–there is strong evidence that it remains inside the body and ends up in distant organs and eventually inside of the brain. If you want to access more studies on that topic, you can read this article I published that provides them and goes into more detail. You can also watch this interview with Christopher Exley, where he also points to that fact.

A new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has shown that multiple popular infant prescriptions are contaminated with aluminum. You may be asking how much aluminum, but the authors make it a point to stress that there are no safe amounts of aluminum levels that can be inside of a human body, let alone a newborn baby. That being said, the amounts found are listed within the abstract of the study:

Historical and recent data demonstrate that off-the-shelf infant formulas are heavily contaminated with aluminium. The origin of this contamination remains to be elucidated though may be imported via ingredients, packaging and processing. Specialised infant formulas exist to address health issues, such as low birth weight, allergy or intolerance and medical conditions, such as renal insufficiency. The aluminium content of these prescription infant formulas is measured here for the first time. We obtained 24 prescription infant formulas through a paediatric clinic and measured their total aluminium content by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry following microwave assisted acid/peroxide digestion. The aluminium content of ready-to-drink formulas ranged from 49.9 (33.7) to 1956.3 (111.0) μg/L. The most heavily contaminated products were those designed as nutritional supplements for infants struggling to gain weight. The aluminium content of powdered formulas ranged from 0.27 (0.04) to 3.27 (0.19) μg/g. The most heavily contaminated products tended to be those addressing allergies and intolerance. Prescription infant formulas are contaminated with aluminium.

Another very important point made right off the bat by the authors:

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Human exposure to aluminium is a serious health concern. Aluminium exposure in infants is understandably a burgeoning issue. While infant exposure to aluminium continues to be documented, its consequences, immediate and in the future, have received only scant attention and research is required to understand the biological availability of aluminium through formula feeding. For example, how much aluminium is absorbed across the neonate gut and its subsequent fate, including excretion.

There is already too much aluminium in infant formulas and herein we have measured its content in a large number of prescription formulas, products which are fed to vulnerable infants in their first months of life. Many of these products are heavily contaminated with aluminium.

As for the specific infant formulas, you can refer to the study. The researchers obtained 24 prescription infant formulas via the Paediatric Clinic of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, United Kingdom. The ready-to-drink and powdered products were new, ready-to-be used and unopened samples. These formulas are for babies with some sort of growth restriction, like for preterm infants or infants who have poor weight gain. There were also powdered formulas for allergies and intolerances and powdered formulas with additional amino acids.

The authors contacted each manufacturer and expressed that they denied knowing that there was any aluminum in their products, which means it’s still a mystery as to their source. The authors hypothesize on a number of ways that aluminum could be entering into the formulas.

In their conclusion, the authors emphasize that:

Where possible, breast milk feeding should be prioritised, as the aluminium content of breast milk is invariably an order of magnitude lower than in formula feeds. Where infant formulas are the only source of nutrition for many infants in their first weeks and months of life, aluminium ingested in formula feeds will be the major contributor to their body burden of aluminium. The last thing that vulnerable infants fed specialised formulas for their specific nutritional/medicinal need is additional aluminium in their diet.

Detoxing

There is a lot of information out there on how a person can detox from aluminum and other heavy metals. There are multiple studies, and based on what I’ve looked into, water with high amounts of Silica are effective in draining aluminum out of your body and brain. Herbs like cilantro and substances like chlorella and spirulina are also great for removing some metals. The information is out there, so be sure to do your research.

The Takeaway

It’s concerning to think about what these corporations are doing. Again, aluminum should hold no place in our society, it should’ve remained well below our surface as part of the Earth’s crust for a reason. It wasn’t until humans began digging it out and using it for a number of things, irresponsibly I might add, that we started to see the health implications which still go largely ignored by the medical community.

In fact, heavy metal accumulation and detoxification of aluminum haven’t been addressed at all, which is odd given the fact that heavy metal accumulation is linked to a variety of diseases.

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