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Chicago Conference Covers Latest Research on Natural Products for Women’s Health

By James J. Gormley

On October 20th, 2012, the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI) held its 8th Annual NHRI Scientific Symposium, entitled, “The Effectiveness of Natural Products for Women’s Health.”

Presented by the University of Illinois (UIC) College of Pharmacy and the American Nutrition Association (ANA), the UIC College of Pharmacy auditorium was attended by a students and practicing pharmacists, nurses, chiropractors and Certified Nutrition Specialists.

The event featured a stellar line-up of world-class experts in natural products and women’s health. The speakers were:

Tori Hudson, N.D., Clinical Professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and Medical Director of A Woman’s Time.

Richard B. van Breemen, Ph.D., Professor of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacognosy and Director of the UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research.

Harry G. Preuss, M.D., CNS, Professor of Biochemistry, Medicine and Pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Dennis B. Lubahn, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry & Child Health and Director of the NIH Botanical Center, University of Missouri-Columbia.

William Helferich, Ph.D., Professor of Nutrition, Diet, Women’s Health & Aging, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, Director of Doctoral Studies & Educational Director, Hawthorn University.

Dr. Hudson’s presentation, entitled “Evidence-based Natural Solutions to Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause” busted some media-fed myths regarding black cohosh, in which she detailed its strong safety record and efficacy for peri-menopause and menopause symptoms.

She also outlined the benefits of ginseng, hops, kava, kudzu, maca, red clover, Pycnogenol, Sibiric rhubarb, St. John’s wort, valerian, omega-3 fats, multi-ingredient combinations and specific treatment protocols she uses for specific symptoms.

Dr. van Breemen’s talk was entitled: “Safety and Efficacy of Botanical Dietary Supplements As Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy.” His presentation detailed research into botanical alternatives to HRT, including promising studies on hops, red clover and black cohosh.

Dr. Preuss’ presentation, entititled “Managing Obesity With Natural Dietary Supplements: Lessons Learned From Clinical Research Studies,” emphasized the importance of reduced body fat, not just overall weight, in improving body composition, and looked at research into chromium, carb blockers, green tea extract, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Dr. Lubahn’s talk was entitled “Using Botanicals, Hedgehogs, and Estrogens in the Prevention of Human Disease,” in which he outlined studies showing experimental benefits against prostate cancer  with high concentrations of genistein from soy, EGCG from green tea, curcumin and resveratrol, and low concentrations with the new botanicals under study, like sutherlandia (Lessertia frutescens), and how these plant compounds are able to hold back unwanted signaling in mouse and human prostate cancer cell lines, which researchers link to estrogen and which may point to benefits for cancers in women.

Dr. Helferich’s presentation, entitled Isoflavones and Breast Cancer Growth and Progression: Insights From Pre-Clinical Models,” pointed to a potentially better safety profile for soy genistein-containing diets (for example, from fermented foods) than from isolated extracts of genistein.

Dr. Lipski’s entertaining talk was entitled “Women and Digestive Issues: Focus on IBS, Constipation and Leaky Gut.” She gave a detailed discussion of the intestine’s impact on virtually every single health area, and covered such as topics as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), dysbiosis and depression, psychiatric symptoms and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, leaky gut and associated conditions, the benefits of bone broths and gut-healing foods, and supplements and dietary approaches to all of these conditions.

With the event having been organized by the NHRI and the American Nutrition Association, and hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, support for the conference was provided by the NOW® Health Group and Kabco Pharmaceuticals. The conference proceedings are available here.

About the NHRI

The NHRI is an independent, non-profit organization that supports science-based research on natural health and wellness.  It is committed to informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle to improve health and wellness, and reduce disease around the world.

Press Release: FDA Protects Supplement Consumers From Drug-Spiked Tainted Products

Citizens for Health Supporters Urged to Visit KeepSupplementsClean.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: James Turner, 202-462-8800
James Gormley, 202-695-2027

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2012 – Citizens for Health (CFH) believes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should provide, and avoid blocking, useful information that consumers can use to make their own health choices.

In this spirit, Citizen for Health calls attention to an effort by the FDA that we support wholeheartedly. When it comes to protecting consumers from products that masquerade as dietary supplements, but that actually contain undeclared drugs, drug analogs, or steroids, by informing consumers FDA is serving as the safety agency that we as consumers urge it to be.

Under U.S. law, dietary supplements may contain a wide variety of ingredients, from nutritional substances such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, to botanical ingredients and a range of other ingredients that are used to supplement the diet. Although we do not always see eye-to-eye with FDA on where the exact boundary for allowable dietary ingredients lies, we agree with the agency that neither pharmaceutical drugs nor steroids are allowed in lawfully marketed supplement products.

Unfortunately, there are marketers who have placed their own profits before the health of those who use their products, and FDA has identified over 400 products since 2008 that were found through the agency’s analysis to be spiked with an undeclared drug or steroid ingredient. Most of these products have been marketed either for weight loss, body building, or sexual enhancement. FDA’s enforcement actions have included consumer advisories, product recalls, and in a few cases criminal indictments, and regulatory agencies in many other countries are also confronting these same illegal products.

In its efforts to combat this problem, FDA has also reached out to the trade associations that represent responsible marketers of dietary supplements to ask for their assistance to educate the industry about this problem and to develop strategies to combat it. One of these organizations, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has developed a website that can keep you informed on this issue.

This site, KeepSupplementsClean.org, links to FDA’s consumer advice on how to avoid these products, and is updated every time FDA, or any international regulator, announces any action against a marketer of an illicit, tainted product.

If you are a consumer of health-promoting dietary supplements, especially those in the product areas most likely to be contaminated with undeclared ingredients (e.g., weight loss, body-building or sexual enhancement) you can protect yourself from inadvertently consuming a hidden drug or steroid by staying informed through the AHPA’s KeepSupplementsClean.org.

From that site you can find the specific names of tainted and drug-spiked products identified by regulators around the world, sign up for an FDA RSS feed for future updates, and learn how to report suspicious products to FDA.

Stay informed and stay healthy! Dietary supplement users can have confidence in the quality of the vast majority of dietary supplement products, but should also be wary when they encounter products with claims that sound too good to be true.

About Citizens for Health

Founded in 1992 Citizens for Health (or CFH), The Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community,  is one of the nation’s most respected and powerful non-profit consumer action groups dedicated to providing a voice and a platform for informed and effective health activism. CFH provides nearly 100,000 supporters with credible and well-researched consumer news, action alerts, and opportunities to protect and expand access to innovative dietary supplements, healthy food, non-toxic products and integrative healthcare.

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Los Angeles City Council Endorses “Yes on Prop 37”

Cites Overwhelming Public Support; Concerns about Pesticides, Contamination of Organic Fields

Los Angeles — As supporters rallied in front of Los Angeles City Hall today, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting Proposition 37, the Right to Know ballot measure that would label genetically engineered foods in California.

 

California would join 61 other countries that already label genetically engineered foods, and Prop 37 would also prohibit such foods from being marketed as “natural.”

“It’s not often that the LA City Council votes unanimously to support a measure, but Prop 37 was a no-brainer. We have the right to know what’s in the food we’re eating and feeding our families,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the resolution’s author. “I’m proud to be a part of this true grassroots campaign in our struggle against the biggest pesticide and junk food companies in the world.”

“We’re thrilled that the Los Angeles City Council voted to join our people’s movement today,” said Tom Fendley, political director of the Yes on 37 California Right to Know campaign. “The Council joins millions of moms, dads, family farmers, doctors, scientists, and grocery store owners in saying, very simply, that we have the right to know what’s in our food.”

The Los Angeles City Council joins the California Democratic Party, Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressmen Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, and dozens of other California city and town councils, elected officials and candidates in endorsing Prop 37.

“The Los Angeles City Council clearly did not believe the lies in our opposition’s widely discredited TV ads,” said Dave Murphy, co-chair of the California Right to Know and founder of Food Democracy Now! “They know Prop 37 won’t cost consumers a dime, because Prop 37 only requires a simple label. And they know Prop 37 won’t trigger lawsuits, because food companies will comply with this simple labeling law, just as they already do in 61 other countries.”

The world’s largest pesticide companies, led by Monsanto and DuPont, are the leading funders of the No on 37 campaign, which has raised more than $40 million to oppose Prop 37.

“Prop 37 won’t raise food costs, and most grocery store managers understand that it’s ridiculous to believe we’d be opening ourselves to lawsuits. Food companies will comply with this simple labeling law,” said Bruce Palma, general manager of Co-Opportunity Natural Foods in Santa Monica.

“As a family physician, I see patients trying to make the best food and exercise decisions for their families. At issue is the fundamental right to know what’s in our food,” said Dr. Sandra Salazar. “This is a commonsense measure, and we should promote personal empowerment of families to make healthy food decisions.”

Partial Resolution Text:
“WHEREAS, polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering;…”; and

WHEREAS, without disclosure, consumers of genetically engineered food can unknowingly violate their own dietary and religious restrictions; and

WHERAS the cultivation of genetically engineered crops can also cause serious impacts to the environment; for example, most genetically engineered crops are designed to withstand weed-killing pesticides known as herbicides; as a result hundreds of millions of pounds of additional herbicides have been used on U.S. farms….; and

WHEREAS, organic farming is a significant and increasingly important part of California agriculture. California has more organic cropland than any other state and has almost one out of every four certified organic operations in the nation; California’s organic agriculture is growing faster than 20 percent a year; and

WHEREAS, organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds; nonetheless, these farmers’ crops are regularly threatened with accidental contamination from neighboring lands where genetically engineered crops abound; this risk of contamination can erode public confidence in California’s organic products, significantly undermining this industry; Californians should have the choice to avoid purchasing foods whose production could harm the state’s organic farmers and its organic foods industry;…”

Courtesy of Tom Fendley, 415-622-7843, tom@carighttoknow.org

An Open Letter to Consumer Reports: 10 Misinformation Hazards in Your “10 Surprising Dangers of Vitamins and Supplements” Article

By James J. Gormley

It is personally disappointing for me that Consumer Reports, the flagship of the respected marketplace-empowerment organization, Consumers Union, has once again seen fit to arm the American consumer with detrimental misinformation regarding safe, beneficial food supplements.

In the alarmist piece which appears in the September 2012 issue, the anti-supplement subtitle reads: “Don’t assume they’re safe because they’re all natural.”

Here are the “10 Surprising Dangers” along with some accurate information and perspective:

“1. Supplements are not risk free.”
With 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations a year from food poisoning, it is clear that nothing in life is risk-free, but we already knew this. It would be of better service to do an expose on the dangers of properly prescribed pharmaceuticals, which injure over 1 million and kill over 100,00 Americans each year in hospitals alone. The subtitle on a prescription drugs-focused article could read: “Don’t assume they’re safe because they’re FDA-approved.”

The fact of the matter is that food supplements are inherently benign and pharmaceuticals are inherently dangerous; they are part of a completely different risk paradigm. With the millions of supplements sold and safely used every year, dietary supplements have an enviable consumer safety record.

Since the 1994 enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), FDA has had the authority to remove any dietary supplement from the market if FDA shows that it presents “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” or that it contains “a poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health.” In fact, the FDA can act immediately against any product that poses an “imminent hazard to public health or safety.” With the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, the FDA’s mandatory recall authority was affirmed and expanded.

Recently released data from risk-management expert Ron Law confirmed that food supplements are by far the safest substances that people are exposed to daily (http://tinyurl.com/ron-law-data).

“2. Some supplements are really prescription drugs.”
Supplements are a class of food, not drugs, so drugs masquerading as supplements is a drug adulteration problem best handled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), something which I and Citizens for Health have been calling for since early 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/dea-should-take-over), which is now being supported by industry as well (http://tinyurl.com/dea-and-steroids).

“3. You can overdose on vitamins and minerals.”
With only a few exceptions (e.g., iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin A), even with the dosages found in high-potency supplements there is a window of safety on supplements of several hundred percent; in fact, most supplements are so safe that no upper limit can even be determined. What we really have to worry about are the over 13,000 truly dangerous prescription drugs on the market with known side effects.

“4. You can’t depend on warning labels.”
True, but since dietary supplements are inherently benign with a margin of safety a mile wide, there is virtually nothing to warn consumers about. To be conservative, many products carry cautions relating to consumption by children and pregnant/breastfeeding women, but this is more to protect companies from actions stemming from gross misuse.

“5. None are proven to cure major diseases.”
The same can be said for prescription drugs. And even if they did, supplement manufacturers would not be allowed to tell consumers about it. Regardless, supplements are complements to the diet not substitutes for healthy food and physical activity.

“6. Buy with caution from botanicas.”
I would venture to say that apart from cities bordering Mexico, over 99.999% of herbal products are sold through mainstream channels of trade. We could also say “don’t buy prescription pain killers” on the black market or from peddlers in back alleys, but some level of common sense usually prevails.

“7. Heart and cancer protection: not proven.”
The American Heart Association recommends a diet rich in marine-based omega-3s, and the U.S. government has approved health claims for vitamin D and calcium supplementation. In 2005, Harvard researchers estimated that low intake of omega-3s in the U.S. diet accounted for 72,000 to 96,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease. There have been numerous animal studies showing direct cancer prevention with omega-3s and epidemiological studies associating high levels of dietary omega-3s with reduced rates of cancer.

“8. Choking.”
Now Consumer Reports is really reaching. Anybody who tries to dry-swallow any pill can experience a gag reflex, which is not a problem unique to any one class of products.

“9. Some natural products are anything but.”

Most dietary ingredients are analogues of natural extracts; technologists are not standing around with wooden mallets, mortars and pestles. There are only one or two cases where a true synthetic is not as efficacious as a natural source nutrient, and that is with vitamin E.

“10. You may not need supplements at all.”
But we need drugs? For decades the USDA has shown that most of us do not get anywhere near a basic level of vitamins and minerals from the standard American diet, so it would be a rare person indeed who would not stand to benefit from a multivitamin/multimineral supplement at the very least.

Although Consumers Union has a long, and illustrious, track record in advocating for consumers, Consumer Reports appears to have a bug in its bonnet regarding dietary supplements, either that or single-copy newsstand sales soar when “supplements are bad” stories are run.

This is unfortunate, since scare-mongering re safe, well-regulated and effective dietary supplements will, at best, only serve to unfairly cause consumers to wrongly distrust a beneficial class of products and, at worst, drive even more Americans away from responsible self-care into the welcoming arms of drug-happy conventional medicine.

That’s not what I call consumer advocacy.

“Health at Gunpoint: The FDA’s Silent War Against Health Freedom”

What forces and interests direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and why is this out-of-control law enforcement agency working so hard to take dietary supplements out of our hands?

These are the central questions explored by Citizens for Health’s very own VP and Senior Policy Advisor, James Gormley, in Health at Gunpoint: The FDA’s Silent War Against Health Freedom, what we at CFH hope you will consider to be a groundbreaking book that brings into clear focus the silent war now being waged by the FDA against all of us:  American consumers.

Please view this new video about the book:

The FDA was established in 1906 to protect the U.S. public from misbranded and adulterated foods, drinks and drugs. While the original intent may have been honorable, over the years the execution of this mission has become tainted by lobbyists and money.

In Health at Gunpoint, James Gormley presents a history of both the natural foods movement and of this over-reaching Federal agency and examines how the agency has changed over the years. He then looks at the FDA’s most controversial decisions and the troubling reasons behind them.

Why did the FDA try to shut down the supplements industry by getting most supplements classified as drugs? Why did the FDA drag its feet on folic acid fortification while thousands of babies were born with devastating birth defects? Why did the FDA try to get life stages (such as pregancy and aging) and normal discomforts (such as headaches) classified as diseases? Why are irradiated and genetically-altered foods not labeled as such? Why does the FDA favor synthetic additives and dangerous drugs over natural ingredients and dietary supplements? Why did the FDA propose a guidance that would cripple the health food industry as we know it today?

Today, as in the past, the FDA is poised to make decisions that would have a major impact on the health of all Americans. Health at Gunpoint not only sheds light on what is happening, but also explains what you can do about it.

In many European countries, nutritional supplements are now available by prescription only. If you don’t think harmonization-friendly, anti-consumer, restrictions can be put in place here, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Health at Gunpoint will help prepare you for the coming fight!

The Questions of Fluoridegate

Scandal Widens, Calls for Hearings Grow as New Revelations Highlight Science in Conflict with Officials’ Statements on Water Fluoridation Safety

Part 1 of a Series, By Daniel G. Stockin, MPH

Following the Hurricane Katrina formaldehyde trailers fiasco and the Washington D.C. lead-in-drinking water disclosures, now yet another scandal provides evidence that what is said and done by public health experts may not be as important as the reasons behind what is left unsaid and undone.

Enter Fluoridegate, a multi-faceted scandal unfolding while simultaneously a growing number of cities and water utilities have halted water fluoridation or are considering legislation to end it.

City officials in Milwaukee, New York City and Phoenix have recently discussed ending water fluoridation. Quebec and Calgary in Canada, College Station in Texas, and Pinellas County in Florida have ended it, along with numerous smaller cities and agencies.

“I think there are safety concerns and fiscal concerns causing people to rethink fluoridation,” says Wally Babb, a former Georgia water plant operator reveling in the cities’ actions, since he was fired in 2008 for his stance against fluoridation.

“But I also think prosecutors and investigative bodies are going to be very interested to ask why certain groups and individuals did not share key information about fluoridation risks,” he says.

“If any scandal ever deserved a series of investigative hearings, this is it. This is going to call some very high level people on the carpet.”

Prominent Washington D.C. product safety attorney James S. Turner concurs.

“The evidence is shocking,” he says. “It’s time to put some of the key players under oath in Fluoridegate hearings.”

The developments point to a central question: Did a group of vested interest federal and private sector officials collude to use the public health infrastructure to control what the public hears about fluoridation and divert attention from increasingly bad news about harm from fluorides?

For those still unfamiliar with the developments, here are some of the deeply troubling questions of Fluoridegate.

Controlling the Discussion and Talking Points

Water fluoridation is the long-standing practice of adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water to help prevent cavities. For decades, Americans have been told that the practice is entirely safe, though controversy about fluoridation safety has never completely disappeared.

In 2011 a Freedom of Information Act request asked for the names, titles, and job descriptions of all persons past and present inside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that had input into CDC’s decision to support fluoridation. The request turned up a disturbing fact: CDC’s Oral Health Directors, acting alone within CDC for more than 35 years, had sole input and control in deciding to support fluoridation.

The revelation raised obvious questions. How were CDC’s dental professionals, with expertise in oral health, competent to assess new research and make statements about possible harmful outside-the-mouth effects from fluorides? Why did CDC not seek assistance and input from its own cancer, diabetes, and minority health professionals, and from toxicologists in its sister organization, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry?

Were improper influence and the Oral Health Division’s close ties to the American Dental Association with its long history of denying harm from fluoridation the reasons CDC continued to deny any outside-the-mouth harm?

Interestingly, a letter from ADA had protested that it was “very disturbed” about a proposed reorganization in CDC that would downgrade the status of the Oral Health Division, folding it inside another unit. In explaining that ADA had “come to value its relationship with the (Division of Oral Health)” and describing the two organizations’ “close collaborative relationship,” ADA listed water fluoridation as its number one example of collaborative efforts with the Division.

Was it collaboration…or collusion?

With the information disclosed by the Freedom of Information request, actions by CDC were now seen in a new light. CDC had continued to offer stout assurances that more than 60 years of “extensive research” had proven fluoridation to be safe. But in 2006 the prestigious National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science issued a 507 page report on fluorides that documented a long list of fundamental, basic-in-nature whole-body research that had never been performed.

Had CDC officials been lying in saying that extensive fluoridation safety research had been performed?

CDC had also issued a widely-circulated statement that fluoridation was one of the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century. But in a 2008 article in Scientific American, John Doull, chairman of the NRC fluoride committee, stated, “…when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this [fluoridation] has been going on.” He also stated, “The thyroid changes do worry me.”

Cleverly calling fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements had worked public relations wonders. It had preemptively diverted many from a deeper investigation of fluorides. But the NRC report and other developments would bring fluorides back under the microscope.

Unnerving Information for HIV, Organ Transplant, Diabetes and Kidney Patients

In addition to dismaying information about thyroid concerns, buried within the voluminous NRC report were other unnerving admissions such as this statement: “More research is needed to clarify fluoride’s biochemical effects on the brain.”

The technical jargon and size of the report are daunting, but readers willing to wade through it learn that consumers are ingesting uncontrolled amounts of fluorides through their water supply without our scientists knowing what this does to our brains.

Because fluorides deposit cumulatively in the bones over time, the report also says it is “paramount” that research be conducted because bone marrow is where immune cells have their genesis. It points out that research could be conducted to determine “what percentage of immunocompromised subjects have adverse reactions” at various levels of fluoride in water.

News of this is understandably alarming to organ transplant patients and persons with HIV/AIDS or congenital immune diseases, but there has been little or no communication of the concerns about fluoride immune system impacts to these groups.

The NRC report also listed diabetics, kidney patients, seniors, children, outdoor workers and other groups as “susceptible subpopulations” that are especially vulnerable to harm from ingested fluorides.

What was done with these startling statements in the report? Had they been quickly acted on and formally distributed by federal officials to affected stakeholder groups such as the National Kidney Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, thyroid health advocates, HIV support groups, child health groups, etc? If so, the groups were uniformly and strangely quiet about receiving it. And why did the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDC’s parent health agency take nearly five years, and until EPA was threatened by a fluoride fumigant lawsuit, to issue a tepid recommendation to slightly lower the level of fluorides in drinking water?

Was the fix in because the dental industry, water agencies, and other groups would face tremendous legal liability if fluorides were now admitted to be potentially harmful? And were CDC and other groups working to “spin” the NRC report, to do damage control?

Fluoridation advocates cited statements within the report that its purpose was not a specific assessment of water fluoridation, implying that the process of studying fluorides produced no information useful in assessing fluoridation safety. This tactic backfired because it is akin to saying that efforts to put a man on the moon did not produce information useful for other spaceflight programs. Plus, the report designated certain groups as “susceptible subpopulations” without respect to what concentration of fluoride was in their water.

Again, the question: Did a group of vested interest federal and private sector officials collude to use the public health infrastructure to control what the public hears about fluoridation and divert attention from increasingly bad news about harm from fluorides? This is where Fluoridegate hearings will come in. Both federal and state agencies and attorneys general will find numerous avenues of fertile investigation.

Harm to Minorities: the Issue that “Has the Potential to Gain Traction”

One of the key areas for investigation will focus on fluoridation promoters’ actions concerning disproportionate fluoridation risks and harm for minority groups.

For example, why did CDC fail to openly inform the black community of news that blacks are disproportionately harmed by “dental fluorosis,” a permanent and in many cases disfiguring staining of teeth that indicates childhood overexposure to fluorides? CDC continued to not openly share the information with minority advocacy groups even after The Lillie Center in Georgia presented a detailed fluoridation ethics complaint to CDC citing the omission in 2007.

And the issue of harm to black citizens continues to grow. In an April 2011 letter, leaders of the American Dental Association requested assistance from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh to help deal with concerns raised by civil rights leaders Ambassador Andrew Young and Rev. Gerald Durley. The two courageous black community leaders had publicly issued letters calling for a halt to fluoridation. In the ADA leaders’ letter to Dr. Koh they explained why they were seeking his assistance to address the concerns Young and Durley had raised about fluoridation safety for minorities.

The letter from ADA leaders stated: “We believe that this issue has the potential to gain traction.”

Gain traction? Fluoridation advocates had long scoffed that fluoridation opponents’ arguments were unfounded. In fact, they said, fluoridation was especially helpful for minority and low income populations, helping eliminate oral health disparities. So what was there about the issue of minorities being harmed by fluoridation that could possibly gain traction?

Could it be that there is substance to the concerns? Does fluoridation in fact disproportionately harm minority populations?

Here we find more grist for Fluoridegate hearings. Studies and other information on fluoride exposure levels and harm had never effectively or formally been presented to minority leaders until recently, by fluoridation opponents.

For example, a fall 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry documented that black children are ingesting significantly more fluorides in water than white children. And CDC released information in 2005 documenting that blacks and hispanics have disproportionately more dental fluorosis than whites. CDC’s statistics were found deeply buried in the very last of 23 dizzying data tables in an article in CDC’s August 26, 2005 “MMWR” publication.

The news spread. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice King spoke out against fluoridation on a radio program. Her cousin, Alveda King, spoke out against fluoridation on her blog. And in the summer of 2011, the League of United Latin American Citizens passed a resolution opposing fluoridation.

Let the Litigation Begin

As part of its efforts to support community water fluoridation programs, the American Dental Association had published a long list, a compendium of organizations that had lent their names as endorsing fluoridation. Dozens of national and international health advocacy, government, and professional organizations were on the seemingly impressive list.

But now it appears that organizations on the list may be named in legal actions. Citizens and decision makers relied on the organizations’ listed names in deciding to buy-in to fluoridation. Very telling will be the groups’ responses to a simple question: Did your group do its own research into potential fluoridation risks prior to allowing your name to be used on ADA’s list, or did you provide a courtesy endorsement of fluoridation without doing your own research?

The list of persons, groups, companies, and agencies that may be sued extends beyond the organizations in ADA’s compendium list. It includes almost anyone that should have warned users of fluoride products of various concerns related to fluorides. Water utilities, bottled water providers, toothpaste sellers, government agencies, nonprofits and industry trade groups, and numerous other individuals and groups may find themselves in the lawsuit cross hairs.

Washington DC toxic tort attorney Chris Nidel said this: “I think when we look back we’ll ask why Fluoridegate didn’t surface earlier. There are serious concerns about possible conflict of interest and heavy editing of information being fed to the public about fluoride risks and impacts.”

Two fluoride-related legal cases were filed in 2011 in Maryland and California courts. Both cases encountered significant, but not unexpected challenges. It’s still early in the process of developing various types of fluoride litigation, but given the now-strongly growing interest in pursuing legal actions, the future looks to hold many fluoridation and fluoride-product-related cases. The sheer number of potentially harmed citizens — persons with dental fluorosis, kidney patients tipped into needing dialysis, diabetics, thyroid patients, etc — numbers in the millions.

Concerning upcoming legal cases and hearings, perhaps most delicious to long-time fluoridation opponents is the prospect that for the first time, key officials in government and private sector agencies can be put on the witness stand and directly questioned about harm from fluorides.

A few interesting questions may be: Why are we warned to spit out pea-sized amounts of fluoridated toothpaste, but we were told we can ingest the same amount of fluoride when it comes in a large glass of fluoridated drinking water? How can it be safe to drink as much fluoridated water as we’d like? And why haven’t Americans been told that fluorides accumulate in the pineal glands in our brains?

In 2008, the National Kidney Foundation’s board of directors quietly issued a new position statement on fluoridation, causing NKF’s name to be removed from the ADA’s compendium list of fluoridation endorsers. But why did NKF not openly announce its new statement? Was it because NKF had been a recipient of grant monies from the CDC and did not wish to risk the ire of CDC officials? Did NKF risk the health of its own constituents, most of who today do not know that the National Research Council has designated kidney patients and diabetics as especially susceptible to harm from ingested fluorides?

Affecting Our Babies and Even Our Pets

Many Americans do not know that for one-time, acute exposures, fluorides are known to be slightly less toxic than arsenic and slightly more toxic than lead. But even with longer-term, lower level chronic exposures, the risks are real, especially for babies and other groups that are particularly vulnerable to harm from fluorides. The NRC report stated that on a body weight basis, infants and young children are ingesting 3-4 times the amount of fluorides as are adults.

On another front, what is fluoridated water doing to our pets and horses? This issue has received little attention until recently, but given Americans’ deep protective instincts for their pets and horses, the issue threatens to become an enormous one in its own right. News of the deaths of the fluoridated water-poisoned horses of Colorado resident Cathy Justus is quickly spreading. A growing number of stunned pet and horse owners are educating themselves further about fluorides before they continue to provide fluoridated water for Fido, the family feline, or a beloved horse.

There are so many facets to the Fluoridegate scandal that it will not be surprising if a number of attorney generals, district attorneys, politicians, investigative journalists, philanthropists, and others make their mark uncovering the harm done and the names of those responsible. Fluorides are an equal opportunity offender, so it is also not surprising that both Democrats and Republicans are joining the calls for Fluoridegate hearings or for a halt to fluoridation.

What are the other key issues? Will there be sacrificial lambs among those subpoenaed for Fluoridegate hearings and court cases? Who will point fingers at each other to try to escape blame?

Part 2 of The Questions of Fluoridegate will delve further into the numerous swirling questions.

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Daniel G. Stockin, MPH, is the former manager of the EPA Western Regional Lead Training Center. He is a career public health professional with a background in toxics assessment and hazardous materials management. He is known internationally for his work at The Lillie Center Inc., a Georgia-based firm working to end water fluoridation. He may be reached at: stockin2@yahoo.com

© 2012 The Lillie Center Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without modification.

The FDA Goes Back To The Drawing Board On NDI Draft Guidance!

Over 30,000 of you – Citizen for Health supporters, all – responded to the call to urge the FDA to revise or scrap the supplement-killing New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) Draft Guidance after we launched our multi-pronged campaign in September 2011.

Together with the outreach efforts of fellow health-freedom groups and the natural products industry, we were able to force the FDA to go back to the drawing board on the NDI Draft Guidance!

According to Natural Products INSIDER, “After close to a year of industry outcry, FDA apparently will issue a revised draft guidance on the topic of new dietary ingredients (NDIs).”

According to news reports, FDA’s Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor, and Assistant Commissioner Jeanne Ireland met with Sens. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Tom Harkin [D-IL] on June 19.

Word on the street is that, as a result of that meeting and the overwhelming outcry from the natural health and wellness community, the FDA will be releasing a revised draft guidance that the agency hopes will provide greater clarity and address concerns that the document is not in line with the intent of the original statute. However, industry observers do not expect a revised draft guidance will be released until after the election.

As mentioned, we began our campaign in September 2011, and shortly thereafter, on October 6th, Citizens for Health submitted its own organizational comments to the FDA in opposition to the NDI Draft Guidance.

In November, we launched a viral petition campaign accompanied by a video re-mastered by Australian truth rapper Jody Lloyd a.k.a. Trillion, electrifying American consumers and setting a new benchmark in grassroots advocacy: 10,000 petition signatures in 10 days!

In fact, over 12,000 of you initially made a commitment to health freedom and Citizens for Health (CFH) by signing your name to that critical petition to stop what would have been a dangerous extension of the FDA’s reach!!! We at CFH (Jim Turner and James Gormley) honored that commitment by meeting with top aides from 11 key U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate offices, providing copies of the petition strengthned by 12,686 citizen activist signatures!

Here is a Thank You video tweaked by Trillion:

And we didn’t stop there.

Not only did you help us reach past our original goal and amass 25,000 signatures by February 25th – today we have 30,215 petition signatures calling on the FDA to do what is right.

While the FDA has to be watched very carefully as this process unfolds, it is certain that consumers successfully sent the agency a clear, irrefutable message. To borrow some jargon from the world of boxing, we made them “retreat to a neutral corner” for the time being.

While we still maintain the position that a complete withdrawal of the petition is what is needed, mothballing it and massively overhauling may hold some promise.

But only time will tell. In the meantime, you can (very briefly) sit on your high horse AND rest on your laurels! How many people get to do that?!

Stay tuned for updates as we move forward with this historic effort.

In Memoriam: Joe Bassett, Health-Freedom Legend

Joseph M. Bassett, the co-owner of two Bassett’s Health Food stores and a long time leader in the natural products industry, died on June 6th; he was 79 years old. According to his obituary, Bassett died of complications of a bladder and kidney infection.

He was a U.S. Army veteran who served honorably during the Korean War. Bassett and his wife Patricia started Bassett’s Health Foods in 1969, bringing vitamins and supplements to the Toledo, Ohio area. The retail outlet also offered a range of private label products, with formulas developed by Bassett using his knowledge of nutrition. He was trained and licensed in nutritional and massage therapies.

He was also vigorously involved in supporting consumer access to dietary supplements, actively participating as a member of the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA, now the Natural Products Association, or NPA).

During Bassett’s first term as president of NNFA from 1993 to 1995, his leadership was critical in leading efforts to pass the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), which created a new regulatory paradigm for dietary supplements. During his second term as president, from 1997 to 1999, he continued to champion the industry’s goal of providing clear, substantiated information about the health benefits of supplements to consumers.

He was a founding member of the National Institute of Nutritional Education, president of the Mid-American Health Association, past chairman and current board member of Citizens for Health and a former member of the Board of Governors of the National Health Federation (NHF) and a current member of the NHF Advisory Board.

James Gormley, vice president and senior policy advisor of Citizens for Health (CFH), commented on Bassett’s many achievements:

“In 2010, Loren Israelsen told me that after the 1992 FDA raid of Dr. Jonathan Wright’s Tahoma Clinic for his treating patients with high-dose B vitamins, people began to think: ‘Wow, what are they prepared to do to stop us from taking vitamins.’ And this legitimate fear began to spread like wildfire across the country. On the grassroots side, Joe Bassett and the […] NNFA expanded an early incarnation of CFH in order to mobilize consumers and health-food stores against these threats. Along with Bassett were Jim Golick, Margaret Isely, Bonnie Minsky, Dr. Joan Priestley, Alex Schauss, Craig Winters and many others.”

Gormley added: “After the DHSEA victory, Sen. Orrin Hatch commented: ‘I want to cite the dedicated efforts of Citizens for Health, whose thousands of members have worked tirelessly and unselfishly to make this an informed and successful debate. There is no question in my mind that the work of this citizen army makes today’s victory possible.’”

“And that was a tribute to Joe Bassett, who was the force majeure behind these efforts. In recent years, Joe rejoined the board of Citizens for Health, and he became an inspiration today for a whole new generation of health-freedom activists.”

“Of all of the industry leaders I have met, Joe had the most love for the health-foods movement,” added Gormley.

“When health-freedom advocates would get together, Joe’s eyes would well up in tears out of joy and appreciation for the dedication to health justice and freedom that we all shared. But it was love and appreciation that we all felt back. And that love was for Joe Bassett, one of the greatest generals that grassroots advocacy ever had and one of health-food industry’s most effective, outspoken and powerful modern-day pioneers.”

Alexander Schauss, PhD, FACN, president and CEO of Puyallup, Washington-based AIBMR Life Sciences, Inc., and a co-founder of Citizens for Health, said:

“We have all lost a great spirit in the fight for health freedom. Joe was one of those rare people you meet in life one cannot forget. His spirit and achievements will live on for eternity. He was one of the most dedicated, committed, and supportive members of the natural products community [who] played [a central role] in bringing the industry and consumers together during the critical years of 1992-1994, resulting in the successful passage of DSHEA.”

“What characterized Joe Bassett most during those years was his tireless efforts to stop those who attempted to divide the industry for their own self-serving interests, and argue for the power of unity,” said Schauss. “He believed in the fundamental right of freedom of expression and the right to take care of one’s own health. He raised money to support that effort, never to enrich himself. ”

Added Schauss:

“As a co-founder of Citizens For Health (CFH) in 1991, and its first Executive Director, I remember when Craig Winters stepped aside as Chair and co-founder of the organization in March of 1992 to let Joe become Chair because Craig recognized Joe’s abilities and determination to bring people together nationwide. This brought several Midwest and East Coast citizen organizations together under one roof.”

“He brought people together to share a common desire to preserve our freedom of expression and the right to take care of their own health,” said Schauss.

“Joseph Bassett made a real difference in all of our lives,” Schauss observed, “and his spirit to protect health freedom will live on for eternity.”

“To lose Joe and just two years ago, Craig Winters, is a difficult blow to bear, as we all worked day and night for the same noble cause, as warriors for health freedom,” added Schauss. “The price of freedom is vigilance, as Joe would often say. He never stopped being vigilant, and hence why passage of DSHEA was only the beginning, not the end.”

“Joe has left an indelible mark on the hearts of many, as well as the entire industry he served so valiantly,” remarked Danny Wells, head of Vacaville, California-based natural products industry consultancy, Danny Wells & Associates.

Jim Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, said:

“Joe Bassett was an inspiration to all who worked with him especially those of us at Citizens for Health.  We will redouble our efforts for health freedom as a tribute to Joe and to his motivational leadership.”

Bassett is survived by his wife; three children, Joseph Jr., Sabrina and Charmaine; seven grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. The  Bassett family has asked that in lieu of flowers,  donations may be made to Nemenhah Press.

Tell Your Senators What You Think of Their Vote on the Durbin Amendment!

We alerted you on Wednesday, May 23rd, that Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL] was going to propose an amendment  (S.AMDT 2127) to the  pending FDA Safety and Innovation Act (S.3187) that was a partial resurrection of his 2011 bill, The Dietary Supplement Labeling Act.

Thanks  to the efforts of CFH and its supporters, as well as allies in the  health freedom movement, that bill was soundly defeated last year.

We are happy to announce that you did it again! In a vote the day after we alerted you to this threat, the  U.S. Senate responded to our collective voice and voted 77 to 20 to  table the amendment, removing it from consideration in the overall bill. (The bill moves to a debate in the House of Representatives next week).

Click here to see how the votes broke down.

Tell Your Senators What You Think Of Their Votes! (based on your Zip Code, a thank you or a rebuke letter will be offered to you for submission to your Senators)

While it is always important to take action on issues that are important to us, our families and our health freedoms, it is also extremely important to thank our legislators for doing the right thing (when they listen to their constituents) and to reproach them (respectfully) when they do not—as this is the essence of participatory democracy.

Stay tuned for further calls to action if this amendment is re-inserted on the House side and for other issues (where we we will ask for your support or opposition, as the case may be).

Special thanks to Senator Orrin Hatch [R-UT] who noted in comments on the Senate floor prior to Thursday’s vote that Durbin’s amendment was  “based on the misguided  presumption that the current regulatory  framework for dietary  supplements is flawed and that the FDA lacks  authority to regulate these  products.” Hatch went on to say that the amendment “serves to punish  all responsible companies with its overreaching mandates.”

Tell Your Senators What You Think Of Their Votes!