Volunteer dentists treated more than 2,000 patients, free of charge, at the California Dental Association’s “CDA Cares” event in San Jose, Calif. Patients said the two-day clinic provided an escape from the vicious cycle of limited dental care and unemployment.
With five broken teeth, three cavities and a painful gum abscess spreading to her sinuses, Patty Kennedy knew she had to get in line early for a free dental clinic held last month in San Jose, Calif.
The 53-year-old woman from Modesto, nearly 100 miles away, was counting on the care to repair not only her smile and her worsening health — but also her chances of getting a job.
“I’d love to work at a grocery store as a cashier. I’d even go for bagger,” said Kennedy, who camped out overnight at the CDA Cares clinic sponsored by the California Dental Association Foundation. “At this point, I’d do whatever.”
But like many of the more than 2,200 people who showed up for the 5:30 a.m. clinic on May 18 and 19, Kennedy knew that bad teeth translate into poor employment prospects, even for the best workers.
“I really don’t smile a lot,” said Kennedy, whose husband, Lucas, also 53, lost his job five years ago when California’s construction economy tanked. “I know that when you have a job, you want to have a pleasant attitude and you’ve got to smile and be friendly.”
Lack of access to dental care is a particular problem in California, where budget woes virtually eliminated access to the state’s Denti-Cal program in 2009, leaving an estimated 3 million poor, disabled and elderly people without oral health services. In 2012, CDA events provided about $2.8 million in free care to nearly 4,000 people.
But barriers to dental services are a problem nationwide, with more than 47 million people in the U.S. living in places with difficult access to care, according to the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA. Low-income adults are almost twice as likely as those with higher incomes to have no dental care in the previous year, according to a 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which take effect in 2014, guarantee dental care for children, but not for adults. And without such care, adults already struggling to get by find that obvious dental problems – teeth that are missing, discolored, broken or badly crooked — make their situation even harder, said Susan Hyde, a dentist and population scientist at the University of California at San Francisco.
In America, most people – including employers – make instant judgments based on appearance, including someone’s smile and teeth.
“If you want to portray someone as being wicked, they have missing front teeth. If they’re ignorant, they have buck teeth,” she said. “Even from a very early age, we associate how one presents their oral health with all kinds of biases that reflect some of the social biases that we have.”
Those views can prevent potential employers from recognizing potential assets, said Lindsey Robinson, a dentist and current president of the California Dental Association.
“If they have a job that requires them to interact socially with the public, it’s almost impossible for them to get that job,” she said. “Customer service jobs, good entry-level jobs, they’re not available to people who lack the basic ability to smile, to function, to chew properly.”
The problem is partly based on appearance, but also on the health effects of poor dental care, which have been linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Acute dental conditions cost nearly two days of work per year per 100 people in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds. Even employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work because of oral health problems or dental visits.
“When you’re sick and you don’t feel good, you can’t do anything,” said Kennedy, who had suffered with no care for five years. “Your appearance and your countenance suffer.”
The problem is also embarrassing, she added.
That makes anyone less likely to have the energy to job-hunt — and to be less likely to land the position, Robinson said. But research also shows that when people are offered dental care, their chances of employment go up.
Hyde co-authored a 2006 study in which researchers offered interventions to nearly 400 welfare recipients with severe dental problems. Thirty percent had horribly receding gums, 85 percent were missing one or more teeth, 84 percent had one or more teeth decaying in their mouths, Hyde recalled. “One man told me, ‘I get my wife to chew my food for me first.’”
But when they were offered dental services, the patients flourished, she said. Those who completed their dental treatment were twice as likely to get jobs or move off welfare than those who didn’t finish treatment, the study showed.
That is the goal behind programs like CDA Cares, said Robinson. The foundation sponsors one or two events in different parts of the state each year.
“They go from broken-down, infected teeth or no teeth at all to feeling great about themselves again,” she said.
Patty Kennedy had her five broken back teeth pulled, X-rays taken and a dose of antibiotics that cleared up her abscessed gum and infected sinuses.
“I felt like I was treated with such dignity and respect and kindness and courtesy,” she said.
Now that she feels better both emotionally and physically, she may be up to the task of job-hunting, Kennedy said. She only hopes that others in her position can get help, too.
“There were a lot of people who absolutely didn’t have any teeth,” she said. “They needed some serious work done.”
Ever since I started sharing my journey from Hot Pockets to whole foods, I’ve often heard that it’s difficult to afford a healthier lifestyle. I won’t argue with you there. Real food is pricier than processed food made in a lab or a factory. And you will certainly see a jump in the grand total on your grocery receipts. But over time you’ll get the hang of it, and I promise it will become more manageable. There’s always a silver lining, my friends — and the price “jump” can be more of a baby bunny hop.
Today I’m sharing my top tips for saving money on nourishing, plant-based foods. But before I dive in, I hope to inspire you with this one statement:
Do your best to invest in yourself today; your future depends on it.
Even on a limited income, we can each make small upgrades that have a massive impact on our health. And get this, your body will be so grateful that it will reward you tenfold. It will literally move mountains when you give it the slightest improvement. Now let’s get started!
Here are my go-to tips for nifty, thrifty plant-happy shopping:
1. Budget and meal plan. First step, set a comfortable budget. Then, examine your fridge and pantry. I bet you’ve got a lot of goodies in there. Next, map out your menu with my easy meal plan. Don’t skip this step, hot shot. Kitchen champions succeed not because they are the best of chefs, but because they plan their arses off. With more experience, you’ll get the hang of it.
2. Buy bulk. While navigating the grocery store head straight to the bulk bins and stock up! As your bulk food staples grow, you’ll have shorter shopping lists and an arsenal of inspiration for your home-cooked meals. Added bonus: Display your beautiful beans, grains and spices in mason jars throughout your kitchen. Home-decor, Crazy Sexy style!
3. Shop local. Farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Farmers markets are a great place to buy organic foods on the cheap. In-season produce is almost always going to cost less, so try to be flexible and cook with the harvest. A CSA is another thrift-tastic way to eat with the seasons. If a CSA half-share seems like more veggies than you could eat or afford, see if a friend wants to go in on it with you. You can also freeze a portion of your haul for later or make a green juice! Here are some great websites for finding a market or CSA near you: Local Harvest, Eat Well Guide, Farmers Market, Farmer’s Market Online.
4. Learn the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. If you can’t afford a 100-percent organic lifestyle, don’t sweat it. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s lists to determine your priorities for organic purchases. They even created an iPhone app. Now that’s handy!
5. Stock up on the essentials during sales. I know it may seem like I’m giving you mixed messages, but if you arrive at the supermarket and there’s a big phat sale on organic bananas, snag those babies! They may not have been on your meal plan, but you can cut them up, freeze ‘em and pop them in your smoothies or soft serve ice cream later. The same goes for dry staples like grains and beans that aren’t going to go bad in your pantry.
6. Grow your greens. As you’ll see in the coming weeks, we’re starting our first vegetable garden (I’m so excited!). It’s exponentially more economical to grow your own food. Whether you live in a studio or a McMansion, there’s always room for a few pots of greens. A two-dollar packet of mixed lettuce seeds will support your salad habit for months. If you’re a city gardener, start by reading Urban Gardening for the Everyday Person. Then check out You Grow Girl, Garden Girl TV and Urban Homestead. For country folks like myself, check out The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible and Four Season Farm. Want more? Stay tuned for my upcoming gardening video!
7. Cut back on restaurants. Aye, Chihuahua, do those restaurant bills pile up! Rather than escaping to the local Denny’s, make your kitchen the new hot spot. Fabulous cookbooks, romantic dinners at home, potlucks, picnics and rowdy get-togethers all make dinner a family affair. I’m not saying that you should never step foot in a restaurant again; just try to limit your visits. If you’re intimidated by making anything beyond toast, learn the basics with me and Chef Chad Sarno through our online Crazy Sexy Cooking Classes. You’ll be a confident cook in no time.
8. Make your food last and get creative with leftovers. Wash and store your produce in Debbie Meyer Green Bags (they extend life expectancy). And when your produce looks like it’s about to go south, resuscitate it in a delicious stew. How about leftovers? Don’t toss them. With a little TLC, leftovers can be transformed into fresh new meals. Batch cooking is another way to save time and money. Double or triple your favorite recipe and freeze the leftovers for a quick and healthy meal when you’re in a pinch.
9. Buy used. Buying a new juicer or blender may not be in your budget, but what about a used one? Craigslist, eBay — even your friends and family — might have an affordable, gently used model. In the meantime, you can still juice with any old blender and strainer (cheesecloth or nut milk bags work great!).
10. Skip the bells and whistles. If you’re like me, you definitely have budget leaks, aka knee-jerk spending at Amazon, Target, Starbucks and on all those raw food goodies. Identify where you can tighten your belt and invest in your company (you are the CEO of your health after all), not someone else’s. Don’t let transforming your plate be intimidating or cost prohibitive. As always, you don’t need to upgrade everything all at once. Make a plan and pace your bank account.
As you can see, there are tons of ways to make a plant-powered plate work for your wallet if you’re ready to use a little elbow grease. When my food expenses start creeping up, it’s usually because I’m being a bit of a slacker, not because of my veg-inspired diet. I’m not planning my meals. My apron is dusty. The takeout menus get more play than my ukulele. Make new habits by trying one of my tips per week. You can do this!
(Source: The Huffington Post)
Consuming dairy products is vital to maintaining good overall health, and it’s especially important to bone health. But there has been little research about how dairy products affect oral health in particular. However, according to a new study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), consuming cheese and other dairy products may help protect teeth against cavities.
The study sampled 68 subjects ranging in age from 12 to 15, and the authors looked at the dental plaque pH in the subjects’ mouths before and after they consumed cheese, milk, or sugar-free yogurt. A pH level lower than 5.5 puts a person at risk for tooth erosion, which is a process that wears away the enamel (or protective outside layer) of teeth. “The higher the pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chance of developing cavities,” explains Vipul Yadav, MDS, lead author of the study.
The subjects were assigned into groups randomly. Researchers instructed the first group to eat cheddar cheese, the second group to drink milk, and the third group to eat sugar-free yogurt. Each group consumed their product for three minutes and then swished with water. Researchers measured the pH level of each subject’s mouth at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after consumption.
The groups who consumed milk and sugar-free yogurt experienced no changes in the pH levels in their mouths. Subjects who ate cheese, however, showed a rapid increase in pH levels at each time interval, suggesting that cheese has anti-cavity properties.
The study indicated that the rising pH levels from eating cheese may have occurred due to increased saliva production (the mouth’s natural way to maintain a baseline acidity level), which could be caused by the action of chewing. Additionally, various compounds found in cheese may adhere to tooth enamel and help further protect teeth from acid.
“It looks like dairy does the mouth good,” says AGD spokesperson Seung-Hee Rhee, DDS, FAGD. “Not only are dairy products a healthy alternative to carb- or sugar-filled snacks, they also may be considered as a preventive measure against cavities.”
Most people know that brushing their teeth, flossing and using mouthwash are the best ways to prevent bad breath, cavities, gum disease and other issues in the mouth. However, new research shows that billions of people worldwide are suffering from tooth decay due to untreated conditions. From consuming processed foods to partaking in unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol regularly and smoking cigarettes, individuals across the globe are suffering from tooth decay, which can cause additional problems throughout the entire body.
A report published in the Journal of Dental Research, “Global Burden of Oral Conditions in 1990-2010: A Systematic Analysis,” compared figures from 1990 and 2010 based on the amount of reported oral health issues, which included severe tooth loss, gum disease and untreated caries. More than 500 scientists took part in the study, with team members located at both the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of Queensland, Australia. Within the decade, these oral health conditions increased by 20.8 percent, which researchers believe is due to the growth of the population and aging.
According to the research, roughly four billion people — nearly half of the world’s population — have oral health conditions that can lead to other issues like an inability to eat properly or sleep at night. Individuals who suffer from untreated conditions such as tooth decay or cavities in permanent teeth make up 35 percent of the global population. Of all the 291 major ailments studied, cavities were the most common.
Researchers also found that less people are suffering from tooth loss, and more concern should be aimed at protecting against periodontal disease and untreated caries. The international team of researchers determined that oral health trends and issues differed by age group, but there was little change between regarding gender. In addition, the results have proven that there is a large need for better dental care in several developing countries. The biggest increase in oral cavities was in Eastern regions at 52 percent, Central 51 percent, and Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania at 48 percent.
In all areas throughout the world, there is an urgent need for community knowledge and response to oral health conditions, as many of these factors affect an individual’s overall health. Heart conditions and some cancers can be linked to issues in the oral cavity, according to some studies.
"Tooth loss is often the final result when preventive or conservative treatments for tooth decay or gum disease fail or are unavailable," said Dr. Wagner Marcenes of the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary. “It is likely that current dental services are coping better to prevent tooth loss than in the past, but major efforts are needed to prevent the occurrence and development of gum diseases and tooth decay. Ironically, the longer a person keeps their teeth, the greater the pressure on services to treat them.”
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several diseases and health conditions that can be influenced by the cleanliness of your mouth. Tooth decay begins when bacteria in the mouth create acid that eats away at the teeth, causing cavities. When there is an increased amount of bacteria inhabiting the mouth, the risk of these microbes spreading through the bloodstream is also amplified.
For example, endocarditis occurs when these bacteria travel to the inner lining of the heart and cause an infection. This can create damage to the heart valves, or even destroy them. Mild bouts of endocarditis can be cured with antibiotics, but more severe cases may require surgery. It can also be a life-threatening situation in rare circumstances.
Researchers and scientists have linked cardiovascular disease and diabetes to poor oral health conditions such as tooth decay for many years. Similar to endocarditis, the increased amount of bacteria in the mouth can find its way into the bloodstream and clog arteries, which can cause strokes and other life-threatening conditions. Individuals with diabetes are more prone to have tooth decay or dental caries because they have a lower resistance of infection. People who suffer from diabetes are more likely to experience gum disease or periodontal disease. In conjunction, some research has shown that people with gum disease have a more challenging time controlling blood sugar levels. Although there are skeptics, many researchers believe diabetes and oral health is a two-way street.
The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study was conducted to change people’s perspectives on overall health and the importance of maintaining a clean mouth. Researchers used disability-adjusted life-years and years lived with disability as a platform to determine the amount of burden put on individuals. Their calculations found that oral health conditions made up an average health loss of 224 years per 100,000 people. However, these statistics varied by age group and region.
(Source: The Huffington Post)
by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson
How should a regulatory agency announce they have discovered something potentially very important about the safety of products they have been approving for over twenty years?
In the course of analysis to identify potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has belatedly discovered that the most common genetic regulatory sequence in commercial GMOs also encodes a significant fragment of a viral gene (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This finding has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers. This is because there are clear indications that this viral gene (called Gene VI) might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.
What Podevin and du Jardin discovered is that of the 86 different transgenic events (unique insertions of foreign DNA) commercialized to-date in the United States 54 contain portions of Gene VI within them. They include any with a widely used gene regulatory sequence called the CaMV 35S promoter (from the cauliflower mosaic virus; CaMV). Among the affected transgenic events are some of the most widely grown GMOs, including Roundup Ready soybeans (40-3-2) and MON810 maize. They include the controversial NK603 maize recently reported as causing tumors in rats (Seralini et al. 2012).
The researchers themselves concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI “might result in unintended phenotypic changes”. They reached this conclusion because similar fragments of Gene VI have already been shown to be active on their own (e.g. De Tapia et al. 1993). In other words, the EFSA researchers were unable to rule out a hazard to public health or the environment.
In general, viral genes expressed in plants raise both agronomic and human health concerns (reviewed in Latham and Wilson 2008). This is because many viral genes function to disable their host in order to facilitate pathogen invasion. Often, this is achieved by incapacitating specific anti-pathogen defenses. Incorporating such genes could clearly lead to undesirable and unexpected outcomes in agriculture. Furthermore, viruses that infect plants are often not that different from viruses that infect humans. For example, sometimes the genes of human and plant viruses are interchangeable, while on other occasions inserting plant viral fragments as transgenes has caused the genetically altered plant to become susceptible to an animal virus (Dasgupta et al. 2001). Thus, in various ways, inserting viral genes accidentally into crop plants and the food supply confers a significant potential for harm.
The Choices for Regulators
The original discovery by Podevin and du Jardin (at EFSA) of Gene VI in commercial GMO crops must have presented regulators with sharply divergent procedural alternatives. They could 1) recall all CaMV Gene VI-containing crops (in Europe that would mean revoking importation and planting approvals) or, 2) undertake a retrospective risk assessment of the CaMV promoter and its Gene VI sequences and hope to give it a clean bill of health.
It is easy to see the attraction for EFSA of option two. Recall would be a massive political and financial decision and would also be a huge embarrassment to the regulators themselves. It would leave very few GMO crops on the market and might even mean the end of crop biotechnology.
Regulators, in principle at least, also have a third option to gauge the seriousness of any potential GMO hazard. GMO monitoring, which is required by EU regulations, ought to allow them to find out if deaths, illnesses, or crop failures have been reported by farmers or health officials and can be correlated with the Gene VI sequence. Unfortunately, this particular avenue of enquiry is a scientific dead end. Not one country has carried through on promises to officially and scientifically monitor any hazardous consequences of GMOs (1).
Unsurprisingly, EFSA chose option two. However, their investigation resulted only in the vague and unreassuring conclusion that Gene VI “might result in unintended phenotypic changes” (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This means literally, that changes of an unknown number, nature, or magnitude may (or may not) occur. It falls well short of the solid scientific reassurance of public safety needed to explain why EFSA has not ordered a recall.
Can the presence of a fragment of virus DNA really be that significant? Below is an independent analysis of Gene VI and its known properties and their safety implications. This analysis clearly illustrates the regulators’ dilemma.
The Many Functions of Gene VI
Gene VI, like most plant viral genes, produces a protein that is multifunctional. It has four (so far) known roles in the viral infection cycle. The first is to participate in the assembly of virus particles. There is no current data to suggest this function has any implications for biosafety. The second known function is to suppress anti-pathogen defenses by inhibiting a general cellular system called RNA silencing (Haas et al. 2008). Thirdly, Gene VI has the highly unusual function of transactivating (described below) the long RNA (the 35S RNA) produced by CaMV (Park et al. 2001). Fourthly, unconnected to these other mechanisms, Gene VI has very recently been shown to make plants highly susceptible to a bacterial pathogen (Love et al. 2012). Gene VI does this by interfering with a common anti-pathogen defense mechanism possessed by plants. These latter three functions of Gene VI (and their risk implications) are explained further below:
1) Gene VI Is an Inhibitor of RNA Silencing
RNA silencing is a mechanism for the control of gene expression at the level of RNA abundance (Bartel 2004). It is also an important antiviral defense mechanism in both plants and animals, and therefore most viruses have evolved genes (like Gene VI) that disable it (Dunoyer and Voinnet 2006).
This attribute of Gene VI raises two obvious biosafety concerns: 1) Gene VI will lead to aberrant gene expression in GMO crop plants, with unknown consequences and, 2) Gene VI will interfere with the ability of plants to defend themselves against viral pathogens. There are numerous experiments showing that, in general, viral proteins that disable gene silencing enhance infection by a wide spectrum of viruses (Latham and Wilson 2008).
2) Gene VI Is a Unique Transactivator of Gene Expression
Multicellular organisms make proteins by a mechanism in which only one protein is produced by each passage of a ribosome along a messenger RNA (mRNA). Once that protein is completed the ribosome dissociates from the mRNA. However, in a CaMV-infected plant cell, or as a transgene, Gene VI intervenes in this process and directs the ribosome to get back on an mRNA (reinitiate) and produce the next protein in line on the mRNA, if there is one. This property of Gene VI enables Cauliflower Mosaic Virus to produce multiple proteins from a single long RNA (the 35S RNA). Importantly, this function of Gene VI (which is called transactivation) is not limited to the 35S RNA. Gene VI seems able to transactivate any cellular mRNA (Futterer and Hohn 1991; Ryabova et al. 2002). There are likely to be thousands of mRNA molecules having a short or long protein coding sequence following the primary one. These secondary coding sequences could be expressed in cells where Gene VI is expressed. The result will presumably be production of numerous random proteins within cells. The biosafety implications of this are difficult to assess. These proteins could be allergens, plant or human toxins, or they could be harmless. Moreover, the answer will differ for each commercial crop species into which Gene VI has been inserted.
3) Gene VI Interferes with Host Defenses
A very recent finding, not known by Podevin and du Jardin, is that Gene VI has a second mechanism by which it interferes with plant anti-pathogen defenses (Love et al. 2012). It is too early to be sure about the mechanistic details, but the result is to make plants carrying Gene VI more susceptible to certain pathogens, and less susceptible to others. Obviously, this could impact farmers, however the discovery of an entirely new function for gene VI while EFSA’s paper was in press, also makes clear that a full appraisal of all the likely effects of Gene VI is not currently achievable.
Is There a Direct Human Toxicity Issue?
When Gene VI is intentionally expressed in transgenic plants, it causes them to become chlorotic (yellow), to have growth deformities, and to have reduced fertility in a dose-dependent manner (Ziljstra et al 1996). Plants expressing Gene VI also show gene expression abnormalities. These results indicate that, not unexpectedly given its known functions, the protein produced by Gene VI is functioning as a toxin and is harmful to plants (Takahashi et al 1989). Since the known targets of Gene VI activity (ribosomes and gene silencing) are also found in human cells, a reasonable concern is that the protein produced by Gene VI might be a human toxin. This is a question that can only be answered by future experiments.
Is Gene VI Protein Produced in GMO Crops?
Given that expression of Gene VI is likely to cause harm, a crucial issue is whether the actual inserted transgene sequences found in commercial GMO crops will produce any functional protein from the fragment of Gene VI present within the CaMV sequence.
There are two aspects to this question. One is the length of Gene VI accidentally introduced by developers. This appears to vary but most of the 54 approved transgenes contain the same 528 base pairs of the CaMV 35S promoter sequence. This corresponds to approximately the final third of Gene VI. Deleted fragments of Gene VI are active when expressed in plant cells and functions of Gene VI are believed to reside in this final third. Therefore, there is clear potential for unintended effects if this fragment is expressed (e.g. De Tapia et al. 1993; Ryabova et al. 2002; Kobayashi and Hohn 2003).
The second aspect of this question is what quantity of Gene VI could be produced in GMO crops? Once again, this can ultimately only be resolved by direct quantitative experiments. Nevertheless, we can theorize that the amount of Gene VI produced will be specific to each independent insertion event. This is because significant Gene VI expression probably would require specific sequences (such as the presence of a gene promoter and an ATG [a protein start codon]) to precede it and so is likely to be heavily dependent on variables such as the details of the inserted transgenic DNA and where in the plant genome the transgene inserted.
Commercial transgenic crop varieties can also contain superfluous copies of the transgene, including those that are incomplete or rearranged (Wilson et al 2006). These could be important additional sources of Gene VI protein. The decision of regulators to allow such multiple and complex insertion events was always highly questionable, but the realization that the CaMV 35S promoter contains Gene VI sequences provides yet another reason to believe that complex insertion events increase the likelihood of a biosafety problem.
Even direct quantitative measurements of Gene VI protein in individual crop authorizations would not fully resolve the scientific questions, however. No-one knows, for example, what quantity, location or timing of protein production would be of significance for risk assessment, and so answers necessary to perform science-based risk assessment are unlikely to emerge soon.
Big Lessons for Biotechnology
It is perhaps the most basic assumption in all of risk assessment that the developer of a new product provides regulators with accurate information about what is being assessed. Perhaps the next most basic assumption is that regulators independently verify this information. We now know, however, that for over twenty years neither of those simple expectations have been met. Major public universities, biotech multinationals, and government regulators everywhere, seemingly did not appreciate the relatively simple possibility that the DNA constructs they were responsible for encoded a viral gene.
This lapse occurred despite the fact that Gene VI was not truly hidden; the relevant information on the existence of Gene VI has been freely available in the scientific literature since well before the first biotech approval (Franck et al 1980). We ourselves have offered specific warnings that viral sequences could contain unsuspected genes (Latham and Wilson 2008). The inability of risk assessment processes to incorporate longstanding and repeated scientific findings is every bit as worrysome as the failure to intellectually anticipate the possibility of overlapping genes when manipulating viral sequences.
This sense of a generic failure is reinforced by the fact that this is not an isolated event. There exist other examples of commercially approved viral sequences having overlapping genes that were never subjected to risk assessment. These include numerous commercial GMOs containing promoter regions of the closely related virus figwort mosaic virus (FMV) which were not considered by Podevin and du Jardin. Inspection of commercial sequence data shows that the commonly used FMV promoter overlaps its own Gene VI (Richins et al 1987). A third example is the virus-resistant potato NewLeaf Plus (RBMT-22-82). This transgene contains approximately 90% of the P0 gene of potato leaf roll virus. The known function of this gene, whose existence was discovered only after US approval, is to inhibit the anti-pathogen defenses of its host (Pfeffer et al 2002). Fortunately, this potato variety was never actively marketed.
A further key point relates to the biotech industry and their campaign to secure public approval and a permissive regulatory environment. This has led them to repeatedly claim, firstly, that GMO technology is precise and predictable; and secondly, that their own competence and self-interest would prevent them from ever bringing potentially harmful products to the market; and thirdly, to assert that only well studied and fully understood transgenes are commercialized. It is hard to imagine a finding more damaging to these claims than the revelations surrounding Gene VI.
Biotechnology, it is often forgotten, is not just a technology. It is an experiment in the proposition that human institutions can perform adequate risk assessments on novel living organisms. Rather than treat that question as primarily a daunting scientific one, we should for now consider that the primary obstacle will be overcoming the much more mundane trap of human complacency and incompetence. We are not there yet, and therefore this incident will serve to reinforce the demands for GMO labeling in places where it is absent.
What Regulators Should Do Now
This summary of the scientific risk issues shows that a segment of a poorly characterized viral gene never subjected to any risk assessment (until now) was allowed onto the market. This gene is currently present in commercial crops and growing on a large scale. It is also widespread in the food supply.
Even now that EFSA’s own researchers have belatedly considered the risk issues, no one can say whether the public has been harmed, though harm appears a clear scientific possibility. Considered from the perspective of professional and scientific risk assessment, this situation represents a complete and catastrophic system failure.
But the saga of Gene VI is not yet over. There is no certainty that further scientific analysis will resolve the remaining uncertainties, or provide reassurance. Future research may in fact increase the level of concern or uncertainty, and this is a possibility that regulators should weigh heavily in their deliberations.
To return to the original choices before EFSA, these were either to recall all CaMV 35S promoter-containing GMOs, or to perform a retrospective risk assessment. This retrospective risk assessment has now been carried out and the data clearly indicate a potential for significant harm. The only course of action consistent with protecting the public and respecting the science is for EFSA, and other jurisdictions, to order a total recall. This recall should also include GMOs containing the FMV promoter and its own overlapping Gene VI.
Xylitol is a 100% natural sweetener. It can be found in berries, fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, corn and birch. It also occurs naturally in our bodies – in fact, an average size adult makes up to 15 grams of xylitol a day. Xylitol is a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar, yet the body treats it completely different than sugar.
Xylitol in most cases comes from corn, unless it states that it is 100 % Birch. The birch typically comes from the US, but is also harvested in Finland, which is where xylitol became popular in WWII when Finland was cut off from sugar. They began using xylitol as a replacement for baking and living, and what they found was a dramatic decrease in cavities.
Xylitol works in two ways:
Sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth, causing them to multiply rapidly, which produces acids that cause cavities. When you use xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped.
The bacteria that feed from sugar accept xylitol as food, yet the xylitol delivers no nutrients, so the bacteria essentially starve and die! The number of acid-producing bacteria may fall as much as 90%.
Xylitol is just as sweet as table sugar (sucrose), but it has about 40% fewer calories and 75% fewer carbohydrates. Xylitol also won’t raise your blood sugar like regular sugar does, putting tremendous strain on your system, causing negative health effects. For this reason, it is great for diabetics and pre-diabetics. You still want to talk to your doctor and dietician about incorporating it into your diet.
Xylitol has also been proven to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Research shows that this effect enables xylitol to help prevent bacteria and irritants from adhering to upper respiratory passages when used as a nasal wash. Studies have also shown that 8 grams of xylitol, taken orally every day prevented about 40% of ear infections!
While xylitol offers many health benefits to humans, it can be deadly to dogs and should not be fed to any pets.
If you are using xylitol for healthy teeth then you want to have it multiple times a day and there is a formula for it. Strive for 5, 5 exposures with a total of at least 5 grams a day. What does that mean? Have a couple of mints, pieces of gum, or candy after each meal, and add a teaspoon of xylitol granules to your water and drink it throughout the morning. Use mouth rinse, and toothpaste that contains xylitol as well. You will be amazed at how much less plaque you build up once you have been using xylitol for a few months. It truly is amazing!!!
The Huffington Post | By Meredith Bennett-Smith Posted: 05/28/2013 5:11 pm EDT
Let’s face it, on the surface oral health can seem like a bit of a boring topic, however, in reality it can be one of the most important aspects of a daily routine. Current trends (yea for current trends) have (finally) confirmed that oral health is the gateway to overall health. Yet most of the adult population suffers with gum disease or cavities.
In fact, did you know that gingivitis (reversible) and gum disease (non reversible but treatable) are now thought to be one of the major contributing factors to diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and arthritis (just to name a few)? Why? Because when the gums are inflamed, the lining of the gums opens up like a cut, and allows all of the nasty inflammatory bacteria into your bloodstream. Plaque that has been in the mouth for more than 8 days is the main contributor to both gum disease and cavities. On the average, people get their teeth cleaned somewhere between every 90 to 180 days…and that is only the people that visit the dentist regularly. Inflammation begins once plaque remains on a surface for 8 days. Meaning if you don’t clean every nook and cranny of the gum “pocket” every 8 days, infection begins.
Now this post isn’t meant to be all about doom and gloom and have you running for the hills or even to the dental office to “cure” you from disease, instead what I would like to share with you is that in fact, you, yourself can take care of this disease landslide yourself, in the privacy of your own home.
Yes, I said it; both gingivitis and periodontal disease can be dealt with at home, if, and only if you have the right tools and the right understanding on how to use them. You see, “cleanings”, whether they be every 3 or 6 months are really only effective for the first week, so essentially if you are relying on “cleanings” in order to keep yourself “healthy”, you would need to schedule far more cleanings and open your wallet more often than you care to think about.
As you read this, you may be getting skeptical and thinking “well has my dentist/hygienist recommended that I come in every _ months, and why do advertisements follow this ideology”? The truth behind the frequency for cleanings is linked back to a radio advertisement in 1929 for Pepsodent recommending that you brush and see your dentist 2 times a year. Prior to that, people did not see the dentist for preventative maintenance. As you can imagine, the dental community was thrilled to see people coming in for checkups so they jumped on the bandwagon, and when dental insurance came into existence, they too followed suit.
As the understanding on the relationship between oral health and many if not most chronic diseases continues to grow, it becomes more important that we focus on the daily rituals that keep the mouth healthy. Here is where my position differs from the mainstream. As a dental professional of nearly 20 years (acting as a dental assistant, front office/insurance coordinator and dental hygienist), I see the same people coming in with the same disease time and time again. I know the business inside and out, and understand how each factor plays a part.
Dentistry as a whole is based around treating disease, not preventing it. Truth be told, when you are effective in your daily home care, you don’t “NEED” to see the dentist every few months to have them assist you in controlling your disease. Instead, you are able to see them for your regular exams ensuring that the teeth are not breaking down, and you are free from diseases like oral cancer, and hopefully get a good pat on the back.
So here’s my suggestion, get used to REALLY taking care of your mouth, if you have any buildup, bleeding or sensitivity at all, it means that something is not right. Understand WHAT products to use and equally important, HOW to use them. Do not rely on mainstream media to tell you what products are effective, and do not rely on someone telling you what to do.
Instead what you need is a clear understanding of your mouth, what looks healthy and what does not. What areas are inflamed and what areas are receiving enough oxygen and nutrients. A good magnification mirror is a great tool, and products that balance the good and bad bacteria are imperative. Most importantly learn HOW to use the products that you invest in, instead of just thinking that deep cleanings, cavities and buildup are a normal part of life.
One Last thing, we need to really understand how we as family members and care givers infect each other by common things like kissing, blowing on food to cool it down and sharing utensils. Technically, I SHOULD have the worst teeth in the world. Both of my parents have dental issues, I am married to a Brit (and you know what they say about British teeth and dental care), and as a child I had horrible hygiene and cavities in nearly every tooth. Trust me, if I can figure out a way to not have a cleaning in 4 years, anyone can. And, I promise I don’t spend 10 minutes a day cleaning my mouth in a typical type “A” personality fashion that many hygienists do.
Sometimes it takes the help of an Oral Health Coach (what I now am and highly recommend), because someone that can teach you true prevention and oral health is worth every penny if it adds years to your life and decreases time and money spent in the dental chair, and helps control so many of the diseases we face today.
If this sounds like something you would like to know more about, check out this link about the 7 Secrets About Oral Health Your Dentist Won’t Tell You. This will at least get you started on the path to amazing oral health, or as some like to call it, oral wellness.
One of my staff members recently observed me going from room to room, seeing patients in my pediatric practice, without paper and without a laptop. This is my usual routine. I must have seen three or four kids in a row that afternoon when she asked me how I seemed to know who everyone was and how I remembered the details of their lives and of our encounters. It occurred to me that, after 20 years of practicing medicine, the “how” of each encounter had become as important as the “what.”
Yes, I am keenly aware of what is happening in the room when I’m with patients. It wasn’t always this way. As a medical student and resident, I was taught to focus on “taking a history” and “doing a physical exam.” The very words that describe these basic tenets of practicing medicine convey a one-sidedness, something that doctors do to patients. At the same time, we are taught that the medical history — literally, the patient’s story — holds the key to their diagnosis 90 percent of the time. I use the word “diagnosis” not simply as a label but as a guide to understanding what needs to change to create optimal health. I have come to understand that the interaction itself — the sharing of stories — is critical in this creative process. In order to be effective, the encounter needs to be a two-way engagement. Healing is not something I do to my patients, it’s something that we create and facilitate, together.
Being aware of what’s happening in the room — paying attention to the process — requires an intention, a willingness to be present, to show up and engage with our patients in a way that is mutually respectful and says, “I am here with you and what you have to say matters as much as what I have to say.” Maybe it’s my training as a musician, but I’ve come to see my time “in the room” with patients as an interactive creative process, closest in my mind to playing in a jazz ensemble. We each introduce themes, one playing off the other, improvising at times, taking the conversation where we need it to go to allow healing to happen. And when it does, it’s magical. Amy Begel, a groundbreaking family therapist and jazz musician, introduced this idea to me years ago in very literal terms. Amazingly, she has pioneered the use of jazz musicians as consultants in family therapy. She asks them to listen to the family’s dialogue from behind a one-way mirror, come in the room, and then “play” what they’ve seen and heard. The family members can in turn respond to the musicians’ interpretations. The impact on the therapeutic process can be remarkable. Honoring the creative aspect of the clinical encounter in this way, to me, is genius. Why does it work when it works? Amy comments, “The creative process for both musician and therapist is dependent on the practitioner’s ability and willingness to give up control of the outcome.” This openness to sharing the process requires what Dr. Brene Brown has described as “the courage to be vulnerable” in order to enhance our connection, which in turn leads ultimately to healing. And that, I believe, is the point.
(Source: The Huffington Post)
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s hospital have discovered that layered clay—that is, synthetic silicate nanoplatelets used in everything from glass and ceramics to food additives—can induce stem cells to become bone cells without needing any additional bone-inducing factors. In other words, the presence of this synthetic material can coax human stem cells into becoming bone all on its own, and that could have huge implications for the future of tissue engineering.
That’s because we’re getting old. And as the nation (and much of the rest of the world) gets grayer, there’s a prevailing need for more and better materials that can simulate bone in corrective medical implants and other applications (think: hip replacement and the like). Various ceramics and other silicon-based materials are already used in such implants, but the fact that synthetic silicate nanoplatelets could actually stimulate the transformation of stem cells into bone cells opens the door to bioactive filler materials, injectable tissue repair matrixes developed from layered clay, and, more broadly, various therapeutic agents that generate specific stem cell responses (for the engineering of specific bone structures from stem cells).
All that is a ways off, of course, as the mechanisms that control this are still not very well understood. Researchers are now working to better understand the relationship between layered clay and stem cells, and how to turn those into better-performing tissue engineering outcomes.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post discussing sinus infections, prompted by my wife’s experience. She had severe tooth pain caused by a sinus infection. While that post discusses how a sinus infection can cause tooth pain, it never addressed the opposite question: Can a tooth cause a sinus infection?
Sinuses are simply chambers in your head that allow air to circulate to get warm and moist before it travels down to your lungs. Normally, the body is able to keep the sinuses clean and healthy, despite the dark, moist environment that bacteria love.
However, when conditions are right, bacteria can grow out of control in the sinuses, causing a sinus infection. One cause of sinus infections is the common cold. Interestingly enough, teeth can also cause sinus infections.
Before we get into a discussion on how teeth can cause sinus infections, we’ll talk about where the sinuses are located.
There are a few different sinuses located in the facial area — around the cheeks, nose, and above the eyes. The diagram below gives you a little better idea of where the sinuses are, and how they look when they are healthy, versus how they look when they are infected.
If you look at the diagram above and imagine a row of upper teeth, you can see how the roots of the upper teeth come into close contact with those sinuses on each side of the nose. These sinuses are known as the maxillary sinuses. While there are several sets of sinuses, the maxillary sinuses are the only sinuses that can also be infected by a tooth-related problem.
Hupp’s Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery textbook states, “Periapical or periodontal infections of maxillary posterior teeth may erode superiorly through the floor of the maxillary sinus. Approximately 20% of cases of maxillary sinusitis are odontogenic.”
Basically, that’s a fancy way of saying that tooth and gum abscesses of the upper back teeth can eat through the bone and invade the maxillary sinus. It further says that about 20% of all maxillary sinus infections are caused by tooth infections, rather than another cause.
Below, you’ll find a couple of examples of how tooth infections or abscesses can cause sinus infections.
Here is an x-ray of a tooth that had a root canal and crown done previously, but the infection at the roots had never quite healed. I have outlined some of the important structures below for those of you who are not accustomed to reading x-rays.
I colored the sinus blue and the tooth infection red in the x-ray below:
As you can imagine, the infection and the sinuses do overlap, as you can see in the x-ray below.
Although it looks like the sinus and the infection are overlapped on the x-ray, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the infection has broken into the sinus and causing a sinus infection. It could be that the abscess is either in front of or behind the sinus in this x-ray, because the x-ray is simply a snapshot of the whole area and doesn’t tell us if things are closer to the front or the back.
If you take a look at the x-ray above, you can see how close the maxillary sinus is to the upper teeth. Sometimes there is only a thin membrane separating the roots of the upper teeth and the sinus, making it very easy for an infection to travel into the sinuses.
Although this person wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms of a sinus infection, but the x-rays do a good job of showing just how close the abscess is to the sinus.
This person had chronic sinusitis for the last few years, that started shortly after she had a metal post put into one of her upper back teeth. Upon looking at her x-rays I noticed that the metal post that was put in one of her upper teeth looked like it had pierced through edge of the tooth and gone slightly into the bone. This caused an abscess that was leaking into her sinus.
Here’s the x-ray of her upper right teeth:
To make the x-ray below easier to see, the tooth is green, the infection is red, and the sinuses are blue:
Sadly, due to the fracture in the tooth caused by the large metal post, the tooth had to be extracted.
The oral surgeon who extracted the tooth told me that the tip of the tooth broke off just above the metal post, causing the root fragment to get pushed into the sinuses during extraction. He had to open up the sinus to retrieve the root and he was able to suction out a lot of the infection — he said it was a pretty bad infection.
While sinus infections can cause teeth to to hurt, hopefully this post has helped you see that infections from the upper back teeth can easily make their way into the sinuses and cause sinus infections.
It is important to remember that unhealthy teeth are just one cause of sinus infections, and that there are several other causes. If you suspect your sinus infection is caused by a tooth, you should see your dentist to confirm this.