Archives for the month of: April, 2012

“Woman dies after drinking 10 liters of Coke a day,” is one of the featured stories in the Health section of Fox News (April 19, 2012). 

This immediately caught my attention. A woman named Natasha Harris, 30, from New Zealand, a mother of eight children, died from consuming 10 liters of coca-cola every day. As you read the article, you could be slightly convinced that all soft drinks are detrimental to your health. Dr. Dan Mornin, pathologists, estimated that Harris had developed severe hypokalemia due to her “excessive consumption of soda.”

  • Hypokalemia is a metabolic disorder resulted from low levels of potassium in the blood

Dr. Mornin also stated that “…she died from cardiac arrhythmia, and that her soft drink habit, along with poor nutrition and too much caffeine, contributed to her death” (Fox News, April 19).

It was just a month ago when an organization, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of caramel coloring agents containing harmful chemicals such as 4-methylimidazole in soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Dr. Pepper, and Whole Foods’ 365 Cola” (Reuters – reporter Anna Yukhanaov, March 6).

(CSPI petitioned against allowing the use of caramel food coloring containing 2 or 4-methylimidazole to the U.S. FDA.)

According to the FDA spokesman Doug Karas, “A consumer would have to consume well over a thousand cans of soda a day to reach the doses administered in the studies that have shown links to cancer in rodents.” – Reuters

This “study” can be read in this scientific research paper, “Toxicity and Carcinogenicity Studies of 4-Methylimidazole in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice,” written by P.C. Chan, G.D. Hills, G.E. Kissling, and A. Nyska.

Through research and investigation using rodents, “4MI is carcinogenic inducing alveolar/bronchiolar adenoma and carcinoma in male and female mice. 4MI may also induce mononuclear cell leukemia in female rats.”

  • adenoma = benign, tumor
  • carcinoma = malignant, cancerous cells
  • mononuclear cell = white blood cells with one-lobed nucleus
Reported in NPR news, “The Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban ammonia-sulfite caramel color….”
 “This is nothing more than CSPI scare tactics, and their claims are outrageous.” -American Beverage Association (NPR, March 7)

“We did have to change these various inputs of temperature, pressure and the various ingredients we’re using in order to change [4-MI concentrations].” -Ted Nixon, CEO of D.D. Williamson (Supplier of caramel color) –NPR, March 7

There are news floating around that coca-cola or the consumption of caramel coloring is hazardous to our body. However, as FDA mentioned in a press release, a person would have to consume a large amount of soda or 2 or 4-MI, in order to show direct effect to the human body.

Dr. Dan Mornin (pathologist of the deceased Natasha Harris, 30 year old female) also stated that “…it was difficult to confirm this [severe hypokalemia] from post-mortem tests, it was consistent with her symptoms of tiredness and lack of strength and other cases of heavy soft-drink consumers, and it was likely her daily vomiting was due to too much caffeine, medically known as caffeine toxicity.” (Otago Daily Times, April 19)


Woah. What is that?

This is a chemical called Roxarsone. It is also commonly known as arsenic-based chemical which is often used in chicken feed to prevent coccidiosis. But it can also be found in other live stock’s feed as well. Roxarsone is most commonly used in chicken feed to inhibit coccidiosis but also to promote growth and stimulate color in poultry meat.

” Coccidiosis is a parasitic disease that infects the intestinal tracts in poultry and can lead to death in poultry.”  –FDA (Product Safety Information)

On June 8, 2011, FDA issued a press release stating that “Pfizer will voluntarily suspend sale of animal drug 3-Nitro.”

“FDA study of 100 broiler chickens that detected inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen, at higher levels in the livers of chickens treated with 3-Nitro compared with untreated chickens. FDA officials stress that the levels of inorganic arsenic detected were very low and that continuing to eat chicken as 3-Nitro is suspended from the market does not pose a health risk.” FDA Press Release (Stephanie Yao)

This was less than a year ago and now Maryland will be the first state to ban arsenic in chicken feed.

According to reporter Darryl Fears of the Washington Post, “Growers in Maryland, particularly on the Eastern Shore, continued to use stockpiles of the feed after Pfizer suspended it, feeding about 3 million chickens per year, according to Hucker and one of the bill’s supporters, Food & Water Watch.” 

FDA however assures the public that “…the levels of inorganic arsenic detected were very low and that continuing to eat chicken as 3-Nitro® is suspended from the market does not pose a health risk.”  –FDA

Arsenic is dangerous if it is consumed in an inorganic form, which is potentially cancerous. However, the approved 3-Nitro (Roxarsone) arsenic is in its organic compound. Both organic and inorganic arsenic are naturally-occurring chemicals. They can be found in water, soil, and air. Many argue that chemicals that we breathe in and even the water we drink could be potentially cancerous and dangerous to our health.

“Banning roxarsone in chicken feed would not eliminate all arsenic from chickens or the environment…But banning the additive in feed would eliminate a substantial portion of arsenic from the human food chain and some of the arsenic in drinking water.” –Chemical & Engineering News (April 9, 2007)

Check out these two different, opposing opinions. What do you think?

“What does all this mean for consumers? The study looked only at feathers, not meat, so we don’t know exactly what chemicals reach the plate, or at what levels…My take is that the business model of industrial agriculture has some stunning accomplishments, such as producing cheap food that saves us money at the grocery store. But we all may pay more in medical costs because of antibiotic-resistant infections.” – Arsenic In Our Chicken? by Nicholas D. Kristof

“So why all the hullabaloo? Most likely because arsenic, like the ammonia-infused pink slime recently exposed in school and grocery store hamburger meat, does not sound like something we’d like to eat…But every substance is poisonous in the right dose – even water.” – Arsenic In Chicken, or Just Feathers? by Paul Frysh

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred as Obamacare, has been in the hot seat since 2009 when it was first proposed as Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act H.R. 3590. But it was just recently when Obamacare was brought back into the media in full swing.

On April 2, 2012, President Barack Obama along with President Calderon of Mexico and the Prime Minister Harper of Canada held a joint press conference at the Rose Garden. During the conference, President Obama was asked by reporter Julianna in regards to the on-going investigation of the health care act by the supreme court and “… if it were to be ruled unconstitutional, how would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who’ve become insured as a result of the law?”

In response, President Obama answered:

“Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.” – President Obama (April 02, 2012)

According to reporter David Jackson from USA TODAY, it is unusual for a president to “predict” or make a bold public statement in regards to an ongoing determinant of the health care law. There has been several sharp cutting critics in the media related to this recent event.

“Presidents should generally refrain from commenting on pending cases during the process of judicial deliberation…” – Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe (The Washington Post via USA TODAY)

Radio talk show and attorney Mark Levin states that “[Obama] is trying to influence and intimidate because none of the points he made yesterday [Tuesday] or the day before [Monday] were even legal points. They were not even Constitutional points, they were absurd points.”Fox News

There are several different ideas floating around the news about what happened on Monday. Did President Obama really make a mistake or did he purposely make a bold statement to pressure the supreme court to rule in his favor or to blame the Republican dominant justices if the law was to be rejected. There is another idea floating around the media saying that this is “Obama Setting Up Supreme Court As A Campaign Issue” (NPR News).

“Then the president personally went after the Supreme Court for seriously questioning the constitutional validity of “Obamacare.””Ron Bonjean, U.S. News

Is this really a campaign strategy from the Democrats?

A month ago with the divided Republican primaries, the Obama campaign were portraying confidence that President Obama will be reelected this upcoming election. However, it was just few weeks ago when everything for the Democrats have been in a downward spiral. President Obama’s budget plan was unanimously rejected by the House (03/28/12) in a 0-414 vote, gas prices are continuously increasing throughout the United States, and now more recently, Obama’s proposed health care plan is to be determined by the supreme court.

According to Ron Bonjean, owner of The Bonjean Company – public affairs firm, analyzes that “The Obama campaign pushed the panic button, went on the offensive, and it backfired. The political narrative has changed, dramatically forcing the hand of Democratic strategists.”U.S. News

With all the negative media reports, they slip to mention that President Obama also included the following during the conference:

“And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.” -President Obama (April 02, 2012 -The Rose Garden)

These are answers quoted from the President during the conferece. The entire text can be found on the website: White House-Briefing Room.

This is a video of Press Secretary Jay Carney defending President Obama’s remark from Monday.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a statement on April 3, 2012 warning the public and medical practices of the purchased counterfeit drug, “Altuzan.”

“Medical practices that purchase and administer illegal and unapproved foreign medications are putting patients at risk of exposure to drugs that may be fake, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective, and dangerous.” –FDA

Key information about Avastin and Altuzan:

  • They are both the “same” drug; contains the same active ingredient (Bevacizumab) – FDA Drug Report
  • Avastin is the FDA approved brand name drug containing the active ingredient. Altuzan is the brand name drug of Avastin in Turkey.
  • “The only Avastin that can be legally purchased by wholesalers in the United States is FDA approved Avastin manufactured by Genentech.” – Charlotte Arnold (Associated Press reporter Matthew Perrone via The Examiner)
  • “Avastin is a prescription-only medicine that is a solution for intravenous infusion.” – Genentech
  • Intravenous infusion – a method in which a drug is administered directly into the vein using a syringe to slowly inject the medication with a combination of fluid. This other “fluid” administered with the drug is usually an electrolyte solution. This is one of the most effective ways to deliver a drug or chemical into the body because the drug is administered straight into the bloodstream and most likely travel rapidly to the brain.
Avastin is an effective drug that can tremendously help save cancer patients. However, FDA issued a report recently of finding fake Avastin, named under the Turkish name, Altuzan, circulating within the medical practices in the United States. According to report from CBS News Armen Keteyian, “As many as 19 medical practices in the U.S. purchased a version of Avastin that turned out to be from outside this country and contained no active ingredients. Some vials had little more than salt and starch.”
How could fake drugs enter the United States so easily and potentially create danger to already vulnerable patients?
“According to British authorities, 82 of the counterfeit vials were shipped to the U.S. by River East Supplies, located in the U.K. and owned by Canadian businessman Tom Haughton. Haughton is currently under federal investigation for shipping counterfeit Avastin into the U.S., offering Avastin for about $2,000 a vial — some $400 less than the manufacturer’s price.” – CBS News
“U.S. practices bought Altuzan and “other unapproved products” from foreign sources, particularly Richards Pharma, also known as Richards Services, Warwick Healthcare Solutions, or Ban Dune Marketing Inc (BDMI), the agency said.” –USA Today
 According to my readings, the mass media reported accurate information concerning about the fake cancer drug, Avastin. The press release and safety reports about fake Avastin was issued from FDA on April 3rd.
Check out the video below from CBS News for a summary report of the fake cancer drug.

CBS News

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