Food

“I’m Tired of Eating Human Flesh”: South African Cops Probe Cannibalism

Police in South Africa are investigating a possiblecannibalism syndicate after a man turned himself in at his local police station, reportedly telling officers, “I’m tired of eating human flesh.”

(RT)

He produced part of a human leg and a hand as evidence of his guilt and then led police to a house in KwaZulu-Natal where more body parts were found. Forensic experts have been called to identify the remains and ascertain whether they belong to one or multiple people.

“The three suspects are alleged to have murdered a woman and then cut her body up,” Police spokeswoman Captain Charmaine Struwig said, as cited by Estcourt News.

“Allegations are that some consumed some of her flesh while some of her body parts were shared with the fourth suspect in Amangwe.”

“Human remains were found at one crime scene in Estcourt and another crime scene at Amangwe. At this time only one person is suspected of having been killed and her identity is as yet unknown.”

A total of four men, Nino Mbatha (32), Sthembiso Sithole (31), Lindokuhle Masondo (32) and Lungisani Magubane (30), have been arrested so far as part of the investigation. One of them is believed to be a traditional healer.

They face charges of murder and conspiracy to murder, as well as possession of human body parts.

Cannibalism itself is not a crime in South Africa, however, the accused could face charges of contravening the Human Tissue Act of 1983 which prohibits possession of any human tissue or body part without a permit. That covers organ donations, post mortems and other medical procedures.

The men appeared before Estcourt Magistrates Court, 175km (110 miles) northwest of Durban on Monday.

Police suspect they may be part of a larger syndicate which trades in human flesh and have asked relatives in ongoing missing persons cases to come forward to help with the investigation.

“When the police were following this matter they discovered eight ears in a pot where one man was staying,” said local councillor Mthembeni Majola.

“That means there is much more to this.”

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said that the four were remanded in custody.

“The four will appear again next week when they are expected to apply for bail‚” she said, as cited by the Times South Africa.

At a community meeting following the arrests, hundreds of local residents allegedly confessed to eating human flesh purchased from one of the accused, reports News 24.

Local councillor Mthembeni Majola held a meeting at the Esigodlweni community hall Monday morning where he claims that 300 residents admitted to visiting one of the accused, Mbatha, a nyanga or faith healer according to ENCA, and knowingly consuming human flesh that he had provided.

“This has happened within our community. Families, people we know and live with have now confessed to eating this woman,” he said, as cited by News 24.

“People we know and live with have now confessed to eating this woman.”

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Burger King Is Building Artificial Limbs So That Disabled People Can Eat Their Unhealthy Burgers

Over the years fast-food outlets have employed a myriad of tactics to tempt new customers. There have been the classics like McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, or Subway’s Five Dollar Footlong(R.I.P.). That’s not to mention cholesterol-filled gimmicks like the chicken-on-chicken monstrosity that was the KFC Double Down burger and Taco Bell’s answer to breakfast food, the waffle taco. But all of these pale in comparison to the latest marketing shtick courtesy of Burger King Argentina: free prosthetic hands to disabled customers.

You read that correctly. As a way to promote its new Stacker Atomic 5.0 burger last month, branches of the popular fast-food chain across Argentina *cough* handed out 1,000 prosthetic limbs to customers lacking appendages who purchased the meals. For this promotion—which formed part of an annual event nicknamed Stacker Day—Burger King sold the meals at half-price, donating all of the money from the sales to Atomic Lab, the local startup responsible for producing the 3-D-printed prosthetics.

“Stacker Day is a big event in Argentina,” Ignacio Ferioli, a member of the agency responsible for the promotion, told AdWeek. “People queue for hours to get a burger. Sales keep growing year after year. We wondered if we could do something relevant that tied back to a huge burger that’s hard to handle,” Ferioli continued. Cue the clever promotional tie-in.

Ferioli doesn’t lie. The Stacker Atomic 5.0 is so named for the five beef patties interspersed with bacon and cheese that comprise its making. So yes, “hard to handle” is definitely one way to describe the burger. Another might be “nutritional nightmare.” Call it raining on their parade, but it’s hard not to find fault in a campaign that seeks to improve the lives of people living with a lost limb (in some cases likely due to type II diabetes), while pushing a mini mountain of meat and cheese. Irony much?

In Burger King’s defense, the promotion has had a notable impact. As AdWeek reports, thanks to the sales from Stacker Day, Atomic Lab was able to double the number of prosthetic limbs it had otherwise been able to donate for free over the past three years. This just goes to show the power of good branding, and the tempting prospect of devouring a burger the size of your head.

But here’s a thought. Burger King could simply stop selling the Stacker Atomic 5.0 and instead introduce a new, more health-conscious menu item that could perpetually provide a portion of the profits from its sales to Atomic Lab. Too idealistic? “People don’t go to Burger King for healthy food”; “It would cost too much to make.” Maybe these objections are true, but what if this suggestion actually brought a whole new customer base into the fold, and in fact didn’t cost as much as one might think?

What if instead of helping out a limited number of people with disabilities, the fast-food giant used its promotional power actually to create a product that not only paid lip service to its customer’s health needs, but actually put its money where our mouths are?

For a company that has built its empire on expanding waistlines and harming public health, that concept may really be “too hard to handle.”

Robin Scher is a freelance writer from South Africa currently based in New York. He tweets infrequently @RobScherHimself.

A New Therapy May Cure Kids of Peanut Allergy

In a long-term study of the latest treatment for peanut allergy, scientists in Australia report that an immune-based therapy helped children allergic to peanuts eat them without reactions for four years.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, follows up on children enrolled in an earlier study of an immunotherapy treatment, which combined probiotics with small doses of peanuts that were designed to gradually train the children’s immune systems to accept the peanut allergen rather than treat it as something foreign. Previous studies have suggested that methods like these could be effective in reducing youngsters’ allergic, sometimes dangerous anaphylactic shock reactions to peanuts. The Australian team added probiotics to further enhance the gut’s ability to accept the peanuts and not trigger an immune reaction. Compared to 4% of children who didn’t get any treatment, 82% of those receiving the combination therapy significantly reduced their allergic reactions to peanuts.

MORE: Babies Should Eat Eggs and Peanuts Early to Avoid Food Allergies

In the follow-up, which tracked the children for four years after they were treated with the combination therapy, 67% of those who got the combination probiotic and peanut therapy were comfortable eating peanuts, compared to only 4% of those who did not get the treatment. Fewer children in the treated group had an allergic reaction to the peanuts, and they also showed smaller reactions to skin prick tests with peanut allergen.

The results are encouraging, allowing the children who were treated to eate peanuts without fear of an allergic reaction. But it may be too early to call this a cure. The researchers believe that adding probiotics to the peanut allergens may be important in improving the children’s tolerance to the food, but Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, an associate professor of pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital who was not involved in the study, notes that the researchers didn’t compare the effect of the probiotics themselves; they only compared children who received the probiotics along with immune therapy to those who didn’t get any treatment at all.

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It makes sense that the probiotics may enhance the immunotherapy’s effect, since probiotics are beneficial bacteria in the gut, where food allergens are processed. “I think there is certainly a suggestion, but not hard proof, that the probiotics make a difference,” says Nowak-Wegrzyn. “The question for me would be if there is a difference between patients who were treated with [both] immunotherapy [in the form of low doses of peanuts] and probiotics, and those who were treated with just immunotherapy.”

That may have to wait for another study. But the new findings provide even more evidence that using peanuts to treat peanut allergy, and to re-train the immune system to be less allergic, can be effective.

New GM Crops Use RNA Interference Technology for Mass Sterilization

http://www.renegadetribune.com/new-gm-crops-use-rna-interference-technology-mass-sterilization/

 

By Christina Sarich

Gene silencing raised some eyebrows when it was first touted just over a year ago, as the next “miracle” gene alteration technology. It was developed with the ability to make “precise” insertions and deletions into a plant’s genome. This new technology has been developed to utilize RNA interference to block protein translation in a gene. It doesn’t sound so ubiquitously perilous until you realize that the specific target is an insect’s reproductive ability.

The technology, called RNAi for short, has been touted as a “therapy,” ideologically promoted as a mechanism to silence unwanted genes that can cause cancer and other diseases. This mechanistic scientific viewpoint is a common feature of reductionist views which see the human being, and all of nature as a machine which can be tampered with, without ever affecting its constituent, interrelated parts.

he true intention for the use of this technology seems to be quite different, though.

Genetic researchers are now weaponizing plants by engineering them to have specific RNA fragments that shut down a target gene sequence that allows insects to reproduce. All the insect has to do is eat the plant, and they are rendered sterile.

Sterilizing the insects may seem harmless until you realize that we are destined to eat those plants too, with the very same RNA insertions that block reproductive success.

Plants just like people, can “turn off” one or more of their genes by using a process called RNA interference to block protein translation. On the surface, the technology was meant to sexually castrate beetles, moths, worms, and other pests, the technology will also render beneficial insects sterile, and the implications are that they could cause mass sterilization of the human population as well.

This tactic is not outside the realm of previous genetic modifications, anyhow. To wit:

  • Genetically modified soy has been linked to the sterility of hamsters.
  • Drs. A. Velimirov, C. Binter, and University Prof. Dr. J. Zentek released results of a long term reproductive study on GMO fed mice. They examined the effects of a GMO corn crop on 4 generations of mice, and found that the reproductive viability of each generation fed GMOs worsened. There was a steady decline in the mice litter size over time.
  • GMOS have caused animal miscarriages in sheep, cows, pigs and other farm animals.
  • In humans, it is likely that GMOS cause significant changes in endocrine metabolism, and cause endometriosis, which leads to more miscarriages and birth defects.
  • Gender bending chemicals used heavily in GMO crops are also associated with reduced fertility.

As the evidence that chemical pesticides and herbicides used with GM crops causes major endocrine and reproductive damage, it seems the geneticists are bent on finding another way to sterilize the masses. As usual with this industry, there is little oversight and long-term testing to prove that RNA interference won’t cause long-term damage to the genetic building blocks of humans – or is that the entire point?

To understand more about how RNAi works, you can watch the following video (caution, the process is depicted as purely beneficial, without discussing any of the problems that can occur with RNAi, such as secondary gene silencing or multi-generational effects due to epigenetics, and methylate group/protein expression.)


About the Author

Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. PriceNexusAtlantis Rising, and the Cuyamungue Institute, among others. She was recently a featured author in the Journal, “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and Healing Arts,” and her commentary on healing, ascension, and human potential inform a large body of the alternative news lexicon. She has been invited to appear on numerous radio shows, including Health Conspiracy Radio, Dr. Gregory Smith’s Show, and dozens more. The second edition of her book, Pharma Sutra, will be released soon.

This article (New GM Crops Use RNA Interference Technology for Mass Sterilization) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Christina Sarich and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.

Swiss lawmakers to vote on banning import of kosher, halal meat

Lawmakers in Switzerland will vote on a bill that outlaws the import of meat from animals that have undergone ritual slaughter, which already is illegal in the Alpine country.

The bill, which was submitted in June by Matthias Aebischer, a federal lawmaker for the Social Democratic Party of Switzerland – the country’s second largest — has prompted opposition because foie gras is part of the ban. A delicacy made of goose liver that is particularly popular among French-speaking Swiss consumers, foie gras is produced through forced feeding that is widely considered cruel.

No date has been set for the vote.

The debate on the measure, which has divided the multinational Swiss state, has extended beyond a proposed ban in the same bill on importing any meat that is produced from animals that are not stunned prior to their slaughter, the Tages-Anzeiger daily reported Monday.

Shechitah, the Jewish ritual method of slaughtering animals, requires they be conscious when their throats are slit — a practice that critics say is cruel but which advocates insist is more humane than mechanized methods used in non-kosher abattoirs. Muslims slaughter animals in a similar method, albeit with fewer restrictions, to produce halal meat.

Herbert Winter, president of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, told Tages-Anzeiger that if the bill becomes law, it will “be a massive limitation on the religious freedoms of Jews” in Switzerland, a population of approximately 18,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Shechitah for all animals except poultry has been illegal in Switzerland following legislation in 1894, which Winter’s federation of Jewish communities regards as anti-Semitic.

Illustrative: A butcher shop in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Since 2002, Switzerland has seen several failed attempts to extend its shechitah ban to include the import of such meat.

The Swiss Federal Council, which is part of the federal government, in 2016 said banning the import of meat from ritual slaughter would violate international trade agreements that Switzerland had signed.

In Europe, the Jewish and Muslim customs have united opponents both from liberal circles who cite animal welfare as their main concern and right-wing nationalists who view the custom as foreign to their countries’ cultures.

Earlier this week, Jewish groups and the Foreign Ministry condemned the posting of signs at a Swiss hotel that singled out Jewish guests, urging them to shower before entering the pool.

More Than Papayas – And What You Need To Know About Salmonella And Food Outbreaks

The CDC expanded its warning to not eat Maradol papayas imported from the Carica de Campeche farm in Mexico today, after three more states reported illnesses.

The papayas are sold under the brand names of  Caribeña, Cavi, and Valery. So far, 141 people have been infected with either the Salmonella Kiambu strain or S. Thompson. Of these, 45 have required hospitalization and one person has died.

While the illnesses began as early as May 17, the reported cases have been increasing and the geographic area of cases has widened, ranging from Texas through the northeast U.S.

One of the major advances in tracking food-borne outbreaks is the use of  whole genome sequencing (WGS) to study the DNA fingerprint of the strains. This enables investigators to precisely match isolates from the infected people to the suspected source.

We have a robust food safety program through the CDC’s “PulseNet,” a network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC.

Because of such a match in FDA’s testing, Agroson’s LLC recalled certain Cavi brand Maradol papayas grown and packed by Carica de Campeche. Other brands are being examined.

HLB Specialties, a US papaya importer, was helpful in issuing information explaining the difference between various types of papayas, to educate the public and to avoid a disaster to the industry. There are three types of papaya commonly available, they explained:

Maradol papayas are large, weighing about three pounds. They have a yellow skin when ripe. Formosa, or Tainung papayas, are similar to Maradol in size and weight, but are greener and ready to eat before they fully turn yellow. The  Brazilian Golden papaya weighs only a pound.

Distributors Agroson’s, LLC, Grande Produce, and Freshtex Produce, LLC, have also issued alerts.

Food outbreaks

This type of food recall is common. Foodborne outbreaks kill about 2 million people each year globally.

Multistate outbreaks like this cause 56% of deaths in all reported foodborne outbreaks.

An average of 24 multistate outbreaks are reported a year, each involving from 2 to 37 states.

One in six people in the U.S. gets sick from eating contaminated food each year and 1 million people get sick from eating food contaminated with Salmonella, per the CDC.

There are 19000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths. Their care costs $365 million in medical expenses alone. The CDC adds that for each identified case, about 30 more are unconfirmed.

Salmonella warnings

Salmonella can contaminate many kinds of foods, with breaches occurring anywhere from the fields to processing to peoples kitchens.

It’s not just from raw eggs or chickens. There was even a notable outbreak due to peanut butter. Besides food, there are episodic outbreaks from pet turtles.

Typically, symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps begin 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness resolves on its own after  4 to 7 days.

People at particular risk are the very young and elderly, and those with immunosuppression.

Prevention

The standard advice is to avoid raw eggs and milk, and to cook poultry and meat thoroughly. You should also know that even the inside of eggs can be infected although the shell looks intact, as the Salmonella can be passed into the egg from the hen.

Be especially careful with feeding people at the extremes of age or who have underlying immune problems.

Washing the outside of fruit may not be enough to prevent all infections, though it will reduce them. A 1999 outbreak of Salmonella enterica was traced to a single farm in Brazil. The fruit was treated with a hot water dip to reduce fruit flies, then cooled. The cooling caused the fruit to contract, drawing in pathogens from the water.

Clean kitchen work surfaces and utensils thoroughly immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry. Despite the brouhaha last week about germy kitchen sponges, researchers did not find foodborne pathogens on the sponges they tested after use, and the prior recommendations for cleaning sponges with microwaving or clorox, or running through the laundry, have been shown to kill 99% of germs.

Also, wash hands thoroughly after handling reptiles, birds, or baby chicks.

Economic impact

It’s critically important that investigators identify the source of outbreaks accurately. Theeconomic losses to industry, including farmers, are estimated at over $75 billion per year.  One notable example of this was an outbreak of the parasite Cyclospora in the U.S. and Canada. The Texas Department of Health erroneously identified the source as California strawberries. This cost California growers at least $16 million in sales in one month alone, before the likely source of the outbreak was correctly identified.

Conclusion

While this recall of papayas is concerning, it needs to be kept in perspective. This outbreak is limited to fruit from a specific farm in Mexico. Papaya is a healthy fruit, packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Continue to enjoy them, but read the labels for information on their origin.

In the grand scheme of things, this outbreak is a relatively small concern. And this outbreak is just one more example of why this administration’s proposals to gut the FDA and CDC are endangering us all. We need public health and oversight.

My book, “Conducting Clinical Research: A Practical Guide,” can be found here. For more medical/pharma news and perspective, follow me on Twitter @drjudystone or here at Forbes

As many as 160 Applebee’s and IHOP locations slated to close

  • The parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP plans to close up to 160 restaurants, boosting the number of eateries that it plans to shutter.
  • Some 105 to 135 Applebee’s restaurants will close, up from the 40 to 60 that parent DineEquity said would close in the first quarter.
  • Also on the chopping block are an estimated 20 to 25 IHOP sites, up from about 18.

The parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP plans to close up to 160 restaurants, vastly boosting the number of eateries from the two comfort-food chains that it plans to shutter.

Some 105 to 135 Applebee’s restaurants will close, up from the 40 to 60 that parent DineEquity said would close in the first quarter. Also on the chopping block are an estimated 20 to 25 IHOP sites, up from about 18.

At the same time, the two chains now will open 125 restaurants globally between them in new locations, DineEquity said.

The casual-dining segment, where both chains are positioned, is experiencing increased troubles as more customers have gravitated to the quick-service restaurants like Panera Bread or Chipotle Mexican Grill, many of which market themselves as offering healthier and more upscale food.

Analysts say Applebee’s, in particular, has had a hard time.

Applebee’s “remains out-of-favor with casual-dining consumers….Sister concept IHOP may be feeling the effects of DineEquity’s struggles as well,” said Instinet analyst Mark Kalinowski in a report released Friday.

But DineEquity officials say the painful job of closing restaurants will help in the long run.

“We are investing in the empowerment of our brands by improving overall franchisee financial health, closing underperforming restaurants and enhancing the supply chain,” interim CEO Richard Dahl said in a statement.

He said Applebee’s is in the middle if a “transitional year” and is “making the necessary investments for overall long-term brand health.”

The company declined to release a list of locations that will be shuttered.

DineEquity reported net income of $20.9 million, or $1.18 a share, in the second quarter, a drop from $26.4 million, or $1.45 a share, compared to the same quarter last year.

Applebee’s domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales declined 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2017, while IHOP’s declined 2.6 percent during the same period, according to the company.

“IHOP remains on solid ground, despite soft sales this quarter. I am optimistic about the growth in both effective franchise restaurants and systemwide sales,” Dahl said.

DineEquity reiterated its plan to open 20 to 30 Applebee’s, mostly abroad, and revised its plan to open 80 to 95 IHOP restaurants, mostly in the U.S. That’s up from the 75 to 90 restaurants globally that it announced previously.

“Restaurant closures are a normal course of business in the industry and when you have a footprint as large as ours,” Amy Mason, senior vice president for global communications and consumer insights, said. “They are either older locations in a lapsed trade area, where once vibrant retail, residential and traffic characteristics are no longer present; others are closed when they are underperforming with unsustainable economics. Closing these well-below average restaurants can have a positive brand benefit since guests are no longer experiencing a substandard experience.”

On Thursday, the company also named Stephen Joyce, former CEO of Choice Hotels, as its new CEO. He replaces Julia Stewart, who resigned in February; she was at the helm when Applebee’s as acquired in 2007.

DineEquity CFO Thomas Emrey resigned in March and no permanent replacement has been named.

The Glendale, California-based company has 3,700-plus restaurants in 19 countries.

Hundred-Year-Old Antarctic Fruitcake Found in ‘Excellent Condition’

Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Conservators with Antarctic Heritage Trust have uncovered a perfectly preserved fruitcake that dates back to Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition, which began in 1910.

Manufactured by the now defunct Huntley & Palmers biscuit company, the fruitcake was discovered in a long-abandoned hut at Cape Adare—an important landing site and base camp used by early Antarctic explorers. The cake, found inside a badly degraded tin box, was in remarkably good condition, appearing almost edible.

Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust

Since May 2016, the New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust, along with the Canterbury Museum Lab, has been preserving artifacts found at Cape Adare. Around 1,500 artifacts have been recovered since last July.

“With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artefacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise,” noted AHT program manager Lizzie Meek in a statement. “It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the Ice.”

Image: Antarctic Heritage Trust

The fruitcake itself dates back to the Terra Nova expedition (1910-1913) headed by Robert Falcon Scott. Archival documents show that Scott took this particular brand of cake with him to Antarctica. The Terra Nova expedition was primarily scientific, but Scott also wanted to be the first person to reach the South Pole. His team of five eventually reached the geographic South Pole on January 17, 1912, only to find that a Norwegian team led by Roald Amundsen beat them by 34 days. Scott’s entire team perished on the return journey from the pole. Apparently, they could have used the fruitcake they left behind at Cape Adare.

Explorers of the Antarctic, devourers of fruitcake: the five members of Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition. (Image: Public Domain)

Anyhoo, the AHT is currently doing its conservation work under a permit that will require them to return all items to the site once the huts themselves have been restored. These huts were constructed in 1899 by the Norwegian Carsten Borchgrevnik expedition, and later used by Scott’s party in 1911. The AHT is currently planning the conservation of these historic structures, which have been exposed to Antarctic conditions for over a hundred years.

To prepare the recently-discovered cake for its return, the conservators have removed all the dust from the tin, repaired the torn paper on the exterior, and applied stabilizing chemicals to both the tin and the fruitcake, which was otherwise, incredibly, in “excellent condition.”

So it doesn’t appear that anyone will be eating this fruitcake anytime soon, which is just as well. That’s one nasty dessert—whether it be a hundred years old or fresh out of the oven.

Nearly All Of U.S. Drinking Water Contaminated With Cancer Causing Chemicals

http://www.renegadetribune.com/nearly-u-s-drinking-water-contaminated-cancer-causing-chemicals/

 

By Aaron Kesel

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization environmental watchdog, released a searchable database Thursday that shows almost 50,000 public water systems in the U.S. are contaminated with dozens of harmful chemicals.

Some of the chemicals found in your drinking water include – arsenic, hexavalent chromium, radiation, chloroform, perfluorooctanoic acid, Bromodichloromethane, Dichloroacetic acid, Barium, and Uranium; and that’s just scratching the surface of the 250-plus contaminants the group discovered.

EWG researchers spent the last two years collecting data from independent state agencies and the EPA for drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers tested the utilities for approximately 500 different contaminants, finding a whopping 267 contaminations of Americans’ water supplies.

EWG’s database is an interactive map where you can click on each state and review their test results.

In the results are listed contaminants found above health guidelines and above legal limits.

A subsequent report released with the database noted that contaminants detected in the nation’s tap water included:

  • 93 linked to an increased risk of cancer. More than 40,000 water systems had detections of known or likely carcinogens exceeding established federal or state health guidelines – levels that pose minimal but real health risks, but are not legally enforceable.
  • 78 associated with brain and nervous system damage.
  • 63 connected to developmental harm to children or fetuses.
  • 45 linked to hormone disruption.
  • 38 that may cause fertility problems.
  • Chromium-6, made notorious by the film “Erin Brockovich.” This carcinogen, for which there are no federal regulations, was detected in the drinking water supplies serving 250 million Americans in all 50 states.
  • 1,4-Dioxane, an unregulated compound that contaminates tap water supplies for 8.5 million people in 27 states at levels above those the EPA considers to pose a minimal cancer risk.
  • Nitrate, chemical from animal waste or agricultural fertilizers, was detected in more than 1,800 water systems in 2015, serving 7 million people in 48 states above the level that research by the National Cancer Institute shows increases the risk of cancer – a level just half of the federal government’s legal limit for nitrate in drinking water.

“Legal is not safe,” argued Nneka Leiba, director of Healthy Living Science at the EWG. “In many cases, it’s far from safe.”

Overall, the organization found more than 250 million Americans are drinking water with “unsafe” levels of various contaminants.

Last year, the EWG found that two-thirds of Americans’ water is contaminated with the carcinogen that Erin Brockovich exposed – chemical chromium 6 or hexavalent chromium – affecting the tap water of more than 218 million Americans. That’s an additional 32 million Americans that are affected by other chemicals highlighted in this new study.

2008 study by the National Toxicology Program found that chromium-6 in drinking water caused cancer in rats and mice that were exposed to the chemical.

EWG is urging consumers to use a drinking water filter to reduce the level of chemical intake in the human body. They’re also pressing the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to update their rules on chemical contaminants found in drinking water that “can pose what scientists say are serious health risks – and still be legal.”

“Americans deserve the fullest picture possible of what’s in their tap water,” EWG President Ken Cook said. “But they won’t get that information from the government or, in many cases, from their utilities. The only place they’ll find that is EWG’s drinking water report.”

“Just because your tap water gets a passing grade from the government doesn’t always mean it’s safe,” Cook added. “It’s time to stop basing environmental regulations on political or economic compromises, and instead listen to what scientists say about the long-term effects of toxic chemicals and empower Americans to protect themselves from pollutants even as they demand the protective action they deserve from government.”

It’s been 20 years since the EPA last passed any new drinking water regulations. Regardless, it’s clear that municipalities have not been following them.

If you’re in the U.S. you can check your own water supply by visiting the Tap Water Database, which allows anyone in the U.S. to enter their zip code or local utility’s name and find out what’s lurking in their local water supply.


Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post, where this article first appeared.

Can frequent, moderate drinking ward off diabetes?

(CNN) – It’s not every day that medical studies say alcohol could be good for you. People who drink moderately often have a lower risk of developing diabetes than those who never drink, according to a new study published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Men and women who hoist a few glasses three to four days a week have the lowest risks of developing diabetes, Danish researchers found. Compared to people drinking less than one day each week, men who drink frequently had a 27% lower risk while women had a 32% lower risk, the researchers said.

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose — sugar — levels are high. When we eat, most of our food is turned into glucose to be burned as energy, with a hormone called insulin helping our cells absorb glucose. People who have diabetes either don’t make enough insulin or don’t use it effectively. As a result, sugar builds up in their blood, leading to health problems.

Past studies consistently showed that light to moderate drinking carried a lower risk of diabetes compared to sobriety, while heavy drinking had an equal or greater risk. Though the World Health Organization reports “harmful use of alcohol” contributes to more than 200 diseases and injuries, it also acknowledges that light to moderate drinking may be beneficial with respect to diabetes.

Since an important relationship exists between drinking and diabetes, Professor Janne Tolstrup and her colleagues from the National Institute of Public Health of the University of Southern Denmark studied the specifics.

How the study worked

They began by gathering data from Danish citizens 18 years old or older who completed the Danish Health Examination Survey. The data set included 28,704 men and 41,847 women — more than 70,000 participants total — who self-reported their drinking habits and other lifestyle details beginning in 2007-2008 and continuing through 2012.

During the study period, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes.

Overall, those with the lowest risk of developing diabetes were people who drank moderately on a weekly basis, Tolstrup’s analysis showed.

In terms of volume, 14 alcoholic beverages each week for men and nine beverages each week for women yielded the best results: a 43% and 58% lower risk, respectively, compared to non-drinkers, the researchers found.

“In principle we can only say something about the five-year risk from this study,” said Tolstrup in an email. “However, there is no reason to think that results would be different had we had more years of follow-up.” A very long follow-up, for instance, 10 years, would result in drinking and other habits changing and this could “cause more ‘noise’ in results,” said Tolstrup.

In terms of frequency, the lowest risk of diabetes was found among those who drank three to four days each week.

The team also looked at diabetes risk in relation to what people drank.

When it came to beer, men who drank between one and six each week reduced their risk of diabetes by 21% compared to men hoisting less than one beer each week.

For women, the association between beer and diabetes risk was not clear and the same was true for men and spirits. Women, though, appear to have a problematic relationship with spirits. Seven or more drinks of liquor each week was associated with an 83% increased risk of diabetes for women, when compared to women drinking less than one drink of spirits.

There shouldn’t be much emphasis placed on the results for spirits, Tolstrup said, “because few people were drinking a lot of spirits, most were drinking wine and beer.” With 70% of all alcohol drunk by women being wine, the beer results for women are also “unsure.”

The ‘French paradox’

Crunching the numbers for wine drinkers, the team found that moderate to high wine drinking was associated with a lower risk of diabetes.

Men and women who drank seven or more glasses of wine each week had a 25% to 30% lower risk of diabetes compared with those who drank less than one glass.

Dr. Etto Eringa and Dr. EH Serné of VU University Medical Center Amsterdam said “moderate consumption of red wine has been shown to be related to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (and cardiovascular disease)” in other population studies, as well.

Eringa and Serné, who have researched how red wine relates to insulin resistance, were not involved in the current study.

“The potential benefit of red wine on diabetes and heart attacks has been proposed as a solution to the so-called ‘French paradox,’ the lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes in France despite high consumption of saturated fats (e.g. French cheese),” Eringa and Serné wrote in an email. Studies examining the effects of red wine components on risk factors for type 2 diabetes (such as glucose absorption by muscle tissue) have “largely produced negative results. Therefore the relationship between red wine and health can be explained by a healthier life style of people who drink in a disciplined manner, by unhealthy effects of non-alcoholic beverages such as soda or juices, or both.”

Eringa and Serné believe it is the healthier lifestyle of drinkers, rather than lower consumption of juice and soda, that accounts for the “French paradox.”

“People in the Danish study that drank alcohol more frequently had a healthier diet and had a lower BMI,” they observed.

Since few participants reported binging, the researchers say their finding of no clear link between binge drinking and diabetes risk may be due to low statistical power.

A medical ‘dictum’

Dr. William T. Cefalu, chief scientific, medical and mission officer of the American Diabetes Association, said the new study’s strengths include the large number of people surveyed, but its weaknesses include an inability to control for other risk factors such as diet. Among people with diabetes, excessive drinking increases the risk of high blood sugar and weight gain, he said.

“The Association does not recommend that people with or at risk for diabetes consume alcohol if they don’t already, but if they do, moderate consumption is recognized as generally safe and potentially of some benefit,” said Cefalu.

Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, found the report “unsurprising.”

“It’s been kind of a dictum for quite a number of years that people who don’t drink at all don’t live as long as people who drink mildly or moderately,” said Horovitz, who added that “the theory behind that was that mild drinking, at least, was good for lower blood pressure, dilated blood vessels,” and both of these outcomes translate to better overall circulation.

“We have to remember that diabetes is not just a problem with blood sugar, it is a problem of microvascular,” said Horovitz. Microvascular, which relates to the smallest blood vessels, is positively impacted by alcohol.

In terms of research flaws, there’s always the issue of honesty and truth when people self-report their habits, said Horovitz. The authors are also not clear about the “stream of input” — how much body mass index and diet, for example, were taken into account.

“And what about recreational substances?” Horovitz said. “Drinking, recreational drug use, recreational marijuana use, medicinal marijuana use, these are all things that need to be looked at a little more closely, especially as marijuana becomes something that’s more and more legal and more and more medical in its uses.”

In the end, though, the study “generally supports the old notion, again sort of a dictum within medicine, that teetotalers don’t live as long as people who do drink.”

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 23.1 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, though an additional 7.2 million people are suspected of having the disease. The total, then, is 30.3 million Americans or 9.4% of the population living with diabetes, with type 2 diabetes — the type that can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle — accounting for up to 95% of these cases.

Globally, diabetes among adults over 18 years old has risen from 4.7% or 108 million people in 1980 to 8.5% or 422 million people in 2014, according to the World Health Organization. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

Since alcohol is related to other diseases and conditions, “any recommendations about how to drink and how much to drink should not be inferred from this study,” said Tolstrup. She added that the most important finding of her study is that when it comes to the risk of diabetes, drinking a little bit often — instead of drinking a lot rarely — is best.