Tag Archives: Health

Take a break

I have taken a bit of a break and my immediate concern is that I have not been keeping up with my writing and spreading “the love”. I then, chose to reflect a bit and realized that we shouldn’t feel bad when life chooses another path and we have to let go of something else for awhile.
Do you feel like this sometimes?
I have spent the last bit of time, not spending it writing, but being with my family a bit more and not so concerned about “keeping up”. It has been very good for my person and my relationships.
There seems to be so much going on with my wife and kids that the blog had to be a lower priority.
As I first said, I feel bad, but I am trying to release that urge.
I love being able to share the lessons that we learn as we go along. So I hope that you understand and can also apply this to the lives that you are living.
I am sharing an article that I read yesterday. I love all these suggestions. They are very familiar to me and I have tried to share with my family on a regular basis.

Be healthy.

What I Learned in my 40’s

Letter to My Children: Health

I love you and that is the answer for so many decisions that we make.

I know that it doesn’t explain everything and I guess that is why I hope to explain it, in more detail, here.

Challenge is inevitable, as God gives each and every one of us things to guide and push us to be “more”. You have each been challenged early on, even though you may not really understand as it is just ‘your’ life. You know nothing different, because it has been that way for most of your life.

I believe that we are destined to help many families that also face challenges and that is why we were led down this path.

OK! Yes. I know. I will move on.

As a family I know that you both have different challenges, but we try to treat you the same.

Our goal is to give you tools that may not be popular or trendy, but real! We have experienced disease and chronic illness personally and professionally. We have had to learn a lot of the information that has kept you healthy and happy from non-traditional resources, but we have learned to trust our instincts.

Trust your instincts! Trust your gut!

As in any family, when one person is experiencing difficulty, we all are affected. We try to work together to solve the issues and come out stronger on the other side.  Sometimes you may have felt that you were having to deal with issues that weren’t necessarily yours. We know that, but realized that we can only do so much at one time. Everything happens for a reason and at the time that it is meant to.

Health-wise, we had no idea that starting a gluten-free diet would lead our family to a whole food lifestyle. When we first found out, we tried, like so many other families to do the minimum necessary to keep our children safe. Looking back, I can see how we were just like most other families that experience similar, we resisted the information to begin. We didn’t want to make those BIG sacrifices if we didn’t need to. It really was such a blow to our way of life. We were challenged by this and it made us stronger.

I am so grateful for the lessons that we learned! Through this we learned many things and have adjusted our diet to meet our needs, now and for life.

I know that it is hard to see family and friends eating what used to be common and is advertised as “normal” food. Every birthday party, play-date, school function or field-trip is hard for us, but I know it is difficult for you to see the other “convenient” options. Sometimes I wish that it was easy again, but I remind myself that our food is just that. FOOD. Not a party. Not convenient. Not to comfort someone else. It is a challenge for us all and I know that you wish to eat pizza and hamburgers. I also wish it was that easy again!

We have learned so much about health and disease that we want you to learn and have a healthy life. I don’t want you to eat, just to eat and have no idea what health is about, when you get older. I want you to understand that health is everything! If you are sick then life pretty much sucks, so why not do what you can to be healthy??

As you grown into beautiful adults and learn to care for yourselves, you may hear “how expensive” organic food(healthiest option)can be. I wish for you to understand that it is like putting good gasoline into a precious sports car. All systems work together to make that ‘car’ go. If you put junky, cheap ‘gasoline’ in, you will have a poor running ‘car’. If you consider it and investment(because health is your largest and most valuable asset)then you can expect exceptional performance!

I hope these lessons; which we learned the hard way, can make their way to you with a lot less challenge and discord, than how they came to us. I am blessed to have you in my life and know that together we will change the world, in a very positive way! God bless you.

Dad

 

Added Benefit From Farmers Market

Today was the first time in 2 weeks that my local farmers market (Symons Valley Ranch) was back from the Christmas holidays.

I have been so eager to go back and I realized how dependent I have become on the fresh, local,  organic meats and vegetables. I usually make this short trip every weekend, to get my family the best products from some of the best local farmers and ranchers around.

I felt a fair bit of urgency because I usually have a stock of good meats and veggies to last a week or so, but with the holidays, I had to restock!

After making my purchases and visiting with Irm, Greg, Patty, Sharon and all the other vendors that I see on a regular basis, I made my discovery of the added benefit…

Making relationships/friends with the people that provide the majority of our fresh food is really a big deal! I now know how and where our meats all come from. I get to order special cuts from one of these producers. I have created relationships with friends of friends to get grass fed beef and wonderful healthy pork products from a lady and her connection to a farm in northern Alberta. Wow!

This is so much more than just grocery shopping at the faceless, nameless conglomerates that we flock to for super deals. This feels like it is the way that getting “food” is supposed to be!

We(meaning me)have lost our connection to our food.

When you experience the difference and you want to know all the steps that it takes for your food to get to the plates of you loved ones, it really matters.

I realized that the local producers and friends that I have created really care and when you are face to face, they can’t help but feel satisfaction from making the world a bit better.

I am so grateful to the organizers, local producers, friends of friends and of course the earth and all that you give us!

Support your local producers and experience a much enriched life.

 

Don’t Wait Until You Get Sick

I want to make sure this is clear.

This is just my thoughts and opinion.

I have seen, first hand, how food can heal and change lives. I have also strung together stories from strangers and family members and realized through our dietary needs, that if you eat crap, your body will treat you like crap.

I am just a dad, husband and a fed up consumer that realizes that we have been led astray by large corporations that want to sell their products. Enough of that!

Sickness and decay is not normal. Health and vitality is our default setting. Just because we are aging, we don’t have to fall apart.

Alarming Health Trends

I am begging you to not wait until you or someone you love gets ill, sick, cancer or dies before making diet and lifestyle changes. We all know that we should eat better.

I have found many great examples of people healing themselves and turning their life around with the power of good, healthy food choices.

We all know the saying “you are what you eat”, but when you are addicted to processed, easy food, it is hard to make that commitment.

I wish that I would have understood this much earlier. My parents did their job and taught me the common sense things like, eating meals as a family and teaching your children to cook. I put the blame on our weak, paid-for government and the large corporations that truly run our country. Apparently health doesn’t bring in enough revenue.

Please make your family’s health priority and choose to pay more now for good healthy foods.

How did our priorities get so screwed up?

Why is it, we are so eager to spend so much money on fancy cars, posh homes and then cheap out by trying to save money on our food?

lambo

fast-food-top

 

 

 

 

Should that not be our priority or at least high on the list of importance??

Raw-Fruit-And-Vegetables

I realize, first hand, how hard these changes are to make. Believe me, when I say that there has been very few days where I am not wondering, “what am I going to make for the next 3 meals?”. It does get better, but I have made that commitment, that we are never going back to a life of easy or cheap food. I have heard someone say that “you pay the farmer/grocer now or pay the doctors later”.

I urge you to start where you can today! Make better choices and balance your life.

  • Support local farmer’s markets and start a garden.
  • Cook!
  • Teach your children to cook.
  • Don’t give up or give in.

Be healthy and love life.

The Gluten Free Lie: Why Celiacs Are Slowly Dying

For the one year anniversary of the beginning of my daughter’s recovery from “failure to thrive” and the doctors brilliant(sarcasm) prescription of Ensure, this article has brought us to a place of health and happiness! After numerous trips to emergency, the doctors really didn’t know what was going on. We were essentially left to figure out what was happening on our own.
She is now a shining example of a creative and goofy pre-teen.
When we read this article, it shattered our paradigm! We thought we were doing what we needed to, for her health. After reading and re-reading this many times, we then considered how we would then eat. The choice was obvious! We would change whatever we needed to, to get healthy and happy. (She was in pain and unhappy. It didn’t help that we were totally stressed)

We promised her,(through her tears)that we would do everything that we could to get her healthy and pain-free. Once we started SCD, we saw slow but steady improvement in her mood and her health. It was inconvenient and restrictive, but all in the effort to get her well, right!

This article may not be what you want to hear, but for some, they still may be frustrated like we were and unsure of what to do next. I hope that re-posting this may help other families reach a point where they can feel healthy again.

By Jordan Reasoner

Conventional medicine usually works like this…

I have a problem, the doctor figures out what the problem is, and gives me a conventional prescription generally supported by Doctors, researchers, and the FDA.

This prescription is supposed to be relatively safe and effective in accordance with the laws in the United States and most modern countries

But what if the conventional prescription doesn’t work?

Like people with Celiac Disease that follow a strict gluten-free diet and don’t get better…

Does that mean the gluten-free diet is the wrong prescription for Celiac Disease?

Earlier in this series, I showed you that gluten is toxic invader that causes Celiac Disease. Logically, removing the intruder is the first step towards treatment. That’s why anyone diagnosed with this autoimmune condition gets the conventional Celiac Disease prescription: follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. But the latest Celiac Disease research is painting a very different picture.

The University of Chicago has one of the leading treatment and research centers for Celiac Disease in the U.S., so my jaw dropped when they posted this:

“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”[1].

60% odds are worse than flipping a coin…

It would be easy to read that and think, “So it’s the people who don’t follow a strict gluten-free diet that don’t heal.” But to be honest, I don’t think they said it as strongly as they should have. Here’s a recent study that paints a much darker picture of the gluten-free diet’s success rate.

Only 8% of adult patients healed on a gluten-free diet…

A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at 465 Celiac Disease patients and found only 8% of adult patients reached “histological normalization” after following a gluten-free diet for 16-months, meaning their gut tissue completely recovered to that of a healthy person. The authors stated:

“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD” [2]

These people followed a strict gluten-free diet for 16-months and most didn’t heal their gut. The success rate of the conventional Celiac Disease prescription isn’t working… and the research is exploding the truth.

Another 2010 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 381 adults with biopsy-proven Celiac Disease. The authors found small intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants following a Gluten-Free diet for 2-years. They concluded:

“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”[3]

The Conventional Merck Manual definition for diagnosing Celiac Disease provides that: “The diagnosis is confirmed by an initial microscopic examination of a biopsy specimen revealing flattened villi of the small intestine and by a subsequent improvement in the lining after the person stops eating foods containing gluten.”

These studies clearly show that when a Celiac stops eating foods containing gluten, the intestinal lining isn’t healing. But that’s only scratching the surface of what’s going on…

65% of gluten-free Celiacs still have a raging fire in their gut

The same 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of 465 Celiac Disease patients 16-months gluten-free found that 65% still had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis” AKA inflammation in the gut.[4]

Their intestines are on fire with inflammation even after 16-months gluten-free.  Why is that important?

We know gut inflammation is associated with a laundry list of health issues, including cancer and early death.  That’s bad news for the conventional Celiac prescription and even worse news for the people not getting better on a gluten-free diet.  Want more evidence gluten-free doesn’t put the fire out?

A 2008 study in the Journal of Inflammation looked at 18 symptom-free Celiac Disease (SFCD) patients and found they still had elevated markers of gut inflammation even after 2 years on a gluten-free diet.  The authors reported:

“Faeces of both active CD and SFCD (symptom-free 1-2 years on a GFD) patients, representing an imbalanced microbiota, significantly increased TNF-alpha production and CD86 expression in PBMCs, while decreased IL-10 cytokine production and CD4 expression compared with control samples.” [5]

In another 2009 study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers looked at small intestine biopsies from 45 children with Celiac Disease and 18 clinical controls.  The authors found an increased presence of T cells (inflammatory marker) in well-treated CD patients:

“The long-lasting presence of high frequencies of T cells in the epithelial compartment in well-treated CD indicates that the epithelium is stressed possibly because of constant attack.”[6]

Both these studies looked at patients that are supposed to be “healed”… supposedly “well-treated”. Even though they appeared to be symptom-free, the medical tests paint a much different picture.  These asymptomatic adults and kids still had inflammatory fires raging in their gut… promoting further disease development (like Cancer).

So far this research has only reviewed patients following a gluten-free diet for 1-2 years… but what about long term?  Does the body just need more time to heal and get back to normal?

56% have poor vitamin status after 10 years gluten-free

A 2002 study in the of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at the vitamin status of 30 adults with Celiac Disease showing “biopsy-proven remission,” after following a gluten-free diet for 8-12 years.  They found that 56% had poor vitamin status, suggesting that proper nutrient uptake is not occurring. The authors concluded that:

“It is generally assumed that coeliac patients adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for years will consume a diet that is nutritionally adequate.  This is supported by the demonstration of a normal bone mineral density up to 10 years of dietary treatment.  Our results may indicate otherwise. We found signs indicative of a poor vitamin status in 56% of treated adult coeliac patients.” [7]

Even after following the conventional Celiac prescription for 10 years 56% still showed signs of poor nutrient uptake, meaning their digestive system still isn’t working like it’s designed to.

That means after 10 years of being gluten-free, HALF of all Celaics are likely starving for the critical nutrients required for health and longevity.  It’s no wonder we have a 77X increased risk for lymphoma.[8]

The gluten-free diet doesn’t fix leaky gut

Earlier in this series, we discovered that gliadin initiates leaky gut by increasing the zonulin protein in people with Celiac Disease.   And later, we learned that fixing leaky gut is absolutely essential to reversing the damage from Celiac Disease…

But the gluten-free diet doesn’t fix leaky gut…

As it turns out, when Celiac Disease patients follow a strict gluten-free diet, their zonulin levels do fall (which is good).  But research shows that they still have elevated levels of zonulin compared to non-Celiacs.  And when the zonulin levels are still high… the Tight Junctions can’t restore normal function and the leaky gut remains.

Chris Masterjohn found the same thing reviewing a study by researcher Allessio Fasano,[9]

 Remarkably, they found that celiacs produce 30 times as much zonulin as non-celiacs, even though the non-celiacs were not eating gluten-free diets while the celiacs had been off gluten for over two years!

Here’s a graph of their data:

 

This is remarkable because even though the point of the study was to show that gluten increases zonulin production, the controls were eating gluten yet had infinitesimal levels of zonulin production, while the celiacs had not eaten gluten for at least two years yet still had very high levels of zonulin production.  This suggests that something besides gluten may be causing zonulin production in celiacs.

 

Chris also pointed out the same study looked at Leaky Gut in Celiac Disease patients following a gluten-free diet for more than two-years:

[NOTE: in the graph below, the smaller the bar, the leakier the gut is]

Here they measured trans-epithelial electrical resistance (TEER) of intestinal tissue taken from gluten-free celiacs and gluten-eating controls.  TEER is an estimation of the leakiness of the gut, where a lower value indicates a greater level of leakiness or permeability.  They found that tissues taken from controls who had been eating gluten had three-fold less leakiness compared to celiacs who had been off gluten for over two years.  This, again, suggests that something besides gluten may be contributing to leaky gut in people with celiac.

So in summary, Chris pointed out:

  • Celiacs produce 30 times as much zonulin as non-celiacs, even though the celiacs had been off gluten for over two years!
  • Intestinal tissues taken from controls who had been eating gluten had three-fold less leakiness compared to Celiacs who had been off gluten for over two years (so Celiacs had a much leakier gut, even while eating gluten-free)

But the evidence doesn’t stop there…

A 2008 study in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research tested for leaky gut in 22 celiac disease patients who were on a gluten-free diet for 1 year.  They found these patients following a gluten-free diet still had a much leakier gut compared to healthy controls eating gluten (0.013 vs 0.003, P = 0.001).  The authors concluded:

“This means that, at some time, complete recovery of intestinal villous may not have occurred and an inflammatory process may have persisted.”[10]

This is crazy!  All this research shows the gluten-free diet doesn’t heal Celiac Disease.  In fact, the evidence suggests that in many cases, leaky gut and inflammation remain high for years on a gluten-free diet.  This spells bad news for anyone with Celiac Disease relying on a gluten-free diet as the only treatment protocol…

It breaks down like this… high inflammation, poor vitamin status, and leaky gut persist on a gluten-free diet which leads to one thing: untreated Celiac Disease…

And untreated Celiac Disease will kill you… fast

If you don’t completely heal from Celiac Disease, you’re going to die much sooner than healthy people.  In fact, one of the largest cohort studies on Celiac Disease patients and mortality published in the Journal of The American Medical Association found that:

  • Those with Celiac Disease (villous atrophy) had a 2.80-fold increased risk of death the first year after diagnosis and a 39% increased risk of death over the study period

But the authors didn’t stop there… they also looked at people with intestinal inflammation.  Remember the two studies on “well-treated” (asymptomatic) patients that still had inflammation?  The authors found:

  • Those with intestinal inflammation (and not villous atrophy) had a 4.66-fold increased risk of death the first year after diagnosis and a 72% increased risk of death over the study period[11]

A 72% increased risk of death!

In other words, if you’re a symptom-free Celiac and your labs show signs of gut inflammation… you’re going to die much sooner than you think. 

So should Celiacs eat a gluten-free diet?

Yes… gluten is still the kryptonite in Celiac Disease, don’t ever eat it.  Following a gluten-free diet is a requirement for treating this autoimmune condition… but you can’t stop there.

This evidence clearly shows that only following a gluten-free diet doesn’t fix leaky gut, gut inflammation, or a damaged gut lining.  That means the gluten-free diet isn’t enough to treat Celiac Disease patients and anyone using it as the only protocol is at risk for dying much sooner than they should…

The conventional Celiac prescription is incomplete and not working.  There needs to be more. 

In the last post, I showed you that fixing leaky gut is a critical step in reversing Celiac Disease… and now you know that gluten-free doesn’t cut it.  In the next part of this series, I’ll explore the leaky gut-Celiac connection and what to do about it.

http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/the-gluten-free-lie-why-most-celiacs-are-slowly-dying/

6 more reasons to stop eating corn

I found another great article from Dr. Osborne. He usually has a good perspective on health and gluten-free.
After 2 years on the “gluten-free” diet, our daughter was still not doing well and we ended up going completely grain free and doing  SCD. It has been almost 1 year since making those big changes, but she is healthy and that makes us all happy. Dr Osborne and his articles were very helpful in making the discovery about gluten in other grains like corn.
Dr. Osborne here,

Everyone going gluten always wants to replace breads, pastas, and cereals with corn-based substitutes.  Here are 6 reasons why doing this will keep you from getting healthy <<<

5 Home Remedies for Prostate Problems

It’s a sad fact of growing older for the male species. Most men over the age of 60 (and some in their 50s) develop some symptoms of prostate problems. The three most common disorders are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate; prostatitis, an inflammatory infection; and prostate cancer. BPH is so common that some physicians consider it a normal consequence of aging in males. The prostate’s main role is to produce an essential portion of the seminal fluid that carries sperm. This walnut-shaped gland located just below a man’s bladder starts to kick in near puberty and continues to grow and grow. This enlargement doesn’t usually cause symptoms until after age 40, and it usually doesn’t cause problems until age 60 or later. An enlarged prostate is problematic because it presses on the urethra, creating difficulties with urination and weakening the bladder. Some of the symptoms of prostate problems include:

  • difficulty urinating
  • frequent urination, especially at night
  • difficulty starting urination
  • an inability to empty the bladder
  • a dribble of urine despite the urgent need to urinate
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • uncontrolled dribbling after urination
  • pain behind the scrotum
  • painful ejaculation

Ignoring prostate problems, as some men are wont to do, isn’t a smart idea. Left untreated, prostate problems can get progressively worse, become more painful, and can lead to dangerous complications, including bladder and kidney infections. Changes in diet can help relieve some prostate discomforts and, in some cases, may reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer.

The rest of the article is here.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-prostate-problems.htm

Genetically Engineered Food and Engineering

From Ron Hamilton
Farmer/Owner
Sunworks Farm

Last December when I was in Ottawa for the Canadian Organic Technical Review Committee the consumer representative on the committee asked us to use the term Genetically Engineered (GE) when we were talking about Genetically Modified Organisms. Since then I have been thinking a lot about the term genetically engineered and its similarities and differences to engineering.
Engineering is not infallible.
Around us there are a multitude of examples of engineering with magnificent buildings, bridges and technology as examples. The engineering that has been used in these structures has had centuries of research and knowledge behind it and we use some of the most sophisticated technology to build our world, but we still have buildings and bridges that fall down. We have recalls on cars and products because the engineers hadn’t foreseen a problem. Engineering isn’t infallible. There are multiple processes in place to make the engineering as fail safe as possible and the industry and government have set in place regulations that help protect us and yet problems still arise.
We are told by the corporations that make GE products that there is absolutely no risk in their engineering and their practices are fail safe. If we can have engineering challenges in the world of physical engineering, nonliving structures, it would make sense that we could also have problems in genetically engineering living organisms which are infinitely more complex than a bridge. The engineering and research behind genetically engineered products is just decades old and we have only had this technology available for a short time. If a person has done any research into how a GE product is made they will realize that there isn’t a huge amount of engineering done but it is a huge factor of good luck. If part of your engineering is good luck I don’t think I would want to drive on that bridge.
The consequences of bad engineering.
When bad physical engineering happens there can often be dire consequences. However the consequences for the environment and the world as a whole are often temporary. A pile of rubble, a diverted stream or river, pollution in the river, killed fish and aquatic life are all environmental consequences if a bridge fails. They are damaging but can be cleaned up and put back together, fish can be restocked, pollution can be cleaned up and a diverted stream or river can be returned to its natural course.
Genetically engineered foods are different from this in that when they fail there is no way to clean up the mess and restore the world to the way it was. Natural systems have over many thousands of years adapted to their surroundings but by engineering living organisms we are taking engineering short cuts that will have long term consequences. Plants that are genetically modified can spread from wind, birds, bugs, bees and water. We are releasing something that we cannot take back. Cross pollination can happen with non-genetically engineered as well as wild plants. Already there has been shown to be contamination of non GE corn with GE corn genes even though the GE corn was not planted near non GE corn fields.
The ability to fix the problem.
In physical engineering if there is a problem with a bridge swinging in too much wind, a building that is found to be extremely inefficient, or a car that has a bad part, the problem can be fixed. Bridges can be reinforced, buildings can be reinsulated and cars can be recalled and the part replaced. Problems that arise can be fixed. It is not the same with the genetic engineering of our food.
When a problem arises in our genetically engineered food the problems are not fixable for there is no way to isolate the problem. The bridge can be shut down until it is fixed. GE crops cannot all be destroyed when we realize that they are affecting the environment. An inefficient building can have extra heaters added to it to fix the problem until a long tern solution is available. GE foods cannot be reengineered once they are in the food system. A car affected by the bad part can have the bad part removed and can be returned to the road. The GE genes in a plant cannot be removed and the plant returned to the market, when they start to cause harm to human health and the environment.
For me the fact that we use the word engineering to describe genetically modified organism highlights some of the dangers of this technology. The way to combat this is to buy organic products and products that do not contain genetically engineered ingredients. If we refuse to buy these products then there will be no market for them. We need to push for the labeling of GE foods so that consumers have the ability to choose what they want to eat and how they want to vote with their dollar.
One of the fundamentals of organic agriculture is to work in and with natural living systems. We believe there are no engineering shortcuts to feed our customers the cleanest, purest and best food in the world.
Ron Hamilton
Farmer/Owner

BPA free plastic, coverup?

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics
And the Big Tobacco-style campaign to bury it.
—Mariah Blake | March/April 2014

Photographs by Evan Kafka
EACH NIGHT AT DINNERTIME, a familiar ritual played out in Michael Green’s home: He’d slide a stainless steel sippy cup across the table to his two-year-old daughter, Juliette, and she’d howl for the pink plastic one. Often, Green gave in. But he had a nagging feeling. As an environmental-health advocate, he had fought to rid sippy cups and baby bottles of the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA), which mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a long list of serious health problems. Juliette’s sippy cup was made from a new generation of BPA-free plastics, but Green, who runs the Oakland, California-based Center for Environmental Health, had come across research suggesting some of these contained synthetic estrogens, too.

He pondered these findings as the center prepared for its anniversary celebration in October 2011. That evening, Green, a slight man with scruffy blond hair and pale-blue eyes, took the stage and set Juliette’s sippy cups on the podium. He recounted their nightly standoffs. “When she wins…every time I worry about what are the health impacts of the chemicals leaching out of that sippy cup,” he said, before listing some of the problems linked to those chemicals—cancer, diabetes, obesity. To help solve the riddle, he said, his organization planned to test BPA-free sippy cups for estrogenlike chemicals.

The center shipped Juliette’s plastic cup, along with 17 others purchased from Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us, to CertiChem, a lab in Austin, Texas. More than a quarter—including Juliette’s—came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics. CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.

Estrogen plays a key role in everything from bone growth to ovulation to heart function. Too much or too little, particularly in utero or during early childhood, can alter brain and organ development, leading to disease later in life. Elevated estrogen levels generally increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Estrogenic chemicals found in many common products have been linked to a litany of problems in humans and animals. According to one study, the pesticide atrazine can turn male frogs female. DES, which was once prescribed to prevent miscarriages, caused obesity, rare vaginal tumors, infertility, and testicular growths among those exposed in utero. Scientists have tied BPA to ailments including asthma, cancer, infertility, low sperm count, genital deformity, heart disease, liver problems, and ADHD. “Pick a disease, literally pick a disease,” says Frederick vom Saal, a biology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia who studies BPA.

BPA exploded into the headlines in 2008, when stories about “toxic baby bottles” and “poison” packaging became ubiquitous. Good Morning America issued a “consumer alert.” The New York Times urged Congress to ban BPA in baby products. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) warned in the Huffington Post that “millions of infants are exposed to dangerous chemicals hiding in plain view.” Concerned parents purged their pantries of plastic containers, and retailers such as Walmart and Babies R Us started pulling bottles and sippy cups from shelves. Bills banning BPA in infant care items began to crop up in states around the country.

Today many plastic products, from sippy cups and blenders to Tupperware containers, are marketed as BPA-free. But Bittner’s findings—some of which have been confirmed by other scientists—suggest that many of these alternatives share the qualities that make BPA so potentially harmful.

Those startling results set off a bitter fight with the $375-billion-a-year plastics industry. The American Chemistry Council, which lobbies for plastics makers and has sought to refute the science linking BPA to health problems, has teamed up with Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical—the maker of Tritan, a widely used plastic marketed as being free of estrogenic activity—in a campaign to discredit Bittner and his research. The company has gone so far as to tell corporate customers that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected Bittner’s testing methods. (It hasn’t.) Eastman also sued CertiChem and its sister company, PlastiPure, to prevent them from publicizing their findings that Tritan is estrogenic, convincing a jury that its product displayed no estrogenic activity. And it launched a PR blitz touting Tritan’s safety, targeting the group most vulnerable to synthetic estrogens: families with young children. “It can be difficult for consumers to tell what is really safe,” the vice president of Eastman’s specialty plastics division, Lucian Boldea, said in one web video, before an image of a pregnant woman flickered across the screen. With Tritan, he added, “consumers can feel confident that the material used in their products is free of estrogenic activity.”

Eastman’s offensive is just the latest in a wide-ranging industry campaign to cast doubt on the potential dangers of plastics in food containers, packaging, and toys—a campaign that closely resembles the methods Big Tobacco used to stifle scientific evidence about the dangers of smoking. Indeed, in many cases, the plastics and chemical industries have relied on the same scientists and consultants who defended Big Tobacco. These efforts, detailed in internal industry documents revealed during Bittner’s legal battle with Eastman, have sown public confusion and stymied US regulation, even as BPA bans have sprung up elsewhere in the world. They have also squelched debate about the safety of plastics more generally. All the while, evidence is mounting that the products so prevalent in our daily lives may be leaching toxic chemicals into our bodies, with consequences affecting not just us, but many generations to come.

THE FIGHT OVER THE SAFETY of plastics traces back to 1987, when Theo Colborn, a 60-year-old grandmother with a recent Ph.D. in zoology, was hired to investigate mysterious health problems in wildlife around the Great Lakes. Working for the Washington, DC-based Conservation Foundation (now part of the World Wildlife Fund), she began collecting research papers. Before long, her tiny office was stacked floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes of studies detailing a bewildering array of maladies—cancer, shrunken sexual organs, plummeting fertility, immune suppression, birds born with crossed beaks and missing eyes. Some species also suffered from a bizarre syndrome that caused seemingly healthy chicks to waste away and die.

While the afflictions and species varied widely, Colborn eventually realized they had two factors in common: The young were hardest hit, and, in one way or another, all of the animals’ symptoms were linked to the endocrine system, the network of glands that controls growth, metabolism, and brain function, with hormones as its chemical messengers. The system also plays a key role in fetal development. Colborn suspected that synthetic hormones in pesticides, plastics, and other products acted as “hand-me-down poisons,” with parents’ exposure causing affliction in their offspring. Initially, her colleagues were skeptical. But Colborn collected data and tissue samples from far-flung wildlife populations and unearthed previously overlooked studies that supported her theory. By 1996, when Colborn copublished her landmark book Our Stolen Future, she had won over many skeptics. Based partly on her research, Congress passed a law that year requiring the EPA to screen some 80,000 chemicals—most of which had never undergone any type of safety testing—for endocrine-disrupting effects and report back by 2000.

Around this time, the University of Missouri’s vom Saal, a garrulous biologist who previously worked as a bush pilot in Kenya, began studying the effects of synthetic estrogens on fetal mouse development. The first substance he tested was BPA, a chemical used in clear, hard plastics, particularly the variety known as polycarbonate, to make them more flexible and durable. (It’s also found in everyday items, from dental sealants and hospital blood bags to cash register receipts and the lining of tin cans.) Naturally occurring estrogens bind with proteins in the blood, limiting the amount that reaches estrogen receptors. But vom Saal found this wasn’t true of BPA, which bypassed the body’s natural barrier system and burrowed deep into the cells of laboratory mice.

Vom Saal suspected this would make BPA “a hell of a lot more potent” in small doses. Working with colleagues Susan Nagel and Wade Welshons, a professor of veterinary biology, he began testing the effects of BPA at amounts 25 times lower than the EPA’s safety threshold. In the late 1990s, they published two studies finding that male mice whose mothers were exposed to these low doses during pregnancy had enlarged prostates and low sperm counts. Even in microscopic quantities, it seemed, BPA could cause the kinds of dire health problems Colborn had found in wildlife. Before long, other scientists began turning up ailments among animals exposed to minute doses of BPA.

These findings posed a direct threat to plastics and chemical makers, which fought back using tactics the tobacco makers had refined to an art form. By the late 1990s, when tobacco companies agreed to drop deceptive marketing practices under a settlement agreement with 46 states, many of the scientists and consultants on the industry’s payroll transitioned seamlessly into defending BPA.

Plastics and chemical interests worked closely with the Weinberg Group, which had run Big Tobacco’s White Coat Project—an effort to recruit scientists to create doubt about the health effects of secondhand smoke. Soon Weinberg, which bills itself as a “product defense” firm, was churning out white papers and lobbying regulators. It also underwrote a trade group with its own scientific journal, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, which published studies finding BPA was safe.

The industry also worked hand in glove with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, a think tank affiliated with the university’s school of public health that has a history of accepting donations from corporations and then publishing research favorable to their products. In the early 1990s, its founder, John D. Graham—who was later tapped as George W. Bush’s regulatory czar—lobbied to quash an EPA finding that secondhand smoke caused lung cancer, while soliciting large contributions from Philip Morris.

In 2001, as studies on BPA stacked up, the American Chemistry Council enlisted the center to convene a panel of scientists to investigate low-dose BPA. The center paid panelists $12,000 to attend three meetings, according to Fast Company. Their final report, released in 2004, drew on just a few industry-favored studies and concluded that the evidence that low-dose BPA exposure harmed human health was “very weak.” By this point, roughly 100 studies on low-dose BPA were in circulation. Not a single industry-funded study found it harmful, but 90 percent of those by government-funded scientists discovered dramatic effects, ranging from an increased breast cancer risk to hyperactivity. Four of the 12 panelists later insisted the center scrub their names from the report because of questions about its accuracy.

Chemical interests, meanwhile, forged deep inroads with the Bush administration, allowing them to covertly steer the regulatory process. For decades, the Food and Drug Administration has assured lawmakers and the public that BPA is safe in low doses. But a 2008 investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that the agency had relied on industry lobbyists to track and evaluate BPA research, and had based its safety assessment largely on two industry-funded studies—one of which had never been published or peer reviewed.

The panel the EPA appointed to develop guidelines for its congressionally mandated endocrine disruptor screening was also stocked with industry-backed scientists. It included Chris Borgert, a toxicology consultant who had worked closely with Philip Morris to discredit EPA research on secondhand smoke. He later served as the president of the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, the Weinberg Group-sponsored outfit, which met in the offices of a plastics lobbyist.

Members of the EPA panel say Borgert seemed determined to sandbag the process. “He was always delaying, always trying to confuse the issue,” recalls one participant. And the screening approach the EPA settled on came straight from the industry’s playbook. Among other things, the chemicals would be tested on a type of rat known as the Charles River Sprague Dawley—which, oddly, doesn’t respond to synthetic hormones like BPA.

How best to test for estrogenic activity would become a key front in the fight over plastic safety. The American Chemistry Council joined forces with an unlikely ally, PETA, to fight large-scale chemical-safety testing on animals. At the same time, Borgert and other industry-funded scientists made the case that the other common method for testing—using cells that respond in the presence of estrogen—did not necessarily tell us how a substance would affect animals or humans. In fact, a massive, ongoing NIH-run study has found that cell-based tests track closely with animal studies, which have accurately predicted the effects of synthetic estrogens, particularly DES and BPA, on humans.

Stanton Glantz, who directs the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California-San Francisco, argues the chemical industry’s real aim in challenging specific testing methods is to undermine safety testing altogether. “Like the tobacco companies, they want to set up a standard of proof that is unreachable,” he says. “If they set the standard of proof, they’ve won the fight.”

DURING THE HEIGHT of the battle over BPA, vom Saal periodically traveled to Texas and huddled around the dining table with his old friend George Bittner, whose home overlooks a walnut grove on the outskirts of Austin. Bittner, who holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford, is quirky and irascible. But he has a brilliant mind for science and an interest in applying it to real-world problems—in his lab at UT-Austin, he had developed a nerve-regeneration technique that had helped crippled rats walk within days. And he had taken a keen interest in vom Saal’s research on endocrine disruption. “It struck me as the most important public health issue of our time,” Bittner told me when we met at his lab. “These chemicals have been correlated with so many adverse effects in animal studies, and they’re so pervasive. The potential implications for human health boggle the mind.”

In the late 1990s, Bittner—a squat, ruddy man with thinning red hair and Napoleon Dynamite glasses who had made a tidy sum investing in real estate and commodities—began mulling the idea of launching a private company that worked with manufacturers and public health organizations to test products for endocrine disruptors. He believed this approach could help raise awareness and break the regulatory logjam—while also reaping a profit.

In 2002, armed with a $91,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, Bittner launched a pair of companies: CertiChem, to test plastics and other products for synthetic estrogens, and PlastiPure, to find or develop nonestrogenic alternatives. Bittner then enlisted Welshons to design a special test using a line of breast cancer cells, which multiply rapidly in the presence of estrogen. It features a robotic arm, which is far more precise than a human hand in handling microscopic material.

But before long Bittner began butting heads with Welshons and vom Saal. Bittner wanted the researchers to sign over the rights to the test Welshons had developed, while they insisted it belonged to the University of Missouri. Eventually, they had a bitter falling out. Welshons and vom Saal filed a complaint with the NIH, alleging that Bittner had misrepresented data from Welshons’ lab in a brochure. (Bittner maintains that he merely excluded data from contaminated samples; the institute found no evidence of wrongdoing.) Bittner, meanwhile, enlisted V. Craig Jordan, a pharmacology professor at Georgetown University with an expertise in hormones—he discovered a now-common hormone therapy that blocks the spread of breast cancer—to refine the testing protocol. By 2005, Bittner had opened a commercial lab in a leafy office park in Austin. He managed to attract some big-name clients, including Whole Foods, which hired CertiChem to advise it on endocrine-disrupting chemicals and test some of its products.

At this point, BPA was among the most studied chemicals on the planet. In November 2006, vom Saal and a top official at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences convened a group of 38 leading researchers from various disciplines to evaluate the 700-plus existing studies on the subject. The group later issued a “consensus statement” that laid out some chilling conclusions: More than 95 percent of people in developed countries were exposed to levels of BPA that are “within the range” associated with health problems in animals, from cancer and insulin-resistant diabetes to early puberty. The scientists also found that there was “great cause for concern with regard to the potential for similar adverse effects in humans,” especially given the steep uptick in these same disorders.

At the same time, a new body of research was finding that BPA altered animals’ genes in ways that caused disease. For instance, it could switch off a gene that suppresses tumor growth, allowing cancer to spread. These genetic changes were passed down across generations. “A poison kills you,” vom Saal explains. “A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him.”

Scientists were also uncovering links between endocrine-disrupting chemicals known as phthalates and health problems, including genital abnormalities and infertility in humans. These chemical additives were commonly found in soft, pliable plastics, such as those used in pacifiers and baby bottle nipples. In 2008, Congress passed a law banning six types of phthalates in children’s products. As concerns about BPA hit the mainstream, Congress also launched an investigation into the industry’s efforts to manipulate science and regulation, and a number of states proposed BPA bans.

In 2009, the BPA Joint Trade Association—which included the American Chemistry Council, Coca-Cola, and Del Monte, among others—gathered at the Cosmos Club, a members-only retreat in Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle. According to meeting minutes leaked to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the group explored messaging strategies, “including using fear tactics (e.g., ‘Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?’).” The “‘holy grail’ spokesperson,” attendees agreed, was a “pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA.”

Even as the industry crafted defensive talking points, some companies began offering BPA-free alternatives. But they often didn’t bother testing them for other potentially toxic compounds or synthetic hormones. Nor did they have to: Under US law, chemicals are presumed safe until proven otherwise, and companies are rarely required to collect or disclose chemical-safety data. Michael Green, the Center for Environmental Health director who worried about his daughter’s sippy cup, says this results in a “toxic shell game”: Corporations that come under pressure to root out toxins often replace them with untested chemicals, which sometimes turn out to be just as hazardous. “It’s an unplanned science experiment we’re doing on our families,” Green told me when I visited him at his Bay Area home, where Juliette, now 5, was padding around in a pink princess costume.

One of the most popular BPA-free options, especially among companies catering to families and health-conscious consumers, was Tritan, a clear, sturdy, heat-resistant plastic that Eastman rolled out in 2007. (Eastman also produces the chemical that sullied the drinking water of 300,000 West Virginians in January.) A company founded by alternative medicine guru Dr. Andrew Weil launched a line of Weil Baby bottles made from Tritan, which it touted as “revolutionary” and “ultra-safe” material. Thermos began churning out Tritan sippy cups, decorated with Barbie and Batman. With more and more consumers demanding BPA-free products, Nalgene, CamelBack, Evenflo, Cuisinart, Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and many other companies also worked Tritan into their production lines.

Eastman, a $7 billion company that was spun off from Eastman Kodak in the 1990s, assured its corporate customers that it had done extensive safety testing on Tritan. But its methods were questionable. According to internal Eastman documents, in 2008 Eastman signed a two-year contract with Sciences International, another product defense firm that had played a key role in the tobacco industry’s scientific misinformation campaign. On Sciences’ advice, Eastman then commissioned a study that used computer modeling to predict whether a substance contains synthetic estrogens, based on its chemical structure. The model suggested that one of Tritan’s ingredients—triphenyl phosphate, or TPP—was more estrogenic than BPA.

Eastman, which never disclosed these findings to its customers, later commissioned another study, this one involving breast cancer cells. Again, the initial results appeared positive for estrogenic activity. In an email to colleagues, Eastman’s senior toxicologist, James Deyo, called this an “oh shit moment.”

Deyo’s “oh shit” moment (p. 1)

Cell culture tests for estrogenic effects generally involve soaking plastic in alcohol or salt water, then exposing cells to various concentrations of the chemicals that seep out. After Deyo informed the lab that its findings must “be worded very well relative to the lack of” estrogenic activity, it issued a report that only counted data from the lowest concentrations—even though this violated the lab’s testing guidelines, and made the results appear negative when they weren’t. “The lab ignored its own criteria and misrepresented its findings,” says Michael Denison, a professor of toxicology at the University of California-Davis who evaluated the document.

Eastman wasn’t the only company testing Tritan. In 2009, Bittner’s PlastiPure, which was searching for nonestrogenic alternatives to recommend to clients, began vetting products made with it and found that some had even more estrogenic activity than their BPA-laden counterparts. PlastiPure’s CEO, Mike Usey, says CertiChem disclosed this to clients, but many chose Tritan anyway.

This was part of a broader pattern of indifference. According to Usey, hundreds of manufacturers—including most of the big baby bottle makers—contacted CertiChem to inquire about testing their BPA-free products for estrogenic chemicals, but few actually followed through. “Their position was: Until consumers are demanding nonestrogenic products, there’s no reason to be an early adopter,” Usey explains. “They want to delay as long as they can, because they know any transition will cost them.” In some cases, manufacturers paid for testing, then never collected the findings. “They didn’t want to know the results because there’s liability in knowing,” Usey says. “They’re right in the sense that you don’t want to know if you’re not going to fix the problem.”

DESPITE ITS “OH SHIT” FINDINGS, by 2010 Eastman began to produce marketing materials claiming that Tritan was free of all synthetic estrogens. One section of its website featured the tagline “Safety is our key ingredient” along with photos of smiling children eating and drinking out of plastic containers. The site claimed “third-party research” had shown Tritan to be free of estrogenic activity, but when corporate customers tried to verify this information, Eastman grew cagey. In early 2010, Philips Avent, a top producer of baby bottles and sippy cups, inquired about having an outside lab run testing on Tritan. Eastman’s senior chemist Emmett O’Brien fired off an email to colleagues, saying, “We need to [do] everything possible to convince the customer NOT to do EA [estrogenic activity] testing.” Philips was persuaded. But, according to testimony from Eastman executives, that same year Nestlé vetted Tritan, and found it leached synthetic estrogen. (Frédérique Henry, a spokeswoman for Nestlé, acknowledges the company tested Tritan but denies the results were positive.) Nestlé has nevertheless continued using Tritan in some of its water bottles.

Bittner and Usey, meanwhile, decided to go public. “As long as the consumer demand wasn’t there, product manufacturers felt we were selling them a problem rather than a solution,” Usey explains. “We saw this as the only way forward.” Bittner’s companies, which have received more than $8 million in NIH funding, began working with Jordan, the Georgetown professor, on a paper for publication. In the fall of 2010, Usey attended the ABC Kids Expo, a children’s product extravaganza in Las Vegas, and handed out flyers with a graph showing how various products that were marketed as nonestrogenic stacked up in CertiChem’s tests. The most estrogenic among them, Weil Baby bottles, were made from Tritan. (The company referred Mother Jones to a press release on its website stating that it “remains confident that Tritan is safe.”)

Soon Eastman’s customers began inquiring about CertiChem’s findings. For the most part, Eastman convinced them to disregard Bittner’s claims. At one point, O’Brien met with Whole Foods executives. They were considering replacing their polycarbonate bulk food bins with ones made from Tritan, even though Bittner had previously informed them that the product was estrogenic. According to a memo O’Brien later wrote, when the subject came up, he responded by attacking Bittner, whom he called “shady,” and his test results, which he alleged were “very questionable.” The Whole Foods executives later pressed O’Brien about the other tests carried out on Tritan.

O’Brien’s memo on Eastman’s meeting with Whole Foods (p. 3)

The chemist claimed, falsely, that they were performed by independent scientists with no funding from Eastman and hadn’t turned up any evidence that Tritan leached synthetic estrogens. Whole Foods—which declined to comment for this story—plowed ahead and installed Tritan bins in many of its 270 US stores.

Eastman refused to answer questions for this story, but it released a written statement saying that it had “paid the labs for their time and expertise and not for a particular conclusion,” and remained “confident in the testing and safety of Tritan.”

In March 2011, the Environmental Health Perspectives paper by Jordan and researchers from CertiChem and PlastiPure appeared online. They’d tested 455 store-bought food containers and storage products, including several made from Tritan. The results? Seventy-two percent leached synthetic estrogens. And every type of plastic commonly used in food packaging (polypropylene and polystyrene, for example) tested positive in some cases, which suggested there was no surefire way to avoid exposure.

Other scientists have also found evidence of estrogen-mimicking chemicals in BPA-free plastics. In 2009, two German environmental toxicologists tested PET, a plastic commonly used in water bottles, on a strain of mud snails that produce more embryos when exposed to synthetic estrogen. Snails reared in PET bottles produced twice as many as those reared in a glass culture dish.

These studies don’t identify which estrogenic chemicals are leaching from BPA-free plastics, but many of these products are known to contain phthalates or bisphenol S (BPS), a chemical cousin of BPA that plastic makers frequently use in its place. Cell-culture tests suggest that BPA and BPS have similar effects.

In other cases, little may be known about the specific health effects of the chemicals involved, but a 2012 literature review by 12 prominent scientists found there is “substantial evidence” that endocrine-disrupting chemicals generally harm human health. “We know that there’s a cost when we mess with the levels of these hormones in our bodies, regardless of how we do it,” says the study’s lead author, Laura Vandenberg, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “Even small changes early in life can alter brain and organ development and set us up for disease later on.”

The month after Bittner’s study appeared, the American Chemistry Council contacted Chris Borgert, the former tobacco industry scientist who stymied the EPA’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. According to internal emails, the council and the Society of the Plastics Industry offered to pay him $15,000 to write a brief letter to the journal’s editor refuting CertiChem’s study, and to enlist another scientist to sign on. Their letter argued that CertiChem’s findings were “unconvincing”; just because a substance behaved like estrogen in a culture dish didn’t mean it would do so in animals or humans.

At the same time, Eastman laid plans to sue CertiChem and PlastiPure for false advertising. Expecting that Bittner would lash out after being served papers, the company launched a preemptive PR blitz. “By proactively promoting Tritan safety,” an internal memo noted, “it will put PlastiPure in a position to have to prove Eastman wrong.” The company also paid a scientist named Thomas Osimitz $10,000 to author a research paper on Tritan. While Osimitz was ostensibly working independently, Deyo, the Eastman toxicologist, micromanaged the process, from designing the study to writing the introduction. Deyo’s study design virtually guaranteed estrogenic activity wouldn’t be found. For example, he opted to use the hormone-insensitive Charles River Sprague Dawley lab rat. Rather than testing Tritan itself, he instructed Osimitz to test only some Tritan ingredients—TPP, the one that had raised red flags in the computer-modeling study, was not included. (The European Union has since classified the compound as a suspected endocrine disruptor.)

In June 2012, Osimitz’s paper—finding that Tritan was not estrogenic—appeared in Food and Chemical Toxicology, an industry-friendly journal. Its editor, A. Wallace Hayes, was previously vice president of biochemical and biobehavioral research at R.J. Reynolds, which led the attack against science linking secondhand smoke to human health problems.

Scientific journals generally require authors to disclose any conflicts of interest. But the Food and Chemical Toxicology article made no mention of Eastman’s role in the study. According to internal Eastman emails, the company was also aiming to hire Osimitz to author a second paper, again with “no…mention of Eastman.” As Deyo noted, “credibility is somewhat enhanced if it is not ‘Eastman’ authors.”

Deyo’s “credibility” email (p. 1)

Once its own data had been published, Eastman set out to bury Bittner’s findings. In August 2012, the company sued CertiChem and PlastiPure, which it claimed were spreading false information about Tritan to generate demand for their own services. Eastman’s lawyers asked the judge to bar both firms from ever claiming Tritan was estrogenic—or saying that cell-based tests could detect estrogenic activity, even though scientists routinely use them for this purpose. For decades, scientists have relied on the same breast cancer cell line Bittner’s lab uses, MCF-7, to screen for estrogenic activity. According to UMass’ Vandenberg, these cells have proven “remarkably good at telling us if compounds found in plastics and personal care products mimic estrogen” and their “failure rates are minuscule.”

On July 15, 2013, Bittner squared off against Eastman at a federal courthouse in Austin. The company’s attorneys went in hard. Specifically, they claimed running a company that tested products for estrogenic activity, as well as one that helped companies find nonestrogenic alternatives, created a conflict of interest. (Bittner counters that he’s no more conflicted than a doctor who both diagnoses and treats patients.) But they didn’t directly challenge the validity of Bittner’s findings. Instead, they leaned on the questionable industry claim that tests based on human cells aren’t sufficient to establish estrogenic activity.

Eastman’s star witness, Chris Borgert, made the case that animal studies—which the industry had also fought to undermine—were a more telling indicator. But even they were not “in and of themselves” definitive. For the result to be relevant, the effects had to be demonstrated “in an animal, at least, and then on to humans.” There was no mention of the ethical and legal barriers to testing on humans. And the judge barred Bittner’s lawyers from mentioning Borgert’s tobacco industry ties, which Eastman argued were “prejudicial.” This left the jury ill-equipped to gauge his credibility.

Borgert’s testimony may have done less damage than other factors. Bittner’s lawyers struggled to explain the science to jurors, and Bittner grew testy on the stand. Welshons, who’d designed CertiChem’s tests, testified in a deposition—just as he’d told the NIH—that Bittner had misrepresented some data in a brochure. Bittner’s attorneys managed to block his testimony from being introduced. But, Bittner says, his attorneys balked at presenting key evidence, such as figures on CertiChem’s NIH funding, because it might have made Welshons’ testimony admissible. Bittner also maintains that his rift with vom Saal and Welshons made it difficult to recruit witnesses.

Still, several prominent scientists testified for CertiChem, including UC-Davis’ Michael Denison, who coinvented a widely used test for estrogenic activity using human ovarian cells. Denison testified that he’d tested 27 samples of Tritan for estrogenic activity using this method and registered positives across the board.

But the most remarkable data might have come from none other than Wade Welshons. In the run-up to the trial, the University of Missouri scientist, who expected to prove Bittner wrong, began testing Tritan products in his lab. To his surprise, he wound up confirming CertiChem’s findings. “It doesn’t matter what I think of them personally,” Welshons told me. “If they’re right, they’re right, and many of my objections no longer matter.”

Welshons’ findings never made it into court, however, and when the jurors returned their verdict in late July, they found against Bittner’s companies on counts of false advertising and unfair competition. They also concluded Tritan was not estrogenic. Their rationale, according to postverdict interviews, echoed Eastman’s claims that estrogenic activity could not be established solely through cell-based tests. In his final ruling, the judge also noted that the “jury was likely unimpressed with Dr. Bittner’s combative demeanor.” And he upbraided both sides for failing to explain the science in terms jurors could understand. In the end, he barred Bittner’s companies from ever talking about their Tritan findings, at least in a commercial setting. But he refused to stop the companies from asserting that their tests could detect synthetic estrogens.

The long legal battle has depleted CertiChem and PlastiPure’s coffers—”We’ve laid off half of our staff,” Usey told me. “It has pretty much crushed us”—and emboldened Eastman. After I began raising questions about Tritan, Rick W. Harrison, an attorney for the chemical giant, inadvertently copied me on an email about Eastman’s damage control strategy. “If this somehow gets picked up by mainstream media—Oprah or NY media—Eastman sends Lucian [Boldea, the vice president of Eastman’s specialty plastics division] or whoever on the show prepped with the verdict, order and judgment and express surprise and indignation that these issues are still being raised after three years of litigation,” he wrote. “The court/jury has spoken and spoken loudly.”

The industry, meanwhile, has revived its campaign to downplay the dangers of BPA. A month after the Eastman case concluded, the American Chemistry Council relaunched its pro-BPA website, FactsAboutBPA.org. The section on infant health suggests that BPA isn’t harmful, even to premature babies. “They’re reverting back to exactly the arguments they were making in 1998,” says vom Saal. “It’s as if the last 15 years didn’t happen.”

US regulators also have continued to ignore the mounting evidence linking BPA and similar chemicals to human disease, even as bans have cropped up around the world. Although more than 90 studies examining people with various levels of exposure suggest BPA affects humans much as it does animals, the FDA recently announced that its research “supports the safety of BPA” in food containers and packaging. And the EPA program that was supposed to screen some 80,000 chemicals for endocrine disruption hasn’t fully vetted a single substance. In 2010, the agency sought White House approval to add some endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in plastic—among them BPA, phthalates, and a class of compounds known as PBDEs—to its “chemicals of concern” list because it found they “may present an unreasonable risk to human health.” This would have required chemical makers to share safety-testing data with federal regulators. The proposal languished until last September, when the EPA quietly withdrew it, along with a proposed rule requiring manufacturers to disclose safety data on chemicals in their products.

Still, Bittner isn’t giving up the fight. When I visited CertiChem’s office in Austin recently, he was sitting barefoot at a conference table surrounded by sippy cups and heaps of lab notebooks. CertiChem and PlastiPure were planning to appeal the Eastman ruling (they’ve since done so) and were working with Denison on data for new papers, one on estrogenic activity in plastic resins, which are used to make plastic products and contain fewer additives that can skew results. Bittner called up a series of graphs on the overhead projector, showing the results for several new BPA-free plastics that he had tested for estrogenic activity. He raked his laser pointer over a graph displaying the results for Tritan. The line curved up steeply. “Eastman won the battle,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it will win the war.”

http://m.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/tritan-certichem-eastman-bpa-free-plastic-safe

Is Something Wrong with Our Modern Diet?

By Dr. Mercola

Three decades ago, the food available was mostly fresh and grown locally. Today, the majority of foods served, whether at home, in school or in restaurants, are highly processed foods, filled with sugars, harmful processed fats, and chemical additives.

During that same time, obesity rates have skyrocketed, and one in five American deaths are now associated with obesity. Obesity-related deaths include those from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, dementia, and depression, as nearly all have metabolic dysfunction as a common underlying factor.

The featured1 article contains 11 telling charts and graphs, illustrating how the modern diet has led to an avalanche of chronic disease. As its author, Kris Gunnars says:

“The modern diet is the main reason why people all over the world are fatter and sicker than ever before. Everywhere modern processed foods go, chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease soon follow.”

Sugar Consumption, Especially Soda and Juices, Drives Disease Rates

Of all the dietary culprits out there, refined sugar in general, and processed fructose in particular, win top billing as the greatest destroyers of health. The amount of refined sugar in the modern diet has ballooned, with the average American now getting about 350 calories a day (equivalent to about 22 teaspoons of sugar and 25 percent of their daily calories) from added sugar.

This level of sugar consumption has definitive health consequences. One recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine,2 which examined the associations between added sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths, found that:

  • Among American adults, the mean percentage of daily calories from added sugar was 14.9 percent in 2005-2010
  • Most adults (just over 71 percent) get 10 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar
  • Approximately 10 percent of American adults got 25 percent or more of their daily calories from added sugar in 2005-2010
  • The most common sources of added sugar are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, and candy

According to this study, those who consume 21 percent or more of their daily calories in the form of sugar are TWICE as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who get seven percent or less or their daily calories from added sugar.

Needless to say, with all this added sugar in the diet, average calorie consumption has skyrocketed as well, having increased by about 20 percent since 1970.

A primary source of all this added sugar is soda, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks. Multiple studies have confirmed that these kinds of beverages dramatically increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality. Diet sodas or artificially sweetened foods and beverages are no better, as research reveals they appear to do even MORE harm than refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), including causing greater weight gain.