Why Your Couch Could Increase Your Poison Exposure by 600 Percent

In 1973, the U.S. government passed a law requiring all children’s sleepwear to be fire resistant, believing they were preserving public health and keeping children safe. A mere five years later, scientists discovered the chemical used to make the fire retardant fabrics — brominated Tris — was responsible for rising incidences of cancer, and the chemical was banned by 1977.

However, other flame retardant chemicals continue to be used in baby toys, clothing, carpeting and furniture. Heather Stapleton, Ph.D., is known as one of the foremost experts in the field of fire retardant chemicals.1

In her most recent study, she focuses on four or five chemicals, but acknowledges there are dozens, if not hundreds, of flame retardant chemicals being used in electronics, cars, planes and household items.2

While the European Union has taken a strong stance to ban these chemicals, especially in those used by children, the U.S. has not followed suit.3 One type of flame retardant, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), resembles the molecular structure of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and impaired fetal brain development.

In Stapleton’s most recent study from Duke University, she investigated the concentration of flame retardant chemicals found in children living in homes with vinyl flooring or flame retardant chemicals in their couch. These harmful semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are a subgroup of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with a higher molecular weight.

What’s In Your Couch?

The group of SVOC chemicals include phthalates, PBDEs, PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and pesticides.4 Exposure to PBDEs has been linked to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, cancer and other diseases.

Stapleton notes,5 “There has been little research on the relative contribution of specific products and materials to children’s overall exposure to SVOCs.” This gap in information prompted Stapleton and her colleagues to begin a three-year study of 203 children from 190 families with the primary goal to investigate links between products and exposure, and to determine how the exposure happened.

The team analyzed samples of air and dust from the children’s homes, and foam collected from furniture in each of the homes.6 Hand wipes to collect chemical samples from the hands, as well as blood and urine samples were collected from all children.

From this information, the researchers were able to quantify 44 biomarkers, finding children who lived in homes where the sofa in the main living area contained PBDEs had a six times higher concentration of PBDEs in their blood.7

Children in homes with vinyl flooring in all areas had urine concentrations of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolites that were 15 times higher than in children living in homes with no vinyl flooring. Benzyl butyl phthalate has been linked to respiratory disorders, multiple myeloma and reproductive disorders.

The Fight Continues to Remove Ineffective Carcinogenic Chemicals

This research confirms the results of a previous study Stapleton and colleagues did with the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which found children had five times more fire retardant chemicals in their body than their mothers. The organophosphate chemical in that study — TDCPP (1,3-dichloroisoprophyl)phosphate — is used in foam to make sofas, pillows, mattresses and carpet padding.8

California has TDCPP on their Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing agents requiring a warning on all products using it. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) lists TDCPP as a probable carcinogen. Stapleton testified in front of CPSC for a hearing to ban organohalogen flame retardants in consumer products.9

In her testimony she stated that despite changes in the California flammability standard lowering the required amount of flame retardants in foam, the use is not decreasing.

Unfortunately, while Stapleton made an impassioned plea to the commission based on sound scientific evidence, it did not sway the entire board to vote to protect citizens. The CPSC did vote to approve an official guidance document recommending manufacturers reduce use, but passed it by only one vote.10

Take Care With Your Food and Water

One of the reasons organophosphates are so insidious is they can be inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through your skin. While Stapleton investigated the use of flame retardants in household items and electronics, researchers are also finding these common chemicals in popular foods, including peanut butter, fish and turkey.11

A study published in 201212 found nearly half of popular products purchased from a grocery store in Dallas contained traces of flame retardants commonly used in foam insulation. However, the team only tested for one flame retardant, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD).

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),13 “HBCD is highly toxic to aquatic organisms … and presents human health concerns [for] potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.”

Speaking to the Huffington Post, a senior analyst with the EWG added that the chemical not only has been discovered in umbilical cord blood, but that the exposure most likely continues into childhood and beyond, through both environment and food.14

You can be exposed to flame retardants in a variety of ways, including the foods you eat, the water you drink and the products you use in your home or in your workplace. Chemicals can leak from products into dust and into the air, later settling onto food.15

Research16 published in 2015 found fire retardant chemical Tris phosphate and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) in every single dust sample collected from American homes; 90.6 percent of urine samples from the residents also contained metabolites of Tris phosphate, and 83 percent of residents had metabolites of TPHP.

Other tests have shown 90 percent of Americans have flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies,17 and many have six or more types in their system.18 Flame retardant chemicals can enter the water supply by accumulating on dust particles. One study demonstrated seasonal variability of PBDEs with higher concentrations during the wet season in waterways close to dump sites.19

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), persistent man-made chemicals used in military firefighting foam, also seep into groundwater supplies.20 Two of the most well-known of the group are PFOA and PFOS, also associated with the production of Teflon.21

Flame Retardant Chemicals Associated With Multiple Health Challenges

In addition to the health concerns already mentioned, flame retardant chemicals have been linked to thyroid dysfunction. This is significant, especially for women who are pregnant as it has an effect on the unborn child.

In one study,22 researchers found a 10fold increase in PBDE chemicals was associated with decreases of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). With just one exception in the study, all women with low TSH levels had normal free T4 levels, corresponding to subclinical hyperthyroidism.

During pregnancy, hyperthyroidism has been linked to altered fetal neurodevelopment, and increase risk of premature birth or miscarriage, intrauterine growth retardation and decreased motor skills.23

More recent data from researchers at Harvard School of Public Health24,25 also found a greater risk for thyroid disorders — including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, goiter and Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid autoimmune disorder — in women who have elevated levels of flame retardant chemicals in their blood. Postmenopausal women were at greatest risk, having double the effect size compared to premenopausal women.

Researchers are only beginning to fully understand the legacy flame retardant chemicals have left on society. Cumulatively, data suggests an impact on thyroid regulation is highly likely and potentially implicates flame retardant chemicals in thyroid disease and cancers.26

Exposure during pregnancy is also associated with lower intelligence in children. For every 10fold increase in prenatal exposure to PBDEs, researchers27 found a 3.7 point decline in IQ test scores, which supports past research28 demonstrating a decline in IQ scores and also associated with a reduction in attention span and reduce fine motor coordination and cognitive ability.

Although it may seem a few points of IQ reduction is small, the widespread exposure to flame retardants makes the decrease serious. Even the loss of a few points on a population-wide level increases the number of children who will need early intervention and families who may face personal and economic burdens.

Flame Retardant Chemicals Don’t Do the Job

In 1975 California enacted the flammability standard TB117, requiring furniture and children’s products to be able to resist an open flame for 12 seconds. Manufacturing companies convinced regulators an open flame standard was needed to ensure safety.29 Recently, science has demonstrated chemical flame retardants, such as TDCPP and HBCD, do not slow fire in real life situations.

The initial open flame standard was based on faulty science and a misrepresentation by chemical companies. As a result, California changed TB117 standard to TB117-2013, a standard that no longer requires the use of flame retardants. However, while it doesn’t require it, the new regulation does not ban it either.

States also have the opportunity to address issues in their own fire codes. For instance, in the state of Massachusetts the fire code for public places was updated so areas with sprinkler systems can furnish the space with furniture complying to TB 117-2013, making the areas flame retardant-free.30 Many large retailers now have flame retardant-free furniture available for purchase.

Firefighters Face Additional Risk

About half of U.S. firefighters believe cancer is the greatest occupational health risk they face.31 Indeed, California female firefighters aged 40 to 50 are six times more likely to develop breast cancer than the national average.32,33 A major reason for this is because of the high levels of dioxins and furans firefighters are exposed to when flame-retardant chemicals burn.

What many fail to realize is an object treated with flame-retardant chemicals can indeed still catch fire — it’s merely retarded by seconds — and when it does go up in flames it will emit much higher levels of toxic carbon monoxide, soot and smoke than an untreated object.34

Ironically, these three things are more likely to kill you than a burn might, which means flame-retardant chemicals may actually make fires deadlier when you’re caught in them.35 According to the chemical industry, fire-retardant furniture provides a 15fold increase in escape time in the case of a fire.36,37

This claim came from a study using powerful, NASA-style flame retardants, which provided an extra 15 seconds of escape time. But this is not the same type of chemical used in most furniture. Tests have shown that the most widely used flame-retardant chemicals actually provide no meaningful benefit at all in case of a fire, while increasing the amount of toxic chemicals in the smoke.

Firefighters are subsequently exposed in their personal furniture and household, in the firehouse and in the fire. In response, many individuals and firefighter organizations are taking a more active role in fighting the application of fire retardant chemicals to household items.38

Test Your Furniture for Free

As part of Duke University’s educational outreach,39 Stapleton created a foam testing lab allowing consumers to send in up to five small samples to have them tested for free. The foam samples from the consumer’s homes are prepared and run through mass spectrometers to identify flame retardants.

The sample is also chemically tested. The results are compared against the library of known retardants and when one is detected it’s compared to a standard. Duke University uses the information in a study and sends the consumer a report detailing their findings on their individual samples. You can find more information about this project, and instructions for how to submit your samples, on the University’s website.40

Several other steps you may consider to help reduce your exposure to flame retardant chemicals are discussed in my previous article, “Fire-Retardant Chemicals Are Contaminating Drinking Water Across the US.”

Could You Live Without Plastic?

Plastic is made from a number of different chemicals, some of which are known to act as endocrine disruptors. An endocrine disruptor is similar in nature to a natural sex hormone and interferes with the normal functioning in your body.

While not visible, plastic chemicals can be found in fast food packaging, processed and boxed foods, including those marketed as organic.1 Use has skyrocketed from 2 million metric tons in 1950 to 380 million metric tons in 2015.2

This represents an astonishing 18,000 percent increase over 65 years. At this growth rate, the Earth could very well be covered in plastic in another 65 years, demonstrating the power manufacturers have to destroy life.

Macro and Microplastics Are a Problem

This urgent worldwide problem is demonstrated by the number of plastic particles the average person ingests every year via food, water and dust particles landing on their plates during meals. Today, tap water, bottled water,3 sea salt4 and a variety of seafood5 all come with a “side order” of microplastic.

Although you’ve likely seen tragic photos of sea turtles and other marine life entwined in plastic bags, six-pack rings or dying of malnutrition as plastic debris block their intestinal tract, some of the most pernicious problems cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Microplastics range in size from 5 millimeters to microscopic and are ingested by fish, plankton and other marine life, ultimately landing on your dinner plate. The consequences of this vast worldwide pollution may still be unknown, but it’s unlikely to be harmless.

Plastic is not thoroughly eliminated from your body and cannot degrade inside your system or in the environment.6 Many of the chemicals are known to disrupt embryonic development, dysregulate hormones and gene expression, and cause organ damage.

Plastic pollution and chemical absorption has been linked to obesity, heart disease and cancer. Today, a new consumer movement to living without plastic hopes to fight the problem using a powerful way to start change — at a grassroots level.7

Can You Live Life Without Plastic?

Plastic has been a harmful convenience, much of which ends up in our oceans and on land each year. From single-use plastic containers to microfibers from your washing machine, each poses a serious threat to marine life and our food supply.

Although much media attention has been given to plastics ending up in the ocean, it is estimated four to 23 times greater amounts are released on land than the ocean by way of biosolid fertilizers.8

The rapid development of new plastic chemicals has been fueled by a throwaway mentality, and although several companies have begun pledging reduction in the use of straws and plastic cups, it’s going to take greater change to make a significant impact on the environment and human health.

To that end, a grassroots effort is growing, spurred on by anger over the impact of single-use plastic products. As families and groups share ideas, going plastic-free has become sustainable and even a mainstream concept. For many, their move toward living plastic-free developed gradually in an effort to reduce plastic pollution and even to reduce waste. Kiran Harrison commented:9 

“Some people are cynical about how you can sustain a lifestyle like this, or cynical about making a small contribution when big companies produce so much waste, but I’m not down with the ‘what’s the point of doing anything, we’re all doomed’ brigade — it’s far too apathetic for my liking.”

She recommends doing things gradually so they become habit. Beth Terry has the same advice.10 First she focused on her kitchen, gradually getting rid of shopping bags, pre-washed salads in plastic tubs and processed foods.

From there, she moved on to the bathroom to switch out bottles of shampoo, toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes, shopping at specialty stores catering to her needs.11 New York Times12 journalist Steven Kurutz comments “that as a marketing term, ‘plastic-free’ is emerging as the new ‘no-carbs.’”

New stores in New York and London don’t carry products with any plastic and instead sell silicone water bottles and iPhone cases made of flax. In the summer of 2019, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo plan to test products using aluminum bottles, refillable non-plastic containers and glass bottles.13

Plastic — Threat to Life Beginning at Production and Ending in 1,000 Years

Plastics can take up to 1,000 years to break down. Researchers estimate a single plastic coffee pod may take up to 500 years, the duration of the Roman Empire.14 While most of the focus on the impact of plastic is on manufacturing or disposal, a new report released by the Center for International Environmental Law, in partnership with six other environmental organizations, finds:15

“This report demonstrates that each of those stages interacts with others, and all of them interact with the human environment and the human body in multiple, often intersecting, ways.”

The report associates plastics with numerous forms of cancer, neurological, reproductive and developmental toxicities, as well as diabetes, organ malfunctions and a significant impact on eyes and skin. Although it appears plastic is cheap and convenient, Graham Forbes, Global Plastics Project Leader for Greenpeace, commented the true cost is reflected in how:16

“Plastics are harming or killing animals around the globe, contributing to climate change and keeping us dependent on fossil fuels, entering our air, water, and food supplies, and seriously jeopardizing human health throughout their lifecycle.”

Plastic pollution is pervasive, infiltrating water and food supplies and adversely affecting the environment, on which humanity depends for food, water and natural resources. In an email to Environmental Health News, David Azoulay, one author of the report and managing attorney for the Center for International Environmental Law commented:17

“Health problems associated with plastics throughout the lifecycle includes numerous forms of cancers, diabetes, several organ malfunctions, impact on eyes, skin and other sensory organs, birth defects. And those are only the human health costs, they do not mention impacts on climate, impacts on fisheries or farmland productivity.”

Human exposure is increasing with production and use of plastics, posing significant risk on a global scale. As reported by Environmental Health News, there are health risks associated with each phase in the life cycle of plastic manufacturing, including the following:18

  • Extraction of fossil fuels, used in manufacturing plastic, results in air and water pollution and in a number of other direct effects to communities such as increased traffic and pipeline construction (more than 99 percent of plastic made today is made using fossil fuels)
  • Refining and producing plastic resins and additives releases cancer-causing compounds and other toxics, some of which “can be difficult to detect” as they “are colorless and tend to have mild-to-no odor”
  • Plastic products and packaging, when in the consumer’s hands, lead to inhaled or ingested toxic and/or plastic particles
  • Plastic incineration releases toxic compounds
  • The degradation of plastic leads to microplastics getting into people, wildlife, soil and water

Recycling Is Vastly Underutilized

Only 8 percent of plastic is ever recycled,19 and even then, some of the items tossed in the recycling bin may never make it to the recycling center. Some end up contaminating entire loads of recyclables that would otherwise have gone on to other uses.

While it’s best to verify guidelines for your local facility, anything smaller than a Post-It note cannot be sorted properly, so unless you screw on bottle tops it’s better to throw them away. Bubble padded envelopes, wax paper and diapers are not recyclable. Paper cups with shiny coatings or paper food bowls with plastic lining will not be accepted.

In contrast, Norway recycles nearly 97 percent of plastic bottles as a result of an environmental tax producers must pay if they don’t reach a recycling minimum target of 95 percent. Reverse vending machines make it easy for consumers to bring their plastic bottles back for recycling. Additionally, companies are limited in the types of plastic chemicals they can use.

While companies like Patagonia and Polartec use recycled bottles to conserve and reduce waste, breaking plastic bottles into millions of fibrous bits of plastic may prove worse than doing nothing at all. Washing clothes releases microfiber waste treatment plants are not equipped to filter, thus releasing microplastics into the waterways.

It’s worth remembering mankind had a zero-waste lifestyle up until about 100 years ago. There were no plastic wraps around the foods and items you bought, and virtually every scrap was repeatedly reused and creatively repurposed into new products. For ways to become a recycling expert, see my previous article, “Top 11 Tips to Become an Expert at Recycling.”

What You Can Do to Reduce Your Use

There is a generational impact as a result of exposure to chemicals found in plastics, such as phthalates. It is wise to take proactive steps to reduce your exposure. For a list of choices to consider, see my previous article, “Phthalate Exposure Threatens Human Survival.”

If you would like to take the next step after recycling, reduce your plastic use for an even greater impact. As Harrison recommended, it’s important to start slowly and build gradually so the changes become habit and stick. Consider beginning with the following:

Use reusable shopping bags for groceries

Take your own leftovers container to restaurants

Bring your own mug for coffee, and bring drinking water from home in glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water

Request no plastic wrap on your newspaper and dry cleaning

Store foods in glass containers or mason jars rather than plastic containers and plastic freezer bags

Avoid disposable utensils and straws and buy foods in bulk when you can

Opt for nondisposable razors, washable feminine hygiene products for women, cloth diapers, handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues, rags in lieu of paper towels and infant toys made of wood rather than plastic

Avoid processed foods (which are stored in plastic bags with chemicals). Buy fresh produce instead, and forgo the plastic bags

Consider switching to bamboo toothbrushes and brushing your teeth with coconut oil and baking soda to avoid plastic toothpaste tubes

Is the Flu Vaccine Really ‘Working Well’ This Year?

According to interim estimates1 released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on February 15, 2019 — which uses data from 3,254 adults and children enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network between November 23, 2018, and February 2, 2019 — the overall adjusted effectiveness of the 2018-19 flu vaccine against all influenza virus infection associated with acute respiratory illness (ARI) needing medical attention was 47 percent.

While the media has played this up as “good news,”2 and the CDC calls the results “encouraging,”3 the fact of the matter is the vaccine failed to offer any protection more than half of the time, and for adults over 50, it’s more or less useless.

This Year’s Flu Vaccine Is an Abysmal Failure for Those Over 50

Among children aged 6 months to 17 years, the 2018–19 seasonal flu vaccine had an average effectiveness of 61 percent.4 However, among adults over 50, which is the most vulnerable group, the vaccine had a mere 24 percent effectiveness against all influenza types, and an abysmal 8 percent against influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection, which was by far the most common type.

According to the CDC, the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus was responsible for 74 percent of all influenza A infections for which subtype information was available. What’s more, the CDC notes that,5 “Among the 3,254 children and adults with ARI … a total of 465 (14 percent) tested positive for influenza virus by real time RT-PCR …”

In other words, of all the people who came down with acute respiratory illness, only 14 percent actually had confirmed influenza. In the vast majority of cases — 86 percent — their respiratory illness was associated with a viral or bacterial infection caused by something other than a type A or B influenza virus.

This is important to remember, as people have a tendency to jump to the conclusion that when they have influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms they have influenza when, in fact, chances are the majority of the time they don’t.

The influenza vaccine contains only three or four type A or B vaccine strain influenza viruses. Even if those vaccine strain viruses are a perfect match for influenza viruses that are circulating in a given flu season, the vaccine does not prevent the majority of other respiratory infections that are experienced by people. As noted by the Cochrane Collaboration:6

“Over 200 viruses cause ILI (influenza-like illness), which produces the same symptoms (fever, headache, aches, pains, cough and runny nose) as influenza. Without laboratory tests, doctors cannot distinguish between ILI and influenza because both last for days and rarely cause serious illness or death.”

The 2017/2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s adjusted overall effectiveness for the U.S. was just 36 percent against influenza A and influenza B virus infection,7,8 and between 2005 and 2015, the flu vaccine’s adjusted overall effectiveness was less than 50 percent more than half the time — with a low of only 10 percent in the 2004-05 season.9,10

It’s difficult to find another example of where a commercial product can fail to work more than half the time and still be recommended and even mandated for children and adults.

Obesity Is a Major Cause of Influenza Outbreaks and Vulnerability

In related news, research suggests widespread obesity may be a significant contributor to influenza outbreaks and general vulnerability, as obesity makes you shed and transmit virus for a longer period of time, thereby increasing the opportunity for spreading infections to others. According to this study,11 published in the September, 2018 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases:

“[O]besity increases the risk of severe complications and death from influenza virus infection, especially in elderly individuals … Symptomatic obese adults were shown to shed influenza A virus 42 percent longer than nonobese adults … no association was observed with influenza B virus shedding duration. Even among paucisymptomatic and asymptomatic adults, obesity increased the influenza A shedding duration by 104 percent.”

Aubree Gordon, Ph.D., senior author from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told reporters,12 “This is the first real evidence that obesity might impact more than just disease severity. It might directly impact transmission as well.”

Additional research is underway to analyze whether influenza virus shed over longer periods is still equally infectious. The answer here, of course, would be to normalize your weight and strengthen your immune function. You can find more information about these strategies in the hyperlinked articles.

Flu Vaccine Still Allows Transmission of Disease

Obesity isn’t the only thing that might contribute to influenza outbreaks. A study13 published in the journal PNAS January 18, 2018, found infectious influenza viruses in the exhaled breath of people who had gotten seasonal flu shots and contracted influenza. Those vaccinated two seasons in a row had an even greater viral load of shedding influenza A viruses. According to the authors:

“Self-reported vaccination for the current season was associated with a trend toward higher viral shedding in fine-aerosol samples; vaccination with both the current and previous year’s seasonal vaccines, however, was significantly associated with greater fine-aerosol shedding in unadjusted and adjusted models.

In adjusted models, we observed 6.3 times more aerosol shedding among cases with vaccination in the current and previous season compared with having no vaccination in those two seasons … The association of vaccination and shedding was significant for influenza A but not for influenza B infections …

Finding infectious virus in 39 percent of fine-aerosol samples collected during 30 minutes of normal tidal breathing in a large community-based study of confirmed influenza infection clearly establishes that a significant fraction of influenza cases routinely shed infectious virus … into aerosol particles small enough to remain suspended in air and present a risk for airborne transmission …

The association of current and prior year vaccination with increased shedding of influenza A might lead one to speculate that certain types of prior immunity promote lung inflammation, airway closure and aerosol generation …

If confirmed, this observation, together with recent literature suggesting reduced protection with annual vaccination, would have implications for influenza vaccination recommendations and policies.”

Mounting Body of Research Questions Validity of Annual Flu Vaccination as a Public Health Measure

On the whole, there’s really very little evidence to suggest annual flu vaccinations are a good way to combat influenza and save lives. On the contrary, the medical literature is burgeoning with studies questioning the validity of this public health measure. For example, studies have shown that:

With each successive annual flu vaccination, the theoretical protection from the vaccine can diminish14 A 2012 Chinese study15 found a child’s chances of contracting a respiratory infection after getting the seasonal flu shot rose more than fourfold, and research published in 2014 concluded that resistance to influenza-related illness in persons over age 9 years in the U.S. was greatest among those who had NOT received a flu shot in the previous five years.16

More recent research suggests the reason seasonal flu shots become less protective with each dose has to do with “original antigenic sin.” Here, they found that influenza vaccine failed to elicit a strong immune response in most participants,17 which was explained as follows:18

“What’s at play seems to be a phenomenon known as ‘original antigenic sin.’ Flu vaccines are designed to get the immune system to produce antibodies that recognize the specific strains of the virus someone may encounter in a given year.

These antibodies target unique sites on the virus, and latch onto them to disable it. Once the immune system already has antibodies to target a given site on the virus, it preferentially reactivates the same immune cells the next time it encounters the virus. This is efficient for the immune system, but the problem is that the virus changes ever so slightly from year to year.

The site the antibodies recognize could still be there, but it may no longer be the crucial one to neutralize the virus. Antibodies produced from our first encounters with the flu, either from vaccines or infection, tend to take precedence over ones generated by later inoculations. So even when the vaccine is a good match for a given year, if someone has a history with the flu, the immune response to a new vaccine could be less protective.”

71 people have to be vaccinated for a single case of influenza to be avoided, and vaccination has “little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations or number of working days lost” — In its 2014 meta-analysis19 of the available research on inactivated influenza vaccines, the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed evidence related to influenza and influenza-like illness (ILI) that people experience during flu seasons, concluding that:

“Injected influenza vaccines probably have a small protective effect against influenza … as 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one influenza case … Vaccination may have little or no appreciable effect on hospitalizations … or number of working days lost.”

The flu vaccine can increase your risk of contracting other, more serious influenza infections — Canadian researchers found that people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine in 2008, on average, had twice the risk of getting sick with the pandemic H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009 compared to those who did not receive a flu shot the previous year.20

These findings were replicated in a 2014 ferret study.21 Similarly, a 2009 U.S. study compared health outcomes for children between age 6 months and 18 years who did and did not get annual flu shots and found that children who received influenza vaccinations had a three times’ higher risk of influenza-related hospitalization, with asthmatic children at greatest risk.22

The concept of heterologous immunity may account for these findings. Heterologous immunity refers to the concept that your immune system is directional, and that once you’ve encountered a pathogen, your body is better equipped to fight pathogens that are similar. However, in the case of influenza vaccines, this directionality appears to work against you.

By learning to fend off certain influenza virus strains contained in the vaccine, your immune system becomes less able to fend off other influenza strains and disease-causing pathogens. As noted in a 2014 paper on heterologous immunity:23

“Immunity to previously encountered viruses can alter responses to unrelated pathogens … Heterologous immunity … may be beneficial by boosting protective responses. However, heterologous reactivity can also result in severe immunopathology. The key features that define heterologous immune modulation include alterations in the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartments and changes in viral dynamics and disease progression.”

In other words, while influenza vaccine may offer some level of protection against the three or four viral influenza strains included in the vaccine, depending on whether the vaccine used is trivalent or quadrivalent, it may simultaneously diminish your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and types of viral or bacterial infections.

Heterologous immunity is also addressed in a 2013 paper,24 which notes that “vaccines modulate general resistance,” and “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens.” Researchers stated that:

“[O]ur current perception of the immune system is … simplistic. It was, to a large extent, shaped in the 1950s with the formulation of the clonal selection hypothesis.

This line of thinking has emphasized the adaptive immune system and the speci?c antigen recognition and speci?c memory, which have been crucial in vaccine development, perhaps at the expense of examining cross-reactive features of the immune system as well as the memory capacity of the innate immune system.

Although tens of thousands of studies assessing disease-speci?c, antibody-inducing effects of vaccines have been conducted, most people have not examined whether vaccines have nonspeci?c effects because current perception excludes such effects.”

Flu vaccine doesn’t work well in statin users — Statin drugs may interfere with your immune system’s ability to respond to the influenza vaccine.25,26 After vaccination, antibody concentrations were 38 percent to 67 percent lower in statin users over the age of 65, compared to nonstatin users of the same age.27 Antibody concentrations were also reduced in younger people who took statins.

Flu vaccine does not prevent most types of influenza — Independent scientific reviews have also concluded that flu shots have only a “modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost,” and have no effect on complications of influenza.28,29

Moreover, the influenza vaccine fails to prevent influenza-like illness associated with other types of viruses responsible for about 80 percent of all respiratory or gastrointestinal infections during any given flu season.30,31,32,33,34

Vaccination does not lower mortality in the elderly — Research35 published in 2006 analyzed influenza-related mortality among the elderly population in Italy associated with increased vaccination coverage between 1970 and 2001. Researchers found that after the 1980s, there was no corresponding decline in excess deaths, despite rising vaccine uptake.

According to the authors, “our study challenges current strategies to best protect the elderly against mortality, warranting the need for better controlled trials with alternative vaccination strategies.”

Another 2006 study36 showed that, even though seniors vaccinated against influenza had a reduced risk of dying during flu season compared to unvaccinated seniors, those who were vaccinated were also even more unlikely to die before the flu season ever started.

This finding has since been attributed to a “healthy user effect,” which suggests that older people who get vaccinated against influenza are already healthier and, therefore, less likely to die anyway, whereas those who do not get the shot have suffered a decline in health in recent months.

“New and improved” flu shot also fails to protect seniors — The Flucelvax vaccine introduced during the 2017-2018 flu season is grown in dog kidney cells rather than chicken eggs. Touted as a new-and-improved flu shot that would protect more people, Food and Drug Administration research found no significant difference between it and the conventional flu shot in protecting seniors.

While flu vaccines overall had a 24 percent effectiveness in preventing flu-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 and older, the Flucelvax vaccine had an effectiveness rate of only 26.5 percent in that population.37

Flu vaccine does not lessen influenza severity — While health officials claim getting a flu shot will lessen your symptoms should you contract influenza, a 2017 study38 by French researchers assessing the veracity of that claim found it to be false. Looking at data from vaccinated and unvaccinated elderly patients diagnosed with influenza, all they found was a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated. According to the authors:

“Compared to nonvaccinated influenza patients, those who had been vaccinated had a slightly reduced maximum temperature and presented less frequently with myalgia, shivering and headache. In stratified analyses, the observed effect was limited to patients infected with A(H3) or type B viruses.

After adjusting by age group, virus (sub)type and season, the difference remained statistically significant only for headache, which was less frequent among vaccinated individuals.”

Flu vaccine is associated with serious disability — Permanent disability such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a risk you need to take into account each time you get a flu shot. As early as 2003, the CDC recognized the flu vaccine causes an excess of 1.7 cases of GBS per 1 million people vaccinated.39

Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows GBS is the top injury for which people are receiving financial compensation through the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), and the flu vaccine is now the most common vaccine cited by adults seeking a vaccine injury compensation award.40

Shoulder damage is another risk, caused by improper injection technique.41,42,43 Shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) includes chronic pain, limited range of motion, nerve damage, frozen shoulder and rotator cuff tears, and is typically the result of the injection being administered too high on the arm. This risk is particularly high when people get vaccinated outside of a doctor’s office or other clinical setting.

Many people getting flu shots in a public setting like a grocery store or pharmacy simply roll up their sleeves or pull down the top of their shirt, exposing only the upper part of their deltoid, thereby increasing the risk of getting the injection in the joint space rather than the muscle.

GBS and SIRVA were both added to the Vaccine Injury Table of the VICP in 2017.44,45 By adding those vaccine complications to the table, vaccine-related GBS and SIRVA cases brought before the “Vaccine Court” in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., will be more likely to receive federal vaccine injury compensation.

In this lecture, immunologist Tetyana Obukhanych, Ph.D., author of “Vaccine Illusion: How Vaccination Compromises Our Natural Immunity and What We Can Do to Regain Our Health,” explains how vaccines damage your immune function, which can result in any number of adverse health effects.


Why Pregnant Women Should Avoid the Flu Vaccine


In recent years, pregnant women have been told to get a pertussis-containing Tdap vaccination and an influenza vaccination during each pregnancy.46 According to federal guidelines, the flu shot can be given during any trimester.47 This is irresponsible public health policy, as there’s a shocking lack of scientific studies to confirm the safety of that policy for mother and child.48

For starters, drug companies did not test the safety and effectiveness of giving influenza vaccine to pregnant women before the vaccines were licensed in the U.S.,49,50 and data on inflammatory and other biological responses to vaccination during pregnancy that could affect pregnancy and birth outcomes is still lacking.51

As far as the scientific evidence is concerned, it’s still unknown whether the influenza vaccine can cause fetal harm or affect your reproductive capacity,52 which is why the vaccine manufacturer product inserts state that the influenza vaccine should only be given to a pregnant woman if it’s “clearly needed.”

Pregnant women are essentially expected to stick to recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and medical trade associations out of sheer faith, since vaccine recommendations are not based on weighty scientific evidence. In fact, health statistics suggest there’s something very wrong going on in the U.S., seeing how we have one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world.

As of last year, global rates for maternal mortality had fallen by half — except in the U.S., where the number of women who die from pregnancy-related complications has significantly increased.53 Infant mortality rates are also far higher in the U.S. than in any of the other 27 wealthy countries surveilled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).54

Could this be related to the fact that American babies and pregnant women receive the greatest number of vaccines? While there’s no research clearly proving this, there’s also no evidence to refute the hypothesis that excessive vaccinations may be part of the problem.

While limited, there is at least some evidence that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy may put that pregnancy at risk. Initial suspicions were raised in 2009, when reports of miscarriage following administration of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine started emerging.55

Dozens of women claimed they lost their babies just hours or days after getting the vaccine, which had not been tested on pregnant women or, if it was, the evidence was never published. Not surprisingly, these instances were passed off as coincidental. After all, miscarriages do happen, and for any number of different reasons.

Then, a CDC-funded study56 published in September 2017, found that women who had received the 2009 pandemic swine flu (pH1N1) vaccine containing influenza shot two years in a row were indeed more likely to suffer miscarriage within the following 28 days.

While most of the miscarriages occurred during the first trimester, several also took place in the second trimester. The median fetal term at the time of miscarriage was seven weeks. In all, 485 pregnant women aged 18 to 44, who had a miscarriage during the flu seasons of 2010/2011 and 2011/2012, were compared to 485 pregnant women who carried their babies to term.

Of the 485 women who miscarried, 17 had been vaccinated twice in a row — once in the 28 days prior to vaccination and once in the previous year. For comparison, of the 485 women who had normal pregnancies, only four had been vaccinated two years in a row. Commenting on the study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Amanda Cohn, CDC adviser for vaccines stated:57

“I think it’s really important for women to understand that this is a possible link, and it is a possible link that needs to be studied and needs to be looked at over more [flu] seasons. We need to understand if it’s the flu vaccine, or is this a group of women [who received flu vaccines] who were also more likely to have miscarriages.”

Despite those findings, the CDC has not made any changes to its recommendation for pregnant women.

Vitamin D Substantially Outperforms Flu Vaccine

Is the flu vaccine really the most effective way to protect yourself against influenza, despite being less than 50 percent effective overall? Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the excellent track record of vitamin D for preventing respiratory infections.

For example, a 2017 scientific review58 of 25 randomized controlled trials found that vitamin D supplementation cut rates of acute respiratory infections among all participants. Overall, the number needed to treat (NNT) was 33, meaning that for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement, one person was spared from acute respiratory infection. (And, remember, the NNT for the flu vaccine preventing a single case of influenza is 71.59)

Among those with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, the NNT was 4. Those with blood levels below 10 ng/mL, which is a serious deficiency state, cut their risk of infection by half, while people with higher vitamin D levels reduced their risk by about 10 percent.

According to this international research team, vitamin D supplementation could prevent more than 3.25 million cases of cold and flu each year in the U.K. alone.60 In my view, optimizing your vitamin D levels is one of the absolute best strategies available to prevent respiratory illness of all kinds.

Dinesh D’Souza 3-5-19 VIDEO… “Dinesh D’Souza at Stanford, 2-28-19”

Found it “hard to believe” I was “pulled in” to this presentation (and Q&A) by Dinesh D’Souza at Standford. But I was, and found many of his points illuminating. The most impressive point (for myself) was when he discussed where the German National Socialists got their precedent for laws that created state-sponsored racism. This was at 33 minutes (for about 5 minutes). Some may find this educational.
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https://youtu.be/T8rkxLBCn80

Published on Mar 5, 2019
At Stanford, Dinesh D’Souza makes the moral argument for a border wall by revealing the ways the Left twists the truth to spread #FakeNews.

D’Souza calls out progressives over “social justice,” anti-capitalism, and other radical positions, and then goes head-to-head with Stanford’s best leftists!

Exclusive: OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Exploring Bankruptcy

By Mike Spector, Jessica DiNapoli and Nate Raymond | 4 March 2019

REUTERS — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP is exploring filing for bankruptcy to address potentially significant liabilities from roughly 2,000 lawsuits alleging the drugmaker contributed to the deadly opioid crisis sweeping the United States, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The potential move shows how Purdue and its wealthy owners, the Sackler family, are under pressure to respond to mounting litigation accusing the company of misleading doctors and patients about risks associated with prolonged use of its prescription opioids.

Purdue denies the allegations, arguing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved labels for its opioids carried warnings about the risk of abuse and misuse associated with the pain treatments.

Filing for Chapter 11 protection would halt the lawsuits and allow Purdue to negotiate legal claims with plaintiffs under the supervision of a U.S. bankruptcy judge, the sources said. […]


Read “The Jewish Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis”

As Gov’t Pushes Mandatory Vaccination, Contaminated Vaccines Found in 3 States Causing Infections

As the media pumped fear and propaganda over the non-epidemic of measles, vaccines in three states were found to be contaminated and causing infections.

By Matt Agorist, Guest writer

Last month, measles hysteria came to a head as every single mainstream media outlet across the country ran with stories pumping fear over some non-existent epidemic.

Headlines like “For God’s Sake! Vaccinate Your Children!” and “Measles is on the rise. But telling anti-vaxxers they’re stupid won’t fix it” have run constantly since last month as the media and the government wage a war on those who advocate for vaccine safety and informed consent. There was one headline, however, that was the opposite of these and went entirely under the radar.

Read Entire Article »

Shamanic 40 Day “Fast”

By Fu-Ding,

The time has come for the annual opportunity to purify and fortify body, mind and spirit. In respect to tradition, it begins tomorrow (Ash Wednesday) and ends on Easter. In respect to your innate wisdom, it is left for you to decide specifics. However, attached, you will find complete guidelines. Good luck!

Shamanic 40 Day “Fast”
From Wednesday, Mar. 6 to Easter Sunday, April 21, 1019

This “fast” is actually a cleansing diet of your own design. It is called “Going Into the Desert” (inspired by Christ going into the desert to confront His challenges). By breaking routine habits, we gain new eyes to flush out the old to make room for the new.

This is only a guideline, so you are welcome to revise it befitting your own needs. But whatever you decide, stick to it. Practice self-discipline and unbending intent to fulfill your own program. This is one of the main purposes of the fast––to not only invigorate your own body, but strengthen your power of intent.

The “Fast” works on several levels:

Food Fast:

Design a program that supports and nurtures your body. Perhaps you vow to eliminate or set limits to your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, etc. Or you promise to drink x glasses of water. You design the program according to your needs and your level of self- discipline. For example, “I will have only one glass of red wine per day,” or “no processed sugar or cigarettes…” See this as not so much as “giving up” something, but rather “honoring your body,” the biological miracle that you live in.

Treat your body with love. Prepare and eat your meals with full awareness of the tastes, textures and quality of the food. Knowing our tumultuous times, do not take your food for granted, but enjoy it with full gratitude.

Emotional Fast:

Eat only love and joy. Even though anger, mistrust, disappointment, and fear is all around us, let it all pass through you, and eat only love and joy.

If you get caught by negativity, do not beat yourself up and condemn yourself, but don’t give up your program either. Keep going, and practice unbending intent.

Cultural Fast:

Eat only uplifting, relaxing, and/or inspiring media. See quality films and books that have cultural and/or spiritual benefit. Read literature you have always wanted to read. You decide what that means to you. If, for instance, the news increases understanding and compassion, watch it. If it makes you feel cynical, helpless or fearful, don’t watch it. Just like you wouldn’t eat junk food, don’t eat junk media. A warrior is a master of his own attention.

Other Suggested Practices:

• Practice one day of silence per week. Choose a day that’s naturally quieter. If that is difficult, try communicating through written words. For example, at a restaurant, you might have a sign that says, “I’m observing a day of silence. May I write or point out my order?” You’ll be surprised how accommodating people can be. You’ll also be amazed at how much energy is saved by not talking, and how much you can say without words. If you still must talk on your day of silence, then speak, but be laconic. Mind your words; make them count.

• Practice “Puja” for the body. (A puja is the act of showing reverence to a god or spirit through invocations and rituals.) For example, when you take a shower, think of yourself as a god or goddess you are worshipping, and as you wash, massage and caress each part of your body, thanking it for all the service it has given you.

• Do one wonderful thing for yourself per week: treat yourself to a massage, sauna, yoga, walk in nature, a trip to a concert or museum, or something special that you’ve always wanted to do, but never have gotten around to. Love thyself.

Good luck, and have fun with the adventure!

Best, Fu-Ding

For more info, Please visit fudingcheng.com,
MapofDesirebook.com or contact at fuding@fudingcheng.com