Category Archives: Advocacy

Obesogen, what is that?

Scientists think there could be a connection between industrial chemical use and obesity. As the environment is contaminated with more and more industrial chemicals so have obesity rates increased. Perhaps there is a link: some chemicals might cause obesity. Such chemicals are called obesogens, and they are used to produce such mundane products as plastic bags or cosmetics. 

It is possible that obesogens could disturb our bodies’ endocrine system, and cause weight gain. They disrupt energy balance; they tell your body to store extra fat, or interfere with your appetite control system so you feel hungry when you shouldn’t.

Some common obesogens:

Fructose, consumed in large amounts fructose disturbs the appetite, leads to weight gain, fatty liver, and  insulin resistance.

Tributylin and atrazine, are found in tap water. Tributylin is an ingredient in paints, and atrazine is from pesticides used in industrial farming.

Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen used to make plastics hard.  Often it is used in the liners of canned foods.

Phthalates are used to make plastics soft, in plastic wraps, vinyl, and even air fresheners.

What can you do?

Cut down on your sugar intake. Stop drinking sugary sodas, and reduce your intake of industrially produced pre-packaged foods.

Avoid industrially produced foods as much as you can. Buy local and organic from your farmer’s market. Don’t buy pre-packaged plastic wrapped foods in the supermarket.

The Environmental Working Group has lots of information on chemicals in our environments at http://www.ewg.org

David Millett Publications

Save money for Medicare

Medicare is our national health insurance for people over the age of 65 (as well as for some people with disabilities).  Medicare spending was $502.3 billion in 2009. And every year spending increases, it is expected to increase to $903 billion in 2020. One of the ways to cut back the spending is to put more effort into wellness and prevention.

Over 1/3 of adults are obese in the USA. Obesity increases risk for many chronic diseases like diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. About 36% of adults over 65 are obese. And about 75% of people over 65 years have at least one chronic disease. One way to improve health for older adults, and to reduce spending is to help people to maintain a normal weight, a body mass index within the range of 18.5 to 25.  A a recent study found that expanding a community-based weight loss program for overweight and obese adults aged 60-64 could save Medicare $3.0–$3.7 billion over 10 years. The researchers suggest that giving both younger and older adults the opportunity to participate in the weight loss program has the potential to save even more money.

David Millett Publications

What is wine?

Wine is a delicious beverage, and some people claim that the occasional glass or two of red is good for your health. But what is in a glass of wine besides grapes? I can’t help but wonder, what do the manufacturers put into it before they sell us the finished product. The only additives list I could find on Google is here. It does not sound too appetizing. Is the winemaking industry to be trusted to provide safe ingredients, or are they similar to the tobacco industry, who happily fill their toxic tobacco brew with all sorts of nasty chemicals?

Tasty wine requires that grapes are picked at a certain level of ripeness. This means it is likely (unless organic grapes are used) that the grapes will have been covered with pesticides. Do any pesticides remain in the finished product? When the grapes are harvested,  what insects and other non-essential things get inadvertently included in the mix?

There is lots of competition among winemakers, and plenty of profit to be made for those who can sell their products to customers. The drive to make profit does not often consider the health consequences of products or additives used to make them sell. What chemicals are added to improve flavor, clarity, or aroma, or other qualities? I cannot find the answer, but I would like to know.

 

David Millett Publications

Tobacco, the most deadly product

We are in the middle of an industrially produced epidemic. The cause of the epidemic is the tobacco industry. According to the World Health Organization 5.4 million people die from tobacco use each year, and deaths may increase to more than 8 million by 2030. Tobacco kills half of its users, and as a result of marketing and availability worldwide more and more people are taking up the deadly habit. The epidemic has yet to reach its peak.

As a nurse I have witnessed much human suffering and premature death from tobacco use. In my clinical practice I felt powerless to stem the flood of disease and death. Yes, I could talk to people about quitting, and I could care for the sick and dying. But at the same time, the tobacco industry continued to promote its deadly products and produce more and more suffering and death.

I do not believe that tobacco use is merely a matter of adult personal choice. It is a fact that most smokers become addicted as teenagers. I know that tobacco is addictive. Even the tobacco industry knows that. Addison Yeaman, general counsel for the Brown and Williamson tobacco company, wrote in 1963: “…Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug…” It is not merely addictive, it is deadly. Tobacco causes harm to every organ in your body. It causes cancer, heart disease; lung disease… the list goes on and on.

When it dawned on me that we need to stop the tobacco industry from promoting such a terrible and deadly product I joined up with a group of nurse activists. We call ourselves the Nightingales Nurses as we are continuing in Florence Nightingales’ nursing tradition of advocacy on behalf of our patients. Each year since 2004 we have gone to Philip Morris and other tobacco company shareholder meetings to highlight the tobacco-caused suffering we have witnessed and ask how “socially responsible” it is to keep promoting cigarettes.

I remember my knees were shaking and my mouth was dry the first time that I stood at the microphone and spoke about the terrible suffering I had seen as a result of their product. But I also felt so relieved to be able to tell the horror to the CEO and the other top executives, and I felt proud of my colleagues who spoke out at the meeting. One nurse asked for a minute’s silence in respect of her father who died prematurely as a result of tobacco use. Another invited the CEO to visit her hospital where she cared for patients dying from lung cancer. Needless to say he did not take her up on the proposal. The tobacco companies claim that they are socially responsible. We asked them how it is possible to be socially responsible and still promote a product that kills half of its users. So far they do not have a satisfactory answer. See news of our latest protests at http://www.nightingalesnurses.org/InTheNews.aspx

The Nightingales want the industry to stop actively marketing and promoting tobacco products. Can you help us to combat the epidemic? Here are our suggestions:

· We ask that institutional retirement plans divest from tobacco stock ownership. No-one should have to rely on tobacco company profits for a secure retirement. Ask your institution or pension plan to break its tobacco habit through divestment.

· Ask your insurance company if they provide full coverage for tobacco cessation treatment programs as a part of every health insurance plan.

· Do not accept tobacco industry funding for any social programs or health research. Acceptance of such funding legitimizes the industry and helps perpetuate the industry-promoted myth that we still don’t really understand the links between smoking and disease.

· Support R Rating for tobacco use in movies. Most smokers start using cigarettes as teens, and studies show that kids who view smoking in movies are more likely to take up smoking. For more information go to http://www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/

· Restoration of full funding levels for comprehensive state tobacco control programs, which have been shown to be effective in reducing tobacco use and changing norms about tobacco. Contact your local smokefree coalition, American Lung Association chapter, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association or other groups working for tobacco control and ask how you can help.

The Nightingales are an international all volunteer group. For more information, or to donate to our cause, please visit our website at www.nightingalesnurses.org

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @RN2Q1Campaign

49 countries have longer life expectancy than US

We are ranked 50th in the world when it comes to life expectancy. Yet, we spend more money per person on health than any other country. If we are spending so much, why are we at number 50 for life expectancy?

Some of the main causes of premature death are cardiovascular disease, that is stroke and heart disease, and cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths”

When it comes to premature death, the biggest factor is tobacco. One in every five deaths in the USA is due to tobacco. And half of all those who use tobacco will die prematurely. Despite much progress in reducing the use of tobacco, we still have a powerful tobacco industry profiting from its deadly products. Tobacco affects every organ in the body and causes both lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Other preventable contributors are obesity, diet, and physical inactivity. We are getting heavier and becoming more sedentary.

Without a universal healthcare system, the USA might not be as good at prevention and early detection of disease as other nations. However, when we get to 65 years old, we are all provided with healthcare, under Medicare, and that is good for our health. Still, our society is socially and economically divided, and socio-economic status affects health and  life expectancy.

So what can we do about it?

These are the recommendations from WHO:

  1. Promote healthy living (better diet, more physical activity and tobacco cessation) and healthy societies, especially for the poor and those living in disadvantaged populations.
  2. Prevent premature deaths and avoid unnecessary disability due to chronic diseases.
  3. Treat chronic diseases effectively, using latest available knowledge. Make treatment available to all, especially those in the poorest settings.
  4. Help provide appropriate care by facilitating equitable and good quality health care for major chronic diseases.

    David Millett Publications