Thursday, April 10, 2014

19 Common Side Effects if Chemotherapy

Cancer cells divide more quickly than healthy cells, and chemotherapy drugs effectively target those cells. Unfortunately, fast-growing cells that are healthy can be damaged too. There are many different chemotherapy drugs with the potential for many different side effects. These effects vary from person to person and from treatment to treatment.

Chemotherapy drugs are powerful enough to kill rapidly growing cancer cells, but they also can harm perfectly healthy cells, causing side effects throughout the body.

The Side Effects of Chemotherapy on the Body

Cancer cells divide more quickly than healthy cells, and chemotherapy drugs effectively target those cells. Unfortunately, fast-growing cells that are healthy can be damaged too. There are many different chemotherapy drugs with the potential for many different side effects. These effects vary from person to person and from treatment to treatment.

Factors that play a role in side effects include other ongoing treatments, previous health issues, age, and lifestyle. Some patients experience few side effects while others feel quite ill. Although most side effects clear up shortly after treatment ends, some may continue well after chemotherapy has ended, and some may never go away.

Chemotherapy drugs are most likely to affect cells in the digestive tract, hair follicles, bone marrow, mouth, and reproductive system. However, cells in any part of the body may be damaged.

Circulatory and Immune Systems

Routine blood count monitoring is a crucial part of chemotherapy. That’s because the drugs can harm cells in the bone marrow, where blood is produced. This can result in several problems. Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues. Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells, making you feel extremely fatigued. Other symptoms of anemia include:

*lightheadedness
*pale skin
*difficulty thinking
*feeling cold
*general weakness

Chemo can lower your white blood cell count, which results in neutropenia. White blood cells play an important role in the immune system: they help fight infection and ward off illness. Symptoms aren’t always obvious, but a low white blood cell count raises the risk of infection and illness. People with an immune system weakened by chemotherapy must take precautions to avoid exposure to viruses, bacteria, and other germs.

Cells called platelets help the blood clot. A low platelet count, called thrombocytopenia, means you’re likely to bruise and bleed easily. Symptoms include nosebleeds, blood in vomit or stools, and heavier-than-normal menstruation.

Some chemo drugs can weaken the heart muscle, resulting in cardiomyopathy, or disturb the heart rhythm, causing arrhythmia. This can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively. Some chemo drugs can increase the risk of heart attack. These problems are less likely to occur if your heart is strong and healthy at the start of chemotherapy.

Nervous and Muscular Systems

The central nervous system controls emotions, thought patterns, and coordination. Chemotherapy drugs may cause problems with memory, or make it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. This symptom sometimes is called “chemo fog,” or “chemo brain.” This mild cognitive impairment may go away following treatment, or may linger for years. Severe cases can add to anxiety and stress.

Some chemo drugs can cause pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy). Muscles may feel tired, achy, or shaky. Reflexes and small motor skills may be slowed. It’s not unusual to experience problems with balance and coordination.

Digestive System

Some of the most common side effects of chemotherapy involve the digestive tract. Mouth sores and dry mouth can make it difficult to chew and swallow. Sores also may form on the tongue, lips, gums, or in the throat. Mouth sores can make you more susceptible to bleeding and infection. Many patients complain of a metallic taste in the mouth, or a yellow or white coating on the tongue. Food may taste unusual or unpleasant.

These powerful drugs can harm cells along the gastrointestinal tract. Nausea is a common symptom, and may result in bouts of vomiting. However, anti-nausea medications given in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs can help alleviate this symptom.

Other digestive issues include loose stools or diarrhea. In some people, hard stools and constipation can be a problem. This may be accompanied by pressure, bloating, and gas. Take care to avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Side effects involving the digestive system can contribute to loss of appetite and feeling full even though you haven’t eaten much. Weight loss and general weakness are common. Despite all this, it’s important to continue eating healthy foods.

Hair, Skin, and Nails (Integumentary System)

Many chemotherapy drugs affect the hair follicles and can cause hair loss (alopecia) within a few weeks of the first treatment. Hair loss can occur on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and body. As troubling as it can be, hair loss is temporary. New hair growth usually begins several weeks after the final treatment.
Some patients experience minor skin irritations like dryness, itchiness, and rash. You may develop sensitivity to the sun, making it easier to burn. Your doctor can recommend topical ointments to soothe irritated skin.

Fingernails and toenails may turn brown or yellow, and become ridged or brittle. Nail growth may slow down, and nails may crack or break easily. In severe cases, they can actually separate from the nail bed. It’s important to take good care of your nails to avoid infection.

Sexual and Reproductive System

Chemotherapy drugs can have an effect on your hormones. In women, hormonal changes can bring on hot flashes, irregular periods, or sudden onset of menopause. They may become temporarily or permanently infertile. Women on chemotherapy may experience dryness of vaginal tissues that can make intercourse uncomfortable or painful. The chance of developing vaginal infections is increased.

Chemotherapy drugs given during pregnancy can cause birth defects. In men, some chemo drugs can harm sperm or lower sperm count, and temporary or permanent infertility is possible.

Symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, and hormonal fluctuations may interfere with sex drive in both men and women. So can worrying about loss of hair and other changes in appearance. However, many people on chemotherapy continue to enjoy
an intimate relationship and an active sex life.

Kidneys and Bladder (Excretory System)

The kidneys work to excrete the powerful chemotherapy drugs as they move through your body. In the process, some kidney and bladder cells can become irritated or damaged. Symptoms of kidney damage include decreased urination, swelling of the hands and feet (edema), and headache. Symptoms of bladder irritation include a feeling of burning when urinating and increased urinary frequency.

You’ll be advised to drink plenty of fluids to flush the medication from your system and to keep your system functioning properly. Note: Some medications cause urine to turn red or orange for a few days. This isn’t cause for concern.

Skeletal System

Most people—and especially women—lose some bone mass as they age. Some chemotherapy drugs can cause calcium levels to drop and contribute to bone loss. This can lead to cancer-related osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women and those whose menopause was brought on suddenly due to chemotherapy.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women who have been treated for breast cancer are at increased risk for osteoporosis and bone fracture. This is due to the combination of the drugs and the drop in estrogen levels.

Osteoporosis increases the risk of bone fractures and breaks. The most common areas of the body to suffer breaks are the spine and pelvis, hips, and wrists.

Psychological and Emotional Toll

Living with cancer and dealing with chemotherapy can exact an emotional toll. You may feel fearful, stressed, or anxious about your appearance and your health. Some people may suffer from depression. Juggling work, financial, and family responsibilities while undergoing cancer treatment can become overwhelming.
Many cancer patents turn to complementary therapies like massage and meditation for relaxation and relief. If you have trouble coping, mention it to your doctor. They may be able to suggest a local cancer support group where you can speak with others who are undergoing cancer treatment. If feelings of depression persist, professional counseling may be necessary.

Original Article, Sources and Graphics HERE

Ten Scientific Studies Prove that GMO Foods Can Be Harmful To Human Health

Over the past few years, a number of countries have completely banned GMOs and the pesticides that go along with them, and they are doing so for a reason. The latest country to consider a complete ban is Russia after top government scientists recommended at least a 10-year ban.

The truth is, we don’t know enough about GMOs to deem them safe for human consumption. Believe it or not the very first commercial sale of them was only twenty years ago. There is no possible way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations on a large enough population, over a long enough period of time to be able to say with absolute certainty that they are harmless.

There are a multitude of credible scientific studies that clearly demonstrate why GMOs should not be consumed, and more are emerging every year.

“GM Crop Production is Lowering US Yields and Increasing Pesticide Use…There is no reason GM foods should be approved safe for consumption, we just don’t know enough about them. We could easily feed the planet through organic, GMO-free methods, so there is absolutely no reason we need GM foods around… the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable…Because humans that’ve been exposed to glyphosate have a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, they do not have the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.“
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monsanto: The Enemy Of Family Farmers

After years of work by scientific public interest organizations such as Center for Food Safety and governmental bodies such as the United Nations, consumers around the world are becoming aware of the dangers of industrial, chemical-based agriculture. The most legitimate science and research bodies recommend turning toward organic and sustainable agriculture, shunning genetically engineered (GE or GMO) products and the chemicals they are designed to promote. Yet despite the U.N.'s assessment that sustainable agriculture is the way to feed the world's growing population, U.S. government agencies continue to support the biotechnology industry and its pesticide-promoting crops as the path forward. But the message is failing -- even with the backing of the U.S. government and a barrage of advertising from companies like Monsanto.

With the growth and power of the food movement, corporate giants are beginning to take action. According to news reports last year, Monsanto "[shook] up its senior public relations staff, upped its relationship with one of the nation's largest public relations firms and helped launch a [new] website..." After decades of employing a "block-us-and-we'll-sue-you" approach, Monsanto recently began an intense makeover PR campaign: popularity by association.

Monsanto is cozying up to the reputation, authenticity and wholesomeness of family farmers -- and hoping the all-American nostalgia many associate with the small scale farmer rubs off on them.

During the Super Bowl, key media markets saw Monsanto's "It Begins with a Farmer" commercials, which were intended to demonstrate that the company shares the same values as family farmers and the consumers they feed and clothe.

Consider the cold, hard facts:

*Monsanto's seeds squeeze out family farms.

In reality, Monsanto is no friend to the family farmer or the communities they live in and support. In fact, Monsanto (and other chemical companies like Dow Chemical, Syngenta, BASF, Pioneer/Dupont, and Bayer) have forced small farmers into a dying breed. The cost of industrial agriculture forces farmers to get big or get out. This is particularly true of GE herbicide-resistant seeds, which USDA economists tell us have contributed to increased consolidation of farmland in fewer hands.

For those farmers who survive, profit margins are smaller due to the high cost of inputs. Genetically engineered (GE or GMO) seeds have dramatically driven up per-acre seed prices ever since they were introduced in 1996 (see chart below).

Add to this the rising costs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (including herbicides) in this "one size fits all" agricultural model where chemical companies make out like bandits on the sale of seeds and chemical inputs. In the end, family farmers get squeezed out by the mammoth farms enabled by biotechnology.

*Monsanto prohibits seed saving.

Monsanto imposes contracts and wields patents that forbid farmers from saving seeds year-to-year, a practice that has been part of agriculture for centuries. They demand farmers buy new, expensive seeds each year. And if a farmer stops using Monsanto's patented seeds, they are at risk of breaching their contract. Sprouts from patented seeds planted in a previous growing season can "volunteer," or grow spontaneously the following year, even in a new crop variety. If discovered, the farmer could face penalties for patent infringement. Monsanto fosters strife in rural communities by running a "hotline" that encourages farmer to call the company and inform on their neighbors, and has even hired retired farmers to entrap farmers into buying seed illegally, activities one judge referred to as Monsanto's "scorched earth policies."

*Monsanto sues farmers.

Monsanto has undertaken an unprecedented litigation campaign against American farmers to end the practice of seed-saving and so maximize its profits. They devote $10 million of its annual budget to investigate approximately 500 farmers each year who are suspected of patent infringement. As of November 2012, 410 farmers and 56 small businesses and farming operations have been involved in court cases involving alleged patent infringement, and have paid the company nearly $24 million in damages, a sum that does not include additional litigation costs like attorney or witness fees. While Monsanto has taken action against thousands of farmers, only the vast majority reach pre-trial settlements to avoid facing the multinational giant in court. When these pretrial settlements are included, farmers have paid Monsanto an estimated $85 to 160 million. Monsanto would like to dismiss the significance of these suits and direct attention to their new website full of smiling, meticulously selected farmers. This is simply a distraction from the hundreds, if not thousands, of farmers who have lost their livelihoods to the corporate machine.

*Monsanto poisons farmers and their communities.

Monsanto touts the safety of their products and claims to support worker safety, despite established links between pesticide exposure and declining health. Farmers in the U.S. who consider their health damaged by Monsanto's products have had a hard time finding legal recourse. Farmers overseas have had better luck. In 2012, a French court ruled that Monsanto's Lasso weed killer was responsible for poisoning a French farmer, who suffered from memory loss, stammering, and headaches. Because Monsanto had not properly labeled the pesticide, the farmer did not know how toxic the chemical truly was. For years, Argentinian farmers have experienced increased cases of cancer and birth defects, ever since Monsanto products were introduced to their fields. This year, the community successfully filed a suit to block Monsanto's construction of a transgenic seed plant, fearing their health would continue to worsen.

Don't be fooled by Monsanto's PR spin machine.

Monsanto does not share our values and they aren't interested in changing their ways. To learn more about issues related to genetic engineering (or GMOs), visit www.CenterForFoodSafety.org.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Koch Industries and Monsanto Team up to End Your Right to Know


Apparently it wasn’t an April fool’s joke. Three months after news outlets revealed the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s (GMA) plan to pursue federal legislation to block states from enacting “right to know” laws, they finally have a sponsor: Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS).

According to news reports, Congressman Pompeo plans to introduce legislation to prevent states from enacting laws requiring the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. The bill would instead codify a failed 13-year old voluntary labeling standard for GE foods.

“GMA’s selection of Congressman Pompeo as their champion shows how extreme the proposal really is,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs for Center for Food Safety. “Selecting Pompeo creates an unholy alliance between Monsanto and Koch Industries, two of the most reviled corporations in America.”

Congressman Mike Pompeo was the single largest recipient of campaign funds from the Koch Brothers in 2010. After winning election with Koch money, Congressman Pompeo hired a Koch Industries lawyer to run his office. According to The Washington Post, Congressman Pompeo then introduced bills friendly to Koch Industries while Koch hired outside lobbyists to support them.

Koch Industries’ subsidiary, Georgia-Pacific, is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association which donated more than $7 million against the recent Washington State ballot initiative to label GE foods.  Monsanto, another GMA member, was the single largest contributor to that campaign. Between Washington State and California, Monsanto, GMA (including Georgia-Pacific), and others, have contributed over $67 million to keep consumers in the dark about GE foods.

“With Vermont, Oregon and other states poised to take action this year, it is clear that GMA is scared of what’s ahead,” added O’Neil. “They know that the food movement’s power is growing and that labeling is not a matter of if but when. They are afraid of state action and now they’re trying to steal away consumer choice in Congress.”

Background on State Labeling:

Connecticut and Maine have already passed GE labeling legislation. Alaska passed a bill requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish and fish products. Vermont’s bill has already passed the state house and a senate committee. It is expected that nearly 30 states will introduce GE labeling laws or initiatives in the 2014 legislative session and Oregon is already planning a ballot initiative on the issue.

Background on National Labeling:

Building on public demand for information, in 2013, Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Peter DeFazio introduced legislation that would require mandatory labeling of GE foods at the federal level. The common sense legislation would compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement a mandatory labeling policy. FDA has the authority to require food companies to disclose the presence of these novel food ingredients, and the agency has already required labeling for more than 4,000 ingredients, additives and food processes.

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