ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
CANCER
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
1976 Italian Dioxin Release Damaged Babies' Thyroids
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
What's Cookin'? It Could Be Air Pollution
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Ordinary Chores Cause Half of All Eye Injuries
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
Lower Vitamin D Levels in Blacks May Up Heart Risks
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
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The Food Irradiation Story

Food irradiation involves exposing food to ionizing radiation in order to destroy bacteria, viruses, molds, and insects. In essence, this damages the DNA of these microorganisms so they can no longer proliferate. Food irradiation can kill up to 99% of pathogens, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria. These bacteria can cause serious or even fatal food poisoning. An example is the September 2006 recall of spinach and lettuce linked to E. coli, which resulted in three deaths and over 200 people getting sick. On August 22, 2008, the FDA amended the food additive regulations to allow for the safe use of ionizing radiation for control of food-borne pathogens and the extension of shelf-life in fresh iceberg lettuce and spinach. The FDA claims that this technology will not have a negative effect on the safety of these food products. But are we being told the whole story?

Irradiation can affect the flavor and texture of the food and reduce its nutritional value through changes in the food’s chemistry. The treatment of foods high in protein, fats, and water leads to the creation of “radiolytic products”. The FDA says that these compounds are not unique to irradiated foods and claims these are also found in raw, heated, and stored foods. They also say there is no evidence to suggest it is harmful to health. BUT the reality is there aren’t adequate studies of the long-term effects of eating large amounts of these modified foods over time. The results of long-term animal studies do suggest that irradiation can cause genetic damage and cancer. As previously mentioned, that is how irradiation works.

The next chapter in the food irradiation story involves the issue of public food safety. But food irradiation may not be the only strategy to optimize public food safety. Some food safety experts have concerns that it simply provides a way to avoid dealing with the problem at the source, specifically the unsanitary conditions of industrial agriculture. According to Caroline Smith Dewaal, The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Food Safety Director, "produce safety must become a priority for the FDA, starting at the farm." CSPI has suggested some common-sense food safety control measures starting at the farm to control food-borne pathogens. These were outlined in a 2006 petition to the FDA.

The U.S. regulator allows irradiation for safety of meat, poultry, molluscan shellfish, dried spices, and now fresh iceberg lettuce and fresh spinach (even bagged versions of the packaging material is approved for this use). Irradiation is used at the end of production and should not be viewed as a silver bullet treatment. Irradiated food must bear the radura logo with the words ‘treated with radiation’ or ‘treated by irradiation’. But keep in mind that there are exceptions, including plant-food ingredients that have been processed again (applesauce), multiple ingredient products where not all of the individual ingredients have been irradiated, spices, herb teas, and ingredients in supplements. Organic foods cannot be irradiated and may be your best option to avoid food irradiation products. Be sure to read all product labels if you do not wish to consume foods that have undergone these 'treatments'. The food irradiation story comes down to accountability for public food safety, in addition to the concerns of the effects of the irradiation process on food quality and human health. The final chapter has yet to be written.

-Dr. Christine Gonzalez (Integrative PharmD, CHC)