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I Wish I Knew Chicken Could Cause Cancer Earlier

I Wish I Knew Chicken Could Cause Cancer Earlier

There are times when I see a subject that I just have to write about. Sometimes this compulsion is spurred on by my interest in the topic. Other times, it’s based on the amount of anger I feel when reading the title. In this case, it’s the latter that caused me to choose to write this article. I mean, how could one not feel angry after learning that there’s a connection between chicken and cancer?

Lend me your hand and I’ll guide you through some of the troubling details I learned upon conducting research. Don’t worry, this isn’t complicated stuff. You won’t need a science degree to understand this article. What follows is a cautionary tale. Watch your step.

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1. Arsenic? What’s that?

It doesn’t take a chemistry major to know that humans and arsenic don’t exactly mix well. Yet many farmers feed dangerous arsenic laced food to their chickens, which end up in trace amounts in the food you serve your family. Indeed, the “FDA says its own research shows that the arsenic added to…chicken feed ends up in the chicken meat where it is consumed by humans.” Before the FDA was really pressed about all of this, most people gobbled up the propaganda spewed by some farmers that arsenic in chicken feed never made it into the final product. They insisted it was expelled in the animal’s waste. Of course, it turns that this wasn’t and isn’t the case. I imagine you’d probably like to know where this all began. First, we turn to the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer…

2. How did arsenic make its way into your chicken?

Well, I suppose it isn’t Pfizer, per se, that laces chicken feed with harmful poison, it’s one of its subsidiaries: Alpharma LLC. After finally being caught red-handed (or whatever color arsenic happens to be), they agreed to stop distributing their carcinogenic chicken feed (known as Roxarsone) in the United States. That said, Alpharma made no promises of halting the use of this dangerous substance in foreign countries, unless explicitly told to do so by their regulatory agencies. A neat little legal workaround isn’t it? So, to review, how did this process work?

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3. Let’s review.

  • Pfizer, a company known for its prescription drugs and vaccines, gets into the food industry.

  • Their subsidiary, Alpharma LLC, produces an arsenic laced chicken feed known as Roxarsone. They are protected by the National Chicken Council.

  • Roxarsone is shipped to farmers, who feed it to their chickens.

  • The chickens are exposed to the carcinogen arsenic, and it never leaves their systems. You might remember how this poison used to kill many people in the past, including Napoleon.

  • Chickens are slaughtered, shipped, bought, and eaten by you and me.

  • Arsenic-fed chickens are being taken off of the shelves, but they still might be present in some locations (especially outside of the United States).

  • The FDA refuses to acknowledge that there is (or ever was) a problem.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this story helps illuminate the extent to which big business and corporations control the health of the general population. Pfizer, under the protection of the FDA and the National Chicken Council (lobbyists), was able to serve contaminated food products to us for decades with no consequences. I’m not trying to imply that the system is completely broken. I’m trying to caution you. This company was able to get away with this for sixty years, before finally being forced to stop.

The relationship between big business and cancer doesn’t end there. Susan G. Komen recently made a bit of a strange deal with oil companies in order to spread the word about breast cancer. To make a long story short, she’s essentially trying to fight cancer by working with an industry whose main product is chock full of carcinogenic chemicals. Oh, the irony. By giving these companies good press and associating them with cancer research, Komen might be perpetuating society’s acceptance for burning fossil fuels; which, in the end, also hurts the fight against cancer.

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Unfortunately, chicken is merely the tip of the iceberg. The more research conducted, the more we find that companies like Pfizer would rather cover up the use of questionable ingredients, than make a change for the better. Indeed, KFC and a handful of other fast food restaurants demonstrated this in relation to the presence of the carcinogen acrylamide in their potato products, refusing to list warnings to their customers in states not requiring them to do so. The argument made by their public relations departments was that acrylamide is present within many products. Therefore, the fast food industry shouldn’t be punished by having to be the only ones forced to advertise the presence of this carcinogen to their customers. A weak argument at best, but currently it’s enough to keep federal regulators at bay. It also makes you wonder: if acrylamide is so ubiquitous, and every industry is fighting against having to be the first ones to disclose its presence in their products, wouldn’t that mean we’re essentially being exposed to far more carcinogens than we should be? And all for the sake of a legal argument?

These last two example are meant to demonstrate that, while we’ve finally forced Pfizer to stop putting arsenic in our chicken, we’ve really only just begun the fight to ensure the safety of our food. To me, this sounds like The Jungle of the 21st century. Who will be our Upton Sinclair?

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Featured photo credit: Fried Chicken/ stu_spivack via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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