Is your Computer safe for you?

As the computer visual display (VDU) unit became more common in the workplace, the issue of radiation hazards associated with the prolonged use of VDU’s were tested by reputable laboratories and found to emit no detectable levels of X- rays. A similar study by Canadian Radiation Protection Bureau researchers arrived at the same conclusion. World Health Organisation (WHO) experts endorsed similar findings. Given such reassurances, the temptation has been to conclude that VDU’s are harmless. However, deeper more haunting statistics suggest that health problems from VDU’s could arise from electromagnetic radiation.

The early research did not consider all the relevant data. Since 1979 small clusters of miscarriage and birth defects among VDU users in a dozen or more office locations have been reported. Due to the low level of X-ray radiation around VDU’s, authorities often dismissed the increased incidence of these abnormalities as chance occurrences, while others argued alternately that the reported defects could be hereditary.

In 1982 Delagado and others reported powerful inhibitory effects on chicken embryos produced by weak 100 H2 {28} electromagnetic fields. The following year Ubeda and others also observed ‘teratogenic” changes or monstrous mutations to chicken embryos exposed to low intensity pulsed electromagnetic fields of 100Hz. The most deterious effects were observed with a weak magnetic field strengths of about 1 micro Tesla, with stronger and weaker fields less effective.

Since the original work of Delgado and co-workers, several more recent studies have confirmed that weak electromagnetic fields are capable of interacting with biological systems of specific frequencies and intensities. Since magnetic field strength pulses of up to 400,000 microtesla have been reported with VDU’s it follows that weak magnetic pulses will exist even at a considerable distance from the units.

With approximately half the workforce using VDU’s being women of childbearing age, the health implications are enormous. McDonald and co-workers who studied births in the Montreal area in 1984, reported, that the rate of spontaneous abortion in 2609 current pregnancies with no VDU use was 5.7% compared to 8.3% for 588 with weekly exposure of less than 15 hours and 9.4% for 710 pregnancies with VDU use greater than 15 hours per week.

In 1988 Goldhaber and co-workers found in a case control study of pregnancy outcome that there exists: “Significantly elevated risk of miscarriage for working women who using VDU’s for more than 20 hours per week during the first trimester of pregnancy compared to other working who reported not using VDUs”. The increased risk could not be explained by age, education, occupation, smoking, alcohol consumption on other maternal characteristics.

Reported cases of foetal damage from VDU’s.:

1. In 1979, four out of seven pregnant VDU operates who had worked on the classified advertising department of the Toronto Star gave birth to infants with defects. One had a club foot, another a deft palate, a third an underdeveloped eye and the fourth had multiple heart abnormalities. None of the mothers had smoked or taken drugs during the pregnancies.During that period, three other employees at the Star who didn’t work on VDU’s gave birth to normal babies.

2. Due to excessive fetal retardation and birth defects among the off-spring of women and animals exposed to radioactive fields in Eastern Europe, pregnant women in Czechoslovakia have been specifically prohibited from working in areas where the “safe” level of micro-waves was exceeded. The Czech standard is one-thousandth the recommended American guideline.

The following items also possess a significant electromagnetic field; television, electric razors, electric blankets, electric-power transmission and distribution networks, fluorescent lights, electric clocks, hair dryers and electric heaters, microwave ovens, personal radio transmitters. Research done by Dr. Robert O. Becker M.D. appears to indicate that all of the above appliances at times have radiation levels that sometimes exceed current safety levels of radiation.

The rise of phenomena such as electromagnetic – hypersensitivity syndrome has been verified by several scientists, like Robert Becker M.D. and Dr. William Rae. It refers to the phenomena whereby an individual develops an allergy due to electro-magnetic fields. Chronic-fatigue syndrome has also been linked to electro-magnetic fields.

While Dr. Becker says that it is too premature to conclude that brain lesions of the autistic children match those of the experimental animals, he points out that the apparent onset of autism as a clinical condition in the 1940’s coincided with the marked increase in the use of electro- magnetic energy.

A simple way of measuring if you are outside the direct influence of the electric field of an appliance is outlined below; To check the level of radiation from your TV set, simply turn on your small battery-operated AM radio. Tune it to a spot on the dial where you cannot hear a station and turn the volume up to maximum. Hold the radio about a foot away from the front of the TV and switch the TV on. If you then move the radio away from the TV you will reach a distance at which the noise disappears. This method can be used for devices that give off radio-frequency fields such as computers and stereos. It will not work for devices that give off 60-H3 only such as electric stoves and hair dryers. The distance at which the “white” noise disppears is the safe distance. To be absolutely safe, pregnant mothers should minimize exposure to VDU’s computers and micro-wave ovens.

be well
Dr Sundardas

Are we protecting our children’s health

Pthalates used in food packaging could be linked to childhood obesity, according to two recent studies conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine that included research conducted on more than 900 children in East Harlem and surrounding communities. The studies have added to a growing body of evidence that link phthalates to health problems.

One of the studies, according to the Mount Sinai researchers, focused on 400 girls in the East Harlem community. The results showed that the heaviest girls had the highest levels of  HYPERLINK “” phthalates metabolites in their urine.

Another significant research project called Growing Up Healthy in East Harlem examined the diet and other factors for 520 East Harlem children aged 6-8 with the results indicating that the level of phthalates in the children tested was higher than the national average.

About 40 percent of children in East Harlem are considered to be overweight or obese. “When we say children, I’m talking about kindergarten children, we are talking about little kids,” said Dr. Philip J. Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai, one of the lead researchers on one of the East Harlem studies. “This is a problem that begins early in life.”

Health concerns over phthalates have been debated for more than 10 years, as shown by a New York Times article from 1999 that describes opposing views on their use and mentions an FDA investigation into the matter. At that time, a major concern was the use of  HYPERLINK “” chemicals in children’s toys.

Previous reports linking phthalates to  HYPERLINK “” health disruptions have shown that they are connected to abdominal  HYPERLINK “” obesity, insulin resistance, poor semen quality in men, and changes in reproductive organs in infant boys.

Phthalates can be found in personal care products like cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, lotions, paint and pesticides. They are also used to make  HYPERLINK “” plastics more pliable. Phthalates are absorbed into the body and are a type of endocrine disruptor – a category of chemical that affects glands and hormones that regulate various bodily functions.

Increasingly when I am doing hair mineral testing on young children because of health issues, I am noticing higher amounts of toxic substances like lead, arsenic, mercury and tin. Substances like boron, copper and iron which are supposed to be nutritional become toxic at higher levels. The parents then ask me, “Where does it come from? How could all these heavy toxic substances and heavy metals be impacting them?” That’s when I tell them about the 100, 000 or more toxic substances that re now present in the environment that were not present before. The various authorities have not even established safety levels for multiple chemicals in the human body.

The FDA continues conducting ongoing investigations into potential risks, but notes that while there have been studies on laboratory animals demonstrating carcinogenic effects of certain chemicals, “there are no studies in humans that are adequate to serve as the basis for regulatory decision-making.”

Other packaging chemicals that have recently caused consumer concern include Biosphenol A (BPA) and perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). PFCs, which are found in grease-resistant packaging such as that used in microwaveable popcorn bags and pizza boxes, have been linked to infertility in women.

My wife’s colleague passed on this information to me. One of her friends whose father works for the government health inspection passed on his information. Their job is to inspect all hawkers, their cooked food, their store hygiene, etc. They found sugar cane juice has the highest content of bacteria among all food. In fact, it has exceeded the set limit.

Hence, these guys had to find out why. They went round all sugar cane stores and watched the way the hawkers handled their sugar cane, wash their glasses, their entire
procedure. But they couldn’t find the problem.

One day, they stayed till closing time and discovered some shocking facts! Whenever, the hawkers closed their stores, they would wash the floor with detergent.. As we know, the
remaining sugar canes will be placed at the back of the store, vertically standing and as sugar canes are very porous, they tend to absorb whatever liquid around them. Besides the soapy water, the dirt on hawkers’ boots, cats’ urine, etc, will all be absorbed?? Now, whenever I eat at a hawker centre, I would warn all my friends about this and of course I stopped drinking my favorite sugar cane juice.

A friend, who loved sugar cane juice, was pregnant. She was always drinking sugar cane juice. Anyway, one day she miscarried and the fetus was already like 6 or 7 months old,
I think. When the doctors did an autopsy to find out why all of a sudden the fetus had died inside her, they found traces of some chemical substance, which was found in cat urine… Large traces of it.

While it would not be able to harm adults, it was extremely toxic to babies, what more a fetus? So they tried to determine how this cat urine thing could have ended up in
the fetus. This meant that it had to be digested by the mother, right? And the only logical conclusion they could come up with was that since these sugar cane juice stall holders just leave the canes lying around on the wet and dirty floor, it would not be impossible to think that stray cats could have peed on those sugar canes or near those sugar canes. So think carefully the next time you order that favorite sugar cane juice!

Be well

Dr Sundardas

Why women live longer than men

One important reason is the big delay — and advantage — women have over men in terms of cardiovascular disease, like heart attack and stroke. Women develop these problems usually in their 70s and 80s, about 10 years later than men, who develop them in their 50s and 60s. For a long time, doctors thought the difference was due to estrogen. But studies have shown that this may not be the case, and now we know that giving estrogen to women post-menopause can actually be bad for them. “,8599,1635370,00.html” \t “_blank”

One reason for that delay in onset of cardiovascular disease could be that women are relatively iron-deficient compared to men — especially younger women, those in their late teens and early 20s — because of menstruation. Iron plays a very important part in the reactions in our cells that produce damaging free radicals, which glom onto cell membranes and DNA, and may translate into aging the cell. In fact, in our diets, red meat is the main source of iron, and lack of iron is probably one major reason that being vegetarian is healthy for you. There was a very good study looking at the intake of red meat and heart disease in Leiden in the Netherlands: in regions where people didn’t eat red meat, those populations had half the rate of heart attack and stroke compared to the populations that did eat red meat.

Another more complicated possibility [for women’s longevity] is that women have two X chromosomes, while men have one. (Men have an X and a Y.) When cells go through aging and damage, they have a choice in terms of genes — either on one X chromosome or the other.

Consider it this way: you have a population of cells, all aging together. In some cells, the genes on one X chromosome are active; in other cells, by chance, the same set of genes, with different variations, are active on the other X chromosome. Don’t forget, we all have the same genes — the reason we differ is because we express different variations of those genes, like different colors of a car. Now, if one set of variations provides a survival advantage for the cells versus another, then the cells with the advantage will persist while the other ones will die off, leaving behind more cells with the genes on the more advantageous X chromosome. So, in women, cells can perhaps be protected by a slightly better variation of a gene on the second X chromosome. Men don’t have this luxury and don’t get this choice.

It’s very unclear [how big an effect that could have]. I’ve seen men who have done horrendous damage to themselves over time with smoking and drinking and who still get to 100 and older — though that’s very, very rare. They might have the right combination of some really special genetic variations that we call “longevity enabling genes” — which we’re on the mad hunt for.

Meanwhile other individuals may do everything right and only make it into their 80s. That may be because they have what we call “disease genes,” some genetic variations that are relatively bad for them. Now some of these [disease genes] may be on the X chromosome, [meaning that women who have the second X chromosome with which to compensate, would have an advantage]. But it’s really still a very complicated puzzle to tease out.

There are a few other reasons that men die earlier in life more often than women. Men in their late teens and 20s go through something called “testosterone storm.” The levels of the hormone can be quite high and changeable, and that can induce some pretty dangerous behavior among young men. They don’t wear their seatbelts; they drink too much alcohol; they can be aggressive with weapons and so on and so forth. These behaviors lead to a higher death rate.

Another area where we see higher death rates among men is among the depressed — especially older men. If they attempt suicide, they are more likely to succeed than women.

Overall, about 70% of the variation around average life expectancy — [just over 80 for women and just over 75 for men in the U.S.] — is probably attributable to environmental factors — your behaviors and your exposures. Probably only 30% is due to genetics. And that’s very, very good news. There’s so much we can do. Most of us should be able to get into our late 80s. What’s more, to get to older ages, like the centenarians, you are necessarily compressing the time you’re sick to the end of your life. It’s not a case where the older you get, the sicker you get. It’s very much the case that the older you get, the healthier you’ve been.

But, in general, there are maybe three things men do worse than women. They smoke a lot more. (That gender gap is fortunately shrinking, since men are smoking less and less.) They eat more food that leads to high cholesterol. And, perhaps related to that, men tend not to deal with their stress as well as women. They may be more prone to internalizing that stress rather than letting go — though that’s a fairly controversial point. Nonetheless, stress plays a very important role in cardiovascular disease.

Generally men unless they cannot work, are disabled by pain and cannot move or they are so sick and have a nervous breakdown, they maintain this veneer of stolidity and the attitude that says “I am fine”. Whereas women prefer to be proactive and prefer to preempt trouble generally.

My personal opinion is that women are more proactive, more sensitive to pain and seek earlier intervention. They are more interested in intervention before the quality of life is compromised. So serious issues are discovered earlier. Men wait until what happens to them creates an impasses in their ability to work or be effective. This may be one factor that accounts for increased life span.

Be well

Dr Sundardas