Archives for category: Quotations


“We are rightly appalled by the genetic effects of radiation; how then, can we be indifferent to the same effect in chemicals we disseminate widely in our environment?”

~ Rachel Carson, author, Silent Spring

Huffington Post – “Bio-Remediation or Bio-Hazard? Dispersants, Bacteria and Illness in the Gulf

CorpWatchGulf Dispersants: BP and Nalco Play Toxic Roulette

Foreword (ix – x):

“Curiously, the other common form of diabetes, type 1, also appears to be related to the stresses of the modern world, through a complex process, less well understood, by which the immune system mistakenly identifies as foreign the single hormonal apparatus responsible for lowering glucose levels, the beta-cell of the islet of Langerhans of the pancreas, which consequent disastrous outcome for the person involved. Is this caused by too little exposure to common ingestions of childhood, or too much exposure to processed food (or perhaps even cow’s milk), or to environmental pollutants, or abnormalities of vitamins or minerals, or to genetic imbalances, or to some complex of all of these.”

Prologue (xix):

“So it was from north to south, east to west: the same alarms were being rung, and the same questions being asked, by parents, school nurses, and people with diabetes. Were these clusters of type 1 just statistical flukes, or were they real? If real, was in increase happening in just a handful of unlucky towns, or in many towns and cities, and in every state? What dark force could be behind the rise of such a dreaded, lifelong, life-shortening disease? And what, if anything, could be done to reverse it?”

Prologue (xx):

“Type 1, it’s true, used to be rare. Today, however, it’s about twice as common among children as it was in the 1980’s, about five times more common than in the years following World War II, and perhaps ten times more common than 100 years ago, if early statistics are to be believed. Genes have not changed; lifestyles and environmental risk factors have. Part 2 of this book will explore what those risk factors are. Suffice it to say for now, that while Weston might have“` unique local factors pushing its recent outbreak, it is also emblematic in many ways of the new normal across the United States, and indeed around the world: how we live and play and work, and why that ha made us so curiously susceptible to type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 is also rising, of course, but far faster than the rate of obesity. In fact, the rate of new type 2 cases has doubled in the past decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shockingly, the CDC now projects that 33 percent of all boys and 39 percent of all girls born in the year of 2000 will develop type 2 in their lifetimes.  That’s more than one in three overall. For blacks and Hispanics, the projections are even worse, tipping to over half-53 percent- of all Hispanic women, meaning that more of them will eventually have diabetes than do not.”

Prologue (xxii):

“Now take one final step back and ask yourself: 88 years after the discovery of insulin, with all the dozens of pills available for type 2, all the high-tech treatment of available for type-1, and the estimated $116 billion per year spent on the medical treatment of diabetes in the United States alone, why the heck do more people get diabetes, and more people die of it, each year?”

Prologue (xxii):

“I am happy to report, after spending over a year interviewing hundreds of physicians, researchers, and patients in the United States and abroad, and even participating in a clinical trial, that there is a better way. Flying under the radar of most observers, a number of revolutionary approaches are making quiet, dramatic gains towards preventing, curing, or significantly improving the treatment of diabetes. As we shall see in Part 3 of this boo, none of them involves lecturing people about the need to eat less and exercise more. None of them requires diabetics to test their blood sugars more often. And none of them places the blame for the disease and its dire consequences in the laps of diabetics. Instead, an astonishing body of evidence has built up in support of an interlocking group of theories, provocative as they are disturbing, as to why both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are rising in lockstep and how we can, for the first time in history, prevent or cure both of them.”

Prologue (xxiii):

“To appreciate just how bizarrely unnatural the current mushrooming of the disease has become, it is useful to go back to a time when doctors could go their entire careers without seeing more than a handful of cases, or any at all. Part 1 of this book will narrate the biography of a disease called diabetes: how it started small and grew into a moster.”

upstream riverLiving Downstream, by Sandra Steingraber

“There seemed to be a disconnect between the evidence that medical researchers had compiled about the environmental origins of bladder cancer and what patients heard about the evidence” (xiii)

“the chance of an adopted person dying of cancer is more closely related to whether or not her adoptive parents had died of cancer and far less related to whether or not her biological parents had met such a fate.” (xiv)

“For every finding of a positive association, another showed no association or yielded a complicated picture.” (12) The power of complications/haziness for chemical corporations. [my emphasis]

“this study showed a fivefold increase in breast cancer risk among women who had experienced high exposures to DDT before puberty but not in woman so exposed after their breasts had already developed.” (13)

“One researcher pointed out in disgust that DDT was abolished on the basis of less evidence than we now had for atrazine.” (15)

“I think it is reasonable to ask–nearly half a century after Silent Spring alerted us to a possible problem–why so much silence still surrounds questions about cancer’s connection to the environment and why so much scientific inquiry into the issue is still considered ‘preliminary'” (15)

“‘Knowing what I do, there would be no future peace for me if I kept silent.’ Having documented a cavalcade of problems attributable to pesticides–from blindness in fish to blood disorders in humans–she could find no magazine or periodical willing to publish her work.” (19)

“she questioned the cozy relations between scientific societies and for-profit enterprises, such as chemical companies.” (20)


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Psychologist Phil Zimbardo may have put his finger on one reason why the environment is so swollen with toxins:

Imagine a traitor is sentenced to death by firing squad and the government wants to recruit his peers, civilians, to shoot him. Few volunteer. If, however, they add a condition that only one of six guns will have a real bullet in the chamber, thus each gun would have only a small likelihood of being the lethal weapon, typically more volunteer. Why? Employing the tactic of diffusion of responsibility greases that line, and some good people are ready to slide across the boundary, become killers for the state.

“[W]e need to expand the national conversation about health to saying much more than providing health care access to all Americans. We have to pay attention to these broader, social determinants of health.”

~ Ichiro Kawachi

Ichiro Kawachi is Professor of Social Epidemiology, and Chair, Department of Society, Human Development, and Health. In this video he advises the next president to address the broad determinants of health — high-quality education, housing, work environments — in addition to improving health care access.

“The public fails to realize that some illnesses have an environmental influence and are preventable. We develop systems to treat them after they happen, but we don’t look upstream to see why we are having these problems. And we lose an opportunity to make some of them go away.”

~Dr. William Kincaid, former head of the St. Louis Health Department (source).

Rachel Carson

“The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”

Excerpt: ‘Diabetes Rising’

by Dan Hurley

PrologueTwelve miles west of Boston lies its wealthiest, and seemingly healthiest, suburb. Along its winding, wooded roads, one can find a private tennis club, two golf clubs (including the 115-year-old Weston Golf Club and the nationally known Pine Brook Country Club), 13 soccer fields, and 19 baseball diamonds — and not a single fast-food restaurant. Established in 1713, the town has the highest median household income in Massachusetts, as well as the state’s best public school system, according to Boston magazine. Its recreation department offers nearly 500 classes a year in yoga, karate, gymnastics, swimming, fencing, basketball, Pilates — even tap dancing. David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox live there. Ray Allen of the Celtics lives just over the town line. The scent of overripe apples fills the air in the autumn, when tourists drive past the town’s old stone walls and buy pumpkins from its roadside stands. Storybook beautiful, Weston is the kind of place where parents dream of raising their children.So it took 41-year-old Rikki Conley by surprise when, early on the morning of September 17, 2007, she heard that another child in town might have the same rare, incurable, life-threatening illness that both of her young daughters, Ashley and Kelley, had been battling for years: type 1 diabetes mellitus — formerly known as “childhood onset,” “insulin-dependent,” or ” juvenile” diabetes.

“That’s ridiculous,” Rikki thought to herself while speaking on the telephone to the mother of Kelley’s best friend.

No other children in the elementary school that Kelley and Ashley attended had diabetes; the school nurse there had never before treated the disease, and had to learn everything from scratch. In fact, Rikki had to drive to other towns to attend coffees for parents of diabetic children hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So the idea that Kelley’s best friend’s brother, Gus, could now have it too — especially since the two families were so friendly, having occasionally gotten together for dinner or swimming — struck Rikki as simply impossible.

And the pretty blue-eyed mom with honey-blond hair had as good a grasp of such things as any non-expert; after all, her husband, Kevin, was chairman of the board of the Joslin Diabetes Center, perhaps the most famous diabetes treatment and research institution in the world.

But here was Gus’s mother, Ann Marie Kreft, calling her at 6:30 on a Monday morning.

“He had to go to the bathroom every fifteen minutes this weekend,” Ann Marie said of her seven-year-old son, citing one of the cardinal symptoms. “Last night I saw him holding a water bottle under the faucet and then guzzling it. He’s even started wetting the bed.”

“I’ll come right over and do a blood-sugar test,” Rikki said calmly, now convinced that Ann Marie’s suspicions weren’t so groundless.

Within minutes of getting off the phone with Rikki, Ann Marie saw Gus wander out of his bedroom in his “bug” jammies, the ones with drawings of bugs all over them. By the time they made it down to the kitchen, Rikki was already pulling up in her minivan. Ann Marie’s husband, Tim, was fixing breakfast for Gus, his older sister, and younger brother.

“What’s Mrs. Conley doing here?” Gus asked when Rikki walked in.

“She brought Kelley’s check,” Ann Marie answered, using the Conley family’s term for a blood-sugar meter. “She needs to do a check on you.”

Rikki pricked his finger with a spring-triggered device and squeezed it for a drop of blood. She blotted it onto the end of an inchlong plastic strip protruding from the hand-held device that was the size of a cell phone. After what seemed like three years to Ann Marie, Gus’s number flashed on the device’s screen. Normal would be under 120. Gus’s number was 292.

“Is there somewhere you and I can go?” Rikki asked Ann Marie.

The two women walked into the adjoining dining room, closed the door, and cried in each other’s arms for a couple of minutes while Tim continued fixing breakfast for the kids.

During the two-day span of Gus’s hospitalization at Children’s Hospital, the Boston institution affiliated with Joslin, Rikki remembered something: another child in town had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes back in April. Six-year-old Grayson Welo was just one year younger than Gus. She attended a private school, so neither Rikki’s nor Ann Marie’s children knew her. But she lived right around the corner from Gus, just a two-minute walk away. How weird is that? Rikki thought.

Less than two months later, things got weirder. On November 6, another little girl, Natalia Gormley, was also diagnosed with the supposedly rare disease on her tenth birthday. She lived just a few blocks from Rikki. A school nurse asked Ann Marie to let her know if any other new cases were diagnosed.

They didn’t have long to wait. In the third week of January 2008, Rikki’s daughter Kelley heard from a friend at the stables where she went horseback riding that another kid, 12-year-old Sean Richard, was diagnosed with diabetes on January 16. He lived less than a mile from Ann Marie, in a house that faced her street. That made four cases in nine months.

Having worked years earlier for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as a health educator, Ann Marie decided to email a few friends who still worked there as epidemiologists to see whether they thought the four new cases exceeded the expected number for a town as small as Weston. Maybe, maybe not, they wrote back. It was right on the edge.

Six weeks later, eight-year-old Finn Sullivan became the fifth case of type 1 diabetes diagnosed in Weston in less than a year. He lived on Ann Marie’s block, just six doors down.

Not easily frightened, but now certain that something serious was going on in her neighborhood, Ann Marie emailed her epidemiologist friends again. This time they told her she needed to request an official investigation from the state health department. None of them was quite certain what a normal rate of diabetes diagnoses should be, but whatever was going on in Weston, it wasn’t normal.

They put her in touch with Suzanne K. Condon, associate commissioner and director of Environmental Health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Condon remembered Ann Marie from when she worked there and assured her that she would have her staff look into the matter. In fact, she told Ann Marie, Massachusetts had recently become one of the only states in the country funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Environmental Health Tracking System. Although the program was initially examining local rates of childhood asthma, it could just as well track type 1 diabetes in children on a town-by-town level.

She promised to begin doing just that. In the meanwhile, according to the best estimates from the CDC, for every 100,000 children in a given area, about 19 new cases should be diagnosed each year. With about 3,200 residents under the age of 18 living in Weston, the CDC statistics would mean that fewer than one child per year should be diagnosed with the disease.

Two months later, on April 28, six-year-old Mya Smith became the sixth case diagnosed in 12 months. Although she lived just over the town line, in neighboring Bryn Mawr, Mya and her family lived within two miles of all the other cases.

Then, on Sunday, June 15, came the jaw-dropper, when 17-month-old Walker Allen was diagnosed. Two nights later, his father, Ray Allen, scored 26 points in game six of the NBA playoffs to give the Celtics their first championship in 22 years.

Not knowing where the Allens lived, Rikki joked sarcastically to a friend, “He probably lives in our neighborhood.” In fact, he did — less than half a mile from Ann Marie. This brought to seven the number of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the past 14 months, all living within the same two-mile radius.

The town’s school nurses had never seen anything like it. Even though some of the kids were too young for school, and some went to a private school or lived over the town line, there were now eight children with type 1 diabetes attending Weston public schools, including those diagnosed in previous years. By comparison, during the 18-year span between 1978 and 1996, the nurses could not recall there ever being more than one or two at any time in the 2,300-student public school system. Some years there had been none. Type 1 diabetes, after all, was supposed to be rare. Really rare.

Excerpted from Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, and What to Do About It by Dan Hurley by permission of Kaplan Publishing.