Breast Cancer – Everything you need to know about the causes, treatments, and prevention


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They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. An excess of platelets can cause excessive clotting or sometimes bleeding if the platelets are not functioning properly. Classically the pattern of the progression of obesity through a population starts with middle-aged women in high-income groups but as the epidemic progresses, obesity becomes more common in people especially women in lower socioeconomic status groups. Apply the processes for planning, designing, and operating a recreational sport facility. The laboratory study used human cell samples to investigate the mechanism behind how breast cancer tumors develop resistance to treatments, effectively making them powerless.

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Nutrition: What is it and why is it important?

The Role of Population, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health in the Tuungane Project Both the family planning sector and the environmental sector will be interested in this new Evidence Project synopsis of findings from a study of the first four years of the Tuungane integrated population, healt…. Natural disasters focus the collective imagination on images of community devastation. Beyond the obvious external signs of disaster, such as destroyed homes and ruined infrastructure, are more intimate impacts, such as impeded access to reproductive health services.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, national development strategies have established the goal of achieving economic growth that is both rapid and equitable across a population. Efforts to promote shared prosperity will be strengthened by demographic changes that facilitate greater investment in human capital….

Join experts to discuss how population dynamics and family planning impact peace and security. Climate change adaptation has come to the forefront of the global agenda after the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and momentum for international financing for climate change adaptation projects is growing.

It can also be a sign that proteins taken in by the digestive system are not being broken down or absorbed properly [36]. High globulin levels can be related to bone marrow disorders, autoimmunity diseases such as lupus or chronic inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, kidney disease or a chronic viral or bacterial infection [36]. A low total protein level can suggest a liver disorder , a kidney disorder , or a disorder in which protein is not digested or absorbed properly.

Low levels may be seen in malnutrition and with conditions that cause malabsorption , such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease IBD. A high total protein level may be seen with chronic inflammation or infection [37]. ALT levels are usually elevated before clinical signs and symptoms of disease appear. Elevated ALT values are seen in parenchymal liver diseases characterized by a destruction of hepatocytes, where values are typically at least ten times above the normal range.

Levels may reach values as high as one hundred times the upper reference limit, although twenty to fifty-fold elevations are most frequently encountered [41]. Very high levels of AST more than 10 times normal are usually due to hepatitis or a viral infection.

With acute hepatitis, AST levels usually stay high for about months but can take as long as months to return to normal. Levels of AST may also be markedly elevated often over times normal as a result of exposure to drugs or other substances that are toxic to the liver as well as in conditions that cause decreased blood flow ischemia to the liver [43].

Kidney Health The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that extract waste from blood, balance body fluids, form urine, and aid in other important functions of the body. They sit just below the rib cage either side of the spine, against the back muscles in the upper abdominal cavity [51].

Kidney function tests look for the level of waste products, such as creatinine and urea, in your blood to assess how well your kidneys are working and assess the health of your kidneys. As with liver function tests the combination of the tests are much more powerful that the individual tests in isolation and results for each marker are generally viewed in context of the overall test [51].

Increased creatinine levels in the blood can suggest kidney disease or other conditions that affect kidney function. Damage to or swelling of blood vessels in the kidneys glomerulonephritis caused by, for example, infection or autoimmune diseases. Bacterial infection of the kidneys pyelonephritis. Prostate disease, kidney stone, or other causes of urinary tract obstruction.

Reduced blood flow to the kidney due to shock, dehydration , atherosclerosis , or complications of diabetes [53]. Low blood levels of creatinine are not common, but they are also not usually a cause for concern. They can be seen with conditions that result in decreased muscle mass [53]. Chronic kidney disease can be seen with a variety of conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure. Early detection of kidney dysfunction can help to minimize the damage. BUN concentrations may be elevated when there is excessive protein breakdown catabolism , significantly increased protein in the diet, or gastrointestinal bleeding because of the proteins present in the blood.

Increased BUN levels may suggest impaired kidney function. This may be due to acute or chronic kidney disease , damage, or failure. It may also be due to a condition that results in decreased blood flow to the kidneys, such as congestive heart disease, shock, stress, or severe burns, to conditions that cause obstruction of urine flow, or to dehydration.

Low BUN levels are not common and are not usually a cause for concern. They may be seen in severe liver disease , malnutrition , and sometimes when a person is overhydrated too much fluid volume , but the BUN test is not usually used to diagnose or monitor these conditions.

If one kidney is fully functional, BUN concentrations may be normal even when significant dysfunction is present in the other kidney [58]. An increased ratio may be due to a condition that causes a decrease in the flow of blood to the kidneys, such as congestive het disease or dehydration.

It may also be seen with increased protein, from gastrointestinal bleeding, or increased protein in the diet. The ratio may be decreased with liver disease due to decrease in the formation of urea and malnutrition [59].

Metabolic Health Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and drinks are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function []. Diabetes — There are a few different conditions that may disrupt the balance between glucose and the pancreatic hormones, resulting in high or low blood glucose.

The most common cause is diabetes. People with untreated diabetes are not able to process and use glucose normally. Those who are not able to produce any or enough insulin and typically have diabetes autoantibodies are diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes. Those who are resistant to insulin and may or may not be able to produce sufficient quantities of it may have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes []. Gestational Diabetes — Some women may develop gestational diabetes, which is hyperglycemia that occurs only during pregnancy.

If untreated, this can cause these mothers to give birth to large babies who may have low glucose levels. Women who have had gestational diabetes may or may not go on to develop diabetes [].

Chronically high blood glucose levels can cause progressive damage to body organs such as the kidneys, eyes, heart and blood vessels, and nerves. Chronic low blood sugar can lead to nerve damage [].

Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities. But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:.

Overactive Thyroid — If the thyroid releases inappropriately large amounts of T4 and T3, the affected person may experience symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, such as rapid heart rate, weight loss, nervousness, hand tremors, irritated eyes, and difficulty sleeping. Graves disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism.

In response, the pituitary may produce less TSH, usually leading to a low level in the blood []. Underactive Thyroid — If there is decreased production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid hypothyroidism , the person may experience symptoms such as weight gain, dry skin, constipation, cold intolerance, and fatigue.

Hashimoto thyroiditis is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. It is a chronic autoimmune condition in which the immune response causes inflammation and damage to the thyroid as well as the production of autoantibodies. With Hashimoto thyroiditis, the thyroid produces low levels of thyroid hormone. The pituitary may produce more TSH, usually resulting in a high level in the blood []. However, the level of TSH does not always predict or reflect thyroid hormone levels.

Some people produce an abnormal form of TSH that does not function properly. They often have hypothyroidism despite having normal or even mildly elevated TSH levels. In a variety of thyroid diseases, thyroid hormone levels may be high or low, regardless of the amount of TSH present in the blood []. In adult males, low testosterone may alter certain masculine physical characteristics and impair normal reproductive function. Signs and symptoms may include:. Low testosterone can also cause mental and emotional changes.

As testosterone decreases, some men may experience symptoms similar to those of menopause in women. In females, testosterone testing may be done when a woman has irregular or no menstrual periods amenorrhea or is having difficulty getting pregnant, Testosterone levels can rise because conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome PCOS [].

Thyroid problems, depression, excessive alcohol use and conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea can all affect testosterone levels in men and women.

Males — A high SHBG level in relation to the amount of testosterone means that less free testosterone is available to the tissues than is indicated by the total testosterone test and therefore symptoms of low testosterone may occur. Low testosterone may alter certain masculine physical characteristics and impair normal reproductive function. High testosterone can result in irregular or no menstrual periods amenorrhea or difficulty getting pregnant,. Metabolic Conditions — Increased or decreased levels of estrogens are seen in many metabolic conditions.

Therefore it is important to look at trends over time in conjunction with the menstrual cycle or pregnancy rather than evaluating single test results []. Weight Gain — Sex hormones, such as estrogen, influence the amount of fat in the body. Estrogen regulates glucose and lipid metabolism. If your estrogen levels are low, it can result in weight gain. Being overweight can increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Mood — Depression and anxiety disorders are twice as common in women as in men, but the reason for this gender difference is unclear.

If you are at risk, strive for at least thirty minutes of moderate to intense exercise at least three times per week. Proper nutrition is also vital, and it is important to restrict sugary snacks, beverages, and desserts, and to limit the intake of trans fats and saturated fats. In addition, those who are at risk should consume whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, along with two servings of nonfried fish per week.

For people over age forty-five, it is important to have a glucose test every three years. Regular testing should begin at a younger age, and be performed frequently if you have any risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. In order to assess your health status, the following is recommended:. As mentioned in Chapter 1 "Nutrition and You" , poor dietary choices and a sedentary lifestyle account for about — thousand deaths every year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

That number is thirteen times higher than the deaths due to gun violence. The typical North American diet is too high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, and too low in fiber in the form of whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep people healthy. With so many threats to optimal health it is vital to address those factors that are under your control, namely dietary and lifestyle choices.

A diet that supplies your body with the needed energy and nutrients daily will result in efficient body functioning and in protection from disease.

Making sound nutritional choices can also provide support for individuals undergoing treatment for short-term or chronic conditions. Finding a balance between nutritional needs with concerns about drug interactions can hasten recovery, improve quality of life, and minimize the side effects from treatment protocols.

Foodborne illness is another serious threat to health. Raw foods, such as seafood, produce, and meats, can all be contaminated during harvest or slaughter for meats , processing, packaging, or during distribution, though meat and poultry are the most common source of foodborne illness.

For all kinds of food, contamination also can occur during preparation and cooking in a home kitchen or in a restaurant. In many developing nations, contaminated water is also a major source of foodborne illness. Many people are affected by foodborne illness each year, making food safety a very important issue. Annually, one out of six Americans becomes sick after consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Foodborne illness can range from mild stomach upset to severe symptoms, or even fatalities.

The problem of food contamination can not only be dangerous to your health, it can also be harmful to your wallet.

No one is immune from consuming contaminated food. But, whether you become seriously ill depends on the microorganism, the amount you have consumed, and your overall health. In addition, some groups have a higher risk than others for developing severe complications to foodborne disease. Who is most at risk? Young children, elderly people, and pregnant women all have a higher chance of becoming very sick after consuming contaminated food. Exposure to contaminated food could also pose problems for diabetics, cancer patients, people who have liver disease, and people who have stomach problems as a result of low stomach acid or previous stomach surgery.

People in all of these groups should handle food carefully, make sure that what they eat has been cooked thoroughly, and avoid taking any chances that could lead to exposure.

Foodborne illnesses are either infectious or toxic in nature. The difference depends on the agent that causes the condition. Microbes, such as bacteria, cause food infections, while toxins, such as the kind produced by molds, cause intoxications. Different diseases manifest in different ways, so signs and symptoms can vary with the source of contamination.

However the illness occurs, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and as a result common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Additional symptoms may include vomiting, dehydration, lightheadedness, and rapid heartbeat. More severe complications can include a high fever, diarrhea that lasts more than three days, prolonged vomiting, bloody stools, and signs of shock. One of the biggest misconceptions about foodborne illness is that it is always triggered by the last meal that a person ate. However, it may take several days or more before the onset of symptoms. If you develop a foodborne illness, you should rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Avoid antidiarrheal medications, because they could slow the elimination of the contaminant. According to the CDC, more than different foodborne diseases have been identified. Most are food infections Foodborne illness caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. The infection then grows inside the body and becomes the source of symptoms. Food infections can be sporadic and often are not reported to physicians.

However, ocassional outbreaks occur that put communities, states and provinces, or even entire nations at risk. For example, in , an outbreak of the infection salmonellosis occurred in the United States due to contaminated ice cream.

An estimated , people became ill. In , contaminated clams resulted in an outbreak of hepatitis A in China, which affected about , people. Last reviewed March Bacteria, one of the most common agents of food infection, are single-celled microorganisms that are too small to be seen with the human eye.

Microbes live, die, and reproduce, and like all living creatures, they depend on certain conditions to survive and thrive. In order to reproduce within food, microorganisms require the following:. Other kinds of foodborne illness are food intoxications Foodborne illness caused by natural toxins or harmful chemicals. These and other unspecified agents are major contributors to episodes of acute gastroenteritis and other kinds of foodborne illness.

Like pathogens, toxins and chemicals can be introduced to food during cultivation, harvesting, processing, or distribution. Some toxins can lead to symptoms that are also common to food infection, such as abdominal cramping, while others can cause different kinds of symptoms and complications, some very severe.

For example, mercury, which is sometimes found in fish, can cause neurological damage in infants and children. Exposure to cadmium can cause kidney damage, typically in elderly people. Both food infections and food intoxications can create a burden on health systems, when patients require treatment and support, and on food systems, when companies must recall contaminated food or address public concerns.

It all begins with the agent that causes the contamination. When a person ingests a food contaminant, it travels to the stomach and intestines. In the next part, we will focus on different types of food contaminants and examine common microbes, toxins, chemicals, and other substances that can cause food infections and intoxications. About one hundred years ago, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, and cholera were common diseases caused by food and water contaminated by pathogens.

Over time, improvements in food processing and water treatment eliminated most of those problems in North America. Today, other bacteria and viruses have become common causes of food infection. All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. However, poor handling and preparation of food, along with improper cooking or storage can multiply bacteria and cause illness.

In addition, bacteria can multiply quickly when cooked food is left out at room temperature for more than a few hours. Most bacteria grow undetected because they do not change the color or texture of food or produce a bad odor. Freezing and refrigeration slow or stop the growth of bacteria, but does not destroy the bacteria completely. The microbes can reactivate when the food is taken out and thawed. Salmonella was first identified in and many types of this kind of bacteria exist.

The incidence of Salmonella infections has risen dramatically in the past few decades. Many different kinds of bacteria can lead to food infections. One of the most common is Salmonella , which is found in the intestines of birds, reptiles, and mammals.

Salmonella can spread to humans via a variety of different animal-origin foods, including meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and seafood. The disease it causes, salmonellosis, typically brings about fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps within twelve to seventy-two hours after eating. Usually, the illness lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

However, in individuals with weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and lead to life-threatening complications, such as a high fever and severe diarrhea.

The bacterium Listeria monocytogenes is found in soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, and seafood. It causes a disease called listeriosis that can bring about fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Listeria monocytogenes mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with cancer and compromised immune systems. The food infection E. Sources include raw or undercooked meat, raw vegetables, unpasteurized milk, minimally processed ciders and juices, and contaminated drinking water.

Symptoms can occur a few days after eating, and include watery and bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and dehydration. More severe complications may include colitis, neurological symptoms, stroke, and hemolytic uremic syndrome.

In young children, an E. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum causes botulism. Sources include improperly canned foods, lunch meats, and garlic. An infected person may experience symptoms within four to thirty-six hours after eating. Symptoms could include nerve dysfunction, such as double vision, inability to swallow, speech difficulty, and progressive paralysis of the respiratory system.

Botulism can also be fatal. Campylobacter jejuni causes the disease campylobacteriosis. It is the most commonly identified bacterial cause of diarrhea worldwide. Consuming undercooked chicken, or food contaminated with the juices of raw chicken, is the most frequent source of this infection. Other sources include raw meat and unpasteurized milk.

Within two to five days after consumption, symptoms can begin and include diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and bloody stools. The duration of this disease is about seven to ten days. The food infection shigellosis is caused by Shigella , of which there are several types. Sources include undercooked liquid or moist food that has been handled by an infected person.

The onset of symptoms occurs one to seven days after eating, and can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Another common symptom is blood, pus, or mucus in stool. Once a person has had shigellosis, the individual is not likely to get infected with that specific type again for at least several years.

However, they can still become infected with other types of Shigella. Staphylococcus aureus causes staphylococcal food poisoning. Food workers who carry this kind of bacteria and handle food without washing their hands can cause contamination. Other sources include meat and poultry, egg products, cream-filled pastries, tuna, potato and macaroni salad, and foods left unrefrigerated for long periods of time. Symptoms can begin thirty minutes to eight hours after eating, and include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and cramps.

This food infection usually lasts one to two days. Found in raw oysters and other kinds of seafood, Vibrio vulnificus belongs to the same family as the bacteria which cause cholera. This food contaminant can result in the Vibrio infection.

Symptoms can begin anywhere from six hours to a few days after consumption, and include chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting. This disease is very dangerous and can result in fatalities, especially in people with underlying health problems. Viruses are another type of pathogen that can lead to food infections, however they are less predominant than bacteria.

Hepatitis A is one of the more well-known food-contaminating viruses. Sources include raw shellfish from polluted water, and food handled by an infected person. This virus can go undetected for weeks and, on average, symptoms do not appear until about one month after exposure. At first, symptoms include malaise, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

Three to ten days later, additional symptoms can manifest, including jaundice and darkened urine. Severe cases of a hepatitis A can result in liver damage and death. The most common form of contamination from handled foods is the norovirus , which is also known as the Norwalk-like virus, or the calicivirus. Sources include raw shellfish from polluted water, salads, sandwiches, and other ready-to-eat foods handled by an infected person.

The norovirus causes gastroenteritis and within one to three days it leads to symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, headache, and a low-grade fever. Food-contaminating parasitic protozoa are microscopic organisms that may be spread in food and water. Several of these creatures pose major problems to food production worldwide. They include Anisakis , microscopic worms that invade the stomach or the intestines. Sources of this parasite include raw fish.

This parasite can result in the Anisakis infection, with symptoms that begin within a day or less and include abdominal pain, which can be severe. Cryptosporidium lives in the intestines of infected animals. Another common source is drinking water, when heavy rains wash animal wastes into reservoirs. One major problem with this pathogen is that it is extremely resistant to disinfection with chlorine. Cryptosporidium causes the disease cryptosporidiosis, with symptoms that begin one to twelve days after exposure and include watery stools, loss of appetite, vomiting, a low-grade fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

Giardia lamblia is another parasite that is found in contaminated drinking water. In addition, it lives in the intestinal tracts of animals, and can wash into surface water and reservoirs, similar to Cryptosporidium.

Giardia causes giardiasis, with symptoms that include abdominal cramping and diarrhea within one to three days. Although most people recover within one to two weeks, the disease can lead to a chronic condition, especially in people with compromised immune systems. The parasite Toxoplasma gondii causes the infection toxoplasmosis, which is a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than sixty million Americans carry Toxoplasma gondii , but very few have symptoms.

Sources include raw or undercooked meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Handling the feces of a cat with an acute infection can also lead to the disease. Warm, humid, or damp conditions encourage mold to grow on food.

Molds are microscopic fungi that live on animals and plants. No one knows how many species of fungi exist, but estimates range from ten- to three-hundred thousand. Unlike single-celled bacteria, molds are multicellular, and under a microscope look like slender mushrooms. They have stalks with spores that form at the ends. The spores give molds their color and can be transported by air, water, or insects. Spores also enable mold to reproduce. Additionally, molds have root-like threads that may grow deep into food and be difficult to see.

The threads are very deep when a food shows heavy mold growth. Foods that contain mold may also have bacteria growing alongside it. Some molds, like the kind found in blue cheese, are desirable in foods, while other molds can be dangerous. The spores of some molds can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. In the right conditions, a few molds produce mycotoxins Natural, poisonous substance produced by certain molds and mushrooms that can cause foodborne illness.

Mycotoxins are contained in and around mold threads, and in some cases, may have spread throughout the food. They are found primarily in grains and nuts, but other sources include apples, celery, and other produce. The most dangerous mycotoxins are aflatoxins , which are produced by strains of fungi called Aspergillus under certain temperature and humidity conditions.

Contamination has occurred in peanuts, tree nuts, and corn. Aflatoxins can cause aflatoxicosis in humans, livestock, and domestic animals. Symptoms include vomiting and abdominal pain. Possible complications include liver failure, liver cancer, and even death. Many countries try to limit exposure to aflatoxins by monitoring their presence on food and feed products.

Like molds, mushrooms are fungi and the poisonous kind produces mycotoxins that can cause food intoxication. Toxic mushrooms, also known as toadstools, can cause severe vomitting and other symptoms.

However, only a few varieties are fatal. Toxic mushrooms cannot be made safe by cooking, freezing, canning, or processing. The only way to avoid food intoxication is to refrain from eating them. Mushroom guides can help wild gatherers distinguish between the edible and toxic kinds. Pesticides are important in food production to control diseases, weeds, insects, and other pests. They protect crops and ensure a large yield. However, synthetic pesticides can leave behind residues, particularly on produce, that can be harmful to human health.

Foods that contain the highest levels of pesticide residue include conventionally-grown peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, spinach, lettuce, and potatoes. Foods that contain the lowest levels of pesticide residue include avocadoes, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, asparagus, cabbage, and broccoli. In many cases, the amount of pesticide exposure is too small to pose a risk. However, harmful exposures can lead to certain health problems and complications, including cancer.

Also, infants and young children are more susceptible to the hazards of pesticides than adults. In addition, using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers contributes to soil and water pollution and can be hazardous to farm workers.

To protect the public and their workers, many farmers now rely on alternatives to synthetic pesticide use, including crop rotation, natural pesticides, and planting nonfood crops nearby to lure pests away. Some consumers choose to reduce their exposure to pesticides by purchasing organic produce.

Organic foods are grown or produced without synthetic pesticides or fertilizer, and all growers and processors must be certified by the US Department of Agriculture USDA. However, conventionally-grown produce should be fine for fruits and vegetables that appear on the low-residue list.

Pollutants are another kind of chemical contaminant that can make food harmful. Chemical runoff from factories can pollute food products and drinking water.

For example, dioxins are chemical compounds created in industrial processes, such as manufacturing and bleaching pulp and paper. Fish that swim in dioxin-polluted waters can contain significant amounts of this pollutant, which causes cancer. When metals contaminate food, it can result in serious and even life-threatening health problems. A common metal contaminant is lead, which can be present in drinking water, soil, and air.

Lead exposure most often affects children, who can suffer from physical and mental developmental delays as a result. Methyl mercury occurs naturally in the environment and is also produced by human activities.

Fish can absorb it, and the predatory fish that consume smaller, contaminated fish can have very high levels. This highly toxic chemical can cause mercury poisoning, which leads to developmental problems in children, as well as autoimmune effects. A condition called Minamata disease was identified in in Japan.

It was named for the town of Minamata, which was the site of an environmental disaster when methyl mercury was released into the surface water near a factory. Many residents experienced neurological issues, including numbness in hands and feet, muscle weakness, a narrowing of the field of vision, damage to hearing and speech, and ataxia, which is a lack of muscle coordination. Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan.

The History and Measures. PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, are man-made organic compounds that are used commercially. Like methyl mercury, higher concentrations of this contaminant are found in predatory fish. Health effects include physical and neurological development in children, and this compound is potentially a carcinogen. PCB contamination also can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

US Environmental Protection Agency. Most foodborne infections go unreported and undiagnosed. However, the CDC estimates that about seventy-six million people in the United States become ill from foodborne pathogens or other agents every year.

In North America, a number of government agencies work to educate the public about food infections and intoxications, prevent the spread of disease, and quell any major problems or outbreaks. As discussed in Chapter 14 "Nutrition and Society: Food Politics and Perspectives" , a number of government agencies work to ensure food safety and to protect the public from foodborne illness. The CDC tracks outbreaks, identifies the causes of food infection and intoxication, and recommends ways to prevent foodborne illness.

Other government agencies that play a role in protecting the public include the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a division of the USDA, which enforces laws regulating meat and poultry safety. The Agricultural Research Service, which is the research arm of the USDA, investigates a number of agricultural practices, including those related to animal and crop safety.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture conducts research and education programs on food safety for farmers and consumers. Government agencies also monitor the use of pesticides.

The EPA approves pesticides and other chemicals used in agriculture, and sets limits on how much residue can remain on food. The FDA analyzes food for surface residue and waxes. Processing methods can either reduce or concentrate pesticide residue in foods.

Therefore, the Food Quality Protection Act, which was passed in , requires manufacturers to show that pesticide levels are safe for children. In Canada, Health Canada works with local governments, industries, and consumers to establish food safety throughout the nation. Health Canada also monitors the levels of contaminants in foods and estimates the exposure of consumers.

Another organization, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, enforces the safety policies and standards set by Health Canada. They safeguard livestock, along with crops and other plants, to protect the public. Food Politics and Perspectives" , the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points HACCP is a system within the food industry designed to promote food safety and prevent contamination by identifying all areas in food production and retail where contamination could occur.

Companies and retailers determine the points during processing, packaging, shipping, or shelving where hazards could occur. Those companies or retailers must then take measures to prevent, control, or eliminate the potential for food contamination. HACCP is voluntary for all other food products. Consumers can also take steps to prevent foodborne illness and protect their health. Therefore, it is crucial to take measures to protect yourself from disease.

The four most important steps for handling, preparing, and serving food are:. It is best to buy your food from reputable grocers with clean, sanitary facilities, that keep products at appropriate temperatures. Consumers should examine food carefully before they purchase it. It is important to look at food in glass jars, check the stems on fresh produce, and avoid bruised fruit. Do not buy canned goods with dents or bulges, which are at risk for contamination with Clostridium botulinum.

Fresh meat and poultry are usually free from mold, but cured and cooked meats should be examined carefully. Also, avoid torn, crushed, or open food packages, and do not buy food with frost or ice crystals, which indicates that the product has been stored for a long time, or thawed and refrozen. It is also a good idea to keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other items in your shopping cart as you move through the grocery store.

This video provides tips to follow when selecting and purchasing food at the supermarket to help to prevent foodborne illness and protect your health. Refrigerate perishable foods quickly; they should not be left out for more than two hours. Store eggs in a carton on a shelf in the refrigerator, and not on the refrigerator door where the temperature is warmest.

Raw meat, poultry, and seafood should be kept in a refrigerator for only two days. Store potatoes and onions in a cool, dark place, but not under a sink because leakage from pipes could contaminate them. Empty cans of perishable foods or beverages that have been opened into containers, and promptly place them in a refrigerator. Also, be sure to consume leftovers within three to five days, so mold does not have a chance to grow. Wash hands thoroughly with warm, soapy water for at least twenty seconds before preparing food and every time after handling raw foods.

Washing hands is important for many reasons. One is to prevent cross-contamination between foods. Also, some pathogens can be passed from person to person, so hand washing can help to prevent this. Fresh fruits and vegetables should also be rinsed thoroughly under running water to clean off pesticide residue. California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

How We Test for Safety. What You Should Know about Pesticides, no. This is particularly important for produce that contains a high level of residue, such as apples, pears, spinach, and potatoes. Washing also removes most dirt and bacteria from the surface of produce. Other tips to keep foods safe during preparation include defrosting meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator, microwave, or in a water-tight plastic bag submerged in cold water.

Never defrost at room temperature because that is an ideal temperature for bacteria to grow. Also, marinate foods in the refrigerator and discard leftover marinade after use because it contains raw juices. Always use clean cutting boards, which should be washed with soap and warm water by hand or in a dishwasher after each use. Another way to sanitize cutting boards is to rinse them with a solution of 5 milliliters 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to about 1 liter 1 quart of water.

If possible, use separate cutting boards for fresh produce and for raw meat. Also, wash the top before opening canned foods to prevent dirt from coming into contact with food. Cooked food is safe to eat only after it has been heated to a temperature that is high enough to kill bacteria. Instead, use a food thermometer to be sure. The appropriate minimum cooking temperature varies depending on the type of food. When microwaving, rotate the dish and stir contents several times to ensure even cooking.

After food has been cooked, the possibility of bacterial growth increases as the temperature drops. When serving food, keep it covered to block exposure to any mold spores hanging in the air. Use plastic wrap to cover foods that you want to remain moist, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads.

After a meal, do not keep leftovers at room temperature for more than two hours. They should be refrigerated as promptly as possible. It is also helpful to date leftovers, so they can be used within a safe time, which is generally three to five days when stored in a refrigerator. Adopting sustainable practices can go a long way toward helping you achieve optimal health, while also helping to protect the health of our planet.

Remember, that sustainability involves meeting present nutritional needs while preserving resources for the future. It includes agricultural practices and processes, along with the choices that consumers make when they shop for their food. Ideally, sustainable practices include methods that are healthy, conserve the environment, protect livestock, respect food industry workers, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities.

When a practice or a process is sustainable, it can be maintained for decades, or even centuries, to come. There are a number of steps you can take to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Utilizing an environmentally-friendly approach to good nutrition is a great way to remain and stay healthy.

As an initial step, you might try to buy more whole foods rather than processed foods. You might also drink more water, rather than sodas and juices with added sugar. It is also a good idea to drink from a reusable water bottle to avoid adding more plastic to your local landfill, not to mention saving the fuel it takes to ship bottles of water.

Here are some other suggestions to live a more sustainable lifestyle:. Learn more about food. Learn about your local food system, what is native to the area, what is imported or shipped in, how food moves from farms to processors to retail in your area, and what practices are used. Read labels to see where food comes from and what the growing and processing practices are. You might also try taking a cooking class to learn more about food in general. Eat a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is not necessarily vegetarian or vegan; it simply emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes over meat and poultry.

Plant-based foods are good sources of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. They also help to decrease your risk for cancer and other chronic conditions.

Purchase more locally grown food to promote sustainability. Locally grown food requires less fossil fuel because it does not have to travel great distances. Locally grown food also puts money back into your community and helps farmers in your area. Join a community garden. Consider growing your own food, or trying a community garden if you do not have the space at your home. Produce from a local garden will not only be fresher, it will often taste better.

In addition, it will provide an opportunity to get to know like-minded individuals in your community. Help spread the word. Talk to friends and family members about food, nutrition, and living a sustainable lifestyle.

Also, pay attention to food and nutrition policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Take a look at what foods are available in your community. Are there supermarkets or corner stores? What is available in the university dining hall? If healthy options are lacking, can you talk to someone to bring about changes? Another option to support local farmers is to sign up for a CSA community-supported agriculture.

Prior to a planting season, consumers who join a CSA purchase a produce share from a local farmer. When harvesting begins, farmers provide in-season, locally grown vegetables to shareholders at a local drop spot each week throughout the growing season.

Some CSAs also include fruit, dairy products, meat, and more. CSA farmers often will allow you to visit the farm to learn more about the crops they grow or even volunteer to help with the harvest.