Health updates: Environmental exposure and ractopamine

February 27, 2012

Arthritis, Food, Health, Meat

The following is information regarding environmental exposure and arthritis, and information about a drug pumped into animals days before slaughtering.

Environmental exposure can trigger arthritis

The links between autoimmune diseases, infections and the environment are complex and mysterious. Spondyloarthropathies, a group of common inflammatory rheumatic disorders, appear to be triggered by environmental factors. Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease afflicting more than 2 million Americans. One root cause of arthritis is extreme stress, and some medications, such as birth control pills, might be linked in some cases to the onset of lupus. Environmental pollution is also a concern for those predisposed to an autoimmune disease. Second-hand smoke, food chemicals or chemicals in the air, jet fuel fumes, UV exposure and other forms of environmental pollution are among the triggers thought to provoke the onset of autoimmune diseases. Hairspray and lipstick are also known to be occasional triggers.

Banned in 160 nations— the FDA says it is safe

A livestock drug banned in 160 nations and responsible for hyperactivity, muscle breakdown and 10 percent mortality in pigs has been approved by the FDA. The beta agonist ractopamine, a repartitioning agent that increases protein synthesis, was recruited for livestock use when researchers found the drug, used for asthma, made mice more muscular. Ractopamine is administered as the animal nears slaughter. How is it that a drug can become “safe” to put into food that humans consume even though it comes with the following warning?: “Not for use in humans. Individuals with cardiovascular disease should exercise special caution to avoid exposure. Use protective clothing, impervious gloves, protective eye wear and a NIOSH-approved dust mask.” This is with no washout period for the drugs to be eliminated from the body. The drug is banned in Europe, Taiwan and China, and more than 1,700 people have been poisoned from eating pigs fed the drug since 1998, but ractopamine is used in 45 percent of U.S. pigs and 30 percent of ration-fed cattle.


Sources: Science Daily January 25, 2010, Autoimmune Reviews December 21, 2009, USA Today January 27, 2010, AlterNet February 2, 2010, and

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 2, Apr/May 2010.

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