In North America, nearly 44,000 people die each year from drug overdoses; that’s 120 people dying every day. In BC, the opioid crisis continues unabated. This week, the BCCDC released a 10 stage action report on reducing overdose deaths. The report was compiled from a stakeholder meeting of 54 organizations representing policy makers, community organizations, government, health services, law enforcement and other.
As one person put it, “Urge the incoming government to reiterate the scale of the emergency and the impacts it has on our friends and families. These deaths are preventable and there is no one that can’t be helped. Stigma. Decriminalization. Connection. Rebuilding lives.” The full report can be found here.
August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), an event focused on prevention and awareness. IOAD provides a platform to acknowledge the grief felt by family and friends having lost a loved one due to a drug overdose. IOAD is also a day to raise awareness that drug overdose deaths are preventable.
The problem with drug overdose deaths is especially prevalent in BC. In May 2016 the British Columbia Coroners Service released the number of illicit drug overdose deaths that occurred in the province between January 1, 2007 and April 30, 2016. They found that there were 480 apparent illicit drug overdose deaths in 2015, a 31.1 per cent increase in deaths from 2014 (366 deaths).
In 2015 the illicit overdose death rate increased to 10.2 deaths per 100,000 population. Similar rates were previously seen in 1998 (10.0 deaths) and 1993 (9.9 deaths).
There were 76 deaths in January 2016; the largest number of deaths in a single month for the examined period (2007 to 2016).
Preliminary data suggest that the proportion of illicit drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was detected increased to 49 per cent in the first three months of 2016.
IOAD provides an opportunity for individuals and groups to raise awareness of this issue. Support is available to support you holding an event, hosting a memorial, helping spread information about how to prevent an overdose from becoming fatal, organizing something in the workplace, or helping to raise funds for Overdose Day, you can email for guidance.
Or, you can simply share information via social media with Facebook, Twitter or other programs. Logos, posters, memes, fact sheets and links can be found at the resource page here.
Everyday, we see lives around us being changed and lost to overdose. Overdose does not discriminate—it could be you or someone you love, a friend, colleague or your neighbor.
This year on International Overdose Awareness Day, you can get involved to prevent the tragedy of overdose.
These days it’s pretty much impossible to go 24 hours without exposing yourself to some sort of potentially dangerous substance or carcinogen. According to the American Cancer Society, carcinogens are the substances, situations, and exposures that can lead to cancer. Generally speaking, everyone’s risk of developing cancer varies, but the three main determinants are genetics, length of time you’re exposed to the substance, and the intensity of the exposure. Here are 5 carcinogen filled products that are better left on the store shelves:
1.Baby powder (Talcum powder)
Found in almost everyone’s bathroom cabinets, baby powder is widely used because of its almost endless possibilities. Not only can it be used as dry shampoo, deodorant, or a baby bottom refresher, but the main ingredient, Talc, is found in many cosmetic products. In Talc’s natural form, there is a chance it contains asbestos, a known carcinogen linked to lung cancer and rare cancer called mesothelioma when inhaled. Next time you’re picking up a bottle of baby powder, look for the words “Talcum free!”
2. Scented candles/air fresheners
This time of year, there’s nothing better than filling the house with the sweet aroma of pumpkin spice and peppermint candy cane, but think twice before dusting off the seasonal candles. Not only do burning candles release carcinogenic chemicals into the air, but there are studies stating chemicals can be absorbed by the body just by touching the candles. Fear not, candle lovers. Paraffin, a sludge waste from the petroleum industry, is the major ingredient in most candles but buying paraffin free candles means a cleaner burn!
3. Hot dogs
Yup, no surprise here. Most people accept the fact they don’t want to know what goes into a hot dog, but it’s more than just the rumored mystery meat. Highly processed hot dogs contain preservatives called nitrites, which when combined with amines naturally present in meat, form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. At your next barbecue, skip the hot dog line and add a veggie burger to your plate.
4. Laundry detergent
A lot of well-known detergents are also some of the most toxic. They might be the best at getting out those stubborn ink stains, but it comes at a price. The use of 1,4-dioxane (found in paints and varnishes) in some brands may trick you into thinking your laundry is clean, but that “fresh laundry” smell is just a bunch of chemicals sitting on your clothes waiting to be absorbed into your skin. Detergents with plant-based ingredients are not only safer for the whole family, but also a lot more eco-friendly!
5. Whole Milk
Didn’t our mothers make us finish our glass of milk before we could even leave the dinner table? Unless you’re getting milk from the neighbor’s grass-fed cow down the road, chances are the gallon of whole milk sitting in your fridge contains a handful of carcinogens and growth hormones like bGH (some studies show a possible link to breast cancer.) Try organic almond or coconut milk next time you’re pouring yourself a bowl of cereal!
Dr. Rigobert Kefferputz discussed foods with important immune-enhancing properties. Watch the CTV video here.
GERD and Protein Pump Inhibitors: Seeking Alternatives
Ingrid Pincott, ND
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are one of the ten most prescribed drugs in North America. PPIs are used in the treatment of acid reflux or GERD. I see at least one patient every week who is taking PPIs and wanting to get off them.
Bob, age 45, is a typical example. He has been taking PPIs for years and his GERD symptoms were not completely under control. He also had developed a rash he could not get rid of through conventional treatment so he is ready to try and improve his health. Certainly if a person is in severe gastric pain due to hyper-secretion of stomach acid, these drugs are useful to treat the acute phase. The side effects of long term treatment include: Decreased blood flow to the stomach, bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, hyperplastic polyp formation in the stomach, increased bile reflux and increased food allergy because food is not digested properly. Hypersensitivity reactions that can occur include urticaria, contact dermatitis, and drug rashes.
One of the reasons an MD might recommend a PPI for life is due to Barrett’s esophagus which increases the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). However, in some recent research published by F. Hvid-Jensen, 2014, the risk of developing EAC increased with PPI use due to the increased formation of polyps while taking the drug!
Other complications of long term PPI use include: gastrin secretion increases, contributing to the risk of colon cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma; women taking PPIs have an increased risk of hip fracture, and reduction in bone density; there is also an increased risk of developing community acquired pneumonia especially in the elderly; and, finally, there is an increased risk to developing C. difficile as well as an increased risk of having a heart attack.
I recommended to Bob to come off PPIs gradually over six months to avoid rebound excess stomach acid. Some patients I have seen come off a lot faster than that because they did many other changes at the same time. For example removing wheat from their diet, eating a low carb diet, and eating food in proper combination helps a great deal to reduce GERD symptoms quickly. I put Bob on my candida program which addressed a lot of these recommendations in one protocol. The “yeast” killers help to kill off harmful bacteria and taking a strong probiotic away from the “yeast” killers helps establish a healthy microbiome. I told Bob this treatment program has helped many with chronic GERD.
I also have great success with a digestive aid containing licorice, marshmallow and slippery elm that is aimed to heal the stomach and help digest starches and fats without the use of protease, which can aggravate these cases in the early phases of treatment.
I saw Bob one month later. He was using the PPIs much less and was amazed. His skin was beginning to clear and he was much less itchy. He continued on the candida program for another two months and once he was off the PPIs I recommended a slightly stronger digestive enzyme. During this time I noticed on his blood work results that his liver and gallbladder were abnormal so I added a bile thinner and detoxifier for at least three months.
At the six month mark, Bob had lost 20 pounds due to the diet changes, his liver enzymes were back to normal and the only digestive aid he needed were the probiotics and the digestive enzyme. Often the symptoms of too much stomach acid are the same as too little stomach acid. The rest of his maintenance health program included B complex, vitamin B12, omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamin D and a calcium magnesium complex. PPIs deplete magnesium and B12 so we had some catching up to do because he had been on them for so many years.
[A version of this article originally appeared in the Campbell River Mirror, March 25, 2016.]
BC Naturopathic Association
2238 Pine Street
Vancouver, BC, V6J 5G4
Phone Toll-Free 1-800-277-1128