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By Dr. Mercola
If you think your birth control pill is the best pregnancy prevention tool there is, you may be surprised by new research looking into its failure rates.
Compared to other forms of protection, the Pill failed miserably, which only adds to the myriad of reasons why you should heavily question its use.
The Pill Fails 20 Times More Often
About 99 percent of sexually active women use at least one method of birth control, the most common of which is the birth control pill (oral contraceptives). The Pill was used by nearly 11 million U.S. women from 2006-2008.i
Meanwhile, nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.ii Certainly not all of these are due to a birth control failure, but some of them — estimates suggest about half — undoubtedly are. Which brings me to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.iii Out of the 7,500 women in the study, who used various forms of birth control including an intrauterine device (IUD), implant, birth control pills, patch, ring and contraceptive injection, 334 became pregnant, 156 of which were due to birth control failure.
The contraceptive failure rate among pills, patch or ring was 4.55 percent, compared to 0.27 percent among participants using reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. The effectiveness—or non-effectiveness—was no different in adolescents or young women. The implications—that birth control pills are 20 times more likely to fail than IUDs—should give some women a pause to think about the method of contraception they want to use.
As for the varying degrees of effectiveness, the Pill must be taken daily, preferably around the same time for it to work its best. Study author Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, noted:iv
“This study is the best evidence we have that long-acting reversible methods are far superior to the birth control pill, patch and ring. IUDs and implants are more effective because women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place … If there were a drug for cancer, heart disease or diabetes that was 20 times more effective, we would recommend it first.”
Hormone-Based Contraceptives Have Steep Risks
Unintended pregnancy is clearly a big one, but artificially manipulating your hormones using oral contraceptives, the patch or ring, or an injection like Depo-Provera is also a very risky proposition. Most birth control pills are a combination of the derivatives of the hormones estrogen and a synthetic progesterone(progestin). They work by disrupting the hormones in your body, essentially fooling your intricate hormonal reproductive system into producing the following effects:
- Preventing your ovaries from releasing eggs
- Thickening your cervical mucus to help block sperm from fertilizing an egg
- Thinning the lining of your uterus, which would make it difficult for an egg to implant, should it become fertilized
However, it is naive to believe that these are the only impacts the synthetic hormones are having. Your reproductive system does not exist in a bubble … it is connected to all of your other bodily systems as well. The Pill, too, does not only influence your reproductive status; it’s capable of altering much more.
Ten years ago, in 2002, one of the largest and best-designed federal studies of hormone replacement therapy was halted because women taking these synthetic hormones had a such a higher risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots that continuing forward with the study would have been unethical. The news made headlines because millions of women were already taking these synthetic hormones, but fortunately it prompted many of them to quit. And what do you think happened a year after millions of women quit taking hormone replacement therapy? Incidents of breast cancer fell dramatically — by 7 percent!
What does this have to do with the Pill? Birth control pills contain the SAME type of synthetic hormones — estrogen and progestin — that were used in the ill-fated study!
That’s just one risk. Oral contraceptives have been linked to more than two dozen conditions, including heart disease, liver cancer, deep vein thrombosis and inflammatory bowel disease.v Research suggests they are not only carcinogenic (cancer-causing) but also cardiotoxic (toxic to your heart) and endocrine disrupting.
Why I Advise Most Women to Stop Hormonal Contraceptives
Birth control pills are rarely, if ever, necessary or beneficial. In exchange for the convenience of preventing pregnancy (which you can do naturally perhaps even more effectively, and I’ll explain how below), you are putting yourself at risk of a myriad of health issues.
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that several types of hormone-based birth control methods increased women’s risk of heart attack and stroke.vi The link was found between oral contraceptives as well as contraceptive patches and the vaginal ring. Women using the ring were found to have a 2.5 times greater risk of stroke compared to those not using hormonal contraceptives, whereas the other methods increased the risk to varying degrees.
Other known health risks of hormone-based birth control include:
|Cancer: Women who take birth control pills increase their risk of cervical and breast cancers, and possibly liver cancer as well.||Fatal blood clots: All birth control pills increase your risk of blood clots and subsequent stroke.||Thinner bones: Women who take birth control pills have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women who have never used oral contraceptives.||Impaired muscle gains: A study found that oral contraceptive use impairs muscle gains from resistance exercise training in women.vii|
|Long-term sexual dysfunction: The Pill may limit the availability and/or action of testosterone, leading to long-term sexual dysfunction, including decreased desire and arousal.||Heart disease: Long-term use of birth control pills may increase the buildup of arterial plaque, which may raise your risk of heart disease and cardiac mortality.viii||Migraines and nausea||Weight gain and mood changes|
|Irregular bleeding or spotting||Breast tenderness||Yeast overgrowth||Yeast infection|
The other hormonal-based options are not much better. Birth control patches (Ortho Evra) have resulted in an avalanche of lawsuits over the past several years due to the overwhelming health problems women have experienced from using them. One of the reasons the patch is so risky is that you absorb up to 60 percent more synthetic estrogen than if you were taking an oral contraceptive. Side effects of the patch include:
Raised risk of heart attack and stroke Irregular bleeding Problems wearing contact lenses Fluid retention or raised blood pressure Nausea Headache Breast tenderness Mood changes Menstrual cramps Abdominal pain Skin irritation or rashes at site of patch
As far as injections like Depo-Provera, or depo medroxyprogesterone (DMPA), go, this synthetic analogue of natural progesterone known as a progestin interferes with hormone signaling to prevent your ovaries from releasing eggs. Progestins carry with them a vast array of negative side effects, including:
Side Effects of Depo-Provera
- Weight gain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Decreased sexual desire
- Swelling of the hands and feet
- Abdominal cramps
- Weakness of fatigue
- Leg cramps
- Vaginal discharge or irritation
- Pelvic pain
- Lack of hair growth or excessive hair loss
- Hot flashes
- Joint pain
- Urinary tract infections
- Allergic reactions
- Lack of return to fertility
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolus
- Breast and cervical cancers
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding
- Increased risk for STDs
- Unexpected breast milk production
- Changes in speech, coordination, or vision
- Swelling of face, ankles or feet
- Mood changes
- Unusual fatigue
Is an IUD a Better Option?
Intrauterine devices are small, plastic, T-shaped sticks with a string attached to the end. The IUD is placed inside the uterus and prevents pregnancy by rendering the sperm unable to fertilize an egg, and by changing the lining of the uterus so that it is less supportive for an embryo. It also works by releasing hormones into your body, specifically a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel, which is often used in birth control pills.
One of its major advantages, and what contributes to its increased effectiveness rate, is that it essentially eliminates the compliance failure issue as all you do is insert it once. There is no daily task to remember to do. However, it, too, carries significant risks, including some that are unique to a foreign body being placed inside your uterus. Among them:
- Pelvic infection: IUDs may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious infection
- The device may attach to or go through the wall of the uterus
- Pregnancy while using an IUD can be life threatening, and may result in loss of the pregnancy or fertility
- Ovarian cysts may occur
- Bleeding and spotting
Take Charge of Your Body Using Natural Birth Control Methods
You may not be aware that there are many effective and safe methods for preventing pregnancy. Some of the more common, barrier methods are:
- Male condoms: Condoms have a 98 percent effectiveness rate when used correctly. A water-based lubricant will increase the effectiveness; do not use an oil-based lubricant, however, as they break the latex and usually are petrochemical in origin.
- Female condoms: These thin, soft polyurethane pouches fitted inside the vagina before sex are 95 percent effective. Female condoms are less likely to tear than male condoms.
- Diaphragm: Diaphragms, which must be fitted by a doctor, act as a barrier to sperm. When used correctly with spermicidal jellies, they are 92 to 98 percent effective.
- Cervical cap: This heavy rubber cap fits tightly against the cervix and can be left in place for 48 hours. Like the diaphragm, a doctor must fit the cap. Proper fitting enhances the effectiveness above 91 percent.
- Cervical sponges: The sponge, made of polyurethane foam, is moistened with water and inserted into the vagina prior to sex. It works as a barrier between sperm and the cervix, both trapping and absorbing sperm and releasing a spermicide to kill them. It can be left in for up to 24 hours at a time. When used correctly, the sponge is about 89-91 percent effective.
Many people are familiar with these barrier methods, and less familiar with natural family planning (NFP) tools, which a woman uses to track when she is ovulating, and then avoid sex during that time (or does so only using a back-up barrier method). Many women feel empowered by NFP because it allows them to get in touch with their fertility cycle.
Some of the most popular methods include:
- Calendar Method: Abstention from sex during the week the woman is ovulating. This technique works best when a woman’s menstrual cycle is very regular. The calendar method doesn’t work very well for couples who use it by itself (about a 75 percent success rate), but it can be effective when combined with the temperature and mucus methods described below.
- The Temperature Method: This is a way to pinpoint the day of ovulation so that sex can be avoided for a few days before and after. It involves taking your basal body temperature (your temperature upon first waking) each morning with an accurate “basal” thermometer, and noting the rise in temperature that occurs after ovulation.
Illness or lack of sleep can change your body temperature and make this method unreliable by itself, but when it is combined with the mucus method, it can be an accurate way of assessing fertility. The two methods combined can have a success rate as high as 98 percent.
- The Mucus Method: This involves tracking changes in the amount and texture of vaginal discharge, which reflect rising levels of estrogen in your body. For the first few days after your period, there is often no discharge, but there will be a cloudy, tacky mucus as estrogen starts to rise. When the discharge starts to increase in volume and becomes clear and stringy, ovulation is near. A return to the tacky, cloudy mucus or no discharge means that ovulation has passed.
I encourage you to become actively involved in fertility awareness, and embrace natural family planning or barrier methods that will not interfere with your hormones and health. Some excellent reading to get you started on this path include:
- The Ovulation Method: Natural Family Planning, by John J. Billings
- Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, by Toni Weschler
- Honoring Our Cycles: A Natural Family Planning Workbook, by Katie Singer
November 5, 2020, U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an investigative public health nonprofit group, filed a lawsuit1 against the National Institutes of Health after the agency failed to respond to its July 10, 2020, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The USRTK’s lawsuit sought access to nonexempt records of gain-of-function experiments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the EcoHealth Alliance, which partnered with and funded the Wuhan Institute.2
In a November 18, 2020, article,3,4 USRTK reports that emails obtained prove EcoHealth Alliance employees were behind the plot to obscure the lab origin of SARS-CoV-2 by issuing a scientific statement condemning such inquiries as “conspiracy theory”:
“Emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know show that a statement5 in The Lancet authored by 27 prominent public health scientists condemning ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin’ was organized by employees of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit group that has received millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funding to genetically manipulate coronaviruses with scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The emails obtained via public records requests show that EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak drafted the Lancet statement, and that he intended it to ‘not be identifiable as coming from any one organization or person’6 but rather to be seen as ‘simply a letter from leading scientists.’7 Daszak wrote that he wanted ‘to avoid the appearance of a political statement.’8
The scientists’ letter appeared in The Lancet on February 18, just one week after the World Health Organization announced that the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be named COVID-19.
The 27 authors ‘strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,’ and reported that scientists from multiple countries ‘overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife.’
The letter included no scientific references to refute a lab-origin theory of the virus. One scientist, Linda Saif, asked via email whether it would be useful ‘to add just one or 2 statements in support of why nCOV is not a lab generated virus and is naturally occuring? Seems critical to scientifically refute such claims!’9 Daszak responded, ‘I think we should probably stick to a broad statement.’10”
USRTK points out that several of the authors of that Lancet statement also have direct ties to the EcoHealth Alliance that were not disclosed as conflicts of interest.
“Rita Colwell and James Hughes are members of the Board of Directors of EcoHealth Alliance, William Karesh is the group’s Executive Vice President for Health and Policy, and Hume Field is Science and Policy Advisor,” USRTK writes.11
Daszak Leads Lancet Investigation Into SARS-CoV-2 Origin
This bombshell finding is all the more important in light of the fact that Daszak is now leading The Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission charged with getting to the bottom of SARS-CoV-2’s origin.12
The nomination was suspect from the start, for no other reason than EcoHealth Alliance has received numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health for coronavirus research that was then subcontracted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Daszak had also gone on the record stating he’s convinced that the virus is natural in origin. With that, his conflicts of interest were already crystal clear, but the finding that he orchestrated The Lancet statement condemning “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin” means The Lancet Commission’s investigation is little more than a cover-up operation.
If they want to maintain any semblance of credibility going forward, Daszak would need to be replaced with someone less tainted by conflicts and personal gain potential. Five other members of The Lancet Commission also signed the February 18, 2020, statement in The Lancet,13 which puts their credibility in question as well.
Daszak has every reason to make sure SARS-CoV-2 ends up being declared natural, because if it turns out to be a lab-creation, his livelihood is at stake. It would be naïve to believe that safeguarding the continuation of dangerous gain-of-function research wouldn’t be a powerful motivator to preserve the zoonotic origin narrative.
If you want to see just how deeply the mainstream media is in complete collusion with Daszak and is being used to bolster this fake narrative, you can view the “60 Minutes” interview with him below that was broadcast earlier this year.
Lab Escapes Are Commonplace
For the past decade, there have been red flags raised in the scientific community about biosecurity breaches in high containment biological labs in the U.S. and around the world.14
There were legitimate fears that a lab-created superflu might escape the confines of biosecurity labs where researchers are conducting experiments. It’s certainly a reasonable fear, considering the many biosafety breaches on record.15,16,17,18 For example, in 2014, six glass vials of smallpox virus were accidentally found in a storeroom in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s lab at the National Institutes of Health.19
It was the second time in one month mishandling of potential deadly infectious agents was exposed. One month before this shocking discovery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention20 realized as many as 84, and possibly 86, of its scientists had been exposed to live anthrax.21,22
The live pathogen had been sent from another, higher-security facility, which failed to follow biosafety protocols. The anthrax sample was supposed to have been inactivated prior to transfer, but for a variety of reasons it wasn’t dead on arrival.
The next year, in 2015, the Pentagon realized a Dugway Proving Ground laboratory had been sending incompletely inactivated anthrax (meaning it was still live) to 200 laboratories around the world for the past 12 years. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report23 issued in August 2016, incompletely inactivated anthrax was sent out on at least 21 occasions between 2003 and 2015.
In 2017, the BSL 4 lab on Galveston Island was hit by a massive storm and severe flooding, raising questions about what might happen were some of the pathogens kept there to get out.24 As recently as 2019, the BSL 4 lab in Fort Detrick was temporarily shut down after several protocol violations were noted.25
Between October 2014 and December 2017, a moratorium on dangerous gain-of-function experiments was in effect in the U.S.26,27 The moratorium was initially issued after a rash of “high-profile lab mishaps” at the CDC and “extremely controversial flu experiments” in which the bird flu virus was engineered to become more lethal and contagious between ferrets.
The goal was to see if it could mutate and become more lethal and contagious between humans, causing future pandemics.
According to Francis Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the West Africa Ebola pandemic likely originated out of a BSL-4 facility in Sierra Leone. He believes they were testing a live Ebola vaccine, thereby causing the outbreak.
Asia Times28 lists several other examples of safety breaches at BSL3 and BSL4 labs, as does a May 28, 2015, article in USA Today,29 an April 11, 2014, article in Slate magazine30 and a November 16, 2020, article in Medium.31
SARS Lab Escapes
The Medium article,32 written by Gilles Demaneuf, reviews SARS lab escapes specifically. No less than three out of four reappearances of SARS have been attributed to safety breaches. In the first incident, which took place in September 2003 in Singapore, an inexperienced doctoral student was infected with SARS. The case was blamed on “inappropriate laboratory standards” and cross-contamination.33
Other shortcomings that contributed included “inadequate record-keeping procedures, totally inadequate training, inexistent virus stock inventory, patchy maintenance records plus a variety of structural problems including the absence of gauges to indicate the pressure differentials, the lack of a freezer to store samples, problems with HEPA filters and air supply, and other equipment deficiencies.”34
The second accident took place in December 2003 at the Level 4 lab at the Taiwan Military Institute of Preventive Medical Research (IPMR) of the National Defense University.
A lieutenant-colonel working with SARS was infected as a result of negligence when disinfecting an accidental spill. The third incidence took place between February and April 2004 in Beijing, resulting in nearly 1,000 people being medically quarantined.
Why Tracking Down Origin of SARS-CoV-2 Is Crucial
As noted by the National Review,35 getting to the bottom of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is crucial if we are to prevent a similar pandemic to erupt in the future:
“If it originated from a person eating bat or pangolin at a wet market, then we need to take steps to ensure that bat and pangolin consumption and trade stops everywhere in the world … Bat guano is used as fertilizer in many countries, and that guano can be full of viruses … If this is the source of the virus, we need to get people to stop going into caves and using the guano as fertilizer …
In a strange way, the ‘lab accident’ scenario is one of the most reassuring explanations. It means that if we want to ensure we never experience this again, we simply need to get every lab in the world working on contagious viruses to ensure 100 percent compliance with safety protocols, all the time.”
We’re told gain-of-function research is necessary in order to stay ahead of the natural evolution of viruses. A pathogen that mutates and jumps species, for example, may end up posing a severe threat to mankind. However, by manipulating pathogens, turning nonlethal viruses into lethal ones, for example, we are creating the very risk we’re supposedly trying to avoid.
And, as long as we are creating the risk, the benefit will always be secondary. Any scientific or medical gains made from this kind of research pales in comparison to the incredible risks involved if these creations are released. This sentiment has been echoed by others in a variety of scientific publications.36,37,38,39
Considering the potential for a massively lethal pandemic, I believe it’s safe to say that BSL 3 and 4 laboratories pose a very real and serious existential threat to humanity.
U.S. biowarfare programs employ some 13,000 scientists,40 all of whom are hard at work creating ever-deadlier pathogens, while the public is simply told to trust that these pathogens will never be released, either involuntarily or voluntarily.
Historical facts tell us accidental exposures and releases have already happened, and we only have our lucky stars to thank that none have turned into pandemics taking the lives of millions.
Considering safety breaches at these labs number in the hundreds, it’s only a matter of time before something really nasty gets out. Consider the ramifications if a souped-up Ebola or Spanish flu were to get out, for example. Is SARS-CoV-2 the product of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology? It might be. There’s certainly compelling evidence to suggest it.
But even if such suspicions turn out be wrong, we must ask the question and do a proper investigation. We absolutely need to know how this virus came about, and if it was a lab creation, how it got out.
Naturally, there will be resistance. As mentioned, many thousands of researchers stand to lose their careers were this kind of research to be banned. As Antonio Regalado, biomedicine editor of MIT Technology Review, told Boston Magazine,41 “If it turned out COVID-19 came from a lab it would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom.”
Some might be looking at an even worse fate. With sufficient evidence, certain researchers and public health authorities could face life behind bars for their involvement, which is the penalty for bioterrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act. All things considered, there’s virtually no benefit to gain-of-function research, but plenty of risk.
1 A secondary analysis of the VITAL study found patients with no prior history of cancer who took 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day reduced their risk for which of the following diseases by 17% (and 38% if of healthy weight)?
2 The “effectiveness” of COVID-19 vaccines refer to:
3 Which of the following pandemic measures have been proven to prevent infection and lower mortality?
4 Which of the following failed vaccination programs has been cited as the origin of the anti-vaccine movement?
5 Research has confirmed there’s an inverse relationship between which of the following?
6 At extremely high doses, vitamin C:
7 At a molecular level, high linoleic acid (omega-6) consumption:
In this interview, Tucker Goodrich and I discuss what will be the topic of my next book, namely linoleic acid (LA), which I believe is likely the leading contributing cause of virtually all chronic diseases we’ve encountered over the last century. Unfortunately, this is a topic that most clinicians and health care practitioners who focus on natural medicine have only a superficial understanding of.
Goodrich has a business background as a stockbroker and asset manager, and developed an IT risk management system used by two of the largest hedge funds in the world. A string of health crises in his late 30s and early 40s prompted him to apply his research and troubleshooting skills to medical research.
As noted by Goodrich, “It was a very upsetting time in my life and medical professionals really weren’t any help at all in trying to figure out what caused things.” After a lot of reading and researching, he decided to cut out seed oils from his diet, and in just two days, his 16-year-long bout with irritable bowel disease started to dramatically improve.
“I started immediately feeling better,” he says. He also lost a significant amount of weight over the next two months. After that, he stopped eating carbs and realized he must have had a severe case of gluten intolerance.
“Being an engineer by trade, I did a lot of experimenting. What can I eat? What brings back the symptoms? What do I have to avoid to keep the symptoms away? And it was a transformation that made everybody I worked with comment on what a difference they saw in me. It was a very quick change,” he says.
Avoiding Omega-6 Fats Is Key for Good Health
While considered an essential fat, when consumed in excessive amounts, which over 99% of people do, LA (an omega-6 polyunsaturated fat or PUFA) acts as a metabolic poison.
Most clinicians who value nutritional interventions to optimize health understand that vegetable oils, which are loaded with omega-6 PUFAs, are something to be avoided. What most fail to appreciate is that even if you eliminate the vegetable oils and avoid them like the plague, you may still be missing the mark.
Chances are you’re still getting too much of this dangerous fat from supposedly healthy food sources such as olive oil and chicken (which are fed LA-rich grains) — a topic covered in “Why Chicken Is Killing You and Saturated Fat Is Your Friend.”
Another common mistake is to simply increase the amount of omega-3 that you eat. Many are now aware that the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is very important, and should be about equal, but simply increasing omega-3 can be a dangerous strategy. You really need to minimize the omega-6. As explained by Goodrich:
“The ratio is not really what’s important. What’s important is avoiding the omega-6 fats. There are disease models, like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), where that’s starting to be clearly understood, and you can find papers saying explicitly that the important intervention that prevents AMD from progressing is reduction of omega-6 fats, and you can’t prevent it by increasing your omega-3 fats.
I’ve got papers that show, in animal models, very nasty outcomes, such as liver failure, with a lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, but high absolute levels of both fats still allows pathology to progress.”
LA Is a Primary Contributor to Chronic Disease
When we talk about omega-6, we’re really referring to LA. They’re largely synonymous, as LA makes up the bulk — about 60% to 80% — of omega-6 and is the primary contributor to disease. Broadly speaking, there are three types of fats:
- Saturated fats, which have a full complement of hydrogen atoms
- Monounsaturated fats, which are missing a single hydrogen atom
- PUFAs, which are missing multiple hydrogen atoms
The missing hydrogen atoms make PUFAs highly susceptible to oxidation, which means the fat breaks down into harmful metabolites. OXLAMS (oxidized LA metabolites) are what have a profoundly negative impact on human health. While excess sugar is certainly bad for your health and should be limited to 25 grams per day or less, it doesn’t oxidize like LA does so it’s nowhere near as damaging.
Over the last century, thanks to fatally flawed research suggesting saturated animal fat caused heart disease, the LA in the human diet has dramatically increased, from about 2 to 3 grams a day 150 years ago, to 30 or 40 grams a day. Goodrich cites research showing LA used to make up 1% to 3% of the energy in the human diet and now it makes up 15% to 20%.
In my mind, this radical change has had the most catastrophic impact on human health in the history of the human race, as it is the complete opposite of what you need for optimal health. This dietary change has undoubtedly killed millions, probably hundreds of millions, prematurely and still continues to do so because people don’t understand this.
“I’m a speed reader and I love reading medical journals … but what nobody’s really done is connect all the dots. There are a lot of people who understand little sections of [the science], but they haven’t gone on to coalesce everything into a common explanation for these pathologies across different disease states.
I think that’s what I’ve been able to do, and I think that’s the key insight that makes this message really compelling,” Goodrich says.
On a side note, do not confuse LA with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). While most think CLA and LA are interchangeable, they’re not. CLA has many potent health benefits and will not cause the problems that LA does.
How Excess LA Consumption Damages Your Health
At a molecular level, excess LA consumption damages your metabolism and impedes your body’s ability to generate energy in your mitochondria. There is a particular fat only located in your mitochondria — most of it is found in the inner mitochondrial membrane — called cardiolipin.
Cardiolipin is made up of four fatty acids, unlike triglycerides which have three, but the individual fats can vary. Examples include LA, palmitic acid and the fatty acids found in fish oil, DHA and EPA. Each of these have a different effect on mitochondrial function, and depending on the organ, the mitochondria work better with particular kinds of fatty acids.
For example, your heart preferentially builds cardiolipin with LA, while your brain dislikes LA and preferentially builds cardiolipin in the mitochondria with fats like DHA. Goodrich further explains:
“To give you an idea of how important this is, 20% of the fat in your entire body is contained in cardiolipin. So, for anybody who doesn’t understand mitochondria, mitochondria are what distinguish us from bacteria. It’s what allows us to be a multi-cellular creature. They are what produce the energy in your body, what’s known as ATP, which is a chemical carrier of energy.
To give you an example of how important it is, cyanide, which we all know is highly toxic, breaks your mitochondria, and that’s why it kills you so fast. It prevents mitochondrial respiration and therefore your entire body shuts down almost instantly.
So, [mitochondria are] something we want to take good care of because they’re everywhere, in almost every tissue except for red blood cells … There are studies showing that cardiolipin is directly controlled by dietary intake of fats. That is, to an extent, true. Obviously, different tissues build cardiolipin in the mitochondria out of different fats.
But they can vary that composition in fairly short order through changing the diet in rat models, like in the order of weeks. So, you can see changes pretty quickly. I notice things happening in days. What’s unique about LA is that it is very susceptible to oxidation when it is in the cardiolipin molecule.
Two LAs that are adjacent to each other can oxidize each other. They’re also attached to proteins in the mitochondria that contain iron, and that iron can catalyze the oxidation of cardiolipin. This is a pretty fundamental process in the body.”
Oxidation of Cardiolipin Controls Autophagy
Oxidation of cardiolipin is one of the things that controls autophagy. In other words, it’s one of the signals that your body uses when there’s something wrong with a cell, triggering the destruction and rebuilding of that cell. Your cells know that they’re broken when they have too many damaged mitochondria, and the process that controls this is largely the oxidation of omega-6 fats contained within cardiolipin.
So, by altering the composition of cardiolipin in your mitochondria to one that’s richer in omega-6 fats, you make it far more susceptible to oxidative damage. Goodrich cites research showing that when the LA in cardiolipin is replaced with oleic acid, another fat found in olive oil, the cardiolipin molecules become highly resistant to oxidative damage.
“That is basically what I think we need to go back to,” he says. “We evolved with low levels of LA in our diet and therefore in our cardiolipin. One of the neatest papers I’ve ever seen looking at this, something that encapsulated this whole model that I’m talking about, fed rats either a regular high carbohydrate diet, or they added PUFAs to their diet.
Just adding the omega-6 fats to the diet caused the mice to become diabetic. They became insulin resistant, leptin resistant, obese, and the differences are pretty stark between the fat mice and the skinny mice on the high carbohydrate rat diet …
The high-PUFA diet caused a breakdown in the cardiolipin content in the mitochondria in their hearts. So just adding seed oils caused heart damage through a change in the cardiolipin composition.”
As mentioned, the primary problem is the OXLAMS, the oxidized byproducts. One of them is 4HNE, which is relatively easy to measure. Studies have shown there’s a definite correlation between elevated levels of 4HNE and heart failure. LA is broken down into 4HNE even faster when the oil is heated, which is why cardiologists recommend avoiding fried foods.
OXLAMS Trigger Cancer
Heart disease isn’t the only condition triggered by excessive LA intake and the subsequent OXLAMS produced. It also plays a significant role in cancer. As noted by Goodrich, to induce cancer in animal models, you actually have to feed them seed oils. “So, this is a really fundamental process that we’re talking about here,” he says.
Animals typically develop cancer once the LA in their diet reaches 4% to 10% of their energy intake, depending on the cancer. In the breast cancer model, cancer incidents increase once 4% of calories are in the form of seed oils. Disturbingly, most Americans get approximately 8% of their calories from seed oils. “So, we’re way over what these thresholds in the lab would suggest is a safe level of these fats based on the laboratory work in animals,” Goodrich says, adding:
“We’ve got this huge disconnect between what the lab science tells us we should be doing and what our dietary guidelines tell us we should be doing. The scientists are saying, ‘Oh, look, it’s poison. It causes all the chronic diseases,’ and the government’s saying, ‘Eat lots of it.’ That’s not a good thing.”
4HNE is a mutagen, in other words, a toxin that causes DNA damage. One of the primary genes it damages is the P53 anticancer gene. Mutations in the P53 gene is found in 15% of cancers, making it one of the most common. As noted by Goodrich, “P53 is literally a cancer prevention gene. It’s how your body regulates cancer. You can all draw your own conclusions about the wisdom of eating something that can cause that to break.”
On a side note, one of the major jobs of glutathione is to detoxify 4HNE. You can often tell that you have excess 4HNE if your glutathione levels are low, as this means it’s being used up detoxifying 4HNE.
LA and Obesity
High-LA diets also cause obesity. “If you feed mice lots of saturated fat, they don’t get fat and they don’t get sick. It’s only when you increase the LA in the diet from 1% to 8% that they become obese,” Goodrich says. Now, mice and rats are not exactly like humans, so how do we know all of this applies to us? Goodrich explains:
“What Alheim and Ramston observed is that, back in 2006, there was a drug introduced called Rimonabant, which was an anti-obesity drug. It was a bit of a miracle drug. I want to quote this exactly because it’s so important to understand the effects that this drug had on humans.
‘Large randomized trials with Rimonabant have demonstrated efficacy in treatment of overweight and obese individuals with weight loss significantly greater than a reduced calorie diet alone.
In addition, multiple other cardiometabolic parameters were improved in the treatment groups, including increased levels of HDL, reduced triglycerides, reduced weight circumference, improved insulin sensitivity, decreased insulin levels. And in diabetic patients, improvements in HBA1C.’
This paper was released in 2007. Unfortunately, Rimonabant had a side effect that it caused people to want to kill themselves. So, it was withdrawn from the market and it largely killed research for several years into that area.
But what Alheim did in 2012 was demonstrate that the mechanism behind Rimonabant is to block the metabolism of seed oils into the chemicals in your body and the endocannabinoid system that cause overeating. My experience when I stopped eating seed oils was that I forgot to eat carbohydrates.
The effect of Rimonabant in these mouse models is to make them crave carbohydrates and to stimulate them to eat sweet foods and carbohydrates. Everybody’s familiar with this effect. It’s called the munchies. And it’s what you get after you smoke pot, because the endocannabinoid system is the system that marijuana affects and the chemical that Rimonabant blocks is your body’s homologue to the THC in marijuana.
So essentially what we’ve done to ourselves is given ourselves a chronic case of the munchies, which is blocked by this unfortunately very harmful drug. This is as open and closed a case for causation as you’re going to find in the medical literature.
We have a human drug that treats this, and as I just read, it treats all these different aspects of this disease. And it works through this one pathway that we have a clear demonstration of in animal models. In this case, the drug is completely pointless because the dietary fix is well known and is simple.”
Increased LA Also Increases Your Risk of Sunburn
So, to summarize, the dramatic increase in LA — and the oxidative end products that cause the damage — is the primary cause behind the increase in chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Simply lowering your LA intake to what your great-great grandparents used to eat, you can essentially eliminate almost every single one of the diseases that is now prematurely killing us.
Interestingly enough, there’s even evidence showing eliminating seed oils from your diet will dramatically reduce your risk of sunburn, which is something Goodrich experienced first-hand. “Susceptibility to UV radiation damage is controlled by how much PUFAs are in your diet,” he says. “It’s like a dial. They can control how fast it happens, and how fast you get skin cancer.”
Seed Oils Raise Risk of ARDS and COVID-19
Considering the metabolic and mitochondrial damage caused by LA, there’s reason to suspect LA may also play a role in COVID-19, as some white blood cells convert LA into leukotoxin. Essentially, LA contributes to the inflammatory domino effect that eventually kills. Goodrich explains:
“Yes. That’s certainly what the conclusion that I drew. I did an enormous post on this, looking at the effects of LA in SARS COV-2 and SARS in general. SARS is a severe acute respiratory syndrome. SARS kills you by giving you acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
ARDS can be caused by lots of different things, not just these viruses. You can get it from influenza. You can get it from inhaling acid into your lungs. What’s fascinating is the human literature is quite clear that you can induce ARDS through feeding seed oils.
Very sick people who can’t eat are fed intravenously. It’s called total parenteral nutrition (TPN). Generally, this is used through a product called Intralipid, which is made out of soybean oil and sugar. When you start to understand all this stuff, it’s just mind boggling. Doctors did an experiment after they noticed that a lot of their patients who came into the ICU and got TPN then subsequently got ARDS.
So, they started playing with what they were feeding them, and what they discovered was this soybean oil formula increased the patient’s rate of getting ARDS. The fatality rate from ARDS is 30% to 60%. Feeding seed oils increased the rate of ARDS by seven times.”
As explained by Goodrich, the key toxin that produce the symptoms of ARDS is called leukotoxin, and leukotoxin is made from LA by white blood cells to kill pathogens. It’s toxic enough to where if you inject high-enough amounts of it into animals, it kills them in minutes. Leukocytes incubated with LA convert all of the LA into this toxin until there’s none left, so, a major part of the disease process in ARDS is the conversion of LA into leukotoxin. That is what ends up killing patients.
“It is often noted in the popular press that what kills people is this cytokine storm. What I’m describing is the mechanism of the cytokine storm. Leukotoxin is uniquely what causes the symptoms of ARDS, as has been clearly demonstrated in the animal models,” Goodrich says. “So, it seems to me that a sensible thing to do would be [to] change your diet. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?”
How LA Triggers Heart Disease
Goodrich also explains how high LA levels causes heart disease. One of the first things that happens in atherosclerosis is your macrophages, another type of leukocyte, turns into a foam cell, essentially a macrophage stuffed with fat and cholesterol. Atherosclerotic plaque is basically dead macrophages and other types of cells loaded with cholesterol and fat. This is why heart disease is blamed on dietary cholesterol and fat.
However, researchers have found that in order for foam cells to form, the LDL must be modified through oxidation, and seed oils do just this. Seed oils cause the LDL to oxidize, thereby forming foam cells. LDL in and of itself does not initiate atherosclerosis. LDL’s susceptibility to this oxidative process is controlled by the LA content of your diet.
“That’s a result that’s been repeated several times, so subsequently, the definition of an atherogenic lipid in your blood is one that contains oxidized omega-6 fats. That’s the definition,” Goodrich says.
“The standard explanation of why you get heart disease and why it progresses the way it does is because the omega-6 fats in your blood get oxidized and become toxic, and progress you all the way through atherosclerosis until it finally kills you.
That’s the standard explanation for what causes heart disease. I can’t tell you how many cardiologists I have talked to who don’t understand that that’s what the medical literature says is causing this disease.
Now, it’s worse if you’re also on a high carbohydrate diet. A ketogenic diet is somewhat protective against the negative effects of this, but I can’t stress enough that this is the standard explanation for cardiovascular disease in the medical literature — that seed oils oxidize and that’s what causes the pathology.”
Understanding Olive Oil
As mentioned, olive oil also contains LA, but it also has other healthy fats. This makes olive oil a bit tricky. The main fat in olive oil is oleic acid, which is one of your body’s favorite fats. Your body actually makes, it, which is why it’s not considered an essential fat. Oleic acid is much more resistant to oxidation than LA, which is why olive oil is a pretty decent cooking oil.
According to Goodrich, oleic acid is protective against both cardiolipin oxidation and LDL oxidation. Interestingly, oleic acid can also replace LA in LDL. Other fats, such as palmitic acid, cannot do that. The problem with olive oil is that it also has a fair amount of LA.
“The percentages that I’ve seen quoted in literature range from 2%, which is awesome, to 22%, which is not good,” Goodrich says. The other problem is the olive oil market is hugely corrupt and fraught with fraud. Many olive oils are cut with cheaper seed oils, which raises the LA content.
So, in summary, if you’re using olive oil, I strongly recommend keeping close track of your total LA intake. Anything over 10 grams a day is likely to be problematic (although the exact cutoff is still unknown, so this is merely an educated guess).
If you really want to be on the safe side, consider cutting LA down to 2 or 3 grams per day, to match what our ancestors used to get before all of these chronic health conditions became widespread. If olive oil puts you over the limit, consider cooking with tallow or lard instead. Beef tallow is 46% oleic acid and lard is 36% oleic acid.
High-LA Sources to Avoid
As Goodrich suggests, if you want to protect your health, you’d be wise to avoid all concentrated sources of LA. Top sources include chips fried in vegetable oil, commercial salad dressings, virtually all processed foods and any fried fast food, such as french fries.
“What amazes me is people who go to all these measures and I’ll hold up my girlfriend as an example. She was a vegan when we got together, had a farm and grew organic food and went to extremes to avoid toxins in food and then went home and cooked with seed oils,” Goodrich says.
“There are so many people who are like this, who are genuinely trying to do their best to have a healthy diet and then they’re chugging down LA that turns into a metabolic toxin in your body, and they wonder why they can’t lose weight.
By the way, after I told her, what I just said here: Avoid seed oils, avoid refined carbohydrates, eat animal food and animal fats, she lost 56 pounds in two and a half months and her autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, went into complete remission.”
The Importance of Carnosine
Beef, even conventional grain-finished beef, has low LA. Grass fed beef has higher DHA and CLA, which makes it a healthier option. Beef is also the primary source of carnosine, which has been shown to be anti-atherogenic.
Carnosine is also a mitochondrial stimulant, a sacrificial scavenger of advanced lipooxidation end products (ALEs), which is very similar to advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs is another name for HNE and all the other reactive oxygen species generated from oxidizing LA.
Carnosine is the most effective scavenger for HNE. Carbonylation of proteins is basically the process through which proteins in your body get damaged and become ineffective. HNE damages 24% of the proteins in your cells, so carnosine can go a long way toward warding off this cellular damage. As explained by Goodrich:
“In heart failure, Alzheimer’s and in AMD, one of the things they see is an inability of the cell to produce enough energy. The mitochondria are getting damaged. HNE does that damage. It damages 24% of the proteins in the cell, primarily around energy production.
One of the worst cancers is glioblastoma, a brain cancer. A researcher up in Boston, [Thomas Seyfried], decided to try and figure out why the mitochondria are getting damaged in glioblastoma, and found they all have oxidized cardiolipin. Every single cancer cell he looked at had damaged cardiolipin in it.
One of the ways your cells produce energy is they basically ferment glucose into pyruvate outside of the mitochondria This is a perfectly normal part of metabolism and they produce something called pyruvate. A molecule called pyruvate dehydrogenase takes pyruvate into the mitochondria and converts it to acetyl-CoA so the mitochondria can burn it very efficiently for fuel.
Well, one of the things HNE does is it breaks pyruvate dehydrogenase, and they see this in Alzheimer’s where their cells are no longer able to produce enough energy. This is why your cells are dying in Alzheimer’s. The beta amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease are induced by HNE. There’s a great model that came out of Harvard a couple of years ago showing that.
And in cancer, if you can’t get pyruvate out of the cell, out of the cytosol, the part of the cell surrounding the mitochondria, it has to ferment there and turn it into energy, which is what we call the Warburg effect, where you start shifting over to this damaged primitive fuel system. The evidence seems to be that that’s because you’ve broken your mitochondria.
Even the critical, the most important part of the mitochondria, complex 5ADP synthase — which is what takes all the energy coming from your mitochondria and turns it into ATP, which is what fuels the rest of your body — is damaged by HNE. This is a huge issue. There’s no more fundamental problem in aging and health than protein damage.”
Take Control of Your Health by Lowering Your LA Intake
As you can see, the evidence strongly suggests excessive LA is driving all the killer diseases today. The solution is simple though. Just lower your LA intake. There’s an easy way to do this. You don’t have to send all your food out for analysis. Simply use an online nutritional calculator such as Chronometer to calculate your daily intake.
Chronometer will tell you how much omega-6 you’re getting from your food down to the 10th of a gram, and you can assume 90% of that is LA. Again, anything over 10 grams is likely to cause problems. Since there’s no downside to limiting your LA, you’ll want to keep it as low as possible, which you do by avoiding high-LA foods.
Keep in mind you’ll never be able to get to zero, and you wouldn’t want to do that either. So, just what should you eat to keep your LA intake low? Goodrich summarizes his own diet:
“I eat mostly beef. I eat vegetables. I cook mostly in butter. I eat a little bit of fruit. I eat occasional grains. Occasionally I’ll have corn, a little bit of rice and potatoes. I’m mostly on a cyclical keto diet. Once you fix your metabolic system, then you can go back and forth a lot easier and I don’t see any reason to be on strict keto long term. I think [cyclical keto] is healthier.
They looked at a ketogenic diet in rodents and found they were protected. The reason they were protected is because they were able to burn HNE as fuel. But if you add a little bit more insulin into the system, then it turns off fat-burning and HNE goes out of the mitochondria and does more damage.”
This is yet another reason for working out in a fasted state, which Goodrich also recommends. “I think working on a fasted state is one of the most important health things that you can do, without question,” he says. Goodrich also points out that the reason a strict ketogenic diet can cause liver failure is due to the omega-6 fats in the diet. It’s crucial to make sure the fats you eat are actually healthy.
Goodrich is currently in the process of writing a book about this, as am I, in which all of this information will be laid out in even greater detail. In the meantime, you can learn more by visiting Goodrich’s blog, Yelling-Stop, or follow him on Twitter. In closing:
“I can’t say anything that you haven’t already said in this talk, honestly,” Goodrich says. “You want to eat like your ancestors ate because your ancestors were healthier and they were not eating industrial seed oils. They were not eating industrial processed carbs in high quantities.
They were making sure that they got lots of animal meat and animal fat and they were getting exercise. I mean, it doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you’re doing, just as long as you’re doing it.
I think I have helped many people in many different ways by telling people this. And it’s typically a short conversation, like my girlfriend who cured her autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia. She’d been in constant pain for almost 30 years and it went away in a couple of weeks. I mean, that’s amazing, and it’s so simple to do.
This is, I believe, the fundamental problem with our modern health — this issue of LA. There are lots of other things that play into it. There’s no doubt about that, but that’s the fundamental thing. If you fix that, you can get away with doing a lot of other things that aren’t exactly optimal, but still be healthy.”
Paul Offit, MD, director, Vaccine Education Center, and professor of pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; professor of vaccinology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Naor Bar-Zeev, PhD, associate professor of international health and vaccinology and deputy director, International Vaccine Access Center, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. JAMA Live Stream: Dec. 2,…
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