We're All Crazy From Drinking Arsenic-Tainted Apple Juice

Top health headlines we're talking about on the boards this week

From Michele Bachmann’s crazy and unsubstantiated claims that HPV vaccines cause mental retardation to Dr. Oz scaring people off apple juice, it’s been a fear-mongering kind of week in the health world. Here, the top stories that have members buzzing on the iVillage Health & Fitness message boards this week. Plus, the real deal on this so-called “arsenic-tainted juice.”

1. A report from the CDC that 50 percent of us will suffer from mental illness in our lifetime.

What members think: “As more and more things get classified as a mental illness we will find that the numbers grow. Not only that but as we talk about mental illness more openly, more people are likely to come forward and seek help. While the number of reported cases may increase, it may not necessarily be indicative of an actual increase in mental illness.” -- iv_miranda_d

“Based on my husband’s family, this sounds about right. Luckily. my side of the family seems to be in the other half of the population!” – thatyank

“Let's hope so. Let's hope that the stigma of mental illness decreases so that people do not need to suffer unnecessarily.” – nisupulla

Our take: This report came on the heels of another news story that revealed 40 percent of people with symptoms of depression won’t disclose that information to their physician, for fear that their doc will make them go to therapy or prescribe antidepressants. Clearly, when 50 percent of the population will suffer from mental illness at one time or another, it should be considered the new norm. But this fear of getting labeled as a crazy by one’s own doctor, who could actually help one fe, shows that the stigma is still very firmly rooted.

2. An AP news piece that finds the myriad of supposedly inspiring reality TV weight-loss shows are not helping America slim down. “In fact, more people are obese today than when ‘The Biggest Loser’ premiered in 2004,” says the report.

What members think: “I don't believe for a minute that all these shows… have the best interest of the public in mind. The [diet] industry is aware of the national epidemic of obesity and wants to cash in. Although “The Biggest Loser” is mainly ‘entertainment,’ if it causes something to click in the mind of just one viewer, it can inspire them to do what needs to be done to fight their own obesity battle.” -- CS_carolsue

Our take: Though we are pretty much on-board with Carolsue’s sentiments, we do wonder if these shows warp people’s ideas of how to lose weight safely --– and keep it off for good. As personal trainers and physicians have told us over and over again, one of the biggest mistakes that people will make when dieting or starting an exercise routine is to go all-out at the beginning and push themselves so hard that they are destined to fail. Dr. Oz’s saner sidekick, Dr. Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, actually advocates cutting just 100 calories a day and burning the rest of it through sensible exercise. That means, say no to daily screaming boot camps and yes to walking briskly for 30 minutes a day. Sure, it will come off slowly, but it is something you can sustain. And if you want to push yourself harder once you get in shape, by all means, step it up a notch or two. But bottom line: if you’re not enjoying it, it won’t last.

3. Dr. Oz tells the world that they’re drinking unsafe levels of arsenic with their apple juice, courtesy of everyone’s favorite villain du jour: China.

What members think: “I think it’s sad that things are coming from out of the U.S. and are not healthy for us, but yet they keep bringing it in.” -- nathaniel- smom110100

“I think this has been overblown a bit. Arsenic is naturally occurring in apple seeds, so organic won't make a difference if they are still crushing the seeds. I'll stick to eating apples.” -- lemings

Our take: Tsk, tsk, tsk, Dr. Oz! Were you really that short on show ideas that you had to essentially scream fire in a crowded theater? (That was former acting head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Richard Besser’s great analogy, not mine.) There are two forms of arsenic -- organic and inorganic and, according to the FDA, the former passes through the body quickly and is pretty much harmless. The arsenic found in apple seeds –and thus apple juice if the seeds are pressed along with the pulp -- is this non-toxic type. Inorganic arsenic, on the other hand, is found in pesticides, and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period of time. If apples treated with arsenic-containing pesticides are used in the making of apple juice, then the beverages could contain this type of arsenic as well. Though these types of pesticides are rarely used on produce in the U.S., other countries continue to use them (hence the China claim). Unfortunately, Dr. Oz’s tests did not make this very important distinction. Further, when the FDA conducted its own tests on the same batches of apple juice, they found significantly less -- and safe levels of -- arsenic in the beverages than Oz’s tests did. Still, Oz stands by his findings, and plans on doing more tests to determine the levels of organic versus inorganic arsenic in apple juice. If all this makes you nervous, pass on the liquid form and eat an entire apple instead. Arsenic or not, it’s better for you anyway.

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