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  • Автор: admin
  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 19:13
26-06-2018, 19:13

That extra glass of wine could be hurting you: Drinking alcohol at night significantly impacts your sleep quality

Категория: Health

That extra glass of wine could be hurting you: Drinking alcohol at night significantly impacts your sleep quality

It is known that excessive alcohol drinking has a lot of negative consequences. However, research shows that even drinking as little as one glass of alcohol can also harm you. In fact, a study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health has found that one drink of alcohol can impair sleep quality.

The study was carried out by a team of researchers at Tampere University of Technology, the University of Jyväskylä, and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Finland who looked at the effects of alcohol consumption on the autonomic nervous system during sleep. In conducting the study, the research team analyzed data from more than 4,000 participants aged between 18 and 65. The participants’ heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded in uncontrolled, real-world conditions using a special device. HRV is a measure that tells how many variations are present between heartbeats within a specific time frame. HRV measurements made it possible for the researchers to evaluate the participants’ quality of sleep.

The research team looked at the participants’ first three hours of sleep and evaluated their sleep HRV recordings from at least two nights: one where the participants had drunk alcohol and one where they had not. Alcohol consumption was classified into three: low, moderate, and high. These categories were based on the body weight of the participants. In general, a low intake of alcohol could be equivalent to one to two drinks, while moderate would equate to two to six, and high would mean over six drinks.

Results revealed that even low alcohol consumption reduced sleep quality, lowering the physiological recovery that sleep normally offers by 9.3 percent. Moreover, moderate alcohol intake decreased restorative sleep quality by 24 percent, and high alcohol consumption by 39.2 percent. The outcomes were the same regardless of gender and physical activity. However, the negative effects of alcohol consumption were more distinct among young, active people compared to older people. Alcohol increased heart rate, which in turn weakened heart rate variability, harming the quality of sleep.

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“While we may not always be able to add hours to our sleep time, with insight into how our behaviors influence the restorative quality of our sleep we can learn to sleep more efficiently. A small change, as long as it’s the right one, can have a big impact,” said study co-author Tero Myllymäki, of the University of Jyväskylä.

Improving sleep quality
A poor night’s sleep can cause fatigue, short temper, and lack of focus. Occasional bad-quality sleep will cause tiredness and irritability the next day, but it will not harm your health. If getting poor sleep quality continues, the effects on mental health will worsen. The brain will fog, resulting in concentration and decision-making problems. You may also feel down and fall asleep during the day. The risk of injury and accidents also increases. Furthermore, regular poor sleep quality will not only increase the risk of serious health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, it will also shorten life expectancy. If you constantly lack sleep, it is best to take extra steps to improve sleep quality, such as the following:

Block out light by turning off ceiling lighting, avoiding TV in bed, and putting your phone on night mode if you use them after dark. Being in a dark room will help the brain release melatonin, a hormone that naturally induces sleep.
Read. Reading before bed will help clear the mind and improve sleep quality.
Set a sleep schedule.
Exercise regularly, but not too late in the day.
Sleep in a room with a temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to get the best sleep condition.
Avoid alcohol and heavy meals at night. Instead, eat these five plant-based foods to help you sleep.
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  • Автор: admin
  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 19:11
26-06-2018, 19:11

A type of fungus uses a surprising method to talk to each other to infect you better

Категория: Health

A type of fungus uses a surprising method to talk to each other to infect you better

Sometimes, real life is a lot stranger than science fiction – and it’s even scarier.

Take, for instance, Cryptococcus gattii – a fungus that lives in soil and is typically found in tropical and subtropical regions. However, anything pleasant about the fungus stops there, as a study in Nature Communications revealed that it can “communicate” with each other to infect more people effectively.

Researchers involved in the study said that C. gattii can “[join] forces inside your body to wreak havoc and cause disease.” They noted that the fungal cells take advantage of an unexpected method to “talk” to each other.

The findings shed light on how the fungus can infect healthy people, a strange phenomenon, considering most fungal infections usually target individuals with weakened immune systems. This was evident in 1999, when a pathogenic strain of C. gattii first appeared in British Columbia in Canada – infecting otherwise-healthy people – before spreading to Oregon and Washington.

A person can be infected with C. gattii if he inhales its fungal spores. In some cases, infections due to C. gattii can be deadly, since it causes severe pneumonia-like illness in the lungs, as well as severe brain infections. The infection can also spread to tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord. In a 2010 study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 60 cases of C. gattii were reported in the U.S. from 2004 to 2010. Of the 45 cases with known outcomes, 20 percent (or nine individuals) perished due to the infections. (Related: 14 Natural Antibiotics And Antibacterials That Should Be In Every Home.)

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In an earlier study, study author Ewa Bielska, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Birmingham, explained that C. gattii was virulent due to its “remarkable ability to grow rapidly within human white blood cells.” In 2014, Bielska’s fellow researchers discovered that this rapid growth was the product of a “division of labor,” or that the fungal cells communicated to synchronize behaviors and initiate accelerated growth.

For the new study, Bielska and her team were able to analyze how the fungal cells worked together. The microbes relied on extracellular vesicles, or microscopic sacs filled with fluid, to communicate.

Robin May, study senior author and director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection, said that the vesicles function like fungal messengers. The vesicles helped send messages between the fungi and it allowed them to coordinate an attack on the host cell. The researchers noted that this marks the first time that anyone has confirmed a link between extracellular vesicles and fungal virulence.

May said, “Our initial expectation was that the fungus would only be able to communicate within a single host cell, but in fact, we discovered that it can communicate over very large — in microbiology terms — distances and across multiple host cell barriers.”

Fast facts on Cryptococcus gattii
Aside from humans, C. gattii can infect alpacas, cats, dogs, elk, and sheep. Other strains can even spread to porpoises.
Despite the ability to infect mammals, the fungus doesn’t get transmitted from animal to animal. Humans and other animals get infected when they inhale spores released by samples of the fungus that infect trees.
Symptoms often manifest after two months or more after exposure. While some individuals don’t show symptoms, others can experience a cough lasting weeks, fever, headache related to meningitis, nighttime sweats, sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, and weight loss. Animal symptoms can include breathing problems, nervous system problems, raised bumps under the skin, and a runny nose.
The infection is treated by months to years of antifungal medications. Surgery may even be required to remove the large masses of the fungus, called cryptococcomas, that may develop in the body. The infection can’t be prevented.
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  • Автор: admin
  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 18:57
26-06-2018, 18:57

Ornamental plant, shrubby bushclover, found to have antioxidant properties and potential as an anticancer agent

Категория: Health

Ornamental plant, shrubby bushclover, found to have antioxidant properties and potential as an anticancer agent

The shrubby bushclover (Lespedeza bicolor) can be viewed as either an ornamental or invasive plant, depending on where you’re from. A less common perspective is that it can be a medicinal plant. According to Dr. Sami Ullah, an assistant professor in the University of Peshawar‘s Botany department, this plant is worth keeping a close eye on. That’s because the methanolic extract of shrubby bushclover has tremendous potential as an antioxidant and anticancer agent.

To obtain methanolic extract, Dr. Ullah used 300 grams of roots and aerial parts (or the parts of the plant above soil). From this Dr. Ullah acquired shrubby bushclover root methanolic extract and shrubby bushclover aerial parts methanolic extract. Both methanolic extracts were subjected to preliminary phytochemical screening in order to determine the types of constituents present in them. Dr. Ullah was able to uncover phenols, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids and saponins, the concentrations of which he gauged through various tests.

Dr. Ullah moved on to testing the different qualities of the methanolic extracts. Assaying the antibacterial and antifungal activities was conducted via the agar well diffusion method and agar tube dilution method, respectively. The radical scavenging capabilities were evaluated through the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical scavenging system and hydrogen peroxide scavenging assays. The cytotoxicity assay was done with human lung carcinoma (LU-1) and human prostate carcinoma (LnCaP) cell lines.

The tests yielded surprising and promising results. Both of the methanolic extracts demonstrated notable antifungal and antimicrobial activity, with the aerial parts methanolic extract being especially effective. It was found to be potent against Aspergillus niger, Fusarium solani, and Mucor mucedo. In fact, the aerial parts methanolic extract was noted as being more effective than the common antifungal medication Terbinafine.

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Their radical scavenging abilities turned out to be just as noteworthy. At 200 micrograms per milliliters (μg/mL), the DPPH radical scavenging activities of the shrubby bushclover aerial parts methanolic extract came to almost 60 percent. The same amount of shrubby bushclover root methanolic extract was more potent at 80 percent. When it came to the hydrogen peroxide scavenging assays, the extracts’ scavenging activities were both above 60 percent at 200 μg/mL concentrations. At these amounts, the reducing power abilities of the extracts was upwards of 0.8 reducing power (OD).

“The decrease in absorbance of DPPH radical is caused by antioxidant through the reaction between antioxidant molecule and radical results in the scavenging of the radical by hydrogen donation,” wrote Dr. Ullah. “With regards to reducing power, higher reducing activities can be attributed to higher amounts of polyphenolics and the reducing capacity of a compound may reflect its antioxidant potential.” (Related: Red beets and beet juice top the list of healing antioxidants due to polyphenol and betalain concentration.)

As for the cytotoxicity results, these were highly promising, too. “Interestingly, [shrubby bushclover] possessed the highest inhibition potential against LU-1 and LnCaP cell lines indicating its ultimate potential for biopharmaceutical uses,” said Dr. Ullah.

Based on these results, Dr. Ullah wrote in the conclusion that “the high antimicrobial, antioxidant, and cytotoxic potential of [shrubby bushclover] highlights the need of further investigations to isolate the active principle and their subsequent evaluation.”

He added that his findings were indicative of how further studies would be necessary. The exact compounds behind these actions have yet to be fully identified. Dr. Ullah did mention that at the time the study was published, more investigations were being carried out with the methanolic extracts. As of writing, the status of these analyses remains unknown.
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  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 18:53
26-06-2018, 18:53

Double whammy: Chemicals found in everyday products such as fast food wrappers found to sabotage metabolism, contribute to weight gain

Категория: Food

Double whammy: Chemicals found in everyday products such as fast food wrappers found to sabotage metabolism, contribute to weight gain

Gains made from weight loss diets and regular exercise can be compromised by chemicals in the utensils and packaging used to prepare and store otherwise healthy food. This is the conclusion of a Harvard-led study that found a correlation between obesogens and weight increase among dieters.

The technical term for obesogens is “perfluoroalkyl substances” (PFAS). They are a class of chemicals that have been used in food wrappers, pots, pans, and other consumer and industrial products for the last 60 years. Called “obesogens” because of their disruptive effect on the body’s normal way of regulating weight, PFASs can lower the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of people, causing their bodies to burn fewer calories while they are at rest. People with low RMR will gain weight more easily unless they adjust their food intake to account for the imbalance in their metabolism.

For their study of the effects of PFASs on human metabolism, researchers of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health cooperated with their counterparts from Louisiana State University and Tulane University.

“Obesogens have been linked with excess weight gain and obesity in animal models, but human data has been sparse,” said Qi Sun. The senior author of the study, she is a assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School.

“Now, for the first time, our findings have revealed a novel pathway through which PFASs might interfere with human body weight regulation and thus contribute to the obesity epidemic,” she reported. (Related: Boost your metabolism AND the microbiota in your colon with a small amount of prebiotics.)

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Study details
Data for the study was derived from the Prevention of Obesity Using Novel Dietary Strategies (POUNDS LOST,) a two-year-long clinical trial that tested several diets for weight loss. Researchers looked at the PFAS blood concentration level of participants at the start of the trial and the weight losses and gains of the participants.

The weight of POUNDS LOST participants dropped by an average of 14.1 pounds (6.4 kg) during the first six-months-long quarter of the trial. They regained an average of 5.95 pounds (2.7 kg) over the course of the following 18 months.

According to the study, the participants who regained the most pounds also showed the highest amount of obesogens in their bloodstreams. The correlation was considered to be stronger in women than in men. Women with the greatest concentration of perfluoroalkyl substances in their blood regained an average of 3.7 to 4.9 pounds more than women with the lowest amounts of PFAS.

The researchers further confirmed that participants with high levels of PFASs also had low resting metabolic rates, which could account for the larger amounts of weight they regained during the latter part of the diets.

Yet another mark against PFAS
“We typically think about PFASs in terms of rare health problems like cancer, but it appears they are also playing a role in obesity, a major health problem facing millions around the globe,” said Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health and co-author of the study alongside Sun.

There are numerous cases of PFAS contamination of potable ground water that have been traced to nearby factories, military bases, and wastewater treatment plants. The Harvard-led study adds obesity to the long list of associated ill effects such as cancer, disruption of hormones, dysfunctional immune systems, and dangerous levels of cholesterol.

“The findings suggest that avoiding or reducing PFAS exposure may help people maintain a stable body weight after they successfully lose some weight, especially for women,” Grandjean recommended.

Sun, Grandjean, and their colleagues published their findings on obesogens in PLOS Medicine.
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  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 18:52
26-06-2018, 18:52

Why do we crave junk food so much? We explain the gut-brain connection and how you can train yourself to want healthier food

Категория: Food

Why do we crave junk food so much? We explain the gut-brain connection and how you can train yourself to want healthier food

If you’ve ever decided to start eating healthier but soon found yourself reaching for a bag of chips, it’s not just because you lack self-control. You’re probably fighting against enemies – trillions of them, in fact – that you can’t see.

The bacteria in your gut play a larger role in your life than you may think. They are linked to your brain in what scientists dub “the gut/brain axis,” which they use to send signals to your brain, affecting your decisions, especially with regards to what you eat.

If you feed the bacteria in your gut with junk food, you will be supporting the growth of those microorganisms that thrive on junk food. Soon these bacteria will multiply and keep on asking your brain for more – you got it right – junk food. This is how bad cravings are created. (Related: Junk food is engineered to addict you to chemical ingredients.)

The only way to put a stop to the cravings is by doing the opposite and starting to eat healthily. Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will starve out junk food-loving microorganisms, causing a decline in their numbers and reducing those cravings. The microorganisms that like healthy food will multiply in their place, fostering a healthier microbiome.

It doesn’t take much to foster a population of friendly bacteria in your gut.

Fill your diet with fiber-rich food

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and both are good for you. Insoluble fiber is usually found in the roughage of food items like vegetables, whole grain cereals, and fruits.

As implied by its name, insoluble fiber cannot be digested by humans. When eaten, it acts as a broom of sorts that transports toxins as it travels through your intestine and exits your body. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water and helps in stabilizing digestion.

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Apart from all these, fiber can act as a prebiotic, a substance that the human digestive system cannot process, but is eaten by bacteria in the gut instead.

Eat more fermented food

You may not like the smell of kimchi, but it’s good for you. Fermented items like sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, and yogurt help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. The fermentation process occurs because of the action of microorganisms, so these items do contain microbes that are good for your digestive system.

The benefits of good gut bacteria
The action of the bacteria in your gut affects not just your digestion, but also your general health. Here are some of their other benefits:

They boost your immune system – Your large intestine is contact with fecal matter on a daily basis, which means it needs to have a strong barrier in place that keeps it safe from infection and harmful toxins. Gut bacteria fortifies your intestine’s natural barrier, increasing its protection from damage and disease.
They help boost your mental health – Remember the gut/brain axis? It also has an impact on your mental health, it turns out. A healthy stomach will allow you better control over your moods and may even help you fight anxiety, depression, and sleeping disorders.
They give you an energy boost – By improving and keeping your digestive system healthy, friendly gut bacteria help facilitate the efficient delivery of nutrients to your body. This means getting more energy from your food and being more resistant to fatigue.
They’re good for your heart – Your body produces bile acids that are used to help in digesting the fat you consume. Unwanted bacteria attacks these acids, impairing your body’s ability to process fat effectively and putting you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. High populations of good bacteria keep balance the microbiomes, keeping bad bacteria at bay, thus keeping bile acids intact and returning your body’s ability to process unwanted fat and cholesterol.
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  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 18:49
26-06-2018, 18:49

Even low-level exposure to pesticides increases your risk of Parkinson’s

Категория: Food

Even low-level exposure to pesticides increases your risk of Parkinson’s

We all know that pesticide exposure is bad, whether it comes from the food you eat or you happen to live or work on a farm. You might think you can get away with a few non-organic fruits here and there or that a couple hours working on the farm won’t be enough to hurt you. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning could come back to haunt you as a new study shows that even low-level exposure to pesticides can raise your risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers from the University of Guelph reached this conclusion after studying the stem cells of people with Parkinson’s disease who had a genetic mutation in the synuclein gene, which is highly associated with a greater risk of the illness. They compared this to normal stem cells that they had introduced the mutation into using gene editing.

They used these stem cells to create dopamine-producing neurons like those affected when a person has Parkinson’s and then exposed them to two commonly used agrochemicals: maneb and paraquat. Upon exposure, the mitochondria in the cells weren’t able to get where they needed to go within the cell, which had the effect of depleting the neurons’ energy.

This problem occurred below the doses that the EPA has identified as the lowest observed effect level in the neurons of people with Parkinson’s and those with the introduced genetic risk factor. It took a higher dose to impair the function of normal neurons, however.

Study author Scott Ryan remarked that those who are predisposed to Parkinson’s are more vulnerable to low-level agrochemical exposure than others and thus have a higher risk of developing the disease. This, he said, partly explains why those who live in agricultural areas have a higher risk of Parkinson’s.

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Just how much greater is the risk? According to Ryan, those exposed to these chemicals have a 250 percent higher risk of going on to develop Parkinson’s than the general population.

Scientists have known that chemical exposure was an influencing risk for Parkinson’s since 1998, but this was one of the first studies to look at what actually happens inside of human cells. Their findings are published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Ryan is calling for a reassessment of the currently accepted levels of the two chemicals. Because different people have different susceptibility levels, the standards need to be updated to protect everyone. Many of the people who have a higher risk aren’t even aware that they’re so vulnerable.

Past studies have shown that exposure to pesticides doesn’t just raise a person’s risk of developing Parkinson’s; it can even cause the illness in some people. In addition to the paraquat and maneb examined in this most recent study, past studies have also linked the agrochemical ziram to the illness.

Earlier detection of Parkinson’s disease
The symptoms of this neurodegenerative disorder typically develop slowly over time and might include tremors, balance problems and limb rigidity. In addition to motor symptoms, patients can also experience non-motor symptoms like constipation, cognitive impairment, depression, sleep disorders, and a loss of their sense of smell.

Although people suffering from the illness can have a good quality of life with the right treatment, scientists are working hard to find biomarkers for the disease to help people get an earlier diagnosis and improve their outcomes. By the time it’s discovered, most people have already lost more than half of their brain’s dopamine-producing neurons. Current therapies can improve the symptoms but don’t slow the disease’s progression.
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  • Автор: admin
  • Дата: 26-06-2018, 18:45
26-06-2018, 18:45

WARNING: Shellfish are now testing positive for opioids

Категория: Food

WARNING: Shellfish are now testing positive for opioids

The opioid epidemic in the United States has become so prolific that now even local shellfish are testing positive for Big Pharma’s most profitable (and most addictive) class of drugs. In Washington state, the Department of Fish and Wildlife recently found that opioids are making their way into the water and are affecting marine life.

The researchers say their startling find indicates that “a lot of people” are using opioid medications in Seattle’s Puget Sound area. The findings are prompting serious concerns about opioid abuse and how it will ultimately affect the environment. Further, it raises questions about what other undisclosed drugs and toxins could be lurking in food and water supplies nationwide.

Opioids in the water
Mussels from the Emerald City’s coast were used as a barometer for water pollution — and levels of the addictive painkillers are now high enough for the delicate shellfish to test positive for the drugs. While mussels are not able to metabolize opioids, some fish can actually become addicted.

Pretty soon, you may even need a prescription to eat shellfish in the U.S., if opioid abuse continues to climb.

Mussels are known as “filter-feeders,” which means they filter water for nutrients and nourishment. Because of this, they are prone to storing toxins in their tissues — which makes them great as an “indicator species.”

The BBC reports that scientists strategically placed clean mussels in 18 locations around the Puget Sound. Three months later, the shellfish were collected and examined. Traces of the opioid oxycodone were high enough to be detected from three groups of mussels.

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While the amounts were not high enough to give human consumers a buzz, the experts rightfully note that it is still indicative of a major problem.

Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, commented on the findings. She stated, “What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound.” The biologist added that it’s clear a lot of people in the area are using oxycodone.

“Hopefully our data shows what’s out there and can get the process started for cleaning up our waters,” Lanksbury contended further.

What else is contaminating food and water?
The sad fact of the matter is that opioids are not the first, nor the only, drugs to contaminate water and food in the U.S. Traces of hormonal birth control in the water supply is a well-documented issue, but as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found — there are many other unsavory substances hiding all around us.

As 10TV reports:

When humans ingest opioids like oxycodone, they ultimately end up excreting traces of the drugs into the toilet. Those chemicals then end up in wastewater. And while many contaminants are filtered out of wastewater before it’s released into the oceans, wastewater management systems can’t entirely filter out drugs. Thus, opioids, antidepressants, the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan — the mussels tested positive for all of them.

While the presence of opioids in shellfish is no doubt alarming, the painkillers may well be the least of our problems.

Untold numbers of prescription medications — whether they be antibiotics, painkillers, antidepressants or what have you– end up being flushed down the toilet (literally) every year. All of these drugs end up in the water supply, which means millions of people are micro-dosing themselves with a chemical cocktail every time they consume tap water.

These drugs could pose a serious threat to humanity, with the potential to alter fertility, gender expression and biology in general — and that’s just the contamination our environment has suffered at the hands of Big Pharma, never mind the agribusiness and biotech industries.