lower intelligence

  1. Apples top pesticide list

    I know it feels like summer has only just begun, but fall is right around the corner -- and that means apple season is almost here.

    Don't be fooled by the apples you'll find in the supermarket year 'round -- most of them are actually months old... and you won't believe the tricks they use to keep them fresh.

    The guy in the produce department will tell you that the secret is cold storage -- but those apples aren't just placed in a giant fridge somewhere.

    They're also given a massive dose of pesticides after they're harvested in order to prevent mold, blight, rot, and stains during that storage period.

    They're pumped so full of chemicals that a recent study based on government data found at least two pesticides on 92 percent of all apple samples even after they were washed and peeled.

    And 98 percent of more than 700 apple samples tested by the USDA had at least one pesticide.

    As a result, apples were placed on top of the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen," a list of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides.

    EWG says apples are followed by celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale.

    If you can't afford to buy everything organic – and these days, who can? -- make sure you at least go organic for those.

    While there's not a lot of research on what a low-but-steady stream of pesticides can do to a person, we do know that higher doses can cause cancer and hormonal problems.

    Some studies have found that farm workers exposed to pesticides on the job have a higher risk of Parkinson's disease. And in pregnant women and children, pesticide exposure has been linked to low birth weight, brain damage, ADHD, and even lower intelligence later in life.

    But the news from the produce aisle isn't all bad. EWG also found a number of fruits and vegetables so low in pesticides that you don't have to buy organic.

    They call them the Clean 15: onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and mushrooms.

    The organization has a helpful guide you can print, clip and bring to the supermarket.

    It's just about the only time you might need to compare apples and grapefruit.

  2. How to turn a harmless tumor into a deadly cancer

    Most prostate cancers don't need to be treated because the disease won't kill or even hurt most of the men who get it.

    But there's one group of men who have more to worry about than the rest of us -- because for them, prostate cancer really can carry deadly risk.

    And it's the same group of men that need to worry more about cancer overall: smokers.

    A new study finds that men who smoke the most are not only more likely to get prostate cancer -- they're actually much more likely to have aggressive tumors and are far more likely to die of the disease than men who don't smoke.

    Researchers tracked 5,366 prostate cancer patients for an average of 8 years and found that 10 percent of them died of the disease.

    Like I said, it's not deadly -- most of the time.

    But active smokers were 61 percent more likely to be among the 10 percent who died than those who had never smoked. They were also 61 percent more likely to suffer a recurrence of the disease than non-smokers.

    The researchers also wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the heaviest smokers are most likely to suffer: Men who puff a pack a day for 40 years or two packs a day for 20 years are 82 percent more likely to die of the disease than non-smokers.

    The study doesn't show why smokers get more aggressive prostate cancers -- but let's take a wild guess here and say it's probably the mouthful of burning carcinogens.

    If you're thinking this is a good time to quit, you're on the right track -- but don't put it off. The researchers say it took 10 tobacco-free years for the heaviest smokers to lose their extra death risk.

    That's not the only reason to finally kick your butts.

    In addition to the well-known risks such as lung cancer, emphysema and that odor that follows smokers everywhere, cigarettes have been linked to everything from penis shrinkage to lower intelligence.

    Unlike that prostate risk, you don't have to wait a decade after quitting to see some results -- some of the benefits appear almost immediately.

    Since a two-pack-a-day habit can cost more than $7,000 a year in some parts of the United States, the first benefit won't even be in your body -- it'll be in your wallet.

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