Doctor's Note

I know I’ve already covered this before, but it continues to shock me that the meat industry can get away with something so forcefully and universally condemned by the public health community. What other industrial sector could get away with putting people at such risk? It speaks to the combined might of the livestock industry and the pharmaceutical industry in holding sway over our democratic process no matter what the human health consequences.

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  • Merio

    so we have two solutions: 1) ban antibiotics in animal feed; 2) stop eating meat (or animal) based products… in fact we have that the meat industry is most probably the primary cause of MRSA bugs: this a menace to public health and not only in US, but in all the world because now bugs can travel by aircraft within hosts.
    I think it’s time for this kind of industries to fail once and for all.

    • Karl Young

      Well, I agree that that would be great but I think public policy types facing the big ag and pharma machines probably need more nuanced solutions if they want to have any success at confronting antibiotic resistance (though I’m not convinced that there actually is any solution – nature seems to have designed us to be self limiting re. population – too bad it apparently has to be in such a catastrophic way)

      • Merio

        The first is the nuance solution, at least the amount of antibiotics released in the environment would be much less… unfortunately seems “bad” bugs won, they develop resistence in few years while to find a new antibiotic (i mean an ex novo drug) we need at least ten year (optimistic prevision)… it’s not a matter on “if”, but on “when” our weapons against infections will be useless.

  • Angel V

    Dr. Greger, can you read over the research article on low-salt diets that’s presented in this article: http://online.wsj.com/articles/recommended-salt-levels-could-do-more-harm-than-good-study-suggests-1407964274

    The article states that those eating less than 3,000 mg of sodium a day had MORE heart problems and death. It’s a very odd conclusion given the recommended amount is less than 1,500 mg of sodium. They also state that there is no real evidence suggesting that low-salt diets are beneficial in any way. This is all very confusing since the thought of people naturally consuming 3,000-9,000 mg of sodium (without processed foods) seems a bit far-fetched. What was the salt intake of our ancestors in the past? Of animals in general?

    Thank you.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      This is a nice review of the current research by Dr. Topol the Current Editor of Medscape. Click the link below for a good read and check out the graph. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/830444
      And Yes, according to the latest research, you are at lowest risk of death or cardiovascular events (Heart Attack, Stroke, TIA etc.) if you consume about 4-5 grams of sodium a day. If you consume the recommended AHA guideline of 1.5 grams per day you double you risk of death or a cardiovascular event. Now the AHA (American Heart Association) is backing off their guideline.

      This would be a great subject (salt intake and risk of death and CV diasease) for future Videtorials by Dr. Greger and the crew! Hint, Hint.

      • largelytrue

        That’s a relatively superficial analysis in-article. It doesn’t comment on the idea that 2.3 g sodium is well supported while preferring to focus on the new proposed limit of 1.5g, which is presently controversial. It also makes little effort to think about the potential defects in PURE such as the curent low duration, making reverse causation more likely. It’s silly to represent PURE as if it were the majority of recent research, and even if it were, that wouldn’t make it better than older accumulated research. For that to be true, the study design, scale, and scope must be better, but PURE has some serious limitations.

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    “Piggeries?” I didn’t even know that was a word ;-)

    Of interesting note: I had a patient last weak that had what looked like MRSA so I I&D it. (Incision and Drainage). I treated with the CDC recommended antibiotic Clindamycin. The Culture grew MRSA, but to my dismay it was resistant to Clindamycin. This is the first time in my 8 years treating MRSA in the outpatient setting that I have seen resistance to Clindamycin.

    So the Videtorial of the day is well taken–we are running out of options to treat our infections from these superbugs!

    • Merio

      One of my Microbiology professor told at the class one day of the past year that he lost 8 patients (i do not remember if they were already at high risks for other problems or not) in few days thanks to those damn MRSA bacteria… and there other risk too from the drug itself… i mind if there are other options available out there ’cause main surgeries could be really upset by this threat.

      • Coacervate

        How did we forget the lessons of Agostino Bassi and simple carbolic acid wash. Basic cleanliness and good technique is the way. Over use of antibiotics must be stopped…by force if necessary. “Book ’em Dano!”

        • bruxe

          Carbolic acid … are you kidding … it is toxic. Carbolic acid is phenol, benzene with a hydroxyl group added on. You are going to use force to make people wash stuff with a chemical that can burn you?

          Here is a bit more about phenol from Wikipedia:

          Phenol and its vapors are corrosive to the eyes, the skin, and the respiratory tract.[37] Repeated or prolonged skin contact with phenol may cause dermatitis, or even second and third-degree burns.[38] Inhalation of phenol vapor may cause lungedema.[37] The substance may cause harmful effects on the central nervous system and heart, resulting in dysrhythmia,seizures, and coma.[39] The kidneys may be affected as well. Long-term or repeated exposure of the substance may have harmful effects on the liver and kidneys.[40] There is no evidence that phenol causes cancer in humans.[41] Besides itshydrophobic effects, another mechanism for the toxicity of phenol may be the formation of phenoxyl radicals.[42]

          Chemical burns from skin exposures can be decontaminated by washing with polyethylene glycol,[43] isopropyl alcohol,[44] or perhaps even copious amounts of water.[45] Removal of contaminated clothing is required, as well as immediate hospitaltreatment for large splashes. This is particularly important if the phenol is mixed with chloroform (a commonly-used mixture in molecular biology for DNA and RNA purification). Phenol is also a reproductive toxin causing increased risk of abortion and low birth weight indicating retarded development in utero.

          • Coacervate

            OK, Settle down. You’re point is taken…but was there no lesson from its use by the pioneers in sterile technique … juxtapositioned to the modern prophylactic use of antibiotics?

    • Tan

      So what’s the plan now for that patient?

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        Culture and Sensitivity of the “bug” showed it was sensitive to Bactrim, so that is what I put them on. That in and of itself is interesting because most MRSA bugs are resistant to Bactrim. They came back and wound/abscess has healed well.

        • Michelle FNP

          It depends on where you are. Here in Washington most of our MRSA is still sensitive to bactrim. The first one that I found resistant was just 3 months ago. I recently had one that was sensitive to only tetracycline as the only oral option, otherwise he would have ended up on IV antibiotics. Now that one scared me to no end.

  • bobluhrs

    The carnage isn’t framed for it to become news. “Public Health worries” is future, so it isn’t news in the USA, where the future is always thought to be good. Positive Thinking has ruined America. People dying in beds just isn’t considered that bad, I guess. One American overseas gets his head cut off on You Tube and we get ready for war, while thousands die needlessly in hospitals here, and we do nothing. MRSA has already become a problem in ordinary operations that a few years back were almost 100 percent successful. There’s no point in having advanced procedures if you can’t use them safely. Life insurance premiums are going to go through the roof, maybe that’s news?

  • robert

    It is a concern to me that when I go out to eat that there are so few vegetarian or vegan restaurants. A fast food chain like Chipotles, or the many fast food Mexican restaurants where one can eat a vegan meal serve/handle meat right next to those nice healthy beans. Cross contamination from cooking/serving activities seems inevitable.

  • 1stnewmy

    So has it been studied if those who don’t eat meat and eat healthy vegan diets are less prone to developing drug resistant infections? I have not eaten meat in over 20 yrs and quit dairy a few years ago but did not consume it constantly and for a long time used organic milk. But I work in health care with MRSA people. And if I eat my onions, garlic, greens, etc will my immunity be better to protect me from all this?

  • Frank

    From the Dr’s note above — ” I know I’ve already covered this before, but it continues to shock me
    that the meat industry can get away with something so forcefully and
    universally condemned by the public health community. What other
    industrial sector could get away with putting people at such risk? It
    speaks to the combined might of the livestock industry and the
    pharmaceutical industry in holding sway over our democratic process no
    matter what the human health consequences.” It has to do with politics. There is only one way to stop them and that is to STOP buying their product. Nothing else will work as long as the meat and dairy association and the Pharmaceutical companies are allowed to bribe the politicians.

  • Melanie

    My 29 year old son has recently decided he wants to bulk up, undoubtedly to impress others. He eats excessive amounts of meat ( for ex. A large steak with a chicken Caesar salad…also soy protein powder). What specifically can I point to for the dangers of this lifestyle…..oh forgot to add the couple of beers with the meal! He thinks he is healthy because he runs 5 miles a day.

  • dogulas

    Speaking of not eating meat, is it true that vitamin B12 is too large a molecule to be absorbed under the tongue? I have read several claims that the only reason sublingual works is because of the high dosage and ending up swallowing it anyway.

    • largelytrue

      Pretty much. The sublingual claims were never based on solid evidence, and it should be easy for you to understand how a consumer heuristic (I kinda heard that sublingual administration is generally better for many substances) could be bolstered by marketing (some people pay more for sublingual b12 pills, so we better market our pills as suitable to be placed under the tongue!) into a spurious belief (sublingual is the best/safest/only possible route for b12 supplementation.)

      From the NIH fact sheet:

      “In addition to oral dietary supplements, vitamin B12 is available in sublingual preparations as tablets or lozenges. These preparations are frequently marketed as having superior bioavailability, although evidence suggests no difference in efficacy between oral and sublingual forms.”

      Note that one of the two studies they cite in support of that claim is a double-blind RCT: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en16

      It could be that sublinguals make for a slower release that is advantageous under some circumstances, but for the general population, it seems there is no good reason to pay more for ‘sublingual’ pills, and no reason not to simply swallow them if that’s what you have.

      • dogulas

        Thanks very much for the excellent reply. Good thing the ones I got were dirt cheap anyway! That’s somewhat annoying to not swallow for so long. Done with that!

  • Julot Julott

    Hello, what is the opinion on whole bread on this site? This thing seems
    to be very hard to digest and very irritating on GI tract and is also
    very salty most of the time…

  • Dr. P

    I’ve recently discovered this website and it has totally changed the way I think about diet. The one aspect that I have some questions about is native cultures that rely on a mostly meat based diet, such as native Alaskans. I have heard that if they switch to a more Western diet they develop increased cardiovascular risk. Does anyone know if they have a higher risk on their native diets? Is there a reason why they have been able to thrive for so long on a meat based diet? Any insight/thoughts on this would be great.

    • Thea

      Hi Dr. P! Thanks for letting us know that this site has been helpful. I never tire of reading posts like this.

      re: “Is there a reason why they have been able to thrive for so long on a meat based diet?”
      From what I have seen, “thrive” is a myth. People from those native cultures which have a lot of meat do not live very long generally due to the harsh conditions in which they live. But even by the time they reach the early ages in which they die, the people show signs of heart disease. We even see this in ancient mummies who could not have been influenced by modern diets/products.

      Here is a copy of a post from “xfjea” that is very helpful:
      “The idea of excellent cardiovascular health among inuits is probably based on inaccurate data. See this review from 2003:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12535749

      And here is what Graham wrote:
      “Autopsy data on pre-westernised Inuit shows lots of data for atherosclerosis in the Inuit.
      http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Atherosclerosis-in-Pre-Westernized-Inuit.pdf

      If this topic interests you, Plant Positive has some wonderful details and source materials on the topic. Search for words on the following link/page such as: masai, alaska, eskimo, etc. Then click the links to watch the videos. You can also click in his search box for “inuit”. Or even better, go to the top of the list of the “Primitive Nutrition” series and watch the whole thing. :-) It’s *very* educational.
      http://plantpositive.com/

      Hope that helps.

      • Dr. P

        Thanks for the additional information. That was very helpful and now I’m getting sucked into the plant positive website. It’s pretty great.

        • Thea

          :-) Awesome Dr. P! You made my day. I love helping.