Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Primer on GMO's

GMO controversy explained by Kaye Foley. For the record, I support legislation that requires food manufacturers to label GMO foods as GMO foods. I want to stay away from these. You should too.

GMOs — or genetically modified organisms — were in the spotlight again this past week following controversy at “The Dr. Oz Show” over, among other things, the television host and doctor’s stance on GMOs. It sparked a media firestorm and had people picking sides.

But why all the hoopla over what we harvest?

GMOs are organisms that have had their DNA modified through genetic engineering. This is often done by taking a gene from one organism and putting it into another one to alter it in a desirable way. For example, when genetic engineers want to create a corn crop that is resistant to pests, they seek out the trait in Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) soil bacteria that naturally acts as a pesticide. From there, engineers isolate the gene responsible for that trait and directly insert it into the corn’s DNA. This corn is then bred with other corn until it’s ready to be produced for consumption.

Scientists adopted this process for altering food for a variety of reasons, but most commonly to create crops, like the corn, that can naturally keep pests away, as well as crops that are resistant to herbicides and can tolerate various climates for more sustainable agriculture. And this manipulation has proven to be a very divisive issue.

On one side a majority of the scientific community argues that genetically modified, or GM, food is safe and even beneficial. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 88 percent of scientists from the American Association for the Advancement of Science believe eating GMOs is “generally safe.” For thousands of years, humans have been changing and improving crops through selective breeding. That process alters genes as well. But genetically modifying in a laboratory is a faster, more direct method.

On the other side of the debate are advocacy groups and concerned citizens worried about potential risks of food manipulation. The same Pew Research poll shows that 57 percent of U.S. adults think eating GMOs is “generally unsafe.” Opponents have raised concerns over health safety, like the possibility of an increase in allergies or worse, unforeseen impacts down the road.

Many also have environmental concerns. They worry that the plants that are made resistant to herbicides — meaning the crop won’t be damaged when sprayed with weed-killer — will lead to the development of “superweeds.” And then, farmers will need to use more and more chemical herbicides.

A minority of the scientific community still believes that more research on the safety of GMOs should be done. Over a thousand studies have concluded that GM food is safe, but critics point out that the companies that make genetically modified products have funded many of those studies. A significant number have been conducted through independent research as well, though.

A handful of commercial crops are genetically modified, including corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and canola. Right now, over 90 percent of the corn and soy grown in the United States has been genetically modified. Most of that goes into animal feed, ethanol, and processed products, such as corn oil.

Consumer pressure to know what is in our food has led to a debate over whether or not food with GMOs should be labeled. Opponents argue that labels would unfairly stigmatize GMOs. In the U.S. more than half of the states have brought forward labeling legislation, but only three states have passed it. And for two of those — Maine and Connecticut — the law won’t go into effect unless legislation passes in surrounding states. Vermont also passed GMO labeling legislation and plans to start in July 2016, although the law has already faced legal challenges by opponents.

Still, a handful of brands have taken it upon themselves to proactively respond to concerns over GMOs in their products. Whole Foods has said that by 2018 all products containing GMOs will be labeled. Cheerios has removed GMO ingredients from its original cereal. And Chipotle announced this week that no GMOs will be used in its food. One caveat is that Chipotle will continue to sell drinks containing GMO ingredients, like corn syrup, most of which comes from GM crops.

So, while this food fight rages on, whether you think that GMOs are spoiling our fruits and veggies or a fresh approach to produce, at least after watching this video you can say, “Now I get it.” Video by Earth Open Source.org

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Monday, May 11, 2015

FDA Issues Warning On Weight Loss Supplements

FDA Issues Warning On Weight Loss Supplements Containing Dangerous 'Super Caffeine’ - An article from Yahoo! Health by Meagan Morris, published April 24, 2015.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to manufacturers of eight dietary supplements containing the amphetamine-like substance BMPEA (labeled as Acacia rigidula), saying that it can pose serious health risks to those who take it.

The companies who received the letter were:

•  Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Products: Fastin-XR - extended release), Fastin-RR (rapid release), Lipodrene (Ephedra Free)
•  Tribravus Enterprises, LLC d/b/a iForce Nutrition (Products: Conquer (Fruit Punch Slam & Raspberry Lemonade flavors)
•  Train Naked Labs LLC (Products: Critical FX, Sudden Impact)
•  Better Body Sports, LLC (Product: Phoenix Extreme)
•  Human Evolution Supplements, Inc. (Product: Core Burner)

The warning comes just weeks after Pieter Cohen, MD, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, published a study criticizing the FDA for not warning the public about BMPEA, after the agency discovered the chemical during a 2013 study that found the ingredient in 21 supplements, but didn’t issue a warning about it. Cohen said that was irresponsible.

“Physicians should remain vigilant for patients presenting with toxicity from sports and weight-loss supplements as they might contain undisclosed stimulants, such as BMPEA,“ Cohen and researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

The reason for concern? "At the very least you can think of BMPEA as super caffeine,” Allison Dehring-Anderson, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy tells Yahoo Health, “but that’s really underestimating the danger it poses.”

Amphetamines like BMPEA can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, putting you at risk for significant heart damage, especially if you already have heart problems, says Dehring-Anderson. “It can change the way your heart monitors its own beating by overriding the safety mechanisms our bodies have in place to manage it,” she says.

In addition, amphetamine-like substances cause disruptions in sleep and jitters, along with keeping you from focusing on important tasks.

“It can turn you into a person that gets into dangerous positions,” adds Dehring- Anderson. “Your ability to be a positive and civil person will be blunted with amphetamine-like substances. Basically, you’ll be a nasty person waiting to have a heart attack.”

This ingredient is especially dangerous if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, even to the point of causing a miscarriage or significant organ and brain damage in the unborn fetus. “When mom has an uncontrolled heart rate and blood pressure the baby actually gets less blood, not more,” Dehring-Anderson tells Yahoo Health. “The baby is relying 100 percent on mom making good decisions.”

The good news: Major specialty retailers like Vitacost and Vitamin Shoppe have pulled supplements containing Acacia rigidula from their shelves. That’s a step in the right direction, but Dehring-Anderson believes retailers that mislead the public by selling dubious supplements put the whole medical field at risk.

“When [retailers] intentionally mislead the public by adding a dangerous stimulant and hiding it under the name of some obscure plant, it makes people wonder who else is lying to them about their health,” she says.

BMPEA is also known as:

• βMePEA
• R-beta-methylphenethylamine
• R-beta-methylphenethylamine HCl
• Beta-methylphenethylamine
• β-methylphenylethylamine
• 1-amino-2-phenylpropane
• 2-phenylpropan-1-amine
• 2-phenylpropylamine
• alpha-benzylethylamine
• 1-phenyl-1-methyl-2-aminoethane
• beta-methylbenzeneethanamine
• beta-phenylpropylamine
• 2- phenyl-1-propanamine

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Acetaminophen Blunts Both Positive And Negative Emotions

MyAchingKnees comment: I have never been much of an acetaminophen user. I have abused Ibuprofen and Aspirin, but very little Tylenol. This article just goes to show the consumer that they must exert individual responsibility for all medications, OTC or prescription or anything, that they take. This article is on a possible side effects of Acetaminophen, by Amy Capetta posted on Yahoo! Health.

An over-the-counter med for everyday aches and pains may be taking away more than just your physical discomfort.

Researchers from The Ohio State University studied the possible side effects from acetaminophen — the most common active ingredient in pain relievers and the main ingredient in Tylenol — and discovered that it can blunt emotions and even reduce the degree of positive and negative feelings.

Approximately 52 million Americans — nearly one-quarter of adults — use a med that contains acetaminophen each week. While this drug has been an approved form of medication for over 70 years in the United States and is found in over 600 medicines, this is the first news of this mind-based side effect, which has been published in the journal Psychological Science.

Study experts gathered 82 college students and split the group down the middle — half were given a dose of acetaminophen while the others were handed a placebo. One hour later — once the drugs took effect — all of the participants were asked to look at 40 images that ranged from extremely unpleasant (crying, malnourished children) to the neutral (a cow in a field) to the very pleasant (young children playing with cats). These “special” photos are used by researchers around the globe in order to evoke emotional responses from their subjects.

The students were first asked to rate how positive or negative the images were using a scale of -5 (extremely negative) to +5 (extremely positive). They were then asked to look at the same pictures again and rate the level of emotion each photo induced, from 0 (little or no emotion) to 10 (extreme amount of emotion).

The participants who were given acetaminophen had a less extreme reaction to all of the photos, compared to those who took the placebo. The positive images were not viewed as positively and the negative photos weren’t seen as negative. Their emotional reactions resulted in the same fashion — they didn’t feel strongly about any of photos, reporting an average level of emotion of 5.85 when they looked at the extreme images.

The same results were found again after researchers conducted a second similar study using another group of 85 adults.

“Rather than just being a pain reliever, acetaminophen can be seen as an all-purpose emotion reliever,” stated Geoffrey Durso, lead study author.

This discovery supports a more recent theory, which states that certain biochemical factors may be responsible for the levels of highs and lows we may experience during both positive and negative occurrences (i.e. getting married or getting a divorce). “There is accumulating evidence that some people are more sensitive to big life events of all kinds, rather than just vulnerable to bad events,” Durso said.

So when you’re having one of “those” days when your emotions have gotten the best of you, will taking two Tylenol relieve your headache and muscle tension, along with taking the edge off?

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Can You OD On Vitamin Pills?

by Korin Miller posted on Yahoo! Health

Khloe Kardashian posted this photo of her supplement regimen that she’s taken to go with her on a trip to Armenia. “Vitamin party!”, she says. “I don’t have a pillbox because for all the pills I take, the pull box is large and bulky.” But is it too much?

It’s a mantra many of us heard on repeat as kids: “Take your vitamins!” Despite recent research that has questioned the effectiveness of vitamin supplements — and even their safety — Nielsen data has shown that the vitamin supplement industry is still growing.

MyAchingKnees comment:  The effectiveness of supplements is going to largely be determined by the quality of manufacture.  Don't expect your supplements to do wonders for you if you buy them off the shelf at the grocery store or one of those department store sized vitamin stores selling food grade products.    

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star Khloe Kardashian seems to be doing her part to keep supplement sales up, posting a new photo on Instagram of all of the vitamins she took on on her current trip to Armenia. It’s hard to tell exactly how many vitamins she’s taking, but it appears to be about 23 a day. That’s right—a day.

Is that even healthy? While 23 vitamins a day is admittedly a little extreme, New York City registered dietitian Jessica Cording tells Yahoo Health that the right supplement intake really depends on a patient’s needs.

“Vitamin supplements are really to address gaps in your diet,” she says. “If you’re eating a balanced diet, you’re probably meeting your basic needs unless you have an underlying deficiency.”

MyAchingKnees comment: I believe we need to buy and eat the best foods we can find - et as low glycemic and as non-GMO as you can, but no matter how hard you work to buy and consume the best  foods, you are still going to have some sort of nutritional deficiency. It's because the foods that are available now are greatly reduced in their nutritional value.

Which supplements do we actually need?

While there are a lot of supplements we don’t really need, Donald Hensrud, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program, tells Yahoo Health there are a few most people should consider.

Vitamin D

The first is vitamin D, which studies have shown can improve bone health, as well as muscle and immune function. “It’s been estimated that 20-50 percent of the U.S. population may have low vitamin D levels,” he says. “Now that people are aware of the relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer, they’re staying out of the sun more. That’s one of the sources of vitamin D.” He recommends that people look for a vitamin D3 supplement, aiming to take 1,000 units a day.


The second supplement Hensrud recommends is calcium, which is widely known to help bone health. However, he notes that too much calcium has been linked with heart disease, so it’s best to stick with the recommended daily allowance (1,000 mg a day for most adults).


Cording suggests that people also consider taking a probiotic supplement. “So much of our health relies on the health of our gastrointestinal tract,” she says. “Keeping that in working order is important.”

And yes, it’s possible to take too many supplements!

While some supplements can be beneficial to your health, both Cording and Hensrud warn that it’s possible to take too many vitamins — and the fallout of that overdose depends on what kind of vitamins you take. Many water-soluble vitamins like C and B will just move through your body when taken in excess. “With many supplements, you’re pretty much paying for expensive urine,” says Cording.

There are a few water-soluble vitamins to be wary of, though. Hensrud points out that ingesting too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems and overdosing on niacin may lead to liver damage or even liver failure.

Large doses of fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and K will store in your body fat and can cause problems ranging from gastrointestinal distress to more serious issues. Two clinical studies conducted in the mid-1990s on the effects of beta-carotene and vitamin A supplements on smokers were halted after participants showed an increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and death.

While some vitamin supplements can enhance your overall health, both experts say it’s most important to get your recommended vitamins and minerals from a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables. “A plant-based diet with a variety of foods from different sources goes a long way toward reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other health issues,” says Hensrud.

Interested in trying new supplements to fill gaps in your diet? Consult your doctor first to make sure there aren’t any potential interactions with any medication you may be taking.

MyAchingKnees comment: By all means, consult your Doctor. I'm sure he has a huge background in nutritional medicine and is not beholding to any prescription medications companies (sarcasim font).

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Most Important Vitamin Women Need and Haven’t Heard Of

Article written by Steve Macari for Harper's Bazaar

It is rare that I would write an article about a single nutrient, but there is one that I believe to be a game changer and needs to be brought in to the public eye—the Vitamin K2. The human body needs a variety of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fatty acids) to function properly. When you are deficient in a particular nutrient, health problems generally arise. Since the human body is remarkably resilient it can take years to see any outright “symptoms” of a particular nutrient deficiency. These symptoms generally involve not feeling as good as you used to, changes in skin quality, low energy, hormonal imbalances, joint pain, digestive issues, the list goes on.

What is interesting about Vitamin K2 is that it was not until 1997 that researchers figured out the important role it plays in the human body (imagine all the other things we don’t know). While many people are familiar with Vitamin K1 (present in leafy greens such as kale and spinach and plays a role in blood clotting) most have never heard of Vitamin K2. Simply put, Vitamin K2 plays a critical role in directing calcium where it belongs and away from where it doesn’t belong. It does this through it’s interaction with a few other nutrients, namely Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

Why is K2 so important?

Vitamin K2 is involved in numerous functions in the human body but is especially important for women. Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox, says:

“For the prevention of everything from wrinkles to cancer, Vitamin K2 is the missing nutrient for women’s health. Most women don’t need a calcium supplement, but Vitamin K2 will channel dietary calcium to the right places. And everyone is taking Vitamin D, but without K2 we’re not getting all the benefits of Vitamin D, and even risking harm from it.”

Bone Health - While most associate calcium with bone health the fact of the matter is that calcium (particularly supplemental calcium) plays a very insignificant role in ensuring adequate bone density and Vitamin K2 plays a very strong role. Vitamin K2 does this via its relationship with two other key nutrients, Vitamin A (Retinol not Beta-Carotene) and Vitamin D.

Dental Health - Look no further than Dr. Weston A. Price in understanding the importance of Vitamin K2 for ensuring proper dental health. His research showed that dental decay, tooth sensitivity and other issues can be addressed naturally, simply by ensuring adequate K2 in the diet. He found remarkable dental health (and overall health) in indigenous tribes throughout the world. These peoples had straight, cavity free teeth and rarely brushed. Their diet was very high in K2 and the other fat soluble nutrients (A and D).

Cardiovascular Health - For years we believed that clogged arteries were the results of saturated fat. We now know that this is not true. While there are many layers to cardiovascular disease the real culprit might be a lack of Vitamin K2 in the diet. Those blockages in your arteries are mostly calcium. Vitamin K2 keeps calcium out of your arteries and in your bones, where it belongs.

Wrinkles - Consider regions of the world that have a high vitamin K2 intake and you will find people who look considerably young for their age (i.e. Tokyo - where Natto, the richest food source of Vitamin K2 is consumed regularly). There is also a strong correlation between early signs of aging (wrinkles, loose skin) and low bone density.

Healthy Veins - Varicose veins are technically a disease of the cardiovascular system and like the related section above, involve calcium being deposited where it doesn’t belong. This can lead to veins that have lost their integrity and are more susceptible to bulging.

Where to get it?

Food sources of a particular nutrient are always best, however it can be a challenge with Vitamin K2 since the foods with the highest concentrations are rather obscure and not commonly consumed (see list below). That being said you can supplement with Vitamin K2. I would probably argue that Vitamin K2 is the single most important nutrient you should be including in your supplement routine (with Magnesium a close second).

The foods highest in Vitamin K2:

• Natto (fermented soybeans)

• Goose Liver (and other liver)

MyAchingKnees comment: Yeah, I'm all about Goose liver!

• Dairy products from animals that are eating fast growing spring grass (milk, butter, ghee).

• Cheeses - Gouda and Brie have the highest concentration but any cheese from a grass-fed animal will have Vitamin K2. Consider having some fruit and cheese as a snack.

• Egg yolks from a pasture raised chicken also contain K2. Eat 2-3 egg yolks a day.

Why is deficiency so common?

• It is a nutrient that is not present in high concentrations in many commonly consumed foods.

• The increased consumption of processed foods and a departure away from eating traditional foods (which are notoriously nutrient dense - nose to tail eating, grass-fed dairy, fermented foods, animal fats, etc.).

MyAchingKnees comment: My wife takes 105 micro grams of Vitamin K (in the form of Phylloquinone) each day, and while everyone knows the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is very low for most nutrients, this amount of Vitamin K provides 135% of the RDA. While this article by Steve Macari is excellent, this article and others stressing the importance of a single nutrient could have the tendnancy to push people to supplement with this one nutrient and not consider the fact that people need all the nutrients to order to work synergisitically to provide the body with optimal health.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Toxins Are Killing Our Brains,....and more

For decades, chlorpyrifos, marketed by Dow Chemical beginning in 1965, was the most widely
used insect killer in American homes. Then, in 1995, Dow was fined $732,000 by the EPA for
concealing more than 200 reports of poisoning related to chlorpyrifos. It paid the fine and, in
2000, withdrew chlorpyrifos from household products. Today, chlorpyrifos is classified as “very
highly toxic” to birds and freshwater fish, and “moderately toxic” to mammals, but it is still used
widely in agriculture on food and non-food crops, in greenhouses and plant nurseries, on wood
products and golf courses.
From an article published on The Atlantic, over a year ago, titled "The Toxins That Threaten Our
Brains", by James Hamblin, who does the population a good turn by helping identify 12 common
toxins and, as Hamblin puts it "....... (these) dozen chemicals are responsible for widespread
behavioral and cognitive problems. But the scope of the chemical dangers in our environment is
likely even greater. Why children and the poor are most susceptible to neurotoxic exposure that
may be costing the U.S. billions of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind."
You are going to have to go here to read the entire article, but the keys points are:   

The major toxins identified are - Manganese; Flouride; Chlorpyrifos; DDT/DDE;
Tetrachloroethylene (PERC); Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE);  Aresnic; Lead; Mercury;
Toluene; Ethanol; and, Polycholorinated Biphenyls (PCB). 
The problem with toxic substances is that their effects can be insidious. Take the example of lead—a chemical that lingered in gasoline, house paints, and children's toys for decades before scientists realized the true extent of the damage.
Several years ago, a four-year-old boy in Oregon began complaining of stomach pain and vomiting. Doctors reassured his parents that it was likely a viral illness, but his symptoms worsened, and he became completely unable to eat. He also had a badly swollen cheek. The doctors determined that the boy had bitten himself, so severely that it must have been during a seizure. Blood tests showed that he was anemic, and subsequent tests found that he had extremely high levels of lead (123 micrograms per deciliter of blood).
The doctors began treating the boy with medication to help clear the lead. They also set out to find out where the lead was coming from. An investigation of the boy’s home, which was built in the 1990s, found no lead paint. Despite treatment, though, the boy’s lead tests remained abnormally high. So the doctors did an x-ray.
Inside the boy’s stomach was a one-inch metal medallion, which appeared bright white on the x-ray image. His parents recognized it as a toy necklace they had purchased from a vending machine approximately three weeks earlier. The state environmental quality lab later found that the medallion contained 38.8 percent lead. The manufacturer later did a voluntary recall of 1.4 million of the metal toy necklaces.
In 1921, lead was starting to be added to Gasoline to increase it's octane rating and therefore power.   In the 1960's strudies began to show that exposure to leaded gasoline and paint as well as other substances were poisoning people.   Finally in 1975, the EPA required a gradual phasing of lead out of gasoline.   But it didn't end there,......the Center of Disease Control (CDC) has incrementally decreased the threshold on how much lead was toxic from 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to .5 micrograms per deciliter
Magnanese used to coat the insides of soda pop cans for a common source  of this toxin.    Symptoms of magnanese poisoning can be similar to Lou Gehrig's disease and multiple sclerosis.
Flouride, found in toothpaste and actualy given to us by dentists to swish throughout our mouths, can be benficial in low doses.   Higher doses of fluoride exposure has negative effects on brain growth.
Mercury is another common toxin in many forms and can cause damage to the kidneys, lungs as well as the brain.    Many different items from flourescent lights, to dental amagam fillings to certain cosmetics contain mercury in one form or another.
MyAchingKnees comment:  Knowledge of, and risk mitigation to toxin exposure are part of my plan for individual optimal health which I call the chair of health with the four legs being:  1 - reduce high glycemic, processed foods and eat as a low glycemic diet as you can; 2 - take quality nutritional supplents to ensure your body recieves all the nutrients for a strong immune system to protect against degenrative diseases; 3 - avoid toxins to minimize the onset of immune system degradation; 4 - live a physically life.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

What 5 Popular Diets Get Wrong

Molly Shea published this article - "What 5 Popular Diets Get Wrong" - on Yahoo.com Health.

If you’ve nixed gluten from your life or shunned all cooked foods, you probably think you’re doing what’s best for your body. But according to Vani Hari, a.k.a. the "Food Babe," there may still be important nutrients you’re missing — and toxic ingredients you might be eating.

Vani, a food activist and author of The Food Babe Way, is known for calling out corporations such as Kraft and General Mills for including unnecessary artificial additives in their foods. She’s spent years researching food politics, nutrition, and diets — so if there’s a downside to a popular diet, Vani knows it. In this exclusive video, she shares how five popular diets might steer you wrong. To start:

If you’re a Paleo fan, don’t overdo the meat consumption! Eating a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can help keep you disease-free.

Given gluten the heave-ho? Always read the ingredients label and skip processed, packaged gluten-free foods.

Raw foodies should steer clear of sugary foods such as agave nectar — though raw, the fructose it contains can cause a serious blood sugar spike.

Gone vegan and substituting soy for meat? Watch out for soy protein isolate, a common ingredient that Vani warns is made with a carcinogenic gas.

If you stick to a Mediterranean diet, don’t fall for cheap olive oil that’s cut with lower-quality ingredients.

MyAchingKnees comment: All good (and short) advice. But looking at why most diets really fail is that they simply do not provide the required nutrients the person needs. Eating nothing but beef gets the closet to providing all the required nutrients, however even that falls way short. This is why you see peope on short and long term diets, losing weight, then gaining it back...and being sick and tired inbetween.

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