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Eating Meat of Livestock Fed with Ractopamine Could Make You Suffer from Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Updated on February 15, 2014

A cow (photo from Wikipedia)

FDA has allowed use of ractopamine as feeds additive in livestock

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has allowed the use of ractopamine as additive in feeds for livestock. What is wrong with that?

“Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal..." (Internet Dec. 29,2013).

The drug is given to cattle up until slaughter time. Some 20% of it may stay as residue in the meat purchased and consumed (Internet. Dec. 29.2013).

Those asthma patients taking a beta-agonist drug (Advair) commonly complain of weight gain. That is why the manufacturer is required to include “... added weight gain to the post-marketing side effects. Some side effects of beta-agonist drugs are insomnia, hypertension, high heart rate and angina.

A beta-agonist is a “... bronchodilator medicine that opens the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airways that may tighten during an asthma attack or in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Beta-agonists can be administered by inhalers or orally....”(Internet Dec. 29,2013).

Why the adverse side effects of beta-agonists to humans?

Let’s take a look into a beta related medication for humans: propranolol.

“Propranolol is a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers affect the heart and circulation (blood flow through arteries and veins).”

Propranolol is prescribed to treat angina (chest pain), hypertension, heart rhythm disorders and to prevent heart attack (Internet. Dec. 29,2013).

How does beta-blocker work?

Neurotransmitters enable nerve cells to communicate with each other. The released neurotransmitters attach to receptors on other cells and induce changes within the receptor-containing cells. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter.

"Nerves of the sympathetic nervous system release norepinephrine that binds to beta receptors on other cells. Propranolol inhibits the sympathetic nervous system by blocking the beta receptors on the nerves of the sympathetic system..." ( Internet. Dec. 29,2013).

A receptor is like a tube that protrudes in the outside and in the inside of the cell. A drug can affect the cell just by landing on the receptor.

Now the beta-antagonist (beta-blocker) works exactly the opposite of beta-agonist (ractopamine). For example, beta-blocker reduces heart rate. Ractopamine increases heart rate. Beta-blocker prevents heart attack. Ractopamine promotes heart attack and cardiac arrest. How?

Heart attack is different from cardiac arrest. In the latter, the heart rate is very fast, as fast as 300 beats per minute - the normal being about 60. When that happens, the heart has no time to fill in blood resulting in ventricular fibrillation. One effect is that pulse becomes absent - no pulse at all. For lack of blood inside it the heart fails to feed blood to organs. Also, the heart fails to feed itself with blood - resulting in cardiac arrest. Death can occur within six minutes of cardiac arrest..

In heart attack, fast heart rate increases demand for oxygen. For beating fast, the heart also gets tired. Fast heart rate increases the amount of calmodulin, a protein that rides along calcium entering cells (Cranton, E. MD. Bypassing Bypass. Updated second edition. 1995). Inadequate supply of oxygen results in hypoxia then angina. Too much calmodulin and calcium poison the heart. Death can occur within five minutes of heart attack (Ornish. D. MD. Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease. 1996).

Do not take propranolol if you are allergic to it “... if you have asthma, a slow heart rate, or a serious heart condition such as "sick sinus syndrome" or "AV block" (unless you have a pacemaker)” (Internet. Dec. 29,2013).

FDA sued

“In an effort to get this dangerous additive out of American meat products, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a complaint against "the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for withholding records pertaining to ractopamine’s safety...."

As a consumer I will not wait for the decision of the court on the lawsuit. I would avoid consuming meat containing ractopamine.

Like diethylstilbestrol (DES)

Ractopamine is like DES that was used to accelerate growth of livestock. DES does not promote cancer in the fellow who takes it, usually women. However, it was found that the female daughter of the mother who took DES during her pregnancy contracts cancer. DES is now banned for use in livestock industry.

Ractopamine banned in 160 countries

The use of ractopamine as feed additive in livestock is already banned in Europe and other 160 countries. However, its use is still allowed in the United States.

Put part of the blame on FDA.

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