Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Magnesium may lower risk of colon cancer

New research indicates that a diet rich in magnesium may lower the risk of colon cancer, supporting previous studies inversely linking intake of the mineral to the disease.

Researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, found that diets rich in magnesium reduced the occurrence of colon cancer.

A previous study from Sweden (Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 293, pp. 86-89) reported that women with the highest magnesium intake had a 40 per cent lower risk of developing the cancer than those with the lowest intake of the mineral.

The research is important because dietary surveys show that a large portion of adults do not meet the RDA for the mineral, found naturally in green, leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains and nuts, and milk.

The new research, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 163, pp. 232-235), used a food frequency questionnaire to assess dietary nutrient intake of 35 196 women with an average age of 61.

During the 17 years of follow-up, three per cent of the women developed colorectal cancer.

The hazard ratio, a measure of the risk, was statistically 25 per cent lower for the volunteers with the highest intake of magnesium (more than 356 mg per day). This is still less than than the RDA for magnesium: 320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men.

The protective mechanism of magnesium is not clear but the researchers suggest that reductions in insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and cell proliferation could be possible.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Monday, January 30, 2006

The fish saga continues

In response to the growing conern over mercury in fish, the FDA published newly released testing of 25 fish varieties.

Not surprisingly, fish such as ahi tuna (a sushi staple) and chilean sea bass (a restaurant staple), both large fish that have long lifespans, showed higher levels of mercury than smaller fish that have shorter lifespans.

The results also showed that 6% of canned light tuna tested had high levels of mercury, although, still within what is considered a legal limit.

Bonnie - so where does this leave us? As we have said all along, stay away from the larger fish that have the longest lifespan. Focus on eating small fish with shorter lifespans such as sardines. Fatty fish such as salmon and halibut are fine. With regard to tuna, once or twice weekly maximum (for pregnant women and children follow the FDA's recommendations) for adults is fine.

Bacteria-killing water replaces chemical cleaners

EAU Technologies, which provides what it calls "green chemistry'' to food processing, said its electrolyzed oxidative water technology can replace many of the traditional methods in the processing sector now used to clean, disinfect, hydrate and moisturise foods.

The non-toxic water cuts down on existing bacteria, virus and mold proliferation. Special generators create acidic and alkaline fluids with the cleaning and sanitising properties. The water eliminates pathogens in processing plants by treating not only surface contamination but also the plant and animal foods directly.

*Green Chemistry is the design and convergence of traditional chemical processes and procedures with new environmentally friendly technologies in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.

Standard toxic chemicals can create strains of pathogens that become resistant over time, because the cell can expel or neutralise the chemical before it can kill it, thereby causing the overall efficacy of chemical cleaners and disinfectants to be significantly reduced.

Steve - now these are the kinds of innovations that should be receiving large amounts of capital for R&D. Of course, they are not and the press release must appear on a small trade website called nutraingredients.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fish oil probably does not help prevent cancer

A review study that appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that fish oil, seen as beneficial for preventing heart disease, may not help prevent cancer. The researchers looked at 38 studies over 30 years. While a few small studies showed improvement for cancers of the breast, prostate, and lung, they were not definitve.

Steve - another "review study." This is a perfect example of trying to make a definitive statement about a substance to which there is scant data. Fish oil for cancer prevention is low on the total pole on our priority list, precisely because the data is much more definitive for its effectiveness for cardiovascular, neurological, and pain /inflammation prevention. Although, we would never say that it "probably does not prevent cancer" because a review study says so. The review study 's conclusion cannot be definitive mainly because of the 38 studies reviewed, many were focused on health issues other than cancer.

First Hearing in Milk Warning Label Lawsuit

Judge Henry H. Kennedy of the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments January 31 on a high-profile lawsuit filed by 10 Washingto D.C. area residents who want labels on milk cartons warning that milk can cause serious digestive illness. The plaintiffs argue that many people are not aware they are lactose intolerant and unwittingly buy milk, only to suffer side effects after drinking it.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose, a normal process that occurs after the age of weaning. For those who are lactose intolerant, drinking milk can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other painful gastrointestinal symptoms. Approximately 75 percent of the world’s population—including 60 to 80 percent of African Americans, 50 to 80 percent of Latinos, and at least 90 percent of Asian Americans and Native Americans—is lactose intolerant.

Steve - we'll be keeping a close eye on this one...stay-tuned!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Extreme Disappointment

I happen to be a member of The American College of Nutrition, an esteemed and very well respected organization that awards nutrition specialist certifications to mostly physicians and select dietitians/nutritionists. I have been proud to be a member of this exlcusive organization. That is, until December.

The College's journal, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, in an extreme departure from their usual unbiased viewpoints, dedicated the entire December issue to debunking negative theories regarding mik and milk products. The journal went so far as to address "The Myth of Increased Lactose Intolerance in African-Americans," and "Milk Consumption Does Not Lead to Mucus Production or Occurrence of Asthma."

I don't think I have ever seen as blatant of an attempt to appease an industry as this journal has. What's more, smack dab on the second page of the journal, it reads, "This supplement was sponsored by the International Dairy Federation's Standing Committee on Nutrition and Health." In addition, the "Guest Editors" happen to be the Director of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs for the National Dairy Council, a member of of Dairy Australia, and the Director of Nutrition Research for the National Dairy Council.

I would like to state for the record that I do not endorse and vehemently oppose the data that appeared in the December issue of Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Bonnie Minsky, LDN, CNS, MPH, MA

Reasons to buy organic

According to a February Consumer Reports article, buy these organic items as much as posssible: apples, baby food, bell peppers, celery, cherries, dairy, eggs, imported grapes, meat, nectarines, peaches, pears, poultry, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries.

Consumer Reports draws upon data showing extremely high pesticide, hormone, and/or antibitoic residues in the aforementioned foods especially. Studies have shown that kids' pesticide exposure quickly drops after switching from a conventional to organic diet.

Monday, January 23, 2006

AHA downplays soy benefits

An American Heart Association committee reviewed a decade of studies on soy's benefits and came up with results that are now casting doubt on the health claim that soy-based foods and supplements significantly lower cholesterol, according to its statement in the journal Circulation.

The findings could lead the Food and Drug Administration to re-evaluate rules that currently allow companies to tout a cholestorol-lowering benefit on the labels of soy-based food.

Nutrition experts say soy-based foods still are good because they often are eaten in place of less healthy fare like burgers and hot dogs. But they don't have as much direct benefit as had been hoped on cholesterol, one of the top risk factors for heart disease.

The FDA in 1999 started allowing manufacturers to claim that soy products might cut the risk of heart disease after studies showed at least 25 grams of soy protein a day lowered cholesterol. A year later, the Heart Association recommended soy be included in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

But as more research emerged, the Heart Association decided to revisit the issue. The committee members reviewed 22 studies and found that large amounts of dietary soy protein only reduced LDL, or ``bad'' cholesterol, about 3 percent and had no effect on HDL, or ``good'' cholesterol, or on blood pressure.

Steve - Bonnie and I were never a proponent of the FDA allowing soy heart health claims in 1999. Soy has its place in the food supply, but only as a complementary food. The FDA, the American Heart Association, and major food manufacturers that jumped on the bandwagon and put soy in EVERYTHING are in a quandry. Soy is literally everywhere and in everything. Not only is it one of the three most allergenic food staples (milk and wheat being the other two), it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops (if not organic).
In addition, soy is not very bioavailable protein (in general, plant based proteins are far inferior in bioavialblity than animal protein).

The studies on soy have been a mixed bag mainly because soy is tolerated differently depending on the individual's genetic makeup.

Now that soy is a major food staple worldwide, and has a huge amount of political clout, it is going to be very difficult to make it a "complementary" once again. Of course, you can count on the dairy industry to do all it can to make this happen.

Friday, January 20, 2006

FDA Black Box Warning for 2 Eczema Drugs

The labels on two prescription creams to treat eczema will have to bear "black box" warnings of possible cancer risks. The Food and Drug Administration action Thursday follows an agency advisory committee recommendation last February that Elidel cream and Protopic ointment carry the label warnings.

The new labeling also will clarify that the two drugs are recommended for use only after other prescription topical medicines have been tried by patients, the FDA said. The agency is also issuing a guide updating patients of its concerns. As of October, the FDA has received reports of 78 cases of cancers, including skin and lymphoma, in patients treated with the two drugs, said Dr. Stanka Kukich, the acting director of the FDA's dermatologic and dental drug products division. Estimates are that roughly 10 million people combined have used the two drugs.

Courtesy of AP

Oily fish in pregnancy increases child's brain power

Eating oily fish and seeds in pregnancy can boost children's future brain power and social skills, research suggests.

A study of 9,000 mothers and children suggested those who consumed less of the essential fatty acid Omega-3 had children with lower IQs.

These children also had poorer motor skills and hand-to-eye co-ordination, research in the Economist said.

A team from the National Institutes of Health in the US analysed data from a long-term study done in Avon, UK.

Looking at the effects of Omega-3 intake on 9,000 mothers and their children, the team found mothers with the lowest intake of the essential fatty acid had children with a verbal IQ six points lower than the average.

While those with the highest consumption of mackerel and sardines and other sources of Omega-3 had children, at age three-and-a-half, with the best measures of fine-motor performance, researchers said.

Professor Jean Golding of Bristol University set up the original research - the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children -15 years ago to look at the predisposition to disease.

She told the BBC: "The baby's brain needs Omega-3 fatty acids. It doesn't create its own fatty acids so it needs to be something that the mother will eat."

The new research also builds on earlier work in the US which suggests pregnant mothers will develop children with better language and communication skills if they regularly consume oily fish.

Courtesy of BBC News

Stress in the workplace = heart disease risk

Stress in the workplace is a major factor in the development of heart disease and diabetes, a study says.

Stress has long been linked to ill health, but the British Medical Journal study may have identified the biological process for the first time.

The study of 10,000 civil servants found a link between stress and metabolic syndrome, which involves obesity and high blood pressure.

Lead researcher Tarani Chandola said: "Employees with chronic work stress have more than double the odds of the syndrome than those without work stress, after other risk factors are taken into account.

This relationship meant that the more stress someone suffered, the more likely they were to suffer metabolic syndrome symptoms.

The researchers said that, for example, men who suffered chronic work stress were twice as likely to develop the syndrome as men who had no exposure to stress.

Women with chronic stress were also more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, although they formed only a small group in the study.

The researchers said one possible explanation for the result may be that prolonged exposure to work stress affects the nervous system.

They also suggested that chronic stress may reduce biological resilience, thus disturbing the body's physiological balance.

Courtesy of BBC News

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Track record of nutritional interventions for Autism

A fabulous article published in the Winter 2006 NOHA newsletter (Nutrition for Optimal Health Association), written by Jon B. Pangborn, PhD, ChE, of Syracuse University exhibits several methods of nutritional intervention that have shown success with autistic children. Depending on the variables contributing to the condition, here are those listed to have exhibited improvement, according to thousands of cases tracked by the Autism Research Institute:
  • Supplementing with B-6 (Pyridoxyl-5-Phosphate) and magnesium because they act synergistically.
  • Supplementing trimethylglycine because it circumvents folate and B12 absorption problems.
  • Gluten/casein-free diet which reduces the inflammatory burden on cell membrane in the small intestine
  • Supplementing with digestive enzymes further breaks down undigested foods (autistic children often have malabsorption issues) and lessens the amount of pathogenic gut flora.
  • Chelation therapy (once many of the above therapies are in place) as a detoxifier of heavy metals
  • Injection of and/or oral use of large dose methylcobalamin (methylated form of B12)
Bonnie - I find this fascinating because these are documented cases from parents and physicians of autistic children. Before considering any of these methods, one must see a health professional who is well-versed in this area.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

‘Direct evidence’ that cocoa benefits heart health

A team of international researchers claims to have ‘direct evidence’ for a cocoa flavanol improving blood vessel relaxation.

Flavonols are found naturally in chocolate, fruit, red wine and teas, and have previously been linked to improvements in heart health.

The new study, sponsored by confectionary giant Mars, examined the effect on blood vessel relaxation of chocolate flavanols in the form of a specially prepared cocoa drink, and then a drink containing isolated, cocoa-derived (-) epicatechin.

The initial randomised, double-blind, cross-over study gave volunteers a specially prepared cocoa drink containing either high or low concentrations of specific cocoa flavanols. Only the group that consumed the flavanol rich drink showed blood vessel relaxation.

A follow-on “proof-of-concept” study gave volunteers either a placebo drink or a drink containing isolated, cocoa-derived (-) epicatechin. The latter test group experienced similar blood vessel relaxation as for the flavanol-rich cocoa drink.

The role of (-) epicatechin was directly linked to nitric oxide, a molecule used by the endothelium to signal surrounding muscle to relax, thereby dilating the blood vessels and increasing blood flow. This supports previous research by individual team members suggesting a link between nitric oxide and cocoa flavanols.

Mars have been very active in this research area, having spent over 15 years researching the benefits of cocoa. Previous research by members of the international team has benefited from Mars sponsorship, and a mounting body of supporting evidence has strengthened the link between flavanols and nitric oxide.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Vol. 108, pp. 1024-1029).

Steve - this study, while promising, should be treated as would a study on a medication sponsored by the drug company who created it. While cocoa has been well-researched independently for its link to heart health, larger and longer population studies are underway and should bring more definitive data.

Travelers' Illnesses

About 8 percent of travelers to developing countries require medical care during or after travel, according to a new study of more than 17,000 people who became ill while traveling from 1996 to 2004.

Overall, the most common ailment was acute diarrhea, but among travelers to Africa, it was malaria.

Researchers hope the findings will help doctors better diagnose travelers' illnesses if they know the probability of contracting a disease in a given country.

Courtesy of The New York Times

Bonnie - several clients (and family members) who went on trips to India this past year have come back with serious digestive issues. The parasites, bacteria, and viruses are all different in developing countries and are much harder to keep at bay. Sanitary conditions are far below the standards we are used to.

For individuals who have compromised immune systems or digestive disorders, you may need to reconsider taking trips to developing countries.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Drug firms eye fat profits from new obesity pills

Sanofi-Aventis SA's Acomplia, or rimonabant, which could be approved by U.S. regulators as early as next month, is the first of a new wave of treatments that may spell fat profits for some pharmaceutical companies, with sales tipped by analysts to top $3 billion a year.

Another two experimental drugs from Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc and Alizyme Plc, with different mechanisms of action, have also produced promising clinical results in recent weeks, prompting some investors to start laying big bets on weight-loss medicine.

It is a risky area, however.

Slimming pills have had a chequered history, due to modest effectiveness and adverse side effects -- most notoriously with the diet drug combination "fen-phen," which was linked to heart-valve problems and has cost Wyeth more than $21 billion in provisions related to patient claims.

Jonathan de Pass, chief executive of specialist consultancy Evaluate, calculates there are now 26 new drugs in clinical trials for obesity and a further 32 in early-stage development.

The potential market is large in every respect.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 1 billion people in the world are overweight and, if current trends continue, that number will reach 1.5 billion by 2015.

Of the current total, more than 300 million already rank as obese, putting them at substantial risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems and some cancers.

Dr Timothy Armstrong of the WHO's department of chronic diseases believes medication can help only a very small minority of patients and will not impact the overall obesity epidemic.

"It's not a panacea," he said. "Drugs don't have a role in preventing obesity in the wider population, where interventions around physical activity and diet are far more cost-effective."

Today, there are two main obesity medicines on the market -- Roche Holding AG's Xenical, which works by limiting fat absorption, and Abbott Laboratories Inc's Meridia/Reductil, which suppresses appetite.

Both can have adverse side effects, however. Xenical can cause excess gas and oily discharge, while Meridia may increase blood pressure. As a result, sales of both drugs are modest, at $460 million and $300 million respectively in 2004.

Side effects for the anticipated Acomplia could also be an issue. While patients on Acomplia have lost around 7 kg (15 lb) in body weight over two years, concerns remain about its potential impact on mood.

By Ben Hirschler, European Pharmaceuticals Correspondent, Yahoo News

Steve - You cannot fault the drug companies for trying. They need to meet the demands of their shareholders and there is A LOT of money to be made in treating obesity.

Let's wade through the morass for a while.

You must ask yourself three questions before choosing this route:

  1. Is losing 15 pounds in two years worth it? There is no guarantee that you will lose the weight, a clear risk of side effects, and a considerable out of pocket expense (chances are your insurance company will not pay for obesity treatment).
  2. Are you ready to be on the treatment for the rest of your life? That's what the powers that be are pushing for. They will want to prove that along with weight reduction, the medication will prevent every disease imaginable (i.e., pushing statin medication for alzheimer's prevention).
  3. When you want to go off the pills, what are you going to do?

These are serious questions to consider. If you decide to try one of these treatments, don't be a guinea pig! Wait at least 1-2 years after it has been on the market. Remember Vioxx? It took the public over 4 years to find out the damage it caused.

We understand that medication will always be a minute percentage of obesity-reduction therapy, but one still needs to ask the hard questions and be cautious!

This Season's Flu Virus Is Resistant to 2 Standard Drugs

Doctors should stop prescribing two standard antiviral drugs to treat or prevent this season's influenza because the predominant strain has quickly become resistant to them, federal health officials said Saturday.

The standard drugs are amantadine and rimantadine.

Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that doctors prescribe two newer antiviral drugs, oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), and said ample supplies were available.

The new findings concern only the strain of influenza causing regular seasonal influenza, and not avian influenza or pandemic influenza, said the centers' director, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding.

She said 91 percent of the human influenza A (H3N2) virus samples isolated in her agency's laboratories this flu season were resistant to both amantadine and rimantadine. A (H3N2) is this season's dominant strain. The agency's influenza surveillance program studies samples from state health departments.

Courtesy of The New York Times

Mental health link to diet change

Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says.

Food campaigners Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation say the way food is now produced has altered the balance of key nutrients people consume.

The report, Feeding Minds, pointed out the delicate balance of minerals, vitamins and essential fats consumed had changed in the past five decades.

Researchers said the proliferation of industrialised farming had introduced pesticides and altered the body fat composition of animals due to the diet they are now fed.

For example, the report said chickens reach their slaughter weight twice as fast as they did 30 years ago, increasing the fat content from 2% to 22%.

The diet has also altered the balance of vital fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 in chickens which the brain needs to ensure it functions properly.

In contrast, saturated fats, consumption of which has been increasing with the boom in ready meals, act to slow down the brain's working process.

The report said people were eating 34% less vegetables and two-thirds less fish - the main source of omega-3 fatty acids - than they were 50 years ago.

Such changes, the study said, could be linked to depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer's disease.

Steve - Boy, we could not have said it better ourselves.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dental health crucial to heart health

According to a huge study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, participants with 1 to 6 teeth missing (not counting teeth lost to injury or orthodontics) were 1.2 times more likely to have cardiovascular illness. Those with 6 to 31 teeth missing were 1.64 times as likely.

Steve - in short...brush, floss, and eating right go hand in hand for optimal cardiovascular and dental health!

Highlights from the January issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

  • In a multiple regression analysis of 168 prepubertal girls aged 4–8 y living in the southeastern United States, Vitamin D status was adequate in the children. There was a fluctuation in levels depending on season (fall/winter the levels dipped a bit lower), but were still normal. Steve - as we have said many times, in warmer climates, increasing vitamin D intake is not as crucial as it is for those living in colder climates. Even though we have heard many wonderful things about vitamin D lately, we are not one size fits all. In short, consult with a health professional before supplementing with vitamin D.
  • Iron from purified soybean ferritin is well absorbed and may provide a model for novel, utilizable, plant-based forms of iron for populations with a low iron status.
  • In a community-based, cross-section of 7137 men, 4585 premenopausal women, and 2248 postmenopausal women aged 25–64 y, a study found risks of osteoporosis, osteopenia, and nonspine fractures were significantly higher for subjects with higher percentage body fat independent of body weight, physical activity, and age. Thus, fat mass has a negative effect on bone mass in contrast with the positive effect of weight-bearing itself.
  • A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study including thirty-seven healthy, nonsmoking postmenopausal women aged 50–70 y were randomly assigned to 1 of 5 groups. They consumed a daily dose of mixed carotenoids (ß-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; 4 mg each), 12 mg of a single carotenoid (ß-carotene, lutein, or lycopene), or placebo for 56 d. The results indicated that carotenoid supplementation decreases DNA damage and that a combination of carotenoids (4 mg each of lutein, ß-carotene, and lycopene), an intake that can be achieved by diet, or a larger dose (12 mg) of individual carotenoids exerts protection against DNA damage. Steve - translation...eat your veggies, fruits, supplement if you have to for reducing oxidative stress due to lifestlye, diet, and environment.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dietary factors can help regulate blood pressure

Cold-water fish, celery (4 stalks per day), fiber, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, fermented soy, and whey protein (if tolerated) may assist in regulating blood pressure.

Nutrients also suggested are CoQ10, bonito fish protein, vitamin B6, vitamin D, and vitamin E.

Health & Healing, January 2006

Steve - We have a wonderful Blood Pressure Action Plan that mirrors this at nutritionalconcepts.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Once again, prostate cancer screening questioned

Even though this study was relatively small (1,002 men), researchers found that from 1991-1998, the men who were alive were no more likely to have been screened than the men who died of prostate cancer.

Archives of Internal Medicine, January 9, 2006

Steve - I found these in our archives.

Prostate Cancer Screening Treatment Questioned -
According to a report published in the October 5th issue of the British Medical Journal, men who receive prostate cancer screening and treatment do not gain a survival benefit compared to men who do not undergo screening and treatment. The investigation covered two different groups of men -- 94,000 in Seattle, WA (in which the PSA testing rate was 5.4 times higher than men in CT, biopsy rate was more than double, and were five times more likely to have their prostate removed) and 120,621 in Connecticut. Despite the more intensive prostate action in Seattle, the number of men who died from prostate cancer in the two groups over the total 11-year period was nearly equal. 11/2002

Prostate Cancer Over treated -
According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 29-44% of men who used a PSA blood test to find prostate cancer over a ten year period were "over-diagnosed." Those patients may have received surgery or radiation treatment for prostate cancer that would never have progressed so far that it threatened their health. Prostate cancer is a slow moving disease that will never become life threatening. In addition a recent Journal of Clinical Oncology study showed that PSA blood test, the supposed "gold standard" for prostate cancer screening, was virtually useless in detecting it. 8/2002

Prostate Cancer Screening Flawed -
Prostate-Specific Antigen, known as PSA, a common blood test used to detect prostate cancer, misses up to 82% of cancers in men younger than 60 and 65% in those older than 60. The new study found that the levels used to trigger a biopsy are too high.
New England Journal of Medicine 7/24/03

Study Questions PSA Prostate Tests -
Almost a third of men over 75 undergo prostate screening, but a new study says there is no evidence that screening men this age would be beneficial to them. The senior author of the study says that autopsies on elderly men show that 30 to 70 percent will have prostate cancer, but they died of something else. The author goes on to say that most men with elevated PSAs do not have prostate cancer. J Nat Cancer Inst 12/3/2003

Prostate Cancer Overused -
Half of all prostate cancers picked up by PSA blood screening are irrelevant, according to a Canadian study. The report estimates that 50% of men aged 55 to 67 who are diagnosed with prostate cancer from a yearly PSA screening would not have shown symptoms of the disease during their lifetime. From the study's calculations, it was suggested that the PSA will find cancer on average 12.3 years before you would ever suffer from it or show symptoms. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 6/18/03

Standard Prostate Test Often Misses Cancer -
15% of older men with supposedly normal PSA readings have prostate cancer anyway - some with aggressive tumors. The study, which appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, conducted with the help of funding and personnel from the National Cancer Institute, is one of several recent studies questioning the efficacy of PSA tests. NEJM 5/27/04

Cough syrups ineffective

According to a committee of the American College of Chest Physicians, over-the-counter cough syrups do little to relieve coughs. Either the products contain drugs in too low of a dose, or contain combinations of drugs that have never been proven to treat coughs.

The committee goes so far to discourage the use of the medicines altogether, because their use as a first remedy can prolong diagnoses of coughs more serious, such as whopping cough.

Journal Chest, January 2006

Steve - I found this in our archives.

Cough Medicines Have No Benefit -
Night-time cough and sleep quality were not better with cough mixtures than with a simple, non-medicated syrup. Echoing the results of this study, the British Thoracic Society said "Cough medications don't do any harm to people who take them, but...neither do they have any medical benefits beyond those of non-medicated syrup." Pediatrics 7/6/04

Deficiency in vitamin D can increase cancer risk

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, correcting vitamin D deficiency could significantly lower the risk of several types of cancer (specifically colon, breast, prostate, and ovary). According to researchers, the vitamin may block the growth of new blood vessels that allow cancer to thrive. In addition, vitamin D may buffer rogue cells from healthy cells within tissue, thus stunting its growth.

Steve - vitamin D is a very hot topic at the moment, and for good reason. The authors in this study suggest supplementing the diet with 800-1000IU vitamin D per day. As we have mentioned earlier, you must be very careful when supplementing with vitamin D because of its toxicity in large doses. Besides what you are getting dietarily from vitamin D, you must monitor how much/little sunshine you are getting on a daily basis (for cold weather regions, the late spring and summer only apply). Please seek the advice of a trained professional when supplementing with vitamin D.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Chicago is now the fattest city in the United States

Taking over the dubious honor from Houston, Chicagoan's need to take a good long, look in the mirror. Known for its hot dogs stands, deep-dish pizza, beef sandwiches, and steak houses, it is pretty obvious what's wrong here.

We cannot blame this on the lack of outdoor activites for exercise. Chicago is rated one of the five best city's in America for outdoor activities.

We have nobody to blame but ourselves - and our dietary, sedentary lifestyle is the culprit.

Bonnie and Steve

Vitamin D could help pregnant women: study

Vitamin D supplements for pregnant women could reduce osteoporosis in their children, according to research published on Friday.

The British study showed that children whose mothers lacked Vitamin D during pregnancy grow up to have weaker bones. A lack of Vitamin D is common in women of child-bearing age.

Professor Cyrus Cooper and a team from Southampton General Hospital in southern England studied almost 200 children born in 1991 and 1992. Their body size and bone mass were tracked up to the age of nine.

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that women who took Vitamin D supplements or who were exposed to higher levels of sunshine during pregnancy were less likely to be deficient in the vitamin.

"These findings provide evidence that maternal Vitamin D status during pregnancy influences the bone growth of the offspring," Cooper said.

Courtesy of Reuters

Steve - like we said last week when another vitamin D study showed reduced cancer risk, make sure you consult a health professional before supplementing with vitamin D, especially if pregnant. We are huge proponents of it, but too much can be toxic. You need to take a dose that is right for you as an individual.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Statistics from 2005 America's Health Rankings

The yearly report is funded by the United Foundation for Health, in partnership with the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention. It is avilable in pdf format at this URL - http://www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/shr2005/ahr05_email.pdf. Highlights include:
  • Since 1990, there has been a 99% increase in the prevalence of obesity, 40% decrease of infectious disease, 30% decline in smoking, and 18% decrease of cardiovascular death.
  • Since 2004, there has been a 1% increase in obesity, 6% decline in smoking, 6% decrease of infectious disease
  • 28 countries have healthy life expectancies that exceed the U.S., the highest being Japan, which can expect to have five additional years of life.