Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Researchers deem Alzheimer's a Type 3 diabetes

Sometimes it's better if great minds don't think alike. Neurobiologists with decidedly different interests recently collaborated at Northwestern University and came up with new evidence about Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that affects about 5 million Americans. They now consider it a Type 3 diabetes.

Researchers discovered that a specific toxin does its damage by causing the brain to become insulin resistant. Just as Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant, Alzheimer's would be a Type 3 diabetes.

The team claims, "Whenever insulin can bind to a receptor, it sticks very tightly, and this turns on those insulin receptors; and that's essential for memories to form. That's the normal physiological process. But now, on the other hand, if we have ADDLs [binding] -- these are the toxins that are building up in Alzheimer's brains -- the insulin receptors are removed from the membrane. There's nothing [for the insulin] to stick to, ... and memories cannot form."

The toxic ADDLs, or amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands, are the result of an overproduction of the amyloid beta protein. The body can't clear away this protein fast enough, and it binds itself into small clumps and attaches to the synapses in the brain's hippocampus and cortex regions. The plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease are also made from this protein, but many researchers now believe that these plaques could be the body's attempt to limit the damage by locking the toxins into immovable masses.

Bonnie - neurological imbalance from insulin resistance is not a new concept. Calling it Type 3 Diabetes will give it more cache.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Little milk, exercise hurts kids' bones


Too little milk, sunshine and exercise: It's an anti-bone trifecta. And for some kids, shockingly, it's leading to rickets, the soft-bone scourge of the 19th century. But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren't building as much strong bone as they should — a gap that may leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later in life than their grandparents are.

Doctors have long known that less than a quarter of adolescents get enough calcium. But strong bones require more than calcium alone. Exercise is at least as important. Likewise, the body can't absorb calcium and harden bones without vitamin D. By some estimates, 30 percent of teens get too little. It's not just that they don't drink fortified milk. Bodies make vitamin D with sunlight. With teen computer use, urban youngsters without safe places to play outdoors and less school P.E., it's no wonder D levels are low. Because skin pigment alters sun absorption, black children are particularly at risk.

Bonnie - it surely is not from too little milk. It is from excess sugar from fruit juice and softened drinks (including phosphorous) that are chosen instead of milk which is the culprit. If mineral dense waters were chosen instead of milk, we wouldn't be seeing the bone issue in children. Studies have shown calcium waters are just as good for bone or better than milk.

In addition, while they say a quarter of adolescents do not get enough calcium, at least 75% don't get enough magnesium, which is essential for proper calcium metabolism.

Lastly, sunlight and good vitamin D intake is crucial for bone.

More young adults with diabetes hospitalized

A University of Michigan study that appears in the December issue of Diabetes Care found that from 1993-2004, hospitalization of individuals ages 0-29 increased 38 percent. $2.42 billion was spent in 2004 alone for hospitalizations.

Rates of hospitalization were higher among young women with diabetes than for young men. Lead study author Joyce Lee, M.D., MPH, a pediatric endocrinologist and member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics, says these findings reflect the recent epidemic of childhood obesity and the increasing burden of diabetes among young adults.

While the data showed a considerable increase in hospitalization rates among young adults, ages 20 to 29, it did not find significant growth for hospitalizations among children younger than 20.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Pediatric HSR Training Grant, and the Clinical Sciences Scholars Program.

Bonnie - after two decades of damage done by excess simple carbs, it makes sense that the 20-29 age group would express the full effects of diabetes.
As diets have become even worse, if the same study is done following individuals 0-29 from 2004-2018, the results may show more being hospitalized as young as 12-18.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vitamin E boost for diabetics' heart health

Vitamin E supplements may halve the risk of cardiovascular events among diabetics, if they carry a particular version of a gene, says new research from Israel.

Diabetics with the haptoglobin (Hp) 2-2 gene, associated with an inferior antioxidant protection and a raised risk of cardiovascular events, were afforded protection from vitamin E supplements (400IU daily mixed tocopherol), according to the research published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Levy and co-workers recruited 1434 people with type-2 diabetes with the Hp2-2 genee and randomly assigned them to receive a daily vitamin E supplement (400 U/d) or placebo for 18 months.

They report that the individuals receiving the vitamin supplements had 50 per cent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and related deaths than Hp 2-2 patients receiving the placebo (2.2 per cent compared to 4.7 per cent, respectively).

Moreover, the researcher report no adverse effects observed in patients who took vitamin E.

Removing tonsils may not be the best treatment for kids

Removing the tonsils of children with mild or moderate throat infections is more expensive and has fewer health benefits than simply watching and waiting, Dutch researchers said. In a study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery involving 300 children aged 2 to 8 advised to have their tonsils out, those who avoided surgery had fewer annual visits to doctors and lower resulting medical costs due to fevers and throat infections.

Bonnie - I have said this for a while. Getting to the root of the issue is much more prudent than removal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Breast-Feeding Cuts Food Allergy Risk

Breast-feeding in the first three months of life appears to help shield children from developing food allergies, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Dallas.

Research has determined a possible role for food allergy prevention strategies in high-risk children, including maternal food avoidance in pregnancy, breast-feeding, maternal food avoidance while breast-feeding, use of hypoallergenic formulas, delayed introduction of allergenic foods and probiotics, noted one expert.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine offered a number of recommendations for children at high risk of allergic diseases:
  • Women should avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
  • If needed, mothers should supplement breast-feeding with a hypoallergenic formula.
  • Delay feeding these children solid foods until they're six months old.
  • Delay introduction of milk and egg until age 1 and peanut and tree nuts until age 3.
  • Start early intervention when signs of food allergy appear (secondary prevention).
Another expert said doctors need to consider food allergy as a potential cause of gastrointestinal or dermatological symptoms in patients. "The eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID) which may affect the esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum are mostly chronic and recurrent disorders that adversely impact quality of life for patients and families," Dr. Amal Assa'ad, director of the Food Allergy & Eosinophilic Disorders Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "Patients with EGID have a high rate of sensitization to food and environmental allergens, and many of them have a high rate of clinical symptoms with various food ingestions. A subset of patients respond to removal of major food allergens from their diet," Assa'ad said. "EGID management often requires multiple specialists, including the primary physician, allergy and immunology, gastroenterology, nutrition and psychology," she noted.

Bonnie - Hmmm. All of this sounds very familiar :)

FDA issues report on dietary supplements

"Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins"
FDA Consumer Health Information
November 19, 2007


Why Buy Vitamins?
There are many good reasons to consider taking vitamin supplements, such as over-the-counter multivitamins. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a doctor may recommend that you take them:
• for optimal health
• for certain health problems
• if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
• if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Develop a Vitamin Strategy.
Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, says, “supplements may be useful when they fill a specific identified nutrient gap that cannot or is not otherwise being met by the individual’s intake of food.” She adds, “An important point made in the guidelines is that nutrient supplements are not a substitute for a healthful diet.”

Practice Safety with Dietary Supplements.
When it comes to purchasing dietary supplements, Vasilios Frankos, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, offers this advice: “Be savvy! ”Today’s dietary supplements are not only vitamins and minerals. “They also include other less familiar substances such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes,” Frankos says. “Check with your health care providers before combining or substituting them with other foods or medicines.” Frankos adds, “Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care providers to determine how best to achieve optimal health.”Consider the following tips before buying a dietary supplement:

• Think twice about chasing the latest headline. Sound health advice is generally based on research over time, not a single study touted by the media. Be wary of results claiming a “quick fix” that departs from scientific research and established dietary guidance.
• More may not be better. Some products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, for a long time, or in combination with certain other substances.
• Learn to spot false claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Examples of false claims on product labels include:· Quick and effective “cure-all”· Can treat or cure disease· “Totally safe,” “all natural,” and has “definitely no side effects.” Other red flags include claims about limited availability, offers of “no-risk, money-back guarantees,” and requirements for advance payment.

Bonnie - I was floored that this was published by the FDA. This is, from what I've seen, their first admission that dietary supplements serve a purpose. This is an immense step for the FDA to take.

Sinus problems are treated well with safe, inexpensive treatment

A new study from University of Michigan Health System researchers is the first of its kind to show greater efficacy of saline irrigation treatments versus saline spray for providing short-term relief of chronic nasal symptoms. Participants in the study who were treated with irrigation experienced a much greater benefit than those who were treated with saline spray, in terms of both the severity and frequency of their symptoms. "Strikingly, subjects experienced 50 percent lower odds of frequent nasal symptoms compared with the spray group."

The findings, which appear in the new issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, could be significant for the multitudes of people who suffer from chronic nasal and sinus conditions. Treatments including antibiotics, antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs can be helpful, but for many patients, symptoms persist. The authors of this study say their findings suggest that otolaryngologists and primary care physicians should recommend this treatment to their patients more often. Saline sprays are often used as an alternative to irrigations because spray "is often perceived to be equivalent to and better tolerated than irrigation," the researchers note.

Frequency of symptoms also improved in both groups, though more for the irrigation than the spray group. While 61 percent of the spray group reported having symptoms "often or always" after the eight-week study, just 40 percent of the irrigation group did. "It's clear from our results that both treatments led to a decrease in frequency and severity of symptoms, but the difference is that the salt water flush led to substantial improvement," researchers said.

Bonnie - we often recommend saline irrigation and sprays for allergies, chronic sinus infections, etc. This is the first major study we have seen on the treatments.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zinc plays a key role in better aging

Courtesy of the LA Times

Two studies published this year addressed the role of zinc in maintaining health in older people. One, a yearlong study of 50 nursing home residents 65 or older found that people with low levels of zinc in the bloodstream -- defined as 70 micrograms per deciliter or less -- had twice the incidence of pneumonia and nearly 50% more antibiotic prescriptions over the year than those with normal zinc status.

The study, conducted by scientists at Tufts University and Boston University and published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found that those who began the study with normal zinc levels had a 39% lower mortality rate -- from any cause -- than those who were deficient.

In a second small study, led by Dr. Ananda Prasad at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, 50 free-living, healthy elderly subjects were recruited from a senior center to receive either a daily zinc supplement or placebo for a year to determine if zinc supplementation offered protection against colds and flu.

By the end of the yearlong study, zinc-takers had significantly higher zinc levels in the bloodstream and had suffered significantly fewer infections -- seven cases versus 35 cases in those taking a placebo.

The study also found lower serum levels of a chemical called malondialdehyde and other signs of oxidative stress (the production of cell-damaging free radicals) in the group taking supplements, confirming earlier evidence that zinc can function as an antioxidant.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March.

Adequate zinc is critical for the production of lymphocytes -- the army of specialized white cells in the immune system that help defend against foreign invaders.

Zinc deficiency leads to impaired immunity and thus decreased resistance to a host of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic invaders. Recovery from illness takes longer when zinc levels are low than when zinc status is normal.

Multiple vitamin and mineral supplements can help meet needs. A recent analysis of food and supplement use from a large survey of Americans taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (known as the USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals) found that supplement users had better dietary intake of zinc than nonusers.

Among people age 71 and older, 43% of those who shunned supplements consumed inadequate intake of zinc from foods compared with 29% of supplement users. And when the amount of zinc supplied from supplements was factored in, only 5% of supplement users failed to meet the estimated average requirement.

Poor zinc intake is not just a problem among the elderly. Data from another large government food intake survey known as NHANES III indicated that after seniors, teenage females had the lowest zinc intake, with 61% failing to meet recommendations. Fewer than half of women at any age took in an adequate amount.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chia offers health benefits to diabetics

Chia, an ancient grain that was once the staple of the Aztec diet is not only surprisingly nutritious, it can also help regulate blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease in diabetics, Canadian researchers report in a new study in the journal Diabetes Care.

The chia seed contain high levels of fibre, calcium, magnesium, more antioxidants than many berries, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Dr. Jack Bukowski, a professor of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at the Harvard School of Medicine is impressed with how nutritious this "super grain" appears to be. "It has a remarkable nutrient profile. We haven't seen anything like this before."

Steve - we have known about chia for a while. In fact, it is on the Coco Chia Bars, one of the few snack bars that we recommend. Chia is a mild salicylate, but for those not salicylate-sensitive, it is a wonderful food and you will be seeing more of it in foods in the near future.

Whole Foods makes loans to local producers

Whole Foods Market Inc. has lent $1 million through its Local Producer Loan Program.

Loan recipients include small-scale food producers and growers from 12 states, four in Colorado.
Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods' quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Loan amounts are between $1,000 and $100,000 with low, fixed interest rates currently between 5 percent and 9 percent.

Steve - I have been impressed with their commitment to local food production. We just wish it would get on the "fast track."

Alzheimer's and dementia may be a result of the Western diet

According to a recent study in Neurology, people who eat a diet that's rich in fish, omega-3 oils, fruits and vegetables are up to 60 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s - whereas people who consume large amounts of omega-6 oils, such as sunflower and corn, double their chances of suffering dementia.

Omega-3/omega-6 imbalance in the processed and fast-food diet of the West is so out of kilter that people on average are consuming 30 times more omega-6 than is good for them.

Diet has been highlighted as the main factor in determining whether we enjoy our full mental capabilities until the end. A French study tracked the diet and progress of 8,085 men and women over the age of 65 who did not have dementia at the beginning of the trial. In the four years' follow-up, 183 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s and a further 98 had dementia.

The researchers found that people who regularly consumed omega-3 oils, reduced their risk of dementia by 60 per cent compared to those who do not regularly consume the oils. People who ate fruits and vegetables every day reduced their risk of dementia by 30 per cent.

Steve - while this certainly isn't new information, it is nice to see in a journal like Neurology.

Neotame has moved a step closer to being approved for use in the EU

Neotame, which was developed by The NutraSweet Company in the US, is a derivative of aspartame. It is said to be 30 to 60 times sweeter than aspartame, depending upon the food application.

Neotame is already approved for use as a food additive in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. It remains unapproved in the EU, however, despite an opinion published in the The EFSA Journal (2007) 581, 1-43, by the authority's Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food, which concluded that "neotame is not carcinogenic, genotoxic or associated with any reproductive/developmental toxicity".

Its opinion is based on assessment of animal studies on diet preference, sub-chronic effects, chronic effects, carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and genotoxicity.

The human clinical testing program was to evaluate metabolism and pharmacokinetics, and safety in healthy subjects and those with diabetes. These results have not been published yet.

Steve - ugh. Yet another artificial sweetener. Neotame was created to replace aspartame. They are virtually identical. NutraSweet created it because aspartame has become highly controversial and the company needs another blockbuster free of controversy. They probably have about ten years or so until Neotame becomes controversial.

Study warns on safety of Sanofi's Acomplia

Patients taking the Sanofi-Aventis anti-obesity drug Acomplia have well over double the risk of depression and anxiety, researchers said, adding to the bad news for a drug already linked to suicidal thoughts. Danish researchers reviewed four studies featuring 4,105 patients and found that people taking 20 milligrams per day of the drug were 2.5 times more likely to discontinue treatment due to depressive disorders and three times more likely to stop because of anxiety than those who received a placebo. The findings published in the Lancet journal follow a U.S. advisory panel decision in June that the drug should not be approved in the world's largest drugs market because it may increase suicidal thoughts and depression. "Taken together with the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration finding of increased risk of suicide during treatment with rimonabant, we recommend increased alertness by physicians to these potentially severe psychiatric reactions," Arne Astrup of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues wrote.

A study in the British Medical Journal on Friday also found that people taking anti-obesity drugs -- including Acomplia -- would only see "modest" weight loss with many remaining significantly obese or overweight. They also found that while patients given Sanofi's drug lost nearly 5 kilograms more over a one-year period, the risk of serious side effects -- ranging from dry mouth to headaches to depression -- rose 40 percent.

Steve - thanks goodness the powers that be have come to their senses regarding this drug. Five years ago, it is very likely that this drug would have received approval in the US. For more, see what we wrote about this drug back in April.

Ohio scientists develop blue-blocking glasses to improve sleep and ADHD symptoms

Researchers have also employed this technology for use in special 'night lights' Scientists at John Carroll University, working in its Lighting Innovations Institute, have developed an affordable accessory that appears to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Their discovery also has also been shown to improve sleep patterns among people who have difficulty falling asleep. The John Carroll researchers have created glasses designed to block blue light, therefore altering a person’s circadian rhythm, which leads to improvement in ADHD symptoms and sleep disorders.

How the Glasses Work:

Jumpstarting Melatonin Production
The individual puts on the glasses a couple of hours ahead of bedtime, advancing the circadian rhythm. The special glasses block the blue rays that cause a delay in the start of the flow of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Normally, melatonin flow doesn’t begin until after the individual goes into darkness. Studies indicate that promoting the earlier release of melatonin results in a marked decline of ADHD symptoms.

Alternative Uses: Better Sleep/Disease Prevention/Depression Relief Major uses of the blue-blocking glasses include: providing better sleep, avoiding postpartum depression, preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder and reducing the risk of cancer.

An alternative to the glasses has also been developed in the form of night lights and light bulbs with coatings that block the blue light. Instead of wearing the glasses, an individual may simply turn off ordinary lights and, instead, turn on the ones with filters that remove the blue rays. The night light is a convenient “plug-in” device. The cost of the items ranges from approximately $5 for light bulbs and night lights to $40-$60 for glasses.

Steve - I am familiar with this for of therapy, and while I have not heard much feedback on it, it certainly cannot hurt to try.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black cohosh stops breast cancer growth in the lab

Extracts from black cohosh may stop breast cancer cells, suggests a new laboratory study published in Phytomedicine.

The study adds to a small but growing body of research suggesting breast cancer prevention for a herb most commonly used by women to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.

They note that the inhibition of growth was related to an induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis).

"These results corroborate the results of our previous studies indicating that the growth inhibitory effect of actein or an extract of black cohosh is associated with activation of specific stress response pathways and apoptosis," wrote the researchers, referring to their studies published earlier this year in Anticancer Research (Vol. 2, pp. 697-712) and the International Journal of Cancer (Vol. 121, pp. 2073-2083).

Previously, concerns have been raised about breast cancer patients taking black cohosh supplements in order to alleviate the menopause-like side effects.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Bonnie - the reason I wanted to post this is because of those that have said black cohosh may cause breast cancer, which of course, is ludicrous.

As cloned foods approach shelves, opposition increases

Foods from cloned animals could enter the US food supply by the end of the year, despite calls for further review of the long-term risks of such products.

The outcome currently lies with Congress and its decision to review an amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill.

Amendment 3524, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Specter, calls for more information on food products from cloned animals, with specific focus on elements that have not been addressed by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) initial risk assessment.

FDA in December issued draft guidance on allowing meat and milk from cloned cows into the food chain. According to its assessment of the available scientific evidence, the agency said there are no additional safety risks posed by the technology when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture.

The regulator collected a multitude of comments during a 120-day comment period that closed in May this year. It said it planned to review these and would likely make a decision on food from cloned animals by December.

However, FDA said that it is in the process of updating its cloning risk assessment (RA) and reviewing the public comments.

"There is no estimated timeframe on when this will be finished," it said.

Opposition to the approval of clone foods has been raised by scientists, health groups, consumer advocacies and even industry, sparking a fierce debate that shows no signs of abating.

At the forefront of this is the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a non-profit science-based public interest group, which earlier this year released a review of the FDA's risk assessment.

The report said that the assessment was based on "flawed assumptions and misrepresented findings", and claimed that FDA found virtually no scientific evidence to support the commercial release of these experimental foods.

"Animal cloning is a new technology with potentially severe risks for food safety. Defects in clones are common, and cloning scientists warn that even small imbalances in clones could lead to hidden food safety problems in clones' milk or meat. There are few studies on the risks of food from clones, and no long-term food safety studies have been done," the group states on its website.

In response to such concerns, the proposed amendment to the Farm Bill calls for studies that would evaluate the health effects of allowing the commercialization of milk and meat from cloned animals.

A major aspect of FDA's plan that has invited significant opposition is that the labeling of meat and milk products from cloned animals would not be required. Consumer concerns at this level are reflected in a number of state bills that have been recently introduced calling for labeling of cloned food products.

Bonnie - the sentence in bold is the most important. If allowed to be put into the food supply, I want cloned food labeled, as I do carbon monoxide treated meat, virally adulterated food, irradiated food, etc. As a consumer, I want to choose. If we are not granted the opportunity to choose, one of your few remaining options is to buy exclusively organic.

Milk thistle may protect against liver cancer

A flavanone compound in milk thistle, silibinin, may stop the growth and spread of liver cancer, suggests a laboratory study from the University of California, Irvine.

The in vitro study,
published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, used human liver cancer cells exposed to different doses of silibinin, and found that the milk thistle compound could inhibit the spread of the cells and promote programmed cell death (apoptosis).

"Our findings not only indicate silibinin's novel anti-cancer mechanisms, but also provide additional targets for searching new agents for HCC chemoprevention," concluded the researchers.

Bonnie - milk thistle, also commonly referred to as silymarin, is a very safe herb that we recommend by itself or in a complex for liver protection called Hepagen. While we rarely comment on in-vitro studies, milk thistle has been very well-researched in human clinical trials, so we are comfortable posting these results.

Physicians And Nurses Both Take And Recommend Dietary Supplements

The "Life…supplemented" Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study found that more than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients. The study also shows that an almost equal number—72 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses—personally use vitamin, mineral, herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally, which is a higher percentage than the 68 percent of adults who report they take nutritional or dietary supplements.

The study found that almost half of physicians and nurses who take supplements most often do so for "overall health/wellness benefits," while 41 percent of physicians and 62 percent of nurses who recommend supplements most often do so for the same reasons.

"Given the current state of the science, it is not surprising that increasing numbers of healthcare professionals are incorporating dietary supplements into their personal health routines. However, the fact that only 25 percent of physicians actively counsel patients regarding their dietary supplement use demonstrates an on-going and concerning problem that requires more outreach and education," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D, director of education, Program in Integrative Medicine, and clinical assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Bonnie - while encouraging, one cannot expect physicians to counsel their patients with regard to supplemental intake. Physicians are not taught to do so, and most medical schools still do not emphasize nutrition and supplemental nutrient education. Until that happens on broader scale, one needs to seek out a professional who does like myself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Great Unusual Snacks

Great Unusual Snacks When You are Bored with the Usual

*Make sure to always eat with a protein and/or fat

  • Spiced Kamut Snack Mix
    Pour cereal into a small paper bag, add toasted pumpkin seeds or chopped dried tomato, and sprinkle with chili powder and garlic salt; shake well

  • Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Rafts
    Cut seedless cucumber lengthwise and add a few strips of smoked salmon. Top with a spicy sprig of watercress or arugula to add a flavorful little kick.

  • PLT Roll-Ups
    Lay out a leaf of large, soft lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb, and place a slice of prosciutto in the center of it. Place a thin slice of tomato on top, then roll up the leaf and eat it out of your hand.

  • Balsamic Sesame Shrimp
    Thaw an individual portion of precooked frozen shrimp in warm water. Dip in balsamic dressing, then coat lightly with toasted sesame seeds.

  • Fruity Rice Cake
    Top a rice cake with a spoonful of chutney and some sliced pear or mango. Mediterranean Dates with Cheese: Stuff individual whole, pitted dates with a generous strip of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

  • Stuffed Tomato Cups
    Fill tomato halves with small cubes of tofu (preferably a seasoned variety) or precooked chicken sausage; microwave briefly just to warm.

  • Applesauce Crisp
    Sprinkle applesauce with a pinch of cinnamon and a tablespoon of granola. Heat briefly in microwave.

  • Dolmades with Feta
    Sprinkle store-bought stuffed grape leaves with crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

  • Creamy Rice and Fruit Salad
    Mix all-natural rice pudding with chopped fresh fruit seasoned with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.

  • Raspberry Banana Lassi
    Lassis are chilled yogurt-based drinks popular in Northern India. Similar to smoothies, lassis tend to be thinner and often spiced with cardamon or rose water. Here is a recipe:
    -½ banana, peeled and cut up
    -8 oz. (1 cup) yogurt (preferably thick Greek-style)
    -½ cup skim milk or milk substitute
    -8 raspberries
    -2 tsp. honey
    -generous pinch ground cardamom
    In a blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth and blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • Quick Cheddar Fondue with Pear
    As the fondue sits, it will firm up into a cheese spread. To thin it out again, heat fondue in a microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
    -¼ cup substitute milk
    -2 T. no trans fat butter substitute
    -1 ½ cups grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
    -1/8 tsp. nutmeg -pinch salt
    -4 small pears
    To make fondue: In medium-size saucepan, heat evaporated milk to boiling. Reduce heat to very low; stir in cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted and blended. Stir in nutmeg and salt. Cut pears into thick wedges; remove seeds. Dip wedges into warm fondue.

Milk allergy can take years longer to outgrow

A new study published in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that most children who had a milk allergy as infants did not outgrow the disease before entering elementary school, according to Dr. Robert Wood, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Wood, one of the study's authors, said that finding was contrary to previous research.

According to the study, which examined children who had been sent by a doctor to a pediatric allergy center, "the prognosis for developing tolerance [to milk] is worse than previously estimated." The authors said that the character of cow's milk allergy "has changed over time ... and may now truly be a more persistent disease."

When exposed to milk, children in the study had a range of reactions, including rashes, hives, gastrointestinal symptoms, respiratory difficulties and even multiple-organ anaphylactic shock, a severe, sometimes fatal reaction. With data collected on 807 patients, this was the largest group of milk-allergic children ever studied.

The study found that kids who had asthma and hay fever were less likely to outgrow milk allergy. There was also a worse prognosis for those who had ever received infant formula. Wood and his team concluded that a simple blood test measuring milk-specific, or IgE antibodies can have enormous value in predicting who will and will not outgrow a milk allergy. "That test has pretty significant value in predicting the natural history" of the disease and is widely available, Wood said.

Bonnie - this study is a waste of time for professionals like myself who have worked in the trenches on milk issues. Milk allergy is not easily outgrown because, simply, we are not genetically wired to tolerate milk products well. Even if an allergy subsides or is "outgrown" as allergists claim, intolerances (IgG cytotoxic) persist and are much more common than true allergy.

Sunset to open store in Long Grove

Sunset Foods isn't a big national chain, but it has made an impact on the North and Northwest suburban grocery business. Sunset is a 70-year-old family-owned gourmet grocery chain with stores in Highland Park, Northbrook, Libertyville and Lake Forest. A fifth grocery is planned for Long Grove.

The high-end chain is noted for its wide variety of goods, and it offers cooking classes and a catering service. Another hallmark is that each store has at least one family member working there. They greet customers at the door and ensure shoppers find what they're looking for. One cousin, Ron Bernardi, greets shoppers at the Northbrook store pulling carts out so they don't have to wrestle with them. Bernardi says Sunset has no plans to sell to a larger chain and the family takes great pride in the fact that they have never laid off any employees. "They are like family," he says.

Steve - we frequently refer clients to Sunset. They are the lone wolf in a sea of chain stores. Their customers are very loyal.

Fish for brain health supported by trio of studies

Omega-3-rich fish consumption may improve brain function across a broad demographic spectrum, suggest three new studies from around the world.

The studies pull together data from New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Norway, and all suggest significant benefits of fish consumption, specifically the omega-3 fatty acid content, and cognitive health.

Published in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the studies have been commended by an independent expert.

"These recent reports are novel in that they address the association of n-3 fatty acid intake and cognitive function in non-demented individuals and, thus, present a shift in the attention to earlier stages of cognitive decline with the hope of preventing progression to states of dementia and disability before they become irreversible," wrote Irwin Rosenberg from Tufts University.

For the first study, Dutch researchers reported that increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the plasma were associated with a 69 per cent lower decline in sensorimotor speed and a 60 per cent lower decline in complex speed over three years in 807 participants.

Researchers in New Zealand investigated if a relationship existed between the fatty acid composition of serum lipids and the mental and physical well-being of 2416 people participating in the 1997 National Nutrition Survey. The ratio of EPA to arachidonic acid (AA) was positively associated with physical well-being, and the EPA to AA ratio for mental well-being. "The synthesis of the inflammatory series-2 prostaglandins and series-4 leukotrienes from AA would be reduced in favour of the less inflammatory series-3 prostaglandins and series-5 leukotrienes synthesized from EPA."

The final study, led by Eha Nurk from the University of Oxford, examined the relation between consumption of seafood products and cognitive performance in 2031 elderly Norwegians. The researchers report that consumption of at least 10 grams of fish a day performed significantly better in tests for cognitive performance than people who ate less than 10 grams of fish and fish products. Moreover, the effect was dose dependent, with the best test scores occurring in individuals consuming about 75 grams per day.

In the accompanying editorial, Rosenberg commended the research groups for addressing the association of fish and n-3 fatty acid intake with cognitive function in individuals not yet showing signs of impaired cognitive function.

"These studies of nutritional associations with brain function during the elongated prodromal period of age-related neurodegeneration and decline offer an opportunity for early intervention to maintain brain function and slow progression to dementia, which is costly economically and in terms of quality of life," concluded Rosenberg.

Bonnie - a-ha! Another study shunning the disease model and focusing on prevention? I love it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Long-term beta-carotene may slow mental decline

Men taking beta-carotene supplements for 15 years or more may experience a slower rate of age-related cognitive decline, according to a new study from Harvard.

"In this generally healthy population, the extent of protection conferred by long-term treatment appeared modest; nonetheless, studies have established that very modest differences in cognition, especially verbal memory, predict substantial differences in eventual risk of dementia; thus, the public health impact of long-term beta carotene use could be large," wrote the authors in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Francine Grodstein and co-workers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, tested the cognitive function of participants in the Physicians' Health Study II (PHSII), a continuation of the Physicians' Health Study (PHS) trial looking at the effects of beta carotene and other vitamin supplements on chronic disease, versus placebo.

The subjects included participants from the original PHS (started in 1982) and newer recruits from 1998. Beta-carotene supplementation was 50 mg on alternate days.

The researchers tested the general cognition, verbal memory, and category fluency of 5956 participants, including 4052 participants from the PHS with a minimum supplementation period of 18 years.

The long-term beta-carotene supplementation was associated with a significantly higher mean global score, compared to placebo. This group also performed significantly better than placebo for verbal memory.

On the other hand, men in the short-term group displayed no differences in cognition regardless of whether they took beta carotene or placebo.

The potential mechanism for the protective effects was postulated to be related to the role of vitamin A (beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body) on beta-amyloid protein production.

The study is the first to look at long-term antioxidant supplementation in relation to a decline in cognitive function that occurs with naturally with age, and that precedes diseases such as Alzheimer's.

According to the new trial, the benefits of long-term supplementation in a healthy population are encouraging. "Thus, the public health value of beta carotene supplementation merits careful evaluation," concluded the authors. "Moreover, as these data support the possibility of successful interventions at early stages of brain aging in well-functioning subjects, investigations of additional agents that might also provide such neuroprotection should be initiated."

In the editorial, another researcher stated: "The authors suggest that long-term exposure to antioxidants may be needed to have an effect on the underlying pathologic processes linked to changes in cognition.

"This is certainly plausible, given that the neuropathologic changes underlying clinically significant cognitive impairment appear to take years, if not decades. Thus, neuroprotection may have the greatest benefit early on in the process.

Bonnie - have we not said all along that with studies done on nutrients such as beta carotene, you need to look at long-term prevention in healthy subjects? Well, here it is, finally! The structure and length were ideal. The dose was adequate. Most importantly, Alzheimer's and dementia, as with many chronic, degenerative diseases, slowly create a decline in mental function over time. It is perfectly logical to deduce that an antioxidant taken over a long period of time would have a positive cumulative effect. The antioxidant is fighting daily to protect neurological function against the rigors of everyday life. The researchers postulate the the protective affect could delay the onset of severe symptoms for up to 18 months. Taking into account a slower degradation over time, a little beta carotene can greatly enhance quality of life.

Target seeks label move for treated meat

Discount retailer Target Corp is seeking government approval to add a consumer warning to labels of meat treated with carbon monoxide to keep it looking red and fresh, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Target, which sells packaged meat in 210 of its 1,537 stores, sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking permission to add a warning to meat labels, the Journal said. According to the Journal, the proposed label states: "Consumer Notice: Carbon monoxide has been used to preserve the color of this product. Do not rely on color or the 'use or freeze by' date alone to judge the freshness of the product. For best results please follow the Safe Handling Instructions."

Steve - it is nice to see a corporation with a conscience. The meat industry is fighting tooth and nail to avoid this kind of labeling. Consumer groups are arguing that without labeling, consumers will be mislead when purchasing meat that looks fresh (red color), but is indeed old.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Drugs for ADHD 'not the answer'

Treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term, research has shown. A US study says drugs such as Ritalin and Concerta work no better than therapy after three years of treatment. The findings also suggested long-term use of the drugs could stunt children's growth and create an enlarged heart. The benefits had previously been exaggerated.

The Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health has been monitoring the treatment of 600 children across the US since the 1990s. T
he report's co-author, Professor William Pelham of the University of Buffalo, said: "I think that we exaggerated the beneficial impact of medication in the first study. "We had thought that children medicated longer would have better outcomes. That didn't happen to be the case. There's no indication that medication's better than nothing in the long run." Prof Pelham said there were "no beneficial effects" of medication and the impact was seemingly negative instead. "The children had a substantial decrease in their rate of growth so they weren't growing as much as other kids both in terms of their height and in terms of their weight," he said.

Bonnie - this piece came from BBC News via their version of "Frontline." Why have we not heard anything about this in the US media? This is a monster story covering a monster issue.

I have been staunchly against the widespread prescribing of ADHD medications. Now that the long-term results are coming in, it does'nt look pretty. This is yet another example of why long-term studies need to be done on medications before approval, especially when it affects our children.

My book, Our Children's Health and Kenneth Bock's Healing the New Childhood Epidemics list some alternatives to medication.

Antioxidants may stop fat cells formation

Natural antioxidant compounds like flavonoids and phenolic acids could inhibit the formation of fat formation from fat cells, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, which looked at the effects of the flavonoids and phenolics on levels of triglyceride in the cells and GPDH activity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes (fat cells).

The researchers chose the 3T3-L1 cell line because it has been used widely for several decades as a cell model for fat cell biology research.

Among the 15 phenolic acids and six flavonoids tested o-coumaric acid and rutin were found to inhibit intracellular triglyceride the most, by 61 and 83 per cent, respectively.

Moreover, the same two compounds were found to be the most potent inhibitors of GPDH, reducing activity by 54 and 67 per cent, respectively.

The compounds also up-regulated expression of adiponectin, a hormone that modulates a number of metabolic processes.

Steve - your fruits and vegetables and take your vitamins.

Pill linked to higher cervical cancer risk

The study, published in The Lancet, said the risk increases the longer the pill is taken but returns to normal 10 years after use of the pill stops. Doctors also said the risk is more than outweighed by the protective effect of the pill against ovarian and endometrial cancer.

The findings were based on a review of 24 studies of pill use. The report estimated that taking oral contraceptives from about the age of 20 to 30 increased the incidence of cervical cancer by the age of 50 from 3.8 to 4.5 per 1,000 women living in developed countries. In less developed countries, cervical cancer incidence rose from 7.3 to 8.3 per 1,000 women, the newspaper said.

Bonnie - this a review study, so must be scrutinized further. However, this is the second study in a week showing detrimental effects of the pill.

US among worst in modernized world for infant death

The United States ranks near the bottom for infant survival rates among modernized nations. A Save the Children report placed the United States ahead of only Latvia, and tied with Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia.

The same report noted the United States had more neonatologists and newborn intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom — but still had a higher rate of infant mortality than any of those nations.

Bonnie - as we alluded to when a UNICEF report came out late last year, this is beyond unconscionable. Until prevention and nutrition are taken seriously for every cycle of pregnancy, including fertility preparation and preconception, these numbers will not likely improve. See the following pieces published by the LA Times.

Poor nutrition in utero, heavy child tomorrow?

Fourteen percent of U.S. preschoolers are overweight. This fact alone points to perhaps the strongest evidence for the effects of fetal programming.

Multiple studies have shown that either underfeeding or overfeeding the fetus during pregnancy can affect how a child's body will respond to food over a lifetime, increasing the risk for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

"The fetus is reading the environment during development and is using that to predict what the environment will be once it's born," says Jerry Heindel, a fetal-programming expert at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "If the fetus gets poor nutrition, it will set itself up to be able to adjust to that. If it has poor nutrition during life, it will do quite well. But later in life, if nutrition changes and becomes like the food we're eating today, that is a mismatch, and that will increase the susceptibility to disease."

At a recent nutrition conference in Boston sponsored by Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the audience of nutritionists and nutrition researchers is rapt as Barker elaborates on this provocative message: Attempts to prevent such common chronic diseases as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes have largely failed because the origins of such diseases most likely begin in the womb.

Exposure to a high level of blood sugar or fat before birth can change the development of fat cells and the pathways in the brain that regulate appetite, says Beverly Mühlhäusler, a researcher at the University of South Australia's Early Origins of Adult Health Laboratory and an authority on fetal diet and adult disease.

"What research is now showing is that consuming an excessive amount of high-fat, high-sugar foods during pregnancy can alter the development of the baby in such a way that predisposes that individual to becoming obese later in life," she says.

Scientists from Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research recently found that children of pregnant women untreated for high levels of blood sugar were 89% more likely to be overweight and 82% more likely to be obese by the time they were ages 5 to 7 compared with children born to women who had normal blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The study was published last month in Diabetes Care.

Mounting evidence suggests that fetuses are surprisingly susceptible to outside influences such as food, environmental pollutants, even stress.

What women eat, touch and breathe during pregnancy now appears to be more important to their babies' health than anyone ever imagined. Mounting scientific evidence suggests that fetuses are surprisingly susceptible to outside influences, such as food, environmental chemicals and pollutants, infections, even stress. Under this theory -- called fetal programming -- babies are born not just with traits dictated by their parents' genes, such as brown eyes and olive skin. They may be born with a tendency to develop asthma, diabetes or other illnesses based on what their mothers ate and were exposed to during pregnancy.

"Fetal life and early infancy are now recognized as periods of remarkable susceptibility to environmental hazards," says Dr. David Barker, a British researcher who is widely credited with recognizing the link between low birth weight and later cardiovascular disease. "The diets of mothers have massive long-term effects on their babies."

Still, many fetal-programming experts say reproductive-age men and women need to know that they probably have more control over their children's future health than they realize.

History has delivered several sobering reminders that the human fetus is vulnerable to outside influences. Birth defects caused by medications such as thalidomide in the late 1950s and more recently the acne drug Accutane demonstrate that doses that have little effect on an adult can cause devastating changes in a fetus.

Other studies have linked low levels of the vitamin folate and increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine with an increased risk of schizophrenia. In a study published in January in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that high homocysteine levels in the third trimester doubled schizophrenia risk in the offspring, perhaps by altering brain structure or function or through subtle damage to the placenta to reduce oxygen delivery to the fetus. And increasingly, scientists fear that fetuses and young children may be harmed by pesticides and pollutants that, at the same level, cause no measurable harm in adults. For example, some common pesticides are thought to be so-called endocrine disrupters, chemicals that change hormone function in utero and can affect reproductive organ development and function later in life. A study in the March issue of Human Reproduction found that women who ate more than seven servings a week of beef during pregnancy had sons who were more likely to have poor sperm quality as adults -- possibly due to the hormones fed to cattle.

Likewise, levels of air pollutants commonly found in many urban areas may cross the placenta of a pregnant woman and affect her fetus. More than a dozen studies worldwide have linked air pollution to low birth weight, stillbirth and intrauterine growth retardation. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution can impair lung function in the womb.

The implications of fetal programming are profound, Heindel says. Some preliminary research suggests that an environmental influence in pregnancy may not only affect the fetus but also future generations as well.

For example, pregnant women who took the medication diethylstilbestrol -- used from 1938 to 1971 to prevent miscarriage and other problems in pregnancy -- gave birth to daughters with higher risks of infertility, menstrual irregularities and a rare genital-tract cancer after puberty. Now the children of the so-called DES daughters are reaching adult age, and studies suggest that the defect may persist into a third generation.

Sons of the DES daughters have a higher risk of hypospadias, a misplaced opening of the penis. Daughters of the DES daughters may have altered reproductive tract function, according to a study published last year.

Scientists refer to such changes as epigenetics. During critical time periods of human development, the body alters gene expression (even though the DNA sequence itself is unchanged), which may lead to a predisposition to disease in the offspring.

"That means what your grandmother was exposed to could affect your health today," says Heindel. "That is what makes this so scary. The data is so scanty at this time that we don't know how strong that is. If it turns out to be true, it could be very important."

Although many questions about fetal programming remain, enough is now known to alert consumers.

"Knowledge is power," he says. "The more you can know about having healthy babies, the better."

Bonnie - these two pieces are quite profound and mirror some of the issues we have been focusing on this year, such as epigenetics and reducing our toxic load. Now, it is not just about taking care of ourselves anymore. If you are at a reproductive age, male or female, every lifestyle choice you make affects not affects you, but several generations after you.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Vitamin D may help slow down the aging process

Researchers from King's College, London, measured telomeres - part of a chromosome which shortens with age - in more than 2,000 women and found those who had higher levels of vitamin D in their body had longer telomeres.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the scientists looked at 2,160 women aged 18 to 79 years and measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL). LTL is a predictor of aging-related disease and decreases with each cell cycle and increased inflammation, the scientists said.

Scientists measured concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (the 'storage' form of vitamin D) and found a link between increased concentrations and telomere length.

The team concluded that higher vitamin D concentrations, which are "easily modifiable through nutritional supplementation", are associated with longer LTL, which underscores the potentially beneficial effects of vitamin D on aging and age-related diseases.

Studies support Kaprex for inflammation

Bonnie - you guys already know this, but it is nice to see it in the public domain.

The publication of a round-up of studies on the safety and efficacy of Metagenics' NG440 formulation (Kaprex) of rho iso-alpha acids (RIAAs) from hops, rosemary and oleanolic acid adds weight to its use in medical foods for inflammation.

Traditionally, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and COX-2 inhibitors have been used to counter inflammatory conditions. However these have been associated with gastrointestinal complications.

Moreover, serious safety and public health concerns were raised about COX-2 inhibitors in 2004, when studies found a connection between the use of some such drugs on the market and an increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. The drugs in question, including Vioxx, were subsequently withdrawn.

Dr Robert H Lerman, MD, PhD, Metagenics director of medicine and bariatric surgery said:

"Doctors and their patients are seeking safe alternatives to NSAIDs including COX2 inhibitors… Thus, there is a growing acceptance by physicians of efficacious alternatives.

"With a patient's health at stake, more and more practitioners are counselling their patients to make the natural choice."

He added, though, that this acceptance would be more widespread if insurers covered natural products such as NG440 in the US, in the same way prescription medicines are covered.

Metagenics' NG440 formula was developed after company researchers tested more than 200 natural compounds.

The published report is a round-up of studies conducted to investigate factors such as pain relief in patients suffering from osteoarthritis and joint discomfort, safety and toxicity studies, and potential cardiovascular or gastrointestinal side effects. The conclusion of the published paper was that "NG440 may serve as a safe and efficacious alternative in some areas where specific COX-2 inhibitors have traditionally been used".

Safety studies

Animal toxicology study
A group of mice were given either a control or one of three doses of NG440-1 for 21 days (25, 75, or 250 mg/kg).
No adverse effects were found.

Cardiovascular health parametres
Four separate clinical trials looked at the safety of NG440 constituents RIAAs, rosemary and oleanolic acid as determined by prostacyclin production, blood pressure and clinical chemistries.
RIAAs were seen to have no effect on secretion of either PGIM or TxB2 prrostanoid secretion.
No significant changes were seen in systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
No significant changed were seen in general chemistries.

Gastrointestinal health parametres
A randomised, 14-day crossover study with healthy men aged 18 to 45 compared the effects of naproxen and NG440-1 on gastrointestinal health, and specifically on the production of fecal calprotectin (a measure of gastrointestinal injury).

While naproxen was seen to raise faecal calprotectin to 154 per cent above baseline, no difference was seen in the levels of those taking the NG440-1, either 14-days after treatment or during three-year follow up.

Efficacy studies

A clinical multicentre trial using NG440-2 was conducted to determine relief of pain symptoms. This involved 56 adults aged between 28 and 85 years, of unspecified sex.

Twenty-six of the 56 subjects responded to NG440 therapy.

A three-arm, open-label clinical study with six subjects in a Latin square design assessed the effects of two different doses of NG440-1 versus a standard dose of 200mg of COX-2 inhibitor on the inhibition of PGE2 synthesis.

Inhibition of PGE2 synthesis was seen in all subjects, regardless of whether they were taking the NG440-1 or the COX-2.


Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (National Research Council Canada)
DOI: 10.1139.Y07-055
Title: Clinical safety and efficacy of NG440: a novel combination of rho iso-alpha acids from hops, rosemary, and oleanolic acid for inflammatory conditions.
Authors: Deanna Minich, Jeffrey Bland, Jeffrey Katke, Gary Darland, Amy Hall, Robert Lerman, Joseph Lamb, Brian Carroll, and Matthew Tripp.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pomegranate king of the exotic fruits

Pomegranate, a rich source of antioxidants, has been linked to improved heart health, but a growing body of science indicates the fruit protect against prostate cancer and slowing cartilage loss in arthritis.

It is these antioxidants, and particularly compounds like punicalagin, which accounts for about half of the fruit's antioxidant ability, that are reportedly behind the proposed health benefits.

Researchers presented old and new data supporting the potential role of pomegranate juice and extracts to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, a disease that is diagnosed in over half a million men worldwide every year. Over 200,000 deaths occur from the disease.

The transition from a healthy prostate to the development of cancer as a result of chronic inflammation can take between 10 and 15 years, he said, making it "ideal for nutritional prevention."

Recapping results from the clinical trial published last year in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers state that a daily dose of eight ounces of pomegranate juice was associated with an increase in the doubling time of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) from 15 to 54 months, indicating improved prostate health.

Bonnie - pomegranate is cheaper, better researched, and better observed than any of the other "hyped" exotic fruits currently on the market. Refer to my The Power of the Pomegranate blog.

Birth Control Pills May Clog Arteries

Birth control pills taken by about 100 million women worldwide may clog arteries when taken more than 10 years, according to a study. Women on oral contraceptives were 20 percent to 30 percent more likely to have buildup of fat and cholesterol in their arteries, reducing blood flow, according to a study of 1,301 Belgian women ages 35 to 55. Most used birth control now made by companies like Johnson & Johnson and Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. for more than 10 years. Fatty clogs can lead to heart disease and stroke. The pills in the study were older forms that combined estrogen and progestin, two sex hormones. The research was reported at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tips for tossing leftover meds

New government guidelines on disposal of leftover medications:

  • Don't flush unused drugs down the toilet, unless they're one of a handful that expressly advises that on the prescription label.

  • Crush or dissolve leftover medicine in a little water. Then mix with a yucky substance — cat litter, coffee grounds, even dog waste — in a sealed plastic bag or other unmarked container, and put in the trash. That renders the drug unpalatable if a child, animal or drug abuser rummages through the trash.

  • Remove and destroy the prescription label and any other personal identifying information from the original drug container before throwing it away.

  • An alternative is to call pharmacies or local environmental or hazardous waste collection sites, to see if they run drug "take-back" programs.

  • Some medicines should never be left over. Antibiotics in particular come in the exact quantity you're supposed to take. Stop before they're gone and your infection can return, possibly in a harder-to-treat form.

Sources: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Steve - this is important to remember because if we do not properly dispose of them, it goes back into the environment and circulates into the water supply and soil.

Prilosec for infants?

This was posted on the blog of one of our favorite columnists, Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune:

Doctors are overprescribing antireflux medications in infants, according to a new study released today in Pediatrics. Gatroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid goes the wrong way, flowing back into the esophagus. It's caused when a valve between the esophagus and stomach does not close properly. But how common is it in colicky infants? And why are we seeing an increase among children in the use of a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors, the most powerful of three major classes of antacids?

To find out, the researchers measured the reflux or regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the esophagus of 44 infants in a New Orleans medical center. They found that while only eight of the infants had abnormal pH levels indicating GERD, 42 of 44 infants were on antireflux medication. When medication was withdrawn from the infants who did not meet GERD criteria, reflux symptoms did not worsen.

One concern with overtreatment is that there are currently no known safe or effective dosages in infants, because the drugs are prescribed off-label to children. Another issue stems from a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found long term use of proton pump inhibitors, particularly at high doses, is associated with an increased risk of hip fracture, said New Orleans pediatric gastroenterologist Vikram Khoshoo, lead author of the Pediatrics study. "Older people are not laying down new bone. Younger people are," Khoshoo told me. "There’s a lot of concern emerging, especially for children. Are we going to be changing bone mineral content? Do we have any data? "There's a lot of parental anxiety and impatience that gets fueled by a doctor...who wants the mom off his back," Khoshoo said. "A kid spits up a couple times and everyone freaks out... Then a mom comes in and says, 'fix my kid!' (so they prescribe the medication). It's the same story with colds and coughs and antibiotics: parental impatience." (Antibiotics, which are used to treat bacteria, are ineffective against colds, which are caused by viruses.)

Khoshoo said there's also a misconception among parents that PPIs will decrease regurgitation. They actually work by shutting down acid production but this won't necessarily reduce spit-ups. "So if you have a child with regurgitation who is very irritable because of heart burn and you put this unhappy spitter on antacids, you're simply converting him to a happy spitter. The spitting (up) doesn't change. If the child is spitting up, it's a laundry issue, not a medical issue."Untreated, chronic GERD, of course, is a real issue. It can cause ulcers, bleeding from the esophagus lining, narrowing of the esophagus and Barrett's esophagus, which is a change in the cellular makeup of the esophagus that boosts the risk of esophageal cancer.

But drugs are not the only way to fight it. Lifestyle, including alcohol use, smoking, obesity and pregnancy as well as citrus fruits, chocolate, garlic, onions, spicy food and tomato-based foods all can cause GERD symptoms. For infants, who hopefully don't have any pre-existing alcohol, smoking or weight issues, Khoshoo recommends two simple tools: reassurance and conservative management."If your child is gaining weight, happy, feeding well and does not have recurrent respiratory problems, then it's uncomplicated reflux," he said. "Just because he's throwing up a lot and parents are anxious is not a reason to succumb (to medication). Just give them reassurance, that's it. There's no copayment or price tag. With time, some things get better."Regurgitation, he said, is usually just a maturational problem."Why do old people lose hair?" he asked. "Most of these kids will get better by 18 months."

Bonnie - hallelujah! I wrote about this in 2005 when I wrote Reverse Reflux in Your Child Action Plan. Hopefully this study will create a downward trend in prescribing this for young children.

Popular college drink risky

Young people who mix energy drinks with alcohol are twice as likely to end up harmed than those who just drink alcohol, a study says. The report said it was because energy drinks masked feelings of drunkeness. Energy drinks typically contain high levels of caffeine as well as other stimulants such as ginseng. It has become popular among young people to mix them with alcohol, particularly vodka.

The web-based survey of 4,271 students, presented at an annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, found a quarter of those who had drunk alcohol in the previous 30 days had consumed energy drink cocktails. Compared with students who did not mix alcohol with energy drinks, they were twice as likely to be hurt or injured, twice as likely to require medical attention, and twice as likely to travel with a drunk driver. They were also more than twice as likely to take sexual advantage of someone else, and had almost double the risk of being taken advantage of sexually. In a typical drinking session, they drank up to 36% more than the other students, and they also reported twice as many episodes of weekly drunkenness.

Steve - aside from the potential of harming others, the physical damage that can be done to oneself by mixing these substances can have lasting consequences.

Friday, November 02, 2007

10,000 Toxic Chemicals Need to Be Retested for Human Safety

Approximately 10,000 chemicals currently on the market need to be retested for possible toxicity, according to a study published in the journal Science.

The study authors warn that approximately one-third of carbon-based chemicals currently in commercial use may need to be retested, based on limitations of the tests previously used to determine toxicity.

The danger rests on a class of chemicals referred to as "bio-accumulative," or "persistent organic pollutants," which concentrate in the bodies of animals. The concentrations of these pollutants tend to increase higher up in the food chain, as animals absorb the toxins stored in the body of their prey. Because of the health and ecological danger posed by persistent organic pollutants, 12 varieties have been globally banned under the Stockholm Convention, including DDT, dioxins and PCBs.

In the current study, researchers warn that many chemicals currently classified as safe may actually be persistent organic pollutants.

Steve - while we cannot control all the toxins in our environment, there are many aspects of our lifestyle that we can control. Don't add to your toxic burden...
lessen the load.

F.D.A. Unable to Ensure Drugs Are Safe

The Food and Drug Administration cannot guarantee the safety of the nation’s drug supply because it inspects few foreign drug manufacturers and the inspections it does carry out abroad are less rigorous than those performed in this country, witnesses told a Congressional subcommittee yesterday. While foreign companies manufacture as much as 80 percent of all ingredients used by American drug makers, the drug agency’s record keeping is so poor that it cannot say which of those have not been inspected, according to the testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “More than nine years after we issued our last report on this topic, F.D.A.’s effectiveness in managing the foreign drug inspection program continues to be hindered by weaknesses in its data systems,” Marcia Crosse, director of health care for the Government Accountability Office, said in a statement to the committee.

The agency is supposed to inspect domestic drug makers every two years, but there is no such requirement for foreign suppliers, even though foreign factories are more likely to have quality problems, witnesses said. At the current rate, the agency would take more than 13 years to inspect each foreign establishment once — and those are just the factories it knows about, Ms. Crosse said.

The accountability office, the investigative arm of Congress, also found that the drug agency relied on volunteers to conduct foreign inspections and that inspections were often determined by travel schedules and not need. Another problem, witnesses said, is that the agency gives foreign drug makers advance notice of inspections, in contrast to the unannounced inspections in the United States. In some cases, agency inspectors have to rely on the company being inspected to provide translators.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Experts weigh in on omega-3

Board Certified Neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Maroon of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Professor of Neurosurgery at U of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Dr. Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet and former research scientist at MIT, recently answered the following questions about omega-3 fatty acids:

1. It seems like there's a new study every day about how great omega-3s are, but what do they do when they get into the body to boost brain power and ward off everything from heart disease to the common cold?

Maroon: Because every cell in the body has a cell membrane made mostly out of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fish oil-a source of omega-3 fatty acid-has the potential to affect every organ system in the body. The fact is our body does not produce fatty acids; they must be consumed in our diets. Therefore, a dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can have profound adverse health effects. Not only do fatty acids help to make up the structure of our cell membranes, they are also used by the body on a cellular level to produce localized hormone-like compounds that can act to increase or decrease the amount of inflammation within our bodies.

Sears: [The question of why omega-3s are] almost universal in terms of their ability to improve health is because they reduce inflammation. That's the underlying cause of virtually every chronic disease, and really the underlying cause of the aging process.

2. Is it possible to get sufficient omega-3s from food, or should we supplement for optimal health and benefits?

Maroon: Most natural fatty acid sources, such as walnuts, flaxseeds, soy and canola oil, have fatty acids that can be converted by our bodies to omega-3 fatty acids, but generally not in very large amounts. Fatty acids from fish are generally very concentrated and also with a high proportion of fatty acids being the omega-3 type. This means that fish oil supplements that are certified as purified of potential contaminants are the best way to obtain the omega-3 fatty acids our bodies need.

Sears: Obviously, the Japanese have shown you can eat enough fish. But there was a study at Tufts University several years ago where they paid volunteers $1,500 and they got all their foods free for a six-month period. But the only caveat was that they would contain the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as found in the Japanese diet. The experiment was terminated after three days. All the volunteers gave their money back and said, "I cannot eat all this fish." So the answer is yes, you can do it. But the reality for Americans is we won't do it.

3. We've heard a lot about the importance of the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet. How can consumers tell if they've achieved that balance?

Sears: In the Japanese population the ratio is about 1.5 [meaning three parts omega-6s to two parts omega-3s]. In the Greenland Eskimos, it's about .7, or about half. For comparison, the average American is [at] about 15. We're not only the fattest people on the Earth, we're the most inflamed.

4. With so many foods now enriched with omega-3s, can we get too much of it?

Maroon: The marketing of foods supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids is generally just hype and a marketing tool. Generally, the level of omega-3 fatty acids found in these products is infinitesimal compared to what would be a recommended dose. Therefore, in general, the only practical way to consume sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids is through fish oil supplements. The dose requirements vary by age, health status and other omega-3 intake, but in general we don't recommend taking more than 3 grams of EPA/DHA (the most active form of omega-3 fatty acids) without consultation with your healthcare provider.

Browse our suggested fish oil products on our Supplements Page.

Quercetin may help improve heart health

The research, published in Atherolsclerosis, found quercetin and its metabolites may help prevent chronic inflammation leading to cardiovascular disease, via their effect on cells lining the blood vessels.

"We can confirm that eating quercetin-rich foods may help prevent chronic inflammation leading to cardiovascular disease because the metabolites still have an effect on the cells lining the blood vessels", researchers said.

Flavonoids have been receiving increasing attention of late, with a mounting body of science, epidemiological and laboratory-based, suggesting a wide range of health benefits, including cancer-fighting potential, immune system benefits and cardiovascular health benefits.