Friday, February 29, 2008

Vitamin pills don't cut lung cancer risk

People who take vitamin supplements are just as likely as those who don't to develop lung cancer, according to a study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 77,721 people in Washington state ages 50 to 76 were tracked over the prior decade of supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate to see if it would offer protection from lung cancer.

Current smokers had a very small but statistically significant elevated risk if taking higher doses of vitamin E, the researchers said. Of the people in the study, 521 developed lung cancer, the vast majority of them were smokers.
No benefit or harm was observed for intake of multivitamins, vitamin C, or folate.

Bonnie - this is yet another example of an ill-conceived study when it comes to researching vitamins. After gathering their supplement history over ten years,
the researchers only followed the subjects for four years, which is infantile for the study of prevention of a disease like lung cancer. I would not expect to see any significant results with its "drug" study design.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tips to Prevent Memory Loss

Neurologists, researchers, and non-profit organizations who specialize in age-related memory loss will tell you that prevention is your best defense because there are known cures for Dementia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's Disease. Here is a list of the most researched preventative techniques that you can easily implement into your lifestyle:

Reduce Inflammation
  • Adhere to a Mediterranean-type diet - fruits, vegetables, nuts (walnuts, in particular), seeds, lean protein with an emphasis on fish, whole grains (especially quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, oats, and barley if tolerated), and healthy oils (such as olive). Refer to my Circle of Health

  • Consume Omega-3 fatty acids - supplemental Cod Liver Oil/Fish Oil, and fatty fish

  • Take Magnesium - 75% of the US population is deficient. It is a catalyst for over 300 functions, which affect focus and memory in many ways.

  • Eat & Supplement with Antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress
    • Foods - blueberries, onions/garlic, dry wine, apples, turmeric, green/black/red tea, coffee (nothing added)
    • Supplements - Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene (especially in men), CoQ10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid
Limit Environmental Risks
Unfiltered water, pesticide and heavy metal exposure are the major culprits (the heavy metals being lead, mercury, aluminum, and arsenic, in particular); read our detailed list of Solutions for Reducing Your Toxic Load.

Meditation is a wonderful way to harmonize the brain's energy and reduce stress.

Folic Acid and B12
The importance on these B-vitamins cannot be underestimated, especially in the elderly. What's most important to understand is that just taking folic acid is not good enough for 25 % of the human population because of a genetic abnormalities. For these individuals, all three folates (folic acid, L 5-methyl tetrahydrofolate, and 5-formyl tetrahydrolfolate) must be taken. The form of B-12 should always be methylcobalamin.

Mental Exercise
Crossword Puzzles, Word Searches, or similar fare maintains mental acuity.

Physical Activity
Dancing, walking, and moderate exercise enhance blood flow, mood, and naturally reduces inflammation. Yoga and Tai Chi have wonderful mental and physical benefits. Elderly people can perform Ta Chi well into their 90's (and many Japanese do just that).

Limit Simple Sugars
Many experts call Alzheimer's Type 3 Diabetes because those with the disease have a high frequency of insulin resistance. Limiting simple sugars and refined carbohydrates is essential. Do not consume artificial sweeteners as an alternative. They contribute
to memory loss as much or more than sugar.

Self-disciplined, organized, and achieving personalities seem to protect the brain from mental decline (a recent study showed that
autopsies done on elderly subjects had numbers of lesions that would qualify for Alzheimer's, but when alive, never exhibited memory issues). On the flip side, distress-prone personalities were found to be more likely to develop memory problems.

Rule Out Statin Medication
Recently, there has been a strong focus on statins contributing to memory loss. From a scientific standpoint, it makes perfect sense because research shows that very low cholesterol is not good for memory. Fortunately for patients who have gone off statins after exhibiting symptoms of memory loss, many have found that their memory returned.

A recent British study showed that the obese are at twice the risk for Alzheimer's or an age-related memory loss condition.

NOTE: All of these suggestions are research-based. For further information about these topics, please perform a quick search at the top left corner of this blog.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ever thought about food this way?

Several clients emailed this to us.

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye.
The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just
like the human eye...and YES science
now shows that carrots greatly enhance
blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A Tomato has four chambers and is red.
The heart is red and has four chambers.
All of the research shows tomatoes are
indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has
the shape of the heart. Each grape
looks like a blood cell and all of the
research today shows that grapes are
also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right
hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums.
Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like
the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop
over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain
kidney function and yes, they look exactly like
the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, Avocados and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female -- they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow.
Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the
numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and
actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, Oranges, and other citrus fruits look
just like the mammary glands of the female and
actually assist the health of the breasts and the
movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows
that onions help clear waste materials from all of the
body cells. They even produce tears which wash the
epithelial layers of the eyes.

Low cholesterol linked to stomach cancer risk

People with very low cholesterol levels seem to be at increased risk of developing stomach cancer. Some studies have linked low cholesterol levels to higher death rates from cancer in general, Dr. Kouichi Asano, of Kyushu University, Fukuoka, and colleagues explain in the International Journal of Cancer. "With respect to gastric cancer, a limited number of studies suggest this inverse association, while others do not." The researcher looked into this in a study involving some 2,600 residents of Hisayama, Japan, who were followed for 14 years. Gastric cancers developed in 97 subjects. After accounting for age and gender, stomach cancer rates rose significantly with descending cholesterol level. For example, among subjects with the highest cholesterol levels, the gastric cancer rate was the equivalent of 2.1 cases per 1000 persons per year; among those with the lowest cholesterol, the rate was 3.9 per 1000 person-years.

Bonnie - another example of why having cholesterol that is too low may not be a good thing, especially if it is statin-induced.

Magnesium linked to fewer gallstones

Increased intake of magnesium from dietary supplemental forms may decrease a man's risk of developing gallstones, suggests a new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The highest intake of magnesium was associated with a 28 per cent reduction in the risk of gallstones, based upon data taken from 42,705 male Americans .

Gallstone disease is a major source of morbidity in developed countries and an important risk factor for gallbladder cancer. About 10-15 per cent of the US population (20 million people) have gallstones, and 1 million new cases are diagnosed yearly, according to the US National Institutes of Health.

Researchers from University of Kentucky Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and the National Cancer Institute, assessed the consumption of magnesium among the study population using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

Over the course of an average of 13 years of follow-up, the researchers documented 2,195 cases of gallstones. The average intake of magnesium was calculated to 352.8 milligrams per day for the study population.

Men with the highest levels of magnesium intake (454 mg/d) were 28 per cent less likely to develop gallstones, compared to men with the lowest average intake (262 mg/d).

"Low magnesium consumption has been associated with high fasting insulin concentrations. Chronic hypersecretion of insulin, a feature of insulin resistance, may increase the cholesterol saturation index in the bile, and thus may facilitate gallstone formation," they added.

"In animal and clinical studies, a magnesium-deficient diet can elevate plasma triglycerides and decrease plasma HDL-cholesterol levels, and thus may increase the risk for gallstones."

In an accompanying editorial, Cynthia Ko from the University of Washington in Seattle made important points concerning the study results.

"The primary outcome of this study was symptomatic gallstone disease and cholecystectomy - the most advanced stages of gallstone-related diseases. These results suggest that low magnesium intake predisposes to symptomatic gallstones. However, these results cannot necessarily be generalized to asymptomatic gallstones, which comprise the majority of all gallstones," she said.

"Therefore, we cannot determine where in the pathophysiological process leading to symptomatic gallstones is magnesium intake important.

"For example, does higher magnesium intake protect against initial formation of gallbladder sludge and stones? Or, does higher magnesium intake decrease the likelihood of the already existing gallstones becoming symptomatic? Or both?" asked Ko.

Earlier dietary surveys show that a large portion of adults does not meet the RDA for magnesium (320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men).

Bonnie - a great study that is a microcosm for why magnesium is critical for every organ. Ms. Ko's editorial questions whether the magnesium acts as a preventative, decreases the likelihood of existing gallstones, or both. In my experience, I would say both. What cannot be questioned is that supplemental magnesium is extremely important for broad-based health benefits.

Diet linked to reduction in adverse prostate symptoms

Men who want to avoid developing the benign but bothersome prostate enlargement that typically accompanies aging should cut their intake of fat and red meat, eat more vegetables, and have a couple of drinks a day, a new study from American Journal of Epidemiology suggests.

As many as half of 50-year-old men have benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which causes frequent and sometimes painful urination, while up to 80% of 70 year olds have the condition, Dr. Alan R. Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and colleagues note in their report.

The only established risk factor for BPH that people can do something about is obesity, particularly in the abdominal region. To investigate whether dietary changes could be beneficial as well, Kristal and his team followed 4,770 initially BPH-free men for seven years, during which time 876 developed the condition.

Men who had two or more alcoholic beverages daily were 33% less likely to develop BPH than teetotalers, the researchers found, while those who consumed at least four servings of vegetables daily were at 32% lower risk than those who ate fewer than one serving per day.

Red meat increased the likelihood of BPH, but only in men who ate it every day. Men who ate the most fat were 31% more likely to develop BPH, while the highest consumers of protein actually cut their risk by 15%.

The protein finding "doesn't mean go out and eat lean meat, it means go out and find lean sources of protein, which can be quite diverse," Kristal said.

Eating to avoid BPH can help prevent obesity and heart disease as well, Kristal noted. "It's almost saying that here's a diet that seems to be associated generally with less aging. It's uncanny to me that you do more and more research and discover that these aging-related diseases seem to be consistently lower with the same type of dietary pattern."

Bonnie - uncanny? I think not. It all comes down to diet in the end. Let's keep in the simplest terms: if you give a car the right fuel, it will function optimally. If you give it the wrong fuel, it will eventually break down.

New test shows source of statin side-effects

Courtesy of Reuters

A new panel of tests aimed at finding out how drugs may damage cells has turned up a series of interactions that may explain some of the serious side-effects of statin drugs, researchers said on Sunday. Statins, the wildly popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, may interact with at least one blood pressure drug to damage the mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The mitochondria are structures in cells that make adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which helps power cells. Mootha's team tested more than 2,000 drugs on cells to see how they might interfere with this process. Their test looks at gene function, ATP levels and other measures of how well the mitochondria are working. Many patients who take statins have reported side-effects that include muscle pain and weakness. The cause is not well understood but Mootha has long suspected the mitochondria are involved. Mootha's team said their findings showed some statins lower ATP levels and interfere with the mitochondria.

"Of the six statins present in our screening collection, three (fluvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin) produced strong decreases in cellular ATP levels and (mitochondrial) activity," they wrote. Fluvastatin is sold by Novartis under the brand name Lescol, lovastatin is sold under the brand name Mevacor and simvaststin is sold as Zocor.

"Once we figured out what the pattern was we asked what other FDA-approved drugs give rise to that same pattern of mitochondrial dysfunction." They found a few. "We were struck by the fact that one of these nearest-neighbor drugs is propranolol, a widely used antihypertensive agent," they wrote. Propranolol is a so-called beta blocker drug sold by Wyeth under the brand name Inderal and also available generically. "That was a bit of a surprise," Mootha said. "And it is important because so many patients are on a statin as well as blood pressure medication."

Other drugs that resembled statins in their activity in mitochondria included amoxapine, cyclobenzaprine, griseofulvin, pentamidine, paclitaxel, propafenone, ethaverine, trimeprazine and amitriptyline. A similar process may be going on in diabetes, nerve degeneration and aging, Mootha's team said. They found a number of drugs, including the cancer drug vinblastine may counter this process. Mootha cautioned that his group has worked only in batches of muscle cells grown in the lab so far and that far more tests are needed.

Bonnie - I don't get why these researchers thought that this issue was not well understood. It is crystal clear. The depletion of CoQ10 affects the mitochondria. Statins have this depleting affect and is precisely the reason why I ALWAYS suggest supplementing with Co-Enzyme Q10 if on a statin.

I was surprised to learn of all the other medications that affect the mitochondria as well. We'll review this database and make further comment.

Study doubts effectiveness of antidepressant drugs

Antidepressant medications appear to help only very severely depressed people and work no better than placebos in many patients, British researchers said. Researchers led by Irving Kirsch of the University of Hull reviewed a series of studies, both published and unpublished, on four antidepressants, examining the question of whether a person's response to these drugs hinged on how depressed they were before getting treatment. They were Eli Lilly and Co's Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, Wyeth's Effexor, also called venlafaxine; GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil, also called Seroxat or paroxetine, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's drug Serzone, also called nefazodone, which it no longer markets in the United States. They are all so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.

The researchers found that compared with placebo, these new-generation antidepressant medications did not yield clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially had moderate or even very severe depression. The study found that significant benefits occurred only in the most severely depressed patients. "Drug-placebo differences in antidepressant efficacy increase as a function of baseline severity, but are relatively small even for severely depressed patients. The relationship between initial severity and antidepressant efficacy is attributable to decreased responsiveness to placebo among very severely depressed patients, rather than to increased responsiveness to medication," the researchers wrote.

The researchers obtained data on all the clinical trials submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the licensing of the four drugs. "Although patients get better when they take antidepressants, they also get better when they take a placebo, and the difference in improvement is not very great. This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments," Kirsch said in a statement.

Bonnie - on the heels of last month's New England Journal of Medicine study that said not only did the drugs not outperform placebo, only 14% of studies with disappointing results were ever published.

Now that antidepressants are prescribed for off-label uses like menopause and back pain (with no research on its effectiveness), the scope of this disaster will be dwarf Vioxx and Hormone Replacement combined.

How many of us take comfort in knowing that a medication that creates chemical dependency, nutrient deficiency, weight gain, bone fracture risk, increase in risk of suicide attempts, risk of complications during pregnancy, and birth defects in babies who's mothers were on antidepressants, works no better than placebo for depression?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Worried about your health? Try waste watching

By Jamie Sotonoff
Daily Herald

Get grossed out, laugh or act like you're too refined to discuss this. Go ahead. The truth is, poop is serious stuff. If you're willing to peek into the toilet bowl once in a while, local doctors say you can learn loads about your health and detect problems ranging from poor diet to colon cancer. "It's one of a few things you can do without a doctor's help. You can't do blood work on yourself ... but you can look in the toilet," said Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist and co-author of the book, "What's Your Poo Telling You?" and the soon-to-be-released sequel, "Poo Log".

Even though it's a natural, often-daily act by every living creature, many people are too embarrassed to discuss the stinky subject with anyone, including their doctors. Local gastroenterologists stress the importance of confiding in your doctor if there are changes in your bowel habits. Every doctor interviewed for this story promised that nothing would shock or disgust them. "They've got to remember, it's commonplace for us to talk about this stuff," said Dr. Don Hoscheit, a St. Charles gastroenterologist who practices at Central DuPage Hospital. "Sometimes it can be just a simple issue, and sometimes it's an indication that something's going wrong in the colon. The worst thing a person can do is sit around and wait and not do anything about it." While the subject is still largely taboo, a few high-profile media events have helped break the ice -- Katie Couric's on-air colonoscopy, and an Oprah show featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz answering bowel questions for an entire hour. "The stigma is breaking down somewhat," said book co-author Josh Richman. "There's a change in society, with people taking charge of their own health and health care. Now, you can talk about poo without just making poo jokes." Still, most people don't know what's normal or healthy and they're hungry for information. There is, for a lack of a better term, an explosion of poo in the mainstream now. "People want to talk about it," Sheth said.

What is normal? The idea of "perfect poo" is fiction, local doctors say. "There is no normal bowel habit," Hoscheit said. "It's whatever's right for the individual. It's like height. Is there a healthy height? Is there a normal person? But knowing what's normal for you is an important thing." Bowel frequency, consistency and color will vary greatly depending on age, diet, medications and lifestyle, doctors say. Some people go twice a day, others twice a week. Sometimes bowel movements turn unusual colors, like red or green. Some are thick and some are thin. Some people get constipated when they travel, or get diarrhea when they're stressed out. It's all normal, doctors say. "It's not uncommon for people to fluctuate between having constipation, diarrhea and normal bowel habits," said Dr. Stephen Chang, a Bartlett gastroenterologist who works out of Central DuPage Hospital. "It's the major changes in your bowel habits that suggest there's something changing with your overall health."

So what isn't normal? The No. 1 indicator of a problem is the presence of blood. "A little drip here and there ... or a little blood on the toilet paper, that's not the same as large amounts of blood in the stool or blood clots," said Dr. Michael Brown, a Rush University Medical Center gastroenterologist and a member of the American Society for Gastrointenstinal Endoscopy. In most cases, the cause is a burst hemorrhoid. But excessive blood could indicate bleeding in the colon, Crohn's Disease or the presence of tumors or polyps. "Frequently, blood in the stool has benign causes," Chang said. "But the doctor, not the patient, should determine that." A change in the consistency of the stool -- prolonged periods of diarrhea, for example -- can be a symptom of Crohn's Disease or other inflammatory bowel conditions that often can be treated with drugs or diet. While diarrhea is more common in children than adults, it signals that the intestines are inflamed and something is not right. "I had a patient in the hospital who talked about having diarrhea for a month, and it turns out he had colon cancer," said Dr. Bob Carroll, a gastroenterologist and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Unusual poo hue can be another warning sign. While eating certain foods can lead to temporary discoloration -- beets can turn bowel movements red, and iron or Pepto Bismal can turn it black -- black, tarry bowels can indicate bleeding intestines. A white or tan color with a clay texture can be a symptom of hepatitis or liver disease, and a creamy yellow color could signal that the body's having a problem absorbing fats. Loose stool can be a sign of everything from wheat allergies to colitis, an inflammation of the lining of the large intestines, doctors say. Constipation -- which is something two-thirds of people over 65 suffer from -- is often the result of a poor diet or a lack of activity. It's also a side effect of numerous medications. "Bowel habits change as you age," Carroll said.

Whatever the symptoms are, early detection is key. "With a lot of diseases, you don't get an early warning. But a little bleeding or a change in bowel habits could be an indicator," Hoscheit said. "It's like the light on the dashboard of your car. If you find something early, that'll help. Your body is trying to tell you something." Doctors suggest people pay attention to what's in your toilet -- not too obsessively -- and be aware of pattern changes. If you're over age 50, have regular colonoscopies, a key way to find cancer in its early stages. Next month is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. "Having good (gastrointestinal) health and good poo practices can make you feel better overall," Sheth said.

Do the diaper check Baby poop, as new parents know, is in a league of its own. To assess what's normal and what's not, we asked pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Below are some potential health problems Brown says can be found by examining baby poop. • Black and tarry: After a baby is more or 3 or 4 days old, black tarry poop can be a warning sign of bleeding in the intestines. • Bloody: In babies, it can be a sign of a milk protein allergy. In children, blood in the stool can signal multiple problems. "Whenever there's blood, it always needs to be checked out," Brown said. • Mucusy texture: Could be the sign of a milk protein allergy. • Explosive, watery stools or diarrhea with blood: Could be numerous things, including the most common five gastrointestinal conditions -- E coli, salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, Campylobacter. Dehydration is one concern, so see your doctor. • Diarrhea without blood: a stomach virus • Pellets or small marbles: Constipation, and an indication that a child needs more fiber and fluids in his or her diet. • Colors: Green, yellow or various shades of brown are normal. It's black or blood-tinged red poop that prompt you to call the pediatrician.

Bonnie - believe it or not, I answer questions about the stool of my clients daily. This article is a very important one. You can tell a lot about your health by examining your stool.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Black tea may slash Parkinson's disease risk

Drinking at least 23 cups of black tea a month, or about three-quarters of a cup a day, may slash the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by a whopping 71 per cent, suggests new research from Singapore.

The benefits of the beverage were not linked to the caffeine content, suggest the results of the study of 63,257 Chinese men and women published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The four primary polyphenols found in fresh tealeaves are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epicatechin (EC).

Lead author Louis Tan from Singapore's National Neuroscience Institute states that data was collected through in-person interviews using structured questionnaires.

Steve - I have a hard time believing any substance showing this kind of dramatic effect. There is no doubt of the therapeutic value of tea. However, more research needs to be done on this issue, however.

High-protein adds points to your child's IQ

A nutritious diet can make your baby smarter, a new study has discovered. Babies who are given a high-protein diet in their first four weeks have higher IQs by the time they reach adolescence. Researchers from the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London have discovered the special diet also changes the structure of the brain. It increases the size of the caudate nucleus, which is associated with higher intelligence. The caudate nucleus has its main growth spurt during the first four weeks following birth. Although scientists have speculated whether nutrition can influence the caudate nucleus, nobody had tested the theory in a study involving babies. The research team had their opportunity during the 1980s when they gave a standard diet and a high-protein diet to two groups of premature babies. When they tested the same two groups again when they were adolescents, the researchers discovered that those who had been given a high-protein diet as babies had higher verbal IQ scores, and scans revealed their caudate nucleus was larger. Source: Pediatric Research, 2008.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Drug prices surge

Pharmaceutical companies increased wholesale prices for the 50 top-selling branded drugs by an average of 7.82% in 2007, after increases of 6.73% and 6.22% in the previous two years, according to Delta Marketing Dynamics Inc., a health-care marketing research company. The most recent increase is almost double the overall U.S. economy's 4.1% annual inflation rate last year.

Drug makers are trying to keep revenues afloat by raising prices ahead of many drug-patent expirations and the possibility of changing government regulations, part of the presidential candidates' agendas. But aggressive price increases could backfire politically, pushing policies toward greater government power over price negotiations. In some instances, drug makers are raising prices on medications that are due to lose patent protection so that customers will switch to -- and continue to buy -- similar, newer products that enjoy market exclusivity well into the future. It's a tactic that pharmaceutical companies use "to shift patients to next-generation drugs by making old ones so expensive," says Michael Krensavage, a drug-industry analyst with Raymond James & Associates. For example, Sanofi raised Ambien's price ahead of its loss of patent protection last year so that it was more expensive than Ambien CR, a new formulation, to encourage patients to switch to Ambien CR, which will be patent-protected for several more years.

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Steve - you ask yourself how can the government allow this to happen? They are the main problem. The majority of wealth Big Pharma has enjoyed recently is in its renewed deal with the Medicare and Medicaid Drug program.
We all suffer because our many of our tax dollars pay for these programs.

Co-Q10 may ease fatigue after exercise

Supplements of coenzyme Q10 may boost physical performance and reduce feelings of tiredness associated with exercise. Both fatigue and recovery time were decreased as a result of 300 milligrams of CoQ10 for eight days, according to the double-blinded, placebo-controlled study with 17 healthy volunteers published in the journal Nutrition.

The level of CoQ10 produced by the body begins to drop after the age of about 20, and the coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell. It plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Soup recipe suggestion

A client brought this to our attention. It comes from the book, From Bubbie's Kitchen: Authentic Jewish Recipes, by Madeline Binder.

I became interested in red lentil soup when Dr. Perricone talked about this food on Oprah’s show. He listed lentils as #4 on his list of SuperFoods and said that red lentils were more nutritious than the other lentils. They are a great source of protein, high in fiber and antioxidants, and low in fat. He suggests not cooking lentils with salt because it may toughen them, but I did not find this to be true because the red lentils actually break down into mush like peas.

From Egypt to Jerusulum across the waters to the United States and Canada, Egyptians, Isralis and Americans love this vegetarian soup. One could call it a “Middle Eastern Peace Dish!!” Muslims eat it during Ramadan after their fast. Shepardic Jews in Israel enjoy the flavors, and Vegans in the U.S. love it because the soup can be made with vegetable broth.

There are many variations to this recipe: Baghdadi Jews from India use a teaspoon of turmeric plus two dried chopped chilies or a healthy pinch of cayenne pepper. In Egypt some people serve the soup with lime wedges and chopped cilantro. And Syrians spice their soup with cumin, garlic and garnish it with fresh lemon wedges.

There is a legend that Moses gave his people lentils to help them survive their long exodus from Egypt.

1 large onion, coarse or finely chopped
2 sticks celery cut in small pieces
1 cup carrots cut in small slices
2 cups red lentils - you can use the whole or split
9 1/2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspons salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper depending how spicy you like your soup
1 teaspoon tumeric or cumin
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

In a soup pot put the onion, celery, carrots, lentils, liquid, salt and pepper.
Simmer 1/2 hour, or until the lentils are very soft.
Add water if you see that the soup needs thinning.

Stir in turmeric or cumin, lemon juice after 20 minutes. Add seasoning to taste.

Place the olive oil on the table so that people can drizzle some on their soup.
Serves 6 to 8 people

This soup was absolutely delicious and we so enjoyed it while hibernating from Chicagoland’s cold winter day of 12 degrees, winds at 10-20 miles per hour! And showers and snow expected tonight. This has been an extremely cold, snowy winter. Great days for Jewish red lentil soup!

Yeast supplements bursting on the scene

General manager Antoine Baule, of yeast manufacturer Lesaffre, said: "The dietary supplements and functional foods market is experiencing strong growth. Many reasons like the aging population, the need of public preventional measures and the search for wellbeing explain this phenomena. In some countries, those preventional measures are used to help reduce public spending on health issues. Yeast and its derivatives have great potential in Nutrition & Health"

"Yeast is a very healthy product. It is a great source of many components which can contribute to good health."

Bonnie - oh boy. Just what we need. A population even more yeasty than it already is. Granted, there is a well-researched form of beneficial yeast called sacchromyces boulardii, but the buck stops there. Surprised that Mr. Baule did not mention the health effects of yeast overgrowth and candida?

New fat burner set to enter the US market

A fat burner called Sinetrol is set to make its debut in the US this year. Its major selling point for the ingredient is the fact that it is derived from natural ingredients, such as red orange, orange, grapefruit and guarana extract.

Buyer beware as there is no safety record from what we've seen. In addition, guarana is an caffeine herb.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

F.D.A. Seeks to Broaden Range of Use for Drugs

When federal drug regulators approve a medicine for sale, they limit how drug makers sell it. A drug approved to treat only breast cancer cannot be marketed for lung cancer even if some studies suggest that the medicine may save lung patients. But the Food and Drug Administration proposed guidelines Friday that would change this, and advocates on both sides of the issue say that lives are at stake. The rules would allow drug and device makers to provide doctors with copies of medical journal articles that discuss product uses that have not been vetted or approved by the F.D.A. The rules also say that drug companies do not have to promise to adequately test the unapproved use discussed in the article.

Critics of the proposal say that drug and device companies have a long history of promoting unapproved drug and device uses that later proved dangerous and that allowing companies to talk about such unapproved uses removes incentives for companies to research adequately whether the new use is actually beneficial. “People will die if they are getting drugs that don’t have clear evidence that the benefits outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s health research group. Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, said the proposed rule “caters to the industry’s desire to market their products without adequate testing or review.”

The F.D.A. will accept comments from the public on the proposal and take it up for final consideration in 60 days. The reason for this debate is that doctors are not overseen by the F.D.A. Medicine is regulated by state medical boards, which generally let doctors prescribe drugs and devices as they see fit regardless of F.D.A. judgments.

Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said the rule would stop companies from underwriting expensive trials to confirm new drug uses. “Companies could openly promote products for unapproved indications without testing these drugs,” he said. “I’m astonished that this rule would even be considered.”

Steve - we are as astonished as Dr. Nissen. Well, not really. Every day it is still painfully apparent that the FDA is run by Big Pharma. Why should we expect the FDA to do the right thing?

Just make sure that if you are prescribed a medication, it is approved for the purpose you are supposed to be taking it for. Otherwise, you are a guinea pig for substances with no history of possible side effects.

Probiotics risky for some

A study published in The Lancet suggests that under certain circumstances, probiotics can be deadly. Researchers studied 296 patients at risk for severe pancreatitis, a potentially lethal inflammation of the pancreas. Each was randomly assigned to receive either a commercially available probiotic or an identical-looking placebo. All patients were otherwise given conventional treatment. There was no significant difference between the two groups in severity of illness at the start of the trial. But while 31 percent of the probiotics group required intensive care, only 24 percent of the placebo group needed it. Eighteen percent of those who took probiotics, but only 10 percent of the others, required surgical intervention. In the probiotics group 24 people died, a death rate more than twice that of those given the placebo.

Bonnie - this is one of the most disturbing study designs I have ever seen.

First, the subjects were given INTRAVENOUS probiotic therapy. I have never heard of this method, I have never seen any research on it, and I certainly would never have taken this route if I was the researcher. Healthy flora exists in the digestive tract, not in the bloodstream. How could the researchers have thought that bacteria (even if good) would improve outcomes when injected into the bloodstream?

Second, the subjects were gravely ill with pancreatitis! How and why the researchers thought probiotics could help their outcomes is asinine. These are not the kind of subjects to be testing intravenous probiotics on.

Probiotics are very safe and incredibly well-researched when administered as they should be...orally or topically!! They have been found naturally in fermented foods for thousands of years.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lipoic acid and carnitine combo show diabetes potential

A combination of lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine may boost the function of mitochondria - the cell's power stations - suggests research with implications for diabetes and obesity.

Researchers, led by Jiankang Liu from the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia at the University of California (Irvine), report that the nutrients work together, or synergistically - a result not previously reported.

"The strong synergistic effect of the combination of LA and ALC in [fat cells] adipocytes suggests that these two nutrients complement each other's function in mitochondrial biogenesis," wrote the authors in the journal Diabetologia.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Older men with prostate cancer can wait and see

Men in their 70s and older who are diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer can safely "watch and wait" because they are not likely to die of it, which backs up the widely held belief that prostate cancer rarely kills men if it strikes late in life. Something else will kill them first, said Grace Lu-Yao of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Her study of more than 9,000 older men with prostate cancer that had not spread showed that just 3 to 7 percent of the men with low or moderate-grade tumors died of it after 10 years. "Because prostate cancer therapies are associated with significant side effects, our data can help patients make better informed decisions about the most appropriate approach for them and potentially avoid treatment without adversely affecting their health," Lu-Yao said in a statement at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Society of Urologic Oncology.

Bonnie - watchful waiting is done routinely in Israel and other countries for men over 70, and they have a lot less complications from unnecessary procedures. The death rate with or without the procedures is virtually the same.

Celiac Disease Patients Now Typically Asymptomatic at Diagnosis

With the advent of modern screening tests and increased awareness of celiac disease, the clinical profile of newly diagnosed pediatric patients has changed. Most are school-age and asymptomatic, having been referred for screening on the basis of their high-risk status. Dr. Grzegorz Telega, and colleagues reviewed the medical records of the patients diagnosed with celiac disease at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin between 1986 and 2003. According to their paper in the February Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the annual number of patients diagnosed with celiac disease increased from 1 in 1986 to 93 in 2003, with a total 143 over that period. Dr. Telega and associates recommend that "primary care physicians implement screening programs in all high-risk populations," including patients with a family history of celiac disease and those with Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, and Addison disease. Screening is also appropriate for patients with short stature, iron deficiency anemia, and high transaminase levels. "A high level of suspicion for celiac disease should be entertained in other autoimmune disorders," the authors add, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms.

Bonnie - my thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Restaurant lemons loaded with bacteria

You may want to think twice before dropping that lemon wedge into your drink when at a restaurant.

Restaurant lemon wedges at a glance.

Pomegranates beat apples for antioxidant boost

The juice of pomegranate is more effective than apple in boosting the body's antioxidant defenses, which decline naturally with age, reports a new study.

The antioxidant capacity of the blood of 26 elderly subjects increased by almost 10 per cent after drinking pomegranate juice, according to a study published in this month's issue of Nutrition Research.

The subjects (average age 63.5) were randomly divided into two groups and assigned to drink 250 ml daily of either apple or pomegranate juice for four weeks.

At the end of the study Guo and co-workers report that the plasma antioxidant capacity of the subjects consuming pomegranate juice had increased from 1.33 to 1.46 millimoles per litre (mmol/l), using the FRAP assay of antioxidant quantification.

Furthermore, urine levels of 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG), the product of hydroxyl radical attack - reportedly a marker of damaged DNA - was reduced by about 21 per cent in the pomegranate group.

Bonnie - for all those buying into the goji, acai, and mangosteen hype, pomegranate is the true superjuice. The best thing about it is that unlike almost every other juice, pomegranate does not adversely affect blood sugar.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blood Pressure on the rise among women

"Blood pressure that is higher than optimal is among the leading two or three risks for cardiovascular disease, if not the leading one," said Majid Ezzati, an associate professor of international health at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the report in the Feb. 12 issue of Circulation. About one in five American adults has "uncontrolled high blood pressure," defined as a systolic pressure -- the higher number of the 140/90 reading -- above 140, according to the state-by-state survey. A decline has continued for American men, with the rate dropping from 19 percent to 17 percent in the early 2000s. But the incidence among American women increased from 17 percent to more than 22 percent during that same period.

Bonnie - this is extremely telling as blood pressure is believed to be one of the most important factors in assessing cardiac risk in women.

Autopsies forecast surge in U.S. heart disease

Courtesy Reuters

Autopsies of adults who died young of unnatural causes show many already had clogged arteries, U.S. and Canadian researchers said on Monday in a study that suggests heart disease may be on the upswing.

The researchers said their findings suggest a four-decade-long trend of declines in heart disease may be about to come to a screeching halt.

They studied autopsy reports from younger people in one Minnesota county who died from accidents, suicide and murder and found most had clogged arteries and more than 8 percent had significant disease.

"What they observed was a bit shocking," said S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who wrote an editorial on the research, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"It is the most definitive evidence I've seen suggesting that today's younger and middle-aged generations may be heading for an increase in their risks of heart disease," he said.

"Declines in coronary artery disease appear to have ended and there is some suggestion that they might be increasing," a researcher said in a telephone interview.

Steve - we know that the diets of many young to middle-aged Americans are abominable. For reasons like the one mentioned in this Reuters piece, I get extremely frustrated when I see parents constantly giving in to their children's junk food cravings. They cannot eat whatever they want anymore. Modern lifestyles do not allow us to easily work off the negative effects of latency, empty calories, chemical-laden food, and a toxic environment. We can at least control what goes into our bodies as well as our children. Greater vigilance is crucial.

Sterols play major role in dietary portfolio for hearts

Almost one-third of cholesterol reductions achieved by consuming a heart-healthy diet are due to plant sterols, suggests a new study from the journal Metabolism.

Numerous clinical trials in controlled settings have reported that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17 per cent, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Jenkins and co-workers prescribed the 42 subjects (average age 63) to a diet containing viscous fibres, soy protein, and almonds for 80 weeks. In addition, plant sterols were taken, except during weeks 52 to 62.

Over the course of the study, LDL-cholesterol levels decreased by an average of 15.4 per cent, while such reductions were only 9.0 per cent in the absence of plant sterols.

Steve - this was a small study, but another strong addition to sterols/stanols effectiveness in cardiovascular disease prevention.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bonnie quoted in Crain's Chicago Business.

Nutrition advice: meaty enough?

Feb. 11, 2008
Crain's Chicago Business

It is an arctic-cold Friday in January, and Dawn Jackson Blatner is promoting a new diet on Chicago-based morning talk show "In the Loop with iVillage" on WMAQ-TV/Channel 5.

Ms. Blatner, 32, created the "3-4-5 Diet," which calls for 300 calories at breakfast, 400 at lunch and 500 at dinner, plus two small snacks, for a total of 1,500 calories per day. This morning, she displays homemade and restaurant choices for all three meals.

Host Ereka Vetrini interrupts: "You haven't mentioned fat. . . . Should we be thinking of that as well?" Smiling, Ms. Blatner sets her straight. "If people are looking to lose weight, calories are the bottom line," she says, long blond hair swinging.

With her good looks and ebullient personality, Ms. Blatner has become one of the most-quoted diet and nutrition experts in the Chicago area. She is the national nutrition expert for, a health site geared to women, and a member of the advisory board for Fitness magazine.

Yet behind her cheerful nuggets of advice, controversy simmers. Some critics of the agency she represents say it delivers warmed-over advice and refuses to challenge the interests of the food companies that fund it.

Ms. Blatner is one of the American Dietetic Assn.'s 30 official spokespeople. The non-profit, Chicago-based ADA represents 67,000 registered dietitians; founded in 1917, it exists to promote dietetics as a profession.

Through Ms. Blatner and other spokespeople, the group is a primary source of nutrition information for American news consumers.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, as written extensively about the ADA's role in forming public health policy.

"We're not talking about the American Heart Assn., whose goal is to reduce heart disease," she says. "The goal of the ADA is not to promote the health of the nation — it's to promote the role of dietitians."

ADA President Connie Diekman counters, "The ADA's No. 1 goal is to promote the health of the nation through food and nutrition, by promoting the skills of the registered dietitian."

All nutrition information dispensed by the organization's spokespeople is "science-based," says Ms. Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. And the ADA's positions do change over time, she adds.

An example: Studies conducted three years ago indicated that three servings of dairy a day could aid weight loss. Subsequent research has suggested otherwise, so today the ADA advises that three servings might not help weight loss, "but it won't be a negative," Ms. Diekman says.


These moderate statements rankle critics like Ms. Nestle, who holds a doctorate in nutrition and believes the nation's eating habits need radical revising.

The ADA's messages, she charges, are influenced by its partnerships with for-profit donors. They include Northfield-based Kraft Foods Inc.; the National Dairy Council, a Chicago-based non-profit marketing arm of the for-profit Dairy Management Inc., which represents dairy companies, and McNeil Nutritionals LLC, maker of the sweetener Splenda, based in Fort Washington, Pa.

A Kraft spokesman says the corporate grant "is used at their discretion. We are not involved in the research process and the contribution is not designated for any specific programming." McNeil and the Dairy Council say their contributions are in line with their corporate focus on nutrition education. Other non-profits, such as the American Heart Assn., also accept donations from for-profit companies.

The partnership with food companies has resulted in an "all foods in moderation" approach to nutrition, a sore spot with Ms. Nestle. "If they were really focused on changing the nutritional quality of diets, they'd have to talk about what people shouldn't eat — and they won't do that," she says.

What should people absolutely avoid? "Soft drinks, for example; junk food in general," she says.

Ms. Diekman, though, counters that draconian directives confuse consumers. "When you say, 'Never do this, never do that,' then all you're left with is, 'Well, gee, what do I eat?' "

Bonnie Minsky, a certified nutrition specialist and president of Nutritional Concepts Inc. in Northbrook, which offers nutritional counseling and sells supplements, says the ADA's milquetoast advice "can do more harm than good."

One example: urging people who want to cut down on sugar to drink diet soft drinks. Ms. Minsky, 60, says research indicates that the artificial sweetener in diet soft drinks can make some people feel hungrier and can block the absorption of certain nutrients.

Ms. Blatner says the ADA's position is that artificial sweeteners can be safe; however, when she sees patients, "we can determine if that's the right solution for someone or not."

Ms. Minsky, who holds a master's degree in nutrition, also disagrees with Ms. Blatner's "3-4-5" approach on the basis that it's nutritionally wiser to eat more food early in the day, then taper off in the evening. "She's compromising what she knows," Ms. Minsky says.


Sitting in her modest but chic Humboldt Park home, Ms. Blatner counters such charges. Her nutrition information "is always science-based," she says, adding that every Friday morning, she gets a "humongous" e-mail blast of research from "the mother ship," ADA headquarters.

As for the advice she doles out? "It's an interesting juggling act" to present upbeat guidance people will actually follow, she says. Hence the "3-4-5 Diet," so crafted because, realistically, most people eat tiny breakfasts and large dinners, she says.

Ms. Blatner grew up in Oak Forest and recalls her mother revamping the family's diet when she was 8 years old: out went doughnuts and pop, in came bagels and canned sparkling water. Ms. Blatner began studying nutrition as a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

While her friends saved their money for new outfits, "I saved up for a 'Moosewood Cookbook'. . . . I rode my bike to Strawberry Fields co-op Saturday mornings," she says. She presented those proclivities to a career counselor, who suggested she study dietetics.

She graduated in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in human nutrition, food science and dietetics. In January 2002, she joined Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute and became an ADA spokeswoman.

Now, on weekends, she and her husband of three years, Chris Blatner, experiment with tasty tofu recipes (enchiladas worked; a crispy tofu bowl did not) for the healthy-cooking classes she teaches at the Chopping Block cooking school, which has locations in Lincoln Square and in the Merchandise Mart.

Mr. Blatner, 32, says he's lost 20 pounds since he met his wife nine years ago. "She gradually made more meals for me. . . . She packs my lunch," which usually consists of a turkey or hummus sandwich, crackers or popcorn and fruit. Their favorite "pigout" food, he says, is pizza — with vegetarian toppings.

"People just respond to her. . . . Her personality is her No. 1 quality," says Mr. Blatner, a regional sales manager at Mitchell Aircraft Spares Inc., an aviation company based in Cary. "She tends to be the center of attention; she likes that."

Indeed, Ms. Blatner quit her staff job at Northwestern Memorial six months ago to focus on her media work. Through her private practice, Dawn Nutrition Strategies LLC, she still sees patients, mostly women who want to get in shape before or after pregnancy.

She spends most of her time in her home office writing a book, "The Flexitarian Diet," scheduled to be published this fall, and thinking up "fun, clever, upbeat" approaches to nutrition. "That gets people calling me," she says.


David Grotto, an Elmhurst-based registered dietitian and former ADA spokesman, says Ms. Blatner's lighthearted approach is necessary because very word "nutrition" conjures images of a boring, if not torturous, diet. "You get that deer-in-the-headlights look" from clients, he says.

Mr. Grotto, who sees patients in his private practice, Nutrition Housecall LLC, also goes to lengths to make his advice seem fun. He rummages through clients' pantries and refrigerators to do what he calls a "shelvic" exam, plastering green smiley faces on "good" foods and "red boo-boo faces on stuff they should give to the neighbors they don't like." He agrees with Ms. Blatner that they're as much marketers as dietitians.

"You have to reinvent the message to make it usable and fun," Mr. Grotto says.

©2008 by Crain Communications Inc.

Epigenetics cache on the rise

We are big proponents of epigenetics and its importance for nutrition and prevention. Here are two positive takes on the burgeoning field.

Dietary choices influence prvention of BPH

Lycopene, zinc and vitamin D show a 'weak association' for protection against benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a condition said to affect more than half of all men over the age of 50, suggests a new study.

Almost 5,000 men were followed for the new study, published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which showed a stronger benefit for a vegetable-rich diet, while also indicating that high consumption of red meat may increase the risk of BPH.

"A diet low in fat and red meat and high in protein and vegetables, as well as regular alcohol consumption, may reduce the risk of symptomatic BPH," said researchers from the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The new study was epidemiological, and followed 4,770 men participating in the placebo-arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. All the men were free of BPH at the start of the study.

Over seven years of follow-up, 876 incident BPH cases were documented by Kristal and co-workers. Dietary intakes, assessed using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), showed that a high-fat diet was associated with a 31 per cent increase in the risk of BPH, while increased protein intake was associated with a 15 per cent reduction in risk.

Moreover, consumption of four daily servings of vegetables was associated with a 32 per cent reduction in BPH risk, compared to less than one daily serving. On the other hand, a daily serving of red meat was linked to a 38 per cent increase in risk, compared to less than one serving per week. Vitamin D, zinc and lycopene were weakly associated with a reduction in the risk of BPH, added the researchers.

Bonnie - what is most exciting about this study is the 15% reduction in risk due to high protein consumption.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Acupuncture may boost pregnancy

It sounds far-fetched — sticking needles in women to help them become pregnant — but a scientific review suggests that acupuncture might improve the odds of conceiving if done right before or after embryos are placed in the womb.

The analysis was led by Eric Manheimer, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and paid for by a federal agency, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Results were published Friday in the British medical journal, BMJ.

The analysis pools results from seven studies on 1,366 women in the United States, Germany, Australia and Denmark who are having in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It involves mixing sperm and eggs in a lab dish to create embryos that are placed in the womb. Women were randomly assigned to receive IVF alone, IVF with acupuncture within a day of embryo transfer, or IVF plus sham acupuncture, in which needles were placed too shallowly or in spots not thought to matter. Individually, only three of the studies found acupuncture beneficial, three found a trend toward benefit and one found no benefit. When results of these smaller studies were pooled, researchers found that the odds of conceiving went up about 65 percent for women given acupuncture. Experts warn against focusing on that number, because this type of analysis with pooled results is not proof that acupuncture helps at all, let alone by how much. IVF results in pregnancy about 35 percent of the time. Adding acupuncture might boost that to around 45 percent, the researchers said.

Courtesy of Associated Press

Bonnie - while this is a "meta-analysis," we have known for a while that acupuncture is a staple for those with fertility issues. It is part of the protocol in our Natural Fertility Action Plan. Julie Siegel, a specialist in fertility acupuncture, has great success and is local.

Berries have heart health benefits

A diet rich in berries may boost levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and improve blood pressure, indicating their potential benefits for heart health, says a new study published in February's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Subjects in the berry group consumed 100 grams of whole bilberries and 50 grams of a lingonberry-rich nectar every other day. In addition, they consumed 100grams of purée of black currants or strawberries and a juice of raspberry and chokeberry on the other days. Meanwhile, the control group received one of four different products, including sugar-water, sweet rice porridge, marmalade sweets, or sweet semolina porridge.

At the end of the two month period, the researchers reported that levels of HDL-cholesterol rose significantly by 5.2 per cent in the berry group, compared to a 0.6 per cent increase in the control group. Total cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels were not altered, however.

In addition to improvements in blood pressure, the researchers note that consumption of the berry-rich diet was associated with an 11 per cent inhibition of platelet function, compared to a 1.4 per cent augmentation in the control group, as measured with a platelet function analyzer.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tainted pills hit U.S. mainland

An investigation by The Associated Press has found dozens of examples over four years of lapses in quality control in the Puerto Rican pharmaceutical industry, which churns out $35 billion of drugs each year, most of it for sale as part of the $300 billion market in the U.S. An AP review of 100 pages of Food and Drug Administration reports shows even modern drug plants here under the watch of U.S. regulators have failed to keep laboratories sterile and have exported tainted pills. "People would be shocked to find this whole variety of contamination," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Washington watchdog group Public Citizen. "The common denominator of all these is there's really poor quality control."

The FDA issued a warning letter to Wyeth in May 2006, after consumers reported finding machinery pins inside bottles of Effexor, a leading depression treatment, and the heartburn drug Protonix. The letter expressed concern that the plant was not "able to detect that the affected equipment was missing some of its parts."

In another case cited in a June 2006 FDA inspection report, a plant owned by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries exported drugs — including the diabetes treatment metformin — even though they were known to contain small amounts of metal particles. The company had also received at least six consumer complaints of dark residue inside bottles or foreign material embedded in tablets, according to the report. Teva's quality-control unit said the presence of some metallic material was to be expected because the manufacturing equipment is made of metal, according to the report. Teva recalled 21 different drugs as a result of the inspection, according to FDA officials, and the Israeli drugmaker announced two months later it was closing the plant, citing a restructuring. Denise Bradley, a Teva spokeswoman, insisted the medicine from the now-closed plant was safe and effective despite the contamination.

The reports obtained by AP were produced by FDA inspections from 2003 to 2007 of 13 pharmaceutical plants — roughly half the total in this U.S. territory, a Caribbean island with one of the world's highest concentrations of drug makers. Several are closing or downsizing as the expense of updating decades-old plants to meet regulations adds to struggles with rising energy costs and tightening tax breaks.

Four of the plants described in the reports closed or announced plans to do so after the discovery of significant quality-control problems, but none of them cited the discoveries as a reason for closing. One of those four, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, produced tablets of the popular antidepressant Paxil CR that split apart, potentially causing patients to take incorrect dosages. When the company would not recall all the affected pills, U.S. marshals raided the plant in March 2005 in the largest drug seizure in FDA history and also collected tablets of the diabetes treatment Avandamet after some were found not to have accurate doses of the active ingredient.

Bonnie - while very unusual, I am at a loss for words.

No Answers for Men With Prostate Cancer

Last year, 218,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, but nobody can tell them what type of treatment is most likely to save their life.

Those are the findings of a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which analyzed hundreds of studies in an effort to advise men about the best treatments for prostate cancer. The report compared the effectiveness and risks of eight prostate cancer treatments, ranging from prostate removal to radioactive implants to no treatment at all. None of the studies provided definitive answers. Surprisingly, no treatment emerged as superior to doing nothing at all.

“When it comes to prostate cancer, we have much to learn about which treatments work best,'’ said agency director Carolyn M. Clancy. “Patients should be informed about the benefits and harms of treatment options.”

But the study, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, gives men very little guidance. Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer, and many men can live with it for years, often dying of another cause. But some men have aggressive prostate cancers, and last year 27,050 men died from the disease. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer has nearly doubled to 20 percent since the late 1980s, due mostly to expanded use of the prostate-specific antigen, or P.S.A., blood test. But the risk of dying of prostate cancer remains about 3 percent. “Considerable overdetection and overtreatment may exist,'’ an agency press release stated.

The agency review is based on analysis of 592 published articles of various treatment strategies. The studies looked at treatments that use rapid freezing and thawing (cryotherapy); minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic or robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy); testicle removal or hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy); and high-intensity ultrasound or radiation therapy. The study also evaluated research on “watchful waiting,'’ which means monitoring the cancer and initiating treatment only if it appears the disease is progressing.

No one treatment emerged as the best option for prolonging life. And it was impossible to determine whether one treatment had fewer or less severe side effects.

The report findings highlighted by the agency include:

  • All active treatments cause health problems, primarily urinary incontinence, bowel problems and erectile dysfunction. The chances of bowel problems or sexual dysfunction are similar for surgery and external radiation. Leaking of urine is at least six times more likely among surgery patients than those treated by external radiation.
  • Urinary leakage that occurs daily or more often was more common in men undergoing radical prostatectomy (35 percent) than external-beam radiation therapy (12 percent) or androgen deprivation (11 percent). Those were the findings of the 2003 Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study, a large, nationally representative survey of men with early prostate cancer.
  • External-beam radiation therapy and androgen deprivation were each associated with a higher frequency of bowel urgency (3 percent) compared with radical prostatectomy (1 percent), according to the 2003 report.
  • Inability to attain an erection was higher in men undergoing active intervention, especially androgen deprivation (86 percent) or radical prostatectomy (58 percent) than in men receiving watchful waiting (33 percent), according to the 2003 report.
  • One study showed that men who choose surgery over watchful waiting are less likely to die or have their cancer spread, but another study found no difference in survival between surgery and watchful waiting. The benefit, if any, appears to be limited to men under 65. However, few patients in the study had cancer detected through P.S.A. tests. As a result, it’s not clear if the results are applicable to the majority of men diagnosed with the disease.
  • Adding hormone therapy prior to prostate removal does not improve survival or decrease recurrence rates, but it does increase the chance of adverse events.
  • Combining radiation with hormone therapy may decrease mortality. But compared with radiation treatment alone, the combination increases the chances of impotence and abnormal breast development.

The most obvious trend identified in the complicated report is how little quality research exists for prostate cancer, despite the fact that it is the most diagnosed cancer in the country.

Studies comparing brachytherapy, radical prostatectomy, external-beam radiation therapy or cryotherapy were discontinued because of poor recruitment. Two ongoing trials, one in the United States and one in Britain, are evaluating surgery and radiation treatments compared with watchful waiting in men with early cancer. Other studies in progress or development include cryotherapy versus external-beam radiation and a trial evaluating radical prostatectomy versus watchful waiting.

Courtesy of Well Blog by Tara Parker Pope

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Antidepressants Don’t Ease Back Pain

Courtesy of the NY Times

Nearly one in four primary care doctors prescribes antidepressants as a treatment for low back pain. But a new report shows there’s no evidence the drugs offer any relief. The finding comes from a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit group that evaluates medical research. Cochrane reviews are among the most respected in medicine.

Bonnie - this is another example of the treasure trove of drugs being prescribed for off-label purposes.

Diet Soda linked to metabolic syndrome

A study of 9500 men and women ages 45 to 64 that appears in the journal Circulation showed that those who drank one can of diet soda a day had a 34% higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome compared to those who drank none. This risk was even higher than those who ate fried food (25% higher risk) and those with high intakes of refined grains, fried foods, and red meat combined (18% higher risk).

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Bonnie - there have been numerous studies over the last several years that have burst diet soda's bubble. What are the factors behind such an elevated risk of metabolic syndrome?
  1. Drinking diet soda is like drinking liquid chemicals. if you have read our blog or receive our newsletters, you understand how chemicals contribute to inflammation (and any disease associated with it) and fat accumulation. One main responsibility of fatty tissue is to encapsulate toxins. The more toxins you accumulate, the more fatty tissue you will have.
  2. Diet soda has a host of ingredients that one can react to. Any reaction creates an inflammatory response, which in turn, creates chronic inflammatory issues.
  3. Behavior - drinking diet soda is an excuse not to drink the real thing. Some feel that they consume other sugary, unhealthy fare if they drink diet soda. Little do they know that drinking diet soda is worse for them.
Remember to "Eat Real Food!"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Proposed US hormone growth-milk law slammed

A new bill on milk labeling standards up for consideration in the Indiana House of Representatives has come under criticism this week because it would prevent informed consumer choice if passed.

House Bill 1300, authored by Representative Bill Friend, could prevent some labels on milk sold in the state from using claims that a product is free from growth hormones like Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).

RBGH is a synthetic variant of the naturally occurring hormone in the pituitary gland of cattle, which can be injected into a cow to increase milk production. A growing number of processors and retailers have sought to add a no-rBST label in response to consumer demands for foods free from additives and other artificial added extras.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director for the consumer rights group Food and Water Watch therefore slammed the plans to amend the labeling as being not in the interest of consumers.

"[The house bill] would be a serious infringement on the free speech rights of farmers who want to inform the public about their agricultural practices," she stated. "Indiana's consumers - like consumers nationally - are rejecting milk made with rBGH and have to be given the basic right to choose about the characteristics of the food they buy."

Dr. Michael Hansen, senior food safety scientist from the Consumers Union group also expressed concern over the bill.

"Since the FDA's controversial decision to approve the use of rBGH, questions have only grown about its safety for humans," he stated. "Consumers should have the ability to buy milk from untreated cows if they want to and food labelling allows them to make that choice."

Steve - this issue will get uglier and uglier. Monsanto is holding on for dear life. Get ready.

Folic-acid linked to fewer pregnancy complications

The risk of pre-eclampsia, which affects two to three per cent of all pregnancies, may be reduced by 63% with multivitamin supplements that contain folic acid, suggests a new study amongst 2,951 pregnant women that appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Pre-eclampsia occurs when a mother's blood pressure rises to the hypertensive range, and excretion of protein in the urine becomes too high. It is estimated to be responsible for about 60,000 deaths worldwide.

The results add to the well-established benefits of the vitamin that links folate deficiency in early pregnancy to increased risk of neural tube defects (NTD) - most commonly spina bifida and anencephaly - in infants.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Premature births lower in women taking folic acid

Women who take folic acid supplements for at least a year before becoming pregnant can greatly reduce their risk of delivering a baby prematurely, researchers said on Thursday. Folic acid, a B vitamin, already is known to prevent major birth defects that involve a baby's brain or spine. This study shows it may provide another benefit -- cutting down on premature births in which babies have less time to develop in the womb and are more likely to experience serious medical problems. The study tracked about 35,000 pregnant women between 1999 and 2002 who disclosed their folic acid intake. It found that women who took folic acid supplements for at least a year before pregnancy cut their chances for very early pre-term births -- 20 to 28 weeks into the pregnancy -- by 70 percent compared to other women. These very early pre-term babies in particular face a high risk of complications such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease and blindness. Women taking folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant saw their risk fall by about 50 percent for premature births occurring 28 to 32 weeks into the pregnancy.

The findings were presented at a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas. Folic acid helps the body make healthy new cells. It is important for women to get enough of it before and during a pregnancy to prevent major birth defects called neural tube defects including spina bifida and anencephaly, experts say.

Bonnie - this is actually new information. The current recommendation was three months. I always suggest 6 months. Most of my clients are already on multivitamin as it is. But a higher dose one year prior to conception is a good idea.

Epsom salt can prevent cerebral palsy

Courtesy of Reuters

Giving a woman an infusion of Epsom salts when she goes into premature labor can help protect her baby from cerebral palsy, U.S. researchers. Magnesium sulfate, popularly known as Epsom salts, cut the rate of cerebral palsy in half, Dr. John Thorp, a professor of obstetrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues reported. "We have a cheap, widely available treatment already in hand that cuts in half the risk of babies being born with an extremely disabling disorder," Thorp said in a statement. "And virtually every delivery room in the United States is already stocked with magnesium sulfate solutions that are given to pregnant women during childbirth for other reasons." Thorp's team presented their findings to a meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas.

They gave either magnesium sulfate or a placebo to 2,241 women going into early labor or with ruptured membranes. The women's pregnancies were at between 24 to 31 weeks -- a full-term pregnancy goes 40 weeks. Babies born as prematurely as that can suffer brain damage and other problems including cerebral palsy, a range of conditions that affect control of movement and posture.

Bonnie - this makes sense when one is aware that magnesium is a catalyst for over 300 bodily functions!