Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Green tea protects teeth

Many types of beverages can hurt your teeth because they contain sugar and acids, particularly citric acid. But if you have a habit of drinking beverage, there is one type you can drink safely, that is, home brewed green tea. According to the study published in the July/August issue of General Dentistry, home brewed green tea is better than black tea when it comes to tooth protection. For the study, Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, BDS, MSc, PhD compared green and black tea to soda and orange juice for their effect on human teeth. They found that tea just like water does not have an erosive effect. And green tea is better than black tea due to its natural flavonoids and antioxidants. But if you drink tea, you are advised not to use any additives such as milk, lemon or sugar. Tea should be home brewed and you should avoid prepackaged iced teas which contain citric acid and high amounts of sugars says the Academy of General Dentistry.

FDA finds traces of melamine in US infant formula

Bonnie - this, of course, is a very damaging development considering the trauma it is causing in the Chinese people.

Thyroid disease often seen with celiac disease

Individuals with celiac disease -- a common digestive problem in which the body cannot breakdown and absorb a protein found in wheat -- are at significantly increased risk for developing thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroiditis. Using data from Swedish national registers, researchers led by Dr. Peter Elfstrom at Orebro University Hospital, studied the long-term risk of thyroid disease in more than 14,000 individuals diagnosed with celiac disease between 1964 and 2003 and some 68,000 age- and gender-matched control subjects without celiac disease. They found that people with celiac disease had a greater than fourfold increased risk of being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a threefold increased risk of suffering hyperthyroidism, and a 3.6-fold increased risk of developing thyroiditis. The reverse was also true, with the same level of statistical significance, for an increased risk of celiac disease in people with established hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroiditis. "The association was seen in all strata (males, females, children, and adults)," the team notes in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, "and did not vanish after adjustment for potential confounders including the presence of diabetes mellitus."

Bonnie - this study is incredibly important for the public to understand. I have seen this with many clients. The damage done is very hard to reverse, so early diagnosis and prevention is of the utmost importance.

Long-Term Antibiotic Use Affects 'Good' Gut Bacteria

Antibiotic treatment, especially when prolonged or repeated, may have a negative impact on beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. Researchers focused on the widely-used antibiotic ciprofloxacin, prescribed for a number of bacteria-caused conditions, including urinary tract infections. Stanford University's Dr. David Relman and colleagues catalogued bacteria in the feces of volunteers being treated with ciprofloxacin and identified more than 5,600 different bacterial species and strains. However, while the patients were taking the antibiotic, the overall abundance of about 30 percent of the bacterial species and strains was significantly affected. The effects of the antibiotic on gut bacteria varied greatly between individuals, with two volunteers showing a strong reduction in bacteria diversity. The study also found that once antibiotic treatment was completed, it took up to four weeks for most strains of gut bacteria to return to pre-treatment levels. While the findings, published online this week in the journal PLoS Biology, reveal aspects of resiliency in gut bacteria, they also suggest that antibiotic treatment may have long-lasting effects on overall health that could go unnoticed, the researchers concluded.

Bonnie - surprise, surprise. By taking probiotics during antibiotic therapy, a four week recovery would not be necessary.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

High-protein meals may help overweight burn fat

Higher-protein meals may help overweight and obese people burn more fat. Australian researchers found that overweight men and women burned more post-meal fat when they ate a high-protein breakfast and lunch than when they had lower-protein meals. A number of studies have suggested that high-protein diets may help people shed weight more easily -- possibly, in part, because protein suppresses appetite better than fat or carbohydrates do. The findings were published in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics.

Bonnie - this is a shocker (snicker, snicker).

Navigating the MSG maze

FDA says the popular food additive is safe. But what about the chest pains, headaches and rapid heartbeat 'an unknown percentage' experiences? by Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune

Link to article

Bonnie - I have been against MSG since I started as a health professional. I have seen countless reactions in my clients. Please be aware that while some companies say their products contain no MSG, it can still be hidden under ingredient pseudonyms.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Recipe for Good Grades

Courtesy of the Dr. Patrick Massey, Columnist, Daily Herald

Can food and vitamins improve academic performance in children?

The answer is yes. In two recent clinical trials, consuming fruits and vegetables as well as a multivitamin every day resulted in improved academic performance in children.

Academic performance, especially on standardized tests, is an important way that the current educational system measures its success. We know that if children consistently miss breakfast or have a nutritionally poor lunch, they seem to have lower academic performance. Current medical research has shown that more nutritious food in the elderly improves cognitive function and memory. It seems to be intuitive that healthy food, in the proper amounts and at the right time, should result in better academic performance for children.

In one study, done at the University of Prince Edward Island, 325 junior high school students kept a food diary. On average, the daily intake of fruits and vegetables as well as milk was below national recommendations. The children who ate the most fruits and vegetables on a daily basis had the best academic performance with average scores at about the 90th percentile. There was no association with milk.

In a second study, conducted at Northumbria University in Great Britain, the effect of a daily multivitamin with minerals on academic performance was evaluated. In this study, 81 healthy children between ages 8 and 14 were enrolled. The participants were randomized to receive a multivitamin plus minerals or a placebo. After 12 weeks, the children were tested. Those who received the multivitamins and minerals performed significantly better.

From my own experience, my mother never let us out of the house without breakfast, and our lunches and dinners were nutritionally balanced because she made them. In addition, a daily multivitamin was a must. Today, it is not uncommon for high school students to breakfast on a large cup of coffee and a sweet roll followed by a mediocre school-based lunch and a pizza for dinner.

If we want our children to do their best in school and beyond, they need the best "fuel" available. This starts with good nutrition and, probably, a good multivitamin. There is increasing evidence that the health of a child will determine the lifelong health of the adult. I don't believe that we need to wait for large, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials before, as parents, we act responsibly.

Bonnie and Steve - we could not agree more with Dr. Massey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Eyes Are Precious.

Taking preventative, long-term dietary measures to reduce the risk of eye-related diseases is proven. However, many fail to grasp that implementation is as important during preconception, pregnancy, and throughout early childhood as it is during adult life. Here are the most recent, well-researched tips to protect optimal eye health for a specific eye health issue, Macular Degeneration. However, these recommendations can also benefit other eye related problems.
  • Manage Total Carbohydrate Intake and Type of Carbohydrates Consumed.

    • A high-glycemic-index diet is a risk factor for early Macular Degeneration. Low-glycemic-index foods may protect against early AMD. October 2008 Am J Clin Nut
    • Persons at risk of Macular Degeneration progression, especially those at high risk of advanced AMD, may benefit from consuming smaller amounts of refined carbohydrates. October 2007 Am J Clin Nut
    • According to a study in the July 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, heavy consumption of high glycemic foods increase the risk of age-related Macular Degeneration by as much as 40% (in those consuming the highest amount).
    • People whose diet consists of foods that lead to a high dietary glycemic index have a substantially higher risk of progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to recent long-term results from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). In fact, consumption of highly refined carbohydrates can lead to up to a 17% increased risk of AMD progression, according to data presented at the May 2007 annual meeting of the Association for Vision and Research in Ophthalmology (ARVO).
  • Antioixidants a Plenty.

    • Eating plenty of antioxidant-rich food such as blueberries, artichokes and pecans may help protect against macular degeneration. Antioxidants disrupt a link between two processes in the retina that, in combination, contribute to macular degeneration. Antioxidants also extend the lifetime of irreplaceable photoreceptors and other retinal cells. September 2008 Journal of Biological Chemistry
    • Supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a lower risk for age-related macular degeneration. The research was sponsored by the National Eye Institute under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health. "Higher dietary intake of lutein/zeaxanthin was independently associated with decreased likelihood of having neovascular AMD, geographic atrophy, and large or extensive intermediate drusen," concluded the authors. September 2007 Archives of Ophthalmology
    • Through daily intake of 6-10 mg of lutein with zeaxanthin, it is estimated that $3.6 billion could be saved over 5 years by helping people with age related macular degeneration avoid dependency. Across the five year period, approximately 190,927 individuals could avoid the transition to dependence either in the community or a nursing facility that would accompany a loss of central vision resulting from advanced AMD. The 2007 published study updated research conducted by The Lewin Group in 2004 and 2005 that included a systematic literature review of the most rigorous scientific research available.
  • Imbalanced Omega 3:Omega 6 Ratio.

    • A May 2007 Archives of Opthamology study of 1,115 subjects did not have any symptoms of AMD. They were compared with those who did, including 658 individuals with severe (neovascular) AMD. The authors calculated that dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with a 39 per cent reduction in neovascular AMD, while docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with a 46 per cent reduction. Increased consumption of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA) was associated with a 54 percent increase in neovascular AMD prevalence.
    • A July 2006 Archives of Ophthalmology study of 681 elderly American men showed that those who ate fish twice a week had a 36 percent lower risk of macular degeneration. In the other study, which followed 2,335 Australian men and women over five years, people who ate fish just once a week reduced their risk by 40 percent.
    • NOTE: we recommend Carlson Liquid Cod Liver Oil as the best source of omega 3s due to its naturally occurring vitamin A, D, and high concentration of EPA/DHA.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals.

    • Researchers from an NIH-funded study that appeared in the March 2007 Archives of Opthamology suggest that persons older than 55 years found to be at risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration should consider taking a supplement of antioxidants plus zinc. Compared to placebo, the 3640 subjects used in the study demonstrated a statistically significant odds reduction. Participants received daily oral tablets containing: Vitamin C 500mg, Vitamin E 400IU, Beta Carotene 15 mg, Zinc 80 mg (NOTE: Bonnie never recommends more than 50 mg. total in supplements and diet daily because it can throw off iron and copper balance as well as weaken the immune system), Copper 2 mg
    • The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey focused on 7,752 individuals who had photographs taken of their retinas, questionnaires assessed dietary intakes, and blood samples were taken to calculate blood vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) levels. When participants were split into five groups based on the level of vitamin D in the blood, those in the highest group had a 40 percent lower risk of early Age-related Macular Degeneration than those in the lowest group. May 2007 Archives of Ophthalmology
    • According to the December 25, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, an eight-year study involved more than 4,000 older residents of Rotterdam, Netherlands found those whose diets included more than the median levels of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc had a 35 percent lower risk of developing macular degeneration. Participants with a below-median consumption of all four of the nutrients had a 20 percent higher risk of macular degeneration.
    • According to Johns Hopkins Researchers, the only proven formula for prevention of age-related macular degeneration is a supplement containing vitamin E (400IU), together vitamin C, beta carotene, and small amounts of zinc and copper. The supplements reduce the likelihood of disease progression by 25% in patients with intermediate age-related macular degeneration. The supplement also reduced the risk of vision loss by 19% over five years in these patients. Archives Ophthamology February 2004
  • Read Labels on Your Medications.

    • Pharmaceuticals, such as bisphosphonates for osteoporosis, may adversely affect eye health. If you have a family history of eye related disease, please consult with your doctor or pharmacist about the potential risk before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication.
  • Reduce Food Chemical Consumption.

    • According to a report in New Scientist, in rats that were fed a high monosodium glutamate (MSG) diet, retinal nerve layers thinned by as much as 75%, as well as diminished visual acuity. The Japanese study appeared in Experimental Eye Research (vol. 75, p 307 2005)

Another thumbs up for Vitamin D

The lack of sunshine during winter may diminish vitamin D levels in the body and harm cardiovascular health, U.S. researchers say. "Chronic vitamin D deficiency may be a culprit in heart disease, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome," study author Sue Penckofer, a professor at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University in Chicago, said. She and her colleagues said rates of severe heart disease or death may be 30 percent to 50 percent higher in sun-deprived heart disease patients. Diet alone isn't sufficient to manage vitamin D levels. The preferred range in the body is 30-60 ng/mL of 25 (OH) vitamin D. "Most physicians do not routinely test for vitamin D deficiency. However, most experts would agree that adults at risk for heart disease and others who experience fatigue, joint pain, or depression should have their vitamin D levels measured," Penckofer said. The study was published in the current issue of the journal Circulation.

Bonnie - as I have been harping on, get your vitamin D 25(OH)D level checked.

Professor offers Alzheimer's tips

Excerpts from

Edythe London, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of California, Los Angeles, has five tips for keeping your memory sharp. London says they help work on memory centers of the brain, including the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus.

1. Antioxidants
London makes sure her mother takes vitamins A, C, and E. They're antioxidants, which prevent cell damage and are believed by some to slow down diseases of aging. "There are studies that suggest antioxidants might prevent dementia," she says.

2. Fish oil supplements
Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Center on Aging, says aging brains show signs of inflammation, and fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Phosphatidylserine supplements
Phosphatidylserine is a lipid found naturally in the body. Small says he's not 100 percent convinced these supplements will help stave off dementia, but they're worth a try. "If I start having memory problems when I get older, I'll give them a trial run and see if they help," says Small, author of the new book "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind."

4. Curry
Small, who's 57, says that as he gets older, he might also try eating more foods with curry in them. "Some studies in Singapore show that those who ate curry once a week had better memory scores," he said.

5. Cross-training your brain
"Our brains can be made stronger through exercise," says Andrew Carle, assistant professor of in the department of health administration and policy at George Mason University. "In the same way physical exercise can delay many of the effects of aging on the body, there's some evidence cognitive exercise can at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fast-food ad ban could cut child obesity

Banning fast-food advertising on television in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent. But the team at the National Bureau of Economic Research questioned whether it would be practical to impose that kind of government regulation -- something only Sweden, Norway and Finland have done. For their study, funded in part by the federal government, Chou and colleagues used data on nearly 13,000 children from the 1979 Child-Young Adult National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

"The advertising measure used is the number of hours of spot television fast-food restaurant advertising messages seen per week," researchers wrote in the Journal of Law and Economics. "Our results indicate that a ban on these advertisements would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 in a fixed population by 18 percent and would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent."

Steve - unfortunately, this probably will not happen because the fast food conglomerates are so large and vital now to investors (they are some of the select few who are performing well in these economic times). It would also crush the McDonald's gold standard marketing model which is to get in the minds of youths early and often. If accomplished, you have a customer for life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Managing Sjogren's Syndrome

Jane Brody, health columnist for the New York Times, recently wrote about Sjogren's Syndrome, one of the three most common autoimmune disorders. Although the article was valuable for alerting people to it's "chameleon" symptoms for faster diagnosis, Brody missed the "management" of the disease entirely.

Because there is no known cure, management of symptoms (eye drops for dryness and inflammation, drinking water constantly so food doesn't get stuck in the throat, etc) is the medical route. But even though Brody mentioned gluten sensitivity, digestive problems, yeast imbalance, and sensitivity to spices are common symptoms, she did not suggest that food intolerance is the major causative factor and can be treated by avoiding the offending foods.

Gluten Intolerance (celiac is 100% gluten intolerance) is an autoimmune disease that if untreated, becomes lymphoma - which Rheumatologists check their Sjogren's patients for regularly. In a 2004 report in Archives of Internal Medicine, 34 Sjogren's patients were tested for celiac. Five patients had it. Many more may have had gluten intolerance, but inflammatory.

In a 2005 article posted in Cellular Molecular Life Science, Sjogren's was listed as one of the most common disorders caused by gluten intolerance. Thus, I recommend that all individuals with Sjogren's take a test for gluten intolerance (or avoid gluten for two months). If the test is negative, then one needs a food intolerance test, such as Biotrition, the lab that we use to test IgG reactions to over 200 foods, spices, and food chemicals.


Use of Antipsychotics in Children Is Criticized

Powerful antipsychotic medicines are being used far too cavalierly in children, and federal drug regulators must do more to warn doctors of their substantial risks, a panel of federal drug experts said Tuesday. More than 389,000 children and teenagers were treated last year with Risperdal, one of five popular medicines known as atypical antipsychotics. Of those patients, 240,000 were 12 or younger, according to data presented to the committee. In many cases, the drug was prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders. But Risperdal is not approved for attention deficit problems, and its risks — which include substantial weight gain, metabolic disorders and muscular tics that can be permanent — are too profound to justify its use in treating such disorders, panel members said. “This committee is frustrated,” said Dr. Leon Dure, a pediatric neurologist from the University of Alabama School of Medicine who was on the panel. “And we need to find a way to accommodate this concern of ours.” The meeting on Tuesday was scheduled to be a routine review of the pediatric safety of Risperdal and Zyprexa, popular antipsychotic medicines made, respectively, by Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Company. Food and Drug Administration officials proposed that the committee endorse the agency’s routine monitoring of the safety of the medicines in children and support its previous efforts to highlight the drugs’ risks. But committee members unanimously rejected the agency’s proposals, saying that far more needed to be done to discourage the medicines’ growing use in children, particularly to treat conditions for which the medicines have not been approved. “The data show there is a substantial amount of prescribing for attention deficit disorder, and I wonder if we have given enough weight to the adverse-event profile of the drug in light of this,” Dr. Daniel Notterman, a senior health policy analyst at Princeton University and a panel member, said when speaking about Risperdal.

Steve - thank goodness this panel is showing some sanity.

Peppermint oil, fiber can fight Irritable Bowel

For some patients, the best therapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be fiber and peppermint oil. According to researchers, these simple treatments have fallen out of favor because of the availability of newer (and more expensive) drugs, some of which have been taken off the market due to safety concerns. But more traditional therapies should become first-line treatments in guidelines for the treatment of IBS, the experts say.

The report is published in the Nov. 14 online edition of the British Medical Journal. For the study, researchers reviewed trials that compared IBS treatment with fiber antispasmodics and peppermint oil to a placebo or no treatment. The trials included more than 2,500 IBS patients. The researchers found that fiber and peppermint oil were effective treatments for IBS. There were no serious side effects associated with any of these treatments, the researchers note. Peppermint oil appeared to be the most effective therapy of those reviewed. In trials comparing fiber with placebo, only soluble fiber reduced symptoms.

Bonnie - this is significant because of the soluble fiber finding. Fibersure (inulin) is my favorite. Psyllium husk is very aggressive on the digestive tract. Peppermint oil, while effective, can be an agitator for some.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Now Big Pharma Doesn't Want You to Read Drug Labels

Steve - just how low can Big Pharma stoop? Well I guess the abyss is limitless. According to Alabama attorney James Barton Jr., who represents pharmaceutical companies, says information on side effects that appear on drug labels really is intended for physicians, not consumers. So, what he is saying is that because most doctors do not discuss side effects with their patients, and most patients do not read the labels anyway, that consumers should just be ignorant.

Here are excerpts from two articles,
one discussing how pharmacists need to be of more assistance to patients because their doctors are not, and the perspective of Big Pharma.

Power of Suggestion: When Drug Labels Make You Sick.
Wall Street Journal

Is it a good idea to read about all the possible side effects of medications you're taking? Not if you have difficulty concentrating, headaches, fatigue, dry skin, irritability, a big project due, or an active imagination. Research has shown that expecting to feel ill can bring illness on in some instances, particularly when stress is involved. The technical term is the "nocebo effect," and it's placebo's evil twin. "It's not a psychiatric disorder -- it's the way the mind works," says Arthur Barsky, director of Psychiatric Research at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Michael SloanNocebos can even be fatal. In one classic example, women in the multi-decade Framingham Heart study who thought they were at risk for heart attacks were 3.7 times as likely to die of coronary conditions as women who didn't have such fears -- regardless of whether they smoked or had other risk factors. "All that information is really for the doctor, not the consumer," says James Barton Jr., a Birmingham, Ala., attorney who represents drug makers.

Under the Learned Intermediary rule, once a company warns the prescribing doctor about a drug risk, responsibility in case it occurs shifts to that doctor. "There's an incentive to warn everybody about everything, but it fosters this climate of supervigilance and alarm," says Dr. Barsky. If you are inclined toward health anxiety, reading up on your malady or medication on the Internet can fuel your fears. "Once you are anxious, there is all kinds of ambiguous information you can find that will make it worse," says Dr. Barsky. Doctors may unwittingly foster placebo or nocebo effects by how enthusiastically or warily they discuss medication. "Physician communication with patients is the closest thing to magic. It gets communicated in incredibly subtle ways—a flash in the eye, a smile, a spring in the step," says Daniel Moerman, an emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Should doctors discuss all those risks with patients, or can they be a self-fulfilling prophecy? It depends on the patient and the drug. "Patients should be made aware of anything that could be dangerous, so they don't keel over on the street," says Flavia Golden, an internist in New York City. "But if it's minor like a headache, I don't mention it. It's better to keep the channels of communication open and say, 'Call me if you have any problems.' " Some patients are more prone to worrying about side effects and researching them, in which case a discussion of nocebos might be helpful.

Steve - nocebo effect or not, I want to know about the potential side effects of any medication I would put into my body. It is amazing how cavalier the people quoted in this article were.

Dispensing advice Pharmacists are being relied on more as medical counselors, but some physicians are concerned about the new role.
Baltimore Sun

A new brand of pharmacy is on the rise, known as medication therapy management, in which pharmacists counsel patients on managing chronic diseases and are core members of the medical team.

In a nation with a large aging population, a staggering array of prescriptions on the market and increasingly complex drug therapies, pharmacists say their medication expertise is needed more than ever. Unlike busy primary care physicians, pharmacists say, they have the time to advise patients about medications. Such advice is critical to patient safety, they point out, and can reduce health care costs.

Some physicians fear the trend could erode the role of the primary care doctor as the coordinator of a patient's care. But pharmacists say the model is struggling, as overburdened primary care doctors have less time for patient counseling. Meanwhile, more patients have chronic diseases and are taking numerous medications, increasing the need for supervision and advice.

The medication therapy management model can succeed only if doctors and pharmacists join forces, said Brewer, who has partnered with the Wyman Park practice for a decade. Brewer is employed by Hopkins and bills for his services separately from the doctors at the practice. His patients' insurance covers their visits with him.

"I'm not talking about you coming to the drug store and consulting with you over the counter," said Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, chairwoman of the department of pharmacy practice and science at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. "You should have the right to sit one-on-one, privately with the doctor and someone reviewing your medication."

Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, injuring about 1.5 million people annually and costing hospitals about $3.5. billion a year, according to a 2006 report from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine. The report suggests that more monitoring from pharmacists can prevent problems.

Steve - I don't blame pharmacists for getting involved. They have a conscience and see how some of the millions of errors can be prevented.

Magnesium may be key to calcium’s cancer benefits

The anti-colon cancer effects of calcium may be linked to magnesium levels, suggesting a need for both minerals in reducing the risk of the disease. Researchers from Vanderbilt University found that low ratios of the minerals were associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer, according to findings presented at the Seventh Annual American Association for Cancer Research International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research. The potential implications of the results include accounting for the status of both nutrients in individuals before recommending supplementation with one or the other alone.

Both high magnesium and calcium levels have been linked to reduced risks of the disease, but studies have also shown that high calcium levels inhibit the absorption of magnesium. According to researchers, Americans have high calcium intake, but also a high incidence of colorectal cancer. Results from a large clinical trial that found indeed that supplementation of calcium only reduced the risk of cancer recurrence if the ratio of calcium to magnesium was low, and remained low during the intervention period. "The risk of colorectal cancer adenoma recurrence was reduced by 32 per cent among those with baseline calcium to magnesium ratio below the median in comparison to no reduction for those above the median," said researchers.

Bonnie - after their first visit, many of my clients question why I take them off supplemental calcium temporarily. Here is your reason. Most Americans have a grossly inverted calcium to magnesium ratio. While off of calcium, I supplement with magnesium to bring up that level. When I add back calcium, I then make sure that the ratio does not exceed 2:1.

Birth defects risk rise with fertility techniques

Infants conceived with techniques commonly used in fertility clinics are two to four times more likely to have certain birth defects than are infants conceived naturally.

The findings applied to single births only, not to twins or other multiples. The defects included heart problems, cleft lip, cleft palate and abnormalities in the esophagus or rectum. But those conditions are rare to begin with, generally occurring no more than once in 700 births, so the overall risk was still low, even after the fertility treatments.

The procedures that increased the risk were so-called assisted reproductive techniques, like in vitro fertilization. The study did not include women who only took fertility drugs and did not have procedures performed, which was published online on Sunday by the journal Human Reproduction.

The study included only 281 women who had fertility procedures, so further research with larger population sizes need to be performed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

November Research Highlights

American Journal Clinical Nutrition
  • Polymorphism of the C677T MTHFR homozygote variant (TT) presented a 3.0-fold increased risk of Colorectal Cancer, thus showing an association between different folate intakes on risk of CRC. Bonnie - once again, this shows that incredibly important need to supplement with all three forms of folate (which you will find exclusively in Mmetagenics Actifolate).
  • Short-term weight-loss programs based on very-low-calorie diets tend to be unsuccessful in the long term. Clearly, it takes more than simple changes in the macronutrient composition to maintain weight loss, and change in lifestyle must occur at the same time. The frequency of exercise after the diet program is the strongest predictor of weight loss maintenance, while television viewing is associated with weight gain. Current guidelines to prevent weight gain recommend 60 min per day of at least moderate-intensity physical activity. Clinicians should emphasize to their patients that there are no magic ways to lose weight. A healthy diet should be a life-long strategy. To prevent weight cycling, long-term diet approaches with gradual weight loss should be considered a one-way ticket to good health. Bonnie - Amen.
  • Among 20,167 men participating in the Physician's Health Study diagnosed with prostate cancer revealed that those consuming fish ≥5 times/wk had a 48% lower risk of prostate cancer death than did men consuming fish less than once weekly. A similar association was found between seafood n–3 fatty acid intake and prostate cancer mortality.
  • Flavonoid intake (tea, apples, pears, chocolate, and broad beans for catechin intake and tea, onions, leek, apples, pears, and sweet peppers for flavonol/flavone intakes) may contribute to maintaining body weight in the general female Dutch population.
  • Researchers examined the association between the Mediterranean diet and an established plasma marker of oxidative stress, the ratio of reduced to oxidized glutathione, in a well-controlled study of twins. The association between the Mediterranean diet and plasma oxidative stress is robust and is not confounded by genetic or shared environmental factors. Decreased oxidative stress is a plausible mechanism linking the Mediterranean diet to reduced cardiovascular disease risk. Bonnie - Med diet trascends genetics...whoah.
  • Three percent of "kids meals" met all National School Lunch Program criteria. Those that met all criteria offered a side of fruit plus milk. These meals may contribute to the nutritional status of children. Bonnie - may contribute? This is the first analysis done on these awful meals.
The Journal of Nutrition
  • Rosmarinic Acid (derived from rosemary) may be an effective preventative agent against COX-2 activation by AP-1-inducing agents in both cancer and nonmalignant mammary epithelial cells. Bonnie - one of the active ingrediennts in Metagenics Kaprex.
  • Tocotrienols (four of the eight components of vitamin E) have an inhibitory effect on angiogenic factor secretion from cancer cells and revealed the possible mechanisms, providing new information about their antiangiogenic effects.
  • Supplementing young women with both zinc and iron protects zinc-related antioxidant indicators previously impaired by iron supplementation without impairment of iron status.
Journal Epigenetics

  • Epigenetic modifications play a key role in the patho-physiology of prostate cancer. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) play major roles in prostate cancer progression. HDACs are part of a transcriptional co-repressor complex that influences various tumor suppressor genes. Because of the significant roles played by HDACs in various human cancers, HDAC inhibitors are emerging as a new class of chemotherapeutic agents. HDAC inhibitors have been shown to induce cell growth arrest, differentiation and/or apoptosis in prostate cancer. The combined use of HDAC inhibitors with other chemotherapeutic agents or radiotherapy in cancer treatment has shown promising results. Various HDAC inhibitors are in different stages of clinical trials. In this review we discuss the molecular mechanism(s) through which HDACs influence prostate cancer progression, and the potential roles of HDAC inhibitors in prostate cancer prevention and therapy. Bonnie - zinc is a mineral that assists histone inhibitors.

Friday, November 14, 2008

EPA's Database on Mercury-Containing Products and Alternatives

They take the time to publish this database because of the mercury concern, but it is fine to administer through intramuscular injection?

Cancer: One coffee a day can protect you

Drinking one or more cups of coffee every day can protect you against three cancers – even if you smoke or drink.

Coffee seems to have a protective effect against oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancers, and that effect remained strong even among those more likely to suffer from one of the cancers, such as cigarette smokers and heavy drinkers.

Even drinking just one cup of coffee a day seems to help, as researchers discovered when they explored the lifestyles of 38,679 Japanese people aged between 40 and 64 years. Over a 13-year period, 157 cases of one of the three cancers were recorded, but participants who drank one or more cups of coffee a day halved their risk, according to this week's American Journal of Epidemiology.

Alzheimer's: Power lines double the risk

Living near a power line can increase your risk of Alzheimer's and senile dementia, according to this week's American Journal of Epidemiology.

People who live within 54 yards, or 50 m, of a power line more than double their risk of a neuro-degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s compared with people who live at least 600 m from a line.

The time you live near a power line also determines the risk level. Living within close proximity of a line for 15 years or longer doubles your risk compared with someone who has lived close to a power line for less than five years.

These findings are based on a study of 4.7 m people living in Switzerland.

Steve - we alluded to this in our Solutions for Reducing Your Toxic Load piece last year.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

'Bulge' ups risk of premature death

A large waistline increases the risk of premature death even for people who are not technically overweight. For those in the top fifth of the midriff bulge range the chances of dying are doubled. Among individuals with the same relative body mass, each five centimeter increase in waist circumference was shown to increase mortality risk by 17% in men and 13% in women. Comparative hip and waist size also appeared to have a significant bearing on life-span.

The study, which involved more than 350,000 people from nine European countries, strongly supports theories about the dangers of too much waistline fat. Experts are increasingly coming to the conclusion that fat deposited between the hips and navel is a better health indicator than Body Mass Index (BMI). The new study found that even people with "normal" BMIs who are not defined as overweight are at a higher risk of dying if they have thick waistlines.

Bonnie - it's about time they com around to my way of thinking. BMI has been outdated for decades.

U.S. trails other nations in chronic illness care

Chronically ill Americans are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs or experience medical errors than patients in other affluent countries.

The researchers questioned 7,500 adults in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. Each had at least one of seven chronic conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and depression.

Dutch patients had the fewest complaints, while the Americans had plenty, according to the study by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based health policy research group.

Fifty-four percent of Americans surveyed said high costs prevented them at some point from getting recommended medical care, filling prescriptions or seeing a doctor when ill. Seven percent of the Dutch cited cost as a barrier to treatment.

In addition, 41 percent of the U.S. patients said they spent more than $1,000 over the past year on out-of-pocket medical costs. That compared to lows of 4 percent in Britain and 5 percent in France.

A third of U.S. patients said they were given the wrong medication or dosage, experienced a medical error, received incorrect test results or faced delays in hearing about test results, more than any of the other countries.


Almost half of the U.S. patients said their time had been wasted because of poorly organized care or had received care of little or no value during the past two years. These views were lowest in the Netherlands and Britain.

The Commonwealth Fund's Cathy Schoen, who worked on the study, said the United States spends twice as much on health care as the others, with the current economic woes putting more people at risk of losing employer-provided health insurance.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, was the latest to show the U.S. health care system is performing worse than those in comparable countries. Unlike many rich nations, the United States does not have universal health care.

Bonnie - isn't this lovely? All the more reason to implement as many preventative therapies/paradigms as possible into your lifestyle.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reflux meds and Plavix don't mix

Popular heartburn pills may keep the blood-thinner Plavix from working effectively, according to a new study that could shake the market for several drugs. The 16,690-person study by pharmacy-benefits company Medco Health Solutions Inc. suggests that people who combine a heartburn pill like Nexium or Prilosec with Plavix at their doctors' direction have a 50% higher risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event compared with those taking Plavix by itself. The study could have serious implications for millions of patients who take Plavix.

Urgent regulation needed for nanomaterials

More testing and regulation of nanomaterials used in an increasingly number of everyday products is urgently.

"...having analyzed the potential health and environmental impacts which flow from the properties of nanomaterials, we concluded that there is a plausible case for concern about some (but not all) classes of nanomaterials," the Royal Commission experts from the scientific, legal, business and medical communities wrote in a British government-funded report.

In particular the report cited tiny soccer-ball shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs that may have potential uses ranging from novel drug-delivery system to fuel cells, as well as carbon nanotubes and nanosilver.

Recent studies have found buckyballs -- short for buckministerfullerenes -- may threaten health by building up fat and have linked carbon nanotubes to potential lung cancer risk.

"We are very conscious of the extent to which knowledge about the potential health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials lags significantly behind the pace of innovation, although this could change as new scientific information arises," the study said.

Nanotechnology, the design and manipulation of materials thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, has been hailed as a way to make strong, lightweight materials, better cosmetics and even tastier food.

Major corporations and start-ups across almost every industry invest in nanotechnology, which found its way into $147 billion worth of products in 2007, according to Lux Research.

But scientists are only just starting to look at the impact such tiny objects might have, and the British report warned existing regulations may not be able to keep up with technology.

"We are also concerned that more sophisticated later generation nanoproducts will raise issues which cannot be dealt with by treating them as chemicals or mixtures of chemicals," John Lawton, an ecologist, who chaired the report, said in a statement.

Steve - we are in full agreement. This is why we do not endorse any dietary supplements or functional foods that openly include nanoparticles.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Thanksgiving Recipes From Bonnie & Carolyn.

Macadamia Roasted Asparagus

Macadamia nut oil has, at about 79 percent, the greatest concentration of monounsaturated fats of just about any oil out there. That’s good news for your cholesterol count, as monos effectively reduce the “bad” LDL cholesterol without lowering the “good” HDL variety. Monounsaturated fats may also improve insulin sensitivity, which helps prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition in which the body becomes resistant to its own insulin.

2 bunches fresh asparagus
2 T. macadamia nut oil
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup shaved parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange asparagus on a baking sheet; brush with macadamia nut oil, and add salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, then top with parmesan. Serve immediately SERVES: 4

Pumpkin Soup

½ c. green onions, chopped
½ c. white onions, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 T. canola or grapeseed oil
1 (16 oz.) organic canned pumpkin
5 c. vegetable broth (Imagine Foods “No Chicken” or Pacific Foods vegetable broth)
2 T. fresh parsley
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
dash of San-J Tamari Lite (wheat-free soy sauce)
dash of sea salt (optional)

Sauté onions and carrots in oil in a 4 quart pot. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about ½ hour. Puree soup in a blender. This soup may also be served hot or cold. SERVES: 8

Canned confusion: Yam I am ... or not.

They're irresistibly sweet, creamy, and in many parts of the world considered a snack treat: No, not candy, sweet potatoes.

And if that's not enough to get you eating more of them, consider this: a 3.5-ounce serving contains twice the recommended daily amount of Beta Carotene (precursor of vitamin A_, is a good source of vitamin C, and has a mere 141 calories.

Along with all this good news comes a bit of confusion. This healthy root vegetable is consistently misidentified as a yam, which is a much larger tuber grown in tropical climates, but with less sweetness, less Beta Carotene, and a starchy texture.

True yams, which do not have the same nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes, are not common to North America and usually are found only in ethnic markets. But many stores label sweet potatoes as yams, and what are sold as canned yams are actually sweet potatoes (read the label carefully).

When buying sweet potatoes, which can be light yellow to ruby red (darker usually means moister), choose those with smooth skins and free of bruises.

Unlike most other canned vegetables, which suffer significant nutrient loss during processing, canned sweet potatoes (yams) are just as nutritious as fresh, as long as they contain no added sugar or harmful additives.

Shari's Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Apple Crisp

Shari's Apple Crisp Recipe
(Steve's Wife)

  1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Have ready an unbuttered 2-quart glass baking dish, 2 inches deep.
  2. Peel and core: 8 medium honeycrisp or semi-tart) apples
  3. Cut the apples in half and then into 1-inch chunks.
  4. Spread them evenly in the baking dish.
  5. Combine:
    3/4 cup quinoa flour
    3/4 cup sugar-in-the-raw
    1/2 tsp. sea salt
    1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
    Add 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter (or trans fat-free butter substitute), cut into small pieces
  6. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs or do this in a mixer or in a food processor, taking care not to blend the butter too thoroughly. Scatter the topping evenly over the fruit. Tap the dish on the counter once or twice to settle the crumbs. Bake until the topping is golden brown, the juices are bubbling, and the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer, about 50 to 55 minutes.

New heart disease test could become routine

Excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle

A simple, low-cost blood test that could help assess one's risk of heart disease could soon become part of regular medical exams along with blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, says
Dr. Anthony Steimle, chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanente's Santa Clara Medical Center.
Known as CRP, the test measures whether people have elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein levels, an indication of inflammation that can be associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Bonnie - the fact that CRP is not already part of a routine physical is a joke. Inflammation accounts for approximately 50% of cardiac risk. Cholesterol is only a small piece of the pie when assessing total cardiac risk.

If Big Pharma has its drothers, statins will be the "band-aid" treatment for CRP (as evidenced by the JAMA study released yesterday). Of course, fish oil and getting to the root of the cause works just as well and is the best long-term solution.

AMA supports trans-fat bans

The American Medical Association threw its weight behind legislation to ban the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries nationwide on Monday. The group, which represents about 240,000 doctors and medical students, said it would move away from a previous, gentler position that advised people to reduce their use and move to healthier fats and oils instead. "Trans fats have been proven to raise LDL (low density lipoprotein), the bad cholesterol, while lowering HDL (high density lipoprotein), the good cholesterol, which significantly increases the risk for heart disease," said AMA board member Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree. "By supporting a ban on the use of artificial trans fats in restaurants and bakeries, we can help improve the quality of the food Americans eat and may ultimately save lives." The group, meeting in Orlando, Florida, said replacing trans fats would prevent up to 100,000 premature deaths each year in the United States alone.

Steve - they're really going out on a limb, huh? Where was the AMA twenty five years ago when the damaging effects of trans fats could have been prevented?

Monday, November 10, 2008

American Institute for Cancer Research Annual Meeting Highlights

Researchers Focus on the New Science of Epigenetics

A panel of leading scientists presented promising research involving the new science of epigenetics and cancer development.

Epigenetics refers to any alterations in how our genes get translated (or expressed) that do not involve direct changes to the DNA itself. In recent years, scientists have discovered that environmental factors, such as the foods we eat, can spur epigenetic changes. In effect, diet can activate or silence the expression of genes that play a role in the development and progression of cancer.

AICR’s 2007 expert report found that diets containing certain foods can either increase or decrease the risk of cancer. The science of epigenetics may help explain why.

The opening session of AICR’s conference, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer, held in Washington, DC, focused on the emerging research relating to diet, epigenetics, and cancer.

Genes, Diet and Skin Cancer

Richard L. Eckert, PhD, chair of the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, chaired the session. He also presented his lab’s research showing that the major compound in green tea led to epigenetic changes that effects the expression of a group of genes involved in skin cancer. The findings suggest that dietary compounds can help prevent cancer by influencing how genes work, said Dr. Eckert.

Inheriting Epigenetic Changes

David IK Martin, MD, a scientist at the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, Calif., presented research on passing down epigenetic changes from parent to progeny. Dr. Martin’s mice studies have demonstrated that a mother’s diet during pregnancy shifted the expression of cancer-related genes in her grandchildren. He presented research on the questions and possible mechanisms involved with retaining epigenetic changes over generations.

Foods Reversing Epigenetic Cancer Cell Growth

The growth of cancer is linked with a group of proteins in the body that epigenetically silences genes relating to natural, programmed cell death. Roderick H. Dashwood, PhD, a researcher at the Linus Pauling Institute in Oregon, presented evidence showing how natural compounds found in foods such as broccoli and garlic can interfere with the actions of this protein group and restore natural cell death. He discussed his lab studies showing how these dietary compounds suppressed tumors and inhibited the group of protein’s activity.

Behind a Vitamin’s Epigenetic Effects

From the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Janos Zempleni, PhD, Associate Professor of Molecular Nutrition, explained his research demonstrating one way in which a B vitamin can lead to epigenetic changes. In both human and mouse cell studies, the vitamin biotin affected the actions of moveable chunks of DNA, which make up about half of the human genome. Because these moveable sequences of DNA relate to increased disease risk, said Dr. Zempleni, understanding how diet has an epigenetic effect on the DNA can reduce cancer risk.

Epigenetic Changes and Folate

Scientists have long known that folate and folic acid, the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate, produce epigenetic changes. Young-In Kim, MD, a researcher at the University of Toronto in Ontario and a leading expert on the topic, presented the latest findings on what is known about how and when folate alters DNA. When and for how long people take folic acid appears to play a key role in the epigenetic effects of the B vitamin, said Dr. Kim.

Cancer Experts Debate Vitamin D, Sunlight and Risk

The association between vitamin D and cancer risk is one of the most studied, most complex and most controversial issues in nutrition science. A panel of vitamin D experts weighed in, and presented evidence that sought to provide some clarity.

The panel on vitamin D and cancer was part of the 2008 Annual Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer, presented by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in Washington, DC.

How Much Sunlight?

Experts seeking to offer the public advice must weigh the fact that vitamin D is produced in skin exposed to sunlight against the clear risks of skin cancer caused by excessive exposure to UV rays, said Mary Frances Picciano, PhD, of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. She noted that, as yet, no optimal level of sun exposure has been determined that poses no or little risk of skin cancer.

Some experts have proposed that the current definition of vitamin D deficiency is too low, and the US government is now considering raising the recommended intake for vitamin D. But Picciano noted that significant questions remain. More work, for example, must be done to ensure measurement of vitamin D blood levels is both accurate and consistent.

Vitamin D Deficiency Implicated in African American Cancer Rates

Lisa B. Signorello, ScD, of Vanderbilt University and the International Epidemiology Institute pointed out that many of the cancers linked to vitamin D deficiency are more prevalent among African Americans.

The high concentration of melanin in the skin of African Americans blocks the formation of vitamin D. Signorello also presented data suggesting that African Americans consume fewer foods that have been fortified with vitamin D. She suggested that this combination of lower vitamin D production and lower dietary intake may be a key factor in higher rates of some cancers among African Americans, and proposed that targeted efforts to increase vitamin D status may be an important means to prevent cancer in this group.

Two Clues to How and Why Vitamin D Seems Protective

The body produces a biologically active from of vitamin D that has been associated with anticancer effects in the lab and in epidemiological studies. John White, PhD, of McGill University presented data that may help explain why. His group found that the vitamin D receptor stimulates proteins that are involved with regulating the cell cycle and that also “turn on” tumor suppressor genes.

Another researcher presented evidence linking vitamin D to lower risk of skin cancer. Daniel Bikle, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of California at San Francisco have demonstrated that animals that lack the receptor for vitamin D are more likely to develop skin cancer when exposed to UV rays.

He hypothesizes that the vitamin D receptor regulates two protective biochemical pathways in skin cells. When this receptor is not present, these pathways get disrupted in ways that make skin cancer more likely.

His findings suggest that very brief exposure to sunlight – 10 to 15 minutes, in his animal model – may stimulate the vitamin D receptor, activate those two pathways, and actually be protective against skin cancer, Dr. Bikle said. If borne out in human investigations, his research will represent a substantial contribution to the ongoing scientific discussion about optimal vitamin D levels and sunlight exposure.

Newly Discovered Gene Plays Early Protective Role

Stephen Byers, PhD, of Georgetown University, presented evidence on a newly identified gene called TIG1, which researchers suspect has the potential to suppress tumors.

Using normal human prostate cells, Dr. Byers and his colleagues found that this gene is indeed able to suppress an early stage of tumor development when exposed to vitamin D and a derivative of vitamin A called retinoic acid.

The Emerging Science of Personalized Diets for Cancer Prevention

Researchers discussed the impact of diet in helping to grow “healthy” bacteria in the human gut, which emerging evidence suggests may influence how other dietary constituents are utilized for cancer protection. The evidence for inclusion of probiotics (foods and supplements containing healthy bacteria) in the diet for lower cancer risk was discussed as well as potential mechanisms. Researchers also touched upon the impact that individual genetic variations may have on the effectiveness of the bacterial response to certain foods.

In addition, researchers noted that genetic differences among individuals also affect how certain foods and nutrients combat the cancer process. The future of a personalized approach to eating for increased cancer prevention was anticipated.

Beneficial Bacteria May Play a Role in Colon Cancer Prevention

While the role of probiotics in colon cancer prevention has been studied extensively in laboratory studies, there are far fewer interventions with human subjects and the results remain inconclusive, if not directly contradictory. Joseph J. Rafter, PhD, professor of medical nutrition at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, presented a summary of the laboratory evidence today, along with a report on a recently completed human intervention trial. Dr. Rafter discussed the potential mechanisms by which probiotic bacteria may inhibit colon cancer development and called for more studies in humans to help inform the current discussion.

What’s In Your Gut: Individual Responses to Microflora

The activity of microorganisms in the human gut can directly influence cancer risk, according to Johanna W. Lampe, PhD, RD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Bacteria in the gut play a role in the uptake of beneficial dietary components (phytochemicals, for example) and can help neutralize dietary toxins, she said. What you eat impacts the growth and type of intestinal flora in your digestive tract and individuals have genetic variations that can impact how our bacteria impact our personal cancer susceptibility.

A Tailored Approach to What’s on Your Plate

From the Center for Cancer Prevention Research at Rutgers University, Ah-Ng Tony Kong, PhD, presented an overview of the role of personalized genomics in nutrition and cancer prevention. Dr. Kong highlighted several animal studies to suggest how phytochemicals in foods may directly influence certain defensive enzymes and protect against cellular damage. He discussed how advances in science might soon enable individuals to customize their diets to better protect against cancer by understanding their own genetic profile.

Eating According to Science

Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD., professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina offered evidence that what we eat can alter the expression of certain genes that impact cancer risk. Dr. Zeisel highlighted choline and folate in particular and discussed how early intake of certain dietary constituents may account for differences in cancer risk later in life.

Statin use 'may benefit healthy'

Guidelines on who is eligible for statins may need to be rewritten after an international trial found benefits in "healthy" adults, experts say. The study of 17,800 men and women with normal cholesterol levels found rosuvastatin cut deaths from heart attacks and strokes. The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The patients in the trial, funded by AstraZeneca, had cholesterol levels below those usually indicating a need for treatment and had no other signs of heart disease. These are people who have an intermediate risk and you wouldn't normally prescribe statins for them in the UK. But they did have increased levels of a C-reactive protein, which indicates inflammation in the body and is believed to be a marker of future cardiovascular events. After an average follow-up of two years, 20mg a day of rosuvastatin was found to have cut cholesterol by 50% and C-reactive protein by 37%. Overall, the chance of a heart attack, stroke, hospital admission for chest pain or death from cardiovascular disease was cut by 44%, researchers said.

Bonnie & Steve - the entire trial was funded by AstraZeneca. The researchers have all received consulting fees, grants, and speaker fees from AZ as well as other drug companies.

If you recall, Crestor was indicated for its potentially severe side effects, more so than any other class of statin. A rise in the numbers of new diabetics was a "puzzling" side effect of the drug, but not the first time it has been indicated in statin therapy.

In addition, Crestor brought the CRP down from 4.2 to 1.8 in two years. With diet and nutients, I can bring a CRP to normal in six months.

As we predicted years ago when statins were introduced, Big Pharma would be pushing them for everyone, including healthy people, to take as "lifestyle drugs." Well, here we are.

Vitamin pills don't prevent heart disease.

Vitamins C and E — pills taken by millions of Americans — do nothing to prevent heart disease in men, one of the largest and longest studies of these supplements has found. Results also were published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As for vitamin C, some research suggests it may aid cancer, not fight it. A previous study in women at high risk of heart problems found it did not prevent heart attacks.

It involved 14,641 male doctors, 50 or older, including 5 percent who had heart disease at the time the study started in 1997. They were put into four groups and given either vitamin E, vitamin C, both, or dummy pills. The dose of E was 400 international units every other day; C was 500 milligrams daily.

After an average of eight years, no difference was seen in the rates of heart attack, stroke or heart-related deaths among the groups.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and several vitamin makers.

Bonnie - I am absolutely dumbfounded by the structure of these studies. As in the other vitamin E study, the vitamins used were synthetic, which most experts believe are useless. In the case of vitamin E, the researchers only used alpha tocopherol, not mixed. Most experts know mixed tocopherols are crucial for effectiveness.

The "vitamin makers" were Wyeth, a drug company, and BASF, a chemical company, who dispenses raw materials for supplements, many of them synthetic.

I'm sure this will grab headlines, but we will keep looking at the fine print for our clients.

P.S. One AMA doctor was quoted on this topic calling on everyone to go to the "Quackwatch" website to read about supplements. Besides the fact that the website was cited by the Federal Trade Commission for slander and false claims, the AMA doctor is going against his organization's suggestion, which promotes the daily use of a multivitamin/mineral.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Excitotoxins linked to MS? Where have we heard this before?

There's an ingredient in our food that scientists are beginning to suspect could be a cause of auto-immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Grave's disease. Excitotoxins - amino acids that, quite literally, overexcite the nervous system, and cause neurological damage - may be a bigger culprit than anyone has suspected, and often they’re a hidden ingredient in the food we eat. The two most common excitotoxins are the artificial sweeteners monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame (Nutrasweet), but they are also hidden ingredients labeled as hydrolyzed proteins, hydrolyzed oat flour, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, and yeast extract. Soybean extracts are also rich in glutamate (the more natural form of MSG). Researchers such as neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock and others have suspected for a long time that excitotoxins can cause auto-immune disease, and their concerns have recently been supported by a study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Townsend Letter, 2008; 304: 28-29.

B-Vitamins lower cancer risk in women over 65

A Harvard study following 5442 US female health professionals 42 and older (average age 63), with preexisitng cardiovascular disease for seven years, found that a combination of 2.5 mg folic acid, 50 mg B-6, and 1 mg B-12 lowered the overall cancer risk in women over 65 by twenty five percent and thirty eight percent for breast cancer. A slightly lower, but not statistically significant, risk was found in the younger age group (14 less females got breast cancer in treatment group versus placebo; 5 less overall cancer in treatment group versus placebo). No harmful effects were found in the treatment group.

Steve - the media touted this study as a failure of B-vitamins to prevent cancer. When you read between the lines, you see the headlines were sensationalist. The fact that they did not use subjects without a major prexisiting condition is par for the course. So we were not surprised to see marginal results for the overall subject group. However, the results show, as we have said all along, that B-vitamins are crucial for aging/elderly women and men. B-vitamins have myriad other beneficial effects for every other age group.

Rice can trigger severe gut reaction in infants

Although rice is considered to have a low potential for causing allergic reactions, it can trigger a severe form of gut inflammation in some infants.

The reaction is known as "food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome," or FPIES -- an inflammatory response of the digestive system to certain food proteins, including those in cow's milk, soy, meat and grains. Infants with FPIES usually suffer vomiting and diarrhea within roughly 2 hours of eating the culprit food.

While FPIES is similar to a standard food allergy, it does not involve a response from immune system antibodies. And unlike a true food allergy, FPIES usually causes only gastrointestinal symptoms.

Rice, because of its low potential for triggering an allergic response, is generally recommended as the first solid food for infants. However, the grain is increasingly being recognized as a cause of FPIES.

In the new study, Australian researchers found that over 16 years, 14 children came to their hospital with 26 episodes of rice-related FPIES. During the same period, FPIES caused by cow's milk or soy -- considered the most common triggers of the condition, occurred in 17 children who had 30 episodes.

What's more, reactions to rice tended to be more severe, with more children requiring IV fluids, the researchers report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Rice remains a hypoallergenic food, and the fact that it can cause FPIES does not change that, said senior study author Dr. Andrew S.

Kemp, of the Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia.

"Parents of children with food allergies do not have to be especially concerned about rice," he told Reuters Health.

The message, Kemp said, is for doctors to be aware that rice can cause FPIES, which is often misdiagnosed as sepsis -- an infection in the bloodstream -- or an acute abdominal problem requiring surgery.

Children with FPIES often have several episodes before the problem is diagnosed, Kemp and his colleagues note, and knowing that rice is a potential cause of severe digestive symptoms may lead to earlier diagnosis.

"Pediatricians should be aware that rice not only has the potential to cause FPIES," the researchers write, "but that such reactions may be more severe than those caused by cow's milk/soy."

Bonnie - as I have always said, any food can cause a reaction. We do not recommend rice as the first solid food to introduce because it is a grain. However, after three or four fruits and vegetables, it should be the first grain to introduce.

ADA posts cancer prevention tips

Here's a list of 10 diet and activity recommendations highlighted this week in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
  • Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, and limit consumption of high-calorie foods, especially those low in fiber and rich in fat or added sugar.
  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (such as beans).
  • Limit consumption of red meats (including beef, pork, and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  • If you drink alcohol, limit your daily intake to two drinks for men and one drink for women.
  • Limit consumption of salty foods and food processed with salt (sodium).
  • Don't use supplements to try to protect against cancer.
  • It's best for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
  • After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Why These Cancer Recommendations?

Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, an epidemiology professor who leads the nutrition department the Harvard School of Public Health, was on the international team of scientists that wrote the recommendations.

At the ADA meeting, Willett said the first recommendation -- to be as lean as possible within the healthy weight range -- is "the most important, by far."

But there is one recommendation that Willett says may be a "mistake" -- the one about not taking supplements. Vitamin D supplements may lower risk of colorectal cancer and perhaps other cancers, notes Willett. He predicts that that recommendation will be a top priority for review.

Bonnie - the ADA has always been against supplements, to their detriment. The fact that Willett, who was on the panel, points this out publicly shows the divisiveness within the organization.