Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Highlights from probiotic immune support study

A double-blind, placebo-controlled Pediatrics study from 2009 showed significantly reduced symptoms of cold and flu in children 3 to 5 years old. We are proud to announce that the probiotic formula used in the study is one that we recommend very often for daily immune maintenance.

The studies' highlights:
  • Aimed to evaluate probiotic consumption effects on cold and flu-like symptom incidence and duration in healthy children during the winter season.
  • 326 children ages 3 to 5 were randomly assigned Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM alone, in combination with Bifidobacterium lactis, or placebo twice daily for six months.
  • Reduced fever incidence by 53% in acidophilus alone and 73% in the acidophilus/bifidus combination compared to placebo.
  • Reduced coughing incidence of 41% alone and 62% in combo.
  • Reduced runny nose incidence of 28% alone and 59% in combo.
  • All cold and flu symptoms decreased significantly compared to placebo (32% alone and 48% in combo).
  • Antibiotic use incidence was reduced by 68% alone and 84% in combo compared to placebo.
  • Children receiving probiotics had a 32% reduction in school days absent alone and 27% in the combo.
  • In short, the researchers state "daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe and effective way to reduce fever, runny nose, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age."
Of course, this is music to our ears. With the world in a constant battle with infectious disease, why would you take the chance and not supplement with a probiotic? Beyond preventing infection, probiotics have myriad other benefits that Steve and I have extensively explored.

This study yet again reaffirms that when provided with the proper fuel, an optimally functioning immune system can be achieved.

Chocolate or Statin?

A news study from British Medical Journal found that those who eat the most chocolate on a regular basis reduce their relative risk for heart disease by one-third. The study did not receive funding from chocolate manufacturers. Analysis of 114,009 people found that people who ate the most chocolate could reduce their risk of heart disease by as much as 37 percent, their risk of diabetes by 31 percent and their risk of stroke by 29 percent, compared with those who ate the least chocolate. Chocolate had no effect on heart failure risk.

However, the study did not say how much chocolate confers health benefits. There was no way of telling how much chocolate was eaten by those who consumed the most of it. The study compared people who consumed chocolate more than once a week with those who ate it less often. The researchers were also unclear if dark, milk or even white chocolate were eaten,

Long-term results of the Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes--Lipid-Lowering Arm (ASCOT-LLA) study, eight years after the trial officially stopped, showed that treatment with 10 mg of atorvastatin reduced all-cause mortality compared with placebo, mainly through a reduction in noncardiovascular deaths. The European Heart Journal study observed that reductions in the risk of death from respiratory illness and infection contributed to the overall reduction in all-cause mortality. Steve - am I the only one a bit miffed here. I was the under the impression that statins were supposed to be taken to reduce cardiac risk. There are plenty of other therapies we can use to reduce respiratory and infection risk. The lead researcher was quoted saying, "I would never advocate atorvastatin to young people on the basis of these findings."

An editorial that accompanies the published study, said that the introduction of statins into primary prevention is a serious decision considering that asymptomatic patients would be advised to take a drug for the rest of their lives and the only treatment benefit would be that "nothing happens. Moreover, there is little long-term safety data.

Diet alone reduces cholesterol enough to get off statins: study

A diet based around plants, nuts and high-fiber grains lowered "bad" cholesterol more than a low-saturated-fat diet that was also vegetarian. The drop in LDL cholesterol was big enough that dietary changes could be an alternative to statin medications for many people.

One in four adults age 45 and older in the U.S. takes the cholesterol-lowering drugs. Researchers wanted to see how big an effect a diet based on the pillars of lower cholesterol could have on LDL numbers without statins. They randomly split subjects with high cholesterol into three groups. One group got nutrition counseling promoting a low-saturated-fat diet for six months. In the other two groups, dietitians helped participants fit more cholesterol-lowering foods, including soy milk, tofu, nuts, oats, peas and beans, into a healthy diet -- meeting with some of them twice during the study, and with others seven times.

After six months, people on the low-saturated-fat diet saw a drop in LDL cholesterol of 8 milligrams per deciliter on average, according to findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That compared to 24 mg and 26 mg decreases in participants on the cholesterol-lowering diets.

Volunteers in the cholesterol-lowering group were encouraged to consume about a gram of plant sterols in an enriched margarine per 1,000 calories of food they ate, as well as about 10 grams of fiber in the form of oats, barley and psyllium, 22.5 grams of soy protein and 22.5 grams of nuts, per 1,000 calories.

A lot of people rely on the medication, but diet is really powerful actually," said the researchers. "People ignore that. They think if they're on statins, they can do anything they want, they can eat the high-fat foods because the statins are going to take care of that." The researchers had everyone in the study who was taking statins go off the medication for the diet intervention.

Bonnie - a healthy diet with the help form a dietitian nutritionist can lower cholesterol. Shocking!

Like we said...quality over quantity.

It is a well-established fact that as we grow older, our bones become more brittle and prone to fracturing. It is also well established that loss of mass is a major reason for older bones fracturing more readily than younger bones, hence medical treatments have focused on slowing down this loss. However, new research from scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy shows that at microscopic dimensions, the age-related loss of bone quality can be every bit as important as the loss of quantity in the susceptibility of bone to fracturing. Researchers showed that the advancement of age ushers in a degradation of the mechanical properties of human cortical bone over a range of different size scales. As a result, the bone's ability to resist fracture becomes increasingly compromised. This age-related loss of bone quality is independent of age-related bone mass loss.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), the study explains that human cortical or compact bone is a composite of collagen molecules and nanocrystals of a mineralized form of calcium called hydroxyapatite (HA). Mechanical properties of stiffness, strength and toughness arise from both the characteristic structure at the nanoscale, and at multiple length scales through the hierarchical architecture of the bone. These length scales extend from the molecular level to the osteonal structures at near-millimeter levels. An osteon is the basic structural unit of compact bone, composed of a central canal surrounded by concentric rings of lamellae plates, through which bone remodels.

These features are present in healthy, young human bone and are responsible for its unique mechanical properties. However, with biological aging, the ability of these mechanisms to resist fracture deteriorates leading to a reduction in bone strength and fracture toughness. Working with bone samples that ranged in age between 34 and 99 years, they found that biological aging increases non-enzymatic cross-linking between the collagen molecules, which suppresses plasticity at nanoscale dimensions, meaning that collagen fibrils can no longer slide with respect to one another as a way to absorb energy from an impact. With age, remodeling of the bone can lead the osteons to triple in number, which means the channels become more closely packed and less effective at deflecting the growth of cracks. This growing ineffectiveness must be accommodated at higher structural levels by increased micro cracking. In turn, the increased micro cracking compromises the formation of crack bridges, which provide one of the main sources of extrinsic toughening in bone at length scales in the range of tens to hundreds of micrometers. Thus, age-related changes occur across many levels of the structure to increase the risk of fracture with age.

Bonnie - we have said for years that osteoporosis meds focus on just building quantity of bone, not quality. As this study shows, quality is just, if not more important, than quantity.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

9 beauty treatments that may have negative consequences

Higher cholesterol slows Parkinson's progression

A study from the August issue of PLOS One shows evidence that higher total serum cholesterol concentrations may be associated with a modest slower clinical progression of PD, and this preliminary finding needs confirmation from larger prospective studies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Worldwide shortage of curcumin

A worldwide shortage of natural curcumin has driven the price of raw materials up and material of questionable integrity has begun to appear in the marketplace. While we work very little with this substance, we wanted to alert you so you can do your due diligence. This would be especially important for those taking it for cancer prevention or complementary treatment. Make sure the curcumin manufacturing plants, suppliers and third-party analytical labs are complying with the extraction process required for high curcuminoid standardizations.

In addition, synthetic curcumin has entered the marketplace providing an inexpensive means to circumvent both supply chain and processing issues. Each batch of curcumin extracts should be tested by HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography), allowing manufacturers and suppliers to elucidate the nature of the material as natural or synthetic. Synthetic curcumin is indicated by a single curcuminoid peak while natural curcumin has three distinct curcuminoid peaks.

Fertility for Generations: Prepping Pre to Post Pregnancy.

Striving to attain or maintain optimal health bodes well for the future because we are giving future generations the best chance to thrive genetically. However, to make this happen, the most crucial age to be optimally healthy is the age where there is usually is the most neglect: men and women in their 20s and 30s.

Something as simple as women taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid six months prior to conception can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of their offspring, that offspring's offspring, and beyond. Yet, it boggles the mind how few women actually do this and wait until after they get pregnant.

We have put together the most dynamite research to convince you, whether a teen, in your 20s or 30s, a parent or grandparent, that you need you to hold up your end of the bargain. For those not in their peak fertility years, that means making sure your children, grandchildren, friends, or coworkers in this age group reads this!

The Nutrient Above All Other Nutrients: Folic Acid

Before the 1960s, nearly all victims of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) had fatal outcomes. In the 1960s, physicians introduced very early complex surgical and medical management, and the lives of victims were saved in the majority of spina bifida cases. In the 1970s, the selective criteria of surgical intervention were introduced to reduce the production of multiple handicapped children. In the 1980s, prenatal screening based on maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MS-AFP) and/or ultrasonography was introduced. This prenatal screening resulted in a significant drop in the birth of NTD fetuses. This approach increased the number of pregnancy terminations and was associated with some psychological and somatic complications of pregnant women. Finally, since the 1990s, we have had a chance to reduce the incidence of NTDs due to the intentional modification (supplementation) of the diet in the periconceptional period of the life.

Now, periconceptional folic acid or folic-acid-containing multivitamin supplementation as a primary preventive method of NTDs offers an appropriate alternative with the same efficacy of the elective abortion of NTD fetuses. Obviously, the primary prevention of NTDs and some other Congenital Abnormalities (CAs) is much better than the termination of pregnancy after the prenatal diagnosis of fetal defects from moral, medical (comparing the risk of pregnancy termination and folic acid/multivitamin supplementations), and financial (periconceptional folic acid/multivitamin supplementation is much cheaper than the combined method of prenatal diagnosis, mainly followed by pregnancy termination) aspects. Nevertheless, the reduced proportion of NTD births is explained in two thirds by elective abortion and only one third by folic acid/multivitamin supplementation. Thus, we have to change medical practice and to widen the use of folic acid/multivitamin supplementation because the proper preparation for conception is the earliest and most effective method for the prevention of NTDs and some other CAs. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, August 2011

Folic Acid Vindicated
Several studies have challenged the efficacy of folic acid fortification. Recently there has been a bevvy of data thwarting these challenges. For example, folic acid intake during the first trimester of pregnancy is not related to asthma in young offspring, as was reported several years ago. According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a research team searched for this effect in 1,499 pregnant women and their children through age six. There was a significantly decreased risk of asthma with folic acid supplementation.

In another example, folic acid had been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. However, an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found a higher folate intake is associated with a decreased colorectal cancer risk in observational studies. Researchers examined the association between folate intake and colorectal cancer risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study—a US cohort study of 525,488 individuals aged 50–71 y initiated in 1995–1996. After 8.5 years of postfortification follow-up, folate intake was associated with a decreased colorectal cancer risk.

Optimize Your Environment
The exposure of pregnant women to certain environmental factors is associated with wheezing and asthma in their children. Researchers at the World Allergy Organization International Scientific Conference discussed the environmental factors that trigger epigenetic changes in the fetus, but which might not manifest until the children are 3 to 5 years of age, or even older. Factors that might present a risk to the developing fetus include acetaminophen, maternal vitamin D deficiency, domestic spray chemicals, tobacco smoke, and maternal use of antibiotics.

How can something that happens in the uterus have an impact on asthma in the child aged 6, 7, or 8? The explanation, if it is causal, is in epigenetic mechanisms. Early environmental exposure in utero plays a key role in activating and altering genes through histone methylation and acetylation of DNA, and alteration of chromatin structure. Once these have occurred in the fetus, they will be replicated throughout the infant's life, and may even be passed to subsequent generations.

Low intake of vitamin D by the mother might be associated with epigenetic changes in the fetus and that low levels of vitamin D are a major problem in people in temperate regions of the globe. By contrast, the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in oily fish, dairy, and produce, has been reported to be protective against asthma during pregnancy.

European data showed that exposure to domestic chemicals was associated with the early onset of persistent asthma, intermediate onset of persistent asthma, and late onset of wheezing.

As acetaminophen use by pregnant women has increased substantially since the early 1980s, asthma prevalence among children in the United States doubled. It has been suggested that acetaminophen interferes with the glutathione defense mechanism against oxidative stress in the lungs and with T-regulatory cell development.

Critical Nutrients for Optimal Fertility
EPA/DHA Fish Oil
If pregnant women, who do not regularly eat oily fish, eat two portions of salmon per week, they will increase their intake of EPA and DHA, achieving the recommended minimum intake; and they will increase their and their fetus’ status of EPA and DHA, according to a study in the August issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

When women take a supplement of the omega 3 fatty acid DHA during pregnancy, their babies have fewer cold symptoms and shorter illnesses, new research from the September issue of Pediatrics indicates. At 1 month and 3 months of age, about 38 percent of babies exposed to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the womb experienced cold symptoms, compared to about 45 percent of the babies whose mothers were given a placebo supplement while they were pregnant.

Vitamin D
According to a statement published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the group acknowledges evidence suggesting that vitamin D deficiency is common during pregnancy, especially among "high-risk groups," including vegetarians, women with limited exposure to the sun, and minorities with darker skin. There is now a push to screen all pregnant women for vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamins A & E
High prevalence of vitamin A and vitamin E deficiency was found in very low birth weight infants starting from birth to term postmenstrual age. Therefore, a higher dose of vitamin supplementation is required postnatally as well as prenatally. Journal Perinatology

Vitamin B-12
Women who eat foods rich in vitamin B-12, during the first three months of their pregnancy are to eight times more likely to have babies who cry less, according to a new study published in the journal Early Human Development. Public Health Service researchers in the Netherlands measured the amount of B12 in the blood of nearly 3,000 pregnant women at their first prenatal appointment at three months. They then measured how often babies cried after birth and for how long. The babies of mothers whose blood contained the least amount of B12 at the three-month test were up to eight times more likely to cry for prolonged periods than those with the highest levels.

The sleep hormone melatonin may not be released fully causing longer crying episodes than exhibited by babies whose mothers had high levels of B12. Also a lack of B12 may reduce the brain’s production of myelin, which protects nerve cells, leading to more sleeplessness.

The intake of periconceptional multivitamins may decrease the risk of preterm births (PTBs) or small-for-gestational-age (SGA) births. Regular preconception and postconception multivitamin use in women with a prepregnancy BMI 25 or below was associated with reduced risks of a PTB and preterm labor. The adjusted risk of an SGA birth was reduced in multivitamin users regardless of their prepregnancy BMI, with the strongest association in regular users in the postconception period. American Journal Clinical Nutrition

Use Ultrasounds Sparingly
A recent British Medical Journal study examine childhood cancer risks associated with exposure to diagnostic radiation and ultrasound scans in utero and in early infancy (age 0-100 days) in 2690 childhood cancer cases and 4858 age, sex, and region matched controls born 1976-96.

Although the results for lymphoma need to be replicated, all of the findings indicate possible risks of cancer from radiation at doses lower than those associated with commonly used procedures such as computed tomography scans, suggesting the need for cautious use of diagnostic radiation imaging procedures to the abdomen/pelvis of the mother during pregnancy and in children at very young ages.

Breast is Best
Bone Health
Researchers from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that bone mineral density at 17 years are positively related to body size and growth in infancy. Furthermore, breastfeeding in infancy seems to have a positive influence on later lumbar bone mass in adolescence. In this study, early bone turnover may also have a positive influence on later lumbar bone mass in adolescence. This is the first study to have term infants followed to adolescence. One reason for this is that Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-I) concentration is lower in breastfed infants compared with formula-fed infants and that the stature later in life of earlier breastfed children is higher compared with earlier formula-fed children. The research corroborated this. Furthermore, duration of exclusive breastfeeding seems to be positively related to later lumbar bone mass.

Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease
esearch published in the August 2011 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology hypothesizes that changes in the intestinal microbiota of infants may directly influence the risk of celiac disease, and that if this is so, changes in diet -- particularly breast feeding -- could reduce that risk. The newborn intestine is colonized immediately after birth by microorganisms from the mother and the environment. Earlier research had shown that breast feeding protects against celiac disease as compared to formula feeding, as well as that the intestinal microbiota is less diverse in breast- than in formula-fed infants, with different genera predominating in each. The new research also shows that infants at high genetic risk of celiac disease have a high prevalence of certain Bacteroides spp that is different from the population in those at low genetic risk. The investigators report further that the type of milk influences Bacteroides species composition, in particular with breast feeding favoring the prevalence of B. uniformis, a species associated with the low risk genotype, and reducing differences in Bacteroides species composition between the two genetic risk groups.

Regardless Economic Demographic, Women Especially Need to Pay Attention.
Disadvantaged, unhealthy mothers are much more likely to have sickly children than are disadvantaged moms who are relatively healthy -- and this is not only due to genetics, suggests new research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Mothers who experience frequent or serious health problems may have a harder time monitoring their children or performing day-to-day caretaking tasks, including taking their children to regular medical checkups. Maternal health problems can also place emotional and material burdens on children and heighten their stress and anxiety. Finally, to care for herself, an unhealthy mother may have to use financial resources that could otherwise benefit her children.

Compared to children whose mothers are disadvantaged but relatively healthy, children whose mothers are both disadvantaged and unhealthy are more than five times more likely to have fair or poor overall health. They have significantly higher odds of having asthma and a learning disability, and are more likely to go to the emergency room.

Children whose mothers are neither disadvantaged nor unhealthy generally have the best health outcomes. These children have the lowest odds among all three groups of having fair or poor overall health, suffering from asthma, being overweight, and not having regular doctors' checkups. They also go to the emergency room significantly less often than the other groups. Knowing that maternal health strongly predicts child well-being could put additional pressure on policy-makers to help unhealthy mothers, particularly those who are disadvantaged.

Males: Your Role in Fertility is Crucial
A number of lifestyle choices, environmental factors and chance events can sabotage sperm quality: an adolescent groin injury, cigarette smoking, diet, heavy drinking, intense cycling and even using a laptop directly on the lap. Since men contribute to infertility at least half the time, couples investigating why they can't conceive should start with a simple sperm count. About 70% of male infertility is treatable, and in about 25% of cases, it could have been avoided with greater awareness of the lifestyle choices that can harm sperm. Even if sperm viability is normal, quality can still be an issue.

Smoking cigarettes, heavy alcohol drinking and using marijuana, cocaine and opioid painkillers can all lower the level of testosterone needed to make sperm or otherwise cut their quantity and quality. Commonly prescribed medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach acid, gout, inflammatory bowel disease, enlarged prostates and baldness are indicated. Men trying to conceive should avoid hot baths, hot tubs and tight pants, since heating the testicles by even a few degrees can hamper or stop sperm production. Resting a laptop on the lap can raise temperatures in the scrotum as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit in an hour. Intense cycling, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, groin injury, pesticides, industrial agents, and
untreated celiac disease round out the most common infertility causes.

Low antioxidant intake is associated with low reproductive capacity and quality in semen. This is finding from Fertility and Sterility showed that men who eat large amounts of meat and full fat dairy products have lower seminal quality than those who eat more fruit, vegetables and reduced fat dairy products.

Eating a half serving a day of soy-based foods could be enough to significantly lower a man's sperm count. The study is the largest in humans to look at the relationship between semen quality and a plant form of the female sex hormone estrogen known as phytoestrogen, which is plentiful in soy-rich foods. Men who consumed the highest amounts of soy foods had a lower sperm concentration compared to those who did not consume soy foods. Journal Human Reproduction

If we can do our part by striving for optimal health for ourselves, family, friends, coworkers, future generations will be beholden to us for this priceless public service.

For self-help, please order our Natural Fertility and Optimal Pregnancy Action Plans. These Action Plans are free to NCI Well Connect subscribers. For individualized counseling, please schedule an appointment with Bonnie Minsky.

Why evolution will not help us adapt to gluten anytime soon

In research that will help address a long-running debate and apparent contradiction between short- and long-term evolutionary change, scientists have discovered that although evolution is a constant and sometimes rapid process, the changes that hit and stick tend to take a long time. Give or take a little, one million years seems to be the magic number.

A new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined for the first time data from short periods such as 10-100 years with much longer evidence found in the fossil record over millions of years. It determined that rapid changes in local populations often don't continue, stand the test of time or spread through a species. In other words, just because humans are two or three inches taller now than they were 200 years ago, it doesn't mean that process will continue and we'll be two or three feet taller in 2,000 years. Or even as tall in one million years as we are now.

For reasons that are not completely clear, the data show the long-term dynamics of evolution to be quite slow. Across a broad range of species, the research found that for a major change to persist and for changes to accumulate, it took about one million years. The researchers wrote that this occurred repeatedly in a "remarkably consistent pattern." What's interesting is not that we have so much biological diversity and evolutionary change, but that we have so little.

So, the question is, should you continue to eat gluten? Contribute to human evolution that will allow us to tolerate it in 990,000 years? Or, help convince the human race that we would be better off without gluten and replace it with non-glutenous, more genetically compatible foodstuffs?

Label Alert: Fake Blueberry Products Rampant

Think your foodstuff contains blueberries? You had better look at the label first. A client forwarded this to us.

Fish Oil Improves Cognition

This should not come as a surprise.

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center have found positive associations between fish oil supplements and cognitive functioning as well as differences in brain structure between users and non-users of fish oil supplements.

The results were reported at the recent International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, in Paris, France. The NIH-funded study that followed 819 older adults with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's Disease for over three years with periodic memory testing and brain MRIs. 117 of the subjects reported regular use of fish oil supplements before entry and during study follow-up. The researchers compared cognitive functioning and brain atrophy for patients who reported routinely using these supplements to those who were not using fish oil supplements.

Compared to non-users, use of fish oil supplements was associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. Consistent with the cognitive outcomes, these observations were significant only for those who were APOE4 negative. The researchers found fish oil use was associated with less brain shrinkage.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do antioxidant supplements cut mortality risk?

Users of antioxidant vitamin supplements may be at reduced risk of cancer mortality, as well as premature death in general, suggests data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Antioxidant vitamin supplement use at the start of the study was associated with a 48 percent reduction in the risk of cancer mortality over 11 years of study, according to the European Journal of Nutrition study. In addition, the risk of all-cause mortality was reduced by 42 percent in people who were supplement users at the start of the study, report scientists from the German Cancer Research Centre and the University of Zurich.

Past antioxidant studies have been consistent with this finding and others are not. Why? The methodological challenge of conducting observational studies on the effect of dietary supplements is great and fraught with serious confounding variables.

An attempt to bring together the science was made in 2007, with the publication of a meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association which concluded that vitamins A and E, and beta-carotene may increase mortality risk by up to 16 per cent. On the other hand, vitamin C did not have an effect on mortality and the antioxidant mineral selenium was associated with a nine per cent decrease in all-cause mortality.

Recently, a team of internationally renowned antioxidant scientists re-analyzed the data used by JAMA and arrived at a different set of conclusions. The re-analysis, published in Nutrients, found that 36 percent of the trials showed a positive outcome or that the antioxidant supplements were beneficial, 60 percent had a null outcome, while only four percent found negative outcome.

So it would seem that antioxidant supplement data now supports cancer prevention and all cause mortality risk.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You Go Mayor!

Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

City employees who smoke, weigh too much, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol will soon face the same pressure to shape up as their counterparts in private industry.

After releasing a public health agenda for Chicago that identifies a dozen major priorities, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday said he’s prepared to drop the other shoe: a wellness plan for city employees that uses incentives to drive down costs by as much as $240 million over four years.

At a news conference at the teen fitness center at the Humboldt Park Field House, Emanuel referred to a Chicago Sun-Times story about the growing number of private sector companies now forcing their out-of-shape and unhealthy employees to pay higher health insurance premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

“There’s a reason the private sector has embraced this whole hog. And there’s a reason we’re gonna embrace it whole hog. It’s a good public health strategy,” the mayor said.

“We cannot afford the standard we’re on. And we can’t afford to do pilots anymore. ... Six to 8 percent of the city’s employees drive almost two-thirds of the health care costs around five chronic illnesses that are all manageable. ... We are going to be the first city to ... implement a citywide wellness plan for our employees because health care costs are being driven [up] 10 ten percent a year and we’re not seeing revenue growing that way.”

Emanuel said the city’s wellness plan would use a healthy mix of “carrots and sticks” to change employee behavior. He refused to identify the incentives and penalties.

“I’m not gonna get ahead of it. That’s a partnership you develop [with employee unions]. It’s a carrot-and-stick approach. It’s not just one approach,” he said.

“You don’t put your thumb on one side of the scale. You make the incentives clear enough that the individual realizes that good health care is the right road for them. It’s not one tactic. It’s a multi-pronged approach.”

Chicago taxpayers spend $500 million a year to provide health care for city employees, nearly 10 percent of the city’s annual budget.

Emanuel campaigned on a promise to reduce those annual costs by as much as $60 million in each of the next four years by implementing an incentive-laden health and wellness plan mirrored after the one pioneered by such private sector companies as Safeway and Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson managed to reduce employee smoking by two-thirds, cut high-blood pressure in half and get $3 of savings for every $1 invested in incentives.

The city has tried over the years to make inroads on wellness, using preventive screening programs. But Emanuel has argued that participation has fallen short, in part, because lucrative incentives are missing.

His wellness plan would begin by offering all participants in the city’s health plan an enhanced screening to establish benchmarks and long-term goals, including weight loss, medication, exercise and kicking the smoking habit.

City employees would get wellness training. Coaches would ride herd over them on a weekly or bi-monthly basis to make certain they’re following their prescribed nutritional, medical and physical fitness regimens.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Acupuncture for Infertility

We have many fertility success stories we can draw upon simply through the implementation of optimal diet, lifestyle, and natural therapies such as acupuncture. Many of them occurred after fertility treatments failed. There are many wonderful practitioners around the country that specialize in fertility acupuncture. However, there is no better one than Julie Segall, who practices in our own backyard (northern suburbs of Chicago).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our Doc's Take: Whole Body Vibration

Dr. Christian H. Reichardt is a chiropractor that became aware of Whole Body Vibration while training Olympic Athletes. He incorporates this technology in his office and wrote an article on how this vibration can help those with mild scoliosis. Here is my synopsis:

Whole Body Vibration is a mechanical platform that one stands on while performing specific exercises and stretches. The body begins to create adaptive responses to these vibrations and according to the article “Forty years of research has clearly demonstrated that these adaptive responses can be utilized to either loosen tissues by lengthening muscle fibers or to strengthen muscles.” This vibration technology seems to fit perfectly for those with mild scoliosis. One side of the scoliosis spine typically consists of short and tight tissues; which create hypo mobility. The other side of the scoliosis spine is often overstretched, has a lack of strength and creates hyper mobility. The vibration technology addresses both issues by helping to loosen the tight side and strengthen the weak side.

The article shows a scoliosis patient standing on the platform leaning to one side and holding that posture while the vibration helps to loosen those tight structures and then the person leans to the opposite side to help strengthen the loose fibers. Dr. Reichardt explains that “Whole Body Vibration (WBV) drastically reduces the time required to achieve these physiological outcomes; a proper WBV workout routine requires as little as 12 – 15 minutes training per session, at 2 to 3 times per week intervals.” For decades Chiropractors have utilized a scoliosis protocol combining manipulation of the spine to help with the immobility aspect of scoliosis along with strengthening exercises. This machine would be another valuable modality for the care of scoliosis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

For more information about Dr. Reichardt please go to

In health and happiness,

Dr. Liselotte Schuster
(8847) 509-9069

Healthy eating is a privilege of the rich?

Here is the AP story showing the data backing the idea that eating healthy is for the rich.

While there is truth to the fact that it is very expensive to eat all organic and shop at Whole Foods exclusively, it is completely asinine to say that you cannot eat a healthy diet on the cheap. But don't take our word for it. Here is a great rebuttal from Dr. David Katz.

Thinking About Going Vegan? Read This.

According to a study in British Journal of Nutrition, researchers previously demonstrated that abstaining from meat, for one month, by healthy omnivores (lacto-ovovegetarian model) resulted in a statistical decrease in pancreatic secretion. In the present study, they aimed to assess the changes of exocrine pancreatic secretion by applying a vegan diet. The nutrient intake and fecal output of pancreatic enzymes (elastase-1, chymotrypsin and lipase) were assessed twice during the study. Each assessment period lasted for 7 days: the first before the transition to the vegan diet (omnivore diet) and the second during the last week of the study (vegan diet). The dietary modification resulted in a significant decrease in fecal elastase-1 and chymotrypsin output. The lipase excretion remained unchanged. The decrease in proteolytic enzymes was documented to be positively correlated with a decreased protein intake. In addition, elastase-1 and chymotrypsin outputs were also related to the changes of protein type, plant versus animal. It was concluded that significant reduction and modification of protein intake due to a short-term vegan diet resulted in an adaptation of pancreatic protease secretion in healthy volunteers.

Bonnie - translation? When you reduce the amount of bioavailable protein (i.e. animal form), you also reduce your ability to digest the remaining protein in your diet. To make matters worse for vegans, plant protein is twice as hard to digest and is much less bioavailable than animal protein, rendering your enzymes even less useful. I have had several clients exhibit protein deprivation issues after going on vegan diets. Supplementing with enzymes can help the situation, especially chymotrypsin and protease, but cannot replace the bioavailablity of animal protein.

Pro athletes going gluten-free

This is the most recent piece on pro athletes seeing vast improvements in their performance, as well as their recovery, after going on gluten-free diets. Packer fans will enjoy this.

The best tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, partially credited his 48-1 record and US Open Championship in 2010-2011 to going gluten-free.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Allergies? Here's how to avoid allergy shots.

So many of us with outdoor allergies dread going to the allergist for shots, or, have simply given up going altogether. I would venture to bet that your allergist has never mentioned a new therapy that you can do at home and eliminate shots altogether. The therapy, sublingual immunotherapy, is actually not new. It has been available in Europe for over a decade but is just starting to gain traction in the US. Unfortunately, very few allergists use it because it threatens their business model. The data on sublingual immunotherapy is compelling and vast for outdoor allergies. Here is just the latest study from the June 299 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology:

Seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis affects millions of persons. The efficacy of allergen sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) was demonstrated in previous short-term studies.

We sought to evaluate the sustained efficacy of 2 dosing regimens of a pre- and coseasonal treatment with 300 IR (index of reactivity) 5-grass-pollen SLIT tablets (Oralair) compared with placebo assessed by using the average adjusted symptom score (AAdSS) at season 3 in adults with grass pollen–induced rhinoconjunctivitis.

Six hundred thirty-three patients were treated for either 2 or 4 months before and then during the grass pollen season with active or placebo treatment for 3 consecutive seasons. The primary outcome was the AAdSS, a symptom score adjusted for rescue medication use, after 3 consecutive treatment seasons. Secondary outcomes were symptoms and rescue medication score, quality-of-life, and safety assessments.

The mean AAdSS was reduced by 36.0% and 34.5% at season 3 in the 2- and 4-month pre- and coseasonal active treatment groups, respectively, compared with that in the placebo group (P < .0001 for both). Reductions were observed in total symptom scores and ISSs and the medication score, with a marked improvement in quality of life for both active groups compared with the placebo group at season 3. Most treatment-emergent adverse events were local reactions expected with SLIT, decreasing in number and intensity in each treatment season.

Sustained efficacy of 2- and 4-month pre- and coseasonal treatment with the 300 IR tablet over 3 pollen seasons was demonstrated, with reduction in symptoms and rescue medication use. The treatment was well tolerated. Adverse events decreased in number and intensity over the 3 seasons.

If you have tree, grass, weed/ragweed pollen and mold spores allergies, sublinigual immunotherapy can be extremely helpful therapeutically as well as a time-saving measure. Ask your allergist about them and if he/she does not support them, find an allergist who will.

We would welcome your response below in answering the question, "has your allergist ever suggested sublingual immunotherapy to you?"

Make your own baby food.

A client of ours who recently had a child shared this product with us.

The great thing about The Magic Bullet is that you can use it for many others things besides baby food.

Monsanto not only corners the seed market, but now trying to push out the middle man - the farmer

Monsanto begins direct to consumer distribution.

These foods lower polyps.

Eating legumes at least three times a week and brown rice at least once a week was linked to a reduced risk of colon polyps by 33 percent and 40 percent respectively, according to research recently published in Nutrition and Cancer. Results also show that consuming cooked green vegetables once a day or more, as compared to less than five times a week, was associated with a 24 percent reduction in the risk of rectal/colon polyps. Consuming dried fruit three times a week or more, versus less than once a week, was associated with a 26 percent reduced risk.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Diabetes, Celiac inextricably linked

A recent study from Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology could not be more emphatic in expressing the link between diabetes and celiac disease. "Celiac disease (CD) is one of the most frequent autoimmune disorders occurring in Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). The prevalence of CD in T1DM varies from 3 to 16%, with a mean prevalence of 8%. The clinical presentation of CD in T1DM is classified as symptomless in approximately half of cases, but a more accurate analysis often discloses a wide array of symptoms suggestive of CD. Both T1DM and CD show the same genetic background and an abnormal small intestinal immune response with inflammation and a variable grade of enteropathy. Serological screening for CD should be performed in all T1DM patients by means of antibodies to tissue transglutaminase at T1DM onset. T1DM patients found to be celiacs must be treated by a gluten-free diet. Potential CD cases (especially when asymptomatic) should be kept on a gluten-containing diet with a careful clinical and antibody follow-up, since many of them will not develop villous atrophy."

Bonnie - Doctors? Are you listening?

Folks, we did not pull this from The Onion
"Woman burned while smoking and using oxygen"
By William Lee Tribune reporter 4:56 AM CDT, August 11, 2011
"A 51-year-old woman who uses oxygen tanks to breathe suffered face and inhalation burns this morning while she was smoking inside her Near West Side home. The incident happened at about 3:20 a.m. in the 100 block of North Leavitt Street in the city's West Town neighborhood, officials said. The woman was smoking at her home when she received first and second-degree burns to her face, as well as some inhalation burns, according to the Chicago Fire Department. She was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious-to-critical condition.

Why you, as well as young females, need vitamin D

Investigators have connected low vitamin D levels to atherosclerosis. They found that low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were associated with increased intima-media and maximal carotid thickness in those with plaque, according to the August issue of Stroke.

Young Females
Early menarche (menstruation) is a risk factor for cardiometabolic disease and cancer. Latitude, which influences sun exposure, is inversely related to age at menarche. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study following girls at age 8-9 showed that 57% of girls in the vitamin D–deficient group reached menarche during follow-up compared with 23% of girls in the vitamin D–sufficient group, making the probability of menarche twice as high in vitamin D–deficient girls.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Doc's Take: Restless Leg Syndrome

Dr. Howard F. Loomis, a chiropractic physician who also teaches nutrition, wrote an article about Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) in The Chiropractic Journal. He described RLS as “a sleep disorder in which a person experiences vague, unpleasant, seldom painful, but always very annoying, sensations in the legs such as creeping, crawling, and tingling. These sensations occur anywhere from the thigh to the ankle. One or both legs may be affected and, for a small percentage, the sensations may also be experienced in the arms.” Dr. Loomis also reported “people with RLS describe an irresistible urge to move the legs when the sensations occur. Walking, rubbing or massaging the legs, or doing knee bends can bring relief, at least briefly.” Symptoms are often worse during periods of relaxation and decreased activity, especially in the evening and during the night. These symptoms make it difficult to relax and fall asleep; which can lead to sleep deprivation, affecting one’s quality of life.

The article listed three common factors that have been associated with RLS:

1.) Pregnancy: Some pregnant women experience RLS especially in the last trimester, however it often disappears after delivery.
2.) Anemia: Those with iron deficiency anemia or other kinds. This often disappears once the iron and other nutritional levels improve.
3.) Chronic Diseases: Including kidney failure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral neuropathy.

There is no laboratory test to diagnose RLS; the only way is through the symptoms that a patient reports. According to Dr. Loomis, based on the symptoms one possible cause would be a lack of range of motion in the pelvis or the sacroiliac joints. This would account for why pregnant women and chronic diseases associated with muscle contraction could create symptoms. Another possible cause of RLS is nutritional; which is why the anemia and some chronic diseases may also bring out symptoms.

Dr. Loomis has the following recommendations for how chiropractors can address and alleviate symptoms of RLS:

1.) Make sure to evaluate and then adjust the joints of the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, pelvis and lumbo-sacral region.
2.) Teach specific exercises to strengthen the pelvis, lumbo-sacral area, the discs and include a walking program.
3.) Stretch at the beginning and end of the day, especially the hamstrings. 4.) Patient's should be made aware that symptoms could be due to side effects to anti-nausea drugs, anti-psychotics and some cold and allergy medications.

I want to add that based on the anemia aspect one should also get their blood drawn for a cbc with differential, iron and ferritin. This way one can rule out iron deficiency or folic acid, B-12 and other vitamin deficiencies as a possible cause.

In health and happiness,
Dr. Liselotte Schuster

Aspirin no benefit for those without CVD

According to a new study from the August issue of American Heart Journal, the benefit of aspirin to prevent cardiovascular events in subjects without clinical cardiovascular disease relative to the increased risk of bleeding is uncertain. 52,145 subjects were allocated to aspirin and 50,476 to placebo/control. Over a mean follow-up of 6.9 years, aspirin was associated with a reduction in major cardiac events (MCE). There was no significant reduction for myocardial infarction, stroke, ischemic stroke, or all-cause mortality. Aspirin was associated with hemorrhagic stroke and major bleeding. The number needed to treat to prevent 1 MCE over a mean follow-up of 6.9 years was 253, which was offset by the number needed to harm to cause 1 major bleed of 261. The current totality of evidence provides only modest support for a benefit of aspirin in patients without clinical cardiovascular disease, which is offset by its risk. For every 1,000 subjects treated with aspirin over a 5-year period, aspirin would prevent 2.9 MCE and cause 2.8 major bleeds.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Magnesium level may predict all-cause mortality.

According to a study in the June issue of journal Atherosclerosis, low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. According to the authors, low serum magnesium levels are associated with future development of left ventricular hypertrophy independently of common cardiovascular risk factors. As left ventricular hypertrophy has significant prognostic implications, they hypothesized that serum Mg levels are associated with cardiovascular mortality.

The median duration of mortality follow-up was 10.1 years in 4203 subjects. During the follow-up, 417 deaths occurred. Mortality in subjects with Mg below 0.73mmol/l was significantly higher for all-cause deaths (10.95 death per 1000 person years), and cardiovascular deaths (3.44 deaths per 1000 person years) in comparison to higher Mg concentrations (1.45 deaths from all-cause per 1000 person years, 1.53 deaths from cardiovascular cause per 1000 person years). This association remained statistically significant after adjustment for multiple cardiovascular risk factors, including arterial hypertension, and antihypertensive therapy including diuretics.

The authors concluded that low serum Mg levels are associated with higher all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality. This corresponds well with recent findings that hypomagnesemia is associated with the increase of left ventricular mass over the following years.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Top Nutrients for Memory Support

There may not be a single health issue people fear more than memory loss and cognition dysfunction as we age. What's even scarier is that with billions spent on research, there is still no cure. At least the medical community has come around to thinking that diet and lifestyle plays the most crucial part for prevention. While we have focused on diet and lifestyle many times on this blog, we have not listed what we believe are the top nutrients for memory and cognition.

Stalwarts (in alphabetical order)

  • B-Vitamins
    B-12, B-6, and Folate especially
  • Co-Enzyme Q10
    If family history, a dose between 200-400 mg. is essential. If you have the disease, you must take at least 1200-1600 mg.
  • Fish Oil (including Cod Liver Oil)
  • Magnesium
  • Melatonin
    It is also a great sleep aid.
  • Phosphatidyl Choline
    Its precursor, citicoline, may be even more effective.
  • Progesterone
    Because it is a hormone, take only if you are deficient. Use only the natural form and applied topically.
  • Vitamin D
    Your optimum vitamin D blood level should be 50 or above.
Very Promising
  • Lithium
    Trace mineral long-used for mental disorders. Can be taken in small amounts supplementally through your physician, pharmacist, or licensed health professional.

  • Citicoline
    Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. It is taken by mouth as a supplement or given by IV or as a shot. Citicoline is used for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, head trauma, cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, age-related memory loss, Parkinson's disease, and glaucoma.

    Citicoline was originally developed in Japan for stroke. It was later introduced as a prescription drug in many European countries. In these countries it is now frequently prescribed for thinking problems related to circulation problems in the brain. In the US, citicoline is marketed as a dietary supplement.

    Citicoline seems to increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine. This brain chemical is important for brain function. Citicoline might also decrease brain tissue damage when the brain is injured.

    Researchers at
    the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology (ASCP) Annual Meeting think these changes in cognition include improvement in attention, perhaps due to an increase in brain dopamine levels. The investigators of one study found that participants who received low- or high-dose citicoline showed improved attention, demonstrating fewer commission and omission errors on the CPT-II compared with the placebo group. The improvement was quite noteworthy for the 250-mg dose and 500-mg dose, after just 28 days.
Citicoline (essential tremor)

Back to School Wellness Tips: Preschool through College

Preschool through High School
  • Reduce Sugar Intake.
    Sugar is a main contributor for reducing immunity, thus allowing a greater susceptibility to viruses, bacteria, fatigue, and emotional imbalances.
  • Limit Standard USDA School Lunches if Possible.
    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says USDA food-buying practices are diametrically opposed to their own Food-Guide Pyramid.
    USDA Does You No Favors.
  • Vitamin D3 and Cod Liver Oil.
    New data from Pediatrics states that 7 of 10 American children are low in vitamin D, raising the risk for bone and heart problems. Lack of sunshine in fall and winter means little vitamin D is available when a child's immune system needs it the most. Cod Liver's naturally-occurring vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids richly supports numerous school-related functions, including mental acuity and mood. One-half to one teaspoon daily is suggested. 1000IU of total vitamin D3 through food and supplements is recommended.
  • Sleep.
    Between 9-12 hours for young children through teen.
  • Probiotics.
    Balanced gut ecology is essential to fight bacteria and viruses. A high quality acidophilus/bifidus combination, such as Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF caps, provided amazing pathogen prevention results in a recent Pediatrics study.
  • Low Glycemic Carbohydrates.
    Instead of loading up on grain carbs, make your child's carbs fruit and veggie-heavy (organic preferred whenever possible). Fruit juice does not count.
  • Magnesium.
    "Nature's Valium" supports focus and calm. Glycinate form eliminates intestinal disturbance, magnesium's only side effect in certain forms.
  • Practice Clean Hygiene.
    Make sure your children wash their hands after going to the restroom and before meals. Ty to dissuade them from putting their fingers in their mouth, nose, ear canal, or rubbing their eyes.
  • Immunizations.
    Two days before and after injections, give your child 500mg. extra, well-tolerated vitamin C and 10-15 mg. of zinc (with dinner).
  • Athletics.
    If your child is playing a sport several times weekly, make sure you they receive extra calories, proper nutrients (especially electrolytes magnesium and potassium), and filtered water.
  • Other Food-Related Tips.
    • Eliminate sweetened and artificially sweetened drinks.
    • Avoid low-fat, fat-free, and diet products that are processed and loaded with chemicals.
    • Offer smaller portions.
    • Take charge of the foods you feed your kids at home.
    • Keep junk food out of the house.
    • Don't watch television during meals.
    • Shop for REAL food.
    • Protein, protein, protein!
    • Healthy fat is essential for your brain function.


Prescription sleep aid use among 18-24 year-olds has tripled over the last 10 years. Intake of stimulant medications are also making a meteoric rise. College is not conducive to wellness, period. Limited budgets, low-grade food options, late-night eating, sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, excess carbohydrate consumption in the form of liquid calories, less-then-exemplary hygiene, and close proximity to thousands of others like you make for an unwell environment.

Research shows that the average college student gains four pounds in their first semester and five to fifteen pounds during a full year. Not all is lost.
  • Limit Sugar Intake.
    Sugar is the number one contributor to reduced immunity to viruses and bacteria; or at the least, always have protein or fat with sugar.
  • At the very least, take a multivitamin/mineral.
    Ideally with 800-1000IU of vitamin D3.
  • Sleep.
    We're not asking for the ideal, just adequate (7-8 hours).
  • Practice Clean Hygiene.
    Simple things like washing your hands often do not put your fingers in your mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Exercise.
    Stay active to stay focused, keep a balanced weight, and to keep your immune system strong. Walk to class if you have to.
  • Eat Breakfast.
    Breakfast affects learning for the rest of the day and is your most important meal
  • Avoid highly sweetened, caffeine-infused energy drinks.
    If you need the caffeine, stick with black coffee. Other than that, drink water and an occasional cocktail.
  • Keep nuts & seeds in your room.
    They are great, on-the-go snacks that don't have to be refrigerated.
  • Make intelligent choices at the cafeteria.
    The easiest choice: scrap the breads and grain products for fruits and vegetables (even if the pickings are slim) and forget about dessert.
  • Make one day a week your splurge day.
    Make sure you are great for the other six.
  • Pack your dorm-room with:
    First-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment, natural remedies, and a thermometer. Have a complete medical history chart, including any allergies, blood type, and emergency contacts to keep in your wallet.
  • Be responsible!
    People have many different outlets to let off steam in college; it is no secret that drinking, drug use, and smoking increase exponentially during the college years.

Refer to Other Detailed Resources:
The School Age Child, Optimized Action Plan
Blood Sugar Balance Action Plan
The New American Breakfast Action Plan

Vitamin C, E supplements for type 2 diabetes patients

An imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and antioxidant scavenging has been implicated in type 2 diabetes. ROS are a byproduct in type 2 diabetes, generated during protein glycation and as a consequence of advanced glycation end-products-receptor binding; they impair insulin signalling pathways and induce cytotoxicity in pancreatic beta cells. Neutralization of oxidants by increased antioxidant availability may mitigate these effects.

A study in the August issue of British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease explored the effects of dietary supplementation with antioxidant vitamins C or E on plasma glucose and insulin concentrations, as an indicator of the capacity for antioxidant to interfere with disease process and on glycated haemoglobin A1C as a measure of antioxidant effects on posttranslational protein modification implicated in disease complications.

The researchers discovered that HbA1C levels were significantly reduced by antioxidant supplementation, suggesting that antioxidants may have benefit in protecting against the complications of type 2 diabetes.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Lactobacillus acidophilus for eczema

A study in the July issue of British Journal Nutrition found a significant risk reduction for atopic eczema in children aged 2–7 years by the administration of probiotics during pregnancy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pfizer wants Lipitor OTC (Over the Counter)

Pfizer Inc is interested in selling a non-prescription version of its Lipitor cholesterol drug after it loses U.S. patent protection, but would likely face a battle with regulators because of safety concerns, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. The report, citing people familiar with the matter, said Pfizer is hopeful that regulators will allow an over-the-counter form of Lipitor. It would help Pfizer squeeze new sales out of Lipitor once the nearly $11 billion-a-year drug begins facing competition from generic prescription forms of the medicine in November, the Journal said. The report said rival drugmaker Merck & Co in recent years failed to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow it to sell an over-the-counter version of its older Mevacor cholesterol drug. Mevacor, Lipitor and other top-selling cholesterol fighters belong to a class of medicines called statins that can cause liver and muscle damage in a small percentage of patients. Pfizer spokesman Ray Kerins declined to comment on the report, when asked by Reuters, but said Pfizer has "strategic plans in place for Lipitor's loss of exclusivity."

Colon cleansing and Colonics can be dangerous

According to a study in the August issue of American Journal of Family Practice, there is little evidence of benefits of colon cleansing (whether by hydrotherapy, or by ingesting strong laxatives). What researchers did find, however, was a whole range of side-effects, including abdominal pain, nausea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance (minerals in the blood that help regulate, among other things, neurological function) and kidney and liver failure.

Bonnie - I have always been dead-set against colon cleansers. The majority of them do more harm than good, especially by eradicating your gut ecology and depleting essential minerals. While I have been a bit more tolerant of colon hydrotherapy (colonics), I only recommend getting them once or twice per year, maximum. However, I always warn that there can be side effects and injuries from doing them.

Thinking about getting a mammography? Read this.

Breast cancer screening has not played a direct part in the reductions of breast cancer mortality in recent years, says a new study published in the British Medical Journal. An international team of researchers from France, the UK and Norway found that better treatment and improving health systems are more likely to have led to falling numbers of deaths from breast cancer than screening.

A research team compared trends in breast cancer mortality within three pairs of European countries -- Northern Ireland versus Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands versus Belgium and Flanders, and Sweden versus Norway. The researchers expected that a reduction in breast cancer mortality would appear sooner in countries with earlier implementation of screening. Results showed that from 1989 to 2006, deaths from breast cancer fell by 29% in Northern Ireland and 26% in the Republic of Ireland; by 25% in the Netherlands, 20% in Belgium and 25% in Flanders; and by 16% in Sweden and 24% in Norway. These trends in breast cancer mortality rates varied little between countries where women had been screened by mammography for a considerable time compared with those where women were largely unscreened during that same period. Furthermore, the greatest reductions were in women aged 40-49, regardless of the availability of screening in this age group. They conclude: "The contrast between the time differences in implementation of mammography screening and the similarity in reductions in mortality between the country pairs suggest that screening did not play a direct part in the reductions in breast cancer mortality." They add: "Improvements in treatment and in the efficiency of healthcare systems efficiency may be more plausible explanations."

Young people need fish oil

A new study gauging the impact of consuming more fish oil showed a marked reduction both in inflammation and, surprisingly, in anxiety among a cohort of healthy young people. The findings suggest that if young participants can get such improvements from specific dietary supplements, then the elderly and people at high risk for certain diseases might benefit even more. The findings by a team of researchers at Ohio State University were just published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

Psychological stress has repeatedly been shown to increase cytokine production so the researchers wondered if increasing omega-3 might mitigate that process, reducing inflammation. The researchers hypothesized that giving some medical students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of proinflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo. Half the students received omega-3 supplements while the other half were given placebo pills. The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you'd get from a daily serving of salmon. Those receiving the omega-3 showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group. An analysis of the of the blood samples from the medical students showed similar important results. They saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3. The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Prenatal DHA supplements prevent infection in offspring

When women take a supplement of the omega 3 fatty acid DHA during pregnancy, their babies have fewer cold symptoms and shorter illnesses, new research indicates. At 1 month and 3 months of age, about 38 percent of babies exposed to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the womb experienced cold symptoms, compared to about 45 percent of the babies whose mothers were given a placebo supplement while they were pregnant. Results of the study will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the March of Dimes Foundation.

AARP endorses far infrared therapy

A recent piece in the July issue of "AARP The Magazine" endorsed Far Infrared Sauna Therapy for loosening muscles, relieving tension and pain, and improving joint function. We have offered Far Infrared Sauna Therapy in our office for over four years.

Alpha lipoic acid shows promise for diabetic neuropathy

Four years of treatment with alpha-lipoic acid for diabetic polyneuropathy yielded some clinically meaningful improvements, according to a recent report in Diabetes Care. The change in Neuropathy Impairment Score-Lower Limbs (NIS-LL) was significantly better with alpha-lipoic acid than placebo, as was the change in the muscular weakness subscore. The team had assigned 460 diabetic patients with mild-to-moderate polyneuropathy to receive oral alpha-lipoic acid 600 mg or matching placebo four times daily for four years. In conclusion, the researchers state that four-year treatment with alpha-lipoic acid in mild-to-moderate DSPN was well tolerated and was associated with improvement of neuropathic impairments but not nerve conduction attributes.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Americans flocking to alternative therapies

Courtesy of WebMD News

Most Americans believe that prescription medications are the most effective treatments for many common illnesses, but a Consumer Reports survey of more than 45,000 people finds that three-fourths of us are turning to alternative therapies like yoga and acupuncture.

The new report says 38 million adults make more than 300 million visits per year to acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other practitioners of alternative and complementary techniques.

"Despite the hoopla over alternative therapies, when we asked respondents how well the therapies they used worked for 12 common health problems, results showed that they were usually deemed far less helpful than prescription medicine for most of the conditions," Consumer Reports Health says in its September issue.

Also, over-the-counter medications in many cases are more popular among consumers than widely used dietary supplements, according to the survey.

Most Popular Alternative Therapies

Chiropractic, deep-tissue massage, and mind-body practices like yoga dominated the list of alternative treatments that respondents said were helpful for back pain, neck pain, and the aches of osteoarthritis.

And though meditation is widely touted as an effective way to relieve anxiety, insomnia, and depression, the survey says prescription antidepressants are used by more people.

Among key findings of the survey:

  • Consumers ranked prescription drugs as most effective for nine of 12 conditions -- allergies, cold and flu, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, headache and migraine, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and osteoarthritis.
  • Of the 46% of respondents who used prescription drugs for osteoarthritis pain, 53% said it helped a lot; 54% of respondents used glucosamine/chondroitin for osteoarthritis symptoms, and 25% said it helped a lot.
  • Of the 27% of respondents who used meditation, 42% said it helped "a lot" with anxiety.
  • 43% of respondents used deep-breathing exercises for anxiety, and 34% found it helped a lot.
  • Chiropractic care was ranked as the most effective treatment for back pain.
  • Pilates, yoga, and deep-tissue massage all rated about the same as prescription medication for back pain.
  • Vitamins and minerals were the most commonly used alternative treatments for general health, with 73% of respondents taking them.
  • A majority of people who said they used alternative therapies had told their doctors about it.

Respondents were online subscribers of Consumer Reports.