Friday, April 27, 2012

Junk Food = Depression

In a Public Health Nutrition study of almost 9000 adults, those who consistently consumed "fast food," such as hamburgers and pizza, were 40% more likely to develop depression than the participants who consumed little to none of these types of food. Even small quantities of fast food were linked to a significantly higher risk for depression. The depression risk rose steadily as more fast food was consumed. Participants who often ate commercial baked goods, such as croissants and doughnuts, were also at significant risk.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Allergy Update

Best and Worst Places for Allergies in the U.S. - Asthma and Allergy Foundation and America
1. Portland, OR
2. Albany, NY
3. Seattle, WA
4. San Diego, CA
5. Greenville, SC
6. Sacramento, CA
7. Salt Lake City, UT
8. Ogden, UT
9. Stockton, CA
10. Boston, MA

1. Knoxville, TN
2. Louisville, KY
3. Charlotte, NC
4. Jackson, MS
5. Chattanooga, TN
6. Birmingham, AL
7. Dayton, OH
8. Richmond, VA
9. McAllen, TX
10. Madison, WI

Number of Children Suffering From Allergies - Centers for Disease Control 2010:
Skin - 9,400,000
Respiratory - 8,581,000
Hay Fever - 7,085,000
Food - 3,443,000

Comments From The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI): 
People with spring allergies often don't realize how many things can aggravate their allergy symptoms so they just muddle along and hope for an early end to the season. Three simple adjustments in habits and treatment can make springtime much more enjoyable.

1. Fruits and veggies -- Many people with seasonal allergies also suffer from pollen food allergy syndrome (also called oral allergy syndrome), a cross-reaction between the similar proteins in certain types of fruits, vegetables (and some nuts) and the allergy-causing pollen. One in five people with grass allergies and as many as 70 percent of people with birch tree allergies suffer from the condition, which can make your lips tingle and swell and your mouth itch. The trick is to determine which problematic produce is causing your symptoms and then avoid eating it. For example, if you're allergic to birch or alder trees, you might have a reaction to celery, cherries or apples. If you have grass allergies, tomatoes, potatoes or peaches may bother you.

2. Using the wrong air filter -- Using an air filter to keep your home pollen-free is a good idea, but be sure it's the right kind. Studies show inexpensive central furnace/air conditioning filters and ionic electrostatic room cleaners aren't helpful -- and in fact the latter releases ions, which can be an irritant. Whole-house filtration systems do work, but change the filters regularly or you could be doing more harm than good

3. Opening your windows -- Keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season.

Cancer-Fighting Cholesterol

Cholesterol-binding proteins called ORPs may control cancer cell growth, according to a report in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The scientists came to their conclusion while trying to understand how cholesterol moves around inside cells in the fat's journey to cell surfaces where it reinforces their outer membrane. Given that uncontrolled cell growth is a key feature of cancer, this means gaining a better understanding of the true purpose of cholesterol-binding within cells could be important in cancer treatment. The scientists draw on two important facts to support their conclusion. First, cancer cells require ORPs to survive. Second, other scientists have previously shown that a new class of natural compounds that look like steroids or cholesterol can kill a broad spectrum of different cancer cells. They will now find out exactly which proteins respond to ORP activation and under what circumstances does cholesterol turn off ORP's activation of them.

Bonnie: Could America's obsession with lowering cholesterol come back to haunt us?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Meta-analysis studies do not work

Three recent examples provide all the ammunition one needs to discount meta-analysis studies:
  1. A new PLOS Med study on the diabetes drug Metformin has the medical community up in arms. Researchers could not rule out anything from a 25% decrease to a 31% increase in the risk of death for any cause, or a 33% decrease to a 64% increase in the risk of cardiovascular mortality from taking the drug. The finding is surprising because the drug has been considered to be the first-line treatment for diabetes since 1998.

    The meta-analysis was sharply criticized on methodological grounds. In all, researchers found 25 studies, of which 13 had enough data on the outcomes to form the basis of a meta-analysis. Opponents argued that they were often comparing apples to oranges, in that a 1998 UK study was over a 12-year period, while many of the other studies in the analysis lasted only six months or a year. Critics claim that you cannot answer this question on studies of less than eight, nine, 10 years' duration.

  2. The reported benefits of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for treating the repetitive behaviors of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) may be exaggerated by the selective publication of positive results.

    In a recent meta-analysis, the use of SSRIs was associated with a modest but significant improvement in repetitive behaviors. After accounting for publication bias, however, the improvement lost statistical significance, according to the May issue of Pediatrics.

    "Without timely, transparent, and complete disclosure of trial results, it remains difficult to determine the efficacy of available medications. It is especially ironic that problems in making research data available about the use of this class of drugs in children created a firestorm almost 10 years ago," the author of the editorial noted. "Unfortunately, this problem has not been resolved."

    Additional commentary in Pediatrics underscored that the problem of pediatric publication bias is not confined to studies of SSRIs. Researchers evaluated 160 randomly selected, NIH-funded studies and 758 randomly selected completed studies involving children. They found that only 53% of the former, and 29% of the latter, were published, which they cited as evidence of "substantial publication bias."
  3. A recent Archive of Internal Medicine study discounting the efficacy of fish oil was another meta-analysis gone wrong. See our response here.
What's the worst part of the meta-analysis problem? The studies on Metformin and antidepressants received no media attention. This would have been a great opportunity to bring the issue to the public's attention. Alternatively, the fish oil study was headline news at every major media outlet. Very few mentioned that the study was littered with bias.

Gluten-free is no fad

Trend experts are beginning to predict the demise of the gluten-free diet. The problem is, gluten-free is not a fad. It has not even begun to scratch the surface of its reach.

Currently 1 in 133 Americans is estimated to have celiac disease. That means about 3 million people across all ages and races. 95 percent of these people are currently undiagnosed. That means 2,850,000 people still don’t know they need to go completely gluten free. The diagnosis rate may reach 50 to 60 percent by 2019, thanks to increased awareness. That still leaves a solid 30 percent or more who likely won’t be diagnosed by then.

Research indicates that about 18 million more people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population, have gluten intolerance or intolerance/sensitivity, making it the most undiagnosed disorder in the country. 

There is no cure for celiac disease or gluten intolerance/sensitivity. The only treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Two years ago, another “trend expert” predicted that the gluten-free market would collapse “like a house of cards.” But sales reached $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 (a 30 percent growth from 2006), jumped 23 percent to $3.4 billion in 2011, and are now expected to surpass $5 billion by 2015.

In addition, celiac disease is about two and a half times more common among elderly people than it is in the population as a whole. The largest portion of our population, the baby boomers, are going to be elderly in the near future.

According to Dr. Alessio Fasano, M.D., Director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, people with a genetic predisposition for celiac disease may develop it at any time, even if they have been eating gluten for years without any problems. He says this of the disease, “You cannot grow out of it, but you may grow into it.” A recent study in BMC Gastroenterology showed that in screened elderly subjects, a gluten-free diet improved gastrointestinal symptoms, vitamin levels, bone density, as well as reduced fracture risk.

Once diagnosis becomes easier, potentially millions will develop gluten issues on a consistent basis. Does this sounds like a fad to you?

Data came from The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research (UMCCR), the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), and the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).

Medication Alert

16 Drugs on the FDA Watch List

Acne Medication

Use of isotretinoin (Roaccutane, formerly known as Accutane) to treat severe acne was linked to a two-fold risk of developing eye problems, such as pink eye, styes and dryness. Isotretinoin is known to have serious side effects, such as bone growth delays in teenagers and miscarriages and birth defects when taken by pregnant women.

The new Archives of Dermatology study found that of nearly 15,000 Israeli adolescents and young adults, 14% of those taking isotretinoin were treated for eye conditions within a year of starting the drug, compared to 7% of an acne-free comparison group.

Blood Pressure Medication
Aliskiren-containing medications are
renin inhibitors used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). They go by the names:

Amturnide (aliskiren hemifumarate, amlodipine besylate, and hydrochlorothiazide)
Tekturna (aliskiren hemifumarate)
Tekturna HCT (aliskiren hemifumarate and hydrochlorothiazide)
Tekamlo (aliskiren hemifumarate and amlodipine besylate)
Valturna (aliskiren hemifumarate and valsartan).

FDA notified healthcare professionals of possible risks when using blood pressure medicines containing aliskiren with other drugs called angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) in patients with diabetes or kidney (renal) impairment. These drug combinations should not be used (are contraindicated) in patients with diabetes. In addition, avoid use of aliskiren with ARBs or ACEIs in patients with moderate to severe renal impairment.

Bone Loss Medication 
Patients taking oral bisphosphonates for the first time may be at higher risk of developing scleritis and uveitis (eye diseases), according to an April 2 study in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The incidence rate among 10,827 first-time bisphosphonate users was 29/10,000 person-years for uveitis and 63/10,000 person-years for scleritis. In contrast, the incidence rate among 923,320 nonusers was 20/10,000 person-years for uveitis and 36/10,000 for scleritis.

"This is the first study that quantifies the risk of uveitis and scleritis with these drugs. In the past, much attention has been given to other adverse events related to these drugs, mainly linking them to increasing the risk of atypical fractures, atrial fibrillation, and gastrointestinal cancer," the lead author said.

It is possible that the release of inflammatory mediators triggered by the use of bisphosphonates may be the mechanism behind the development of scleritis and uveitis among first-time users. Left untreated, uveitis can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, macular edema, and scleral perforation.

Hair Loss Medication
Two Merck & Co. drugs, one to treat hair loss in men (Propecia), the other to treat an enlarged prostate gland (Proscar), will get revised labels warning of potential sexual side effects that can last even after patients stop taking the drugs. Both drugs share the same chemical compound, called finasteride. 

The new Propecia label will include a warning of "libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after discontinuation of the drug," the FDA said in a recent news release.The Proscar label will include a warning about "decreased libido that continued after discontinuation of the drug," the agency said. The labels of both drugs will also carry about a description of reports of male infertility and/or poor semen quality that clears up or improves after the drugs are stopped.

Statins were responsible for rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown) in 7.5% of patients diagnosed with the skeletal muscle condition, according to a review of International Classification of Disease, Ninth Edition (ICD-9) codes. Publishing their findings as a letter to the editor in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reseacrhers also confirmed a significantly higher risk of rhabdomyolysis in patients treated with high doses of simvastatin.

In a separate warning from the FDA,
taking Statins With HIV or Hepatitis C Drugs raises muscle injury risk

Weight-Loss Medication
Orlistat is an inhibitor of gastric and pancreatic lipase with proven efficacy in the augmentation and maintenance of weight loss. Although its use has been limited by troublesome but benign gastrointestinal side effects, it has more recently been associated with acute kidney injury (AKI). In a Therapeutic Advances in Drug Research review, although the author's cannot yet draw an unequivocal causal link between orlistat and AKI, there is enough evidence to include orlistat exposure in the clinical assessment of patients with AKI.

MedWatch's Most Recent Safety Page

Memory worries? Do your chores.

According to a new study, even mundane, low-key tasks like gardening, cooking and washing dishes can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s if they’re performed often enough.The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, included 716 dementia-free men and women in their 70s and 80s. Compared to the most active people, those with the lowest levels of overall physical activity had more than double the risk of going on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Greater physical activity was also associated with a slower rate of aging-related memory and cognitive decline. According to the lead researcher at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago. “You don’t have to get a membership in the local YMCA. If you walk up some more steps, stand up and do the dishes more, you stand to benefit because it’s incremental and adds up over the course of a full day.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Farmers must spend more on herbicides as effectiveness fades

Courtesy of USA Today

A much-used herbicide, which for years has helped farmers throughout the United States increase profits, is losing its effectiveness and forcing producers to spend more and use more chemicals to control the weeds that threaten yields. "I've gone from budgeting $45 an acre just two years ago to spending more than $100 an acre now to control weeds," said Mississippi farmer John McKee, who grows corn, cotton and soybeans on his 3,300-acre farm in the Delta.

The problem is Roundup, a herbicide introduced in the 1970s, and its partner, Roundup Ready crop seeds, genetically modified to withstand Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate. In 1996, Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready soybean, soon touted as a game changer. "It was an extremely valuable and useful tool for the past 15 years," said Bob Scott, extension weed scientist with the University of Arkansas.

The problem now is the weeds that Roundup once controlled are becoming resistant to glyphosate, Scott said. "It's a very, very serious issue here in the Delta," licensed crop consultant Joe Townsend said. "We're knee-deep in it."As overuse of antibiotics led to resistant bugs or superbugs, the almost exclusive use of glyphosate led to resistant populations of weeds, such as pigweed and ryegrass, once controlled by the herbicide. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have been identified in Australia, South America and China, according to the International Survey of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds.

To combat resistant weeds, farmers are turning to older methods of weed control — more chemicals and more tillage, which leads to increased rates of soil erosion. "I used so many chemicals last year, it made me silly," McKee said. "We're going backwards 15 years."Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C., says the use of more chemicals has real public health implications. "It increases the chances they will get into our food and water."

Weed resistance to herbicides is not new. The problem, Freese says, is it's happening at a much quicker rate. "Because of the use of a single chemical (glyphosate), it's speeding up evolution." Herbicide-resistant crops are "taking us in the wrong direction. It's just not sustainable."

Rick Cole, weed management technical lead at Monsanto, said the company recommends "multiple modes of action," essentially, using more than one chemical, crop rotation and tillage. "I think everybody has learned together. When someone says they're using more chemistry, what we're worried about (is), is it safe? Is it effective?"On the horizon for Monsanto, Cole said, is Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate and dicamba. Dicamba has been on the market for decades, and Cole says crops let farmers use more than one chemical on weeds. Bayer CropScience also produces genetically modified seeds resistant to its herbicide, Liberty.

Bonnie: the comment from Monsanto's spokesperson was priceless. Monsanto cornered the market with Roundup and forced it down farmer's throats. Now they are recommending multiple modes of action? They're all of a sudden worried about safety and effectiveness? The hypocrisy of these comments defy reason.

Multivitamins improve brain function in adults, kids.

Taking a multivitamin supplement daily can improve cognitive performance in both children and
adults, according to a series of studies published in the British Journal of Nutrition, Psychopharmacology, and Human Psychopharmacology.

The researchers monitored groups of healthy children, men and women who took commercially-available vitamins and mineral supplements daily for 4 to 12 weeks, and tested their cognitive performance through tasks requiring attention, memory, accuracy and/or multitasking ability. The mood or stress levels of participants were also assessed.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation improved cognitive performance after only a few weeks of supplementation. Men taking high dose B-complex vitamins showed improved performance on cognitive tasks, were less mentally tired and showed improved vigor. Women taking multivitamin/mineral supplements were demonstrated to have increased accuracy and speed on multitasking batteries. Children, aged 8-14, showed increased accuracy in attention-based tasks.

B-vitamin promising for preemies

The Cochrane Library 4/2/12: "Inositol is an essential nutrient for cells, with high concentrations in breast milk (particularly in the breast milk of mothers whose babies have been born early). A drop in inositol levels in babies with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) can be a sign that their illness will be a severe one. Our review found that the initial evidence regarding inositol supplementation in preterm babies with RDS is promising. Supplementation lowered rates of death, bleeding in the brain, and with an important reduction in eye problems as well. Inositol did not have serious adverse effects."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Treat quality of life or treat disease?

Is health care starting to turn their attention to treating quality of life as opposed to treating disease? With chronic illness using up 75% of the $2.6 trillion we now spend annually on health care, let's hope so.

According to the CDC's ongoing, annual, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System study, which measures the number of "healthy" days 430,000 people have in a given month, the trend is not good. Newly released data show the number of physically unhealthy days has barely budged for over a decade, rising slightly to 3.6 days in 2009 from 3.3 days in 2000. The number of people who reported 14 or more mentally unhealthy days rose to 10.6% of the population from 9.6% over the same period.

Treating chronic illness must be more than just making sure cholesterol or glucose numbers are in range. Treating chronic illness must be about assessing and addressing quality of life. We spend trillions on extending lives by sometimes 20 or 30 years. But if many of those years are miserable, without anyone asking why, or providing the how-to, are we not doing the patients and the public a disservice?

We welcome your comment below.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expert who talked the talk and walked the walk.

Common chemical linked to diabetes risk

Phthalates, which are found in common plastics, cosmetics, and even some pharmaceuticals and medical devices, have been associated with the development of diabetes among seniors in Sweden, according to a study published in the April 12 issue of Diabetes Care.The investigators found that the 3 phthalate metabolites they studied were associated with a 25% to 30% increase in the risk for diabetes.

When researchers analyzed the serum levels of phthalate metabolites for the participants, they found that 4 of 10 metabolites were detectable in at least 96% of the people with diabetes, and that the 4 phthalate metabolites are commonly used in personal care fragrances. The metabolites are mono(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, monoethyl phthalate (MEP), monoisobutyl phthalate (MiBP), and monomethyl phthalate (MMP). After adjusting for sex, body mass index, smoking and exercise, cholesterol and triglycerides, and education, the researchers found that 3 metabolites were associated with a higher prevalence of diabetes.

The metabolites are related to either poor insulin secretion or insulin resistance, which are independent risk factors for developing diabetes. Phthalate metabolites are known to affect glucose stability in humans, and could be disrupting the biological pathways that contribute to glucose metabolism.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

7 acupuncture points for allergy sufferers

This may be a helpful do-it-yourself tip.

CoQ10 as complementary cancer therapy

We found this on UC San Diego's Moores Cancer Center website.

White rice and type 2 diabetes risk

A recent BMJ article found that higher consumption of white rice is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes, especially in Asian (Chinese and Japanese) populations. Using the incidence rate of diabetes in a middle aged US population (15.2 cases/1000 aged 45-64) each serving per day increase was associated with a 11% increase in risk of diabetes for the overall population. Here are some realities about how to interpret this study:
  1. White rice is the refined form of rice, so it has higher glycemic load/index properties than brown rice. Always choose brown rice over white if possible.
  2. Jasmine and Basmati, while still refined, are less glycemic than other forms of white rice.
  3. If you consume white rice with lean protein and healthy fat, it will not have the same glycemic effect than if eaten without them.
  4. A few servings of white rice daily with a balanced meal is not real the problem. The problem is the other refined, as well as excess, carbohydrates that are consumed in addition to the white rice on a daily basis.

Epsom salts convince a skeptic

From Wall Street Journal

Nothing says "olde tyme cure" like Epsom salt, named for Epsom, England, a spa town where people sought the healing properties of its natural mineral springs. The crystals are made up of magnesium and sulfate, which together offer an effective, affordable therapy; a one-pound box costs $1.99 at Walgreens drugstores. To understand how Epsom salt works, the WSJ turned to an expert, Rosemary Waring, a faculty member in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, in England.

Q. Can I put it on my popcorn and get the same benefits?
A. No, you shouldn't sprinkle Epsom salt on your food. It doesn't taste that good and also can give you diarrhea if you eat too much.

Q. What are some therapeutic uses?
A. Bath soak. The Epsom Salt Council, a trade group of manufacturers, recommends a warm bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt for at least 12 minutes. Dr. Waring says the magnesium ions act as a pain reliever. An Epsom salt bath can also help fade bruises.Splinter removal. Epsom salt increases osmotic pressure on the skin, which draws foreign bodies toward the surface, Dr. Waring says. Dissolve about 1 cup of Epsom salt in a tub of water and soak the affected area.Bee stings. Osmotic pressure works here, too, to draw the stinger to the surface of the skin. Lift out using tweezers, then apply a compress of an Epsom salt-water solution to reduce swelling.Sunburn. A cool bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt reduces pain and has mild anti-inflammatory properties.Skin exfoliation. Blend Epsom salt with enough baby oil to create a paste. Gently rub it on your face for deep pore cleansing, or use it on heels, elbows and other rough areas. Rinse and pat dry.

Q. I thought only my great-grandparents believed in Epsom salt. Does it really work?
A. It is best known for treating minor inflammation and muscle aches. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath releases magnesium ions that are absorbed by the skin. These ions interfere with receptors in the brain that register pain, Dr. Waring says. Sulfate is useful, too. People with low sulfate levels, such as those with rheumatoid arthritis, are deficient in a chemical that is important for joint and tissue function. Putting extra sulfate into the system should lessen discomfort people often notice when they have sprains, strains, the flu and other aches.

Tribune piece questions food intolerance

Bonnie and Steve: Julie Deardorff's piece on food intolerance that appeared in the Chicago Tribune should not come as a surprise. The headline was "Doubts Cast on Food Intolerance Test." The piece followed what much of us already know. Allergists and gastrointestinal professionals do not believe in it. Other health professionals like chiropractors, integrative doctors, and nutritionists believe in it wholeheartedly. While Julie covered both sides of the issue, there is a lot more she could have included in the piece, including information about the test we run, the Biotrition Cytotoxic Food Intolerance test, which is different from most IgG tests (and we have used for over 15 years). What we have found is that all IgG tests are definitely not equal as far as efficacy.

One thing we do not condone is charging thousands of dollars for food intolerance testing, as was alluded to in the piece. Testing should not more than $400.

The bottom line is that food intolerance testing is here to stay, but you have to do your homework first. The fact that it made the cover of the Tribune means that people are paying attention and allopathic medicine is sick of their patients asking them about it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If Miley went gluten-free, shouldn't you?

Steve: Miley Cyrus has gone gluten-free. She defended her choice by tweeting: “For everyone calling me anorexic I have a gluten and lactose allergy. It’s not about weight it’s about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!”

Why am I blogging about this? Because when a celebrity makes a dietary decision, people usually listen.

It is obvious Cyrus received professional advice and was told she has a lactose and gluten intolerance (not allergy). The key is to remember that going gluten-free should not be taken lightly. It should always be performed in conjunction with a qualified, licensed health professional. That said, there is no reason why gluten needs to be in anyone's diet. It is simply unnecessary from an evolutionary perspective.

Going gluten-free is not easy and your hopes to stick with it can be dashed very quickly. For more information, please watch Caorlyn Martinelli's wonderful You Tube discussion:
Overcome the Gluten-Free Funk.

Ionized water salespersons may want to skip this post

Bonnie and Steve: Unfortunately, ionized water fans, we concur with most of this reporting.

Fish oil no help for heart? Here we go again.

An Archives of Internal Medicine "review" claims that fish oil and fish oil supplements showed no heart benefit in patients who already had a history of heart disease. Here's the problem with this conclusion.
  1. It goes against decades of data, including a "review" performed last year that showed the benefits of EPA and DHA for secondary heart prevention.

  2. A small reduction in cardiovascular death was shown, but disappeared after exclusion of a trial that had "major methodologic problems". Why would the researchers include a study in their meta analysis that had major methodologic problems?

  3. The authors themselves concede that their analysis is limited, especially in that they only analyzed trials with small populations and short durations.

  4. The authors performed a meta analysis, selecting 14 studies from 1007. Why so selective? Their reasoning was not convincing. This is yet another example of why one cannot make conclusions from meta analyses. There is precedence for authors who take liberties with meta analyses, especially if bias enters into the equation. Any researcher can prove a point from a substance as heavily researched as fish oil when selecting 14 studies from 1007!
To the media's credit, this time at least, the validity of the review is questioned. Here is a smattering of what was said today:
  • Time Magazine: "Findings don’t necessarily mean that omega-3s — the study looked at the fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — are useless when it comes to preventive health. Indeed, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that both heart patients and those who don’t yet have heart disease eat fatty fish at least two times a week, and if they can’t consume that much fish, then to boost their omega-3 intake with supplements. According to the AHA, studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, keep triglyceride levels down and inhibit the build up of atherosclerotic plaques in the heart’s blood vessels.

    It’s also possible that Myung and his colleagues failed to see a strong positive effect from omega-3 supplements among people with pre-existing heart disease because these patients may need a higher level of omega-3s to see benefit. The researchers looked at a range of doses of EPA and DHA, but perhaps a scarred, damaged heart that has survived a heart attack or angina is affected differently by omega-3 fatty acids than an intact and healthy heart.As Harvard researchers Drs. Frank Hu and JoAnn Manson also point out in a commentary accompanying the new study, it’s possible too that drugs like statins may mask the benefit from fish oils because the medications are so much more powerful. That may also explain why older trials have tended to show a fish oil benefit, while newer ones have not."

  • MedPage Today: "The findings are at odds with analyses performed before 2010, which showed a significant benefit for secondary prevention, the authors added."

Friday, April 06, 2012

No reductions of pus content in milk

You should know by now that pasteurized, homogenized, conventional milk contains a certain degree of pus. Unfortunately, a National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments(NCIMS) committee had a chance to reduce the amount last year but voted against it. The proposed new measures that would have reduced the maximum allowable pus cell count in conventional milk from 750,000 cells per millimeter to 400,000. The decision, which benefits large-scale milk production operations, will result in the continued processing and sale of pus-filled milk, which is the result of infections and diseases that commonly afflict conventional milking cows.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Mammogram, MRI, or Ultrasound?

Women's annual breast exams could be improved by adding ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to the usual mammogram, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association's April 4th issue. The study followed 2,662 women at high risk for breast cancer, particularly because of dense breasts or a family history of the disease. They agreed to undergo three independent screenings in one year, arranged in random order. The three tests found a total of 111 cancers, for about 2.6 percent of the total group.

Mammography turned up 59 cancers, or 53 percent of the total cancers found. Ultrasound found 29 percent of cancers on its own, independent of other tests. MRI scans found a total of eight percent of cancers that the other two methods had failed to detect. Eleven cancers, or 10 percent, were not found by any of the three screening technologies.

Annual ultrasound screening may detect small, node-negative breast cancers that are not seen on mammography. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed additional breast cancers missed by both mammography and ultrasound screening.

Nearly half of the cancers would not have been detected with mammography alone.

Bonnie: this study adds to the increasing body of evidence that this practice has caused a problem for women -- diagnosis of breast cancer that wouldn't cause symptoms or death. Concerns about false positives in mammograms and over-testing has led some researchers to believe less frequent exams may be the answer.

Diabetes, obesity and cancer risk

Both studies appeared in the March issue Cancer, Causes, and Control

One study examined how the incidence of cancer is related to diabetes, obesity or abnormal blood lipids 0-10 years prior to the diagnosis of cancer in 19,756 cases of cancer in 147,324 subjects. Diabetes was significantly more common prior to diagnosis in patients with liver, pancreatic, colon and urinary tract/bladder cancer and in patients with breast cancer diagnosed with diabetes 0–4 years prior to the cancer diagnosis. Obesity was significantly more common in patients with endometrial, colon and kidney cancer and with breast cancer above the age of 60 years in those where obesity was diagnosed close to the diagnosis of cancer. High blood lipids were significantly more common in patients with ovarian cancer and less common in patients with breast cancer.

The objective of the second study was to assess the association between metabolic risk factors and colorectal neoplasm in 1,771 diagnosed adenoma patients and 4,667 polyp-free subjects. High waist circumference, blood pressure, and serum triglyceride levels were associated with an increased risk of colorectal adenoma. Metabolic syndrome (MS) was associated with an increased risk of adenoma. The association between MS and colorectal adenoma was observed regardless of advanced/low-risk adenoma, and multiplicity. Central obesity, triglyceride level, and MS are risk factors for colorectal adenoma.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Fruits, veggies, and their effect on cancer

Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer among Korean women. However, there are few data on dietary factors related to thyroid cancer risk. The objective of a British Journal of Nutrition study was to evaluate the association between raw vegetables and fruits intake and confirmed malignant thyroid cancer cases and 115 benign cases.

High raw vegetable intake was associated with a reduced thyroid cancer risk both in malignant and benign cases. Among fruits, persimmon intake had an association with reduced thyroid cancer risk in both malignant and benign cases and tangerine intake had an associated reduction in malignant cases. The frequency of consumption of raw vegetables and persimmon also had a consistent inverse association in both malignant and benign cases. These results suggest that high consumption of raw vegetables, persimmons and tangerines may decrease thyroid cancer risk and help prevent early-stage thyroid cancer.

In another study, Chinese women who ate cabbage, broccoli and leafy greens saw improved survival rates after breast cancer than women who did not eat them, said a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting. The findings came from data on 4,886 Chinese breast cancer survivors age 20-75 who were diagnosed with stage one to stage four breast cancer from 2002 to 2006. Women who ate more cruciferous vegetables over the 36 months following their diagnosis saw their risk of dying from any cause decrease by 27 percent to 62 percent compared to women who reporting eating little or none of these veggies. The risk of dying of breast cancer decreased by 22 to 62 percent for the cruciferous veggie eaters, and their chance of experiencing a recurrence of breast cancer dropped by 21 to 35 percent.

Bonnie: these studies should not be surprising to any of us, especially when it comes to cruciferous veggies. The data on their cancer preventive benefits is vast.

Qeurcetin possesses anti-tumor activity: study

A study in the May issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology compared the anticancer effects of quercetin and its water-soluble sulfated derivative, quercetin-5′,8-disulfonate (QS), in human colon cancer LoVo cells and breast cancer MCF-7 cells. It was found that both quercetin and QS can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, quercetin and QS could mediate the cell-cycle arrest principally in the S phase after 24 hours of treatment with the two tumor cells. It was also found that 69.6% of LoVo cells and 90.6% of MCF-7 cells entered the early phase of apoptosis (cell death) when treated with a certain dosage of QS for 48 hours.

Taken together, the novel sulfated derivative of quercetin and quercetin alone possess strong antitumor activity via a ROS-dependent apoptosis pathway, and has the excellent potential to be developed into an antitumor precursor compound.

Exciting stuff!

Can Your Eyes Predict Cardiac Risk?

According to a study in the May issue of American Journal of Clinical of Nutrition, carbohydrate nutrition is associated with changes in the retinal vascular structure and branching pattern in children. The researchers assessed the associations between intakes of high-glycemic index and high–glycemic load diets, carbohydrate, and the main carbohydrate-containing food groups and retinal microvascular changes in preadolescents.

When the highest to lowest carbohydrate consumption were compared, girls had significantly narrower retinal arterioles. In girls only, a higher-GI diet was associated with narrower retinal arterioles. Carbohydrate intake and a high-GL diet were associated with greater retinal fractal dimension in girls. Greater consumption of carbohydrates and soft drinks was associated with retinal arteriolar narrowing and venular widening in girls and boys. Because these microvascular signs have been shown to be markers of future cardiovascular disease risk, the presence of this risk factor in children could support the need for healthy dietary patterns that include lower consumption of high-GI foods and soft drinks.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Doc calls BMI "Baloney Mass Index"; offers alternative

Bonnie: For the record, we have been calling for leptin testing for several years now.