Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Downside to Being Gluten-Free?

For a celiac or gluten intolerant person, the quality of life you get back after removing gluten cannot be put into words. While avoiding gluten can be challenging, the way you feel usually outweighs any obstacle. However, there is an emerging trend that could become an issue if we do not get out in front of it.

DISCLAIMER: in no way are we suggesting that celiac or gluten intolerant individuals go off their diets. We are simply informing you of a developing trend.

According to a study in the March issue of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, those recently diagnosed with celiac are susceptible to gaining weight. While researchers do not suggest why they think this occurs, we can tell you two reasons why.

1. Human nature is such that when you are diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and are offered myriad gluten-free carbohydrate-laden alternatives, you tend to take consumption to the extreme because you can eat them symptom-free.

Please understand that you can gain weight by eating too many gluten-free products. There are as many calories in some gluten-free products as are in their gluten counterparts. The quality and taste of gluten-free products have become so much better, enticing us to eat that many more of them. Let this be a reminder to eat in moderation.

2. When the digestive tract heals and absorption returns to normal, many gluten-free individuals, who for so long have overeaten to maintain weight, do not adjust their consumption, and in turn, gain weight. This should be a reminder to always work with a health professional with expertise in celiac disease and gluten intolerance to manage your portions.

The team of researchers compared the body mass index of 1018 celiac subjects against data for the general population. While they found that celiac disease patients on a gluten-free diet were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese (32% vs. 59%), they also found that average body mass increased after patients adopted a gluten-free diet. Overall, 21.8% of celiac patients with normal or high BMI at study entry increased their BMI by more than two points.

As a result, the study team feels that dietary counseling should be an integral part of celiac dietary education.

What we are saying is that gluten-free is not the code word for pig out!

Big Sugar Versus Big Corn: Who Won Round One?

US regulators denied a request to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup to merely "corn sugar." The Food and Drug Administration said in a ruling that the corn industry failed to back up its request for the name change. The regulatory battle between Big Sugar and Big Corn coincides with a public relations battle.

The FDA affects food labeling but does not prevent advertisements describing "corn sugar," at least according to the corn industry. It reaffirms what most have been saying all along: HFCS is not sugar. The next step is for the federal court to end the (the corn industry's) misleading propaganda campaign.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Folic acid prevents two types of childhood cancer

Folic acid fortification of foods may reduce the incidence of the most common type of kidney cancer and a type of brain tumor in children. Incidence reductions were found for Wilms' tumor, a type of kidney cancer, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET), a type of brain cancer.

Since 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has mandated fortification of foods with folic acid because earlier studies show that prenatal consumption of folic acid significantly reduces the incidence of neural tube defects in babies. This study is the largest to date to show that folic acid fortification may also lower the incidence of certain types of childhood cancer in the United States.

The study, published in the current issue of Pediatrics, examined the incidence of childhood cancer pre- and post-mandated folic acid fortification. Researchers found that Wilms' tumor rates increased from 1986 to 1997 and decreased thereafter, indicating the downward change in the trend coincides exactly with folic acid fortification.

PNET rates increased from 1986 to 1993 and decreased thereafter. This change in the trend does not coincide exactly with folic acid fortification, but does coincide with the 1992 recommendation for women of childbearing age to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.

Additionally, the research showed that folic acid fortification does not appear to be increasing rates of childhood cancers.

Sitting at Work

Sitting at work raises the risk of dying from cardiovascular (CV) and metabolic diseases, as well as the risk of dying from all causes, regardless of any exercise in which the individual may engage. That was the finding of a study reported at the 19th European Congress on Obesity (ECO) by the Prevention Research Collaboration in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Australia.

Research is increasingly focusing on sedentary behavior with low energy expenditure, including sitting and lying down, as behavioral risk factors for obesity and chronic disease. Sitting occurs during travel, while watching television, using computers, and reading. But with people often spending at least 9 hours a day at work, with fewer than 20% of jobs requiring physical exertion, and with many people spending at least 4 hours a day sitting at work, the sedentary time at work is high, and many people are affected.

The investigators therefore aimed to evaluate the relationship between occupational sitting, body mass index (BMI), and mortality in a general population sample. Between 1995 and 1997, 20-year-old subjects self-reported their level of sitting at work. Of 45,259 participants completing the study (evenly divided between men and women), just over 40% each were either of normal weight or were overweight, and about 15% were obese. During a follow-up period of 12 to 14 years, 4421 died. Sedentary work was associated with higher all-cause mortality and CV/metabolic disease mortality compared with occupations with much walking, much walking or lifting, or heavy physical labor.

"Holding all else equal, someone with an occupation that involved walking and lifting had a 27% lower chance of dying than someone who mostly sat in their occupation among those in the obese category," researchers said. The curves for CV mortality showed a similar pattern.

"You can do a lot of desk work actually standing. You can do meetings standing, or you could vary so that you're not sitting all the time but actually taking a break to stand, and that would be the immediate recommendation taken out of this," researchers said. "The tone from the muscles from standing is expending energy and may actually be contributing to the healthy factors about not sitting."

Pediatric labeling information database

Steve: This is a very important search tool for parents. You just type in the med and the info comes up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Durbin's attempt on supplements foiled again

The U.S. Senate voted 77 to 20 to table an amendment (S.2127), which was sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to amend the pending FDA Safety and Innovation Act (S.3187). By tabling the amendment, it was removed from consideration in the overall bill, which will be debated in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Durbin unexpectedly introduced the amendment. His proposal, which was derived from legislation he introduced last year, would have set new requirements for dietary supplement manufacturers to register all products and ingredients with FDA within 30 days of introduction, reformulation or discontinuation.

The amendment was based on the misguided presumption that the current regulatory framework for dietary supplements is flawed and that the FDA lacks authority to regulate these products. The Durbin Amendment served to punish responsible companies with duplicative and overreaching mandates.

Steve: Senator Durbin has been an ardent critic of dietary supplements for years. We suppose if he had his drothers, he would propose something similar to the EU's draconian model that went into effect this year, basically eliminating consumer choice, as well as severely reducing the supplement dosages available. The EU was motivated by backroom deals with Big Pharma, who wants to corner the market on supplements.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Teens at risk

Half the nation's overweight teens have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels that put them at risk for future heart attacks and other cardiac problems. Even larger proportion of obese adolescents have such a risk, according to the alarming new numbers in the journal Pediatrics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research focused on 3,383 adolescents ages 12 through 19 from 1999 through 2008. The youths were part of an intensive national study that involves interviewing, weighing, measuring and performing medical tests on people across the country. The percentage of adolescents who were diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes rose dramatically, from 9 percent to 21 percent. Overall the study found that 50 percent of overweight youths and 60 percent of obese youths had at least one risk factor for future heart disease. But normal-weight kids aren't off the hook — 37 percent had at least one risk factor and could face increased chances for heart trouble as adults.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

No PSA for healthy men

Healthy men shouldn't get routine prostate cancer screenings, says updated advice from a government panel that found the PSA blood tests do more harm than good. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force final guideline says there's little if any evidence that PSA testing saves lives - while too many men suffer impotence, incontinence, heart attacks, occasionally even death from treatment of tiny tumors that never would have killed them.

Bonnie: I feel horrible for the men, some of whom came through this office, who went through unnecessary procedures, many of which lead to awful quality of life or worse.

Calcium supplements increase heart risk: study

Bonnie and Steve: A study was published in yesterday's journal Heart stating that subjects taking calcium supplements had an increased risk for heart attacks. For those of you who have come to see us, or have read our posts, know this is nothing new as far as we are concerned. Supplemental calcium, when taken in high amounts, without magnesium and vitamin D, and delivered in poor sources, is improperly absorbed and can create calcification in soft tissue, such as arteries.

This study also makes the case, yet again, that dairy products are unnecessary (especially in the amount the USDA recommends), if you eat enough leafy greens and take moderate doses of calcium supplements. In the study, after taking account of factors likely to influence the results, subjects whose diets included a moderate amount (820 mg daily) of total calcium from all sources, including supplements, had a 31% lower risk of having a heart attack than those in the bottom 25% of calcium intake.

We have argued with doctors and government agencies for years that the standard 1500 mg. per day recommendation of supplemental calcium for women was borderline criminal. Now several studies echo our concern.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The supplement controversy

Bonnie and Steve: If you listen to mainstream media and the allopathic medical community, news regarding supplements can sound scary. The fear-mongering is both misguided and well-planned. 

There should be no controversy. Here's why.

1. There is an intelligent way to take supplements and a less intelligent way to take supplements. The less intelligent way has sparked much of the fear-mongering.

2. Dietary supplements should not be taken lightly. If you self-prescribe, you can increase the risk of adverse effects, especially if you take medication. We always advocate discussing your needs with a licensed health professional with expertise in prescribing dietary supplements. That said, high quality dietary supplements do not kill, do not promote early death, and very rarely create acute adverse effects.

3. Supplements do not act like drugs. Researchers and medical journals structure supplement studies as they do drugs. This is a non-starter. Supplements are not meant to cure disease. Supplements are meant to support overall well-being, fill in nutrients where one's needs are not being met, and reduce the risk of future disease. The most successful and accurate supplement studies take the long-term approach (over a 10 to 40 year period).

4. Older subjects dominate the research. Supplement research studies are commonly performed on older subjects who already have diseases. The best supplement studies have been performed on healthy, young persons who have taken supplements over a long period of time.

5. The supplement sources researchers use are fatally flawed.Vitamin E is the poster-child for this common mistake. No vitamin has received more bad press than vitamin E. Any nutritionist worth their salt will never prescribe vitamin E by itself in alpha tocopherol form. They prescribe mixed tocopherols. If you take a high amount of only one tocopherol, it creates an imbalance. No major vitamin E study has used mixed tocopherols to date.

 6. The majority of negative supplement studies are structured as "meta-analyses". For example, a recent study showing fish oil to have very little benefit was a meta-analysis. The researcher had the ability to comb over thousands of studies and based upon criteria that the researcher decided, hand-picked a few studies. Using this philosophy, any researcher with bias either for or against a supplement can create the outcome they desire based upon the studies they choose.

7. A few bad apples do not represent an entire industry. There are rogue supplement manufacturers, many of them on the Internet, that give the industry a bad name. This is another reason why self-prescribing supplements, listening to independent sales consultants, or following the sensationalism of television pundits, creates inherent confusion and risk.

8. In the beginning, the motivation of supplement manufacturers was to help people stay healthy and prevent disease. Most still adhere to this mantra. However, supplements are big business and like Big Pharma, manufacturers need to continually come up with new products to stay unique, keep interest, grow their product offerings, and generate new sources of revenue. Many of the new products are either hype or have unproven safety. While there are exceptions, we almost always advise waiting several years to try a supplement that is new to market. You rarely see us offer new supplements, especially ones with a lot of hype. There are a plethora of well-researched, safe, clinically tested and proven options already available.

9. There is a media bias towards supplements. British Medical Journal came out with a study on this topic late last year. Look at your print or online media. They are loaded with drug ads. Supplements are Big Pharma's enemy. As vulnerable as the media industry is right now, they are not going to bite the hand that feeds them. Here are topics that never sniffed mainstream media in 2012:

Quercetin's Anti-Tumor Activity
Multivitamins Improve Memory Recall
Magnesium Intake in US Suboptimal, Reduces Stroke Risk in Women
Omega 3's Increase Brain Volume, Lower Colon Polyps
CoQ10 Supports Parkinson's disease 

10. Our government is schizophrenic with supplements. For example, we know that former or soon-to-be Big Pharma executives run the FDA and CDC. So it is not surprising that a CDC report on the NHANES study stated that most Americans get enough vitamins and minerals. Only 10% of the population did not get enough. We know this is wrong because the report was based upon antiquated vitamin and mineral levels that have not been revised since the early 1980's. 

On the other hand, the FDA allows qualified health claims, even for supplements that have come under supposed scrutiny. The language for qualified health claims for B-vitamins, calcium, chromium picolinate, green tea, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidlyserine, selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E, can be found at this page. 

Bonnie: I have prescribed supplements to clients on an individualized basis for 27 years. I take them. My husband takes them. My children take them. My grandchildren take them. I would not advocate supplements if I thought there was a shred of evidence that, when taken responsibly, they could do harm. However, there are supplements that I will never recommend because I have found them to be useless or have the potential to produce adverse effects.

For more on this issue, I encourage you to watch "The Vitamin Controversy," my two-part interview with clinical psychologist Dr. Sandy Scheinbaum. 

The following link provides supporting evidence to much of the aforementioned. 

We encourage you to comment in the box below.

Dr. Schuster on concussions

An article in Dynamic Chiropractic revealed that Dr. Robert Cantu, one of the top experts in the field of concussion in sports, was invited to speak at the 6th Annual Educational Symposium for the Professional Football Chiropractic Society. More than 130 chiropractors, chiropractic students and representatives from the NFL were in attendance. 

Dr. Cantu, a neurosurgeon and consultant to the National Football League’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee, presented current research along with standard practices for the diagnosis and management of mild traumatic brain injuries. Dr. Cantu also addressed the benefits of chiropractic to help relieve the secondary complaints from a concussion that affects the nerves in the neck. These symptoms include: headaches, burning facial pain, reddening of the face and other sympathetic nerve reactions. 

Dr. Doug Miller, team chiropractor for the Baltimore Ravens, commented, “Dr. Cantu’s lecture brings to the forefront the importance of proper technique, evaluation, and management of concussions. We now have evidence that this type of injury can have long-lasting impairment and it is vital that concussed athletes of all ages have proper time for recovery.” 

In case you did not know, almost every NFL team has a chiropractor in their sports medicine unit. So do most of the other professional sports teams. The doctor’s main focus is to keep the athletes safe and to help them get better faster when there is any kind of injury. Professional sports are taking lots of precaution since there is so much information coming out about the effects of concussions. A big concern; however, is that the children who play sports are not receiving the kind of help they need. There are volunteer health professionals, including sports chiropractors at some children’s sporting events yet not to the extent one sees with the professional teams.

 Perhaps more parents will follow in the footsteps of the NFL and add a chiropractor as part of their child’s health care team, allowing for proper recovery after injuries. I know first hand of the benefits of chiropractic since many parents bring their children in for an adjustment due to sport related incidences.

 In health and happiness, 

Dr. Liselotte Schuster
Family Practice for Pregnant Women, Babies, Kids, Teens and Adults. 


Probiotics just as good as antibiotics for UTIs

Lactobacillus probiotic species were not as effective as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMS) in clearing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs, according to a study published in the May 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine

In a randomized, double-blind, noninferiority trial, investigators randomly assigned 252 postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs to receive 12 months of prophylaxis with either TMS (480 mg once daily) or oral capsules containing L rhamnosus GR-1 and L reuteri RC-14 (twice daily). Women treated with lactobacilli prophylactically for 12 months saw a reduction in the mean number of UTIs from 6.8 to 3.3, whereas those women treated with prophylactic TMS had a reduction in the number of UTIs from 7.0 to 2.9. This resulted in a between-treatment difference of 0.4 UTIs per year.

The researchers also found that resistance to TMS, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin increased from approximately 20% to 40% to approximately 80% to 95%. Treatment with lactobacilli did not increase antibiotic resistance. The researchers note that the "development of antibiotic resistance is considerably lower with use of lactobacilli. Therefore, lactobacilli may be an acceptable alternative for prevention of UTIs, especially in women who dislike taking antibiotics. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics for UTI prevention is becoming more problematic because resistance to commonly used agents is now widespread, infection caused by Clostridium difficile is increasingly common, and our appreciation of the importance of an undisturbed microbiome in health is growing."

Steve: do we love to see this or what?!

Asthma at an all-time high

The prevalence of asthma in the United States is at an all-time high, according to a new report, called Asthma's Impact on the Nation, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

An analysis of state-by-state data from the Asthma Call-Back Survey revealed that the proportion of asthmatic individuals in the United States increased by nearly 15% from 2001 to 2010, at which point 25.7 million people were affected: 7 million children (1 in 11) and 18.7 million adults (1 in 12). Children were more likely than adults to be affected.

The was also associated with poverty. People with family incomes below the national poverty level were most likely to have asthma (11.2%), compared with those whose family incomes were from 100% to 200% of the poverty level (8.7%) or more than 200% of poverty level (7.3%).

Nearly 1 in 2 children aged 5 to 17 years missed at least 1 day of school because of asthma in 2008 (10.5 million missed days), and nearly 1 in 3 adults missed at least 1 day of work (14.2 million missed days).

The estimated annual cost in 2007 was $56 billion, most of which was driven by medical expenses ($50.1 billion). Loss of productivity from missed work/school and premature death accounted for $3.8 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively, according to the release. 

To reduce costs the researchers involved in the report say appropriate preventive treatment is critical.

Fiber helps your teeth

In men aged 65 and older, each serving of good to excellent sources of total fiber was associated with lower risk of jaw bone loss progression and tooth loss. Of the different food groups, only fruits that were good to excellent sources of fiber were associated with lower risk.Benefits of higher intake of high-fiber foods, especially fruits, on slowing periodontal disease progression are most evident in men aged 65 and older. Journal of American Geriatric Society, May 2012

Don't show this study to Big Pharma

A study from Preventive Medicine determined the effect of Mauritian black tea consumption on fasting blood plasma levels of glucose, lipid profiles and antioxidant status in a normal population. The study group (71%) consumed 3 x 200 ml of black tea infusate/day for 12 weeks without additives followed by a 3 week wash-out. The control group (29%) consumed equivalent volume of hot water for same intervention period.

The tea induced, in a normal population, a highly significant decrease of fasting serum glucose (18.4%;) and triglyceride levels (35.8%), a significant decrease in LDL/HDL plasma cholesterol ratio (16.6%) and a non significant increase in HDL plasma cholesterol levels (20.3%), while a highly significant rise in plasma antioxidant propensity (FRAP: 418%) was noted.

Black tea consumed within a normal diet contributes to a decrease of independent cardiovascular risk factors and improves the overall antioxidant status in humans.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Supplement Controversy: Supporting Evidence

Supporting Evidence 

Journal of the American Dietetic Association, May 2012
More than half of US adults use dietary supplements. Some reports suggest that supplement users have higher vitamin intakes from foods than nonusers, but this observation has not been examined using nationally representative survey data.


The purpose of this analysis was to examine vitamin intakes from foods by supplement use and how dietary supplements contribute to meeting or exceeding the Dietary Reference Intakes for selected vitamins using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey among adults (aged 19 years or less) in 2003-2006 (n=8,860).


Among male users, mean intakes of folate and vitamins A, E, and K from food sources were significantly higher than among nonusers. Among women, mean intakes of folate and vitamins A, C, D, and E from foods were higher among users than nonusers. Total intakes (food and supplements) were higher for every vitamin we examined among users than the dietary vitamin intakes of nonusers. Supplement use helped lower the prevalence of intakes below the Estimated Average Requirement for every vitamin we examined, but for folic acid and vitamins A, B-6, and C, supplement use increased the likelihood of intakes above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level.


Supplement use was associated with higher mean intakes of some vitamins from foods among users than nonusers, but it was not associated with the prevalence of intakes less than the Estimated Average Requirement from foods. Those who do not use vitamin supplements had significantly higher prevalence of inadequate vitamin intakes; however, the use of supplements can contribute to excess intake for some vitamins.

Mutation Research: Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, May 2012): Vitamin and minerals influence genome integrity, and exposure/intake levels are associated with DNA damage prevention

Historically, the government has recommended daily amounts (RDAs) of vitamins and minerals based on the minimum amounts necessary to prevent deficiency diseases. Over the last couple of decades, however, researchers have seen that larger amounts of vitamins and minerals are necessary to prevent or reduce DNA damage which causes longer term health consequences. This editorial review suggests that improvements in assaying DNA damage provide a more accurate method of determining optimal amounts of vitamin and minerals in the body than that which has been available in the past. Because human populations vary in the way they absorb and metabolize vitamins and minerals, subpopulations should also be considered when establishing dietary guidelines.

Pro-vitamins such as lycopene, lutein, astaxanthin and zeaxanthin consistently protect genomes against DNA damage but vitamin A carotenoids can both protect DNA and cause damage possibly because they can function as oxidants.

Niacin is involved in the function of some enzymes necessary for DNA repair, but no human studies have been done to clearly determine optimal amounts. The authors state that some human population groups are well below the amounts suggested by animal studies, and supplementation in these cases may be beneficial.

Folate and B12 work together to maintain nuclear and mitochondrial genome stability. Low folate levels result in an increase of mistakes in copying DNA which leads to breaking of the strands and deletions in mitochondrial DNA (3). There is some evidence that low folate levels could reduce telomere length which in turn reduces the lifetime of the DNA. Since individuals vary in ability to absorb and metabolize these vitamins, the amount and type of folate and B12 recommended for supplementation must be determined for these subpopulations.

Choline is involved folate metabolism and deficiency impairs folate metabolism which in turn causes the same miscopying of DNA as previously mentioned. As with folate and B12, individuals vary in their ability to absorb and metabolize choline.

Vitamin D seems to play a role in protection against DNA damage and oxidation in animal studies but there are limited human studies to date.

Biotin plays a role in protection again DNA damage but because it is made in human intestines by bacteria, supplementation guidelines are difficult to establish. More studies are needed on the variations of gut flora in disease states and different population groups.

CoQ10 plays an important role in the electron transport chain in mitochondria and is a powerful antioxidant. Although animal studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of supplementation on genome integrity, more dose-response studies in humans are necessary to establish optimal amounts necessary to prevent DNA damage.

Minerals necessary in small amounts are often toxic in larger amounts. Iron, selenium and zinc seem to cause chromosome breakage and other DNA destruction in high concentrations although they are protective at optimal, intermediate levels. The optimal levels of these minerals seem to vary with individual genotype and may also vary with age.

Since the integrity of each individual’s genome is sensitive to their vitamin and mineral status, dietary recommendations for intake of vitamins and minerals should be based on DNA damage prevention rather than only on avoidance of deficiency diseases. More human studies looking at the dose dependent effect of vitamin and mineral levels alone and in conjunction with each other on genome stability should be performed to establish more accurate supplementation recommendations. In addition, individual metabolic variations should be taken into account. 

BMJ confirms media's cozy relationship to Big Pharma
The relationship between doctors and drug company marketers is finally falling under increased scrutiny, but a new group is stepping in to take drug company money -- journalists and media organizations looking for easy funding. The Australian, a newspaper in Australia run by the Murdoch empire, has accepted an undisclosed amount of sponsorship money from the drug industry for a series of articles on health policy. The idea was first proposed at a meeting between advertising agents. Many are saying that such financial closeness between journalists and the companies they report on raises concerns. According to an article in the British Medical Journal: “... [W]hat we’re witnessing is a slow and subtle attempt to buy influence and goodwill within the media, which in general have become increasingly rigorous in their coverage of the unhealthy aspects of pharmaceutical marketing ... Spreading around cash, free travel, and sponsorship has an effect -- if it didn’t, the industry wouldn’t do it.”

Supplements increase mortality in older women?
A study just published in Archives of Internal Medicine called, "Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women's Health Study," states:

"Researchers assessed the use of vitamin and mineral supplements in relation to total mortality in 38 772 older women in the Iowa Women's Health Study; mean age was 61.6 years at baseline in 1986. Supplement use was self-reported in 1986, 1997, and 2004 questionnaires. Of the 15 594 deaths (only 40% of the sample size because they were unable to obtain the death records of many of the subjects) identified through the State Health Registry of Iowa, the a multivariable adjusted proportional hazards regression model, the use of multivitamins absolute risk, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper were associated with increased risk of total mortality when compared with corresponding nonuse (the risk being the strongest with supplement iron).

Bonnie and Steve - not surprisingly, the media failed to mention how the supplements positively affected the subjects. We thought we would mention it. Here is a direct quote from the study:

"Compared with nonusers, supplement users had a LOWER prevalence of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, and smoking status; a lower BMI and waist to hip ratio; and were less likely to live on a farm. Supplement users had higher educational level, were more physically active, and were more likely to use estrogen replacement therapy. Also, supplement users were more likely to have lower intake of energy, total fat, and monounsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, and to have higher intakes of protein, carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fatty acids, alcohol, whole grain products, fruits, and vegetables."

So why was there no mention about supplemental benefit for many of these lifestyle factors? The lead researcher of the study has published negative, questionable research on supplements before, only to be proven wrong years later (i.e. beta carotene and vitamin A).

There were several factors in the supplement group that needed to be addressed: taking synthetic estrogen, not eating enough monounstaurated fat, eating too much polyunsaturated (inflammatory) fat, and eating too many carbs. All of these factors contribute to heart disease and cancer. It is fascinating to note that when researchers excluded supplement users who had CVD and diabetes, the supplements did not show any adverse affect on mortality. So, in essence, the supplement users were better off than the nonusers based upon the aforementioned lifestyle factors.

What does this say? That researchers can extrapolate data however they see fit, especially from a questionnaire-based study. For example, we can extrapolate from this study that if you looked solely at supplement users who were most likely to take synthetic estrogen, most likely to eat inflammatory fats and carbs, and who ate the least amount of monounsaturated fats, we guarantee that mortality risk would skyrocket. Even more egregious is that the researchers did not remove subjects who used synthetic estrogen, which has been linked to a greatly increased risk of CVD and cancer. This should be enough to discredit the study outright.

One other issue: we do not know what brands of supplements these subjects were on. If many of them were on brands such as Centrum, who knows. We do not consider those healthful supplements.

The media did get what it needed, however. Any time they can jump on a study discrediting supplements, they are all over it.
Local Doc dishes on supplements
Courtesy of Dr. Patrick Massey, contributor to the Daily Herald

Do vitamins increase the risk of death? According to one recent medical study, the conclusion may be yes. However, does the data really support the conclusions or are the results being exaggerated? In my opinion, the conclusions of the study are a real stretch based on the structure of the study itself.

This study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, is not a double blind, placebo controlled, prospective study. It is part of a larger study and concluded that elderly women who took vitamins had a slightly increased risk of death compared with those who did not. In contrast, this study also suggested that calcium, as a supplement, was associated with a 3.8 percent reduced risk of death.

The data was part of the very large Iowa Women’s Health Study consisting of 41,836 postmenopausal women, ages 55 to 69 who filled out questionnaires in 1987, 1997 and 2004. The questionnaires covered many aspects of health including vitamin use. Although these studies are essential because they provide a large amount of data, correlation does not prove causation. This means that self-reported data is notoriously unreliable, and since there are no controls, the results are far from conclusive. These types of studies are usually the foundation for further, well-designed and controlled studies.

There are a number of factors that can affect the skew, the statistics and the conclusions. It may be possible that those women who have more illnesses and are at a greater risk of death simply use more. Medication use also is important. Even safe over-the-counter pain medications can increase the risk (small but real) of serious hospitalization and death. In addition, physical activity, diet and habits like smoking and alcohol abuse all can affect the outcome.

Among health care professionals, whether vitamins are helpful, harmful or a waste of money is very controversial. However there are, literally, thousands of well-designed, prospective studies worldwide demonstrating the benefits of vitamins for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. It is important that accurate information is available to the general public and health care community.
Fortunately, there are now a number of credible resources for accurate information about vitamin use. One of these sources is the Natural Health Research Institute (I hold an unpaid position on the scientific advisory board). The institute is described as “an independent, nonprofit organization that supports science-based research on natural health and wellness.” Its goal is to inform people about the benefits of good food, supplements (if needed) and healthy lifestyles.

The institute is having its sixth annual scientific symposium in Schaumburg on Friday, Oct. 28. The symposium is open to the public and the speakers are internationally recognized experts in the area of vitamins and health. The topic is “Measuring the efficacy, safety and cost savings of dietary supplements.”

• Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D is medical director for complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network.

Supplement Safety Versus Drug Safety 
As posted on
Why Learn about Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR)?
Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, 2000
Lazarou J et al. JAMA 1998;279(15):1200–1205
Gurwitz JH et al. Am J Med 2000;109(2):87–94

Over 2 MILLION serious ADRs yearly
100,000 DEATHS yearly
ADRs 4th leading cause of death ahead of pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia, accidents and automobile deaths
Ambulatory patients ADR rate—unknown
Nursing home patients ADR rate— 350,000 yearly 

Based on the figures presented by the FDA, at least30 million people have suffered serious injury or death as a result of taking FDA-approved drugs just since 1998 when the first cited study was published. If you go back several more decades, it is clear that potentially hundreds of millions of people have been directly harmed.

Results from Adverse Event Reporting (AER) System
The Food & Drug Administration AER system ensures that dietary supplement and prescription drug manufacturers report significant adverse events related to their products. 
The figures from 2008 were recently published.
1,080 from supplements (over half the US population, 154 million, take supplements)
526,527 from prescription drugs. For every adverse event from supplements, there are 488 adverse events from prescription drugs.

Why You Should Not Stop Taking Vitamins
Do vitamins kill people?
How many people have died from taking vitamins?
Should you stop your vitamins? By Dr. Mark Hyman
It depends. To be exact, it depends on the quality of the science, and the very nature of scientific research. It is very hard to know things exactly through science. The waste bin of science is full of fallen heroes like Premarin, Vioxx and Avandia (which alone was responsible for 47,000 excess cardiac deaths since it was introduced in 1999).
That brings us to the latest apparent casualty, vitamins. The recent media hype around vitamins is a classic case of drawing the wrong conclusions from good science.
Remember how doctors thought that hormone replacement therapy was the best thing since sliced bread and recommended it to every single post-menopausal woman? These recommendations were predicated on studies that found a correlation between using hormones and reduced risk of heart attacks. But correlation does not prove cause and effect. It wasn't until we had controlled experiments like the Women's Health Initiative that we learned Premarin (hormone replacement therapy) was killing women, not saving them.
A new study "proving" that vitamins kill people is hitting front pages and news broadcasts across the country. This study does not prove anything.
This latest study from the Archives of Internal Medicine of 38,772 women found that "several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality". The greatest risk was from taking iron after menopause (which no doctor would ever recommend in a non-menstruating human without anemia).
The word "may" is critical here, because science is squirrelly. You only get the answers to the questions you ask. And in this case, they asked if there was an association between taking vitamins and death in older woman. This type of study is called an observational study or epidemiological study. It is designed to look for or "observe" correlations. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations. All doctors and scientists know that this type of study does not prove cause and effect.
Why Scientists are Confused
At a recent medical conference, one of most respected scientists of this generation, Bruce Ames, made a joke. He said that epidemiologists (people who do population-based observational studies) have a difficult time with their job and are easily confused. Dr. Ames joked that in Miami epidemiologists found everybody seems to be born Hispanic but dies Jewish. Why? Because if you looked at population data in the absence of the total history and culture of Florida during a given time, this would be the conclusion you would draw. This joke brings home the point that correlation does not equal causation.
Aside from the fact that it flies in the face of an overwhelming body of research that proves Americans are nutrient deficient as a whole, and that nutritional supplements can have significant impact in disease prevention and health promotion, the recent study on vitamins is flawed in similar ways.
How Vitamins Save Money and Save Lives
Overwhelming basic science and experimental data support the use of nutritional supplements for the prevention of disease and the support of optimal health. The Lewin Group estimated a $24 billion savings over five years if a few basic nutritional supplements were used in the elderly. Extensive literature reviews in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine also support this view. Interventional trials have proven benefit over and over again.
The concept that nutritional supplements "could be harmful" to women flies in the face of all reasonable facts from both intervention trials and outcome studies published over the past 40 years. Recent trials published within the last two years indicate that modest nutritional supplementation in middle age women found their telomeres didn't shorten. Keeping your teleomeres (the little end caps on your DNA) long is the hallmark of longevity and reduced risk of disease.
A plethora of experimental controlled studies -- which are the gold standard for proving cause and effect -- over the last few years found positive outcomes in many diseases. These include the use of calcium and vitamin D in women with bone loss; folic acid in people with cervical dysplasia (pre-cancerous lesions); iron for anemics, B-complex vitamins to improve cognitive function, zinc; vitamin C, E, and carotenoids to lower the risk of macular degeneration, and folate and vitamin B12 to treat depression. This is but a handful of examples. There are many more.
Why Most Vitamin Studies are Flawed
There is another important thing to understand about clinical trials that review the utility of vitamins in the treatment of disease. The studies that show harm are often designed like drugs studies. For example, a study may use a high dose of vitamin E and see what happens. This is actually a prescient example also explored in recent media. Studies recently found that high doses of vitamin E and selenium didn't prevent prostate cancer and may increase risk. What this study didn't explore properly was the true biochemical nature of vitamin E and selenium. These nutrients work as antioxidants by donating an electron to protect or repair a damaged molecule or DNA. Once this has happened the molecules become oxidants that can cause more damage if not supported by the complex family of antioxidants used in the human body. It's sort of like passing a hot potato. If you don't keep passing it you will get burned. This study simply failed to take this into account.
Nature doesn't work by giving you only one thing. We all agree that broccoli is good for you, but if that were all you ate you would die in short order. The same is true of vitamins. Nutrients are not drugs and they can't be studied as drugs. They are part of a biological system where all nutrients work as a team to support your biochemical processes.
Michael Jordon may have been the best basketball player in history, but he couldn't have won six NBA titles without a team.
Obesity is Linked to Malnutrition
The tragedy of media attention on poor studies like these is that they undermine possible solutions to some of the modern health epidemics we are facing today, and they point attention away from the real drivers of disease.
Take the case of obesity for example. Paradoxically Americans are becoming both more obese and more nutrient deficient at the same time. Obese children eating processed foods are nutrient depleted and increasingly get scurvy and rickets, diseases we thought were left behind in the 19th and 20th centuries.
After treating more than 15,000 patients and performing extensive nutritional testing on them, it is clear Americans suffer from widespread nutrient deficiencies including vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, folate and omega 3 fats. This is supported by the government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on our population. In fact 13 oercent of our population is vitamin C deficient.
Scurvy in Americans in 2011? Really? But if all you eat is processed food -- and many Americans do -- then you will be like the British sailors of the 17th century and get scurvy.
Unfortunately negative studies on vitamins get huge media attention, while the fact that over 100,000 Americans die and 2.2 million suffer serious adverse reactions from medication use in hospitals when used as prescribed is quietly ignored. Did you know that anti-inflammatories like aspirin and ibuprofen kill more people every year than AIDS or asthma or leukemia?
Flaws with the "Vitamins Kill You" Study
So what's the bottom line on this study on vitamins in older white women in Iowa?
After a careful reading of this new study a number of major flaws were identified.
1. Hormone replacement was not taken into consideration. Overall the women who took vitamins were a little healthier and probably more proactive about their health, which led them to use hormone replacement more often (based on recommendations in place when this study was done). 13.5 percent of vitamin users also used hormones, while 7.2 percent of non-vitamin users took hormones. Remember the Women's Health Initiative Study I mentioned above? It was a randomized controlled trial that found hormone therapy dramatically increases risk of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer and death. In this Iowa women's study on vitamins, the degree of the effect of harm noted from the vitamins was mostly insignificant for all vitamins except iron (see below) and calcium (which showed benefit contradicting many other studies). In fact, the rates of death in this study were lower than predicted for women using hormone therapy, so in fact the vitamins may have been protective but the benefit of vitamins was drowned out because of the harmful effects of hormones in the vitamin users.
2. Iron should not be given to older women. Older women should never take iron unless they have anemia. Iron is a known oxidant and excess iron causes oxidative stress and can lead to cardiovascular disease and more. This is no surprise, and should not make you stop taking a multivitamin. If you are an older woman, you simply need to look for one without iron. Most women's vitamins do not contain it anyway.
3. Patient background was ignored. In this observational study it was not known why people started supplements. Perhaps it was because of a decline in their health and thus they may have had a higher risk of death or disease that wasn't associated with the vitamins they were taking at all. If you had a heart attack or cancer and then started taking vitamins, of course you are more likely to die than people without heart attacks or cancer.
4. The population was not representative. The study looked only at older white women -- clearly not representative of the whole population. This makes it impossible to generalize the conclusions. Especially if you are an obese young African American male eating the average American diet.
5. Forms and quality of vitamins were not identified. There was no accounting for the quality or forms or dosages of the vitamins used. Taking vitamins that have biologically inactive or potentially toxic forms of nutrients may limit any benefit observed. For example synthetic folic acid can cause cancer, while natural folate is protective.
6. A realistic comparison between vitamins and other medications as cause of death was not made. 0ver 100,000 people die every year from properly prescribed medication in hospitals. These are not mistakes, but drugs taken as recommended. And that doesn't include out of hospital deaths. The CDC recently released a report that showed in 2009, the annual number of deaths (37,485) caused by improper/overprescribing and poor to non-existent monitoring of the use of tranquilizers, painkillers and stimulant drugs by American physicians now exceeds both the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents (36,284) and firearms (31,228).

In short, this recent study confuses not clarifies, and it has only served up a dose of media frenzy and superficial analysis. It has left the consumer afraid, dazed, bewildered and reaching for their next prescription drug.

Please, be smart, don't stop taking your vitamins. Every American needs a good quality multivitamin, vitamin D and omega-3 fat supplement. It is part of getting a metabolic tune up and keeping your telomeres long!

Mark Hyman, MD

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bone Drugs: a Patient's Story

Bonnie: This letter was forwarded to me by one of our client's friends. Joni's wish was for me to share it with you. This is certainly not the first, and will not be last, story you hear about the damaging effects of osteoporosis drugs.

Subject: a warning to women

Dear Friends, 

If you are currently taking or have taken Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Reclast or any other medications for Osteoporosis called Bisphosphonates or if you have been diagnosed with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis and your doctor has mentioned putting you on one of these drugs in the future, PLEASE take the time to read  this.  I am on a mission to warn as many women as I possibly can of a terrible risk of taking these – small risk - until it happens to you drugs.

In 2005 I had a bone density test and was diagnosed with Oesteopenia.  My OB put me on Fosamax and I changed to Boniva in 2008 after I read a news report stating that Fosamax was linked to atypical femur stress fractures.  I took my last Boniva pill one month ago. About a year and a half ago I noticed that I had pain standing upright on my left leg while putting on pants. I figured I had strained a muscle and just started to get dressed sitting down. Soon after I began getting a pain going from my hip to my knee when I was walking. This pain got progressively worse to the point that I could hardly walk. I self diagnosed this pain  as hip bursitis and sought a Rheumatologist for confirmation and a cortisone shot into the bursa sac in my hip. I had had this condition two other times and both times the injection had stopped my pain almost immediately. The Rheumatologist agreed that it was hip bursitis and administered the shot. My leg should have improved within  24 hours but the pain got worse instead.  I went back for another shot the next week but I got no relief this time either. I could only walk with a gimpy limp which slightly offset the pain.

 By now it was October 2011 and my quest for finding the cause and remedy for my leg pain began to get desperate.  I got a good referral to a Sports Medicine doctor at S.C.O.I.  where  I took my first hip M.R.I. , which  actually showed  a femur fracture but the radiologist missed it.  It also showed a condition called AVN or Avascular Necrosis of the Femoral Head which means death of the head of the femur (thigh  bone).  When the Sports Medicine Dr. saw that I had AVN he told me I had to see a hip surgeon immediately. Now I was scared and sought out the best hip surgeons in Los Angeles.  A visit to 2 top surgeons showed that the AVN condition was not the reason for my pain. Both hip surgeons suggested that I see my back surgeon who had successfully operated on my back 4 years ago. It seems that with hip pain it's difficult to diagnose where it's coming from and both surgeons thought the pain was coming from my back.  

In Dec. of 2011 I saw my back surgeon who ordered an M.R.I. of my back. It showed some spinal stenosis in a part of my spine that hadn't been operated on, but he wasn't convinced that my pain was coming from my back. I was sent to the  head of Cedars pain center who injected me 3 different times with more cortisone for diagnostic my back, sacroiliac and yet another shot in my bursa. None of the injections helped to relieve my pain.  The pain doctor thought I might be helped by a Chiropractor so for six weeks I went to his referral until an adjustment broke a rib.

I started to use a cane to help me walk and I was amazed how much pain was relieved with it but I couldn't walk by myself. After 6 specialists the most help I got was from a cane!  I returned to my back doctor in desperation but before we ever spoke he saw how much better I walked with the cane. He informed me that nothing having to do with the spine was going to be better with the help of a cane and directed me back to the hip surgeon.

When I was making an appointment with the hip surgeon I  asked to have a new M.R.I.  of my hip. This time an atypical femur stress fracture was discovered in my left leg. My hip surgeon asked if I had ever used Osteoporosis medication and the answer was "yes and I still do." An appointment was set up for a Nuclear Bone Scan for a few days later. That evening I got a terrible pain in my good leg but thought it must be from its taking months of extra strain. I tried to ignore the pain but couldn't. Finally I took the Nuclear Bone Scan and it showed two lateral fractures of the femur, one in each leg in exactly the same place. It also confirmed that my AVN was not active.  My hip surgeon said I needed both legs operated on immediately to prevent both femurs from breaking completely.  He would have to put metal rods from my hip joints through my femur bones to my knees. 50 % of all femur fractures from these medications result in fractures of both femurs.

My operation took place on April 16th at Cedars Sinai and I was there for 8 days including some rehab. I was told that my left femur was days away from breaking completely. Now I need extensive physical therapy to help me heal and learn to walk without a a limp. I have to inject myself in my stomach every day for 2 years with a special hormone to help my bones heal as the Osteoporosis medication robs the femurs from normally rebuilding the femur bone. It's been four weeks after the operation and I'm getting stronger. Please take heed that all I did to deserve this nightmare was take a drug to prevent Osteoporosis for way too many years. The other day the F.D.A. finally came out with a public warning regarding the use of Bisphosphonates.  The most popular of these medications is Fosamax which has over 23,000 law suits against it. Each of the other medications also have thousands of law suits against them.

If you hear anyone mention leg pain, ask them if they are taking one of these Osteoporosis drugs.  If they are, they need to get to an orthopedist immediately. I hope that none of you have or will develop this condition, but I feel compelled to warn as many women as possible about this.  I'm very angry that the very drugs that were supposed to protect my bones have caused stress fractures in both my femurs, have ruined my life for more than a year and have left me with an uphill battle to rebuild it.

Please forward this to anyone you might think could profit from this information. Not enough doctors are warning their patients of the risks and alternatives of these drugs. We are our only true health advocates.

Yours truly, Joni

Are healthy foods really more expensive?

According to this USDA report, some are not. They claim that sugary and sodium-laden foods, as well as animal protein, cost more based on their formula. Grains, fruit, vegetables, and dairy cost less. Fruits and vegetables could cost a lot less if we allowed more subsidies for them, or, abolish subsidies for Big Grain, and let the growers duke it out on a level playing field. The cost for animal protein would also cost less because if grains were more expensive to feed livestock, producers would be more apt to allow animals to eat what they are supposed to (i.e. grass-fed beef).

Z-Pak antibiotic raises heart attack risk

Use of a common antibiotic, azithromycin, appears to significantly increase the risk of sudden cardiac death when compared with no antibiotic treatment, according to analysis of from The New England Journal of Medicine.
Two other macrolide antibiotics, erythromycin and clarithromycin, are known to increase risk of heart-related events such as ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, but azithromycin had not been associated with cardiovascular risk.
During the study period, there were 347,795 prescriptions for azithromycin, 1,348,672 for amoxicillin, 264,626 for ciprofloxacin, and 193,906 for levofloxacin. In addition, the researchers identified 1,391,180 controls not given antibiotics. Patients who took azithromycin had an estimated 47 additional cardiovascular deaths per 1 million 5-day courses of therapy

Compared with no antibiotic treatment, azithromycin use also had an increased risk for death from any cause.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

EWG's Top Sunscreens for 2012

Big Pharma, Research Publishers Agree to Transparency?

According to the most recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, pharmaceutical industry and publishing representatives have collaborated to develop 10 recommendations for closing the credibility gap in reporting industry-sponsored clinical research.

GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and the Lancet were involved.
The recommendations are as follows:
  1. Ensure clinical studies and publications address clinically important questions
  2. Make public all results, including negative or unfavorable ones, in a timely fashion, while avoiding redundancy 
  3. Improve understanding and disclosure of authors' potential conflicts of interest 
  4. Educate authors on how to develop quality manuscripts and meet journal expectations 
  5. Improve disclosure of authorship contributions and writing assistance and continue education on best publication practices to end ghostwriting and guest authorship 
  6. Report adverse event data more transparently and in a more clinically meaningful manner 
  7. Provide access to more complete protocol information 
  8. Transparently report statistical methods used in analysis 
  9. Ensure authors can access complete study data, know how to do so, and can attest to this 
  10. Support the sharing of prior reviews from other journals
Bonnie and Steve: We'll believe it when we see it.

Artificial devices before bed a no-no

Courtesy of The Daily Herald

At night, the light throws the body's inner clock — the circadian rhythm — out of sync, which in turn can affect your sleep. The combination of poor sleep and exposure to artificial light may contribute to a number of health problems, according to the Harvard Health Letter.

Studies have linked working the night shift and getting exposed to light at night to several types of cancer (including breast and prostate cancer), diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It's not exactly clear why nighttime light exposure seems to be problematic. It could be because exposure to light at night curbs the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms.

Here are some suggestions to consider.

• Use dim red lights for nightlights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.

• Avoid looking at brightly lit screens such as computers beginning two to three hours before bed.

• If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue wavelength-blocking glasses.

• Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gluten Intolerant? a Plea to Young Women.

Babies born to women with intolerant to gluten appear to be at increased risk for certain psychiatric disorders later in life, according to research in The American Journal of Psychiatry, add to a growing body of evidence that many "adult" diseases may take root before and shortly after birth.

This is the first study that points to maternal food intolerances as a possible culprit in the development of such disorders. The research not only underscores the importance of maternal nutrition during pregnancy and its lifelong effects on the offspring, but also suggests one potential cheap and easy way to reduce risk if we were to find further proof that gluten intolerance exacerbates or drives up schizophrenia risk.

The team's findings are based on an examination of 764 birth records and neonatal blood samples of babies born between 1975 and 1985. Some 211 of them subsequently developed non-affective psychoses, such as schizophrenia and delusional disorders.

Using stored neonatal blood samples, the investigators measured levels of IgG antibodies to milk and wheat. Because a mother's antibodies cross the placenta during pregnancy to confer immunity to the baby, a newborn's elevated IgG levels are proof of protein sensitivity in the mother.

Children born to mothers with abnormally high levels of antibodies to the wheat protein gluten had nearly twice the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life, compared with children who had normal levels of gluten antibodies. The link persisted even after researchers accounted for other factors known to increase schizophrenia risk, including maternal age, gestational age, mode of delivery and the mother's immigration status.

Researchers in the past also have observed that people diagnosed with schizophrenia have disproportionately high rates celiac disease. Other studies have found that some people with schizophrenia have gluten intolerance without other signs of celiac disease.

Bonnie: a plea to women thinking about getting pregnant or are newly pregnant. If you know that you have a gluten intolerance, please avoid it during this period. By not increasing your IgG blood levels, as well as keeping negative genes from expressing themselves, you are giving your child a much better outcome for disease prevention.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Brain cancer surgery without an incision?

Read the Mayo Clinic's explanation of this new technology.

How would you like your meat? Glued?

Bonnie: we reported on this last year and it is now getting some attention. Choose organic or grass-fed beef whenever possible.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation was initiated into transglutaminase (TG), the powdery enzyme dubbed "meat glue" that's used to bind separate pieces of meat together. TG is "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but recently, Sen. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called for the investigation because of a potential public safety concern.

Lieu said better labeling of meat products is necessary because outer meat portions that are more susceptible to contamination may end up glued inside a larger meat piece, leading to food-borne illness if the meat is not properly cooked.

The current public outcry against "meat glue", like with "pink slime", is yet another indication that consumers are demanding transparency in the food system.

Best and Worst Asthma Cities

Considering IVF? Consider the risks.

Children conceived with the aid of fertility treatments are more likely to be born with serious physical defects, according a study from The New England Journal of Medicine. Conception using treatments like ovulation induction, in-vitro fertilization or the injection of sperm directly into an egg, resulted in serious defects in 8.3 percent of cases studied. The corresponding ratio in spontaneous conceptions was 5.8 percent -- a "very" significant difference, according to the lead researcher.

"Something that is not often talked about in the clinic, I suspect, is the risk of having an abnormal baby. And so this emphasizes this is something that must be talked about between patients and clinicians. They must discuss the risk for this when choosing the treatment," the lead researcher was quoted saying.

The research only focused on serious defects, "things that either require treatment or if there is no treatment they are going to be considered handicapping", like a heart condition or cerebral palsy.

Omega-3 linked to lower amyloid plaque levels

In a journal Neurology study of more than 1,200 cognitively normal individuals older than 65, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was significantly predictive of lower plasma levels of the 40- and 42-residue forms of beta-amyloid protein (AB40 and AB42, respectively). The same researchers had previously published results indicating that a Mediterranean-type diet was associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. Because one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease is beta-amyloid plaque deposits in the brain, they sought to determine if dietary factors were related to blood levels of AB40 and AB4.

What is 100 times more powerful than an antibiotic?

According to results from a study published in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, a compound in garlic is 100 times more effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium, one of the most common causes of intestinal illness. The discovery opens the door to new treatments for raw and processed meats and food preparation surfaces. 

Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the world, causing symptoms including diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever. The bacteria also are responsible for triggering nearly one-third of the cases of a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. 

Scientists looked at the ability of the garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, to kill the bacterium when it is protected by a slimy biofilm that makes it 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than the free floating bacterial cell. They found the compound can easily penetrate the protective biofilm and kill bacterial cells by combining with a sulfur-containing enzyme, subsequently changing the enzyme's function and effectively shutting down cell metabolism. 

The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often would work in a fraction of the time. Diallyl sulfide would be useful in cleaning industrial food processing equipment and as a natural preservative in packaged foods.

Steve: while we wait decades for the USDA to eliminate antibiotic use in domesticated animals, maybe they should offer subsidies to garlic growers and processors to ramp up production of Diallyl sulfide. Oh, I forgot. Big Pharma would not allow that.

Midlife Diet Affects Brain

Few studies have investigated the long-term impact of overall dietary patterns on cognition. A new study in the May issue of Journal Nutrition evaluated the association between dietary patterns in midlife and cognitive performance 13 years later. Global cognitive function, verbal memory, and executive functioning were tested. A healthy and a traditional dietary pattern were identified. The healthy pattern was associated with better global cognitive function and verbal memory. In conclusion, adherence to a healthy dietary pattern in middle life may help preserve global cognitive function, especially verbal memory, when total energy intake is regulated.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Making the Case for Standing.

Excerpts inspired by a recent New York Times article by Gretchen Reynolds.

In the upcoming issue of Diabetes Care, scientists had adults sit completely still for seven hours or, on a separate day, rise every 20 minutes and walk leisurely on a treadmill for two minutes. On another day, they had the volunteers jog gently during their two-minute breaks.

When the volunteers remained stationary for the full seven hours, their blood sugar spiked and insulin levels were out of whack. But when they broke up the hours with movement, even that short two-minute stroll, their blood sugar levels remained stable. Interestingly, the jogging didn’t improve blood sugar regulation any more than standing and walking did. What was important, the scientists concluded, was simply breaking up the long, interminable hours of sitting.

Recent experiments at the University of Massachusetts showed that when volunteers stood all day - nothing else; no walking or jogging; just standing - they burned hundreds more calories than when they sat for the same period of time.

Steve: if you come to our office, you may notice that I am standing at my desk much of the time. I find myself much less achy when I stand. My digestion, circulation, and overall well-being seem more optimal when I stand. If you choose to stand most of your workday, make sure your setup is ergonomically correct. If you are unable, just make sure you make a concerted effort to get up and move!