Thursday, August 29, 2013

Users of MS alternative therapies on the rise

New research from the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health and Autoimmune Diseases has mapped the use of alternative treatment among multiple sclerosis patients. People with multiple sclerosis (MS) often use alternative treatments such as dietary supplements, acupuncture and herbal medicine to facilitate their lives. 

What they found is patients do not usually use alternative treatments for treating symptoms, but as a preventative and strengthening element. More than half of the respondents say that they either combine conventional and alternative medicine or only use alternative medicine.

The study should draw attention because, if people with chronic disease are better able to manage their lives, it can potentially save society large sums of money.

"There is a lot of talk about 'self-care competence', in other words patients helping themselves to get their lives to function. Here, many people with a chronic disease find they benefit from using alternative treatments, so we should not ignore this possibility," says the lead author.
Among MS patients using alternative treatments, there is a significantly bigger proportion of people with a high level of education compared to those who do not use alternative treatments. There is also a larger proportion of highly paid people and of younger women.

Veggies help prevent pancreatitis

Researchers in the August issue of Gut examined the association of vegetable and fruit consumption with the risk of non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis. 80,019 women and men, aged 46–84 years, followed up for incidence of non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis from 1 January 1998 to 31 December 2009, were categorized into quintiles according to consumption of vegetables and consumption of fruit. 

Of the non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis cases, the authors observed a significant association between vegetable consumption and risk of non-gallstone-related acute pancreatitis. Every two additional servings per day were associated with 17% risk reduction. Fruit consumption was not significantly associated with risk.

Docs Who Profit From Radiation More Likely to Prescribe

Not exactly a surprise here.

Is Broccoli Anti-inflammatory?

You may have seen it all over the news yesterday. A compound found in broccoli could prevent or slow the progress of the most common form of arthritis, according to new research from Arthritis and Rheumatism.

Results from a laboratory study show that the broccoli compound sulforaphane slows down the destruction of cartilage in joints associated with painful and often debilitating osteoarthritis.

Here's the catch: the researchers found that mice fed a diet rich in the compound had significantly less cartilage damage and osteoarthritis than those that were not. The study was not done on human subjects. However, the researchers did examine human cartilage cells and cow cartilage tissue and found similar results.

Sulforaphane is released when eating cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, but particularly broccoli. Copious research has focused on sulforaphane mainly for its anti-cancer properties, but recently, it has shown to be anti-inflammatory as well.

The researchers discovered that sulforaphane blocks the enzymes that cause joint destruction by stopping a key molecule known to cause inflammation.

Until more research is done in humans, not much has changed as far as our recommendations. We suggest trying to get vegetables from the cruciferous family (which includes broccoli) as much as possible.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What the Sun Does to Your Eyes.

Good infographic and recommendations.

Some Schools Quit Healthier School Lunch Programs

Not surprised that this is happening in a small percentage of school districts. Change is hard, especially when educators get no support from parents. These districts, especially, need to do a better job of outreach to train parents to be a partner in helping students better acclimate to healthier lifestyles.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

HPV risk linked to poor oral health

Blood sugar level linked to dementia risk

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that higher blood sugar levels are associated with higher dementia risk, even among people who do not have diabetes.

Blood sugar levels averaged over a five-year period were associated with rising risks for developing dementia, in this report about more than 2,000 Group Health patients age 65 and older in the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study.

For example, in people without diabetes, risk for dementia was 18 percent higher for people with an average glucose level of 115 milligrams per deciliter compared to those with an average glucose level of 100 mg/dl. And in people with diabetes, whose blood sugar levels are generally higher, dementia risk was 40 percent higher for people with an average glucose level of 190 mg/dl compared to those with an average glucose level of 160 mg/dl.

The most interesting finding was that every incrementally higher glucose level was associated with a higher risk of dementia in people who did not have diabetes. There was no threshold value for lower glucose values where risk leveled off.

The measurements included blood glucose (some fasting, some not) and glycated hemoglobin (also known as HbA1c). Blood sugar levels rise and fall in peaks and valleys throughout each day, but glycated hemoglobin doesn't vary as much over short intervals.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Big Pharma behind testosterone craze: JAMA commentary

American men aged 40 years or older tripled their use of androgen replacement therapy (ART) between 2001 and 2011, including a greater than 5-fold surge in use of the hormone testosterone as a topical gel, according to a recent analysis in the August 12/26 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.
The data indicated that almost 20% of all new users received treatment for 30 days or less and that most men did not have clear evidence of a potential indication for ART. The authors suggest more research is needed to determine the extent to which men with normal testosterone levels and ambiguous symptoms seek and are prescribed ART, particularly given the concerns about cardiovascular and other toxic effects from such treatment.
In two accompanying commentaries, the authors suggest that the rise in prescriptions was driven by pharmaceutical companies' subtle (and sometimes surreptitious) marketing efforts to consumers.

In an editorial by Stephen R. Braun, from Braun Medical Media, Amherst, Massachusetts, explains how he was paid to "trumpet the party line" in ghostwritten articles he authored for a leading endocrinologist that ran in Life After 50, Woman's Day, Business Week, and other magazines. Braun describes a consumer-friendly booklet he wrote on behalf of Solvay, the original maker of AndroGel testosterone gel, as "a shill for the sponsor — an uncritical, unbalanced presentation of 'facts' that serves primarily to drive people to their physicians seeking the holy grail of 'energy, positive mood, and sexuality' in the form of testosterone."

Moreover, he notes that a recent market analysis of sales of testosterone replacement therapies to treat low testosterone, available as gels, transdermal patches, oral formulations, and injections given in a physician's office, have more than doubled since 2006 and are forecast to triple to $5 billion by 2017.

In an invited commentary, Lisa M. Schwartz, MD, and Steven Woloshin, MD, from the VA Outcomes Group, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont; the Center for Medicine and the Media, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice; and Norris Cotton Cancer Center, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, write that the "Low T" campaign follows a familiar script: medicalize ordinary life experiences, "raise the stakes" to trigger testing, and "spin the evidence" about benefit and harm.

"Whether the campaign is motivated by a sincere desire to help men or simply by greed, we should recognize it for what it is: a mass, uncontrolled experiment that invites men to expose themselves to the harms of a treatment unlikely to fix problems that may be wholly unrelated to testosterone levels," Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Woloshin write.
Bonnie: Wow, wow, and wow. The fact that this eviscerating commentary appears in JAMA would be unheard of as little as five years ago. Somehow, the message needs to more effectively reach health professionals and the public who buy into these crazes!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Kids' chronic pain linked to anxiety

Children with chronic or recurring stomach pain without a clear medical explanation were also more likely to have an anxiety disorder than those without stomach problems, according to a new study in journal Pediatrics.

By the time kids with stomach pain reached age 20, just over half had had symptoms of an anxiety disorder at some point, most often social anxiety. Anxiety tended to start in early childhood, around the same time as the chronic stomach problems.
Past studies suggest between eight and 25 percent of all youth have chronic stomach pain, researchers noted.

Anxiety was more common among people who continued having stomach pain compared to those whose childhood symptoms went away.

Steve: One thing the researchers did not allot for is the fact that continually introducing foods to a gastrointestinal tract that sees them as toxic to certain children (i.e., gluten, corn, dairy, sugar, etc.) can create the mental disorders, and of course, the pain. In many of the cases we have seen, it is diet that addresses the pain and the mental disorder(s) sucessfuly at the same time.

No Such Thing as Left or Right-Brained: Study

Friday, August 16, 2013

Coke Stands By Its Artificial Sweetener

Vitamin E on the Comeback Trail

The misunderstood, much maligned vitamin E, has made a comeback of sorts in the eyes of researchers. This study, published in Diabetes Care, is the latest to exhibit impressive results.

Among people with type 1 diabetes, a greater potential capacity to respond to oxidative stress may mitigate the future development of coronary artery disease (CAD). This means that utilizing antioxidant therapy, whether from large quantities in food or individualized dietary supplements, has a measurable effect in preventing CAD.

According to the authors, although two individuals may have similarly high levels of oxidative stress, there may be differences in the [plasma] concentration of antioxidant vitamins between the two that may put them in different risk categories, with one individual potentially requiring vitamin supplementation.
Subjects were assessed for urinary isoprostane (IsoP) levels — a biomarker of oxidative stress — and plasma levels of the antioxidant vitamins α-tocopherol (a component of vitamin E) as a way of gauging the potential to respond to oxidative stress.

The researchers found that concentrations of α-tocopherol increased over time, paralleling the use of vitamin supplements in the population. 
Over the 20-year follow-up, 24.7% of the subjects with no baseline CAD had a coronary event. There was a significant association in reduced CAD events in subjects with higher α-tocopherol concentration, as well as a strong reduction in the development of CAD.

The authors acknowledge a previous study of patients with type 2 diabetes found that those with a particular genotype have a higher risk of heart disease and that supplementation with vitamin E can reduce that risk by 53%.

Bonnie: For those who take vitamin E as a therapeutic supplement, we always recommend taking it in mixed tocopherol form. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Folate fortification program a success

The United States implemented mandatory folic acid fortification of enriched cereal grains in 1998. Although several studies have documented the resulting decrease in anemia and folate deficiency, to our knowledge, no one has determined the prevalence of folate-deficiency anemia after fortification.

Researchers in an upcoming American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study determined the prevalence of folate deficiency and folate-deficiency anemia within a sample of 30,239 black and white subjects living in the United States. Overall, the prevalence of folate-deficiency anemia was less than 0.1%.

The data suggest that, after mandatory folic acid fortification, the prevalence of folate-deficiency anemia is nearly nonexistent in a community-dwelling population in the United States.

Bonnie:  This is a public health victory like we have not seen in recent memory with regard to nutrition. And boy, do we need it!

Superfood Flattery

Looks like our Superfood Championship during March Madness may have made an impression. Check out what the Huffington Post is doing. Look familiar or just coincidence?

Our version this past March/April

Friday, August 09, 2013

Study: Probiotics quell inflammation, enhance detoxification, and balance blood sugar

The first-of-its-kind study in the July issue of Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism examined the effects of daily consumption of multispecies probiotic supplements on fasting glucose, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), and oxidative stress in diabetic patients. The randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial used a multispecies probiotic supplement consisting of 7 viable and freeze-dried strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus, L. bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum, Streptococcus thermophilus, and 100 mg fructo-oligosaccharide. The multispecies probiotic supplementation, compared with placebo, prevented a rise in fasting glucose, resulted in a decrease in serum hs-CRP, and an increase in plasma total glutathione.

Steve: Simply, this probiotic combo not only balanced blood sugar, but reduced inflammation and increased detoxification. That's a nice triumvirate! 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Older persons should think twice about surgery.

Older patients who undergo anesthesia and surgery have a significantly increased risk for dementia. Researchers in a British Journal of Psychiatry study found that patients older than 50 years who underwent anesthesia for the first time had nearly a 2-fold increased risk for dementia, mainly Alzheimer's disease, compared with nonanesthetized patients.

The researchers stated that anesthesia and surgery are inseparable in clinical settings. Thus, it is difficult to establish whether the increased risk of dementia development they observed was attributable to the anesthesia per se, the surgical process, or both.

The study included 24,901 patients aged 50 years and older who were anesthetized for the first time since 1995 between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2007, and a control group of 110,972 randomly selected age- and sex-matched patients. All participants were followed until December 31, 2010, to identify the emergence of dementia.

There is growing concern that anesthetic drugs may have neurodegenerative complications. Two previous in vivo studies and imaging studies have shown that inhaled anesthetic agents can promote amyloid β peptide (Aβ) peptide oligomerisation and enhance Aβ-induced neurotoxicity. Other potential mechanisms of anesthetic-induced neurotoxicity include calcium dysregulation..

Don't fall off the wagon if you're celiac

In patients with celiac disease, persistent villous atrophy may be associated with certain types of lymphoma, including T-cell and non-Hodgkin, according to the findings of a recent study in the August 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that celiac patients who had continual persistent villous atrophy had a significantly higher risk for malignant lymphoma compared with subjects with mucosal healing.

Bonnie: The takeaway? If celiac, be extremely vigilant in adhering to your gluten-free diet, especially after first being diagnosed. Healing the mucosal lining and revitalizing villi is the key to prevention. A small percentage of celiac patients do not improve as much as they need to just by following a gluten-free diet. There are several reasons why this occurs. Working with a nutritional professional with expertise on this issue is paramount.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Has Childhood Obesity Reached a Tipping Point?

Let us only hope the CDC numbers released today are accurate. 18 states showed a slight obesity decline in low income children. While the rates are still way too high, and too many states are still treading water, we will take any kind of good news! Keep up the pressure on food manufacturers, restaurants, schools, and our government to make real, nutrient intelligent food.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Safety of Statins: To Whom Do You Believe?

If you ask the pharmaceutical industry and many public health advocates, eventually everyone should be taking the class of the cholesterol-lowering medication called statins. However, if you pay attention to research that has come out over the last few years, the safety of statins should give one pause for concern.

Aside from increased risk for muscle pain, memory loss, and diabetes that the FDA added to statins' warning labels, a new study published in the July 5th issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention indicates that women who are long-term users of statin drugs have between 83-143% increased risk of breast cancer.

Whereas recent publicity on statin drugs has focused on their potential use for cancer prevention or as anti-cancer agents, this study found exactly the opposite with current users of statins for 10 years or longer having a 1.83-fold increased risk of invasive ductal carcinoma and a 1.97-fold increased risk of invasive lobular carcinoma compared to subjects who never used statins.

This latest study could indicate a more serious problem, namely, that cholesterol-lowering drugs and statin drugs in particular are carcinogenic. Statin drugs, in fact, have long been suspected to increase the risk of certain cancers, including prostate, colorectal, and kidney; conversely, low cholesterol has been found to increase the risk of cancer at all sites, further implicating these cholesterol-lowering agents as possible carcinogens.

This latest finding is all the more reason why dietary and nutritional interventions should be considered a first line defense against high cholesterol, and why addressing inflammation should take priority over cholesterol as the primary contributing factor in heart disease.

Friday, August 02, 2013

FDA issues new rules for gluten-free labeling

New legislation threatens supplements

Fruits, Veggies, Lower Bladder Cancer Risk

According to a study just published in Journal of Nutrition, fruits and vegetables have been examined for their possible effects on the risk of bladder cancer, as they contain numerous nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants with potentially anticarcinogenic properties. 185,885 older adults were examined to discern whether the consumption of fruits and vegetables, or of nutrients concentrated in fruits and vegetables, was associated with bladder cancer risk over a period of 12.5 years. In women with the highest intake of total fruits and vegetables, total vegetables, yellow-orange vegetables, total fruits, and citrus fruits were all associated with reduced risk of invasive bladder cancer. In addition, women with the highest intakes of vitamins A, C, and E; the carotenoids α-carotene, beta-carotene, and beat-cryptoxanthin; and folate had a lower risk of bladder cancer. For men, reduced risk was only observed for vegetable intake among current smokers.

Bonnie: This does not mean that men should stop eating produce because it did not have much of an effect on reducing bladder cancer for them. However, for women, wow do fruits and veggies have an enormous effect!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Caffeine can reduce suicide risk

Drinking several cups of coffee a day could halve the risk of suicide in men and women. In a study published by the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, researchers analyzed the caffeine consumption of more than 200,000 people spanning a period of nearly 20 years. They found that, for both men and women, those who took in 400 mg of the stimulant a day – the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee – were statistically 50 per cent less likely to commit suicide. And while the research surveyed people on all sorts of caffeine sources, from tea to chocolate, they found that between 71 and 80 per cent of intake was from coffee.

The scientists said the statistics could possibly be explained by the fact that caffeine boosts production of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, effectively acting as a mild antidepressant.