Friday, March 28, 2014

How Men Triple Their Risk of Stroke.

Drinking alcohol more than 2.5 times a week, independent of the amount, triples the risk of stroke mortality in men compared to those who don’t drink alcohol, according to a new study published in the journal Acta Neurologica Scandinavica. The findings support previous studies.

At the onset of the study, the men participating in the study were middle-aged, and the follow-up time was 20 years. The study showed that men who consume alcohol more frequently than twice a week have more than a threefold risk of stroke mortality than people who do not consume alcohol at all. The risk of stroke mortality is elevated irrespective of the amount of alcohol consumed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lancet Deems Fluoride a Neurotoxin.

In a review appearing in the March 2014 issue of Lancet Neurology entitled, "Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity," the authors lay out existing evidence that has categorized fluoride as a newly identified industrial chemical known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in human beings.
Neurotoxins are capable of causing widespread brain disorders such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities - a host of untreatable and often permanently damaging disorders - and yet fluoride is added to drinking water and products such as toothpaste. 

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments in the fluoride harm case of Nemphos v. Nestle Waters. It is just the beginning of a contentious issue sure to last for decades.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let Older Students Sleep In!

"Sleep deprivation is epidemic among adolescents, with potentially serious impacts on mental and physical health, safety and learning. Early high school start times contribute to this problem," said the lead researcher in a study that appeared in a recent issue of Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. "Most teenagers undergo a biological shift to a later sleep-wake cycle, which can make early school start times particularly challenging. In this study, we looked at whether a relatively modest, temporary delay in school start time would change students' sleep patterns, sleepiness, mood and caffeine use."
Students attending an independent high school were examined both before and after their school start time was experimentally delayed from 8 to 8:25 a.m. during the winter term.

The delay in school start time was associated with a significant (29 minute) increase in sleep duration on school nights, with the percentage of students receiving eight or more hours of sleep on a school night jumping from 18 to 44 percent.

Daytime sleepiness, depressed mood and caffeine use were all significantly reduced after the delay in school start time. The later school start time had no effect on the number of hours students spent doing homework, playing sports or engaging in extracurricular activities.

In a final salvo, the researchers state, "If we more closely align school schedules with adolescents' circadian rhythms and sleep needs, we will have students who are more alert, happier, better prepared to learn, and aren't dependent on caffeine and energy drinks just to stay awake in class."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New model for colon cancer screening

Colon cancer screening rates went up by nearly 40% in a Kaiser Permanente study that mailed test kits to patients' homes. The findings are to be published in the journal BMC Cancer.

The study involved 869 patients registered with three community health clinics in metropolitan areas in Portland, Oregon. Most of the patients in the health clinics were Latinos living below the poverty line and around half of them had no health insurance.

The researchers arranged for an introductory letter - in English and Spanish - explaining the home test kit and colorectal cancer screening, to be mailed to 112 patients with one of the clinics. This letter was followed 2 weeks later with a mailed stool test kit. If the tests weren't returned within 3 weeks, the patients received reminder postcards.

For the second clinic, 101 patients received the same mailings over the same timescale: the letter, then the test kit and then the reminder postcard. Except, in this case, if test kits weren't returned within a month, the patients also got a reminder phone call.

With the third clinic, the researchers enlisted 656 patients as controls. These did not receive a stool test kit by mail, but they had the option of having a screening test as part of routine visits to the clinic.

Only 1% of the controls had completed a stool test, compared with 39% of the patients who received tests in the mail, and 37% who were also reminded by phone.

Big Pharma's strategy to eliminate Folic Acid

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Omega-3's Promise for Cancer, Mortality, and Sleep

The objective of a March 15th study from American Journal of Epidemiology study evaluated whether intake of omega-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements was associated with cause-specific and total mortality. Participants were followed for mortality for six year. Higher combined intake of omega-3 fatty acids from diet and supplements was associated with a decreased risk of total mortality and mortality from cancer, as well as a small reduction in risk of death from cardiovascular disease. 

A new study from Journal of Sleep Research found that higher levels of omega-3 DHA was associated with better sleep in children. The children who took part in the study were not selected for sleep problems, but were all struggling readers at a mainstream primary school. The study showed that the children on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour (58 minutes) more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the children taking placebo.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

High protein protects the brain in older persons

Researchers in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggest that a diet high in protein, particularly animal protein, may help elderly individuals maintain a higher level of physical, psychological, and social function.

Research suggests that as people age, their ability to absorb or process protein may decline. To compensate for this loss, protein requirements may increase with age.

The study to investigated the relationship between protein intake and future decline in higher-level functional capacity in older community-dwelling adults in Japan.

The analysis included 1,007 individuals with an average age of 67.4 years who completed food questionnaires at the start of the study and seven years later. Participants were divided into four groups (quartiles) according to their intake levels of total, animal, and plant protein.

Tests of higher-level functional capacity included social and intellectual aspects as well as measures related to activities of daily living.

Men in the highest quartile of animal protein intake had a 39 percent decreased chance of experiencing higher-level functional decline than those in the lowest quartile. These associations were not seen in women. No decline was observed in plant protein intake for either sex.

GI Docs Changing Their Probiotic Tune

A healthy and balanced diet, as well as probiotics, have been known to be helpful in preserving gastrointestinal health for quite a long time. This was one of the topics presented at the Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit on March 8-9, 2014.

"Diet is a central issue when it comes to preserving our gastrointestinal health, because by eating and digesting we literally feed our gut microbiota, and thus influence its diversity and composition," says the distinguished microbiota expert Professor Francisco Guarner. "If this balance is disturbed, it might result in a number of disorders, including functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel diseases and other immune mediated diseases, such as celiac disease and certain allergies. Also, metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, and perhaps even behavioral disorders, such as autism and depression, can be linked to gut microbial imbalances. Although a disrupted microbial equilibrium can have many causes -- infectious pathogens or use of antibiotics among them -- the role of our daily food and lifestyle is crucial. Thus, the maintenance of our gastrointestinal health is to a considerable extent in our own hands."

"The mechanisms underlying the beneficial outcome of probiotics are becoming increasingly clear. Through different molecules, probiotics interact with the host via various mechanisms and pathways. Some probiotics, for example, can hold pathogens at bay: by improving the intestinal barrier function, they defend the host against disease-causing microorganisms trying to invade."

According to Prof. Guarner, further useful "services" of probiotics include strengthening the immune system by stimulating immune mechanisms inside and outside the gut, helping to regulate the gut motility, and acting as anti-inflammatory compounds in the gut, with an impact beyond the gut.

Probiotics have beneficial effects at all stages of life, including the very early ones. Studies that show the beneficial effect of certain probiotics on gastroenteritis, colic, eczema, diarrhea and necrotizing enterocolitis in children. Moreover, according to several prevention studies, probiotics, may support disease prevention in children who tend to have a reduced microbiota diversity as they are not breast-fed, have been exposed to antibiotics or are born via Caesarean section. In all these cases, the development of a rich and balanced gut microbiota is likely to be delayed or impeded.

The members of this conference left with the notion that the microbial communities that reside in the human gut and their impact on human health and disease are one of the most exciting new areas of research today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Cost of Chasing Cancer

The benefits of teaching expectant mothers how to eat well

Probiotic Limits Baby Colic, Reflux

This is an abstract from the March issue of JAMA Pediatrics:

Infantile colic, gastroesophageal reflux, and constipation are the most common functional gastrointestinal disorders that lead to referral to a pediatrician during the first 6 months of life and are often responsible for hospitalization, feeding changes, use of drugs, parental anxiety, and loss of parental working days with relevant social consequences.


To investigate whether oral supplementation with Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 during the first 3 months of life can reduce the onset of colic, gastroesophageal reflux, and constipation in term newborns and thereby reduce the socioeconomic impact of these conditions.


A prospective, multicenter, double-masked, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial was performed on term newborns (age less than 1 week) born at 9 different neonatal units in Italy between September 1, 2010, and October 30, 2012.


Parents were asked to record in a structured diary the number of episodes of regurgitation, duration of inconsolable crying (minutes per day), number of evacuations per day, number of visits to pediatricians, feeding changes, hospitalizations, visits to a pediatric emergency department for a perceived health emergency, pharmacologic interventions, and loss of parental working days.


In total, 589 infants were randomly allocated to receive L reuteri DSM 17938 or placebo daily for 90 days.


Prophylactic use of probiotic.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Reduction of daily crying time, regurgitation, and constipation during the first 3 months of life. Cost-benefit analysis of the probiotic supplementation.


At 3 months of age, the mean duration of crying time (38 vs 71 minutes), the mean number of regurgitations per day (2.9 vs 4.6), and the mean number of evacuations per day (4.2 vs 3.6) for the L reuteri DSM 17938 and placebo groups, respectively, were significantly different. The use of L reuteri DSM 17938 resulted in an estimated mean savings per patient of $118.71 for the family and an additional $140.30 for the community.

Conclusions and Relevance

Prophylactic use of L reuteri DSM 17938 during the first 3 months of life reduced the onset of functional gastrointestinal disorders and reduced private and public costs for the management of this condition.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vitamin D increases breast cancer patient survival

Why Japanese men are healthier than American men

Here's one reason: According to new research in Heart, middle-aged Japanese men living in Japan had lower incidence of coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease, than middle-aged white men living in the United States, likely due to the significantly higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.

After accounting for risk factors for heart disease, the U.S. men had three times the incidence of coronary artery calcification as the Japanese men after five years – while the levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid in the blood were more than 100% higher in the Japanese than in the white men.

The vast difference in heart disease and levels of marine-derived omega-3 fatty acid are not due to genetic factors. When the researchers looked at Japanese Americans, we find that their levels of coronary artery calcification are actually higher than that of the rest of the U.S. population.

The team noted that the average dietary intake of fish by Japanese people living in Japan is nearly 100 grams each day, while the average American eats about 7 to 13 grams of fish a day, or about one serving a week.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Exciting Gut Bacteria Finding

Researchers in the journal Cell Reports have discovered how the beneficial bacteria in our guts communicate with our own cells. This is a key step in understanding how our bodies maintain a close relationship with the population of gut bacteria that plays crucial roles in maintaining our health, fighting infection and digesting our food.

Gut bacteria produce an enzyme that modifies signalling in cells lining the gut. The enzyme also has another role in breaking down food components.

One example is phytate, the form phosphorus takes in cereals and vegetables. Broken down phytate is a source of vital nutrients, but in its undigested form it has detrimental properties. It binds to important minerals preventing them being taken up by the body, causing conditions like anemia, especially in developing countries. Phytate also leads to excess phosphorus leaching into the soil from farm animal waste, and feed supplements are used to minimize this.

Despite the importance of phytate, we know very little about how it is broken down in our gut. After screening the genomes of hundreds of different species of gut bacteria, the researchers found an enzyme in one of the most prominent gut bacteria species that breaks down phytate.

Steve: A lack of the beneficial bacteria that contain this enzyme may ultimately be one of the causes of a host of intestinal disorders that are caused by excess, undigested phytate. This is an exciting development because we have mentioned in the past that the issue with cereal grains is not just their gluten content, but other chemicals that can be toxic to humans, such as phytate. Cereal grains are much higher in phytates than vegetables.

WHO wants only 5% of daily calories to come from sugar

Behavioral disorder linked to vitamin D

New study by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) demonstrates the impact that Vitamin D may have on social behavior associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In the FASEB Journal study, Dr. Patrick and Dr. Ames show that serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior, are all activated by vitamin D hormone. Autism, which is characterized by abnormal social behavior, has previously been linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain and to low vitamin D levels, but no mechanism has linked the two until now.

In this study, Dr. Patrick and Dr. Ames show that vitamin D hormone activates the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), that converts the essential amino acid tryptophan, to serotonin in the brain. This suggests that adequate levels of vitamin D may be required to produce serotonin in the brain where it shapes the structure and wiring of the brain, acts as a neurotransmitter, and affects social behavior. They also found evidence that the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) is inhibited by vitamin D hormone, which subsequently halts the production of serotonin in the gut and other tissues, where when found in excess it promotes inflammation.

The most recent National Health and Examination survey reports that greater than 70% of U.S. population does not meet this requirement and that adequate vitamin D levels have plummeted over the last couple of decades.

The study suggests dietary intervention with vitamin D, tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids would boost brain serotonin concentrations and help prevent and possibly ameliorate some of the symptoms associated with ASD without side effects.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

USPSTF says we shouldn't study supplements as if they were drugs

Steve: One aspect of the US Preventive Services Task Force's (USPSTF) recent announcement that there is not enough evidence to support dietary supplements for preventing heart disease and cancer did not make headlines. They admitted that conventional medicine isn’t qualified to properly assess the benefits of dietary supplements. This is to my knowledge the first major medical organization to publicly admit this.

Alliance for Natural Health does a great job supporting the USPSTF statement in this piece.

My most important takeaway?

"Research should target those who are deficient in the nutrient they are testing instead of patients with optimal nutrient levels (a point that should be self-evident but has always been ignored). Integrative doctors have used the hundreds of thousands of these studies on dietary supplements to devise successful healing protocols, but they usually begin with tests to determine deficiencies and they do not generally use a one-pill-or-dose-per-health-problem approach."

The majority of studies I cite on a weekly basis are those that address deficiency and the results after the deficiencies are corrected.