This highly informative book in its third edition, is a veritable treasure trove of information about amino acids, the basic building blocks of life. I believe that everyone interested in their personal health and well being must have this book on their shelves. It is well-written, easy to understand yet based in science. Orignally authored by the legendary Carl C. Pfeiffer, this book was recently updated by Dr. Eric Braverman, M.D.
Inverse Association between Serum Methylmalonic Acid Levels and Cognitive Function in the Elderly – Elevated methylmalonate in urine is a strong marker for vitamin B12 deficiency. In this study, there was a strong relationship between vitamin B12 deficiency and poor cognitive function in elderly subjects. Due to poor gut performance as we get older, it is not surprising to see this outcome. Supplementation with a good multivitamin/mineral is recommended.
Higher Total Folate Intake May Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in Older Persons – This study looked at the relationship between dietary intake of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid and found that only folate intake was related to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. While there may be no causative relationship, I would certainly hedge my bet by supplementing with a high-quality B-complex.
Long-Term Folic Acid Supplementation Improves Cognitive Function in Older Subjects – Another well done study that seems to suggest the real value of folic acid and brain function in the elderly.
Higher Dietary Intake of Heme Iron and Red Meat May Increase Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women with Type 2 Diabetes – Women with Type 2 Diabetes should think twice before having that steak or hamburger. Lowering your dietary intake or red meat to once or twice a week seems highly prudent. Also, make sure any supplements you take contain less than 15 mg of iron in a daily dose. In addition, the next time you go to your physician for a checkup, make sure he looks at your iron level when he orders a blood test for you.
High Dose Zinc Supplementation May Negatively Affect Certain Aspects of Urinary Physiology – While zinc is an important trace mineral, this study suggests, and I concur, that over supplementation may not be beneficial. 40 milligrams a day is adequate but testing your levels would be the smartest thing to do. an RBC mineral test from Doctor’s Data or MetaMetrix is the best way to assess your mineral levels.
Serum Uric Acid Levels Associated with Risk of Incidence of Hypertension – Uric acid is one of your body’s top antioxidant compounds. When it becomes elevated, I believe that your body is telling you it needs help in protecting itself from oxidative stress which can lead to hypertension. Adding a broad spectrum of antioxidants like vitamin C, E, selenium or Acai (OptiAcai only) is the best way to go.
Supplementation with the Probiotic Lactobacillus Reuteri May Improve Colicky Symptoms in Breastfed Infants – Adding probiotics are an excellent way of helping colicky babies get relief. You can get it in a powder form from your local health food store (make sure it is refrigerated).
For more information about these studies and others like it, go to the Clinical Pearls Database .
In the next few weeks, I will be producing a Podcast you will be able to download from iTunes on the subject of laboratory testing and interpreting data. I will be interviewing people in the industry and will try to give you an insight on the subject.
As soon as it is available, I will post the link here on my blog site.
In research done around the world we are finding out that when you eat a meal you enjoy you absorb more nutrients than meals you don’t like. My old mentor John Kitkoski told me that eating foods more indiginous to our heritage is more important than listening to doctors telling you what to eat. In a book put out by Barry Glassner from the University of Southern California called The Gospel of Food:Everything You Know about Food Is Wrong he tested that theory on Thai and Swedish women.
The women were fed a spicy meal which the Swedes objected to but the Thai women loved it. Surprisingly, the Thai women absorbed more of iron than the Swedish women did. When the meals were switched to meat and potatoes, the Swedish women absorbed more iron this time. When a meal was given that neither side liked much, neither the Thai women nor the Swedish women absorbed much iron.
Harvard University epidemiologist Dr. Karin Michels had a great comment – “It appears more important to increase the number of healthy foods than to reduce the number of less healthy foods regularly consumed.”
In other important correlations, it seems that disease prevalence is worse in communities where participation in civic life is low. Being involved in charitable, community based work isn’t just good for the world around you, but it’s good for your health.
Another quote, this time from Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine – ” Although we would all like to believe that changes in diet or lifestyle can greatly improve our health, the likelihood is that, with a few exceptions such as smoking cessation, many if not most such changes will only produce small effects. And the effects may not be consistent. A diet that is harmful to one person may be consumed with impunity by another.” Holy cow Batman, the concept of biochemical individuality may be at work here!!! People are different. What a concept.
A colleague of mine, Dr. Jeffrey Dach, wrote an eye opening article in his latest TrueMedMD newsletter about the use of Dr. Robert Jarvik as a spokesman for Lipitor. I got permission from him to reproduce his article in its entirety. If you would like to learn more about this excellent physician, go to his website at www.drdach.com
|Lipitor, Jarvik and Cholesterol|
Perhaps you have seen the Direct-to- Consumer TV and print advertisements with Robert Jarvik, the inventor of the Jarvik Heart, speaking on behalf of the Pfizer’s anti-cholesterol drug, Lipitor, the best selling statin drug, the best selling drug in the world, and most prescribed drug in the U.S. with 13 billion dollars in sales last year.
Jarvik is best known from the media circus surrounding the 1982 implantation of his Jarvik-7 into the Seattle dentist, Barney Clark. Although the artificial heart continued to beat in his chest, Barney died of multi-organ failure 112 days after the heart implantation operation, tethered to a dishwasher sized air compressor. The heart device acted as a blender which chewed up the blood cells. Recipients of the Jarvik-7 suffered horribly for months, finally succumbing to infections, strokes, convulsions and immune system failure.
During the ensuing media coverage, the New York Times dubbed the Jarvik Heart the “Dracula of Medical Technology”. Jarvik-7 patients had the Kevorkian option of assisted suicide, a small on-off button which allowed the mechanical heart to be stopped when too unbearable. About 90 people received the Jarvik-7 heart before it was banned.
Why would Pfizer select an MD like Jarvik as spokesman for their Direct to Consumer (DTC) campaign? Jarvik himself doesn’t have the strongest of professional credentials, he enrolled for the first two years of medical school at the University of Bologna in Italy, later returning for the MD degree at the University of Utah. Jarvik never did an internship or residency, and never actually practiced medicine. And the heart device had been invented by somebody else, Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist, who assigned his patent to the University of Utah.
Why does Jarvik’s “Dracula of Medical Technology” make him an expert on statin drugs? It really doesnt.
Eight controlled clinical trials have shown that statin drugs like Lipitor cause depletion of Coenzyme Q10, an important vitamin for cellular energy production. Heart muscle requires high levels of Co-Q10. Side effects of Co-Q10 deficiency include muscle wasting, muscle pain, heart failure, neuropathy, amnesia, and cognitive dysfunction. Muscle pain and statin-drug induced heart failure can be prevented by supplementing with Co-Enzyme Q10, found at your local health food store, an intervention considerably less expensive and less traumatic than an artificial heart operation followed by cardiac transplantation.
Perhaps Jarvik is not really the best choice for the Lipitor Ad campaign which has had mixed reviews. Instead of Jarvik, a more convincing yet unlikely spokesman would be the popular Duane Graveline MD MPH, a former NASA astronaut, and author who was started on Lipitor during an annual astronaut physical at the Johnson Space Center, and 6 weeks later had an episode of transient global amnesia, a form of sudden memory loss described in his book. Dr. Graveline points out that 50 percent of the dry weight of the cerebral cortex is made of cholesterol, an important substance for memory and cerebral function.
Graveline also points out that statins are useful for prevention of heart disease in patients who already have clogged arteries and pre-existing coronary artery disease, however this benefit is independent of how low the serum cholesterol goes in response to the statin drug.
Contrary to the findings in patients with known heart disease, no statin primary prevention study has ever shown a benefit in terms of all cause mortality in healthy men and women with only an elevated serum cholesterol, and no known coronary artery disease.
Patients with known heart disease are customarily placed on statin drugs by the medical system with no need for direct to consumer (DTC) advertising to this group. DTC ads for Lipitor are clearly directed at the larger group of untreated primary prevention patients, for which there has been no benefit in terms of all cause mortality in multiple statin drug studies.
The Japanese, J-Lit study actually showed higher mortality at the lowest serum cholesterol (both total and LDL-C), a paradox called the J-Shaped Curve. The highest mortality was found at the lowest total cholesterol of 160 mg/dl, and lowest mortality at serum cholesterol around 240 mg /ml, exactly the opposite one would expect if cholesterol lowering was beneficial for health. The authors state that the increased mortality at the lower cholesterol levels was due to increased cancer.
Another statin trial, CARE (Cholesterol And Recurrent Events), showed 1500 % increase in breast cancer among women in the statin treated group, explained as merely a statistical aberration. This is disputed by Uffe Ravnskov who feels that the difference is significant, and points to rodent studies showing statin drugs cause cancer in animals.
The Honolulu Heart Study of elderly patients showed the lowest serum cholesterol predicted the highest mortality in this patient group.
A study by Krumholz found lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity in persons older than 70 years. Jenkins (BMJ) states that no statin drug study has ever shown an all cause mortality benefit for women.
The Jarvik-Lipitor Ad campaign is a perfect example of why prescription drug ads are dishonest, do not promote public health, increase unnecessary prescriptions, and can be harmful or deadly to patients. New Zealand and the US are the only two industrialized nations to allow direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs. Here in the USA, thirty nine public interest groups have proposed congressional legislation to ban DTC prescription drug ads.
Two more unlikely spokesmen for the Lipitor ad campaign include Mary Enig and Uffe Ravnskov. Should either one be selected as Lipitor spokesman, I myself would run down to the corner drug store to buy up the drug. It seems unlikey that even Pfizer’s deep pockets could ever induce them to recant their opposing position on the cholesterol theory of heart disease. Mary G. Enig writes, ”hypercholesterolemia is the health issue of the 21st century. It is actually an invented disease, a problem that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.
Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD, who opposes the Lipid Hypothesis, is spokesman for Thincs, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics, and author of “The Cholesterol Myths, Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease”. His controversial ideas have angered loyal cholesterol theory supporters in Finland who demonstrated by burning his book on live television.
How many people suffer from the adverse side effects of statin drugs? Will we ever know? People experiencing adverse side effects from statin drugs may share their experiences in discussion groups . One such group has 3800 messages.
In the latest issue of Discover Magazine (February 2007), there is small article about how a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii can affect how rats who are infected with the bug seek out cats, increasing their likelihood of being killed. Strangely enough, cats are the breeding ground for the parasite allowing them to complete their reproductive cycle.
In the book Plague Time, author Paul Ewald discusses the relationship between schizophrenia and Toxoplasma gondii. I have seen numerous articles suggesting that this bug is one of the leading causes of epilepsy in third-world countries. Around 60 million American may have toxoplasmosis and are symptom free. The parasite seems to have a mechanism that hides it from our immune systems making it hard to detect.
Mainstream medical journals are refusing to publish the data presented by Dr. Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague because they may not like the idea that they “…don’t like the possibility that their behavior and life are manipulated by a parasite.” according to Dr. Flegr. Reminds you of the fight against Helobactor pylori being the cause of ulcers.
Another strange finding was that normally 104 boys are born for every 100 girls but infected women will have 260 boys for every 100 girls. Why? Well we are not sure but that is a truly significant number.
The medical community needs to up the research effort in this field as it may provide breakthroughs in treating and possibly curing a number of psychological disorders.
Dietary Sodium Intake and Asthma: An Epidemiological and Clinical Review – In this paper, the researchers from Indiana University suggest that lowering sodium intake would be beneficial to asthma sufferers. This is not surprising to me as sodium is known to constrict tissue, in this case the lungs, which is one of the problems people with asthma have. I would be interested in seeing whether an increase in the intake of potassium would also be beneficial as that mineral is helpful in relaxing tissue.
Effects of a Low-Carb Diet (with and without soluble fiber supplementation) on LDL Cholesterol Levels and Other Markers of Cardiovascular Risk – Thirty study subjects in who were put on a low carbohydrate diet were found to reduce body weight, percentage of body fat, systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, plasma glucose, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels among both subjects given a soluble fiber supplement as well as those given a placebo. LDL cholesterol levels reduced more significantly and more rapidly among subjects taking the soluble fiber supplement. Another excellent reason to try a low carb diet if you are obese or overweight.
Curcumin – the active ingredient in Turmeric – May Help Correct Cystic Fibrosis – I have to tell you, curcumin is quickly becoming my favorite herb. Aside from the flavor it provides to many foods, it has been extremely beneficial in a number of different inflammatory conditions and here, the study authors suggest it may be helpful in the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. While the study represents research in the earliest stages (animal model), it is worth trying as this herb has very few known side effects.
Risk of Mortality due to Cardiovascular Disease Increases as Blood Glucose Levels Increase – Controlling your blood sugar is always important but as this study suggests, it may be even more important if you are at risk or, or already have cardiovascular disease. In other words, cut out the extra sugar and especially high-fructose corn syrup which I feel is the number one food additive that needs banning.
Supplementation with Ginger May Benefit Diabetics – The herb ginger was found to be beneficial in lowering lipid peroxidation, a common problem amongst diabetics as well as increasing plasma antioxidant capacity.
Long-Term Supplementation with Vitamin D and BMD in Adults and Adolescents on Anti-Epileptic Drugs – As some of you may know, my daughter Tasya has epilepsy and based upon this study, increasing her vitamin D intake should decrease the risk of developing low bone density when she gets older. Vitamin D is increasingly becoming one of the most important nutrients to take on a daily basis.
Food Alone May Not Provide Sufficient Micronutrients to Prevent Deficiency in Athletes and Non-Athletes – With our nutrient depleted food supply, this study does not surprise me one bit. In my 21+ years in the field of health and nutrition, and the 38,000 lab tests I’ve reviewed, rarely do I see anyone who would not benefit from the addition of nutritional supplements.
The regular readers of this blog know my affection for Circumin and Tumeric. The recent issue of Scientific American has a 4 page article about this remarkable herb. Its use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, and cognitive impairment is discussed. While more research is warranted, I am a firm believer in using this remarkable herb on a regular basis.
The Early Show on CBS has quickly become one of the pharmaceutical company’s best shills. Dr. Emily Senay reported on the January 16th, 2007 show that bioidentical hormones shouldn’t be trusted as they were identical to the synthetic version put out by the trusted pharmaceutical industry. Sorry Emily, talk to a biochemist not paid by the industry to find out what the truth is. They are different and bioidentical is safer. They also put out a report about safety of supplements that is so twisted that you wonder who wrote the drivel and who they really get paid for. Did you know that more people died of eating charcoal briquettes that died of ephedra? We are not thinking of a ban of backyard cookouts but the government did ban the sale of ephedra. Makes you think.
Anti-Acids Are Bone Breakingly Bad – In a study published in the December 27th, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, people over the age of 50 who take antacids like Prilosec or Nexium for more than one year had a 2.6 times greater risk of breaking their hip than the general population. Both Zantec and Prilosec also increased the fracture rate but no where near what the other drugs known as PPIs (proton-pump inhibitors). This is the second powerful study that shows a very strong correlation between these popular antacids and bone fracture yet the outcry against them is minimal. Ban nutrients as being untested and potentially unsafe but when we see definitive data against a drug we shrug our shoulders and say “we don’t want to deny these drugs to people who benefit from them?” With benefits like that, who needs friends?
Have some doubts about my opinion? Did you know that CNN back in the 1980’s hired medical reporters and producers through an association with Bristol-Myers? Dartmouth University Medical School found that in a marketing campaign done by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the media exaggerated the prevalence of the disease in question and they underreported the problems of over-diagnosis. There were conferences about Vioxx where no mention was made of the problems with the drug even after it was known publicly.
As soon as the media, like CBS and CNN begin to be honest with the public about their yearning for Big Pharma’s money and how they don’t report the whole story, then we can begin to trust them more. Until then, buyer beware, big time.
In a presentation done this past year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Dr. Jose Montoya, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University reported that the antiviral drug Valcyte, made by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG , could be helpful in treating certain Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients. His data on 25 patients of his has been nothing short of impressive. All of his patients, nearly all of whom had high levels in their blood plasma of antibodies to the human herpes virus 6 (HHV-6) and the Epstein-Barr virus showed positive response to the drug, some showed very dramatic improvement.
Most of the readers of my blog are aware that I am not the biggest fan of the pharmaceutical industry, but there are times when nutritional and herbal medicine just can’t do it all. In the case of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, many people have been helped by nutritional and lifestyle changes, but many have had little or no success with alternative methods of treatment. While it is a bit early to say that Dr. Montoya has found a cure, if I had CFS and had no luck with other treatments, I would certainly ask my physician to try Valcyte out on me.