Monthly Archives: December 2006

Nutrition News for the Week

Magnesium Supplementation May Increase Hip BMC in Girls – Bone mineral concentration is an important factor in preventing fractures.  This study clearly shows that magnesium supplementation can help increase BMC in women especially if taken early on in life. Just 300 mg’s split into two doses a day will do the trick.

Drinking Green Tea Regularly May Lower the Risk of Breast Cancer – Yet another good report on the benefits of drinking green tea.  One caveat, my suggestion is to avoid green tea when pregnant as it does seem to inhibit folic acid which is a critical nutrient in fetal development.

Diet and Lifestyle Intervention Reduces Coronary Heart Disease Risk in Obese Older Adults – From the University of the Obvious 😉 this study suggests that improving your lifestyle and diet is beneficial to ones health. Do we really still need studies like this? I would find it sad if the answer was yes.

Almonds May Help Control Blood Sugar – After reading this review, I’m going out to get some almonds as a snack food at my desk.

L-Carnitine: Safety, Tolerability, and Improvement of Fatigue in Cancer Patients – One more excellent study on the benefits of carnitine. The authors seemed to be convinced that adding L-carnitine to the regime of advance stage cancer patients is highly beneficial. They went to say about the test subjects that “…fatigue was found to significantly decrease, depression was found to decrease and sleep was found to improve.”

Circulating Levels of Vitamin D May be Inversely Associated with Risk of Multiple Sclerosis – In a well designed prospective study, researchers suggested that higher levels of circulating vitamin D was protective against developing multiple sclerosis.  Does anyone need convincing that they should be supplementing vitamin D regularly?

To all my friends, a Merry Christmas

Whatever your religion or belief, may this holiday season be a good one to you and your family. May the coming year bring you peace and happiness. I’m looking forward to bringing you a lot of news on health, the environment and other important issues that will make your world better.

Environmental Health Perspectives Wrap Up for December 2006

One of my favorite journals is Environmental Health Perspectives whose articles can be downloaded free of charge from their website. It is the one journal I most look forward to reading each month.  In today’s blog, I’ll list the articles which I think are the most relevant regarding human health from the December 2006 issue. Click on the topics you’re interested in and you will be led to the actual article.

Pollutants May Put On The Pounds – (pg A692) – The evidence keeps piling up linking environmental toxins and obesity.

Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health – Caroline Cox and Michael Surgan. This article suggests that all pesticides should have all ingredients assessed for safety and not just the active components.

Global Environmental Change: What Can Health Care Providers and the Environmental Health Community Do About It Now? – Brian S. Schwartz, Cindy Parker, Thomas A. Glass, and Howard Hu – This article is a call to action for health care providers to help educate the public about the risks of global warming.

Whole-Body Lifetime Occupational Lead Exposure and Risk of Parkinson’s Disease – Steven Coon, Azadeh Stark, Edward Peterson, Aime Gloi, Gene Kortsha, Joel Pounds, David Chettle, and Jay Gorell – In this article the authors report on the association of lead exposure to the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Exposures to Environmental Toxicants and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in U.S. Children – Joe M. Braun, Robert S. Kahn, Tanya Froehlich, Peggy Auinger, and Bruce P. Lanphear – Here we see direct correlations between exposure to prenatal tobacco and lead and the development of ADHD.

Response Inhibition During Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates (DRL) Schedules May Be Sensitive to Low-Level Polychlorinated Biphenyl, Methylmercury, and Lead Exposure in Children – Paul W. Stewart, David M. Sargent, Jacqueline Reihman, Brooks B. Gump, Edward Lonky, Thomas Darvill, Heraline Hicks, and James Pagano – Low levels of toxins such as PCB, methylmercury and lead are potentially harmful in children (no kidding) is what this article suggests.

Are We Winning the War on Cancer? Absolutely Not!

In a brilliant commentary in the December 16-22, 2006 issue of New Scientist, Dr. Ralph Moss, director of the online information service, provides powerful evidence that the war on cancer is failing miserably despite the tens of billions of dollars spent over the past 35 years.

He writes that in 1971, Congress passed the National Cancer Act assuring the nation that cancer would be cured by 1976. Guess what?  We’ve had the same success here as we are having in Iraq.  In other words, we’ve failed.

Here are a couple of major points Dr. Moss makes:

  • The number of people diagnosed with cancer is roughly double from 1971.
  • Because of our improved diagnostic techniques, cancers are being caught earlier which is great but early detection has been known as a way to cure cancer for over 100 years so no real improvements have occurred.
  • Statistically, there have been games being played as if someone with late-stage cancer dies of pneumonia, that is what is listed as the cause of death and not cancer.
  • Males with elevated PSAs are being diagnosed with prostate cancer even if they may not have cancer. So the more people who are diagnosed without dying, the better the data looks
  • In 2002 cancer deaths in the U.S. numbered 557,272.  In 2003, it dropped to 556, 902, a decline of 370. As Dr. Moss says, “if progress continues at this rate, cancer deaths in the U.S. should be entirely eliminated by the year 3508, a little more than 1500 years.
  • The autopsy rate has declined from 45 percent several decades ago to 11 percent today so it is likely cancer mortality is vastly underestimated.

Bottom line is, we need a new approach to fighting the war against cancer.  The pathway we have taken is just not working. Yes, early detection is getting vastly better but once diagnosed with later stage cancers, all that money has really accomplished very little.

Warning Labels for Pain Killers Added

In a recent decision the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) put out an advisory asking pharmaceutical companies to put additional warning labels on pain killers such as aspirin, acetometaphen, ibuprofen and naproxin. While I heartily applaud the action, my big question has to be; “What the heck took you so long?”

Did you know that an estimated 16,000 people die each year from taking these NSAID’s (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs).  This is a staggering number considering if 1/10th of a percent of those deaths occurred using a natural substance, you can bet the house it would be yanked off the market in the blink of an eye. Yet, over and over, the media claims that natural supplements are unregulated (which is a lie) and have potential for harm. So allowing 16,000 people to die each year is regulated and few if any deaths on natural substances is unregulated. Am I missing something here?

Something, somehow is terribly wrong in our health care system.  This doesn’t seem like and issue that can be resolved easily but something has to give and soon.

Supplements Aren’t Going Away

There are a few chicken little fear mongerers who are claiming that the Dietary Supplement and Non-Prescription Drug Consumer Protection Act (the “AER bill”), S. 3546, just passed by Congress, will somehow cut back on our ability to access nutritional supplements. These are the same crackpots who claimed Codex Alimentarus was going to do the same thing in January, July, August, September, October and December of 2004.  Guess what?  It didn’t happen.  The fear mongers are looking for handouts and attention and care little about the truth.

The utter stupidity of their claims sounds more like conspiratorial theorists who claim alien domination of world governments. They claim that because the Natural Products Association, uses the same law firm as a couple of pharmaceutical companies, that they are nothing more than a front for Big Pharma. So I guess if you use a lawyer from a firm that defended a murderer, you too are implicated in that crime.  Pretty pathetic argument wouldn’t you say?

The fact of the matter is, the nutritional supplement industry needed this bill to be passed to show that we can govern ourselves and protect the public from sham artists and other quacks in our industry. The bill simply states that in case of severe adverse reactions to supplements a reporting mechanism needs to be in place for the manufacturers of the products, not the retailers. For more details and the true story, go to the Natural Products Association website and learn what really is going on.

Weekly Nutrition Update

Beta-Carotene May Help to Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease in People with a Certain Genotype – This interesting report suggests that people with the ApoE4 allele (arginine versus cysteine) would benefit from adding beta-carotene to their daily regime.  The protection is against developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Given this research I would certainly test for the gene.

Intake of Whole Grains and Fish Linked to Lower Risk of Asthma in Children – With the high rates of asthma in today’s world, this study suggests that children fed more whole grains and fish versus refined carbs and red meat have a lower rate of developing asthma. This common sense study should make the parents of all children sit up, take notice and change their childrens diet right away.

Curcumin Protects Against Gamma-Radiation Induced DNA Damage – The more and more I read about this herb, the more I am convinced that it should be part of everyones daily regime.

High-Dose Folic Acid Improves Endothelial Function in Coronary Artery Disease, Independent of Its Homocysteine Lowering Effect – If you aren’t taking a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid a day, go get a big stick and whack yourself in the head.  Then, get in your car and go to the health food store and get some folic acid right away.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine May Benefit Patients with HIV and AIDS through Antioxidant Action – Carnitine is another essential nutrient that should be taken on a regular basis.  If you need more convincing, go get the book “The Carnitine Miracle” by my good friend Robert Crayhon,  It is a true timeless gem of a book.

Intake of Fruits and Vegetables Protects Against Oxidative Damage – Yes, your mother was right; eat your veggies. Is more research really needed to drive home the need for the addition of more fruit and vegetable into our diet?

Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency – This study clearly suggests that 1 mg of B12 daily over a 2-3 month period is quite successful in treating B12 deficiency. If you are a vegetarian, you should be aware that you are likely not to get enough B12 from your diet so you absolutely need to supplement this essential vitamin.

Breast Cancer and HRT – The data is conclusive

If you are a menopausal women and you are on hormone replacement therapy and your doctor isn’t screaming at you to stop, fire the doctor immediately and get off of the hormones under the auspices of an intelligent physician.  The dramatic drop in the incidence of breast cancer being reported in the media should be the final nail in the coffin of HRT.

The use of artificial hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause was just another wrong direction taken by the pharmaceutical industry.  It was a money maker and nothing more.  The fact that there was a 7% drop in breast cancer in the U.S. is fantastic news. Let’s hope that researchers begin to question all drugs and whether they really are benefiting patients.

Top 100 Science Stories of 2006 – My Opinion

Discover Magazine, one of my favorites, recently (January 2007) published its annual top 100 list of science stories in 2006.  Here is a selection on my top science stories based on their list.

  1. The World Melts the Masses Mobilize (their #4) – To me, global warming is one of the most important issues of the day. The evidence is growing, but action by the world’s governments is nowhere near where it has to be to avoid disaster.
  2. Alternative Energy (their #1) – This issue dovetails into my #1 as we need to lower our dependence on fossil fuels as fast as possible. That would be both good for the environment as for our economy.
  3. RNA Flouts Rules of Heredity – (their #5) – Epigenetics, a topic I have blogged about in the past, shows us that while our DNA is important, our environment may be more critical when it comes to developing disease. This understanding may very well change the face of medicine and health in the coming decades.
  4. Fast-Food Fats Prove Health Hazard (their #14) – The tidal wave of pressure to remove trans fats from our food supply is certainly welcome to those of us concerned with health issues. To quote Dr. Walter Willet, “Trans fats are clearly toxic to humans and have no place in human diets.” Fake science Fox News? I think not.
  5. Global Warming Leaves Its Marks (their #20) – Yes, two global warming stories in my top 10. This one shows many of the real devastating consequences of our environmental disaster. To those who deny its existence, please open your eyes and reflect on what is happening. If you are right, we waste some money, if you are wrong, our world is headed for a magnitude of disaster not seen since the last mass extinction 60 million years ago.
  6. New Tests Help Chemotherapy Hit the Mark (their #34) – As many of you know, I work in the lab interpretation business so this intrigues me to no end. Imagine that instead of just guessing which chemotherapy drug to use for a person, there could be a test to determine which would be best for them. Wow, the concept of biochemical individuality being used in medicine. What a shame its taken so long.
  7. Low-Fat Diet A Bust? (their #53) – Low-fat diets may not be as beneficial as was once thought. It is more important to eat the right fats than to eliminate fats. Stop eating trans and lower the intake of saturated fats is the way to go. Thank God medicine is realizing something many of us in the nutritional field have known for a long time.
  8. Polio’s Return Traced to Lapses in India (their #60) – Being a Rotarian, polio eradication has long been one of our organizations goal. This devastating disease must be stopped at all costs. Continually monitoring the outbreaks and educating the populous about the availability of a vaccine against polio is critical into making this disease a thing of the past.
  9. Tissue Engineering Triumph: Lab-Grown Bladders (their #2) – Being able to grow organs outside the body will have dramatic ramifications. While the initial success was based on a small trial, this form of research may save millions of lives in the future.
  10. Stem Cell Setbacks Inspire New Methods (their #15) – Despite not achieving much success with stem cells in the past, these failures did not dispel the belief in continuing research. No, it has spawned new techniques and more public funding which now seems to be paying off. There seems to be ways of harvesting stem cells without using embryos, something which should please many of the opponents of this type of research.

Well, I hope you were interested in my list.  I really suggest you get Discover this month. It is well worth it.

Weekly Nutrition Report

Low Serum Levels of Selenium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are Associated with an Increased Risk of Disability in Activities of Daily Living in Older Women – This study from the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that those older women over the age of 65 whose B12, B6 and selenium levels were low had a higher risk of disability than those with normal levels of these key nutrients. One quote from the study that seemed to sum up things best was, “Nutritional status is one of the key factors to be considered in the development of strategies aimed at preventing or delaying the disablement process.”

Drinking Green Tea May Improve Lipid Profile in Adults – In a study conducted in Portugal, green tea consumption was shown to lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and improve the total cholesterol to HDL ratio. This finding suggests that regular green tea consumption may be beneficial in lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Curcumin May Reverse Negative Effects of Chronic Stress – A Chinese study found that oral administration of circumin on laboratory rats reversed the effect of chronic stress. This study was a followup to other studies that showed this herb, which is a component of curry, is beneficial in treating depression and behavioral despair. So, for those of you who are under a lot of stress (who isn’t?) maybe a visit to the local Indian restaurant might help relax you.  That or you can go down to the local health food store and get a bottle of circumin capsules.

High Dietary Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Reduce Depressive Symptoms in Older Men – This 10-year prospective cohort study found that higher dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with fewer depressive symptoms.  There are numerous studies that show the benefits of omega-3 supplementation on cardiovascular disease so the added benefits shown here are just another reason to start taking omega-3 supplements. One note of caution, just because a little bit is good (one to three grams a day) does not mean that more is better. I have seen numerous cases where people have taken too much omega-3 fatty acids and caused themselves to increase their oxidative markers which can lead to health problems down the road. Balance is more important than quantity.