Monthly Archives: May 2007

Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants – Safe or Not? The Debate Rages On.

In the May 2007 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition an interesting series of comments can be found in the letters to the editor. John Hathcock, an employee of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplement advocacy group, questioned a study published in the same journal last year that doubted that antioxidants and vitamin/mineral supplementation was beneficial in the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease. He made some compelling arguments against the use of meta-analysis (a statistical method) when reviewing the benefits or lack there of, of supplements. First off, he points out that they included only a small number of clinical trials which is a problem using a meta-analysis. Others argue that all we really need is the RDA to avoid disease but he points out that the prevention of neural tube defects through the use of supplemented folic acid is not a sign of deficiency but a need for extra supplementation.

Donald McCormick of Emory University and Joachim Bleys, et al of Johns Hopkins Medical Institution argue in their correspondence that indeed their findings do show no benefit to the use of antioxidants or B-vitamins. While Hathcock says that the famous Women’s Health Study showed a benefit to the use of vitamin E in reducing cardiovascular death, McCormick and Bleys quote the study conclusion that states “These data do not support recommending vitamin E supplementation for cardiovascular disease or cancer prevention among healthy women.” Both are correct but the later is misleading.

First off, the studies were done on a form of vitamin E known as alpha-tocopherol which is not the optimal type. Gamma-tocopherol should make up at least 40% of the vitamin E used for many reasons (to be discussed at a later date). Secondly, the study showed benefits to unhealthy women but the conclusion states that they can’t recommend vitamin E use to “healthy” women. That is a blatant misleading conclusion and is easily misconstrued to show no benefit to anyone.

My real problem with both sides of the controversy is the use of large population studies to support or deny the benefits of supplementation. It is preposterous to suggest that these studies are beneficial in any way, shape or form when you looking at the concept of biochemical individuality. You are different from me, and what would benefit me, may either have no effect on you or may actually harm you. Are all supplements beneficial?  Depends. To some people, some nutrients may be harmful or wasteful. To others, it can be life saving or dramatically life enhancing. What you need to do is to laboratory testing to determine what you really need.

In my 20+ years of reviewing lab test data, I have yet to see two sets of results that are the same. Fifty thousand tests in the bag and still no two people who are alike. I have seen people who have taken too many supplements, the wrong array and many who don’t have adequate intake of essential nutrients to stay healthy. If we can only get researchers to adopt a new paridigm and look at individuals instead of populations, we might, just might get better health care and a real improvement in the quality of our lives.

Sodium Benzoate – DNA Disaster?

In research done by Professor Peter Piper at Sheffield University, the common preservative, Sodium Benzoate, may wreck havoc on your DNA. In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent, Dr. Piper tested the effect of the preservative found in most soft drinks on the DNA of yeast. What he found shocked him. “These chemicals have the ability to cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria to the point that they totally inactivate it: they knock it out altogether.The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it – as happens in a number if diseased states – then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA – Parkinson’s and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of ageing.”

While the food industry will undoubtedly come out and tell you that sodium benzoate is safe and has been tested for years, what they won’t tell you is that they have not tested any of these additives when it comes to their affect on DNA. This type of testing is available using microarray technology but I can guarantee unless they are forced to do so via pressure from the government, it won’t be done.

So what’s a person to do?  First you can test your levels of benzoic acid through a urine organic acid test available from US Biotek or Metametrix (make sure they have benzoate as not all their panels contain it). You will need a doctor’s signature for that but if they are unwilling, you can buy the test from Direct Lab Services and their physician will sing the form for you. Don’t forget to ask for the Bio-Clarity Report in order to get a more complete picture of your test results.

One thing you can do safely is to take one gram of the amino acid glycine twice a day (unless you have Parkinson’s disease). That will bind up the glycine, create hippuric acid which then gets urinated out.

Prescription Drug Abuse – A Growing National Problem

In the May 5-11th, 2007 issue of The Lancet, Michael McCarthy tells a disturbing tale about the dramatic increase in the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs in the United States. There were 1.4 million visits to the emergency room in 2005 related to drug misuse. While illegal drug use is down, prescription and over-the-counter drug use is way up, especially among children and teens.

So why is this happening?  The pharmaceutical industry would like you to believe that it is due to the easy access people have to these drugs via internet drugstores. While this is certainly a reason why teens can get the supplies, I believe that it is in large part due to the excessive advertising of drugs on television. They make the drugs seem harmless and essential to enjoying life. This is the wrong message that is being sent to our society. I believe we need to seriously curtail pharmaceutical companies from advertising to the general public.

The site run The Partnership for a Drug-Free America is a good resource if you have a child or know an adult who may be abusing drugs.

Lybrel – Breakthrough in Contraception or a Potential Time-Bomb?

Lybrel, the new contraception pill for women from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was just given its ok by the FDA and I have to really wonder why. This drug, will reduce or in some cases eliminate a women’s period while protecting against unwanted conception. While I, as a man, should have little to say about this issue, I will bring up a few concerns I have about this drug.

First off, what kind of long-term studies have they done on this drug and its potential for creating health issues down the road? I can pretty much guarantee that the answer is no. As with the use of HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I see the potential of opening a can of worms that will cause women who take this drug to have an increased risk of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Second issue is the findings from the study which indicated that half the women enrolled in studies of Lybrel dropped out, said Dr. Daniel Shames, a deputy director in the FDA’s drugs office. Many did so because of the irregular and unscheduled bleeding and spotting that can replace scheduled menstruation. I find this somewhat disturbing when fifty percent of the people studied drop out because of unwanted on intolerable side-effects. The response by the FDA? “If you think you don’t want to go down this road, this is not for you,” Shames told reporters. Hey, if it turns out this drug had other unwanted side-effects tough luck? This is just not an acceptable stance for a government agency to take that is supposed to be protecting the public.

Others have said that Lybrel should really help women who suffer from nausea, headaches, cramping and other problems during their period. Problem with that statement is that this “benefit” wasn’t even studied!

On other main problem I have here is that this drug is seemingly trying to treat a natural process known as menstruation as if it were some sort of disease. University of New Hampshire sociologist Jean Elson had this to say “For women in that situation, I certainly can understand the benefits of taking these kinds of medications, but for most women menstruation is a normal life event — not a medical condition, why medicate away a normal life event if we’re not sure of the long-term effects?” Why indeed.

The last issue I have hear is that while this drug does seem to be effective at lowering the risk of getting pregnant, because it eliminates periods, a women who does somehow get pregnant won’t be aware of it as there will be no missed periods to tip her off. Because of the need to be health conscious during the early stages of pregnancy, like with folic acid supplementation to prevent some birth defects, this can be a dangerous problem.

Truths, Half-Truths and Myths Surrounding Global Warming

One of my favorite weekly reads is the British magazine – The New Scientist.  In their May 19-25, 2007 issue, their main article is about laying out some truths and dispelling myths about the issue of global warming. Here are some of their major points:

  • Myth – “Carbon dioxide levels only rose after the start of warm periods, so CO2 does not cause warming.” Anti-warmists claim that the evidence does not show that CO2 levels were causative factors in global warming in the past, which is true. The problem is that never in history did humans add carbon dioxide into the atmosphere above and beyond what nature has.
  • Half-truth – “It has been warmer in the past, so what’s the big deal?” Just because it has been warmer in the past doesn’t mean that getting warmer now does not have a potential for disaster.
  • Half-truth – “Human carbon dioxide emissions are tiny compared with natural sources.” True but the average CO2 levels over the past half-million years have been between 180 – 300 parts per million. Only in recent time, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, has it gone to 380 ppm. Due to carbon dating and the levels of carbon-14 in ice cores, we are pretty sure that it is human caused.
  • Myth – “…volcanoes emit more CO2 than human activities.” That is simply not true. Volcanoes emit .3 gigatons of CO2 annually which is about one hundreth of the amount humans emit.
  • Myth – “It’s too cold where I live. A bit of warming will be great.” What a myopic attitude. This issue is not about weather (which is local), it is about global climate. If your area gets better, others who are too warm already, will get worse eventually affecting you. Current predictions claim that agricultural yields in most of the world will halve by 2100. Yeah but we’re warmer up north than before?  Ugh.
  • Myth – “It’s all down to cosmic rays.” Measurements of cosmic ray intensity has only started in the late 20th century and no data model has shown any relationship long-term.
  • Half-truth – “Antarctica is getting cooler and the ice sheets are getting thicker.” Yes they are but it is in part due to air circulation because of the hole in the ozone layer. As that repairs itself, the circulation is expected to change and the ice is expected to rapidly melt.
  • Myth – “It was warmer during the Middle Ages than it is now, with vineyards in England.” Actually, this seems to be a regional phenomena (local weather versus global climate).

One other issue is that it is not just how warm it is now but how much warmer it is going to get. Anti-warmists love to point out that science claimed that the planet was heading towards an ice age back in the 70’s so ha ha, why should we believe them now?  Boy is that a silly way of thinking. Hey, we thought that most ulcers were caused by stress and stomach acid back in the 70’s but now they say it is caused by heliobactor pylori so why should we believe doctors?  Hey guys, we have better science and computers than back in the 70’s. If you don’t believe it go to and check the project they are doing that could not have been done 30 years ago.

Bipolar Disorders and Children – Growing Epidemic or Drug Company Bonanza?

Nothing is as painful as having a child with emotional issues. I should know, I have one. My daughter Tasya has had emotional problems ever since she started having epileptic seizures 7 years ago. She has had mood swings and temper tantrums which by themselves is not unusual (most kids go through that) but the number and severity has been a problem. Most every doctor we see wants to put her on one medication after another without regard to the potential for long term damage.

In a report coming from the British magazine, New Scientist, they question whether doctors in the United States are too quick to treat children with what they are diagnosing as bipolar disorder. Since 1996 the number of children being diagnosed with this behavioral problem went from 13 out of every 100,000 to 73 out of every 100,000 in 2004, a five-fold jump in the number of diagnoses in a scant 8 years. Children as young as 3 are being diagnosed with the disease despite the absolute ridiculousness of even attempting to diagnoses this in children that young.

The use of psychotropic drugs on young children should be viewed as a crime unless there is overwhelming evidence. The fact that we have absolutely no evidence that in the long-term, these drugs are anywhere near safe should be a red-flag. Add to that the fact that a child who was 4 years old has died when given not one, not two, but three drugs for supposedly having a bipolar disorder. The child, Rebecca Riley, was given clonidine, Depakote (anti-convulsant also known as valproic acid) and the anti-psychotic Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate). Her parents are on trial to see if they deliberately overdose her or it was an accident. My finger is pointing straight at the physicians who prescribed the drugs to this unfortunate little girl with the hopes of stabilizing her mood.

No other country is seeing this increase in the incidence of bipolar disorder despite following the same guidelines from the DSM-IV (the official psychiatric manual).  Instead of seeking natural and much, much safer means, drug companies are throwing parties for doctors who would prescribe their money making drugs for children. My daughter had enormous success and improvement in mood and seizure activity following her eliminating foods that were causing an inflammatory response (LEAP MRT Test). Amino acid therapy, nutrition and even psychotherapy should be our first line of attack on neuropsychiatric disorders and NOT harsh and life threatening drugs.

Thankfully the editors at the New Scientist call into question whether the diagnoses and treatments are real, or as I suspect, profit driven by an increasingly money hungry pharmaceutical industry.

Skin Deep – Improved Database from the Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group, a pro-environment lobbiest group, has released the newest version of their skin care toxicity product database. Anyone who uses cosmetics, deodorants, shampoos or conditioners needs to look at this product safety database.

Skin Deep is the only tool available to consumers to assess and compare the safety of personal care products.

Looking for safer sunscreen to protect the kids this summer? Or shampoos without dangerous preservatives? Skin Deep helps you learn what not to buy, and helps you find safer options for you and your family.

And along with adding thousands of products and a dozen new toxicity databases, we have also overhauled the look and feel of Skin Deep. You’ll find it easier to search for products and find answers about how chemicals affect our health.

Is the FDA About to Ban Supplements?

There is no doubt in my mind that some people (not the majority) in the Food and Drug Administration would like nothing better than to stop the public from having access to nutritional supplements in order to help their buddies in the harmaceutical industry to sell more drugs. A recent attempt was made to grab more power over supplements but it was defeated by the power of the public and lobby efforts from the supplement industry as well as Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Tom Harkin (D-Nebraska). Unfortunately, the fear mongers out there who want you to donate money to their pet charities (themselves), continue to say that bill SR-1082 will give the FDA the ability to control supplement use above and beyond the DSHEA law already on the books. This is simply not true.

If you follow this link, you can read the truth of the situation along with a transcript of the discussion between Hatch, Harkin, Kennedy and Enzi about protecting DSHEA.  As a matter of fact here is a quote from Senator Enzi of Wyoming, “Yes we took great pains to make certain that there would be no conflict with DSHEA.” Senator Harkin further stated “So to make this absolutely clear, what you are saying is that the bill we are debating would in no way interfere with consumers’ access to dietary supplements.” Senator Hatch even said that the language in the bill would be beneficial to consumers.

Come on, stop the fear-mongering and spend more time making sure the supplement industry gets rid of unscrupulous purveyors of garbage and multi-level companies who promise the moon at super high prices and deliver nothing more than overpriced junk. This is what we need to work on, not scaring people half to death about an issue that isn’t.

Multivitamin Use Causes an Increase in Prostate Cancer? Not!!!

In a paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Goran Bjelakovic (a noted anti-supplement warrior and well known harmaceutical shill) along with Dr. Christian Gluud insinuate that men taking multivitamins seven days a week have a much higher risk of dying of prostate cancer than those who take none. They further go on to dribble that their findings “underscore the possibility that antioxidant supplements could have unintended consequences for our health.”  You know, if I were as bad of a scientist and published garbage like this, I wouldn’t be allowed to speak at any conferences ever again. There are so many flaws and misjudgements in this as to be embarrassing to the National Cancer Institute.

Here are a few problems off the top of my head.

  1. Men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are more likely to take multivitamins than those with no health issues. This was not looked at.
  2. The use of multivitamins was done using an intake questionnaire which is notorious for false numbers.
  3. The authors had no idea how long any of the people in the study used the multi vitamins a truly serious flaw.
  4. They claim that the population in question was “well nourished” despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. Our food supply is notorious for poor nutrient levels (see my blog).
  5. They used a cohort study which does not look at all of the variables possible. Statistics are easily manipulated (as they are here) to find something you want to find regardless of whether it really is there or not.
  6. There is no way, using the data supplied that a causative relationship can be developed. The authors admit this yet make conclusions that suggest a causal relationship. This is scientific dishonesty at its worse.

There are more problems with this paper but my biggest issue is how it got out of peer-review unless it was done nefariously, with a pointed agenda attached, aka anti-supplement. As I mentioned earlier, these are well-known anti-nutrient shills and this should be made very well known before giving any credence to the paper.

Shame on the National Cancer Institute.

Phthalates in Toys – Time for a Ban

In their drive to make money, a number of toy manufacturers have thought nothing of having known toxins in the goods they sell to children. They bury their heads in research, funded by industry, that flies in the face of what unbiased science tells us which is that phthalates and Bisphenol A have no place in a childs world.  Here is a well written article about the subject, thanks to my friend David Vaughn, who has the best food nutrient diet software program anywhere.