Monthly Archives: June 2007

Could Stain-Resistant Chemicals Make People More Allergic?

PFOAs, also known as perfluoro-octanoic acid, which is used the manufacture of stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, may make people more allergic to other things in their environment according to Jean Meade and colleagues at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, West Virginia. In an animal experiment, those who were exposed to PFOAs produced a greater allergic response to egg allergens than those who went unexposed.

Dupont, the leading user of PFOAs of course denied this report vehemently. What I found interesting that while they denied this issue, they did admit that their assertion was not based on any research they did on the subject. PFOAs are found in the blood of everyone out there, but according to researchers, is only found in very small amounts from carpets and upholstery.

My thought on where it comes from is the same as the issue of global pollution; a little bit doesn’t harm the environment, but a little here and a little there and pretty soon you don’t have a little anymore.

Echinachia Helps Fight the Common Cold

In a recent study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Disease, researchers found that the herb Echinachia does indeed help reduce the risk of catching the common cold and that it can lower the number of days with a cold.  Now the study isn’t flawless as it uses a statistical technique called meta-analysis, it does indicate a possibility that this common herb may be beneficial to those who’s immune system isn’t up to snuff.

A word of caution here, this herb may be contraindicated in people with autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Because of that I recommend that you go see a good naturopath who is familiar with the use of herbs.

Obesity and Men – New Data Linking Toxins to Waist Circumference and Insulin Resistance

In a study published in the June 2007 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, authors Stahlhut et al, report that they have found that “phthalate (a plasticizer) metabolites showed statistically significant correlations with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance.” The correlations were found in a cross-section of US males. The mechanism they believe is the way that this man-made chemical can reduce androgen (e.g. testosterone) production and/or function. In a number of human studies, men who have had androgen deprivation therapy have shown increases in serum glucose, total fat and have shown the propensity to have a greater chance of having metabolic syndrome.

The study, available from the EHP journal free of charge, has major implications. As some of you may know from my lectures around the world and some of my blogs here, I have always asserted that there is a link between toxicity and obesity. Here is yet another powerful study that shows yet another reason why we need to keep on our toes and make sure that our bodies are able to detoxify efficiently. It also leads to the answer to the proverbial chicken vs egg question, but here it is which came first, obesity (fat is a gerat storage place for toxins) or toxicity.  I firmly believe, toxicity is one of the causative factors of the obesity epidemic. My suspicion is that these toxins cause people (even young children) to crave, then eat to excess, sugars and fats to deal with their increasing insulin resistance issues.

Testing for two urinary metabolites of phthalates is easy and inexpensive. Have your physician contact Lab Interpretation LLC and ask for the Environmental Pollutants Biomarker test from US Biotek. Not only does it measure urinary output of phthalates and monoethyl phthalates, it looks at metabolites of xylene, toluene, benzene, trimethylbenzene, styrene and parabens.  Since almost every human on earth now has detectable levels of a number of toxins flowing through their body, it is imperative that we measure whether we excrete the toxins effectively.

In today’s toxic world, you need to know your enemy so you can effectively deal with it and find the sources of exposure.

Tidbits and Findings From the World of Medical Research

Can Standard Cancer Treatments Cause Metastasis? 

In an article in the May 2007 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, discovered a protein known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-bets) which can increase the likelihood of developing additional tumors after the use of traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. While TGF-beta is normally found in healthy individuals, its presence in cancer patients can present a problem if this mouse study is confirmed in human studies. The future may be brighter for cancer victims if methods to lower the prescence of TGF-beta while treatment is ongoing.

Men, Migraines and Heart Attack Risk

According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, men between the ages of 40-84 who have migraines are 24 percent more likely to have a heart attack than non-sufferers. While the reason is unknown to researchers, I have an idea.

I believe that a large number of migraine sufferers suffer from an inflammatory reaction to foods and food additives. This is borne out by the positive results from Signet Diagnostics and their LEAP MRT blood test which looks for the pro-inflammatory reaction of foods on people. Their success rate with migraine sufferers is a astonishing 67%. Basically, they check to see which of 150 items your body reacts to in an inflammatory manner and has you change your diet accordingly.

Heart disease is really not so much about cholesterol and fat as it is about inflammation. If we reduce inflammatory processes, we will probably reduce heart disease as well as many other diseases and syndromes. Just something to think about.

Are Your Food Packages Harmful to your Health?

According to researchers reporting in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the answer is yes. A coating put into food packaging called polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants (PAPS) that acts as a oil and water repelent may convert into the toxic substance known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), This chemical which helps make TeflonTM, is a known carcinogen and is being found with increasing regularity in people around the world.

What is disturbing about the revelation is that the researchers found that our bodies are converting the PAPS into PFOAs and the chemicals created in the intermediate steps between the two may be even more toxic. This is also found in the detoxification pathway of Xylene and Toluene where the intermediate of 2- or 3-methylhippurate (final stage of those solvents detoxification and excretion) is 2- or 3- methylbenzoate which is highly toxic.

What the researchers led by Dr. Scott Marbury and Jessica C. D’eon of the University of Toronto are now doing is finding out how prevalent and widespread PAPS are in our environment. My guess is that it is all over and in higher quantities than expected.

Is Inflammation the Major Issue in Obesity?

My old mentor, John Kitkoski used to tell me that inflammation and excessive oxidation were the two bad boys when it came to health problems. Oxidation he said, could cause people to gain weight much like a rusty nail (which is oxidized) weighs more than the non-rusty nail. Inflammation caused problems because of the added stress around the tissues infected. More and more scientists have come to the conclusion that these two factors, especially inflammation are major players in a number of diseases and health issues.

In the May 31st issue of Nature (pg 525-7), author Kendall Powell, a science writer out of Broomfield, Colorado, talks about the many issues surrounding obesity, fat distribution and ill health. It turns out that fat, especially the type that surrounds organs like the liver (known as visceral fat) and is found in both the obese and supposedly lean individuals, send out signaling molecules that can increase damage to the organs. Subcutaneous fat, also known as cellulite is not as metabolically active and presents less of a problem.

The upshot of the article is that it is the distribution of fat more than just the presence of it that is critical.  I for one, after reading the article have a greater appreciation of the issue and will be working hard to remove the “accumulation” I have around my waist due to inactivity due to my problem with a torn Achilles tendon and torn rotator cuff.

Is Big Pharma in Trouble?

Recent political developments as well as series of problems with so-called blockbuster drugs have caused the pharmaceutical industry to go on the defensive. After the bad news surrounding VioxxTM followed up this year by the news that the diabetes drug AvandiaTM causes an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have been forced to scramble to stem the tide of bad publicity. They are doing this by protesting that the data being presented is somehow biased and false instead of owning up to the error of their way and admitting that they didn’t do their homework.

There really seems to be a need to revamp the way clinical trials are being done in order to protect the public and secondly to help with the creation of newer and better drugs to help people. The profit above all modus operandi which at first held promise of incentivizing the pharmaceutical industry has instead created a monster who takes diseases and syndromes which may typically only address a small number of people and creates a marketing campaign to include people who have no business taking the drug. The side-effects that crop up are then treated with other drugs which that the patient wouldn’t have needed had they never taken the unnecessary first medication.

Do I have the answer?  Maybe. What we need is independent, for-profit companies that would be paid by the pharmaceutical industry to run the clinical trials. As a protection against collusion, the government could set up huge penalties for breaking the independence. 

Here are some of the benefits behind my proposal:

If bad results came out of a trial, it would have to be made public due to regulations that could be written into law.

  • The drug companies could no longer hide data that showed problems with the drug studied which would increase the protection to the public.
  • Independent research would bring back public confidence.
  • It would replace the development of minimally helpful drugs who only are slightly better (if at all) than existing ones with true blockbusters that might really improve peoples lives.

Here are some of the arguments that might arise:

It might stifle scientific innovation (which it wouldn’t, it just might cut into profit a wee bit).

  • It would slow down the process of bringing a new drug to market (actually it might speed things up).
  • It will delay or stop medications from being developed that only help small numbers of people (they already don’t do this enough anyway).

While this might not be the perfect system, it needs to be debated and at the very least a change is in order. It’s the perfect political climate with the Democrats in control of both sides of Congress since Big Pharma decided to donate 69% of its political contributions in 2006 to the Republicans which is the most of any major industry (excluding oil – surprise surprise). 

Instead of targeting the nutraceutical/alternative health industry whose track record of safety far surpasses the pharmaceuticals, it would be in their best interest to look inwards and come up with independent ways of running clinical trials. It’s time to change with the times Big Pharma.

Interested in the Planet Earth – Try This Informative Website

I just found a fascinating website today, Earth Portal. Instead of having a Wikipedia like system where anyone with a computer can edit and add to articles, Earth Portal has 150 authors whose credentials have been verified (along with a editor conversant within the field in question) writing articles about all things related to our planet and ourselves.

Find out how the body expels toxins, what a “dust budget” is, or the latest news about our planet. An excellent website with great information written by reliable scientists. It also has a well attended discussion forum as well.

Take some time today and visit.