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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Naturopathic News arrow Issue #12 - September 2003
Issue #12 - September 2003

Welcome to Naturopathic News issue #12. It’s my goal to help you find natural solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. Any feedback in the form of comments, letters to the editor, success stories, etc., is appreciated. 

TOMATOES WIN IN CANCER FOOD STUDY

More than a decade into what may be Australia's biggest medical experiment, the first results are emerging in the link between cancer and diet.

The study, a 10-year study of 40,000 older Australians, has found that tomatoes seem to protect against prostate cancer and that eating sausages and salami several times a week may increase the risk of a range of cancers.

It has taken a decade for the results to be statistically reliable, as about 2000 of the recruits have now died and 1700 cases of bowel, breast and prostate cancer have been diagnosed. Supporting similar research, the early results show that large amounts of red meat are not a good thing.

In addition, it has been suggested that members of the onion family may help prevent prostate cancer, that fat consumption may not be related to cancer (although can damage the heart) and that men whose waist-hip ratio increases - that is, they get a small pot belly - are at greater risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

The initial findings will be published in medical journals next year and dozens, and probably hundreds, more papers will follow as medical progress - particularly genetic testing on blood from each participant - will allow researchers to tell us more.

The project began in the late 1980s when a Cancer Council Victoria epidemiologist, Graham Giles, began researching how diet and lifestyle affected cancer.

In the early 1990s, Professor Giles and his team recruited 42,000 Melburnians, one-third of whom were born in southern Europe and were likely to eat a so-called Mediterranean diet.

All recruits, aged 40 to 69, were measured, weighed, questioned and had blood taken. Their original blood samples are on ice, and will soon have the DNA extracted. Now a decade older, those who have survived are having fresh blood taken, which can be tested for any changes.

Cancer samples from the 2000 recruits who have died are being re-examined, to determine the type of disease involved. Breast cancer, for example, is now regarded as a range of different diseases, not simply one disease.

The aim is to tackle the aggressive cancers and find out what causes them, who is at risk and how to prevent them.

"We also want to identify components of lifestyle that are associated with healthy ageing; and, having done that, we can try and promote those sort of behaviors," Professor Giles said.

"The more we look at it, and the more other people look, the more obvious it is that heart disease, diabetes and cancer share a common pathway - and a lot of it has got to do with obesity."

The retesting of 40,000 recruits, which began a few months ago, is likely to take another three years. The cost of the project to date is more than $13 million, with more to be spent.

GP: Kudos to my Italian ancestors. Lycopene content, found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables (watermelons, etc.) is maintained in cooked as well as raw tomatoes.

 

DEPRESSION AND FOLATE

People who suffer from depression might have problems metabolizing folate, a B vitamin, and may benefit from folic acid supplements.

Researchers found that people with depression were more likely to have high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is a byproduct of metabolism, in their blood. Folic acid, which is the form of folate in supplements, is known to play a role in breaking down homocysteine.

Too little folate or a disturbed folate metabolism may partially be the cause of depression in some people. Folate supplementation may be effective in preventing depression, researchers said.

Archives of General Psychiatry June, 2003;60(6):618-26


GP: We already know that elevated homocysteine levels from folic acid deficiency can be a major contributor to heart disease and Alzheimer's disease, and folic acid may be useful for seizure disorders and preventing brain atrophy. Here it appears to affect mood as well.


The following table lists the folic acid content of some popular vegetables. (Vegetables

(1/2 cup cooked unless otherwise indicated):

Folate Content

(mcg)

Vegetables Folate Content
Spinach110
Asparagus
88
Collards
64
Avocade, 1/2 Raw
56
Mustard Greens
51
Brussels Sprouts
46
Parsnips
45
Beets
45
Broccoli
38
Endive, 1/2 cup Raw
36
Cauliflower
32
Sweet Potato
25
Turnip Greens
32
Acorn Squash
11

 

 

NEW STATIN DRUG

A new cholesterol-lowering statin drug, Crestor, will soon be hitting the market, joining its highly successful competitors Lipitor and Zocor. In 2002, statin drugs brought in $13 billion in sales. At least 12 million U.S. adults take cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The highest, 80-milligram dose of Crestor could not be approved because of serious side effects including muscle and kidney damage. Some say the drug may produce side effects even at lower doses, and caution that patients should be closely monitored when on the drug.

All statin drugs can cause an increase in liver enzymes so patients must be monitored for normal liver function. Statins can also cause muscle aches, weakness and, rarely, a dangerous degenerative muscle tissue condition called rhabdomyolysis.

Washington Post August 12, 2003


GP: The statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are the most widely used drugs in the country. According to the "experts," half of Americans should be placed on these statin drugs.

You may think that cholesterol is a bad substance and that most of us would benefit from lowering our cholesterol as much as possible, but this is not so.

Cholesterol is a vitally important substance that is responsible for building our cell membranes and many of our hormones. If the level drops too low we are actually at increased risk for depression and possibly violent forms of death. If you aren't familiar with the dangers and inappropriateness of statin drugs then you should review NN issues 4, 6 7, 8, and 9.

Drugs are rarely the solution for high cholesterol. Well over 99 percent of people can normalize their cholesterol levels by nutritional changes. There are only a handful of people with genetic issues who require statin drugs, and their cholesterol levels are typically 350 or higher.

 

HEALTHY FOODS

Here are a few additional nutrition tidbits for some common foods.

Dandelion Greens

  • Dandelion is beneficial to digestion and is an antiviral.
  • It may also be useful in treating jaundice, cirrhosis, edema due to high blood pressure, gout, eczema and acne
  • Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin C
  • They also contain calcium and potassium
  • Dandelion root contains inulin, which may lower blood sugar in diabetics


Fennel

  • Fennel contains the antioxidant flavonoid quercitin
  • Fennel can be useful for indigestion and spasms of the digestive tract
  • It also helps expel phlegm from the lungs


Green Beans

  • Fresh beans contain vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, calcium and potassium
  • Green beans are diuretic
  • A fresh bean should snap crisply and feels velvety to the touch


Kale

  • Kale eases lung congestion and is beneficial to the stomach, liver and immune system
  • It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration
  • It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may protect against colon cancer
  • Kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll


Kohlrabi

  • Kohlrabi, which belongs to the cabbage family, is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium
  • It is also high in fiber
  • Kohlrabi helps to stabilize blood sugar


Onions

  • Onions are an excellent antioxidant, and they contain anti-allergy, antiviral and antihistamine properties.
  • Sulfur compounds in onions help to detoxify the body.
  • Onions aid in cellular repair.
  • Onions are a rich source of quercitin, a potent antioxidant.
  • To obtain the maximum nutritional benefits, onions should be eaten raw or lightly steamed.


Parsley

  • Parsley is useful as a digestive aid
  • It helps to purify the blood and stimulate the bowels
  • It contains three times as much vitamin C as oranges, and twice as much iron as spinach
  • Parsley contains vitamin A and is a good source of copper and manganese
  • For a natural breath freshener, try a sprig of parsley!

 

Be healthy,

Dr. Pais