|Issue #68 - May 2008|
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 216 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn't one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.
Newsletter: Here you will find all 68 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update every week. Check out the entry for May 9 concerning colon cancer and vitamin D.
BREAST CANCER VITAMIN D
If you are a breast cancer patient with a low level of vitamin D you are much more likely to die of the disease or have it spread than someone who has optimal levels of this nutrient.
This according to a new study to be released later this month.
The skin makes vitamin D from ultraviolet light. Many believe that the extreme caution to stay out of the sun over the last 20 years is contributing to many health problems due to lack of Vitamin D. While the vitamin is found in certain foods and supplements, most don't contain the best form, vitamin D-3 or cholecalciferol, and have only a modest effect on blood levels of the nutrient. Vitamin D is in salmon and other oily fish, and milk is routinely fortified with it (often the less useful D-2), but dietary sources account for little of the amount of D circulating in the blood, experts say.
Only 24% of women in this Canadian study had sufficient blood levels of D at the time they were first diagnosed with breast cancer. Those who were deficient were nearly twice as likely to have their cancer recur or spread over the next 10 years, and 73% more likely to die of the disease.
"These are pretty big differences," said lead researcher Dr. Pamela Goodwin of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. "It's the first time that vitamin D has been linked to breast cancer progression."
Lots of earlier research suggests vitamin D may help prevent breast, prostate, and especially colon cancer. In lab and animal tests, vitamin D stifles abnormal cell growth, curbs formation of blood vessels that feed tumors and has many other anti-cancer effects.
The Canadian researchers wanted to see whether it made a difference in survival. They took blood from 512 women at three University of Toronto hospitals between 1989 and 1995, when the women were first diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
10 years later, 83% of those who had had adequate vitamin D blood levels were alive without extensive spread of their cancer, versus 79% of those whose vitamin D levels were insufficient and 69% of those who were deficient.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. About 184,450 cases and 40,930 deaths from the disease are expected in the United States this year.
American Society of Clinical Oncology May 15, 2008
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This study, like almost all studies that have seen a correlation between Vitamin D levels and cancer or other diseases, was presented with the almost mandatory warning not to take Vit. D supplements. The concern is that you will overdose with Vitamin D thereby raising your blood levels of calcium and causing health problems.
Don't get me wrong this is biochemically possible. Which is why I highly recommend that everyone get the correct Vitamin D test done before starting supplementation. That way the correct supplement dose can be selected and periodically tracked by subsequent lab testing. No knowledgeable practitioner is liable to make a mistake if this protocol is followed.
With this being the case I'm a bit at a loss at the inordinate fear that Vitamin D supplementation seems to provoke in medical practitioners. Especially when they routinely prescribe highly toxic chemotherapy drugs that increase your risk for future cancers, create a whole range of side effects, and incur great expense. Versus an inexpensive vitamin that can be effectively tracked with a $25 lab test. No hair loss, no fatigue, no nausea or vomiting, no liver toxicity.
51% OF AMERICANS TAKING DRUGS
For the first time, it appears that more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems. The most widely used drugs treat cholesterol levels and those to lower high blood pressure.
The numbers were gathered last year by Medco Health Solutions Inc., which manages prescription benefits for about one in five Americans. They see it as partially the result of
the pharmaceutical industry's relentless advertising and the big push for cholesterol lowering drugs. And of course, the worsening public health related to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Doctors say the proportion of Americans on chronic medications can only grow. And Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country in the world.
Medco's data show that last year, 51% of American children and adults were taking one or more prescription drugs for a chronic condition, up from 50% the previous four years and 47% in 2001. Most of the drugs are taken on a daily basis.
The company examined prescription records from 2001 to 2007 of a representative sample of 2.5 million customers, from newborns to the elderly. Medication use for chronic problems was seen in all demographic groups:
Almost two-thirds of women 20 and older.
One in four children and teenagers.
52% of adult men.
Three out of four people, 65 or older.
Among seniors, 28% of women and nearly 22% of men take five or more medicines regularly.
The biggest jump in use of chronic medications was in the 20-44 year-old age group, what should be adults in the healthiest time of their lives, where it rose 20% over the six years. That was mainly due to more use of drugs for depression, diabetes, asthma, attention-deficit disorder and seizures. Antidepressant use in particular jumped among teens and working-age women.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen's Health Research Group said the increased use of medications is partly because the most heavily advertised drugs are for chronic conditions, so most patients will take them for a long time. He also blames doctors for not spending the time to help patients lose weight and make other healthy changes before writing a prescription.
The study highlights a surge in children's use of medicines to treat weight-related problems and other illnesses previously considered adult problems. Medco estimates about 1.2 million American children now are taking pills for Type 2 diabetes, sleeping problems, and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn.
"A scarier problem is that body weights are so much higher in children in general, and so we're going to have larger numbers of adults who develop high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol or diabetes at an earlier age," said Dr. Jones, of the American Heart Association.
The Medco study found that among boys and girls under age 10, the most widely used medication switched from allergy drugs to asthma medicines between 2001 and 2007. Gorman said that's because over the last decade, asthma care has gone from treating flare-ups to using inhaled steroids regularly to prevent flare-ups and hospitalizations.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I find these statistics scary too. With both doctors and patients looking for a quick fix that doesn't address underlying problems where will it end? Probably with a broke health care system that relies too heavily on prescription medicines.
Do we really need to be the most drugged society on the planet? Is this health? What happened to eating whole foods, drinking pure water, and breathing fresh air? While getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy spirit. These used to be the determinants of health. Not the bottom line of the drug companies.
TYSON NOT ANTIBIOTIC FREE
According to a report in the April 23 2008 New York Times, a federal judge has ordered Tyson Foods to withdraw advertisements claiming its chickens are "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."
Two of the food giant's competitors said the ads were untrue because Tyson injects it eggs with antibiotics and used antibiotic molecules in its feed.
Tyson maintained that its claim was truthful, and intends to appeal the decision. "The claim we're making is 'raised without.' And our consumer research would say that 'raised without' in the consumer's mind, is from hatchery to when they buy the chicken in the store," said Dave Hogberg, senior vice president for consumer products at Tyson.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: I think this one falls into the category of 7-Up being all natural. Tyson is claiming that their egg advertising is letter of the law correct. But I believe it to be a gross violation of the spirit of the law.
When they say that their eggs come from chickens that are "raised without antibiotics", they are implying that the eggs are antibiotics-free. In actuality, this is not the way it is. Their eggs have antibiotics injected into them before they make it into your grocery store. And there does seem to be some evidence that there are antibiotics in their chicken feed.
Whenever a large commercial food corporation makes a health claim or tries to apply the label 'natural' your bull manure meter should hit critical level.
PLASTICS PLASTICS PLASTICS
The Daily Green offers this handy guide on the various types of plastic:
#1 Plastics -- PET or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate)
* Found In: Soft drinks, water and beer bottles; mouthwash bottles; peanut butter containers; salad dressing and vegetable oil containers; ovenable food trays.
* Recycling: Pick up through most curbside recycling programs.
* Recycled Into: Polar fleece, fiber, tote bags, furniture, carpet, paneling, straps, (occasionally) new containers
It poses low risk of leaching breakdown products. Recycling rates remain relatively low (around 20 percent), though the material is in high demand by remanufacturers.
#2 Plastics -- HDPE (high density polyethylene)
* Found In: Milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; shampoo bottles; some trash and shopping bags; motor oil bottles; butter and yogurt tubs; cereal box liners
* Recycling: Pick up through most curbside recycling programs, although some only allow those containers with necks.
* Recycled Into: Laundry detergent bottles, oil bottles, pens, recycling containers, floor tile, drainage pipe, lumber, benches, doghouses, picnic tables, fencing
HDPE carries low risk of leaching and is readily recyclable into many goods.
#3 Plastics -- V (Vinyl) or PVC
* Found In: Window cleaner and detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, cooking oil bottles, clear food packaging, wire jacketing, medical equipment, siding, windows, piping
* Recycling: Rarely recycled; accepted by some plastic lumber makers.
* Recycled Into: Decks, paneling, mudflaps, roadway gutters, flooring, cables, speed bumps, mats
PVC contains chlorine, so its manufacture can release highly dangerous dioxins. If you must cook with PVC, don't let the plastic touch food. Never burn PVC, because it releases toxins.
#4 Plastics -- LDPE (low density polyethylene)
* Found In: Squeezable bottles; bread, frozen food, dry cleaning and shopping bags; tote bags; clothing; furniture; carpet
* Recycling: LDPE is not often recycled through curbside programs, but some communities will accept it. Plastic shopping bags can be returned to many stores for recycling.
* Recycled Into: Trash can liners and cans, compost bins, shipping envelopes, paneling, lumber, landscaping ties, floor tile
Historically, LDPE has not been accepted through most American curbside recycling programs, but more and more communities are starting to accept it.
#5 Plastics -- PP (polypropylene)
* Found In: Some yogurt containers, syrup bottles, ketchup bottles, caps, straws, medicine bottles
* Recycling: Number 5 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
* Recycled Into: Signal lights, battery cables, brooms, brushes, auto battery cases, ice scrapers, landscape borders, bicycle racks, rakes, bins, pallets, trays
Polypropylene has a high melting point, and so is often chosen for containers that must accept hot liquid. It is gradually becoming more accepted by recyclers.
#6 Plastics -- PS (polystyrene)
* Found In: Disposable plates and cups, meat trays, egg cartons, carry-out containers, aspirin bottles, compact disc cases
* Recycling: Number 6 plastics can be recycled through some curbside programs.
* Recycled Into: Insulation, light switch plates, egg cartons, vents, rulers, foam packing, carry-out containers
Polystyrene can be made into rigid or foam products -- in the latter case it is popularly known as the trademark Styrofoam. Evidence suggests polystyrene can leach potential toxins into foods. The material was long on environmentalists' hit lists for dispersing widely across the landscape, and for being notoriously difficult to recycle.
#7 Plastics -- Miscellaneous
* Found In: Three- and five-gallon water bottles, 'bullet-proof' materials, sunglasses, DVDs, iPod and computer cases, signs and displays, certain food containers, nylon
* Recycling: Number 7 plastics have traditionally not been recycled, though some curbside programs now take them.
* Recycled Into: Plastic lumber, custom-made products
A wide variety of plastic resins that don't fit into the previous categories are lumped into number 7. A few are even made from plants (polyactide) and are compostable. Polycarbonate is number 7, and is the hard plastic that has parents worried these days, after studies have shown it can leach potential hormone disruptors.
The Daily Green March 31, 2008
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: At this point it seems that # 3,6,7 plastics are the ones to be most concerned about. However, I think this just reflects a time lag between the dangers that we know and the ones we haven't discovered yet. I was warning against polycarbonate bottles long before the recent research came out. Wherever possible I think it's extremely important to eliminate plastic use. It's good for the planet and good for your health.
I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.
Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It's a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.
To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.
That's it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you've thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.
Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP