|Issue #22 - July 2004|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #22. 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.
NEW CHOLESTEROL ADVICE TAINTED
On July 12, 2004 heart disease experts urged more people to take cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins). These new guidelines, issued by the American Heart Association and the federal government, were written by 9 of the country’s top cholesterol experts. Eight of the nine experts have received consulting or speaking fees, research money or other support from cholesterol drug makers, including Pfizer Inc., Merck & Co., Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca LP. Obviously, these guidelines are tainted by the influence of major pharmaceutical companies that make statin drugs such as Lipitor and Pravachol. Last year, drug makers earned $26 billion worldwide on these cholesterol-lowering medicines, the top-selling class of drugs. Dr. Henry Barry, senior associate chairman of the department of family practice at Michigan State University, said: "Basically what we have are [panelists] who are extrapolating data beyond what was in the studies. And when you have folks who have a financial interest, the question is, was that extrapolation influenced by their financial interests?"
If the industry ties had been revealed, what difference would this make? Are we to feel comfortable that most of the panel members pushing highly aggressive cholesterol guidelines have ties to manufacturers? The new recommendations will be expensive. Statins cost about $100 a month and will add billions of dollars to the coffers of the drug companies if these guidelines are fully implemented.
GP: If your medical doctor mentions the new cholesterol guidelines ask them what they think about this conflict of interest. Ask him or her if they think there is any connection between billions of dollars in drug profits and recommendations to increase the use of these drugs.
SPROUTED VEGETABLES COULD HELP WARD OFF CANCER RISK
Research findings showed that slightly more than 100 daily grams of sprouted vegetables could play a role in reducing the likelihood of negative DNA alterations in human blood cells.
Instances of DNA damage include carcinogens related to dietary intake and processes that occur in the body like oxidative stress are commonly linked to an increased risk of cancer. Sprouted vegetables have been known to act as a protectant against these types of DNA damage.
Eating only 113 grams (3.5 oz.) of the following vegetables could produce the cancer-fighting effects:
Medical News Today June 24, 2004
GP: Mothers sure are smart. Didn’t they tell us to eat our vegetables? Growing sprouts yourself is easy and inexpensive. You can purchase organic sprout seeds from your local health food store along with instructions on sprouting seeds. Any of these sprouts are great on sandwiches or in salads.
ARSENIC LEVELS IN CHICKEN REQUIRE ADJUSTMENT IN CONSUMPTION
Chicken consumption may contribute significant amounts of arsenic to total arsenic exposure of the U.S. population, according to a study published in the January, 2004 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). Arsenic is an approved animal feed supplement that farmers use to control intestinal parasites in chickens. The study indicates that at mean levels of chicken consumption, people may ingest 3.6-5.2 mcg/day of inorganic arsenic from chicken alone. Drinking water, dust, fumes, and diet represent other forms of exposure. Inorganic forms of arsenic are classified as carcinogens, with chronic exposure (10-40 mcg /day) associated with skin, respiratory, and bladder cancers.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) used national monitoring data from the FSIS National Residue Program to estimate a mean concentration of arsenic of 0.39 ppm in liver tissue between 1994 and 2000. Liver tissue was used in estimating the arsenic concentrations of the muscle tissue, which is the part of the chicken that is most consumed. Of the 5,000 chicken samples, 3,611 were young chickens and 1,582 mature chickens. By 1997, 99% of chicken was consumed as young chicken. Arsenic concentrations in young chickens appear to be 3- to 4-fold higher than in other species categories sampled in the National Residue Program, the study authors write. The researchers calculated the mean number of grams of chicken consumed by the U.S. population at the 50th, 95th, and 99th percentiles, using chicken consumption data from the 1994-1996 USDA survey, Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals.
The estimated dose of arsenic ingested at each percentile of the population was calculated by multiplying the total amount of chicken consumed by estimates of inorganic and organic arsenic in chicken muscle tissue. The researchers calculated that a person consuming chicken at the mean rate of 60 g/day (approximately 2 ounces) might ingest 3.6-5.2 mcg of inorganic arsenic per day, and 5.6-8.1 mcg total arsenic per day, However, groups that tend to eat more chicken may face doses up to 10 times higher. For example, those in the 99th percentile--1% of the U.S. population who consume more than 350 g chicken/day--ingest 21-31 mcg inorganic arsenic/day. For a person who weighs 70 kg (154 lb), this represents 0.30-0.44 mcg/kg/day of inorganic arsenic, well below the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives tolerable daily intake of 2 mcg/kg/day of inorganic arsenic, but a sizable portion (15-22%) of the tolerable daily intake.
With chicken being such an important part of the American diet, and consumption continuing to increase, this study suggests the need for adjustments in estimates of safe levels of ingested arsenic from drinking water and other dietary sources, said Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for EHP.
GP: If you needed another reason to buy organic or grass fed poultry, here it is. As if another reason was necessary. When you consider all the harmful effects of the antibiotics and hormones that are fed to commercial chicken arsenic is like the cherry on the top of the sundae. Recently, one of my patients mentioned how expensive organic chicken was (in their opinion). If you factor in the health benefits of organic chicken, along with its nutritional value, organic chicken has a much lower cost overall.
OBESITY IN AMERICA
Despite the flood of warnings about the alarming rise of obesity in the United States, a pair of recent studies confirmed Americans haven’t gotten the message yet. In fact, the numbers show obesity rates have actually risen slightly.
In one government report of 4,000 adults and an equal number of children, the number of overweight adults for 2001-02 had risen to 65.7 percent versus 64.5 percent in a similar study of adults in 2000-01. The level of obesity in adults edged upward from 30.5 percent to 30.6 percent. The number of adults who were labeled extremely obese grew slightly from 4.7 percent to 5.1 percent.
The government study gathered childhood obesity data on participants from ages 6 to 19 based on their body mass index (BMI) readings alone. Almost 32 percent of the children surveyed were rated "at risk" for becoming overweight in the recent study, nearly a 2 percent increase since the 1999-2000 study. Children judged to be overweight rose to 16.5 percent in the recent study, a 1.5 percent increase from previous research.
In a related study of teens ages 13 to 17, fast food restaurant chains were again blamed as the prime culprits in the epidemic of obesity among children. During the first phase, in which teens were allowed to eat as many extra-large fast-food portions as they wanted, overweight teens tended to eat more than their slimmer peers.
The second study recorded the participants’ food intake on days they ate meals at any of five leading national fast-food chains. Researchers found leaner teens compensated for eating fast food by consuming less during those days, but the overweight adolescents didn’t.
Journal of the American Medical Association June 16, 2004
GP: The researchers believed that the study didn’t prove a cause-effect scenario. They were unsure that a high-calorie, fast food diet was the leading contributor to teen obesity or if people just have an innate ability to overeat. Nevertheless, the findings of the studies support an argument for reducing fast-food marketing to children, eliminating the sale of such foods in schools and promoting the reduced intake of refined starches and extra sugars.
FRUCTOSE AND OVEREATING
Eating and drinking foods packed with excess fructose can stimulate the level of hormones in the body that foster overeating, according to a recent study that investigated the links between obesity and fructose. Fructose is a form of sugar found in fruit, corn syrup and honey.
The problem lies in the number of food and drink manufacturers using corn syrup that contains concentrated amounts of fructose to sweeten their products.
After eating a meal, the women who participated in the study were given drinks flavored with either the amount of fructose one would typically consume in two carbonated soft drinks or glucose. Lower levels of insulin and leptin, hormones that regulate appetite, were found in those who consumed fructose-laced drinks.
Moreover, test subjects who had fructose also showed higher levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates eating. In addition, patients who took the fructose-laced drink had a jump in blood fats, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers theorized drinks sweetened with glucose might not foster overeating because the release of insulin from the pancreas is triggered by glucose, which, in turn, tells people they aren’t hungry. Additionally, the liver handles glucose in a much healthier way than fructose.
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism June 4, 2004
GP: On the surface, fructose seems to be an innocuous sweetener. It’s found in many ‘natural’ products found in health food stores. It comes from fruit so it has to be good, right? Obviously not. The high fructose corn syrup that has become a ubiquitous sweetener is a far cry from anyone’s definition of natural. It doesn’t belong on any list of acceptable sweeteners.
PESTICIDE LAWS EASED
The Environmental Protection Agency will be free to approve pesticides without consulting wildlife agencies to determine if the chemical might harm plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to new Bush administration rules.
The streamlining by the Interior and Commerce departments represents "a more efficient approach to ensure protection of threatened and endangered species," officials with the two agencies, EPA and the Agriculture Department said in a joint statement 7/29/04.
It also is intended to head off future lawsuits, the officials said.
Under the Endangered Species Act, EPA has been required to consult with Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and Commerce's National Marine Fisheries Service each time it licenses a new pesticide. But that hasn't been happening for some time.
"Because of the complexity of consultations to examine the effects of pest-control products, there have been almost no consultations completed in the past decade," the officials acknowledged in their statement.
Steve Williams, the Fish and Wildlife director, said it was too complex to have to consider every possible result among the interaction of hundreds of active chemicals and 1,200 threatened and endangered species.
The two services are responsible for enforcing the endangered species law. But the new rules let EPA formally skip the consultations.
The heads of the two wildlife services will presume EPA's review work is adequate.
"The two agencies completed a scientific review of EPA's risk assessment process, and concluded it allows EPA to make accurate assessments of the likely effects of pesticides on threatened and endangered species," said Bill Hogarth, who heads the fisheries service.
But the two services still plan to review EPA's methods occasionally, just to make sure. And EPA can still ask for outside consultations if it wants to. In that case, the wildlife agencies would have final say on whether a species might be harmed by a pesticide.
By not requiring so many consultations, the officials said it was more likely the ones that matter most would get done. President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973.
CropLife America, a pesticide industry trade group, described the new rules as "a sensible approach that strengthens protections to endangered animal and plant species while maintaining access to tested and approved pesticides" used in agriculture, pest control and wildlife protection.
The rulemaking is partly in response to a successful lawsuit against EPA in Seattle by Washington Toxics Coalition, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations and other groups. They argued that EPA hadn't consulted with the government's wildlife experts to gauge the risks various pesticides pose to salmon in the Pacific Northwest.
A federal judge in January temporarily banned the use of 38 pesticides near salmon streams until EPA determines whether they would harm the fish. An attempt by pesticide makers and farm groups to block the order was rejected by the appeals court.
Last year, the Natural Resources Defense Council sued EPA in federal court in Baltimore on similar grounds, arguing the agency hadn't properly consulted the wildlife agencies while approving a popular weed killer, atrazine. The case is still pending.
Aaron Colangelo, an NRDC staff attorney, said the new rule benefits the pesticide industry at the expense of endangered species.
"The fact that the consultations are so complicated counsels for better protection, not lesser protection," he said. "The solution to ignoring it for decades isn't to rewrite the rule so they can continue to ignore the consultations. The solution is to start complying with the Endangered Species Act."
GP: First it was raising the allowable amount of arsenic in our drinking water. Now it’s weakening the pesticide approval process. The governmental assault on the environment seems to be drive by industry concerns, not health concerns. Remember, it’s the children, the sick, and the elderly that are the most at risk here. But, we all visit these places, catch these fish, and share the ecosystem.
If any of you would like to check out Emerson Ecologics online here is the address of their home page. http://www.emersonecologics.com/Main.asp. Here you will find information on herbal products and nutritional supplements as well as product specials. 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