|Issue #74 - November 2008|
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
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Newsletter: Here you will find all 74 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update every week. Check out the entry for November 5 concerning infections increased by use of disinfectants.
BREAST CANCER AND VITAMIN D
You've probably seen the headlines in the last week, "Vitamin D Does Not Prevent Breast Cancer." And of course the tagline of "vitamins don't prevent or treat cancer". Where does this garbage come from? Why that wonderfully progressive cancer organization funded by your taxes, The National Cancer Institute.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute just published a study showing that 400IU (International Units) of Vitamin D3 doesn't prevent breast cancer. Well, duh. Nobody with a microgram of nutritional sense would design a study with Vit. D supplementation this low. UNLESS THEY WANTED IT TO FAIL. Or, they were totally nutritionally ignorant regarding Vitamin D. Take your pick.
How can I say this? We know that optimum Vit. D blood levels are 50-60 ng/ml. 400IU of Vit. D, without any other source, would raise your levels to 4. This study was a waste of time, energy, and money. By way of contrast, what might a well-designed study look like?
The 2007 Creighton University study was a four-year, randomized study that followed 1,179 healthy, postmenopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska. They were supplemented with 1100 IU/day of Vitamin D3. Women who took this Vit. D supplementation showed a dramatic 60% or greater reduction in cancer risk than women who did not get the vitamin. You might ask yourself why you didn't see this headline splashed all over the newspapers?
This is monumental. No conventional drug or surgical procedure has this kind of prevention rate. 40 years of a "War on Cancer", billions of dollars spent, and a vitamin supplement that costs literally pennies a day wins out.
Is this cancer research we can believe in or count on to describe reality?
$114 MILLION PROSTATE CANCER STUDY
How do you blow $114 million dollars on a prostate cancer study? Just follow the example of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The study, known as SELECT (Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial), involved more than 35,000 men over the age of 50. Divided into four groups, subjects were given a daily vitamin E supplement and a placebo, or a daily selenium supplement and a placebo, or a combination of the two supplements, or two placebos.
Five years in, the trial was abruptly stopped. Officials for NCI, the trial's sponsor, contended that the supplements were not preventing prostate cancer. This is strange, as vitamin E has previously been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk. The NCI itself reviewed data collected from a large cancer-prevention study conducted in Finland. Finnish research showed that men who took 50 mg of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E daily for more than five years reduced their prostate cancer risk by almost 33%.
A 2004 NCI study expanded on this research. Data was collected on 200 men who were prostate cancer-free, and 100 who were diagnosed with the disease. Blood samples revealed that men with the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol lowered their risk of prostate cancer by more than 50%, while those with the highest levels of gamma-tocopherol lowered their risk by nearly 40%.
So what happened when the NCI researchers designed the SELECT trial? Why did they discontinue it saying that there was no relation between prostate cancer and vitamin E? Are they right this time, but wrong in the past along with the Finnish researchers? How do we figure this out? It's simple. Just use my patented research analysis 3 question tool. Who paid for it? Did they use the right form? Did they use a sufficient amount?
In these previous studies that described a preventive relationship between Vitamin E and prostate cancer they used the natural form of vitamin E-d-alpha-tocopherol. I would contend that it makes even more sense to used mixed tocopherols-delta, gamma-tocopherol, and beta forms (as found in foods like spinach and almonds). Did the NCI researchers use the natural form of Vitamin E? No, they did not. They used dl-alpha tocopherol, the synthetic form of vitamin E. This is a molecule that the human body is not designed to use. Synthetic Vitamin E is an inferior form. No knowledgeable nutritionist would use this form. Folks, this is kindergarten level nutrition education.
$114 million of dollars, thousands of subjects, and they used an inferior form. Accident? Or intentional smoke and mirrors?
HIBISCUS TEA REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE
This small randomized trial showed that 3 cups of hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure (SBP) by about 7 mm Hg in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive subjects. Among those with SBP over 129 mm Hg, the reduction was double that, almost 14 mm Hg after 6 weeks, and produced significant reductions in diastolic and mean arterial pressures. The finding "suggests that regularly incorporating hibiscus tea into the diet may actually help control blood pressure in people who are at risk for developing hypertension," said lead author Diane L. McKay, PhD. Looking at the overall population, changes such as those seen in this study would be expected to reduce stroke, coronary artery disease, and all-cause mortality, Dr. McKay added.
The principal components of hibiscus include anthocyanins and other flavonoids, as well as polyphenolic compounds and phenolic acids. Among the actions of these constituents is the ability to act as an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor. ACE inhibition is a common mechanism of action of many blood pressure drugs. According to Dr. McKay, "It is also interesting to note that a study comparing hibiscus tea with captopril, an ACE inhibitor, found no difference in blood pressure-lowering effects."
The aim of this study was to determine whether hibiscus tea, in an easily drinkable amount, would lower blood pressure in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults compared with a placebo beverage. The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 65 generally healthy men and women aged 30 to 70 years who had SBP readings of 120 to 150 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of < 95 mm Hg.
Subjects were not taking antihypertensive medications or other supplements or medications that could affect their blood pressure level. Participants were randomized to receive either three 8-oz servings daily of hibiscus tea for 6 weeks or a placebo beverage. The hibiscus tea was prepared by brewing 1 tea bag containing 1.25 g of dried hibiscus sepals in 8 oz of boiled water for 6 minutes, after which the tea bag was removed. The placebo beverage was prepared by adding a small amount of hibiscus-flavored concentrate to 8 oz of water. The beverage had to be consumed within 12 hours of preparation and could be served hot or cold and with or without milk and a sweetener of the subjects' choice, she noted. The placebo beverage had no anthocyanins, which they believe is the active component, Dr. McKay pointed out.
"After 6 weeks, we found that subjects who consumed hibiscus tea had a significantly lower systolic blood pressure level compared with people in the placebo group," said Dr. McKay. A drop in DBP and MAP was also seen
Dr. McKay put their findings into the context of previously published work suggesting that, on a population basis, a reduction of 3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure would be expected to translate into a reduction in stroke mortality of 8%, of 5% in coronary heart disease mortality, and of 4% in all-cause
As far as adverse effects "There are some data from Nigeria, where we know that the average per capita consumption of a hibiscus-containing beverage is about the equivalent to 25 cups of our hibiscus tea every day, and no adverse effects have been demonstrated."
American Heart Association 2008 Scientific Sessions
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Hibiscus tea is made from the sepals of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is a herbal tea consumed all over the world. Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor. It contains vitamin C, minerals, various organic acids, and flavonoids.
This is a safe and inexpensive way to treat high blood pressure if it is successful for you.
OVERCOMING MILK ALLERGY
According to the results of a study by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Duke University, giving children with milk allergies increasingly higher doses of milk over time may ease, and even help them completely overcome, their allergic reactions.
Granted, this is a small number of patients in the trial, only 19. But this is the first double-blinded and placebo-controlled study of milk in this way. In the study, the researchers compared a group of children receiving milk powder to a group of children receiving placebo identical in appearance and taste to real milk powder. "Our findings suggest that oral immunotherapy gradually retrains the immune system to completely disregard or to better tolerate the allergens in milk that previously caused allergic reactions," says Robert Wood, M.D., senior investigator on the study. "...these results suggest that oral immunotherapy may be the closest thing yet to a 'true' treatment for food allergy."
In a report released Oct. 22 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food allergies are on the rise with three million children in the United States now having at least one food allergy, an 18% jump from 10 years ago. Milk allergy is the most prevalent type of food allergy.
Researchers followed allergic reactions over four months among 19 children with severe and persistent milk allergy, 6 to 17 years of age. Of the 19 patients, 12 received progressively higher doses of milk protein, and seven received placebo. At the beginning of the study, the children were able to tolerate on average only 40 mg (.04 ounces or a quarter of a teaspoon) of milk.
At the end of the four-month study, both groups were given milk powder as a "challenge" to see what dose would cause reaction after the treatment. The children who had been receiving increasingly higher doses of milk protein over a few months were able to tolerate a median dose of 5,140 mg (over 5 ounces) of milk without having any allergic reaction or with mild symptoms, such as mouth itching and minor abdominal discomfort. Those who had been getting the placebo remained unable to tolerate doses higher than the 40 mg of milk powder without having an allergic reaction. In the group receiving milk protein, the lowest tolerance dose was 2, 540 mg (2.5 ounces) and the highest was 8,140 mg (8 ounces). Lab tests showed the children who regularly drank or ate milk had more antibodies to milk in their blood, yet were able to better tolerate milk than those who took the placebo.
Oct. 28 2008, in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This research is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it confirms what trained nutrition professionals already know. Elimination/challenge is the best method for determining and rectifying food sensitivities.
More importantly this is almost homeopathic thinking. The idea that "Like Cures Like" is a fundamental law. Without awareness, these researchers took a similar product to what causes the problem-milk powder to actual milk-and gave it to these subjects. With positive results.
I guess there are more homeopathic practitioners out there then we know of :).
CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE THRIVES IN HOSPITALS
A nasty, sometimes fatal stomach bacterium was found to be at least six times more common than was previously thought. This is the latest from a group of researchers who carried out a survey of hundreds of U.S. hospitals. Clostridium difficile is resistant to some antibiotics and has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. It plays a role in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year, and that number has been growing.
This latest study estimates that more than 7,100 hospital patients are infected with it on any given day. That number is between 6.5 and 20 times greater than previous estimates.
"This study shows that C. difficile infection is an escalating issue in our nation's health care facilities," said Dr. William Jarvis, the study's lead investigator. The study estimates that about 13 per 1,000 hospital patients have the bacterium.
The bacteria are found in the colon and can cause diarrhea colitis. It can be deadly, particularly to the elderly, and has been blamed in outbreaks that have killed as many as 100 people at some hospitals. The most dangerous form is spread by spores in feces, and the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.
The new numbers are based on surveys of about 650 U.S. hospitals. Each hospital was asked to pick one day between May and August of this year to review every patient's medical records for documentation of the infection. A total of 1,443 infected patients were identified, and about 70% were older than 60.
In 2007 the same group released a report that found a dangerous, drug-resistant staph germ - methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - might be infecting as many as 5% of hospital and nursing home patients. According to that estimate, MRSA is a more common problem than Clostridium difficile, which infects about 1.3 percent.
11/11/08 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Researchers
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This is yet another result of the ubiquitous and often unnecessary use of antibiotics over the last 20-25 years. We end up with pathological, resistant strains of bacteria. The moral is, don't use antibiotics unless they're needed. These are some of the conditions that lend themselves well to other approaches-ear infections, colds, urinary tract infections, sinus infections, some throat infections, some respiratory infections, and yeast infections.
FAT KIDS HAVE OLD ARTERIES
Obese children as young as 10 had the arteries of 45-year-olds and other heart abnormalities that greatly raise their risk of heart disease, say doctors who used ultrasound tests to take a peek inside.
About a third of American children are overweight and one-fifth are obese. Many parents think that "baby fat" will melt away as kids get older. But research increasingly shows that fat kids become fat adults, with higher risks for many health problems.
"Obesity is not benign in children and adolescents," said Dr. Robert Eckel, a former heart association president and cardiologist at the University of Colorado-Denver.
Researchers wanted to see if early signs of damage could be documented. They used ultrasound tests to measure the thickness of the wall of a major neck artery in 70 children, ages 10 to 16. No one knows how thick a 10-year-old's artery should be, since they're not regularly checked for signs of heart disease, so researchers used tables for 45-year-olds, who often do get such exams. The kids' "vascular age" was about 30 years older than their actual age.
A separate study tied childhood obesity to abnormal enlargement of the left atrium, one of the chambers of the heart. Enlargement is a known risk factor for heart disease, stroke and heart rhythm problems. Julian Ayer, a researcher at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney Australia, did ultrasound exams on 991 seemingly healthy children ages 5 to 15. He saw a clear link between rising weight and size of the left atrium.
A third study by Dr. Walter Abhayaratna of Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, also used ultrasound tests and found impairment in the heart's ability to relax between beats in children who were overweight or obese. The study involved the first 150 children participating in a larger community-based study. Earlier research he helped conduct found more rigid arteries in such children - a possible sign of plaque deposits starting to form. "Even at this young age of 10, you can have children who have got arterial stiffness who are comparable to 30- and 40-year-olds," he said.
Dr. Michael Schloss, a New York University heart disease prevention specialist, said the evidence shows obesity is more than a cosmetic issue for children. "If you've seen what's on the menu for most school lunches, these findings are no surprise," he said. "The time has come to seriously deal with the issue of childhood obesity and physical inactivity on a governmental and parental level."
11/11/08 American Heart Association Conference
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: These kinds of studies sadden and anger me. They sadden me because I think we could do a lot to address this. Besides school lunches let's look at fast food restaurant menus too. They anger me because the immediate conventional response is to give these kids drugs. Let's focus on the nutrition and exercise options first.
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