|Issue #109 - Oct. 2011|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #109. It's my mission to help you find optimal 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. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter please send me an email and let me know. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.
WHAT KIND OF MEDICAL STUDY WOULD HAVE GRANDMA BELIEVE THAT HER DAILY MULTIVITAMIN IS DANGEROUS?
by Robert G. Smith, PhD
Orthomolecular News Service, Oct 12, 2011 http://orthomolecular.org/
A newly released study suggests that multivitamin and nutrient supplements can increase the mortality rate in older women . However, there are several concerns about the study's methods and significance.
The study was observational, in which participants filled out a survey about their eating habits and their use of supplements. It reports only a small increase in overall mortality (1%) from those taking multivitamins. This is a small effect, not much larger than would be expected by chance. Generalizing from such a small effect is not scientific.
The study actually reported that taking supplements of B-complex, vitamins C, D, E, and calcium and magnesium were associated with a lower risk of mortality. But this was not emphasized in the abstract, leading the non-specialist to think that all supplements were associated with mortality. The report did not determine the amounts of vitamin and nutrient supplements taken, nor whether they were artificial or natural. Further, most of the association with mortality came from the use of iron and copper supplements, which are known to be potentially inflammatory and toxic when taken by older people, because they tend to accumulate in the body [2,3,4]. The risk from taking iron supplements should not be generalized to imply that all vitamin and nutrient supplements are harmful.
The study lacks scientific plausibility for several reasons. It tabulated results from surveys of 38,000 older women, based on their recall of what they ate over an 18-year period. But they were only surveyed 3 times during that period, relying only on their memory of what foods and supplements they took. This factor alone causes the study to be unreliable.
Some of these women smoked (~15%) or had previously (~35%), some drank alcohol (~45%), some had high blood pressure (~40%), and many of them developed heart disease and/or cancer. Some preexisting medical conditions were taken into account by adjusting the risk factors, but this caused the study to contradict what we already know about efficacy of supplements. For example, the study reports an increase in mortality from taking vitamin D, when adjusted for several health-relevant factors. However, vitamin D has recently been clearly shown to be helpful in preventing heart disease  and many types of cancer , which are major causes of death. Furthermore, supplement users were twice as likely to be on hormone replacement therapy, which is a more plausible explanation for increased mortality than taking supplements.
The effect of doctor recommendations was not taken into account. By their own repeated admissions, medical doctors and hospital nutritionists are more likely to recommend a daily multivitamin, and only a multivitamin, for their sicker patients. The study did not take this into account. All it did was tabulate deaths and attempt to correct the numbers for some prior health conditions. The numbers reported do not reflect other factors such as developing disease, side effects of pharmaceutical prescriptions, or other possible causes for the mortality. The study only reports statistical correlations, and gives no plausible cause for a claimed increase in mortality from multivitamin supplements.
The effect of education was not taken into account. When a doctor gives advice about illnesses, well-educated people will often respond by trying to be proactive. Some will take drugs prescribed by the doctor, and some will try to eat a better diet, including supplements of vitamins and nutrients. This is suggested by the study itself: the supplement users in the survey had more education than those who did not take supplements. It seems likely, therefore, the participants who got sick were more likely to have taken supplements. Because those who got sick are also more likely to die, it stands to reason that they would also be more likely to have taken supplements. This effect is purely statistical; it does not represent an increase in risk that taking supplements of vitamins and essential nutrients will cause disease or death. This type of statistical correlation is very common in observational health studies and those who are health-conscious should not be confounded by it.
The known safety of vitamin and nutrient supplements when taken at appropriate doses was not taken into account. The participants most likely took a simple multivitamin tablet, which contains low doses. Much higher doses are also safe [4,7], implying that the low doses in common multivitamin tablets are very safe. Further, because each individual requires different amounts of vitamins and nutrients, some people must take much higher doses for best health .
Summary: In an observational study of older women in good health, it was said that those who died were more likely to have taken multivitamin and nutrient supplements than those who did not. The effect was small, and does not indicate any reason for disease or death. Instead, the study's methods suggest that people who have serious health conditions take vitamin and mineral supplements because they know that supplements can help. Indeed, the study showed a benefit from taking B-complex, C, D, and E vitamins, and calcium and magnesium. Therefore, if those wanting better health would take appropriate doses of supplements regularly, they would likely continue to achieve better health and longer life.
(Robert G. Smith is Research Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania Department of Neuroscience. He is a member of the Institute for Neurological Sciences and the author of several dozen scientific papers and reviews.)
 Mursu J, Robien K, Harnack LJ, Park K, Jacobs DR Jr (2011) Dietary supplements and mortality rate in older women. The Iowa Women's Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 171(18):1625-1633.
 Emery, T. F. Iron and your Health: Facts and Fallacies. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1991.
 Fairbanks, V. F. "Iron in Medicine and Nutrition." Chapter 10 in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, editors M. E. Shils, J. A. Olson, M. Shike, et al., 9th ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999.
 Hoffer, A., A. W. Saul. Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physicians. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2008.
 Parker J, Hashmi O, Dutton D, Mavrodaris A, Stranges S, Kandala NB, Clarke A, Franco OH. Levels of vitamin D and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2010 Mar;65(3):225-36.
 Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.
 Padayatty SJ, Sun AY, Chen Q, Espey MG, Drisko J, Levine M. Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects. PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11414.
 Williams RJ, Deason G. (1967) Individuality in vitamin C needs. Proc Natl Acad SciUSA.57:16381641.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Unless you've stayed away from any media sources over the past week you had to have heard/seen the screaming headlines--"Vitamins Kill Older Women", or some variation thereof. Every article I saw was quick to point out how unsafe it was to take vitamins. You would think that there would be reports detailing how many people have died from taking a supplement. Nothing could be further from the truth. There was not even one death caused by a dietary supplement in 2009, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System.
The new 200-page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, published in the Jan.5, 2011 Clinical Toxicology, shows zero deaths from multiple vitamins; zero deaths from any of the B vitamins; zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D, or E; and zero deaths from any other vitamin.
Additionally, there were no deaths whatsoever from any amino acid, herb, or dietary mineral supplement.
Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2009 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 27th Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology (2010). 48, 979-1178. The full text article is available for free download at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/Portals/0/2009%20AR.pdf
The data mentioned above are found in Table 22B, journal pages 1138-1148.
CURCUMIN SHOWS PROMISE IN CANCER
The September 15, 2011 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research published the outcome of a pilot study conducted by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center which demonstrated a potential for curcumin, a compound that occurs in the spice turmeric, to suppress a pathway involved in head and neck cancer growth.
University of California Los Angeles professor of head and neck surgery Marilene Wang and her associates tested the effects of curcumin in a study involving 21 patients with head and neck cancers. Prior to and immediately after chewing two tablets that provided a total of 1,000 milligrams curcumin, the subjects provided saliva samples that were analyzed for proinflammatory cytokines that fuel cancer growth. Samples obtained one hour later were evaluated for the activity of IKKB kinase, an enzyme involved in inflammation that activates nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB), which increases cancer growth.
Dr Wang and colleagues found a reduction in salivary proinflammatory cytokines as well as inhibition of the cell signaling pathway involving IKKB kinase following administration of curcumin. "The curcumin had a significant inhibitory effect, blocking two different drivers of head and neck cancer growth," Dr Wang stated. "We believe curcumin could perhaps be given to patients at high risk for developing head and neck cancers – smokers, those who chew tobacco and people with the HPV virus – as well as to patients with previous oral cancers to fight recurrence."
"This study shows that curcumin can work in the mouths of patients with head and neck malignancies and reduce activities that promote cancer growth." she continued. Dr Wang noted that the amount of curcumin necessary to elicit a response is much greater than that which would be found in food that has been flavored with turmeric.
"There's potential here for the development of curcumin as an adjuvant treatment for cancer," Dr Wang noted. "It's not toxic, well tolerated, cheap and easily obtained in any health food store. While this is a promising pilot study, it's important to expand our work to more patients to confirm our findings."
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: It's amazing how often traditional foods end up working well to fight disease. It's been known for quite some time that curcumin had strong antiinflammatory action. As many consider inflammation to play a major role in heart disease and cancer it's not surprise to see its usefulness here. Refreshing isn't it to see an inexpensive nontoxic therapy effective in cancer?
PESTICIDES IN FOOD LINKED TO ADHD IN KIDS
Levels of pesticides commonly encountered across the country in food as well as around the home are significantly increasing children's risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and could be causing an increase in the number of children living with the condition, according to new research published in the journal Pediatrics.
"It's mainly exposure through food. Diet is the driver," says pediatrician and public health expert Phil Landrigan, MD, professor and chair of the department of community and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "For most people, diet is the predominant source. It's been shown that people who switch to an organic diet knock down the levels of pesticide by-products in their urine by 85 to 90 percent."
Canadian researchers used data collected from nearly 1,140 children participating in the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, including pesticide by-products found in urine. They found that in that group, 119 children met the criteria for ADHD.
Children with substantially higher levels of a breakdown product of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. The university researchers conclude that parents should buy organic for their kids. Numerous other researchers stress the importance of women eating organic at least six months before conception and throughout pregnancy, too.
This isn't the first study that has linked this class of pesticides to human health problems. However, other studies looked at farmers or others who work closely with pesticides day in and day out. This study is the first to look at everyday exposure levels in children from around the country. And as it turns out, U.S. kids are exposed to harmful levels of pesticides in their food, day in and day out.
This study looked at organophosphates in particular, ones designed to attack the neurological systems of pests (unfortunately, they harm humans, too). There are about 40 organophosphate pesticides registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and most people's exposure to them comes through food, drinking water, and residential pesticide use, according to the EPA.
The harmful chemicals are widespread: A 2008 U.S. Pesticide Residue Program Report found detectable concentrations of one organophosphate alone, malathion, in 28% of frozen blueberries, 25% of strawberries, and 19% of celery sampled. (Malathion is also commonly sprayed out of airplanes and onto communities as part of mosquito-control programs. Organophosphate pesticides, also found in some flea and tick products, have been tied to childhood leukemia, and are believed to be partially responsible for colony collapse disorder, which is killing off honeybees (who pollinate our food crops) at unprecedented rates.
DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: Eat whole foods. Eat organic. Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/, list names the produce varieties contaminated with the most different pesticides. It's best to buy those fruits and vegetables organic whenever possible. However, other produce and grains also contain harmful pesticides of them, too. In fact, processed foods may contain higher pesticide levels because two common ingredients—genetically engineered corn and soy—have been genetically manipulated to withstand higher pesticide sprayings (which, as it turns out, isn't working, and is actually causing superweeds).
Beware of other exposures. Pesticides, by nature, are designed to kill, and the ones homeowners used around the house are dangerous, too, Dr. Landrigan explains. Instead of spraying your lawn or home, use organic gardening methods and practice nontoxic bug control.
HERE COMES THE SUN
My eBook, "Here Comes The Sun: Preventing Chronic Disease With Vitamin D", is now available for purchase. The best way to order my book is to mail a check (made out to Dr. Pais) for $9.95 to my office address below. Drop me an email saying your "check is in the mail" and I will immediately email you my book.
I would appreciate any comments or feedback once you've finished reading it. Enjoy!
Here are some pages that are of particular interest:
Store: There are 335 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 100 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News”.
Optimal Health Points: This is my blog that I update periodically. Check out my latest post, “No Deaths From Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Or Herbs”.
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LET ME HELP YOU MAKE WISE SUPPLEMENT CHOICES
As is often the case, a recent new patient asked if I would review their choice and use of supplements and herbs. Why does this happen so often? For many, taking a vitamin or herb is their introduction to natural medicine. Their desire to be healthier drives them to take supplements and herbs. The death, pain, discomfort, and side effects experienced with over the counter and prescription drugs compel people to look elsewhere. It’s very different with supplements and herbs which, when used correctly, have an incredibly low risk of harm.
Some people take this to an extreme and take every supplement or herb that someone tells them is ‘good for them’. It might be a clerk, an internet ‘expert’ source, or a friend who is marketing the latest or greatest fad. Most of these individuals or companies have no professional training or experience in the medical use of the supplements or herbs that they’re selling. The people they’re selling to come into my office with 5, 10, 15, or more supplements that they’re taking. Sometimes it’s been so long since they started taking them that they don’t remember why they’re doing it. When I ask, they can’t tell me what, if anything, a particular product is doing for them. Yet, they can be quite fearful of stopping any of these items, as if their health would careen off a precipice without them.
Why do I think my approach is any different? Partly, it’s because of my background. I’ve literally been working with nutritional supplements since 1974. That’s 36 years assessing the quality and effectiveness of supplements. Beginning in 1980 I started working with Western and Chinese herbs. The quality of herbs used and how they’re combined together has the greatest effect on the efficacy of the final product. Because I’ve grown, identified, harvested, and produced medicinal herbal products I recognize a good formula when I see one.
Licensed naturopaths like myself receive the most extensive academic and clinical training in the use of nutritional supplements and herbal medicines of any professional in the United States. Nothing can substitute for such hands on experience, especially when you see, and are responsible for, the results of your treatments. Very different from the clerk in the store, or coworker who’s part of a MLM scheme.
What I’m offering to is easy access to this experience and training. Both for you and your family. If you have questions about the supplements or herbs you are taking, or are thinking about taking, now is the time to ask. Send me an email with the brand and name of the product you’re taking. Let me know that you want to bring the bottles in at your next visit, so I can see what you’re taking. Start a discussion on my Facebook fan page. Either way I’ll give you honest feedback about what I think is good, or what isn’t. We’ll fine tune what you’re taking to maximize effect and eliminate waste.
Let me hear from you and we’ll get started.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D TEST WITH ZRT LABORATORY
It just happened again the other day. A patient sent me a copy of the Vitamin D test she just had done. With frustrating results. The wrong test was done. After all these years, and all the information available, MDs and laboratories still order the wrong test. What a waste of money and time.
For a long time I looked for a home Vitamin D test. One that would be simple, easy, and accurate to do on your own. I finally found one. ZRT Laboratory in Beaverton OR. ZRT emphasizes research and technological innovation.
Until now, venipuncture blood serum has been the standard medium for testing Vitamin D. ZRT has developed and refined Vitamin D testing in blood spots. A few drops of blood from a quick and nearly painless nick of the finger, placed on a filter paper to dry are all that is needed. The total 25 (OH) Vitamin D is then determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). This method has been shown to be as accurate as the assay standard.
Ordering A Vitamin D Test
ZRT allows anyone to order a Vitamin D test kit for $95 plus shipping and have it sent to their home. ZRT will let me prepay for kits and send them to my office for $55 each, plus $8 shipping. I am charging $65 per kit for patients to cover the total.
If you are interested in getting a Vitamin D test done through my office please prepay so I can order you a kit. Then you can either pick it up at my office or have it shipped to your home. Once you’ve taken the sample and sent it back to ZRT it’s only a matter of time before your results are sent back to me. I can even look at them online before the mail arrives.
If your doctor has refused to order a Vitamin D test or worse, ordered the wrong one, this is the fastest, least expensive, most accurate way to do it ourselves. Once we know what your Vitamin D levels are, the next step is making sure that you achieve optimum levels for prevention of disease and maintenance of 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
580 E. 3rd. St.
Williamsport PA 17701