|Issue #34 - July 2005|
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #34. It’s my mission 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. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter send me an email and let me know.
MAMMOGRAMS MAY NOT HALT BREAST CANCER DEATHS
A real-world look at the benefits of breast cancer screenings has turned up some dismaying news: Screening rates for women who died from the disease were no different from the screening rates of those who were cancer-free. The study appears in the July 20 2005 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
"We did a case-control study," said lead researcher Dr. Joann G. Elmore, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. "As the cases, we evaluated women who died of breast cancer, and as the controls, women who were matched for age and [similar] risk factors."
The researchers wanted to examine the theory that, if screening for breast cancer really works to prevent women from dying of the disease, women still living should have had more screenings than women who died.
In all, Elmore's team looked at screening data on 1,351 women who died from breast cancer between 1983 and 1998, and compared it to data on 2,501 breast cancer-free women. All of the women received their regular care through six health plans in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington.
They found that 69.8 percent of women aged 50 to 65 with an average risk for breast cancer who died from the disease had gotten mammograms, breast exams or both within the previous three years. For cancer-free women of similar age and risk, the percentage was almost identical: 69.2
Elmore recommended that women should continue going for their annual mammogram or clinical breast exam, "but they should realize that screening is not perfect or foolproof. They need to pay attention to their bodies. There are false negatives."
To improve the effectiveness of screening, "If you are having a period, ideally, go after your period, when the breast puffiness is gone,” Elmore advised. “Don't forget to get a clinical breast exam, too,” she said.
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: There is a big scramble going on as a lot of explanations are being advanced to explain the results of this study. Women should have been told that mammograms and breast exams weren’t foolproof a long time ago. And more attention should be paid to Dr. John Goffman’s work and Dr. Samuel Epstein’s work. Independent of one another they have both demonstrated the increase in deaths from breast cancer due to the radiation from mammograms. The risk of death from radiation exposure is an integral risk of the mammogram screening. This risk should be considered along with the other pros and cons of breast cancer screening.
DOES VITAMIN E SCARE YOU?
If it does now, the most recent round of vitamin smearing has been a resounding success. What’s all the furor about? The July 19 2005 issue of the Annuals of Internal Medicine reports that many Americans regularly consume a “potentially harmful level” of Vitamin E. The authors say that taking 400 IU or more of Vitamin E per day increases the risk of premature death.
The ‘conclusions’ are based on a study of 4609 adults in a 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The median daily intake of vitamin E was 8.8 IU but 11.3% took at least 400 IU. Increased intake increased with age and was higher among whites (14.1%) than blacks (3.1%). While the authors encourage doctors to warn their patients against taking too much Vitamin E, a recent survey concluded that more than half (64%) of medical professionals, themselves, took at least 400 IU a day.
As is almost always the case, when a negative study on nutrition, herbs, or other natural therapeutics is published in a conventional medical journal, the study and/or its conclusions are fundamentally flawed. The original meta-analysis sought to establish whether there is a dose-dependant response to vitamin E by studying death rates in 14 published clinical trials comparing vitamin E supplementation to placebo, undertaken between 1993 and 2004. Sounds reasonable so far. But then the researchers inappropriately try to draw conclusions for the whole population based on a combination of studies of people who were already at grave risk with existing diseases including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and kidney failure. The researchers make sweeping generalizations about the use of vitamin E and all-cause mortality for the whole population, although they provide no evidence that these kinds of effects would occur in healthy populations. In other words, they’re blaming the increased risk of death on Vit. E instead of factoring out the cause of death from other sources. Then, they’re applying their ‘findings’ to the whole population. They had an axe to grind and they ground it.
Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), on July 6th 2005 also bashed vitamin E. The author’s stated that women who took Vit. E every other day for 10 years had no reduction in cardiovascular disease. However, vitamin E supplementation DID result in a 24% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in healthy women. This is a very important and highly significant finding that was not emphasized at all.
So what should you do about vitamin E? If you’re already taking it make sure that the form and amount is specific to what you need. Not some book’s idea of what is good for you. If you were considering taking vitamin E for the first time it would be a good idea to ask a lot of questions and consider your options.
The bottom line—vitamin E supplementation has not been shown to be harmful for healthy human beings, and decreases the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease in healthy women.
HORMONE TREATMENT FOR MENOPAUSE
Results from a new survey suggest that hormones might postpone but not prevent menopausal symptoms. "You can't necessarily expect to just skip that stage" by taking hormones, said Dr. Judith Ockene of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the survey's lead author.
The survey, which appears in the July 13,2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association also found that menopause symptoms can last longer than many women thought. More than one-third of women who reported symptoms after stopping the study pills were in their 60s and 70s at least 10 years older than the average age of menopause.
Researchers conducting the Women's Health Initiative study said in July 2002 that estrogen-progestin pills sold as Prempro could increase risks for heart attacks, breast cancer, and strokes. Hormone supplements once were prescribed for millions of women for menopausal symptom relief and other aging ills. Use plummeted after the Women's Health Initiative released its results.
The long-standing belief has been that symptoms subside a few years after women have their last period and that taking hormones might help women avoid symptoms, although strong scientific evidence about the duration has been lacking, Ockene said.
Researchers, she said, "would have assumed that 5 1/2 years, which is the average length in this study, would have been enough time to see them not return."
The original study involved 16,600 women aged 50 to 79 who were given Prempro or fake pills for up to about eight years. 8,405 WHI participants were surveyed by mail eight to 10 months after the study was halted.
Overall, 21 percent of Prempro users reported moderate to severe menopause symptoms afterward, compared with about 5 percent of women who'd taken fake pills. Ockene said those results suggest that many women on fake pills might have gone through natural menopause during the study, while for those on Prempro, the pills might have merely postponed the process. Also, not all women experience troublesome symptoms during menopause.
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: One of the many things that are very interesting about this study is the underlying assumption that hormones are the best treatment for menopause. There are many other therapies that can have an outstanding response—homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine, nutrition, etc. None of which increase your risk for heart disease, cancer, or stroke. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that women who took hormone replacement therapy were worse off than the ones who didn’t, by greater than a 4 to 1 margin. With those odds, why would anyone go this route first?
IBUPROFEN WARNING FOR KIDS
Doctors are warning parents to use the painkiller ibuprofen as a last resort for their children, after a study found severe side effects.
Researchers from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne Australia have examined the reactions of children to over-the-counter painkillers. The five-year study found side effects for ibuprofen included kidney damage, vomiting of blood and the worsening of asthma.
Hospital pediatrician Dr Noel Cranswick says the research found more reactions to ibuprofen than paracetamol. "What we're saying is if your child has a fever or is in pain, you need to consider very seriously whether they need a drug," he said.
A study recently published in the British Medical Journal found the risk of a heart attack is increased by almost a quarter for patients taking ibuprofen.
DR. PAIS’S REVIEW: This is great. A medical doctor implying that it’s not always necessary to give a drug for a fever. Of course naturopaths have been saying this for about 115 years. The body produces fever as part of the healing process. Many pathogens can’t tolerate the increased heat. Hydrotherapy is almost always a safe, effective alternative.
If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their sketch, "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like this:
COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.
COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.
ABBOTT: Your computer?
COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.
COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.
ABBOTT: What about Windows?
COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?
ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?
COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?
COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.
ABBOTT: Software for Windows?
COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?
COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?
ABBOTT: I just did.
COSTELLO: You just did what?
ABBOTT: Recommend something.
COSTELLO: You recommended something?
COSTELLO: For my office?
COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?
COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!
ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.
COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: Word in Office.
COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?
ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".
COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that. Can I watch movies on the Internet?
ABBOTT: Yes, you want "Real One".
COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need!
ABBOTT: "Real One".
COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3, and 4. Can I watch them?
ABBOTT: Of course.
COSTELLO: Great! With what?
ABBOTT: "Real One".
COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?
ABBOTT: You click the blue "1".
COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?
ABBOTT: The blue "1".
COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w?
ABBOTT: The blue "1" is "Real One" and the blue "W" is "Word".
COSTELLO: What word?
ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.
COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"!
ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.
COSTELLO: It is?
ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there.
COSTELLO: And that word is real one?
ABBOTT: "Real One" has nothing to do with Word. "Real One" isn't even part of Office.
COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?
COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?
COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?
ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.
COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?
COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?
ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.
COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?
ABBOTT: One copy.
COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?
ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.
COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?
ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT!
(A few days later)
ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?
COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?
ABBOTT: Click on "START".......
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.