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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Naturopathic News arrow Issue #8 - May 2003
Issue #8 - May 2003

Welcome to Naturopathic News issue #8. 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. Any feedback in the form of comments, letters to the editor, success stories, etc., is appreciated.

ANOTHER REASON TO EAT ORGANIC

Winter lettuce crops in California are contaminated with perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, which can harm humans, especially infants and developing fetuses, according to a study.

Exposure to perchlorate, which is highly water-soluble, can cause mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits in developing fetuses. The compound is a known contaminate of drinking water in 20 states and also contaminates the Colorado River, which irrigates 70 percent of the United States’ winter lettuce supply, according to the study.

In the study, researchers analyzed 22 commercial lettuce samples, including prepackaged and head lettuces, adult and baby greens, and organic and conventionally grown.

Four of the 22 samples tested contained perchlorate in excess of 30 parts per billion (ppb). In 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency found that perchlorate in drinking water poses health risks in concentrations above one part per billion.

Based on those results, the study researchers concluded that 1.6 million U.S. women of childbearing age are exposed each day to levels of perchlorate above the EPA's recommended safe dose from winter crops of lettuce alone.

According to the study, lettuce, which is being sold in U.S. supermarkets, absorbs and concentrates significant amounts of perchlorate from polluted irrigation water.  Moreover, close to 90 percent of the U.S. winter lettuce supply is grown in Southern California and Arizona with irrigation water from the Colorado River, which is contaminated with perchlorate.

However, several groups have come out against the EPA’s recommendation, including the Pentagon and several defense contractors, who could be responsible for billions of dollars in potential cleanup liability for perchlorate pollution, arguing that perchlorate is safe in drinking water in quantities 70 to 200 times greater than the EPA’s recommended safe dose.

Definitive data on the levels of perchlorate in U.S. produce was supposed to have been available years ago, however, the Defense Department reportedly would not fund the estimated $215,000 needed to collect samples of vegetables, leading some environmentalists to question whether the Defense Department really wanted to know if perchlorate was contaminating food.

According to one environmental scientist, "If they can spend $1 million on a cruise missile, it seems kind of ridiculous they won't spend $200,000 to see if our food is contaminated with rocket fuel.”

Researchers of the current study say that their results are not conclusive due to their small sample size. However, they hope that their results will spur the federal government to conduct a more definitive study that will take a comprehensive look at the potentially widespread perchlorate contamination.

Wall Street Journal April 28, 2003

GP: Does it take a rocket scientist to figure this one out? Hopefully not.

 

AMOUNT SPENT ON DRUGS CONTINUES TO RISE

U.S. pharmaceutical sales reached $220 billion in 2002--a 12 percent increase from the previous year--despite continued pricing pressures and competition from generic drugs. The rate of growth did slow, however, compared with the 18 percent increase in 2001.

Cholesterol lowering statins had the most sales, $12.5 billion and 6.5 percent of the total market share, and the top five classes of drugs remained the same as in 2001.

Drugs for seizure disorders had the fastest growing sales among the top 10 treatment classes, with 22.7 percent growth and $5.5 billion in sales in 2002. Branded products accounted for most of the growth in this area, while generic products had reductions in growth in some classes.

Worldwide, drug sales grew eight percent in 2002 to reach $430 billion. Drug sales in the European Union rose eight percent to $91 billion, and sales in the rest of Europe increased nine percent to $11.3 billion.

Europe’s share of the global market was 25%, and the US share was 51%. Europe and the United States once had roughly similar shares of the drug market, but over the last decade there has been a shift to the United States.

Asia (not including Japan), Africa, and Australia showed a combined increase in drug sales of 11 percent.

In Latin America, however, drug sales decreased 10 percent to $16.5 billion, and in Japan sales increased only one percent because the government enforced lower prices.

British Medical Journal March 1, 2003; 326:518

GP: As reported here, the statin category of drugs, used to treat high cholesterol, were the leading drugs sold in the US in 2002. 2002 was also the same year that the laboratory values for the normal cholesterol reference range were lowered. Millions of people with previously normal cholesterol numbers on their lab tests became abnormal over night. $12.5 billion dollars was made.

 

DIET DRINKS PROMOTE APPETITE

The two primary artificial sweeteners currently in use are saccharin and aspartame or Nutra Sweet (brand names Sweet n Low and Equal). They are both among the most con­troversial of food additives. Advocates argue that the benefits provided outweigh the potential health effects. The perception is that consumption of these sweeteners will lead to a reduction in the calories consumed. This, in turn, will lead to weight loss or prevention of weight gain. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Detailed stud­ies have not shown these sweeteners to reduce the amount of calories consumed or have any significant effect on body weight. In fact, aspartame may actually increase appetite.

The latest study compared the effects of aspartame ­sweetened and sucrose-sweetened soft drinks on food intake and appetite ratings in 14 women. The results indicated that calorie intake was lower when subjects were drinking the sucrose-sweetened drink compared to the diet drink. The effect was most noticeable the day after ingestion. In other words, after drinking the diet drink on one day, the next day there was a signif­icant increase in the number of calories consumed --primarily as a result of increased carbohydrate con­sumption.

So, if these sweeteners provide no benefit, what are the risks? There are a wide variety of side effects related to aspartame consumption. Some people are quite sensitive to it and report immediate reactions. Because of its relation­ship to phenylalanine, aspartame cannot be ingested by phenylketonurics. Some of the problems associated with aspartame ingestion include: seizures, migraine headaches, hives, and disturbances in nerve function. Aspartame is particularly problematic for some individ­uals that suffer from migraine headaches. Again, one has to ask, does the benefit outweigh the risk? Since there is some risk with aspartame and absolutely no benefit, it is obvious that its use cannot be recommended.

Lavin JH, French SJ, Read NW: The effects of sucrose- and aspartame-sweetened drinks on energy intake, hunger and food choice of female, moderately restrained eaters. Int J Obesity, 21:37-42, 1997.

GP: No surprises here. When Monsanto first introduced Nutrasweet decades ago, it was initially rejected as not being safe. Politics and economic interests came into play and the result is what we see today. But does this research suggest that sugar (sucrose) is good for you? NO! It’s just that there are millions of people that have been sold a bill of goods that just isn’t born out by the evidence.

 

FOR PREVENTION OF OSTEOPOROSIS - STOP DRINKING SOFT DRINKS

Currently there is a big push to get Americans to drink more milk to help prevent osteoporosis. However, this approach is self-serving in that it is com­ing mainly from the dairy industry. Perhaps a better rec­ommendation is to stop drinking soft drinks.

Soft drinks have long been suspected of leading to lower calcium levels and higher phosphate levels in the blood. This ratio causes calcium to be pulled out of the bone. The phosphate content of soft drinks, like Coca-Cola® and Pepsi®, is very high and they contain virtually no calcium. The high phosphate level is required for dissolving the sugar and con­tributing to the taste.

It appears that increased soft drink consumption is a major factor for osteoporosis (which literally means porous bone). The United States ranks first among countries for soft drink consumption. The per capita consumption of soft drinks is in excess of 150 quarts per year or about 3 quarts per week.

Soft drink consumption in children also poses a sig­nificant risk factor for impaired calcification of grow­ing bones. A comparison of 57 children aged 18 months to 14 years with low blood calcium to 171 matched controls (children with normal calcium lev­els) was done. The purpose was to assess whether the intake of at least 1.5 quarts per week of soft drinks containing phosphates is a risk for the development of low blood calcium levels. To no one’s real surprise, a strong association was found. Of the 57 children with low blood calcium levels, 38 (66.7%) drank more than 4 bottles per week, but only 48 (28%) of the 171 chil­dren with normal serum calcium levels drank as much of soft drinks. For all 228 children, a significant corre­lation between serum calcium level and the number of bottles of soft drink consumed each week was found. The more soft drinks consumed, the lower the calcium level. These results more than support the contention that soft drink consumption leads to lowering of calci­um levels in children.

Mazariegos-Ramos E, et al.: Consumption of soft drinks with phosphoric acid as a risk factor for the development of hypocalcemia in children: A case-control study. J Pediatr 126:940-2, 1995.

GP: Soda ads are ubiquitous from “My Generation” to the “Real Thing” (sic). Consumption of this non-food, besides rotting teeth and contributing to solid waste disposal problems, appears to be a risk factor for osteoporosis. The U.S. is first in soda consumption and first in osteoporosis occurrence. Could there be a connection? Like any other health condition there are multiple factors that contribute to its prevalence. Breaking the soda habit at a young age (or never letting it start at all) addresses one possible cause.

 

EAT YOUR VEGGIES (AND OTHER WHOLE FOODS)!

Here is a list of potent anticancer substances in whole foods:
Onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots contain allylic sulfide, which helps to detoxify and fortify cells while stimulating immune functions and preventing the growth (proliferation) of abnormal cells (cancer).

Hot peppers contain capsaicin, which neutralizes carcinogens.

Broccoli, cabbage, and collards contain dithiolthiones, which help to activate enzymes that protect the delicate DNA from cancer-causing damage.

Strawberries, cranberries, black­berries and walnuts contain ellagic acid, which creates suicide (apoptosis) in cancer cells, while also protecting against free radical damage in healthy cells.

Soybeans and other legumes contain genistein, which provides potent protection against hormonally induced cancers, like breast and prostate, while also shutting down the making of blood vessels by tumors (angiogenesis).

The cabbage family of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and collards contains indoles, which neutralize the ‘fake’ estrogen found in many chemical contaminants in our environment. This same humble but healthful vegetable family contains sulforaphane, which also inhibits tumor growth and encourages elimination of cancer-causing chemicals from the body

Flaxseed, whole grains (like oats and brown rice), legumes, walnuts and seeds all contain lignans that slow down the spreading (metastasis) of cancer while interfering with estrogen production.

Tomatoes and watermelon contain the bright red pigment lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant that is very effective at preventing and slowing cancer.

The citrus family of oranges, lemons and limes contains monoterpenes, which evict cancer-causing substances from the cell before trouble can start.

Whole grains, legumes, carrots, parsley, soy and yams contain phytosterols, which protect against hormonally driven cancers, like breast and prostate cancer.

Soy, legumes, nuts and tomatoes contain protease inhibitors, which may help to protect healthy cells against the damaging effects of radiation, while also shutting down protease, the cancer-promoting enzyme.

Soy and other legumes (beans) contain saponins, which halt cancer cell division.

TO HELP STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY AGAINST CANCER, EAT LOTS OF COLORFUL AND PUNGENT WHOLE FOODS

Until next time,
Dr. Pais