Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dr. Burton Goldberg & Cancer

Jonathan Collins, MD, editor of The Townsend Newsletter, suggests that Burton Goldberg's Cancer Conquest is "the video every alternative practitioner should see."

Dr. Goldberg is an esteemed member of the Biosyntrx scientific advisory board.

The Townsend Newsletter is a highly respected alternative medicine forum. It provides an authoritative review of scientific information on a wide variety of alternative and integrative medicine topics.

In an article titled,
The Cutting Edge of Alternative Medicine and Cancer Treatment: The Video Every Alternative Practitioner Should See, Dr. Collin lauds Burton Goldberg's information- dense documentary as a "must view" for physicians, cancer workers, and cancer patients.

To watch a free 3-minute preview of Burton Goldberg's exceptional video, Cancer Conquest, visit Dr. Goldberg's website today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Vitamin E and The Diabetic Heart

Science Daily reports that researchers at the Technion-Israel Institue of Technology and the Clalit Health Services in Israel suggest that vitamin E supplements can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and related deaths for diabetics who carry a particular version of a gene.

After 18 months of treatment, people with the haptoglobin (Hp) 2-2 gene who took 400 IUs of vitamin E daily had more than 50 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and related deaths than Hp 2-2 patients who took a placebo pill. 40 percent of diabetics carry the Hp 2-2 gene.

This finding is a new answer to an old question: can antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E help prevent heart disease?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weston Price, DDS

The following dietary guidelines are based on the years of research conducted by Dr. Weston A. Price during his years of traveling and investigating the eating habits of indigenous peoples around the world.

In his travels, Dr. Price noted that most of the chronic, degenerative diseases that are so commonplace in modern society were virtually non-existent among the peoples he investigated.

Further inquiry on his part revealed that all of them shared common eating habits, leading him to attribute their health and long life spans to what foods they ate and how they ate them. In the midst of so much current trendy and often conflicting dietary recommendations, Dr. Price’s recommendations, which he first established early in the 20th century, offer a common sense solution that enables anyone to follow the dictates of Hippocrates (“Let thy medicine be thy food, and thy food be thy medicine.)

1. Eat whole, natural foods.

2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.

3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.

4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.

5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.

6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.

7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.

8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.

9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.

10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.

11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.

12. Use unrefined Celtic seasalt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.

13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.

14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.

15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.

16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.

17. Use natural supplements.

18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.

19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.

20. Practice forgiveness.

Thank you Larry Trivieri, for reminding us about Weston Price's research during this holiday season.

For more about his body of work, visit the A. Price Foundation at

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bad News for Beta Carotene

This morning, The Center for Science in the Public Interest requested that the Food and Drug Administration take enforcement actions against manufacturers of dietary supplements containing more than 5,000 IUs of synthetic beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) unless the labels of such products contain a statement warning consumers (think dietary supplement black box) that beta-carotene may cause lung cancer in smokers. This will obviously include the AREDs and all the AREDs copy-cat formulations.

This action was taken after the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research reviewed the scientific literature on the effects of diet, nutrition, and physical activity on cancer. They concluded that an excessive amount of synthetic beta-carotene (anything over 5,000 IUs) causes lung cancer in current smokers.

This conclusion echoed a concern about beta-carotene expressed in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Multivitamin/Mineral Supplements and Chronic Disease Prevention in 2006.

The NIH panel concluded: "We found no evidence to recommend beta-carotene supplements for the general population and strong evidence to recommend that smokers avoid excessive beta-carotene supplementation."

In spite of this 2006 NIH consensus, the AREDs2 committee still included 25,000 IUs of synthetic beta-carotene as the Vitamin A source in two of the arms of the AREDs2 study.

Biosyntrx multiples, Oculair and Macula Complete include a very small amount (500 IUs) of natural, not synthetic, beta-carotene as part of a full-spectrum of job specific antioxidants; beta carotene quenches singlet oxygen, which is particularly destructive to the retina. We do not include beta carotene as a source of Vitamin A.

FYI: Synthetic beta carotene is less than one third the cost of natural beta carotene. Therefore, natural beta carotene is rarely included in mass-produced supplements such as Centrum, which includes between 1,000 and 2,000 IUs of synthetic beta carotene as a source of Vitamin A in their different multiples.

Colon Cancer & B Vitamins

A mouse study published in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition suggests a B vitamin deficiency increases the risk of DNA damage and colorectal cancers.

A number of studies have linked folate deficiency to colon cancer. However, many biochemical functions of folate are dependent on adequate availability of other B vitamins, including B6, B12 and riboflavin.

The researchers in the new Journal of Nutrition study suggested that a mild depletion of folate alone did not affect DNA, but a mild depletion of all four B vitamins significantly increased the DNA damage on the tumor suppressor gene, adenomatosis polyposis coli gene (Apc).

We can't stress enough the importance of supplementing with a full-spectrum multiple that includes all of the B complex vitamins.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Self Care for Colds and Flu

Larry Trivieri, the publisher of 1healthy, and the brilliant editor of Burton Goldberg's Definitive Guide to Alternative Medicine, just sent these tips to share with our blog readers. Dr. Goldberg is a member of the Biosyntrx scientific advisory board.

...As with all other disease conditions, prevention is the best way to deal with colds and flu. In this case, prevention means improving the health of your immune system so that it can swiftly respond to attacking cold and flu viruses and eliminate them before you develop any symptoms. The following recommendations can help you do so:

Eat a healthy diet that is free of sugar and artificial sweeteners, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods. Drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day, and emphasize fresh, organic vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables. During flu season, also regularly consume fresh vegetable soups, and drink fresh-squeezed vegetable juices.

Take a daily high-potency multivitamin/multimineral supplement.

Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially when you come in contact with people suffering from colds and flu. Also avoid rubbing your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Get adequate sleep each night.

Learn how to manage stress, and take time out for yourself each day to engage in activities you enjoy, as well as spending time with your loved ones.

Engage in regular exercise. One of the easiest and most effective exercises for all age groups is a daily 45-minute walk, which can dramatically boost NK cells and help keep your body’s lymphatic system free of toxic waste buildup. Yoga, particular the “cobra pose,” is also useful for keeping your respiratory tract healthy. To perform the cobra pose, lie on your stomach and raise your upper body backwards off the ground, bending at the waist as you inhale deeply. Hold this position for five seconds as you continue breathing. Then, as you exhale, return to your starting position. Repeat five to ten times. This exercise helps to expand your chest and lungs and can free up trapped mucus and phlegm.

Should you develop congestion in your sinuses or chest, massage your chest with menthol-based lotion or ointment (avoid products that contain petroleum) before you go to sleep. This will help clear your air pathways and increase the supply of blood to your thalamus, one of the organs that control your immune system.

Throughout the day, tap your chest over your thymus gland, located in the center of your chest approximately one inch below your collarbone. This will help to stimulate your thymus gland, which in turn will help to boost your immune function.

Self-Care Treatments

The key to treating colds and flu is to increase your body’s immune function activity. The following natural therapies can help you accomplish this goal safely and effectively.

Acupuncture: Acupuncture helps to restore your body’s supply of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, which is produced in all cells and responsible for energy) and cortisol, a hormone necessary for properly adapting to stress. Both of these results help to improve immune function. Acupuncture can also help to balance and improve digestion, endocrine gland function, and the health of the lungs, and other organs, all of which also helps your body fight off and resist cold and flu infections. In addition, acupuncture treatments can help prevent colds and flu from ever occurring.

Aromatherapy: Add any of the following essential oils to a pot of hot water: camphor, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, peppermint, pine, rosemary, or tea tree oil. Cover your head with a towel and bend over the pot, inhaling deeply.

Ayurveda: Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine treat colds and flu by helping the body to eliminate indigestible toxins, which attract viruses and impair immune function. Among the ways that this is accomplished is through the use of herbs such as ginger, cayenne, black pepper, long pepper, and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), all of which stimulate digestion. Patients are also advised to drink plenty of warm water throughout the day, as well as ginger tea, in order to break up mucus and phlegm. Ginger tea can easily be prepared by adding a few slices of fresh, raw ginger root to boiling water, and letting the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes before drinking. In cases of colds of flu accompanied by a dry cough, adding pieces of licorice root to the mixture is advised.

Another common Ayruvedic practice for treating and preventing colds and flu is the cleansing of nasal passages. This is done by filling a teapot with a quart of warm water and one teaspoon of sea salt, and then slowing pouring the water into one nostril and out the other. Doing this to both nostrils once or twice a day keeps the nostril linings moist and free of germs, and helps to open up the air pathways.

Diet: To improve your ability to resist colds and flu, emphasize fresh, organic vegetables, such as carrots, leafy greens, onions, and orange squash, that are eaten raw or lightly steamed. You can also make fresh vegetable juices and soups, which will help your body remain in a slightly alkaline state, free of over-acidity. Also be sure to drink plenty of water during the day, and avoid mucus-forming foods such as milk and dairy products, wheat, and most grains (millet and brown rice are acceptable exceptions). Also eliminate all processed foods and commercial poultry and meats, choosing organic whole foods and free-range chicken, turkey, and beef.

Herbs: Herbs have long been used by most world cultures to treat and prevent colds and flu, due to their ability to stimulate immune function, as well as their antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anti-catarrhal properties. Herbs that can increase immune function include astragalus, echinacea, goldenseal, licorice, and St. John’s wort. Goldenseal is also excellent for helping to reverse inflammation of the mucus membranes.

Another important herb that can protect against colds and flu is lomatium, which acts as an antiviral agent and an immune stimulant. It is particularly helpful for treating cases of the flu, often bringing about complete recovery in 24 to 48 hours. Some herbalists recommend mixing lomatium with echinacea for even better results.

Other useful herbs are boneset, which stimulates the immune system, encouraging white blood cells to destroy viruses and bacteria; elder flower, which acts as an immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, and anticatarrhal agent; elecampane, which helps to soothe irritating coughs and bronchial infections; eyebright, which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and helps heal irritations in the nasal pharynx and the sinuses; and yarrow, which is particularly useful for colds and flu associated with fever, loss of appetite, and overall malaise.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is another excellent herbal remedy for colds and flu. For best results, take garlic in high doses at the same time as you take your nutritional supplements. High-quality deodorized garlic capsules are more effective in this regard than garlic cloves because they offer more concentrated doses of allicin, garlic’s active ingredient, which has been shown to increase immune function and to stimulate the production of flu antibodies.

According to Jonathan Wright, M.D., a leading holistic physician, the following herbal combination formula is also excellent for both colds and flu: cayenne pepper, echinacea, myrrh, osha (also known as Porter’s lovage), and red clover. This combination can be taken as a tea (3-5 cups per day) or as a tincture (30 drops of each herb, four times daily).

Homeopathy: Useful homeopathic remedies for colds and flu include Aconitum napellus, Allium cepa, Baptisia, Belladonna, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Natrum muriaticum, Nux vomica, and Viscum album (mistletoe), a homeopathic remedy that can be taken either orally or by injection.

Another popular homeopathic remedy for colds and flu is Oscillococcinum, which is widely used in Europe. For best results, at the onset of your symptoms, take six pellets dissolved under the tongue, every six hours. As with other homeopathic remedies above, avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes before and after each use.

Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy helps to strengthen the immune system and detoxify the body. For colds and flu, consider contrast hydrotherapy, which involves exposing your body to alternating hot and cold water as you shower.

Another useful approach is to make a throat or chest compress before bed. Do this by applying a warm washcloth to your throat and chest, followed by a cold cotton wrap to the same areas of your body. Cover your neck with a wool scarf and your chest with a wool sweater and go to sleep.

Hyperthermia: Hyperthermia helps to stimulate immune function and detoxification through sweating and artificial fever. This can be accomplished by using hot baths or showers, hot water compresses, or far-infrared sauna treatments. While soaking in a hot bath or in the sauna, you can enhance the benefits of hyperthermia by drinking hot tea.

(Note: Your body temperature should never be permitted to rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. To prevent this from happening, monitor yourself and, if necessary, cool off by sponging with cold water.)

Juice Therapy: The following juice combinations can be helpful: carrot, beet, and cucumber; carrot, beet, tomato, green pepper, and watercress; carrot and celery; carrot and spinach; and lemon, orange, pineapple, black currant, elderberry juice. For added benefit, you can include garlic, ginger, and/or onion in any of the above juice combinations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cranberries, Viruses & Bacteria

Cranberries can be magic.

Ask any woman who has ever had a slight, but pesky, bladder infection.

Research published in the peer-reviewed journal, Phytomedicine, suggest cranberries to have potent antiviral properties. After the virus known as bacteriophage T2 and T4 was exposed to cranberry juice, the viral count in the cells was no longer detectable. By contrast, orange and grapefruit juices had a much lower effect, inhibiting the virus by only 25 to 35 percent. The researchers noted that cranberry juice could prevent the virus from adhering to cells.

A note of caution to those folks who are on prescription blood thinners: cranberries do contain anti-clotting properties, so you might want to check with your physician before loading up on the bittersweet berries over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

We suggest that you spring for pure cranberry juice instead of the high glycemic cranberry juice cocktail product available in half gallon bottles. That stuff is almost pure sugar!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Time For Thyme

Rosemary and Thyme are often culinary go-togethers.

Thyme is a basic ingredient in French, Italian, Spanish and Turkish cuisines. It's used to flavour meats, soups and stews, and it has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs.

Oil of thyme is a brilliant antiseptic (think Listerine) and has also been shown to be effective against the fungus that commonly infects mens toenails (this type of fungus is linked to mostly male genes, so it rarely affects women).

Thyme tea is great for cough and bronchitis. Its antiseptic properties make this tea effective against inflammation of the throat if you gargle with it a few times a day.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Neuroprotection From Rosemary

A study published in the October 2007 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience. and a study published online November 8 in the Journal of Neurochemistry, show that carnosic acid (CA), the active ingredient in the herb rosemary, activates a novel signaling pathway that protects brain cells from the free radical damage associated with stroke and other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

CA from rosemary is proving to be neuroprotective, without producing the serious adverse effects characteristic of so many drugs used to treat neurodegenerative disease.

Rosemary has been used since the Middle Ages to treat disorders of the nervous system and to ward off sickness. However, the exact chemical pathways by which it works have, until now, been unknown.

Can you think of anything better than roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic? If only someone would produce a low glycemic index potato!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Caper Magic

Capers may explain one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.

A number of new studies strongly suggest that the flowering buds of Capparis Spinosa L (capers) have one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) values, as well as diuretic and antihypertensive effects in certain pathological conditions related to uncontrolled lipid peroxidation.

An October 2007 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found an increasing body of evidence that suggests capers have the antioxidant ability to inhibit a large amount of lipid oxidation associated with gastric digestion, particularly with meat.

A study published in Life Science found that capers contain flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin derivatives) and hydrocinammic acids with very high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

The Life Science study also observed that caper consumption could counteract the harmful effects induced by the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 and 6.

Since capers have also been suggested to have a chondroprotective effect, they might be used in the management of cartilage damage during the inflammatory process associated with arthritis.

And, you regular martini drinkers might want to consider replacing your olive with a large caper berry.

Addendum: The United States Department of Agriculture just last week published an updated list of ORAC values for over 277 food items. The newer list is more accurate because lipophilic values were included for the first time. The new data shows that all plants have variable amounts of both lipophilic and hydrophilic phytochemicals that contribute to total ORAC.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ripe Fruit & Antioxidants

Don't be so hasty to throw away slightly over-ripe apples and pears.

A group of scientists at the University of Innsbruck in Austria claim to be the first to identify the decomposition mechanism and products of apples and pears, and their findings suggest that as these fruits start to go bad their antioxidant levels dramatically increase. Key to the process is the change in color that occurs as fruits ripen.

According to lead researcher Berhard Krautler, fruit undergoes a similar decomposition process as leaves turn from green to red to yellow to brown.
This color change is caused by the breakdown and disappearance of chlorophyll, which is what gives leaves and fruits their green color.

Through their research with botanists over the past several years, they claim to have identified the first decomposition products in leaves. These are colorless, polar nonfluorescing chlorophyll catabolytes (NCCs) that contain four pyrrole rings - like chlorophyll and iron.

After examining the peels of apples and pears, they found that in ripe fruits, NCCs replace the chlorophyll, especially in the peel and the flesh immediately below it.

"When chlorophyll is released from its protein complexes in the decomposition process, it has a phototoxic effect: when irradiated with light, it absorbs energy and can transfer it to other substances. For example, it can transform oxygen into a highly reactive, destructive form," reported the research team.

"However, the NCCs have the opposite effect," they said.

"These are powerful antioxidants and can thereby play an important physiological role for a plant. In the same way, when these are consumed as part of the human diet, they can play the same anti-oxidative role in humans."

Now isn't this great news at the height of autumn apple and pear season?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Viruses & Obesity

No one that I know disputes the role that diet and activity play in maintaining a healthy weight - if you consume more calories than you burn in daily activity, you gain weight. But does that fully explain the amazing prevalence of obesity in the United States today?

Please don't use any of the information in this post as an excuse to pig out, because it's still theory at this point.

Richard Atkinson, MD, suggests there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that viruses may play a role in causing obesity in humans.

Dr Atkinson is the director of Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, VA. One of his recent articles, published in the October 2007 Mayo Clinic Proceedings, discusses five animal viruses and three human viruses than have been shown to cause obesity in laboratory studies.

According to Dr. Atkinson, several studies offer ample evidence that animals infected with certain human viruses experience excess weight gain and fat storage.

When researchers infected animal subjects with a human virus known as Human Ad-36, they reported measurable increases in the infected animals' body fat and the visceral fat that surrounds the organs deep within the belly. In addition, studies also demonstrated that infection with Ad-36 and the resulting weight gain could be transmitted from infected animals to uninfected animals.

Information on virus-induced obesity in human subjects is much more limited. Citing his own study conducted in 2005, Dr. Atkinson also showed a connection between obesity and exposure to the Ad-36 virus in humans.

Dr. Atkinson's study screened for antibodies to Ad-36 (a sign of exposure to this virus) in 502 people of varying body weights, both obese and non-obese, from three cities in the United States. Ad-36 antibodies were found in 30 percent of obese individuals and 11 percent of lean individuals. Study results also showed highly significant differences in body mass index (BMI) between antibody-positive and antibody-negative individuals.

Dr. Atkinson also highlighted a study that looked at 89 sets of American adult twins and screened them for Ad-36. Because twins tend to be similar in many characteristics, including body weight, the researchers looked at twin pairs where one twin tested positively for Ad-36 and the other did not.

"Antibody-positive twins were slightly, but significantly, heavier and fatter than their antibody negative co-twins," says Dr. Atkinson. "The infected twins had a higher BMI and a greater percent of body fat than the uninfected co-twins."

Dr. Atkinson's article also explores what current research has to say about the possible mechanisms underlying virus-induced obesity. Some research suggests that viral infections have a direct effect on adipocytes, cells that manufacture and store fat, turning on the enzymes of fat accumulation and recruitment of new adipocytes.

What's the next step for this research? According to Dr. Atkinson, "the body of evidence linking adenoviruses to obesity in humans is now sufficient to think about the next step. Ideally, we could prevent infection and virus-induced obesity with a vaccine for the obesity viruses."

Should this be true, development of a human vaccine of this sort would take several years, so it's way too early to give up watching your diet and getting plenty of exercise.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nutrient Synergy

Is there more to a carrot than beta carotene? Is lycopene the best we get from tomatoes? Is vitamin C the only reason to eat an orange? And when we heap our plates with wild salmon, are we serving up something other than Omega3s?

Meta-analysis of several individual vitamin studies suggests that food may be more than just a sum of its nutrient parts.

Well, duh!!

In order to publish or perish, some people in the scientific research community used the funding-dependent pharmaceutical paradigm and designed nutrition studies around individual nutrients including beta carotene, lutein, calcium, lycopene, individual vitamin and minerals, along with other phytochemical nutrients, in order to look at their health benefits in the human body.

The less creative, and usually desperate, publish or perish research folks are now doing meta-analysis on those poorly designed studies, which if nothing else, provides frequently much-needed headline material for the lay press.

University of Minnesota professor of epidemiology, David R. Jacobs, PhD, argued in a piece in yesterday's NYT that nutrition researchers should focus on whole foods and the full-spectrum of nutrients rather than only on single nutrients.

Well, duh again!!

He also argued that we need to study the effects of whole foods and the full-spectrum of nutrients on disease prevention in the healthy population, not just on sick people. He stated in the interview, "Food and nutrient synergy, rather than the biological activity of just a few key nutrients, is the real reason that certain diets, like those consumed in parts of the Mediterranean and Japan, appear to lower the risks of heart disease and other health problems."

We can only hope that those folks who are overdosing on the latest nutrient craze like it might be the second anti-aging coming (think fish oil capsules) will take Dr. Jacobs' nutrient synergy concerns to heart and eat a balanced diet with a full-spectrum multiple along with their fish oil to guarantee the nutrients that are lost during today's food processing methods.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Department Chairs & Drug Companies

A new survey published in last week's JAMA indicates that almost two thirds of department heads at U.S. medical schools have financial ties to drug companies.

The survey, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was distributed to all 125 accredited medical schools and the nation’s largest teaching hospitals. A total of 459 of 688 eligible department chairs completed the survey.

The results indicated that many of the academic leaders at these institutions served as paid consultants to the pharmaceutical industry or accepted free meals and drinks from drug company representatives. Overall, 60 percent of the department heads had a personal financial relationship with the drug companies. Twenty-seven percent reported serving as a paid consultant to the pharmaceutical industry and an equivalent amount of respondents also reported serving on a drug company scientific advisory board. Furthermore, 21 percent of these academic leaders reported serving on speakers’ bureaus for the drug industry. Eleven percent of respondents were on the board of directors of companies involved in the medical industry. In short, the survey found that pharmaceutical companies are involved in every aspect of medical care.

The lead author of the study, Eric Campbell, pointed out that drug companies and makers of medical devices often take advantage of these academic connections to convince physicians to widely prescribe the companies’ products to patients, even if the products aren’t necessarily in the patients’ best interest. Campbell also co-authored a study last year, which found that these same links to drug companies occur on hospital review boards that oversee experiments on patients.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oil From the Sea

The Institute of Medicine recommendation to consume at least two servings of EPA /DHA cold water fish per week has created a business boom reminiscent of the decade old crazies.

As appreciation of the cardio, neuro and retina protective properties of the long-chain fish oil derived omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) has grown, so too have the dietary guidelines. An article in the September 2007 Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine recommended minimal intakes to either maintain the status quo (100-200 mg /day in most Western countries) or a minimum of 400-600 mg /day to lower the risk of cardiovascular or retina disease.

This science is music and money to the ears of the food fortification industry that is now targeting a vast array of packaged foods for EPA/DHA fortification. Gross overconsumption of EPA/DHA could well become a national health problem before the decade is over without government intervention in the food industry.

An article in the September Food Science and Technology Journal discusses the stability of 400 mg fish oil eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in cream-filled sandwich cookies (think Twinkie). These high glycemic cookies were packaged under vacuum or atmospheric conditions and stored for 28 days. They were not stale-they had no aftertaste and no loss of EPA and DHA during storage. What will the U.S. junk food industry try next?

So how does this new oil strike affect our wallets?

  • The pharmaceutical industry is now selling concentrated fish oil, as prescription medicine, for five times the per milligram cost of OTC concentrated EPA /DHA from fish oil.

  • Some companies are adding insignificant amounts of nutrients to their fish oil to capture disease-specific markets, such as eye care and charging excessive amounts per mg for EPA /DHA.

Too much of a good thing is definitely too much where fish oil is concerned.

Regular ingestion of reasonable amounts of Omega-3 EPA can successfully modulate the silent inflammatory process for many people. However, too much Omega-3 EPA can disrupt inflammatory process essential fatty acid (EFA) homeostasis, thereby preventing optimal inflammatory response when it's needed to spike a temp to kill off bacteria, start the clotting process if bleeding, or create swelling around a tissue injury.

Omega-3 DHA (directly metabolized from EPA) is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain and the retina. However, very excessive intake of DHA has been linked to increased mortality following cardiac events.

As a population, non fish eaters became DHA deficient due to cattle being taken off grass and fed grain before butchering, plus there is far less DHA in eggs in today's world due to factory farming. Unfortunately, the conversion of Omega-3 Flax Seed Oil to EPA is not dependable, therefore causing many Flax Seed Oil loving vegetarians to actually be EPA/DHA deficient.

The obvious question: What happens to future generations who will also need EPA/DHA in their diets if industry is allowed to deplete the seas of cold water fish to satisfy, yet another industry driven, perceived dependency on oil ?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder what goes on between the scientists researching new ideas, or controversial concepts? I thought it might be of interest to readers to share an actual exchange between three of the scientists of a nutraceutical company (Biosyntrx) as they debate the understanding of a condition and the possible role of nutritional supplements in answer to a question frequently heard from patients.

One should not draw the conclusion from this exchange that any one of us has the final answer. But the exchange of ideas is challenging and exciting, and this is what makes it all worthwhile.

The participants in this exchange are Ellen Troyer, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer of Biosyntrx, Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, a nationally known optometric educator and member of Biosyntrx Scientific Advisory Board, and Spencer Thornton, M.D., president of Biosyntrx.

The background of this particular exchange is a question frequently asked of eye specialists that was directed to Dr. Anshel recently. “What causes the floaters that interfere with vision?”
To: Dr. Jeffrey Anshel
Date: Friday, 19 Oct 2007 06:25:15 -0700
Subject: RE: Nutritional Supplements
Dear Dr. Anshel:
Many patients have been asking me if nutritional supplements will help with vitreous floaters. Any news about this?
From: Dr. Jeffrey Anshel
Sent: Saturday, October 20, 2007 12:47 AM
To: Ellen Troyer
Subject: Fwd: Re: nutritional supplements

I was going to tell this doctor ”No”, but just thought I'd run it past you
first (can't think of anything new at the moment). Maybe you have some thoughts about it. JA
From: Ellen Troyer
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 08:35:05 -0600
To: "'Dr. Jeffrey Anshel'"
Subject: RE: Re: nutritional supplements

The question is, are vitreous floaters cellular debris? When I had the YAG done to open holes in the film that had grown over the back of my IOLs, I had almost no floaters, which is apparently most always a complaint for a few days post YAG treatment. Kevin Waltz and I wondered if I had almost none because I was taking so many scavenging antioxidants. This is not proven science, so be careful using it as anything other than a possibility. Spencer will surely have some thoughts on this subject. ET
From: "Dr. Jeffrey Anshel"
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 09:26:15 -0700
To: Ellen Troyer
Subject: RE: Re: nutritional supplements

Technically, yes it is cellular debris, but it's embryonic cellular debris, so most of it is there from birth! I don't see how it relates to anything related to YAG capsulectomy.
From: Spencer Thornton
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 23:30:30 -0500
To: Jeffrey Anshel , Ellen Troyer
Subject: Re: Thoughts on floaters

I have to disagree with the statement that “technically, vitreous floaters are embryonic cellular debris”. There is one type of floater that is embryonic in origin, and that is the small protein clumps that are remnants of embryonic structures. These are referred to as “congenital” floaters. These may be seen at any age, and are more common in myopic young people.

The most common cause of floaters in adults is degeneration of the vitreous, which consists of 99% water and 1% solid elements. The solid portion consists of a network of collagen and hyaluronic acid, with the latter retaining water molecules. Other components include salts, sugars, and phagocytes. The phagocytic cells in the vitreous serve to remove unwanted debris.

Though vitreous is 99% water, it has a gel like consistency because of its 1% collagen and hyaluronic acid content. Degeneration of the collagen network causes the hyaluronic acid to release its bound water, thereby liquefying the gel. The collagen then breaks down into fibrils, which ultimately are the floaters that people see. This is the “acquired type”, more commonly seen in older patients, and may vary in size, shape and consistency, appearing as spots, threads or cobwebs.

The collagen fibers of the vitreous are held apart by electrical charges. With aging and free radical accumulation, these charges tend to weaken, and the fibers tend to clump together. Also, the gel may liquefy, leading cells and other organic clusters to float freely within the vitreous humour. Floaters are generally harmless, but sudden onset of recurring floaters may signify a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) or other diseases of the eye. Floaters may also appear in macular degeneration, cystoid macular edema, and after surgery that disturbs the vitreous.

Normally, there is no treatment indicated. Vitrectomy has been used in treating more severe cases; however, the procedure is typically not warranted in those with lesser symptoms due to the potential for complications. Another treatment is laser vitreolysis. In this procedure a YAG Laser is focused onto the floater and in a quick burst vaporizes the structure. There is no consensus as to how completely effective this is. Because of the degenerative nature of acquired vitreous floaters it would seem reasonable to believe that antioxidant supplements may help reduce or neutralize free radicals present. ST

From: "Dr. Jeffrey Anshel"
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2007 22:22:25 -0700
To: Spencer Thornton , Ellen Troyer
Subject: Re: Thoughts on floaters

Thanks Spence! I agree with most of what you say but my impression of "acquired" floaters in the HEALTHY eye (important point) is that they are just more visible congenital floaters. The way I explain it to patients is that their existing floaters are suspended in a more substantial gel-like vitreous which softens and liquifies with age. The SAME floaters now become more visible due to their movement.

We agree that most surgical interventions tend to worsen the problem. I've looked at the YAG "treatment" for them and have seen mixed results- some better, most worse (seems that the laser "explodes" the floater to create more little ones).

We can discuss the process of vitreous degeneration and the role of antioxidants- any studies out there?? Would love to see that because this is such a common complaint (from this author as well!!!! ;-)). I'm sure the role of antioxidants has been just scratched at the surface so if we are on to something here, we'll all be happy!!!
From: Spencer Thornton
Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2007 08:15:18 -0500
To: Jeffrey Anshel Ellen Troyer
Subject: Re: Thoughts on floaters
Jeff, Delighted to see your response.
Studies I did years ago on the micro-anatomy of the vitreous, with Jan Worst of Gronegran, Netherlands, showed that floaters in the healthy eye were not just more visible congenital floaters – they were developmental elements from the depolymerization of the hyaluronic acid and syneresis, leading to cells and other organic clusters floating free in the vitreous humor. This occurs in the healthy eye, and more prominently in the unhealthy eye.

On the role of antioxidants, I think Ellen is on to something. It’s hard to pin down some of my colleagues because they want to throw in all sorts of secondary modifying factors.

I have used YAG laser on anterior vitreous floaters with some success, but I think you are right about the creation of more “little” floaters when ablating larger (and more posterior) floaters. ST
From: "Dr. Jeffrey Anshel"
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 08:23:42 -0700
To: Spencer Thornton Ellen Troyer
Subject: Re: Vitreous Floaters
Vitreous floaters come from several sources, including the chemical changes in clear substances like hyaluronic acid (as clear egg albumen can be changed into hard, non-transparent egg white). These chemical changes may be due to UV or infra-red light, or other stress factors that produce free radicals in the vitreous. The bottom line is that inasmuch as we know that antioxidants neutralize free radicals, formulations of broad spectrum multiples, with vitamins, antioxidants, and essential trace minerals may have a beneficial effect on free radicals in the vitreous, helping to reduce the incidence and severity of degenerative floaters.

People ask me why there are so few scientific studies on the genesis of floaters and the effect of nutraceuticals, and I point out to them that scientific studies cost a great deal of money and financial grants are generally made for development and evaluation of pharmaceuticals, not nutraceuticals. Compelling evidence is there however, and we are gradually learning that formulations like Macula Complete do have a free radical quenching effect, potentially benefiting the vitreous as well as the retina.

Jeff Anshel

What will we learn from this debate? The research is ongoing. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Higher Doses of Vitamin D Safe

A question from a customer regarding the safety of 1,200 IUs of Vitamin D in Macula Complete prompted this post.

A study on vitamin D3 and multiple sclerosis resulted in data supporting the use of much higher doses of vitamin D3 for clinical research, and provided evidence that vitamin D3 intake beyond the current upper limit of 2,000 IU per day is safe by a large margin.

The current RDA is only 400 IUs per day. Based on a large number of new peer-reviewed studies suggesting that number to be too low, the RDA is expected to triple in the coming year.

The study, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included 12 patients in an active phase of multiple sclerosis (MS) who were given 1,200 milligrams elemental calcium per day along with progressively increasing doses of vitamin D3—from 700 (2,800 IUs) to 7,000 micrograms (28,000 IUs) per week—to determine the
"tolerability" of higher doses of vitamin D that may be required for therapeutic efficacy therapy. This study specifically assessed how well the body handles calcium levels relative to vitamin D concentrations in the blood.

At the beginning of the 28-week study, mean serum concentrations of 25(OH)D were 78 ± 35 nmol/L, rising to 386 ± 157 nmol/L (P < 0.001). Mean values of serum calcium concentrations and the urinary ratio of calcium to creatinine—both biomarkers of which high levels are associated with problems processing calcium in the body—did not increase or exceed reference values for any participant. Additional related biomarkers including liver enzymes, serum creatinine, electrolytes, and serum protein levels did not change. Disease progression and activity were not affected, but there was a mean decrease in the number of MS-related lesions per patient.

Participants' serum vitamin D concentrations reached twice the top of the normal range without resulting in hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria—detrimental conditions linked to problems with the body's processing of excess calcium.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Clean Freak Mothers = Asthma

A recently published University of Alberta study found that children reared on a farm have less than half the risk of developing asthma as children who were reared by urban clean freak mothers.

Farm children ages 1 to 5 showed a stronger protective effect against asthma than those aged 6 to 11 years, probably due to earlier exposure to the farm environment.

Exposure to "endotoxins" from animal viruses and manure and avoidance of urban environment pollution early in life may very well reduce the risk for development of asthma.

European researchers also say that exposure to household cleaning sprays and air fresheners as little as once a week increases the risk of developing asthma.

Another study published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine suggests that the relative risk rates of developing childhood or adult asthma in relation to exposure to cleaning products could account for as much as 15 percent, or one in seven of asthma cases.

This report also suggests that children with allergic sensitizations in economically developed countries are far more likely to develop asthma than similarly sensitized children in poorer countries.

The researchers speculated that some factors that protect children with allergic sensitization from developing asthma are less present in affluent settings, which might not provide the commensal bacteria necessary for tolerance and immune function development.

So much for what my former husband's maiden Aunt Lillian always said about the importance of maintaining an absolutely spotless house for my children's health!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Homocysteine Bad For Eyes

Science Daily reported on a study today that suggests homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart attack, stroke and dementia, may also be a player in retinal damage and vision loss. Although the writer's explaination of methionine metabolism is way too simplistic, we will present the material just as they did in Science Daily.

....The study leader, Dr. Sylvis Smith of the Medical College of Georgia, explained that homocysteine levels rise when folic acid levels drop, a problem for many whose diets are poor in folate-rich fruits, tomatoes, vegetables and grains. Smith exposed layers of retina to high levels of homocysteine and found the retina "terribly disrupted."

"Folate and vitamin B12 convert homocysteine to methionine, an amino acid essential to protein synthesis. Without the conversion, rising homocysteine levels interfere with the folding and structure of collagen, a component of bone, tissue and the basement membrane of blood vessel walls," Smith said.

"At any point in your life, too much homocysteine can be problematic, whether you are talking about pregnant women, cardiovascular disease or dementia," Smith says in a statement. "If homocysteine is not converted into methionine or cysteine -- by vitamin B6 -- to aid protein synthesis, it can do something bad."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Science = Nobel Peace Prize

The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to the approximately 1000 world wide university scientists who contributed research to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

This award reflects a global science consensus that man-made climate change is a crisis that can't be ignored.

The prize was also jointly awarded to former Vice President, Al Gore, for his 1992 book " Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit," and his 2006 Oscar winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Al Gore gifted his entire $750,000 Nobel Prize money, as well as monies from his documentary to the Palo Alto, CA nonprofit organization, Alliance for Climate Protection

In spite of global warming concerns recently expressed by the White House, some politicians and radio talk show entertainers are using this selection as a chance to discredit the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize; reminiscent of the way the prize was discredited when Dr. Martin Luther King became the recipient in 1965.

With that said: Biosyntrx is in the process of making the few changes necessary to become a certified Green Business that will best work for our our customers, our planet and our business.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Avastin & Lucentis

Genentech is notifying ophthalmologists of a change to the distribution of Avastin (a cancer drug also being used to inhibit AMD associated retinal bleeds). Avastin sells for about $50 per dose vs. Lucentis, the new Ocular-specific version of Avastin being used in new AMD clinical studies, which we're told will cost the patient somewhere in the range of $2,000 per dose.

Beginning November 30th, the Lucentis compound must be ordered directly from Genentech, rather than purchased from a compounding pharmacy.

Both versions of this drug have been linked to increased risk of stroke.

The FDA and Genentech claim to be concerned about sterilization issues involved when compounding pharmacists divide Avastin into tiny portions for ocular use.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Glycemic Index & Eye Health

Researchers concluded, in a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that consuming foods high on the glycemic index can increases the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

The glycemic index is a measurement of the extent to which foods raise blood sugar levels. Past studies have suggested a link between diets containing high-glycemic-index foods and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Scientists from the Center on Aging at Tufts University obtained dietary information from 4,099 non-diabetic participants ages 55-80 years (56 percent women) in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). A total of 8,125 eligible eyes at baseline were classified into 1 of 5 AMD groups according to the size and extent of pathological growths known as drusen, the presence of atrophy, and neovascular changes.

Compared with subjects who consumed lower glycemic-index foods, subjects who consumed foods with the highest glycemic index had a significantly higher risk of developing drusen-related damage associated with AMD. Consuming foods with a high-glycemic index also appeared to increase the severity of AMD. For subjects who consumed more high-glycemic foods than the average person their age, there was a 49 percent increase in the risk of advanced AMD.

The study authors concluded that “20% of prevalent cases of AMD would have been eliminated if the AREDS participants consumed diets with a dietary glycemic index below the median.” They went on to state that “a reduction in the dietary glycemic index, a modifiable risk factor, may provide a means of diminishing the risk of AMD.”

This is very important news!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Health Rights: Smoke Free Living

Two California cities will vote this month on unprecendented legislation that will ban all smoking inside apartments and condos.

This legislative push, which has triggered death threats against both cities council members by "my home is my castle" smokers, is controversial in spite of mounting scientific evidence that no-level of secondhand smoke is risk-free.

The closeness of most apartment and condo units allows smoke to waft easily from the doors and windows of one unit to those of other units. At the very least, this drifting smoke is a nuisance and on that account alone can be restricted.

Noises, smells, and a host of activities in one's home that adversely effect other's enjoyment of their living space can, and is, regulated. The only difference with cigarettes is that Americans have been bombarded with advertising and movie images of smoking that link smoking with individuality and independence.

When the Surgeon General issued his landmark study suggesting smoking was hazardous to human health, Big Tobacco's immediate response, among others, was an ad campaign linking smoking with rugged American individualism- the Marlboro Man. The message: society and doctors be damned, like a cowboy on the open range, I'll do what I please and I don't care who it harms.

The reality is that cigarettes are not symbols of freedom and individualism, but are symbols of addiction, cancer, death, disease, ignorance, and dependence.

The sooner Americans finally get over their Marlboro Man complex, the sooner sensible laws will be enacted. The Marlboro Man, by the way, died of lung cancer.

If the ophthalmic and optometric medical communities truly believe that living and working in smoke free environments will help prevent degenerative eye disease, improve overall public health and lower the societal cost of healthcare, we need to support this type of legislation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Pharmacists and Scripts?

Today's FDA proposal was to have pharmacists write behind-the-counter scripts for patients who can't afford to see a doctor.

Doesn't that seem to be a bit of a conflict of interest for a profession that has not been trained to diagnose disease?

Another mind boggling idea from the FDA - Big Pharma's godfather!

Prolong Life with Vitamin D

We’re living longer than ever according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A September, 2007 report revealed that US life expectancy is now nearly 78 years, up from less than 76 years just a decade ago. The higher figure reflects a continued reduction in deaths from heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Part of the reason may be better treatment, but prevention plays a significant part.

A new European study suggests that Vitamin D supplements could prolong your life. Released last month by researcher Philippe Autier, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, and Sara Gandini, from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, the results were from 18 trials involving more than 57,000 people.

Vitamin D intake varied from 300 to 2,000 international units. Those who took Vitamin D supplements had a 7 percent lower risk of dying during the trials than those who didn’t. Autier believes people should take Vitamin D supplements daily, in addition to getting a moderate amount of sun each day, since the skin uses sunlight to produce vitamin D.

I’d recommend a multivitamin supplement with between 500 and 1500 international units of Vitamin D.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Big Pharma Cartel

We received a lot of emails asking our opinion on how last week's Drug Reform Bill could have become so watered down before it was sent to Congress. One of the answers: media and advertising lobbyists who convinced a few members of the House (built, inpart, with Madison Avenue, Network and Cable dollars) that media profits were more important than the health and safety of Americans.

These lobbyists realized they could lose a huge cash cow if pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer ads were ever put up to a Congressional vote. The word inside the beltway is that network and cable media created a very expensive targeted campaign suggesting that any restriction on direct-to-consumer advertising would be a violation of Big Pharma's first amendment rights. They were successful because any limits on direct-to-consumer disappeared from the bill before it went to the house.

Considering the first amendment rights abuses the citizens of this country have tolerated in the past few years, this ad campaign would be funny - if it weren't so sad.

The rights of Big Pharma and the FDA to deceive Americans were preserved (but a few bipartisan elected officials did manage to protect the wording on the bill that holds Big Pharma legally responsible for unsafe drug deaths, and Big Pharma will now be required to make ALL of the clinical trial and drug reaction data collected available to the public vs. the creative writing versions that get published in peer-reviewed journals.

The Drug Reform Bill still allows Big Pharma to maintain its monopoly on U.S. drug prices, which are higher than the prices they charge in other countries. And believe it or not, Big Pharma also gets to keep 25% of the FDA drug approval investigators on their consulting payrolls forever, and they have five years to get that number down to 25%.

Hardly a great victory - but new bills will be written and there will always be wantabe congressional members waiting for our votes.

Let's cast those votes wisely!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

Surprise, surprise!

The AREDs committee just published a report in the Archives of Ophthalmology that suggested the ARED study participants who reported the highest intake of lutein/zeaxanthin were statistically less likely to have advanced AMD or large extensive intermediate drusen than those reporting lowest dietary intake.

Does anyone else wonder why the same committee fought so hard to prevent lutein and zeaxanthin from being included in the AREDs2 study?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Aging and Lifestyles

Recently published CDC findings confirm previous studies that show the public is not following good lifestyle choices. Actually they are getting worse.

Chronic degenerative conditions thought of as inevitable signs of aging can be modified to the benefit of the individual if we make healthy lifestyle choices – no smoking, moderation in alcohol consumption (if at all), no drugs unless prescribed by ones physician for specific indications, daily multivitamin intake, and regular exercise.

Most changes of aging are related to chronic noninfectious inflammatory conditions, thought to be the result of environmental factors.

70 million Americans suffer from Arthritis – or one in every three adults; twice as many as there were twenty years ago.

Asthma is now the sixth most common human disease.

There are more than 18.2 million people with Diabetes, a 49% increase over the past ten years.

Almost 64 million Americans have cardiovascular disease (CVD) in some form. It is the number one killer of Americans, with almost a million deaths last year.

More than one million Americans have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and the numbers are increasing.

Obesity, now a pandemic, affects more than 200 million Americans, along with the exacerbation of existing inflammatory disease, and fat cells play a major role in the production of the messengers that cause inflammatory disease.

Age related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the major cause of vision loss in America and is becoming more common.

The take home message is that these are all inflammatory conditions, and all can be delayed or modified by making the lifestyle choices listed above.

NAC and Gambling

A study published in the September issue of Biological Psychiatry indicates supplementation with N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) may reduce addictive behavior in compulsive gamblers, as well as individuals with other addictions.

N-acetyl cysteine is thought to restore extracellular concentrations of the chemical glutamate, which is often associated with reward in the brain. This ability led researchers to believe NAC could have a promising role to play in minimizing addictive behavior.

The researchers enrolled 27 pathological gamblers (12 women) in an 8-week trial of NAC. The first part of the study was an open trial where subjects each consumed daily doses of NAC. In this part of the study, 16 of 27 subjects (59.3 percent) reported experiencing less urges to gamble. The effective dose of NAC ranged from 1,100 to 1,700 mg per day.

Of those 16 subjects, 13 went on to participate in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of NAC. Of those subjects given NAC, 83.3 percent experienced a reduced compulsion to gamble compared with only 28.6 percent of those assigned to a placebo.

The study authors concluded, “The efficacy of NAC lends support to the hypothesis that pharmacological manipulation of the glutamate system might target core symptoms of reward-seeking addictive behaviors such as gambling. Larger, longer, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies are warranted.”

Similar studies of N-acetyl cysteine have shown it can curb drug addictions in animals. However, the researchers of the current study believe their study was the first to look at the effects of a glutamate-modulating agent in pathological gamblers. The researchers are currently investigating whether NAC could help methamphetamine users quit.

Friday, September 21, 2007

85% Undernourished

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released the results of a recent telephone surveyed involving 356,112 people which found that less than 15 percent of the population were actually eating enough fruits and vegetables and getting enough exercise. And this government survey only used five servings of fruits and vegetables as the target goal (the new HHS recommendation is actually nine).

The exercise questions were on moderately intense exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, or vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week.

The survey found that only 14.6 percent of those surveyed were getting both enough exercise and enough fruits and vegetables. This broke down into 16.6 percent of women and 12.4 percent of men.

Sorting the results by ethnic group, the researchers found that American Indians and Alaska Natives scored the best, with 19.6 percent of women and 17.5 percent of men getting enough vegetables and exercise. In contrast, only 17 percent of white women, 14.8 percent of Latino women and 12.6 percent of black women met the government standards, along with 12.6 percent of white men, 11.7 percent of Latino men and 11.2 percent of black men.

This report underscores the need for any new government healthcare plan to focus on lifestyle improvements including daily exercise, improved dietary habits and daily supplementation with a full-spectrum multiple to address nutrient deficiencies associated with DNA breakage, innapropriate gene transcription, and the progression of chronic degenerative diseases, on which 75 percent of our healthcare dollars are spent according to the most recent statistics.

Worlds oldest man

Tomoji Tanabe, celebrated his 112th birthday last week (Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007) in the southern Japanese city of Miyakonojo, in Miyazaki prefecture. Born Sept. 18, 1895, Tanabe was named world's oldest man after the death of the Puerto Rican Emiliano Mercado Del Toro, who died aged 115 last January.

How did he do it? Tanabe is a former city land surveyor who lives with his son and daughter-in-law. He is in good health and is a milk drinker. He also keeps a diary, avoids alcohol, and does not smoke. He believes his lifelong avoidance of alcohol has led to his good health and longevity, and he remains active by working in his dairy and taking walks near his home.

Japan has one of the world's longest average life spans, and the growing number of Japanese centenarians is often attributed to the nation’s traditional diet rich in fish and rice. But part of the reason may be an overall improvement of the Japanese diet, with greater emphasis on variety of foods with more attention to vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Exercise is also important in the Japanese lifestyle.

The number of Japanese living beyond 100 has more than quadrupled in the past 15 years, with the once-exclusive centenarian club soon expected to surpass 28,000, the government has announced. The increase underscores both positive and negative sides of the country's aging population. While experts say there are more active centenarians than ever before, the rapidly graying population adds to concerns over Japan's overburdened public pension system.

The increasing longevity in Japan may be due to several factors, including, in addition to the traditional diet of fish and rice, the growing popularity of multivitamins, minerals and antioxidants, in addition to regular exercise.

We could all learn from the Japanese.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Inflammation 101 - Steve Whiting, PhD

Our esteemed scientific advisory board member, Steve Whiting, PhD, does a fabulous job of explaining why inflammation can be your best friend or your worst enemy. He also discusses the importance of choosing a natural anti-inflamatory whenever possible.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Questions for HIllary Clinton

I just received Mrs. Clinton's proposed American Health Choices Plan to ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality health insurance. This plan covers every American - finally addressing the needs of the 47 million uninsured and the tens of millions of workers with coverage who fear they could be one pink slip away from losing their health coverage.

  1. She is proposing the same choice of health plan options that members of congress receive for everyone (Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) - that seems fair.
  2. She is promising lower premiums and increased security by reducing costs and insurance discrimination - that seems reasonable.
  3. She is promoting shared responsibility by ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and requiring individuals to keep this high-quality affordable insurance - that would be a very good thing.
  4. She is proposing refundable insurance tax credits for working families - seems very fair.
  5. She is proposing small business tax credits for job-based coverage - love that idea.

She is also proposing a choice of health plan options and, as a condition of doing business with the federal government, insurers must cover high-priority preventive services that experts agree are proven and effective. This focus on prevention will improve health and lower costs in the long run. Now we are talking!!!!!

My questions:

1) Nowhere in the shared responsibility plan did I see anything about affordable health care coverage requiring individual citizens to be responsible for making lifestyle choices that help prevent disease.

2) Nor did I see anything in the plan about the reasonable possibility of funding this universal health care coverage by dramatically raising taxes on corporations that knowingly promote disease.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cancer: Vitamin C and N-Acetyl Cysteine

A new Johns Hopkins study suggested that vitamin C and NAC significantly inhibited the spread of lymphoma or prostate cancer cells that were implanted in mice.

This new research suggests that antioxidants ability to protect DNA from damage is just part of the cancer picture - the antioxidants vitamin C and NAC also prevented cancer cells from replicating in this study.

It has long been known that vitamin C and NAC fuel the production of cellular glutathione, the primary antioxidant in a cell that protects it from damage. It has also been known that cellular glutathione powers immune cells and the ability of natural killer cells to knock out cancer.

This study shows that the immune boosting properties of these antioxidants are vital for a proper cancer defense system.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vitamin E and Blood Clots

This week's big vitamin E headlines are on data from the Women's Health Study that included almost 40,000 women aged 45 and older who took 600 IUs of vitamin E, or a placebo, every other day and were followed for 10 years.

The women who took vitamin E in this study were over 20% less likely to develop venous thromboembolism than the women who did not, but the reduction was more than double this (44%) among the women who had a history of clots. And taking vitamin E appeared to cut the clot risk in half among women with genetic mutations that increased their risk.

This study data, which was reported in the September 2007 journal Circulation, found no significant side effects in the female study participants who took vitamin E for an average of 10 years.

This news follows right on the heels of last months Archives of Internal Medicine study, which found a 23% reduction in the compliant primary CVD mortality end point in the at risk women who actually took 600 IUs of natural Vitamin E every other day. Unfortunately, the study results were misrepresented by including the non-compliant participants in the findings. That study author found no adverse effects in the vitamin E study groups.

In the face of this news and the news that the 2004 vitamin E meta-analysis was unreliable science since a fairly large number of positive vitamin E studies were not included in the meta-analysis, the American Heart Association continues to swiftboat vitamin E by suggesting that "Vitamin E Is Not Ready for Prime Time."

Given the positive results of so many well-designed vitamin E studies, we must now all ask ourselves-what's really motivating AHA to take this stand?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mast Cells: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Stanford researchers have found that mast cells, known for triggering the itch and inflammation in allergy attacks, can also calm down the flare-ups. These findings were published in the September online version of Nature Immunology.

The new findings reveal that, in mice, mast cells help decrease skin damage over time from sun exposure or from poison oak by releasing the immune-suppressing molecule, interleukin-10 (IL-10), the same brilliant anti-inflammatory tissue repair interleukin released by our bodies after prolonged exercise stimulates the release of the tissue breakdown proinflammatory interleukins, IL-6.

The findings contradict mast cells' reputation for being the trigger-happy gunslinger in an allergic reaction. Located just beneath the skin and in the loose connective tissue throughout the body, mast cells lie in wait for intruders. Packed with granules containing inflammation-inciting molecules such as histamine, they sometimes react to non-threatening trespassers, such as pollens or plant oils. Mast cell response to pollen can cause excessive tearing and eyeball itching that drives thousands of folks crazy every spring.

The ugly side: over zealous mast cell confrontations can cause allergic reaction and, in extreme cases, the life-threatening overreaction of anaphylaxis seen in bee-sting or peanut allergies.

"The fact that one sees the mast cell playing a role in resolving inflammation is surprising," said Juan Rivera, PhD, chief of the Molecular Inflammation section of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. "All of the research thus far has focused on how quickly mast cells unleash inflammation rather than how they might mitigate it. I find it very intriguing finding that the mast cell plays this dual role."

The obvious question for our readers: does the human mast cell eventually release IL-10 to stop the ocular reaction to spring pollens if there is no pharmaceutical interference in the process?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Vitamin D Deficiency

Dr. Larry Norton, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, spoke out this morning on the CBS Early Show about the pandemic deficiency of Vitamin D and its consequences. He pointed out that most people away from equatorial areas are deficient because of more clothing, work indoors, less daylight time especially in the winter months, and the use of sun screen in excess.Vitamin D deficiency has received attention recently because of its link to cancers of the breast and colon.

Dr. Norton pointed out that despite the fortification of some foods with vitamin D, there was still a deficiency. He recommended supplementation with multivitamins high in Vitamin D3. He pointed out that recommended amounts generally were too low and recommended at least 2000 International Units daily (the current RDA is only 400 IUs. ). Toxicity, he pointed out, only occurs when intake exceeded twice that amount. He went on to say that he recommended vitamin supplements as the best way of assuring that adults received the necessary amounts for needed effect.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the maintenance of organ systems, and a deficiency may be manifested in forms such as rickets in childhood, and several types of cancer in adults. It regulates the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood by promoting their absorption from food in the intestines and by promoting re-absorption of calcium in the kidneys. It promotes bone formation and mineralization and is essential in the development of an intact and strong skeleton. It affects the immune system by promoting immuno-suppression, phagocytosis, and anti-tumor activity.

So much emphasis has been placed on the harmful effects of sunlight and the need for sun-block that the public has become brainwashed.

Fortified foods represent the major dietary sources of vitamin D, as very few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D. In some countries, foods such as milk, yogurt, margarine, oil spreads, breakfast cereals, pastries and bread are fortified with vitamin to minimize the risk of vitamin D deficiency. In the United States and Canada, for example, fortified milk typically provides 100 IU per glass, or one quarter of the estimated adequate intake for adults over the age of 50. This amount has been shown to be inadequate.

The bottom line: Your multivitamin should contain more Vitamin D3 to compensate for the lack of its production in the skin due to inadequate exposure.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Homocysteine and B Vitamins

The Western Norway B-Vitamin Intervention Trial (WENBIT) results presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2007 today, showed NO benefit for either supplemental folate with vitamin B12, or vitamin B6 in patients with established heart disease.

Could these CVD / homocysteine /folate /B12 /B6 studies possibly be collecting the wrong data on the wrong group?

It may be that faulty methionine metabolism hyperhomocysteinemia , which is most always caused by deficiencies of folate, B12 and B6, triggers gene-based (mRNA) inflammatory signals in the cells of the vascular walls representing a major pathogenetic pathway of atherosclerosis. This could be happening years before heart disease is established.
This concept is not dissimilar to metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) being an issue years before type 2 diabetes is diagnosed.

Treatment with folate, B12 and B6 after disease is established may be too late, just as treatment with folate after the 28th day of fetal gestation is too late to prevent neural tube defects, although it's still important for the folate deficient pregnant Mom at risk for megaloblastic anemia.

A number of epidemiological studies have clearly shown that higher blood homocysteine levels are associated with higher risks of coronary, cerebral, and peripheral vascular disease and are inversely related to blood levels of folate and of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6.

Observational studies cannot exclude the possibility that elevated homocysteine levels may be associated with some other factor, rather than being causally related to vascular disease.

Large-scale randomized trials on healthy people are now in order to determine if supplemental folate, B12 and B6 could PREVENT hyperhomocysteinemia before it triggers the endothelium inflammatory process associated with most all heart and vascular disease.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Science Daily and Zinc

On August 28th, Science Daily featured a zinc study published in the April 2007 Experimental Eye Research Journal. A team of scientists, including three researchers at George Mason University, found that the mineral zinc could play a role in the development of macular degeneration.

These findings are and were viewed as extremely important because the 2001 Age-Related-Eye-Disease (ARED) study results suggested that high doses (80 mg) of supplemental zinc oxide, when combined with vitamin antioxidants and copper, slowed the progression of macular degeneration.

Many nutrition-trained eye care professionals and most biochemists have adamantly disagreed with the long-term daily consumption of 80 mgs of zinc oxide, which is included in the ARED formulation.

Imre Lengyel, PhD, senior fellow at the Institute of Ophthalmology in London and this zinc study chief investigator, found unexpectedly high concentrations of zinc in drusen and sub-retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) post-mortem maculae of eyes with AMD. He has been quoted as saying, "Although supplemental zinc has been found to enhance the immune system, excessive amounts may play a role in the advancement of macular degeneration."

We reported on this study in the March 23, 2007 Friday Pearl.

The Academy of Medicine's published safe upper limit (UL) of supplemental zinc is 40 mg per day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Conflicts of Interest May Affect Your Health

The FDA reauthorization bill that recently came to a vote in Congress, allows continuation of conflicts of interest between FDA advisors and the drug industry.

Under this bill the FDA can continue to allow advisors with financial interests in pharmaceutical companies to serve on FDA advisory committees. The bill also continues to let the FDA receive over 50% of its budget from fees paid to it by the pharmaceutical companies it regulates. This has resulted in the FDA becoming beholden to pharmaceutical companies.

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, pointed out that when it came time to renegotiate PDUFA, the FDA met with pharmaceutical companies 112 times to negotiate agency standards the FDA must achieve in order to receive these fees, while consumer advocates and doctors groups only got to meet with them five times.

The problems with unsafe drugs being recalled after harming and killing some patients and various food products being recalled after sickening and killing consumers has highlighted the problems at the FDA.

With respect to drug company oversight, one way to lessen the grip pharmaceutical companies have is to inform consumers when their health care provider may have a conflict of interest due to gifts or income from a drug company. That's why DeFazio reintroduced the Drug Company Gift Disclosure Act, which will require prescription drug manufacturers, packers, and distributors to report annually to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs any gifts with a value of $50 dollars or more provided to doctors and other health care providers in connection with their marketing activities.

It’s time the public knew the truth. Safety and efficacy should be the priority, not drug or food industry profits. Think it’s time for you to get involved?

Let your Representative in Congress know how you feel.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Early Warning Markers for Type-2 Diabetes

Two recent UCLA studies strongly link metabolism and immunology to type 2 diabetes.

These new studies suggest that the inability of the body to process insulin stems from chronic inflammation, which can be caused by fat cells' secretion of chemical signaling compounds called cytokines.

Think of signaling cytokines as the body's early warning smoke alarm.

Three of these compounds; tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleudin-6 (IL-6), and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) are the key molecule markers now confirmed to lead to type 2 diabetes.

The presence of these cytokine markers corresponded in recent studies to a double or triple increase in the risk of the development of type-2 diabetes. Inclusion of these test in annual check-ups could be a tremendous step forward in diabetic disease prevention and management.

These tests are not particularly expensive. If you find you have high cytokine formation while you're still healthy, you can make better lifestyle choices that will help lower cytokine formation, thereby lowering the risk for a five alarm disease fire.

Currently, most docs still only use the the blood glucose level test to determine diabetes, but by the time blood glucose levels are in the diabetic range, it may be too late to make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent disease progression.

Type-2 diabetes (formerly called adult onset) can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, nerve damage, amputation and death if not properly controlled; preferably with dietary intake, exercise and other lifestyle changes that promote health.

Over 20 million people in the Unites States have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Uveitis and Potentially Life Threatening Drug Use

The July 2007 issue of Ocular Immunology & Inflammation published a study to heighten the awareness of a potentailly life-threatening drug interaction in patients with chronic uveitis who are being concomitantly treated treated with cyclosporine for the uveitis and simvastatin for hypercholesterolemia.

Rhabdomyolysis has developed with acute renal failure from the probable interaction between these two drugs. Immediate discontinuation of simvastatin and cyclosporine seems to result in resolution of rhabdomyolysis and normalization of renal function.

Statins are associated with a dose-related risk of myopathy, myositis, and rhabdomyolysis.

Cyclosporine is a potent inhibitor of simvastain metabolism and may facilitate simvastatin-induced rhabdomyolysis.

The journal article conclusion was. "Concomitant use of statins and cyclosporine should be avoided."

We wonder, given this information, how long it will take the drug manufacturers to put this warning on both drugs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vitamin D-the Miracle Vitamin

Vitamin D may be the new asprin. It is now associated with lowering the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and some cancers.

The most recent news on vitamin D deficiency comes from a report in the American Journal of Hypertension, which suggests that low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are associated with increased blood pressure. This inverse relationship was strongest in people over 50, compared with younger study participants.

Ethnic differences in the average levels of serum vitamin D are linked to the increased hypertension commonly seen in non-Hispanic blacks who consistently have the lowest levels of serum vitamin D, with Mexican Americans just slightly higher.

This study suggests a need to elevate vitamin D levels by increasing sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation in these at-risk communities.

This includes the elderly who spend very little time in the sun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Too Much Desk Time Is Bad For Our Health

I own right up to borrowing this brilliant blog article from the Colorado Springs Business Journal-but don't try this at home:

Sit in a stationary position for eight to 10 hours. Keep your fingers moving in patterns pushing buttons. Squint.

This can be risky behaviour for many parts of your body, especially your eyes, back, and wrists. Yet most of us do it five days a week or more.At the very least, get up and walk around (to change up your back strain), look at things of varying distances (to work those eyeball-focusing muscles), and keep your wrist elevated (we all know that one, right?)Want to take things further? Want to be able to lift things in your retirement? Want to be able to type for another few years? Want to stave off the reading glasses? There's lots you can do!

Stay hydrated, don't let the HVAC blow dry air in your eyes, get up and stretch more frequently, and keep your office space well lit. Don't let the monitor be the brightest thing in your field of vision, and avoid glares. Move your desk if you have to. The Mayo clicnic recommends these stretches, you can get a new chair, and there's even yoga you can do in your cubicle (free videos!).

Last but not least, check out the Treadputer.

Antioxidants and Disease

A number of research papers presented last week at the 234th annual American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston centered around the ability of antioxidants to prevent DNA damage.

Julia Brumaghim, of Clemson University in South Carolina suggested. "Cancers, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson'ts and Alzheimer's diseases are often linked to DNA damage that can be prevented by increasing the amount of green tea and garlic in our daily diets."

Monica Giusti of Ohio State University tested the anti-colon cancer effects of anthocyanin-rich extracts from a variety of fruits and vegetables including grapes, radishes, purlple corn, bilberries, purple carrots and elderberries. Her research fround that purple corn was the most potent antioxidant, with bilberry extracts being nearly as potent.

Dr. Giusti said, "All fruits and vegetables rich in anthocyanins have compounds that can slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, whether in experiments in laboratory dishes or inside the body."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Did Merck Hide the Fosamax Risks?

Merck, maker of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, may have seriously under reported the risks of jawbone death related to the drug, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

Jawbone death is associated with the use of a bisphosphonate class of drugs that includes Fosamax. Bisphonsphonate-Related Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (BRONJ) is always serious. It destroys the bone in the jaw and it's extremely difficult to treat.

Another Fosamax adverse side effect that Merck chose to ignore was covered in our October 1st 2004 Friday Pearl. It focused on an ocular adverse drug study funded by Research to Prevent Blindness and published in Ophthalmology. This study suggested Fosamax stimulates the production of a distince subgroup of T cells that release cytokines associated with inflammatory uveitis and /or scleritis, which can lead to major loss of vision.

Are menopausal / postmenopausal women (by far the largest users of Fosamax and the target of the Fosamax TV ads), once again innocent victims of Big Pharma?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Grapefruit Intake & Breast Cancer?

This may come as a surprise to lovers of grapefruit.

An epidemiological study published in the July 2007 British Journal of Cancer suggets there could be a correlation between grapefruit consumption and breast cancer in menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The biological plausible mechanism of action for the observed effect is that grapefruit is a well known cytochrome CYP34A inhibitor (membrane-bound hemoprotein enzyme). As a result, regular consumption of grapefruit can increase circulating concentrations of estrogens, which are otherwise metabolized by these enzymes.

Higher systemic levels of estrogens are associated with a increased risk of breast cancer in older women.

The study conclusion suggests the information in this study might be sufficient for menopausal and post-menopausal women to limit their grapefruit consumption.

FYI: The Texas red grapefruit was designated the offiicial state fruit in 1993. Given the large number of people that could be affected by the study above; they may want to rethink this decision.