Friday, August 10, 2007

Performance Enhancing Drugs

"Me thinks they doth protest too much." Willie Shakespeare

This blog could not not address this subject, given all the press baseball Giant Barry Bonds has received in the past few days. BBR, that's "Before Barry's Record,", the male citizens of my town, Colorado Springs, mostly argued the merits, or sins, of Hillary Clinton, James Dobson, Ted Haggart, George Bush, Dick Cheney, the Iraq Way, and whether or not Paris Hilton's antics are actually news.

Well that all changed on Wednesday! Knowing I'm from San Francisco, in the supplement science business, and a bit of a baseball fan, a number of my science and business colleagues, my CO neighbors, my sons, some personal male friends, and even my UPS man knocked on my office door to see if I had an opinion on Barry Bonds and his supposed performancing enhancing drug use.

I do, and here it is: Barry Bonds has never been indicted or convicted in a court of law for illegal drug use, so he is innocent until proven guilty-end of subject.-except that he has also tested clean ever since they started spot drug testing in all major sports.

I might gently point out that performance enhancing is a regular deal for millions of men; evidenced by Viagra being the number one selling pharmaceutical drug in the world, and herbal-based supplements that promise enhanced sexual performance being the largest selling product group in the supplement arena.

It seems to me that a lot of folks in this country have been looking for any guised reason to get on an outraged moral high horse. I suppose Barry Bonds and baseball is as good a place as any to start demanding accountability.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Restasis Run Around

A randomized paralled double-masked prospective clinical trial published in the May 2006 Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, found that Restasis (cyclosporine 0.5%) had no effect on 21 dry eye post-op LASIK patients (42 eyes), as indicated by the Ocular Surface Disease Index Questionaire, nor were there changes in best corrected visual acuity in the LASIK post-op dry eyes treated with Restasis vs. those treated with unpreserved aritifcial tears.

The study reported that mean refractive spherical equivalent in cyclosporine-treated eyes was significantly closer to the intended target at 3 and 6 months after surgery than in artificial-tears-treated eyes. The reported P value of this hypothesis was .007.

In spite of the above evidence, the study authors conclusion was, "Restasis provides refractive predictability for the dry eye patient 3 and 6 months after surgery. "

This questionable conclusion seems to be based on an unidentified (key word) precentage of cyclosporine eyes that was within +/- 0.5 D of the refractive target 3 months after surgery compared to the artificial tears treated eyes.

An obvious question: Could the conclusion be a bit of a stretch given that the p value was not all that significient, and the study did not have a control, so maybe neither Restasis or unpreserved dry eye drops make much difference compared to no therapy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

AMD and Stroke

Clinical studies reported to the scientific staff at Biosyntrx have indicated that the antioxidants and phytochemicals in Macula Complete may be effective in slowing down or stopping the progress of early-stage age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder that gradually destroys central vision. Now it appears that these same formula components may be effective in reducing stroke risk.

A recent study from the University of Melbourne, Australia showed that among 10,405 adults ages 49 to 73, those individuals with early-stage AMD were 87% more likely to suffer a stroke over a ten year period than those without AMD. The likelihood of other risk factors, such as smoking and hypertension increasing stroke risk were also considered. The conclusion: anyone diagnosed with AMD should also be monitored for stroke risk factors, and anything that may reduce AMD risk or progress may also prove to lower the risk of stroke.

Gray Matter & Fish Oil

A study published in the June 2007 Neuroscience Letter suggests a higher consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA/DHA found in fish and fish oil to be associated with greater gray matter that supports emotion arousal and regulation.

Depression has been reported to be associated with increased cytokine production, such as the pro-inflammatory marker, Interleukin-6 (IL-6). A study published in the November 2002 Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids Journal suggested an inhibiting effect of DHA on cytokine synthesis, which suggests to us that some emotional arousal and clinical depression might be linked to chronic silent inflammation.

This study found that by increasing the amount of dietary EPA/DHA (DHA measured in adipose tissue) the levels of both IL-6 and depression decreased.

This might not be great news to the pharmaceutical industry and to those doctors who hand out scripts for antidepressents like candy to get, mostly middle-age women, out of their offices. Depression could be another symptom of the silent inflammation we now link to so many degenerative disease processes.

However, it's almost impossible to compete with pharmacutical advertising on network TV. So the best we can hope for is that mainstream medicine will acknowledge the large number of published studies strongly suggesting that patients who add a daily dose of concentrated fish oil to their regular antidepressant treatment experience fewer side effects; including flat affect (the dead giveaway), sleeping problems, and decreased sexual desire.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Zeaxanthin: Not For Eyes Only

A study published in a recent Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences suggested that low levels of specific plasma carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lycopene, were linked to the lowest levels of cognitive function in 589 people.

Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD., lead study author wrote, "To our knowledge, this study is the first that investigated, in a healthy elderly population, the relationship between cognitive performance measured by five neuropsychological tests and the different plasma carotenoids: the xanthophylls (lutein zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin) and the carotenes (lycopene, alpha-carotene, trans-beta-carotene, and cis-beta-carotene).

Dr. Akbaraly went on to say, "Low levels of two specific plasma carotenoids, lycopene and zeaxanthin, were associated with poor cognitive functioning in a highly educated community-dwelling elderly study population."

Vitamin E Continued Controversary

Unfortunately, the lay press still references the extremely flawed Vitamin E meta-analysis which, for who knows what reason, did not include a number of fairly large positive outcome Vitamin E studies in their analysis.

We receive weekly phone calls from patients who tell us their uninformed doctors continue to suggest they stop taking supplements that include vitamin E, even though The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, The National Eye Institute, The Academy of Science, The New York Academy of Science, and the Council for Responsible Nutrition all published pieces that refuted the conclusions of the extremely controversial Vitamin E meta-analysis.

Here are some studies they obviously left out of the meta-analysis:

Vitamin E Improves Immune Function

A study on healthy people 65 years of age or older and published in JAMA, found vitamin E supplementation to improve some measures of immune function. Researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging indicated that the best responses were observed in people given 200 IUs of vitamin E per day.

Vitamin E Improves Brain Function.

A randomized, double-masked, multicenter two year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that those patients taking 2000 IUs per day of vitamin E increased the level of brain catecholamines, which protect against oxidative damage and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin E Protects Heart Health

In the Nurses’ Health Study, involving more than 87,000 women, Dr. Meir Stampfer and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health reported a 41 percent reduction in risk of heart disease among nurses who had taken vitamin E for more than two years. This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers noted that a beneficial effect of vitamin E on heart disease "is plausible because of the substantial evidence indicating the importance of oxidation of LDL in atherosclerosis." The average vitamin E intake in the lowest-risk group was 200 IU.

Vitamin E Protects Eyes and Lungs

The National Eye Institute supported a Longitudinal Study of Cataract involving 764 participants whose eyes were examined yearly over a period of about five years. The average age of the subjects was 65. Participants who were regular users of multivitamin supplements or vitamin E supplements were less likely to have an increase in lens opacity during the study period.

In a British study of lung function in 178 men and women 70 to 96 years of age who had respiratory symptoms, researchers found that for every extra milligram of vitamin E in the diet, there was an improvement in performance on two tests of lung function. In another study of more than 2600 people in the area of Nottingham, England, higher dietary intakes of vitamin C and vitamin E were associated with improved lung function.

Vitamin E Protects Against Some Cancers

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found The Health Professionals Follow-up Study suggested that men who had higher dietary vitamin E intake, or who used vitamin E supplements had a lower risk of bladder cancer over a 12-year period, and "taking vitamin E supplements for 10 or more years decreased risk by more than 30 percent."

Vitamin E Beneficial for Serious Athletes, and All the Rest of Us Too

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recently published study results in Free Radical Biology & Medicine indicating that vitamin C and E supplementation for six weeks prior to racing completely prevented the increase in lipid oxidation typical in ultra marathon runners. The researchers noted that the same type of metabolic damage is found often in patients who have experienced traumas such as heart attack, stroke and some surgeries, pointing to the possibility of these nutrients, particularly vitamin E, benefiting even broader groups than elite athletes.