• The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

    The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

    In the first place, preliminary experiments indicate that the use of oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment may become a reality. There are several lines of research that point to the fact that oncolytic viruses can make a difference in treating incurable cancer patients. Notably, Canadian researchers had … [Read More...]

  • Ketogenic Diet With Ketone Supplementation

    Ketogenic Diet With Ketone Supplementation

    There is a newer way to shed some pounds using a ketogenic diet with ketone supplementation. Ketosis with a ketogenic diet is difficult to achieve because it requires a lot of fat consumption and at the same time extremely low carb intake to trigger the ketogenic response. The October 2019 issue of LifeExtension … [Read More...]

  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

    Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

    In an editorial of the October 2019 edition of LifeExtension William Faloon explained that omega-6 fatty acids compromise your health. He focused particularly on memory loss and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. After a review of the medical literature he noted that Americans are eating too many foods that … [Read More...]

  • Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

    Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

    The FDA is aware for some time that trans fat causes Alzheimer’s disease. This is why the FDA has outlawed trans fats in 2015. But the industry was given 3 years to phase out trans fats. The FDA also gave special extensions to many companies, which allows these companies to continue adding trans fats into your food … [Read More...]

  • Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

    Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

    In the following I am discussing the non-drug treatment for migraines in women. There are a number of different types of headaches: common headaches, tension type headaches, cluster headaches and migraine headaches. Here I am only zeroing in on migraine headaches. Introduction A migraine headache is the second … [Read More...]

  • A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

    A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

    It is not the first time that there has been an announcement of a new drug for Alzheimer’s. In the first place, in 2013 Pfizer had to admit that their new drug did not exceed the effects of placebo. Second, in 2016 Eli Lilly’s drug solanezumab failed to show effects in Phase 3 trials. Third, Merck developed a drug … [Read More...]

    Dec
    07
    2019

    The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

    In the first place, preliminary experiments indicate that the use of oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment may become a reality. There are several lines of research that point to the fact that oncolytic viruses can make a difference in treating incurable cancer patients.

    Notably, Canadian researchers had reported in 2011 that oncolytic viruses created by genetically modifying smallpox vaccine viruses would enter tumor cells of patients, but not damage normal cells. Specifically, a high percentage of the end stage patients responded with tumor regression.

    Shortly after Mayo Clinic physicians were desperate when two patients with end stage multiple myeloma, a vicious bone tumor, did not respond to chemotherapy. Significantly, they tried something unconventional: high doses of the measles vaccine in an attempt to stimulate the immune system. Here is an overview from 2014 that shows that many different cancers respond to various immunological approaches.

    Study from Holland regarding end stage melanoma patients

    Here is a small human study involving end-stage melanoma patients treated with the oncolytic virus T-VEC combined with pembrolizumab (Keytruda). It is important to realize that Keytruda helps to reactivate a T-cell response to the cancer cells. In this case the cancer cells absorb the oncolytic virus (T-VEC), but it leaves normal cells alone. Inside the cancer cells the oncolytic virus multiplies and destroys the cancer cells. In this 2017 study 21 patients with terminal, nonresectable melanoma received treatment with T-VEC and Keytruda. Specifically, 62% of the patients showed an objective response to the treatment. Moreover, 33% fulfilled the criteria of an immune-related response. In the past terminal patients like these had a 0% response to radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

    History of research about oncolytic viruses

    To begin with, in 1912 rabies virus treatment against cervical carcinoma was a first attempt to treat cancer. Researchers conducted many experiments between 1950 and 1970 with wild type or naturally attenuated viruses. This included, for example, hepatitis A and B viruses. In 1991 cancer researchers developed the concept of genetically engineered oncolytic viruses. Today cancer researchers know that the protection mechanisms in most cancer cells have deficiencies. This involves the interferon‐beta signal pathway. Having said this, there is an opportunity to let oncolytic viruses destroy cancer cells, while normal cells stay unaffected. An oncolytic virus that cancer experts use in human cancers is the genetically engineered herpes simplex virus type I (HSV‐1). Others that cancer researchers developed have strange names like T‐Vec, G47∆, JX594, CG0070 and Reolysin.

    Various cancers that researchers treated with oncolytic viruses

    Here are a few examples of cancers where researchers used oncolytic viruses to exert a significant therapeutic effect.

    Glioblastoma

    Glioblastoma is a deadly form of a brain tumor, which has a high rate of mortality. Researchers have investigated new avenues to treat this cancer. Researchers tested the genetically engineered dendritic vaccine. Initial clinical trials showed significant effectiveness compared to non-treated controls. In a large phase 3 clinical trial 331 patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma received treatment at the time of neurosurgery with dendritic cell vaccine. 30.2% of the patients were still alive and doing well after 3 1/3 years. Without the added vaccination procedure all of these patients would have died in the past because of the aggressiveness of the glioblastoma.

    Multiple myeloma

    Researchers could cure multiple myeloma and other cancers by using the measles vaccine. Here is a report by the popular press about two women who had multiple myeloma. One woman got cured by high doses of a measles vaccine. The other women experienced some relief, but did not survive.

    This publication explains that oncolytic viral therapy of cancer is a lot more complicated than originally thought.

    Prostate cancer

    Researchers found that vaccines against prostate cancer were effective with the combination of oncolytic virus therapy with regular anti-cancer treatments. But oncolytic virus therapy alone has a poorer prognosis than a combination of chemotherapy or radiotherapy with oncolytic virus therapy.

    Cervical cancer

    The high-risk HPV16 strain most often causes cervical cancer. The HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine targets patients with previous exposure to HPV16. However, researchers have noticed that in some cases a phenomenon called the “HPV immune escape” has allowed in some vaccinated women to still develop cervical cancer. Now a group of researchers are investigating how the vaccine could be improved by finding out how the immune system is being tricked in these cases by the HPV virus to bypass the antibodies of the vaccine.

    Pancreatic cancer

    This cancer is very difficult to detect in the early stages, and as a result the outlook for chemotherapy or radiotherapy is extremely poor. Researchers have used several approaches as an alternative to conventional therapy. Immunotherapy is an option. Mayo clinic researchers have already announced that the measles vaccine approach will likely be applicable to pancreatic cancer treatment as well in the near future. However, other clinical trials are on the way to use alternative vaccination procedures.

    Neuroblastoma, glioma and melanoma

    This link shows that the FDA has accepted engineered oncolytic herpes virus (engineered to secrete GM-CSF) as a treatment against melanoma. Other approaches with engineered bacteria can affect neuroblastoma and glioma.

    Survival data using oncolytic viruses for cancer treatment

    Cancer researchers have completed a number of smaller clinical trials at this point. One of them describes end stage melanoma (stage III and IV) where the only treatment was with the oncolytic virus T‐Vec. The overall response rate compared to the control, which was only 5.7%, the experimental group with T-Vec was 26.4%. This is considered a good response rate given that we are dealing with end stage melanoma patients.

    Mechanism of how oncolytic viruses stimulate the immune system to overcome various cancers

    As mentioned above oncolytic viruses multiply in the cancer, once they have been incorporated. This leads to cancer cell death. It exposes the dead cancer tissue to the immune system. What helps in the process is that inhibitory proteins from the cancer cells that used to inhibit the immune system are no longer provided by the dead cancer cells. The end result is that the immune system mounts a formidable response against the cancer cells through killer T cells. This immune response also affects remote metastases of the same histological cancer type. This review article summarizes how oncolytic viruses work for cancer cell destruction and how this method can be combined with other treatment modalities.

    The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

    The Use Of Oncolytic Viruses For Cancer Treatment

    Conclusion

    Currently various cancer centers are involved with clinical trials in humans to test the power of oncolytic viruses. What cancer researchers have learnt is that oncolytic viruses are a useful tool to kill cancer cells. But the immune system of cancer patients is in a suppressed state. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) is a medication that will stimulate the immune system by stimulating killer T cells to destroy cancer cells. The combined effect of killing cancer cells with oncolytic viruses and stimulating the immune system is the big news. This has been the breakthrough that cancer researchers have been waiting for. Now several clinical trials are on the way where survival rates for cancer patients given the new combination therapy are assessed.

    Oncolytic virus therapy here to stay

    It is a treatment which is no longer a thought model with animal experiments. Well known medical centers are using it in patients, and as the results become more obvious, it will very likely become a new treatment modality for cancer.

    Nov
    30
    2019

    Ketogenic Diet With Ketone Supplementation

    There is a newer way to shed some pounds using a ketogenic diet with ketone supplementation. Ketosis with a ketogenic diet is difficult to achieve because it requires a lot of fat consumption and at the same time extremely low carb intake to trigger the ketogenic response. The October 2019 issue of LifeExtension magazine contained an article about a ketogenic diet with ketone supplementation. There are dip sticks with which you can test your urine for ketone bodies to verify that your metabolism has switched to ketosis. But you can also take some ketone supplements including beta-hydroxybutyrate. By adding this supplement it is easier to achieve ketosis.

    Why do people think of starting a ketogenic diet?

    Calorie restriction can mimic the effects of fasting. It leads to ketone production and improved energy metabolism. Your blood sugar goes down, you lose weight and diabetes becomes easier to manage. In an animal experiment with worms with the pretty name “C. elegans” researchers fed beta-hydroxybutyrate to these roundworms. They extended their lifespan by 20%.

    Many who are motivated to go on a ketogenic diet hope to lose weight and others may hope to live longer. One large US study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA showed that mortality over a period of 25 years was lowest when carbohydrates were in the 50 to 55% range. In the same study when carbohydrates were replaced in ketogenic diets with animal-derived protein and fat sources, mortality increased by 18%. Meat and fat were from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken.

    Problems with ketogenic diets

    Physicians have had the concern that their patients on ketogenic diets tend to eat cheap fats and meats that contain trans fats. These unhealthy fats lead to premature death from accelerated hardening of the arteries resulting in heart attacks and strokes.

    The alternative: a ketogenic diet with ketone supplementation

    A new approach to anti-aging is taking ketone bodies like beta-hydroxybutyrate as a supplement. A publication from 2017 stated that oral ketone bodies could mimic the life extending properties of caloric restriction. The authors stated: “An exogenous ketone ester provides a new tool for mimicking the effects of caloric restriction that can be used in future research. The ability to power mitochondria in aged individuals that have limited ability to oxidize glucose metabolites due to pyruvate dehydrogenase inhibition suggests new lines of research for preventative measures and treatments for aging and aging-related disorders.”

    Another publication from 2017 describes how ketones can be used as alternatives to glucose for energy. Brain cells and muscle cells in particular are very capable to utilize ketone bodies for energy. Two principal ketones are significant: acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. The liver is involved when fatty acids are broken down and ketones are manufactured.

    Ketone metabolism

    Ketones provide energy without raising blood sugar levels or stimulating insulin secretion. The body requires less processing of ketones to release energy. This means that less NAD+ is used to metabolize ketones. The end result is that more NAD+ circulates in the body, which is used to repair damaged DNA and helps slow down the aging process. Ketones mimic many of the effects of caloric restriction and intermittent fasting dieting. Ketone metabolism reduces risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

    Human experiments

    A 2018 study took 20 individuals aged between 18 and 35 years and tested them with an oral glucose tolerance test. Half of the subjects received a ketogenic hydroxybutyrate monoester, the other half just water (placebo group). The ketogenic group had 16% lower blood glucose levels. Their insulin sensitivity was 11% lower. The authors concluded: “These results suggest that ketone monoester supplements could have therapeutic potential in the management and prevention of metabolic diseases.”

    Longevity in humans 

    There has been a lot of research in the last few years indicating that sirtuins (SIR1 and SIR3) are important anti-aging genes. NAD+ needs to activate sirtuins first to make them effective. Unfortunately with the aging process less NAD+ is available, which leaves the sirtuins genes inactivated.

    In rat experiments feeding of a ketogenic diet resulted in increased levels of NAD+. The researchers measured an oxidative DNA damage marker in the hippocampus of the brain. This showed much less DNA damage in rats fed a ketogenic diet when compared to controls on a regular diet.

    Study of humans with Alzheimer’s disease

    Another human study examined the blood of Alzheimer patients, patients with mild cognitive impairment and normal controls.  Alzheimer patients had low ketone levels in the blood as well as low 2-hydroxybutyric acid. Overall this showed that there is a change in metabolism in Alzheimer’s patients that leads to low ketone bodies in the blood on one hand and beta amyloid deposits on the other hand leading to memory loss.

    A further experiment with Alzheimer’s patients showed that cognitive function improved after elevation of ketone blood levels following ingestion of beta-hydroxybutyrate.

    A healthy way to raise ketones

    Investigators in this human study determined whether various ketone-drinks were elevating blood ketone bodies reliably. 15 volunteers received ketone esters or ketone salts as a drink. There was a reduction of blood pH by 0.1 units using ketone esters. The ketone salts elevated the urinary pH from 5.7 to 8.5. An experiment with 16 volunteers measured the effect of having a meal before taking ketone esters. The ketone blood level showed a reduction of 33% after the volunteers consumed a meal and they took the ketone supplement afterwards. Ketone supplements lowered blood glucose, lowered free fatty acid and also lowered triglyceride concentrations. On the other hand, there was no change of the electrolyte levels. The authors said: “We conclude that exogenous ketone drinks are a practical, efficacious way to achieve ketosis.”

    Ketogenic Diet With Ketone Supplementation

    Ketogenic Diet With Ketone Supplementation

    Conclusion

    The liver produces ketones when a person is fasting or is on a ketogenic diet. However the high fat content of a ketogenic diet can lead to atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries with the subsequent developments of strokes and heart attacks. A much safer way of raising ketone bodies in the blood is by taking ketogenic supplements by mouth. Animal experiments and clinical trials have shown that oral ingestion of ketogenic substances appear in the blood stream within 30 minutes and remain there for 3 to 4 hours. The body tolerates ketogenic supplements well with no side effects.

    Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, achieving weight loss and longevity

    They likely will play a larger role in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease in the future. Ketogenic supplements may be an adjunct to weight loss diets. In addition, fatty acids metabolize into ketones, which turn into energy in brain cells and muscles. Oral ketones stimulate the formation of NAD+, which activate longevity genes (sirtuins). Older people have a hard time to metabolize glucose because of certain enzyme deficiencies. But the brain and the muscle tissue can metabolize ketones rapidly, even in older age. Unfortunately the price of such supplementation is forbidding at the present time.

    Nov
    23
    2019

    Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

    In an editorial of the October 2019 edition of LifeExtension William Faloon explained that omega-6 fatty acids compromise your health. He focused particularly on memory loss and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

    After a review of the medical literature he noted that Americans are eating too many foods that are laden with omega-6 fatty acids. Part of it is due to food processing with the wrong oils ). But the other problem is that processed foods also are full of omega-6 fatty acids. The merchants like omega-6 fatty acids, because they prolong the shelf life of products. But recent evidence shows that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in our food can interfere with our memory and may even lead to dementia.

    Evidence that omega-6 fatty acids are interfering with brain function

    A recent publication analyzed 116 non-demented subjects aged 69 on average.

    Blood tests were taken where 32 nutrients related to a Mediterranean diet were analyzed. In addition the researchers from the University of Illinois did functional MRI scans to assess higher brain function. The researchers also did cognitive tests to assess mental functioning.

    • The results of these experiments showed that higher lycopene levels had an association with better memory and higher executive function.
    • Subjects with higher carotenoids and trans lutein showed higher intelligence on testing.
    • B-vitamins that reduce homocysteine (vitamin B2, folate and vit. B12) and vitamin D showed an association with better executive functioning.
    • Two parts of memory testing showed that a proper balance of omega 6 to omega 3 ratio resulted in a better memory.
    • Higher omega-3 levels in the blood associated with higher overall intelligence and better executive function.

    Impact of omega-6 on brain function

    Researchers have proven that omega-3 fatty acids can help controlling inflammation in the body. This can prevent cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. However, our western food contains a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids, which causes inflammation in the body. It depends on our food choices, but it also depends on the preparation of the food. One chicken leg with skin contains about 1800 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. The process of deep-frying the same chicken leg increases the content to 4322mg of omega-6.

    One deep fried KFC chicken breast with skin has 12,663 mg omega-6 fatty acids The reason is that a lot of the deep-frying oil is full of omega-6 fatty acids.

    Cooking oils

    Here is a run down of cooking oils. All of the cooking oils have a different mix of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid composition. Many also contain oleic acid, which is an omega-9 fatty acid.

    Researchers have proven that omega-3 fatty acids can help control inflammation in the body. This can prevent cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

    As it is obvious from the table in the second last link olive oil contains 71.27% oleic acid, 9.76% omega-6 and 0.76% omega-3. It is the content of the majority of oleic acid (omega-9), which makes olive oil such healthy oil. Only two table spoons of olive oil per day will prevent heart attacks and strokes because oleic acid lowers the bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL cholesterol. Olive oil removes beta-amyloid plaques inside the brain, which means it prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

    Recommendation of best cooking oil

    Considering that olive oil has such powerful healing properties, I recommend that you cook and bake with olive oil. Also use olive oil as part of your salad dressing. On the other hand avoid these oils: corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil. They contain too much inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

    Our western food contains a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids, which causes inflammation in the body. It depends on our food choices what is in the food. But it also depends on the preparation of the food. One chicken leg contains about 1800 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. When it is deep fried with skin it contains 4322mg of omega-6.

    One deep fried KFC chicken breast with skin: 12,663 mg Omega-6 fatty acids. One of the reasons is that a lot of the deep-frying oil is full of omega-6 fatty acids.

    Math to calculate retained omega-6 from deep-frying

    You notice that many cooking oils are high in omega-6. Soybean oil has 50.42% omega-6 in it. If you cook French fries or chicken in it and the food retains only 1 teaspoon of oil in it, that’s 5000 mg times 50.42%, which is 2521 mg of omega-6 added just from deep-frying your food.

    Balancing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids

    Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are mainly used for energy. But the problem is that in our western diet too many omega-6 fatty acids are in our food. Omega-6 fatty acids can be converted into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other hand. In the past a healthy ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 was 4:1 or less. The average American now eats food with 16-times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. This is an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 16:1.

    KFC chicken breast example

    In the example of a KFC chicken breast with skin 12,663 mg omega-6 fatty acids are consumed. To balance this with omega-3 fatty acids the person would have to consume 3166 mg omega-3 fatty acids. One serving of wild salmon provides 2000 mg of omega-3. I take 3600 mg of molecularly distilled fish oil every day as a supplement (2 capsules in the morning and 2 at night). Together with the wild salmon this is 5600 mg of omega-3. This would result in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 2.26:1, which is considered to be well balanced. But generally people do not consume so much seafood and fish oil supplements to balance the omega-6 fatty acids with omega-3. It comes down to be selective with your food choices.

    Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (dementia)

    Since the mid 1980’s dementia cases have reduced by an average of 25%.

    This is because people have become more conscious of healthier eating habits and supplements. More people take lycopene, a carotenoid supplement that helps prevent heart disease. Whatever helps the heart also helps the brain. Omega-3 supplements and consumption of seafood, especially wild salmon, is also useful. If people will reduce their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to 4:1 or less, which too can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    Study to show that omega-3 fatty acids preserve the brain in older age

    Here is a study that looked at brain structure using MRI scans. 3660 participants aged 65 received MRI brain scans. The researchers recorded their food intake with questionnaires. They rescanned 2313 of these individuals 5 years later. The group highest in omega-3 consumption was compared to the group with the lowest omega-3 consumption. Blood tests were also done both initially and 5 years later to verify the omega-3 intake. The researchers found that the higher omega-3 group had less subclinical infarcts and the white matter of the brain was of a better grade. They concluded that fish consumption, the major source of omega-3 fatty acids, had a beneficial effect on brain health later in life.

    Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

    Omega-6 Fatty Acids Compromise Your Health

    Conclusion

    Omega-6 fatty acids are abundantly present in junk food, deep fries, processed foods and polyunsaturated oils like corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil and safflower oil. Because food processors like the long shelf life of processed food made with these oils, people’s intake of omega-6 fatty acids has been climbing. Now the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio regarding the average American food consumption is about 16:1. It should be 4:1 or less. It is important that you learn what contains omega-6 fatty acids and that you start cutting down. You do need a certain amount of omega-6 fatty acids for cell energy, but most people do not get enough marine based omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon and other seafood provides omega-3 fatty acids.

    Balancing omega-6 with omega-3

    I have shown using an example how you can balance omega-6 and omega-3. Having the right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 will also help you prevent dementia down the road. Consuming more olive oil can prevent heart disease and dementia as well. This contains oleic acid (an omega-9 fatty acid), which lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol.

    Nov
    16
    2019

    Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

    The FDA is aware for some time that trans fat causes Alzheimer’s disease. This is why the FDA has outlawed trans fats in 2015. But the industry was given 3 years to phase out trans fats. The FDA also gave special extensions to many companies, which allows these companies to continue adding trans fats into your food until January 2020. CNN reported about a Japanese study that examined the correlation between trans fat levels in the blood and the risk of coming down with Alzheimer’s disease.

    Japanese trans fat study

    This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

    Comment by an Alzheimer’s researcher

    Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York was not involved in the study. But he commented on the importance of it. He said: “The study used blood marker levels of trans fats, rather than more traditionally used dietary questionnaires, which increases the scientific validity of the results.” He continued: “This study is important as it builds upon prior evidence that dietary intake of trans fats can increase risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.”

    Other studies that indicate that trans fats cause Alzheimer’s disease

    On June 10, 2019 researchers published a paper that stated that three simple steps would prevent strokes and heart attacks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the US about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year, which is about one in every 4 deaths. Here are a few facts. First, there is the simple observation that patients do not control their high blood pressure enough to avoid a heart attack or stroke. Secondly, patients with high blood pressure need to restrict their salt intake, or they will develop heart attacks or strokes. Finally, patients need to avoid exposure to artificial trans fatty acids as this leads to direct damage of the lining of the arteries.

    Why avoiding artificial hydrogenated fats is important

    Given enough time, this will cause heart attacks and strokes. If patients survive to a ripe old age, they will develop Alzheimer’s disease as well. Apart from controlling blood pressure and restricting salt intake the third factor was to avoid artificial hydrogenated fats.

    Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats

    Hydrogenated fatty acids or trans fats still make their way into the grocery-shopping basket. They are present in baked goods, snacks like chips, creamer and margarines. Think of cakes and cookies, crackers, piecrust, potato chips, corn chips and microwave pop corn. Deep fried food is also full of trans fats (french fries, doughnuts, fried chicken). Trans fats can make their way into frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls. Above all do not buy any form of margarine. Hydrogenated fatty acids affect the arteries directly by increasing the harmful LDL cholesterol and decreasing the protective HDL cholesterol. This accelerates hardening of the arteries, which in turn causes heart attacks, strokes and on the long run Alzheimer’s disease. 

    Eliminate trans fats

    We need to eliminate trans fats as they are causing heart attacks and Alzheimer’s disease. There is an important difference between ruminant trans fats and artificial trans fats. Ruminant trans fats have been part of the human diet for millennia like milk fat and fat from cows, goats or sheep that are on pasture. Milk products for instance contain fat with 2-5% natural trans fats. 3-9 % of the fat in beef and lamb consists of natural trans fats. Studies have shown that the body is able to handle these natural trans fats, and heart attacks are not more frequent in people eating moderate amounts of these products including butter from cows that graze on pasture.

    Artificial trans fats

    Quite the opposite is true for artificial trans fats in margarine that comes from vegetable oil. Avoid bakery items like sweet pieces or muffins and other products that contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels! Use olive oil or coconut oil, but avoid vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil to get away from trans fats and unstable oils that turn rancid. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. Remember that merchants add artificial trans fats to prolong the shelf life of processed food. Your best defense against trans fats is to not buy processed foods. This is what I do.

    Poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

    A new study from the Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont. showed that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s. A significant risk for Alzheimer’s was a combination of high saturated fats in the diet in combination with too much sugar. Another triggering factor was the normal aging process that also contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s.

    Study showing that poor diet habits can cause Alzheimer’s

    Master student Bradley Baranowski and PhD student Kirsten Bott conducted the experiments under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Rebecca MacPherson. The experimental group consisted of middle-aged mice that were observed for 13 weeks. They received a high-fat/high-sugar diet. The control group received a normal diet.

    The experimental group with the high fat/high sugar diet was aging prematurely. They also showed elevated inflammatory markers, elevated insulin levels and cellular stress. Dr. MacPherson mentioned that the middle-aged mice would be comparable to humans aged 40 to 60. “We’re trying to see what the initiating signals are that can lead to progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” MacPherson said.

    Lifestyle choices matter

    “People often view Alzheimer’s disease as a genetic disease when in fact, genetic mutations leading to Alzheimer’s accounts for less than five per cent of cases,” Baranowski said in the press release. “This study highlights that our lifestyle choices matter and can potentially put us at risk of developing or progressing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

    Over the years many other researchers have analyzed what factors contribute to developing Alzheimer’s. It probably is a combination of several factors.

    Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

    Trans Fat Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

    Conclusion

    Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020. Many countries are more lax in their laws. It is up to the consumer to read food labels and decide not to buy certain products known to contain trans fats like frozen pizza crusts, non-dairy coffee cream, canned biscuits and cinnamon rolls, just to mention a few. Eliminate artificial trans fats from your food and avoid the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Nov
    09
    2019

    Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

    In the following I am discussing the non-drug treatment for migraines in women. There are a number of different types of headaches: common headaches, tension type headaches, cluster headaches and migraine headaches. Here I am only zeroing in on migraine headaches.

    Introduction

    A migraine headache is the second most common headache and occurs with an average frequency of about 12% in the general population. Women outnumber men in the U.S. by a factor of 3 to 1 with migraines. There is a genetic factor as migraine sufferers’ family members are getting migraines about 3-fold more often than the general public. Newer insights into hormonal connections point to the fact that often migraine sufferers are in an estrogen dominant state (Ref. 4). With estrogen dominance there is a disbalance between estrogen production and progesterone production. For instance, many women who develop fibroids miss their ovulation and as a result can have fertility problems (no corpus luteum developed in the ovaries). The reason for infertility, fibroid development and the development of migraines in some migraine sufferers is the lack of progesterone in the second half of the cycle.

    Xenoestrogens

    Xenoestrogens (pesticides, artificial hormones like Provera, the birth control pill etc.) can also function as a contributor to the estrogen load as a woman’s estrogen receptors will have a partial fit with them. The resulting hormone disbalance can trigger migraines in migraine sufferers. The trigger is the relative lack of natural progesterone. This may also be the reason why migraines are much more common in woman than men. On the other hand Dr. S.A. Dugan has done hormone studies on both male and female patients with migraine. He found that both sexes are often also suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and lipid disorders including high cholesterol, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and depression. When these patients had hormone tests were done on these patients the majority had what Dr. Dzugan called “steroidopenia” (low levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA). This is discussed in more detail under Ref. 3.

    Symptoms

    Migraines present in 85% without an aura (formerly called “common migraines”) and in 15% with an aura (formerly called “classic migraines”). An aura consists of changed behaviors such as pacing, yawning, craving of certain foods, lethargy, depression or mild euphoria. These symptoms are separate from the migraine aura, which consists of neurological symptoms such as visual symptoms arise 1 or 2 hours before the migraine headache starts and disappear about 1 hour after the start of the migraine.

    Types of migraine aura symptoms

    These migraine aura symptoms are quite varied and can include numbness of the skin in a hand or a foot on the side where the migraine is and around the mouth area. Spotty eye field defects can also occur immediately prior to the onset of the headache and there may be deficits in language expression and pronunciation. Other such migraine aura symptoms can consist of double vision, ringing in the ears, balance problems, a gait abnormality and decreased levels of consciousness.

    Typically a migraine is confined to one side of the head

    The actual migraine headache is on one side of the head, can last 4 hours to 3 days, is throbbing in nature, moderately to severe in intensity and is made worse by physical activity, light or noise. The patient is complaining of nausea and might be vomiting with a severe migraine. In a small percentage of patients a more severe form of complicated migraine (or “migraine with prolonged aura”) can develop where the patient has prolonged symptoms of a migraine aura for more than 1 hour, but usually less than 1 week. These patients should be investigated thoroughly by a neurologist as a small percentage of these patients can develop persistent neurological symptoms including a “migraine stroke ” (=a stroke like clinical picture) (Ref. 1, p. 2067).

    Conventional treatment of migraines

    Medication that is used is quite different between attacks as compared to during an attack. During a migraine attack non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (=NSAIDs) and dihydroergotamine or Sumatriptan, which stimulate serotonin receptors, are common medications. Drug dependency issues on narcotics have to be discussed frankly with the patient because of the danger of rebound migraines that are triggered by the continued use of narcotics. Sumatriptan can be given intranasally, but it is important for the physician to monitor overuse and dependency on this medication. In males there is a higher risk for heart attacks as a side effect of the medication. The patient can also receive Prochlorperazine (brand name: Stemetil or Compro) intravenously as a drip in an Emergency room setting. This can abort a migraine.

    Preventatives of migraine attacks

    Between migraine attacks there are a number of preventatives that are effective. They consist of beta-blockers such as propranolol, metoprolol, Timolol and others; NSAIDs such as ASA, naproxen or ketoprofen; calcium channel blockers such as Verapamil or Flunarizine, also antidepressants such as amitriptyline.

    Gabapentin is the latest medication that research found to be useful in several smaller studies. Gabapentin (brand name: Neurontin) releases GABA in some parts of the brain and inhibits the NMDA pain receptors. Dr. Stephen Clarke, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Div. of Neurology of the University of BC/Vancouver/Canada, reviewed the use of gabapentin at a conference in Vancouver/BC in November 2004 (Ref. 2).

    Other medication for headache prevention are the anticonvulsant gabapentin; the MAO inhibitor phenelzine and the serotonin stimulating drugs methysergide and cyproheptadine. Unfortunately many of these medications do not work 100% and there is a lack of good randomized studies to prove effectiveness.

    Non-conventional, but effective treatment of migraines

    Bioidentical progesterone treatment

    In light of what I explained above with regard to a hormone disbalance in women migraine sufferers, it is logical that Dr. Lee suggested (Ref. 5) using 20 mg of a bioidentical progesterone cream applied to the skin during the second half of the cycle (day 12 to 26 of the cycle). After three months there is usually a significant improvement of the migraines. With only a partial response to this low dose of progesterone cream, the doctor can increase the progesterone dosage temporarily to 40 or 50 mg per day from day 12 to 26 of the cycle for several months. If there is a response, the doctor continues treatments with bioidentical progesterone cream until menopause. An alternative to bio-identical progesterone cream is Prometrium (micronized progesterone) by mouth, 100mg or 200mg at bedtime. Discuss this with your doctor. You will need a prescription from him/her for Prometrium.

    Avoid migraine triggering factors

    It is important to include in the regimen of anti-migraine measures non drug regimens such as avoidance of triggering factors like certain foods (chocolate, red wine, certain cheeses and strong smells) or bright lights and noises. It is important to pay attention to consistent sleeping patterns and meal times. When emotional factors play a role, counseling, relaxation techniques like yoga, self-hypnosis and biofeedback methods are all helpful as well. The doctor refers more complex migraine cases to a neurologist or a multidisciplinary headache clinic.

    Dr. Dzugan’s “correction of steroidopenia” approach

    Since Dr. Dzugan published the results of treating migraine sufferers with the Dzugan method, it is important to look at all of the hormones including steroid hormones as mentioned above. Any hormone deficiency is rectified using bio-identical hormones; then the doctor repeats hormone levels to verify hormone balance. Dr. Dzugan found that following “correction of steroidopenia” after 9 to 12 months at the latest almost all of his patients were migraine free and lost all of the other accompanying symptoms.

    Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

    Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

    Conclusion

    Many women suffer needlessly from migraines because of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance occurs when they miss an ovulation (because of a lack of the corpus luteum that manufactures progesterone in the second part of the menstrual cycle). But taking the birth control pill or taking HRT with synthetic hormones in menopause can also cause estrogen dominance. This is when bioidentical progesterone replacement can help to rebalance progesterone and estrogen. Migraines often disappear in the process of this approach. If you have migraines, you should discuss the bioidentical progesterone approach with your doctor.

    References

    1. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.,2000, W. B. Saunders Company
    2. The 50th Annual St. Paul’s Hospital Continuing Medical Education Conference for Primary Physicians, Nov. 16 – 19, 2004, Vancouver,BC, Canada
    3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm…: Dzugan SA, Rozakis GW, Dzugan KS, Emhof L, Dzugan SS, Xydas C, Michaelides C, Chene J, Medvedovsky M.: “Correction of steroidopenia as a new method of hypercholesterolemia treatment.” Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(1):77-81.
    4. Dr. John R. Lee, David Zava and Virginia Hopkins: “What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer – How hormone balance can help save your life”, Wellness Central, Hachette Book Group USA, 2005. On page 256 and 257 Dr. Lee describes how he uses progesterone as a cream to treat PMS.
    5. Dr. John R. Lee: “Natural Progesterone- The remarkable roles of a remarkable hormone”, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2nd edition, 1999, Bristol, England.
    Nov
    02
    2019

    A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

    It is not the first time that there has been an announcement of a new drug for Alzheimer’s. In the first place, in 2013 Pfizer had to admit that their new drug did not exceed the effects of placebo. Second, in 2016 Eli Lilly’s drug solanezumab failed to show effects in Phase 3 trials. Third, Merck developed a drug that was supposed to fight beta-amyloid plaques of the brain in Alzheimer patients. But the drug was not effective and the trials were discontinued in 2017. Fourth, Johnson & Johnson’s attempted to develop a drug that would slow cognitive decline in early Alzheimer’s patients. But study participants developed elevated liver enzymes indicating liver toxicity. The trial stopped in May 2018. This meant that a new drug for Alzheimer’s had not been developed.

    New drug against Alzheimer’s may be expensive

    In like manner the pharmaceutical giant, Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai have now announced that they were successful in Phase 3 clinical trials with the new drug aducanumab. In other words, patients with Alzheimer’s disease experienced better brain function, memory, cognition, orientation and language. One of the doctors involved in clinical trials of this drug notably mentioned that even, if the FDA hurdles are overcome, the drug might be extremely expensive. This could be devastating to patients and families of Alzheimer’s patients, who are most likely unable to afford a costly medication.

    Alternative approach to treating and preventing Alzheimer’s

    At the 22nd Annual A4M Las Vegas Conference in mid December 2014 Pamela Smith gave a presentation entitled ”How To Maintain Memory At Any Age”. She gave a comprehensive overview of what you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Surely, the better we understand the causes of Alzheimer’s the more we can interfere with the biochemical processes that lead to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

    Specifically, there are many lifestyles that cause memory loss: too much stress (from high cortisol levels that damage the hippocampus); smoking that damages acetylcholine receptors; chronic alcohol abuse leads to memory problems from the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells. This in turn causes a disbalance of serotonin, endorphins and acetylcholine in the hippocampus. This area of the brain is where our memory is located.

    Lack of exercise

    The first thing to remember is that a lack of exercise is an independent risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise increases the blood supply to the brain, strengthens neural connections and leads to growth of neurons, the basic building blocks of the brain. In addition, mood-regulating neurotransmitters are also receiving a boost (serotonin and endorphins).

    Inflammatory conditions, foods and drugs that can affect memory

    Conversely, any inflammatory condition can trigger destruction of neurons, so do the beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. By the same token, contributory factors can be food allergies, disbalance of gut bacteria, recreational drugs (particularly ecstasy) and certain medications. Equally important, Dr. Smith stated that the most common foods causing allergies that affect the brain are: sugar, wheat, dairy, eggs, shellfish, potatoes, beef, tomatoes, corn, coffee, peanuts, roasted soy beans and yeast. Moreover, Dr. Smith mentioned that the following medications can affect memory: statins, sedatives, steroids, levodopa, muscle relaxants, antihypertensive drugs, antidepressants, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, anti-arrhythmic drugs, pain relieving drugs (analgesics) and antihistamines. Regarding antihistamines it is only the older type like Nytol, Benadryl, Ditropan and Piriton, which have strong “anticholinergic” effects and make you tired.  If you are on any of these, you may want to discuss alternatives with your doctor. Similarly, Dr. Perlmutter mentioned in Ref. 1 that statins interfere with brain function and can lead to Alzheimer’s.

    Promoting brain health

    Medication helps only to stall further memory loss for up to 6 months, so Dr. Smith said about medications only: “much research is still necessary in this area”.

    On the other hand she stated that many foods, vitamins and supplements in combination could improve memory and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

    She spent considerable time in the remainder of her talk on details regarding foods, vitamins and supplements.

    Dr. Smith said that we need to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants like blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; cherries, cranberries, cooked kale, garlic, grapes, prunes, raisins and raw spinach. But at the same time she stressed that we cannot trust the food industry anymore, and we need to buy organic foods. She gave an example of the “dirty dozen” as defined by the environmental working group (contaminated fruits and vegetables).

    Portion control and healthy fats

    Food intake also applies to portions: eat 5 to 6 smaller meals per day. Consume red meat no more than three times per week.

    The brain needs fats like nuts and seeds: walnuts, almonds, pine nuts etc.

    Fish also contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and DHA. The problem with predator fish like tuna or swordfish is that they have high contamination levels of mercury. But wild salmon and mackerel are still OK. A good alternative is to supplement with pharmaceutical grade EPA/DHA omega-3 capsules.

    They are molecularly distilled, which means they are not contaminated with mercury or PBC’s, and they are more concentrated; they typically contain 1000 to 1400 mg of EPA/DHA per capsule. One to two capsules twice per day (a total of 2 to 4 per day) would be a good anti-inflammatory dose.

    Specific food recommendations

    Use olive oil and coconut oil for cooking; avoid the omega-6 oils (safflower oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil to just mention a few). These latter oils, which are heavily advertised by the food industry, create too much arachidonic acid leading to body inflammation. Your brain is very sensitive to inflammation, which causes Alzheimer’s. For the same reason avoid deep fried foods and processed foods.

    There is more you need to watch for: no food additives, no artificial food colorings, no preservatives, flavors and MSG. Be alert about the food industry’s alternative “language” or terminology for MSG. The label often says “natural flavor”, “yeast extract” etc.

    Brain nutrients

    Dr. Smith reviewed a long list of brain nutrients that support the brain in its metabolism and prevent the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    I will only highlight the most effective and established nutrients here. 

    DHA

    It has been known since 1999 that Alzheimer’s patients are missing DHA in their system.

    Molecularly distilled fish oil with high omega-3 fatty acids (both EPA and DHA) is one of the mainstays of prevention of inflammation in the body and the brain. 2 capsules twice per day of the concentrated 1000mg to 1400 mg capsules is a desirable dose to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    Phosphatylserine (PS)

    This phospholipid is part of the membrane of brain cells and controls what nutrients enter into them. It also increases the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.

    Dr. Smith mentioned that PS is naturally present in foods like brown rice, fish, soy and green vegetables (particularly the leafy ones). The daily dosage recommended by Dr. Smith is 300 mg (note: some people develop a bothersome, but harmless bitter taste in the mouth at this dose; in this case you can take a lower dose like 100 or 200 mg per day).

    Ginkgo biloba

    Ginkgo Biloba improves blood flow to the brain and counteracts shrinkage of the hippocampus with age. Dr. Smith recommends 60 mg to 240 mg daily.

    Alpha Lipoic Acid: Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant which helps stimulating the sprouting of new nerve cells and nerve fibers. Take 100 mg of alpha lipoic acid daily for memory.

    Other supplements

    Dr. Smith recommended many other supplements, which I will not explain in detail here: B vitamins, vitamin E and C, carnosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, boron, ginger, coenzyme Q10 (or CoQ10), curcumin, vinpocetine, zinc, grape seed extract, blueberry extract, Ashwaganda, glyceryl-phosphoryl-choline, SAMe, huperzine A and DMAE.

    When the benefits of taking CoQ10 were discussed, Dr. Smith reminded the audience that “whatever is good for the heart, is good for the brain”. She recommended to read Dr. Perlmutter’s book from which this phrase was borrowed (Ref. 1). Her recommended dose of CoQ10 for people above the age of 50 was 400 mg per day. That’s double of what a 35-year old person would need.

    Genetic factors

    Dr. Smith pointed out that there are about 5 genes that have been detected to have an association with Alzheimer’s disease and in addition the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4). About 30% of people carry this gene, yet only about 10% get Alzheimer’s disease, which shows how important lifestyle factors are (in medical circles this is called “epigenetic factors”) to suppress the effect of the APOE4 gene. She also stated that our genes contribute only about 20% to the overall risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This leaves us with 80% of Alzheimer’s cases where we can use the brain nutrients discussed above and exercise to improve brain function. Since then new Alzheimer’s genes have been detected, namely a total of 25 genes. However, this does not change what Dr. Smith has stated, namely that a healthy lifestyle can mostly overrule the effects of genes and only 20% the genes will result in the overall risk to develop Alzheimer’s.

    A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

    A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

    Conclusion

    Don’t wait for a magic pill by Big Pharma that they may come up with. The latest such pill may be aducanumab from Biogen and its Japanese partner Eisai. But as mentioned earlier the drug might be extremely expensive and unaffordable for the regular consumer.

    Follow the simple steps in combination that Dr. Pamela Smith talked about in her presentation: Exercise, have organic food to keep toxins out of your body and brain, replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones and take supplements that are effective. In other words provide the right environment for your genes to work properly without getting Alzheimer’s disease.

    Reference

    1. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

     

    Oct
    26
    2019

    Steroid Injections Are Doing Harm, But Stem Cells Help

    When a person has osteoarthritis, steroid injections are doing harm, but stem cells help. A new study published in the journal “Radiology” came to the conclusion that steroid injections are doing harm.

    The article was published on October 15, 2019. 459 patients with osteoarthritis of knees or hips received injections with intraarticular corticosteroids or placebo to conduct this study. As a matter of fact steroid injections are a standard treatment for moderate to severe osteoarthritis. The injections consisted of triamcinolone 40 mg mixed with a local anesthetic. 36 of these patients (8%) had adverse events in their joints.

    Here is the break down of these negative events following intraarticular corticosteroid injections.

    • Accelerated osteoarthritis progression (6%)
    • Subchondral insufficiency fracture (0.9%)
    • Osteonecrosis (0.7%)
    • Rapid joint destruction with bone loss (0.7%)

    Critical analysis of effects of intraarticular corticosteroid injections

    The authors reviewed the literature and came across an evidence-based review by the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group involving 1767 participants. The review showed an overall low evidence for all outcomes. Intraarticular corticosteroid injections were inconsistent and variations between trials were high. Certainly, there was a moderate improvement of joint pain, and physical joint function improved as well.

    But then again more severe osteoarthritis in knee or hip joints showed a lack of improvement and in many cases even joint deterioration. With this in mind, these cases often ended up with total hip or total knee replacements. Overall the Cochrane review showed a lack of objective evidence of symptom improvement after intraarticular corticosteroid injections in people with osteoarthritis.

    Mesenchymal stem cell injections for osteoarthritis

    A fairly recent alternative approach to treating osteoarthritis is by mesenchymal stem cell injection with platelet-rich plasma activation. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 35 studies regarding knee osteoarthritis and mesenchymal stem cell injections in 2018. There were minor adverse events like knee pain and swelling. No serious side effects of the stem cell treatments were noted. The outcome of the treatment was classified as “very low” to “low”. The reason for this were poor study designs, large heterogeneity among the studies and wide variation among the 95% confidence intervals regarding study outcomes.

    Australian study of mesenchymal stem cell injections into symptomatic knees

    A short-term study from Australia examined 30 patients with mesenchymal stem cell therapy for knee osteoarthritis. There were two treatment groups. One group received 100 million adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells into symptomatic osteoarthritis knee joints. Another treatment group received 100 million mesenchymal stem cells twice, namely at baseline and at 6 months after the first injection. The third group served as a control with continued conservative management. All of the groups had baseline MRI scans (magnetic resonance imaging) to assess the knee conditions. Both treatment groups had pain and inflammation at baseline. After 1 year following the initial treatment the patients had repeat MRI scans. They showed modification of the disease process in the treatment arm, while the controls had deteriorating osteoarthritis. The researchers concluded that adipose derived mesenchymal stem cell treatment of knee osteoarthritis has the potential of preventing disease progression.

    Why stem cells help with osteoarthritis of the knees and the hips

    Here is a research project between researchers from Palm Harbor, Florida and researchers from Serbia. The Center for Molecular Medicine and Stem Cell Research, Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Kragujevac, Serbia reviewed the literature on treatment of osteoarthritis.

    The researchers explain that the physician can easily harvest mesenchymal stem cells by doing a liposuction of fat cells. These stem cells maintain their differentiation potential and there is only minor immunological rejection because of low histocompatibility antigen expression. As a result mesenchymal stem cells stay in the joint where they are injected.

    Two processes that occur with injected stem cells

    Two main advantages of mesenchymal stem cells stand out. Mesenchymal stem cells are capable of building up hyaline cartilage and in addition they have immunosuppressive characteristics. In comparison with controls patients who receive intraarticular injections of mesenteric stem cells have less pain and less swelling.

    This review paper cites all the major animal and human studies regarding mesenchymal stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis. It concludes that stem cell therapy is most effective in mild to moderate osteoarthritis cases. It stresses the point that stem cells can regenerate joint tissues and that the inflammatory process of osteoarthritis is interrupted by the stem cells. This stabilized the osteoarthritic condition.

    Steroid Injections Are Doing Harm, But Stem Cells Help

    Steroid Injections Are Doing Harm, But Stem Cells Help

    Conclusion

    Mesenchymal stem cells derived from fatty tissue will repair tissue defects in joints afflicted by osteoarthritis. The stem cells also take care of the inflammation, which takes care of pain and swelling. Range of motion of the joint increases following stem cell treatment. Other studies have shown that intraarticular steroid injections do not interrupt the degenerative process. MRI scan studies have shown deterioration of the joint tissues following steroid injections. All in all, stem cell treatments of joints with osteoarthritis are superior to a treatment with steroid injections.

    Oct
    19
    2019

    How Marijuana Affects Your Reproductive Health

    The latest edition of the British Columbia Medical Journal contains an article on how marijuana affects your reproductive health.

    Dr. Dunne is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of the linked review above.

    Products of the Cannabis sativa plant like marijuana and hashish are most popular in North America. Since October 2018 smoking recreational marijuana is legal in Canada.

    The medical community has some concerns, as we do not fully know the long-term effects of smoking marijuana. In the following I will summarize the effects on the male and female reproduction based on Dr. Caitlin Dunne’s report.

    Consumption of marijuana

    Marijuana contains over 500 compounds, of which 100 are cannabinoids. The ingredient that produces the high a user gets is due to tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). Cannabis is available in different forms. It can be smoked (raw leaves or extract), but it can also be converted into edibles. Ingestion of cannabis creates a longer-lasting experience. The reason for this is that the liver metabolizes cannabis into more psychoactive forms by the liver enzyme, cytochrome P-450. Smoking marijuana can irritate the airways; oral consumption of cannabis products can lead to vomiting, nausea and disorientation.

    Contaminants in cannabis such as pesticides, microbial toxins and metals can also be harmful to recreational marijuana users.

    Endocannabinoid system

    Researchers found endogenous cannabinoids in the brain that function as messenger molecules. They need to activate their targets, the cannabinoid receptors, called CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found mainly in the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are located mainly in the immune system. Reproductive organs have their own cannabinoid receptors. The lining of the uterus contains only CB1 receptors. Ovaries and testicles both use CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC from smoking or ingesting marijuana can stimulate these cannabinoid receptors also. But compared to the body’s own cannabinoids THC is much stronger. This leads to more pronounced effects that concern many physicians.

    How marijuana affects your reproductive health: female fertility

    The normal functioning of the body requires that the hypothalamus send gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to the pituitary to release follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The FSH release happens mainly in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. LH is released in the 3rd and 4th week of the menstrual cycle. Only when the female hormone rhythm works can a follicle in the ovary mature and ovulate normally. After ovulation the corpus luteum needs further LH stimulation to start prednisone production, which helps with embryo implantation and with sustaining the pregnancy.

    THC from cannabis consumption interferes at all the levels of these hormone actions. Cannabinoids suppress GnRH, FSH and LH release.

    This is the reason why moderate to heavy users of marijuana have infertility problems. If a woman is a moderate to heavy consumer of marijuana she cannot ovulate normally, and hence she has difficulties getting pregnant.

    How marijuana affects your reproductive health: pregnancy

    THC from cannabis use can cross the placental barrier. Levels in cord blood are three to six times lower than the mother’ blood level, as the placenta attempts to detoxify THC.

    Prenatal exposure to cannabis can interfere with fetal growth and alter neurodevelopment. These children can have permanent effects regarding academic achievement and intellectual capacity. Other risks are hyperactivity, attention-deficit disorder, and impulsivity, but also future substance abuse.

    CB1 receptors seem to regulate mitochondria, the energy packages of cells and cellular adenyl cyclase.

    The end results are mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.

    Clinical studies regarding cannabis use in pregnancy

    Recently a BC study followed 243,140 pregnant women. Over an 8-year period cannabis use rose from 2.2% to 3.3%. Closer analysis of the pregnant cannabis group showed an increased risk of poor perinatal outcomes. 47% had smaller babies than expected (“small for gestational age” is the medical term). 27% were born prematurely, there was a risk of 2.4-fold that the baby died in the womb (“intrapartum stillbirth”). Women who used cannabis often used other illicit drugs as well. They also often had a history of mental illness. The authors relied on self-reporting, which means the cannabis use likely was underreported.

    An American study

    An American study from 2016 identified 7,851 pregnant patients who used cannabis. Like the BC study they showed a low-birth weight and preterm deliveries. But when the authors controlled for confounding factors, namely mainly tobacco use, statistical significance disappeared.

    Often marijuana users are also tobacco users. Tobacco has long been proven to lead to prematurely born babies and babies that are too small for their age. The BC study had controlled for tobacco use and thee results were only due to smoking or consuming marijuana.

    How marijuana affects your reproductive health: male fertility

    Males on cannabis also contribute to infertility of the couple. The hypothalamic/pituitary/testicle hormone axis needs to also be intact for proper sperm cell maturation to take place. In medical language sperm cells are spermatozoa. The hypothalamus generated gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which stimulates the pituitary to release FSH and LH. LH stimulates testosterone production in the Leydig cells of the testicles. FSH stimulates spermatogenesis (production of sperm cells) from the so-called Sertoli cells. Testosterone, along with FSH provides a stimulatory effect on spermatogenesis. Whenever a system is that complicated, much can go wrong. Sperm cells contain both CB1 and CB2 receptors. When the man uses marijuana regularly, THC exposure can significantly interfere with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

    Effects of THC on sperm motility, sperm concentrations and DNA

    This leads to sperm cell mobility reduction. In an experiment where THC was added to sperm from 78 men in vitro (Petri dishes) researchers simulated high marijuana users and moderate marijuana users.

    They found that lower THC concentrations caused 28% sperm motility reduction, high TCH caused 56% sperm motility reduction. Many other publications exist that documented similar results and correlated these findings with infertility of couples.

    Studies on sperm cell motility and marijuana use are inconsistent. In 2019 a study came out from the Chan Scholl of Public Health where researchers analyzed 1143 semen samples and 317 blood samples.

    They found no difference in terms of findings among men who smoked marijuana versus men who never smoked Marijuana. They looked at sperm concentrations, DNA aberrations of sperm cells.

    This leaves many questions open regarding marijuana toxicity.

    How Marijuana Affects Your Reproductive Health

    How Marijuana Affects Your Reproductive Health

    Conclusion

    Marijuana affects the reproductive organs, but it is easier to document in women than in men. In women marijuana has an effect on fertility and on pregnancy, which is measurable. However, in men the results of investigations have been conflicting. Here is a statement of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. They believe “there is sufficient evidence of harm to advise women to avoid cannabis when pregnant”. Use of marijuana is also not advisable for women who are breastfeeding. At this point a similar clear suggestion regarding reproductive health cannot be made to men, but the in vitro study with TCH suggests that it is wise to refrain from marijuana when a man tries to father a child. Further studies will likely clarify these outlines.

    Oct
    12
    2019

    Naps For Heart Health

    In an article published online Sept. 9, 2019 a Swiss research group mentions naps for heart health. Specifically, they observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped for 5 minutes to an hour once or twice per week had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. When the researchers constructed survival curves, people who did not nap had the worst survival curves. On the other hand, the persons who napped once or twice per week had the best survival curves. The ones who napped 3 to 5 times per week or 6 to 7 times per week were in between the other survival curves.

    Naps for heart health with adrenal gland fatigue

    Adrenal gland fatigue is one of the clinical conditions where we know that naps rebuild energy. This is a hormone weakness where the adrenal glands can have reduced hormone production. The location of our adrenal glands is right above the kidneys. These hormone glands have a circadian rhythm. The highest amount of adrenal gland hormones production occurs in the morning and there is a gradual decline throughout the day. Our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as any snacks lead to mini peaks of the adrenal gland hormone production. If we get enough sleep, there is no excessive stress in our lives and we do not smoke or abuse alcohol and drugs, most people will not know that they have adrenal glands as they are quietly working in the background. However, your adrenal glands may function in the lower end of normal bordering to adrenal gland fatigue.

    Power naps during the day can normalize your adrenal gland hormones

    When you take a power nap during the day, your adrenal gland hormone production normalizes. This makes you feel good and energetic. Patients who have adrenal gland fatigue feel more energy when they remove sugar and refined carbs from their diet. They also feel more energy when they have small snacks halfway through the morning and afternoon. Vitamin C as a supplement is useful as it stabilizes adrenal gland hormone production.

    Discussion of the Swiss research regarding naps for heart health

    There was no medical explanation given regarding why napping prolongs life. But it is entirely possible that those people who unknowingly have borderline adrenal gland fatigue are responding to building up their adrenal gland production. We know from the literature that stress kills. It would make sense that if the ACTH/adrenal gland hormone system is functioning better, mortality would be reduced. From people in Spain that value their “siesta” during the early afternoon we know that they are doing something right. Their life expectancy was an impressive 82.83 years in 2016 compared to 78.69 years for the US average. 

    Naps For Heart Health

    Naps For Heart Health

    Conclusion

    A Swiss study observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped during the day for 5 minutes to an hour had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. This resulted in less mortality of those who napped during the day. The researchers had no explanation for this observation. When I reviewed the literature regarding adrenal gland fatigue, I was impressed by the fact that many borderline patients get help from power naps and snacks of food between meals. Their ACTH/cortisol production can normalize this way and they survive better. At this point we do not know for sure why a nap reduces heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. 

    More about adrenal gland fatigue here.

    Oct
    05
    2019

    Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

    New research showed that the breast cancer risk persists after hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This is described in this CNN article. It is common knowledge for some time that female patients who use synthetic hormones as hormone replacement in menopause, have a 1.6-fold to 1.8-fold risk to develop breast cancer. However, since the abrupt ending of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002 the truth about the risks of HRT became known and made HRT more confusing. After all, in this trial they wanted to show once and for all that HRT would be beneficial. The expectation was that HRT would prevent osteoporosis, heart attacks and breast cancer. But the results were quite different. Instead the study found a 41% increase in strokes, 29% increase in heart attacks, 26% increase in breast cancer, 22% increase in total cardiovascular disease and a doubling in the risk for blood clots.

    Missing information about synthetic hormones

    What the authors of the study did not explain was the fact that it was the properties of the synthetic hormones, progestagen and Premarin, that were responsible for the negative effects. Had researchers insisted to perform the study with bioidentical hormones, the results would have been quite the opposite! With bioidentical hormone replacement we see the prevention of heart attacks and clots; cancer rates are lower than controls, and the prevention of osteoporosis is another benefit. The end result is a reduction in mortality rates. These horrifying results from the use of synthetic hormones still frighten many women. This is particularly so when it comes to replacing hormones after menopause.

    Breast cancer risk study with HRT in more details

    The research study described in the CNN article is based on this comprehensive Lancet study. The researchers did a Meta analysis of 58 prospective studies. Unfortunately all the hormones given were synthetic hormones (not bioidentical ones) that had the same configuration as in the WHI. On average women became menopausal at age 50. This is when the physicians commenced HRT. The prospective follow-up showed that 108,647 postmenopausal women developed breast cancer around the age of 65. 55,575 women (51%) had used HRT. Postmenopausal women who used estrogen/progestagen combinations during years 1–4 had a relative risk of 1.60-fold to develop breast cancer. This risk increased during years 5–14 after exposure to estrogen/progestagen with a relative risk of 2.08-fold to develop breast cancer. 

    More details about breast cancer risks

    The risk of developing breast cancer was lower when women took estrogen only as a form of HRT. For years 1-4 the relative breast cancer risk for patients on estrogen alone was only 1.17-fold. Regarding years 5-14 with estrogen-alone replacement the breast cancer risk was 1.33-fold.

    Women of average weight who started their HRT of estrogen/progestagen pills at age 50 with menopause one woman in 50 users developed breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 69. In women who used estrogen regularly, but progestagen only irregularly, one in 70 users developed breast cancer. For estrogen only users one in every 200 women developed breast cancer.

    Discussion of the above results

    Dr. Wright and Dr. John Lee have pointed out years ago that there are alternatives to taking synthetic hormones as HRT. Taking oral synthetic hormone preparations is problematical. First, the pharmaceutical company attached chemical side chains to the synthetic hormones. The women’s estrogen receptors recognize the synthetic hormones only partially. Hormone researchers developed progestagen to mimic a woman’s progesterone. But it turns out that the estrogen receptors read progestagens like an estrogen. This is the reason why there are higher breast cancer rates with the combination of estrogen/progestagen than estrogen alone. Secondly, there is a problem of estrogen dominance, which causes a higher likelihood that the patient develops breast cancer or heart attacks.

    Avoiding estrogen dominance reduces breast cancer risk

    If estrogen is balanced with progesterone, the cancer promoting effect of estrogen is counterbalanced, and the women on bioidentical hormone replacement are protected from the serious side effects women of the WHI had to endure.

    Bioidentical estrogen applications are available through creams that women apply to the skin. This avoids the problem of the first-pass effect; if estrogens are absorbed from a pill in the gut they have to pass through the liver, which is the organ that metabolizes them.

    Bioidentical hormone replacement as an alternative to HRT

    In Europe there has been a strong resistance to using synthetic hormones. As a result long-term studies were able to show that there is no danger when bioidentical hormone replacements therapy uses creams that are applied to the skin or intravaginally. This avoids the first-pass effect in the liver, as is the case with synthetic estrogens and progestagens taken orally as pills.

    John Lee stated that physicians should measure hormones and identify those women who are truly hormone deficient. These are the ones who need hormone replacement. However, physicians should use only bioidentical hormones in a hormone replacement therapy. And they should also replace only as much as necessary to normalize the hormone levels. This is also the level where postmenopausal symptoms disappear. Dr. Lee noted: “A 10-year French study of HRT using a low-dose estradiol patch plus oral progesterone shows no increased risk of breast cancer, strokes or heart attacks”.

    How is bioidentical hormone replacement done?

    The best method is usually a bioidentical hormone cream application to the forearms or to the chest wall once per day. A woman on bioidentical hormone replacement applies bioidentical Bi-Est cream and progesterone cream to the skin of her forearms or chest wall. The hormones get directly absorbed into the blood stream and can do their job without interference. The treating physician can prescribe different amounts of the bioidentical hormones depending on saliva tests or blood tests. 1 or 2 months later repeat blood or saliva tests can follow to verify that the amounts of the replacement hormones and their absorption are adequate for the patient’s need.

    Difficulties to measure progesterone levels

    Dr. David Zava, PhD gave a talk on breast cancer risks. This was a presentation at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. Dr. Zava, who runs the ZRT laboratory, spent some time to explain how to measure progesterone in a physiological way.

    Blood (serum) progesterone levels do not adequately reflect what the hormone tissue level is like in a woman’s breasts. On the other hand saliva hormone levels are giving an accurate account of what breast tissue levels are like.

    Progesterone blood levels versus progesterone tissues levels

    Dr. Zava gave an example of a woman who received an application of 30 mg of topical progesterone. Next, laboratory tests observed hourly progesterone levels in serum and saliva. The serum progesterone levels remained at around 2 ng/ml, while the saliva progesterone levels peaked 3 to 5 hours after the application. It reached 16 ng/ml in saliva, which also represents the breast tissue progesterone level. Dr. Zava said that the important lesson to learn from this is not to trust blood progesterone levels. Too many physicians fall into this trap and order too much progesterone cream based on a misleading low blood test. This leads to overdosing progesterone. With salivary progesterone levels it is possible to see the physiological tissue levels, which is impossible with blood tests. Dr. Zava emphasized that testing blood or urine as progesterone hormone tests will underestimate bio-potency and lead to overdosing the patient.

    Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

    Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

    Conclusion

    A new Meta analysis of 58 prospective studies with a large amount of participants showed that standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for postmenopausal women causes breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who used estrogen/progestagen combinations during years 1–4 after menopause had a relative risk of 1.60-fold to develop breast cancer. This risk increased during years 5–14 after exposure to estrogen/progestagen with a relative risk of 2.08-fold to develop breast cancer. Unfortunately all of the patients had received the standard Premarin estrogen and synthetic progestagen combination. The body’s estrogen receptors read both of these synthetic hormones as estrogen, which led to estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance (with missing natural progesterone) is known to cause breast cancer.

    Comments and discussion of bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT)

    I have explained in my comment that the investigators should have used bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) instead of making a similar mistake as in the Women’s Health Initiative, where synthetic hormones caused cancer, heart attacks and blood clots.

    Bioidentical hormone replacement is started with progesterone creams first in order to avoid estrogen dominance. After hormone tests estrogen is gradually introduced as Bi-Est cream applied to the skin and balanced with the progesterone. The physician orders blood estrogen levels and progesterone saliva hormone tests from time to time to monitor the hormone levels. No cancer occurs with bioidentical hormone replacement. It also protects from osteoporosis, heart attacks and strokes.

    Part of this blog was published here before.