• Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

    Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

    A person with chronic back pain has several treatment options, but only stem cells cure back pain. Stem cell treatment has been available in the US and Canada and many other countries for approximately 10 years. I come from a family with a strong history of back pain (mother, maternal grandmother … [Read More...]

  • Vitamin K For Bones And Arteries

    Vitamin K For Bones And Arteries

    Vitamin K for bones and arteries is gaining a lot of attention as a valuable supplement. Most of all in the blood vessels, but in addition in the heart, lungs and kidneys the matrix GLA protein is a key substance. Vitamin K2 is crucial for removing calcium from these organs, as matrix GLA protein is … [Read More...]

  • Prevent Cancer, Cut Sugar

    Prevent Cancer, Cut Sugar

    If you want to prevent cancer, cut sugar! This is the message of an Oct. 13, 2017 study. The research team had done experiments for 9 years, when they concluded that it was refined sugar that caused spontaneous mutations of RAS proteins. RAS proteins are responsible for cell growth. When a substance … [Read More...]

  • You May Want To Cut Down Coffee Consumption

    You May Want To Cut Down Coffee Consumption

    Many people drink too much coffee, so you may want to cut down coffee consumption. With all the good news about the health benefits when drinking coffee, some people went too far. They have overdone what was supposed to be good for them. Recently a study came out that tells you how to cut down … [Read More...]

  • Avoid High Temperature Cooking

    Avoid High Temperature Cooking

    In recent years publications have shown that you need to avoid high temperature cooking. This will prevent diseases, and this will also prevent premature aging. Cooking at high temperatures creates carcinogens and advanced glycemic end products (AGE’s). Both substances are harmful to our health. … [Read More...]

Dec
09
2017

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

A person with chronic back pain has several treatment options, but only stem cells cure back pain. Stem cell treatment has been available in the US and Canada and many other countries for approximately 10 years.

I come from a family with a strong history of back pain (mother, maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather). They all got their back pain in their mid to late 40’s. From my growing up years I remember that they complained about chronic back pain on and off. Sometimes they had to cancel events they wanted to attend because they could not tolerate sitting. In those times there were no CAT scans or MRI scans. If you had back pain, you just had to put up with it.

My personal experience

Given my family history of back pain I was surprised that my back pain was only a more persistent problem in the last 1.5 years, but not earlier. Normally a monthly chiropractic adjustment would keep my back symptoms under control. But in the last 1.5 years I needed to see a chiropractor more often than that. I took omega-3 fatty acid supplements for the past several years (two capsules twice per day) thinking that this should halt the development of degenerative arthritis in the lower back joints. When I turned 71, it was clear to me that I was now at the point where my immediate relatives were when they were in their late 40’s. Therefore, diet, exercise, weight loss, good nutrition and supplements can only do that much for you. If there is a familiar disposition, it will eventually catch up with you.

Conventional medicine’s approach to lower back pain

I have practiced as a general practitioner for 16 years in the past. In addition I joined Workers’ Compensation for another 16 years as a medical advisor. From this clinical activity I knew of hundreds of cases first hand what the steps were in the treatment of chronic back pain. First of all, physiotherapy treatments or chiropractic treatments were the treatment protocol. In minor back pain cases this would often help the pain symptoms. Furthermore, if residual pain persisted, the patients received anti-inflammatory medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID’s). Finally, if symptoms continued to persist, a CT scan or MRI scan was necessary for assessment. If it showed moderate changes like my findings, the patient received intermittent physical therapy, chiropractic therapy or acupuncture therapy. 

Surgical procedures for chronic lower back pain

If there were more severe degenerative changes or spinal stenosis with severe degenerative changes, a referral to an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon would be necessary. But this was often the point of no return. If the surgeon felt that the condition was severe enough to do back surgery, various procedures could follow. For disc herniations irritating one of the nerve roots, laparoscopic discectomy was the treatment of choice. For severe spinal stenosis or intractable pain from end stage facet joint disease instrumentation was an option.

Fusion surgery

Under a general anesthetic the surgeon makes an incision in the patient’s back over the lumbar spine. The surgeon identifies the diseased disc level and places stabilizing stainless steel plates over the affected facet joints or the narrowed disc space. Many people think that fusion surgery would be the end of their trouble. In many cases this can actually be the beginning of chronic back trouble. The problem is that the body is designed to move. If the surgeon takes movement away in one area of the spine, the levels above and below have to work harder. It often takes only a few months or a couple of years, and the patient is back with excruciating pain from degenerative changes in the levels above and below the previous surgery. What does the surgeon usually do? He does more fusion surgery above and/or below the previous area of surgery.

Alternatives to back surgeries

New treatment options have opened up new possibilities. On the one hand there is prolotherapy treatment that I have described under this link. On the other hand stem cell therapy is another popular regenerative technique. Prolotherapy strengthens tissues, relieves pain and increases the range of motion in joints. There is 80 to 85% full pain relief and more than 80% improvement in range of motion. Prolotherapy promotes the healing of torn ligaments and tendons. There are many suitable conditions that lend themselves to the treatment with prolotherapy like the hip, knee, shoulder, ankle, neck, lower back and elbow. With prolotherapy the physician uses hyperosmolar dextrose injections into the affected area. Current thinking is that this irritates the tissues, which mobilizes local stem cells to heal the area.

In my case I had two prolotherapy treatments of my lower back, but it did not change my lower back pain.

MRI scans of my lumbar spine

We needed to find out what was happening in my lower back. My general practitioner ordered MRI scans of my lower back in summer of 2017. There are 5 levels of the lumbar spine from L1 to S1. In my case one level of 5 was normal. The other levels showed bulging of the discs. The scans also showed signs of arthritis in the small joints adjacent to the spine. Lucky for me, there was no sign of spinal stenosis. It was not good news: overall 4 levels of my lumbar spine showed signs of  degenerative disc changes. At the same levels I also had arthritic changes in the facet joints. This was enough to consider some intervention, or I would be headed for trouble in the future.

Stem cell treatment for chronic back pain

Following the failed prolotherapy for my lower back pain I needed to figure out what to do next. The MRI scans had shown degenerative changes in the discs of the lower 4 levels of the lumbar spine. There also was arthritis in eight facet joints (two on each side of each of the four L2 to S1 levels). Conventional medicine would have offered corticosteroid injections into the facet joint areas. My experience with many patients who had this procedure was that the effect of the corticosteroid injections wore off after 3 to 6 months. If a patient had more than 3  injections, there usually was a point of no return, and fusion surgery would be next.

Best therapy for my own chronic lower back condition

For me there was no question that stem cell therapy would be the best fit for treating my back condition. In addition platelet -rich plasma and low-level laser therapy could activate the stem cells. This would be the ideal non-invasive treatment option to treat my chronic lower back pain. I had met Dr. H. Michael Weber before. He is a well-known laser expert from Germany who has a double certification as an engineer and as an internist treating various clinical conditions with laser and stem cell therapy. In addition he is an expert of regenerative medicine methods. Also, he invented and designed the laser machines himself. I set up an appointment in the fall of 2017 at his clinic in Lauenförde, Germany.

First day of stem cell treatment

On the first day fat tissue was removed under a local anesthetic from my lower left buttock area. Next a cell separator divides the tissue into connective tissue, fat cells and mesenchymal stem cells. Two blood samples were also taken from me for processing platelet rich plasma (PRP). PRP is a natural stem cell activator. Growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines were also part of the mix together with the stem cells.

The very same afternoon I received the stem cell mix by injection. Eight needles, four on each side, were necessary to administer the stem cell combination. I also had a treatment on a light therapy bed with red light to activate stem cells in general. The stem cell injection was a pain free procedure, as I received a shot of a  local anesthetic in the area before. After that the physician inserted laser applicators through the interstitial needles.

Laser activation of injected stem cells

The next step was to use laser treatments with 5 different colors (infrared, blue, red, yellow and green) for 10 minutes for each of the 8 interstitial needles. The laser activation and the PRP mixed with the mesenchymal stem cells were the two main stem cell activators. They are crucial for activating the stem cells. But growth factors and anti-inflammatory cytokines also aided stem cell activation.

Second day of stem cell treatment

On the second day I received an infrared light treatment over my back for 20 minutes. Following that I received light therapy bed treatment for 20 minutes. The physician told me  that all of this was to activate the stem cells further. The next step was a bone marrow low-dose laser therapy.

Bone marrow stem cell activation by low-dose laser therapy

Often stem cell therapists mix mesenchymal stem cells from fat tissue with bone marrow stem cells which they harvest before from pelvic bone marrow. Dr. Weber told me that he would do a direct bone marrow laser activation of the pelvic bone marrow instead. He anesthetized the tissue above the pelvic bone. Following this he made a small hole into the pelvic bone through which he inserted a laser applicator into the bone marrow cavity. 5 different colored lasers were again applied for 10 minutes each to activate the bone marrow stem cells. Studies have shown, as Dr. Weber stated, that low-dose laser activates bone marrow stem cells. They can be found in the blood circulation within 1 hour. This is similar to mixing stem cells in a Petri dish and then injecting it as a mix, except it is a less invasive approach.

Further activation of stem cells

Following these procedures Dr. Weber felt that another light bed therapy was necessary for 20 minutes. He also gave me a Weber medical laser watch called “Regenerate+”. This device fits on the wrist. It is programmed to generate a number of different lasers to shine against the underside of the wrist. This is the area where the ulnar and radial arteries run close to the surface. This device will shine the laser lights for 30 minutes, and the laser light reaches the arterial blood. The circulating stem cells from the stem cell therapy are receiving a further boost this way. Dr. Weber told me to use this device twice a day on an ongoing basis. The Weber medical laser watch stimulates the immune system.  Jet lag also responds to, and it can stimulate stem cells as they circulate in the blood.

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

Stem Cells Cure Back Pain

Conclusion

Medical tourism is flourishing. I have become a medical tourist myself because I did not want to get crippled by conventional medicine regarding my lower back pain. Two days after my stem cell treatment my back pain was significantly improved. There was mild pain in the area of the fat liposuction site. Four days after the treatment the lumbar spine pain was gone. Innumerable chiropractic treatments and two prolotherapy treatments had not given me relief. Now stem cell therapy in Germany has taken my chronic back pain away in only a few days. I realize that the healing process will take 3 to 6 months to complete, but as a patient what counts most is pain relief.

What, if someone criticizes me for choosing stem cell treatment?

It is difficult to argue with success. Whether somebody criticizes me for having followed a non-conventional treatment protocol does not matter to me. My question back would be: what do you do when conventional methods fail? Are you willing to suffer chronic pain and swallow pain pills that could either get you addicted or have serious side effects? I would try stem cell therapy again, if I had a problem that does not respond to conventional therapy.

Dec
02
2017

Vitamin K For Bones And Arteries

Vitamin K for bones and arteries is gaining a lot of attention as a valuable supplement. Most of all in the blood vessels, but in addition in the heart, lungs and kidneys the matrix GLA protein is a key substance. Vitamin K2 is crucial for removing calcium from these organs, as matrix GLA protein is carboxylated. Carboxylation of the GLA protein functions much as a broom. This removes all superfluous calcium from blood vessels and organ tissues. If there is a lack of vitamin K2 intake, matrix GLA protein is uncarboxylated, which as a result invites vascular calcification. Essentially vitamin K2 has emerged as an important player in the regulation of bone conditions like osteoporosis, but also in the prevention of hardening of arteries. Vitamin K2 removes calcium from blood vessels and deposits calcium in bone preventing osteoporosis. I will review some key publications, which support this.

Arterial stiffness study in postmenopausal women

Aging blood vessels become stiff from calcification. By removing calcium it seems like the arterial wall becomes more flexible again. Dr. Knapen and colleagues from Maastricht University, The Netherlands followed 244 healthy, postmenopausal women for 3 years in this double blind, placebo-controlled 2015 study.

120 women received 180 micrograms of vitamin K2 (as MK-7) once daily. 124 women received placebo pills. Next researchers checked arterial stiffness through two types of tests. First of all, carotid intima-media thickness was evaluated by echo tracking. In addition aortic stiffness was tested by carotid-femoral and carotid-radial pulse wave velocity. After 3 years there was a significant reduction of uncarboxylated matrix GLA by 50%. This was missing in the placebo group. All of the markers for arterial stiffness showed a reversal improving flexibility above the median. This shows that hardening of arteries in postmenopausal women is reversible with the help of vitamin K2.

Bone metabolism study in Japanese men and women

This 2015 Japanese study investigated what the minimum amount of necessary vitamin K2 would be to improve osteocalcin carboxylation.

First of all, study 1 examined the effect of 0, 50, 100, or 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 (=menaquinone-7) daily. A group of 60 postmenopausal women received vitamin K2 for 4 weeks. Only the 200 microgram per day dosage showed an effect of carboxylating osteocalcin.

Second part of study

Furthermore, study 2 consisted of 120 men and women. Measurements involved the ratio between carboxylated and uncarboxylated osteocalcin to demonstrate the effect of vitamin K2. As a result of study 1 only a placebo group, a 100-microgram and a 200-microgram daily vitamin K2 group was part of the investigation. Both, the 100 microgram and the 200 microgram doses, reduced the circulating uncarboxylated osteocalcin fraction. Hence they concluded that vitamin K-2 effectively keeps the calcium in the bones and prevents osteoporosis. The investigators recommended taking more than 100 micrograms of vitamin K-2 per day to improve osteocalcin carboxylation.

You can find more detail regarding the interaction of calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 in this link.

Trabecular bone structure preserved in postmenopausal women

148 postmenopausal women were participating for 12 months in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial. All these women had osteopenia. All of them received supplements with calcium and vitamin D3. In addition they received 375 micrograms of vitamin K2 or placebo pills. Examination involved tests for bone mineral density with dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Furthermore a high-resolution CAT scanner determined the microarchitecture of the tibia bone.

After 3 months the uncarboxylated osteocalcin decreased by 65.6% rather than the placebo group of only 6.4% decrease. The trabecular number, spacing and thickness in the tibial bone were unchanged in the vitamin K2 group. In contrast to that there was a clear deterioration of the bone structure in the placebo group.

Summary of trabecular bone study

The bone density studies showed no detectable difference between the groups. The deterioration of the trabecular microstructure in the placebo group was consistent with expected age-related changes. On the other hand, the vitamin K2 group clearly demonstrated preservation of the trabecular bone structure in the tibial bone.

Vitamin K2 helps to eliminate toxic effects of calcium

This 2015 publication from Krakow, Poland explains rather well how vitamin K2 is important to reduce calcium from blood vessels.

At the same time the article points out that vitamin K2 is important for depositing calcium into bones to prevent osteoporosis. The removal of calcium from blood vessels occurs by carboxylation of matrix GLA protein. This functions like a shield to protect blood vessels from calcium entering into the arterial wall. This way the arteries are probably safe from calcification, and hardening of the arteries cannot take place. On the other hand calcium is binding to the bone. As explained above the hormone osteocalcin is responsible for this.Vitamin K2 is the main player in the process of carboxylization. As a result vitamin K2 makes it happen that calcium travels into the bone, where it belongs.

Rotterdam Study: reduced heart attack rates from vitamin K2

4807 subjects from the Rotterdam Study in the Netherlands were part of a study for considerable time (about 10 years) with no sign of any heart attack in the beginning.

The investigators were interested to correlate the effects of various doses of vitamin K1 and K2. How would this impact the frequency of heart disease, hardening of the aorta and all-cause mortality? Researchers adjusted the data for smoking, age, gender, body mass index, diabetes, education, and dietary factors. Next they compared the middle and upper tertile groups of vitamin K1 and K2 to the lower tertile of vitamin K1 and K2.

Results of Rotterdam Study

Most noteworthy, the relative risk for coronary heart disease was lower for the middle and upper tertile of the vitamin K2 group. They found that the middle tertile vitamin K2 intake lowered heart attacks by 27%. It was especially relevant that the upper tertile of vitamin K2 intake lowered heart attack rates by 57%.

In addition, all-cause mortality also showed a reduction for the middle tertile of vitamin K2 by 9% and for the upper tertile by 26%. Finally, severe aortic calcification was 29% less for the middle tertile of vitamin K2 and even 52% less for the upper tertile. Intake of vitamin K1 (=phylloquinone had no impact on any of the outcomes. The investigators concluded that adequate intake of vitamin K2 (=menaquinone) was crucial for anybody’s health. First of all, vitamin K2 lowers heart attack rates, in addition it reduces hardening of the arteries including the aorta and finally, it lowers all-cause mortality.

Vitamin K For Bones And Arteries

Vitamin K For Bones And Arteries

Conclusion

This review shows evidence that vitamin K2 supplementation is important for the prevention of osteoporosis and heart disease. It prevents heart attacks and hardening of arteries, including the aorta. The dosage necessary to achieve this is only 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day. However, in Japan higher doses like 375 micrograms per day are the common protocol for prevention of osteoporosis.

Effect of vitamin K2 for bones and arteries

How does vitamin K2 work? In the blood vessels vitamin K2 carboxylates the matrix GLA protein. Essentially this keeps calcium out of the arterial wall and prevents hardening of the arteries. This reduces heart attacks and significantly lowers mortality from heart attacks as well. The second effect of vitamin K2 is on bones. Vitamin K2 prevents osteoporosis to a large extent. It does so by binding calcium to the bone. The hormone osteocalcin, which is carboxylated by vitamin K2 effectively moves calcium from the bloodstream into the bone and keeps it in the bone. If you take vitamin K for bones and arteries, you double the benefit from this simple vitamin. Remember to take 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 daily. The benefits are certainly remarkable!

 

Nov
26
2017

Prevent Cancer, Cut Sugar

If you want to prevent cancer, cut sugar! This is the message of an Oct. 13, 2017 study. The research team had done experiments for 9 years, when they concluded that it was refined sugar that caused spontaneous mutations of RAS proteins. RAS proteins are responsible for cell growth. When a substance like sugar turns them on all the time, they can cause mutations that lead to cancer. In this article research concentrated on yeast cells, and the publication is in Nature Publication. The CNN publication describes this in simpler language. Essentially the research team found that a sugar molecule, fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, was responsible in obese patients and in diabetic patients to mutate a RAS protein, which as a result can turn into an oncogene causing cancer.

Evidence that sugar causes obesity and type 2 diabetes

  1. A September 2017 US study followed 41 children age 9 to 18 with initial fructose consumption of >50 g/d. The treatment of the children consisted of an isocaloric fructose restriction of only 9 days. Following that their liver fat content decreased from 7.2% to 3.8%. In addition intraabdominal fat decreased and new fat production was reduced from 68% to 26%. The authors pointed out that reduction of sugar consumption in obese children was a very effective treatment tool.
  2. This August 2017 study from Helsinki followed 71 obese males for 12 weeks. They consumed 75 grams of added fructose every day in addition to their normal food intake. The liver fat content increased and cardiovascular risk factors worsened as blood tests showed. The investigators concluded that the adverse cardiometabolic effects were a result of the added fructose. They were not secondary to the weight gain (a theory in the past).
  3. This February 2017 study from the US the Taiwanese Healthy Aging Longitudinal Study in Taiwan was also of interest. It consisted of a 5-year long study involving middle-aged and elderly patients with type 2 diabetes. The result was that patients with more physical activity, a better diet and a higher score regarding psychosocial health did much better with respect to managing their diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is particularly important for the elderly to prevent diabetes.

Evidence that obese patients and type 2 diabetics get more cancer

  1. In this 2016 study from Poland the effect of diabetes causing various cancers was under investigation. The authors pointed out that worldwide in 2014 there were 387 million cases of type 2 diabetes and it was still rising. When they looked at correlation between various cancers and type 2 diabetes they found that diabetes had the strongest association between pancreatic cancer and liver cancer. But there was also an association between diabetes and breast cancer, bladder cancer and kidney cancer. Head and neck cancers were more frequent among diabetics. Some diabetic medications made cancer frequencies worse, others, like metformin made them better.
  2. In this March 2016 article from the BJC (British Journal of Cancer) cancer frequencies were correlated to patients with obesity and to patients with diabetes. Researchers found that some types of cancer correlated with obesity, whereas others did with diabetes and not with obesity. They found that type 1 diabetes had its own set of cancer risks while type 2 diabetes had a different set of cancers that correlated to the disease

More on cancer risks in diabetics

  1.  A 2015 study from Malaysia with an 11-year follow-up describes that type 2 diabetes had increased in the population which researchers studied. The investigators concentrated on a female population where they found a strong correlation between diabetes and endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer. In a group of 860 cancer patients they found that 26.5% were diabetics. They were at a much higher risk of getting these cancers.
  2. A 2016 study from the US examined 2,836 veterans who had problems with their esophagus. 1,704 received a diagnosis of esophageal adenocarcinoma, 1,132 of them had gastroesophageal reflux disorder. Among the cancer patients there were 30.8% diabetics. The researchers calculated that for diabetics there was a 2.2-fold higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. The only other risk factor they could identify was nicotine dependence, which showed an association with a 1.7-fold risk of to develop esophageal cancer.

Evidence that sugar causes cancer

As explained earlier research found that fructose-1,6-bisphosphate is responsible in yeast cells to lead to RAS mutations. Human cells have the same metabolism as yeast cells, and they also have RAS protein and fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate is important for cancer development in humans. Yeast cells are diploid cells as are human cells. But yeast cells are not human organisms, so the parallel stops at one point.

  1. A 2014 study from China showed that fructose-bisphosphate aldolase was a marker for lung cancer metastases. This enzyme breaks down fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. Depletion of fructose-bisphosphate aldolase A reduces cell motility of cancer cells and the ability to cause more tumors. In other words, the key for cancer cells to thrive is the presence of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate.
  2. In this 2013 study from Beijing gastric cancer biopsies research examined these samples for fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase, the enzyme that breaks down fructose-1,6-bisphosphate.

The enzyme was under expressed in 86.2% of the gastric cancer biopsies. This meant that glycolysis was stimulated in the cancer cells. An overabundance of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate caused tumor cells to get into an active phase and to metastasize.

Discussion of why sugar causes cancer

I have previously discussed this topic in a blog 3 ½ years ago. At the time a few steps were missing from the knowledge we have today. Nothing has become different regarding the connection of sugar overconsumption and the risk of developing cancer. First of all, we have learnt that fructose overconsumption or sugar overconsumption leads to fructose-1,6-bisphosphate in the blood, which stimulates RAS proteins to mutate and stimulate oncogenes to cause cancer. In addition, people who are overweight, obese or have diabetes have too much insulin production, which can also lead to cancer causation. Finally, obese people have a lot of very active kinins in the blood that can cause cancer as well. In conclusion, what has changed between March 2014 and now is that we have a lot more detail why things happen the way they do. Connections that used to be obscure have now a rational explanation.

The message is that we need to cut out refined sugar from our diet, cut out starchy foods and cut out processed foods. This will improve our metabolism and reduce our risk of getting cancer. We will also lose weight, which I have experienced in 2011 when I lost 50 pounds over 3 months. What did I do? I was just doing what I described to you: cutting out sugar, starchy foods and processed foods.

Prevent Cancer, Cut Sugar

Prevent Cancer, Cut Sugar

Conclusion

Want to reduce your risk for getting cancer drastically? Then cut out sugar and starchy foods along with processed foods (which have too much sugar in it).  Strangely enough it was only now that researchers have found the missing link. The culprit is fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, a metabolic byproduct from sugar consumption. It stimulates a RAS gene, which can mutate, turn into an oncogene and eventually cause cancer. This fact was not known a few years ago. But the knowledge that cancer can occur due to diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance goes back a long time.

We need to learn from science: cut out refined sugar, starchy foods and processed foods. This will change insulin resistance into insulin sensitivity. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate will not accumulate, but get normally metabolized. This way fructose-1,6-bisphosphate does not pose a problem for RAS proteins. Your insulin level will normalize, the previous kinin overproduction will disappear and your risk for cancer will decrease.

We have allowed the sugar industry to undermine our health for too long. It is time to take back the control over our lives, assess our food habits and make the necessary changes.

Nov
18
2017

You May Want To Cut Down Coffee Consumption

Many people drink too much coffee, so you may want to cut down coffee consumption. With all the good news about the health benefits when drinking coffee, some people went too far. They have overdone what was supposed to be good for them. Recently a study came out that tells you how to cut down coffee consumption.

But first I like to review the issue whether to drink caffeinated or decaf coffee. Next I will tell you how you can switch to decaf coffee.

Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have the same health benefits

  1. Recently a large study showed that coffee, caffeinated or not, has a connection with lower overall mortality.
  2. Coffee has long been a subject of heated discussions. Some praise it, and others condemn it. There are multiple past studies; some showed health benefits, some did not. This is why the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA. did a larger study. The purpose was to re-examine the health benefits for both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee.

Mortality data regarding people who drank decaf coffee or regular coffee

Researchers assessed mortality among 74,890 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). Another 93,054 women in the NHS 2 study became part of this. And 40,557 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study were also part in this large study. The medium follow-up for all of these three groups was 22.5 years. 19,524 women and 12,432 men died during that time period. Ming Ding is a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health department of nutrition. She was the lead author of this study. She pointed out that in the past there were confounding problems. Many studies had shown that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease. But the results in many studies were blurred. Studies often did not distinguish between smokers and non-smokers. This meant that the cardiovascular risk from smoking wiped out a beneficial effect from coffee drinking.

Confounding and other factors

Ding’s studies took this into account and also other confounding factors like how much sugary soda pop people were drinking and whether or not they were eating well. In addition they normalized for other factors that could interfere like drinking alcohol and eating red meat. Without normalizing for the factors mentioned above the study results were as follows. Study participants who had less than a cup of coffee and three cups a day had a 5% to 9% lower risk of dying than those who drank no coffee. Those who drank more than three cups a day did not see any benefit.

Dose response curve for regular and decaf coffee

After eliminating all the confounding factors researchers compared the various groups again, and the following linear dose-response curve emerged:

  • Less than 1 cup of coffee per day: 6% lower death rates than non-coffee drinkers.
  • 1 cup to 3 cups of coffee per day: 8% lower death rates.
  • 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day: 15% lower death rates.
  • More than 5 cups of coffee per day: 12% lower death rates.

Coffee consumption reduces diabetes and heart disease

Ming’s study connected with another research paper that had shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and also less heart disease. She found that both, caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, reduced the risk of getting diabetes later in life. When asked about what would be responsible for the reduced death rates with coffee consumption, she explained: “There are at least two known chemicals in coffee, namely lignans and chlorogenic acid that could reduce inflammation and help control blood sugar, both of which could help reduce the risk of heart disease”. You may want to cut down coffee consumption because you know decaf coffee does the same as regular coffee.

Other details about the caffeinated/decaf coffee study

Although there seems to be a linear response up to 5 cups of coffee consumption, above 5 cups this linear relationship disappeared. It was not explained whether there was a saturation point, whether there was yet another hidden confounding factor or whether there were detrimental effects on the adrenal glands with too much caffeinated coffee consumption.

Another finding was that it did not matter whether the coffee was regular (caffeinated) coffee or decaffeinated coffee. The results were identical.

Many other studies did not have the large numbers to show whether or not decaffeinated coffee was as effective in preventing heart disease as regular coffee.

Suicide rates and coffee consumption

There was another peculiar finding: suicides were down by 20% to 36%, if a person drank at least one cup of coffee per day. If a person consumed less than 1 cup of coffee per day the suicide rate was 36% higher than the control group with no coffee consumption. This is a rather peculiar finding, particularly for the consumption of less than 1 cup of coffee. Other studies also showed a decrease in suicide rates with coffee consumption.

Although previous studies had shown a reduction in liver and prostate cancer, after the removal of confounding factors this study did not show any effects on cancer causation or cancer death rates with coffee consumption.

Discussion

The Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA has excelled in high quality nutritional studies for decades. This study is particularly important, because it is so large, giving it more statistical power. Secondly, the observation time of an average of 22.5 years is longer than most coffee studies in the past. Add to this the removal of the “noise” (called confounding factors) that interfered with the objective of the study, and you end up with a very meaningful result.

Clear results after confounding factors were removed

The important findings were that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have the same effect of saving and extending lives. Perhaps you want to drink not more than 5 cups of coffee per day. That lowers your risk of premature death by 15%. It is most likely that it is the effect of lowering the rate of diabetes and heart attack rates that is responsible for the risk reduction. At least this was the opinion of the chief investigator. Cancer rates were not lowered by coffee consumption.

I sleep better when I drink decaffeinated coffee, so for me the notion that decaffeinated coffee and regular coffee have the same effect was important.

Revisit the statement: “you may want to cut down coffee consumption”

Now we know that there is no difference in benefits whether the coffee is caffeinated or not. Those of you who consume 3 to 5 cups of decaf coffee already enjoy a 15% reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease.

Those of you who take the same amount of regular coffee may get into a caffeine dependency problem. Because every time the caffeine stimulation wears off, you yearn for yet another cup of coffee. You need your fix, and this becomes a dependency problem. You have conditioned your body to that regular dose of caffeine, even though it is the bioflavonoids that are reducing mortality while caffeine is neutral.

My experience of coffee withdrawal

When I came across Ding’s research findings I was glad that now there was clarification about whether decaf coffee was as good as regular coffee. The next step for me was to cut out regular coffee and replace it by decaf coffee. Formerly I had been drinking 5 mugs of coffee daily (translated into 500 mg of caffeine daily). When I decided to quit this habit, I figured I should do it cold turkey from one day to the next. To my surprise this was a much bigger deal than I had thought.

Withdrawal symptoms

I craved the next cup of coffee, and I drank a decaf coffee. It did not help: Still, there was this craving for regular coffee! Yawning, restlessness and tiredness were symptoms that followed me all day long. Then there was irritability, a mild headache and almost flu-like symptoms. Eventually I went to sleep and woke up one hour later feeling a bit more energetic. But two hours later I had to lay down again. I was feeling that bushed. The following few days went better. There was more energy. But I still liked a noonday nap of about 1 hour.

Benefits of getting off regular coffee

This was not like me! Normally I have lots of energy and I don’t need naps. It took me 1-½ weeks to get over my 5-cup a day coffee withdrawal. But it was 100% worth it! Since then my energy is back to normal. I don’t have to chase coffee houses on a trip or ensure there is always a cup of regular coffee available for me at home (work does not apply, because I am retired). If I want I can replace my beloved coffee with another fluid. I love lemon juice sweetened with stevia instead of my decaf coffee. It is liberating that I no longer depend on the caffeine. But I still like the flavor of decaf coffee, and there is something enjoyable about the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee. And so I drink 3 to 4 cups of decaf coffee a day.

How to cut down coffee consumption

Here is a 2016 study from the Johns Hopkins University where 34 patients on 600 mg of caffeine per day received a 1-hour lecture about coffee withdrawal followed by a 6-week diary of their coffee consumption. They were asked to reduce their caffeine consumption down to 50 mg by week 6 of the coffee elimination program. Tests followed with salivary caffeine levels 6, 12 and 26 weeks after coffee cessation. There was also a 1-year follow-up telephone conversation. The results were that there was good compliance. Saliva caffeine levels verified this. The diaries over the first 6 weeks showed that the participants had gradually eliminated caffeine consumption. Perhaps this was a more humane way than my “cold-turkey” approach.

You May Want To Cut Down Coffee Consumption

You May Want To Cut Down Coffee Consumption

Conclusion

Many people are sensitive to too much caffeine consumption in coffee and other caffeinated beverages. But since the Harvard study that I mentioned above there is no need to overdose coffee or tea consumption. Decaf coffee has the same effect on lowering death rates by 15%, as does regular coffee. It pays to avoid caffeine, as you will avoid caffeine dependency. Drink decaf coffee instead!

I also discussed that withdrawal from regular coffee can be done more gently over a 6 week period. I did it from one day to the next and had a 1-½ week long withdrawal reaction. Do it slower or faster, whatever works best for you. The end result will be the same. Then enjoy it that you no longer depend on caffeine!

More info: http://www.askdrray.com/coffee-could-be-a-lifesaver/

Nov
11
2017

Avoid High Temperature Cooking

In recent years publications have shown that you need to avoid high temperature cooking. This will prevent diseases, and this will also prevent premature aging. Cooking at high temperatures creates carcinogens and advanced glycemic end products (AGE’s). Both substances are harmful to our health. Carcinogens are mutagens that attack the DNA of your cells which increases a risk of developing cancer. AGE’s crosslink proteins like antibodies, hormones, enzymes, collagen, neurotransmitters and hemoglobin. When crosslinking like this has occurred, cells are not functioning optimally.

In the case of diabetes the hemoglobin, which is expressed as percentage of glycated hemoglobin, is rising. This leads to damage of hemoglobin by AGE’s. Above a certain normal value complications of diabetes occur, like blindness or amputations of limbs because of circulatory problems. Diabetics also can get excruciating pains from damage to nerves (neuropathies) and heart attacks. In the last few years it has become evident that the old “normal” glycated hemoglobin values recommended to patients were too high. This was the reason why complications still occurred when the patients’ hemoglobin A1C values were within the normal range.

New hemoglobin A1C ranges

At the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine In Las Vegas (Dec. 10-14, 2014) Dr. Piliszek stated that the normal range for hemoglobin A1C is skewed in the medical literature. It should be: 3.8% to 4.9%. This is very important to know for diabetics and any caregiver who looks after diabetic patients. If you are satisfied with a hemoglobin A1C of 6.0 as still being “normal”, the diabetic patient has the risk of dying prematurely of a heart attack or a stroke. According to the new guidelines even a patient whose hemoglobin A1C is 5.5 has diabetes with the new guidelines and needs to be treated aggressively to prevent complications that occur due to diabetes. Conventional guidelines would have considered this patient to be normal. With these new guidelines there won’t be complications as long as the hemoglobin A1C stays in this range.

In a way diabetes is a special case of AGE’s accumulation leading to glycosylated hemoglobin. The hemoglobin A1C value measurement indicates how advanced the AGE’s accumulation is.

What can we do to lower our exposure to AGE’s?

Here is a list of more than 500 common foods. Keep in mind that less than about 700-kilo units/serving is a low glycation product, 700 to 5000 is a medium glycation product and above 5000 would be a high glycation product.

You can tell by comparing methods of preparing various meats how different the glycation product is. You want to avoid broiling, also you will want to poach eggs at medium heat or panfry foods at low heat to keep the glycation product of our food in the low to medium range.

Is preparing food in a microwave oven safe?

We have been indoctrinated that microwave cooking would be gentle and harmless to the food. Newer research has shown that this is not the case! Microwaves produce heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This is in addition to advanced glycation end products (AGEs), known as glycotoxins. All of them can damage your cells and can cause cancer. There were many investigations of microwave cooking in Russia and Switzerland that describe the problems.

The result of these studies was that microwaving food produced noxious substances that were carcinogenic, contained free radicals and changed blood composition in the volunteers ingesting microwaved foods. There was a leukocytosis (too many white blood cells); decreased immune cells (lymphocytes) and increased cholesterol levels just from consuming microwaved foods. The researchers concluded that microwaved food contained noxious components to which the body reacted. For years the microwave oven industry and various government agencies in Europe and North America have refuted this kind of information. Nevertheless, many people started to abandon their microwave oven based on this newer research.

Other cooking techniques causing AGE’s

Overcooking foods can also cause massive damage to the genes. Women exposed to AGE’s are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Their outlook is much worse than for women without exposure to AGE’s.

High temperature cooking causes inflammation, which in turn stimulates glycation of the body’s proteins. As I mentioned before, broiling, baking, grilling or panfrying at high heat will do exactly that. But broiling, roasting, frying and searing also generate AGE’s. Barbecuing belongs to the high temperature cooking methods as well. Unfortunately many of these methods are common in restaurant cooking. You are much better off to prepare your own meals at home where you have control over how many AGE’s you generate when you prepare your food.

Avoid high temperature cooking with these methods

If you don’t have a slow cooker, now is a good time to get one. The advantage of this method is that you can prepare dinner at breakfast time. If you choose to cook a stew, put your beef or bison in together with onions and vegetables in the morning, and let it cook at low heat. When you come home for dinner in the evening, you can smell when you open the door that dinner is ready. The meat is soft and tasty.

Alternatively, if you prepare meat or poultry, you may want to cook the meat at low heat in the oven until it is through. You can boil eggs or poach them. Cooking salmon or other fish works well with low- heat cooking in the oven. Alternatively steaming produces very good results.

Supplements, if you can’t avoid high temperature cooking

Fortunately for those who depend on restaurant foods, there are supplements that have shown to reduce AGE’s significantly. I am describing them in the following and what studies have shown that they are effective. Also, by reducing sugar and starchy foods, particularly processed foods, you can significantly reduce AGE’s in your diet.

1. Chlorophyllin

Chlorophyllin has been known for many years to be an anti-carcinogenic and antimutagenic. 100 mg taken with the heaviest meal will protect you to a large extent from AGE’s and carcinogens in food that has been cooked too hot.

2. Indole-3-carbinol

Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) contain the substance indole-3-carbinol. In mouse experiments it was suppressing carcinogens by up to 98%. It prevented DNA damage by carcinogens in rats up to 95%.

The dosage for humans is 200 mg twice per day, and it has no side effects.

3. Carnosine

Carnosine consists of two amino acids, L-histidine and beta-alanine. It has anti-AGE’s effects. Because of the carnosine enzyme, which degrades carnosine, it requires a fairly high dose of 500 mg twice per day to get a meaningful blood level.

Diabetics are most in need of protection from AGE’s. Prolonged elevation of blood sugars leads to glycation end products as sugar interacts with protein in the body. Carnosine interferes with this AGE’s formation.

In the past the dosage was too low(only 50 mg per day); newer studies established that for a sustained blood level you need 500 MG twice per day. 

4. Benfotiamine

This is another supplement that is of value in preventing damage from AGE’s.

The interested reader can follow the link and learn more about it.

5. Pyridoxal-5-phosphate

This is a metabolite of vitamin B6. It is also useful to counter AGE’s. Dr. Sahelian is of the opinion that for most patients supplementation with multiple vitamins (which includes vitamin B6) is sufficient to have protection through pyridoxal-5-phosphate as vitamin B6 gets easily metabolized into it.

Avoid High Temperature Cooking

Avoid High Temperature Cooking

Conclusion

Advanced glycemic end products (AGE’s) and mutagens from overheating the food we eat is a significant problem. Conditions like heart attacks, strokes and many cancers can have their root in this. The key is to reduce AGE’s by eating less sugar and starchy foods. A Mediterranean diet is a balanced diet that will help to reduce AGE’s in your diet. Besides that we need to watch that we do not overuse alcohol. It is important that we avoid eating fast foods and restaurant foods. Broiled food, baked items, as well as grilled or pan-fried foods contain AGE’s due to the high heat exposure during . Even microwaving food can produce AGE’s and mutagens in food.

What to do instead

Instead, we need to use a slow cooker, poach eggs at medium heat or panfry food at low heat to keep the glycation products of our food in the low to medium range. Once you see the black char marks on meats or a heavy, dark brown surface, you know, that the exposure to high heat has been too much. Overcooking food presents a problem for your health. If we cannot avoid this exposure, we can resort to several supplements that offer us some relief from AGE’s. It makes sense to use those, if we cannot avoid eating out, and we should take them with the heaviest meal of the day.

Nov
05
2017

What Limits Our Life Expectancy?

Most anti-aging experts say that there are a number of factors that in combination lead to what limits our life expectancy. Right now the average life expectancy is about 80 years. With a bit of effort it can be expanded until 115 to 120 years. I like to discuss what these limits are.

1.Diseases that limit our life expectancy

 

  • Congenital hypertriglyceridemia and familial hypercholesterolemia

We all know that certain diseases can shorten a person’s life. Some families have a history of congenital hypertriglyceridemia. There is a history of all the male family members having heart attacks at a young age and dying prematurely. In other families it is the LDL cholesterol that is congenitally elevated, causing premature heart attacks.

  • Obesity

Obese people come down with diseases that shorten their lives. There is diabetes that is more common with its own problems of nephropathy, cardiovascular disease and blindness. But obese people also can get severe osteoarthritis in hips and knees that often lead to total hip and knee replacements. With complications people will die prematurely.

  • Liver cirrhosis

A number of conditions lead to cirrhosis of the liver: chronic alcohol abuse, viral hepatitis (particularly hepatitis B and C) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are also a few less common causes: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20187350

  • Kidney failure

There are several clinical conditions that can lead to kidney failure, like diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic kidney disease, but also abuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) for joint disease. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidney_failure#Acute_kidney_injury_2

Unfortunately kidney disease like this often shortens a person’s life.

  • Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

When a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease the life expectancy will only be about 10 years on average. https://www.healthline.com/health/alzheimers-disease/life-expectancy#risk-factors4

Parkinson’s disease treats the patient somewhat better with a life expectancy of between 10 to 20 years after diagnosis. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/my-father-64-was-diagnosed-with-parkinson-s-disease-how-long-can-a-person-live-after-diagnosis–123302.htm

But any neurological disease seems to significantly shorten the life of a of a person. This list is not complete, but these diseases are common. All of them will shorten a person’s life expectancy. The key is prevention to avoid the onset of these diseases.

2. Mitochondria and the biology of aging

Mitochondria are the power packs of our cells. Mitochondria can be preserved through exercise, CoQ-10 supplementation and caloric restriction. This overcomes a lack of energy and strengthens the muscles of the body, which includes the heart. As Dr. Whitaker has shown in this link, it is simple. Eat less, exercise more and take nutritional supplements.

3. DNA mutations

The big question is how do we preserve DNA against damage from the everyday metabolism by-products and ionizing radiation from space? There are many open questions. Our DNA does not sit still, it constantly moves, genes are activated and suppressed, and in this process we lose cancer suppressor genes causing cancer that eventually can kill us. Our scientists today are smart, but they are not that smart that they would know all the future research results they have not yet detected. The answer would be stabilization of DNA, as this could prevent many cancers and would definitely prolong our lives. 

4. Reducing telomere length

In one study the telomere length at the age of 100 was only 40% compared to the age of 20. Now we are learning that it is possible to lengthen telomeres by healthy lifestyles. Research in humans has shown that increased physical activity elongated telomeres. So did vitamin C, E, vitamin D3 supplementation and resveratrol. A Mediterranean diet and marine omega-3 fatty acid supplementation elongate telomeres as well. In addition higher fiber intake, bioidentical estrogen in women and testosterone in men can be effective in elongating telomeres. Finally, relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are also elongating telomeres.

Below I am listing evidence that longer telomeres are not only responsible for longevity, but protect you also against major diseases like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

I like to start by providing a link where research explains more about this question: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc…

Below I am going to summarize the facts that show that telomere lengthening is something to strive for.

General comments about telomere length

  1. When telomeres shorten progressively, senescence sets in. Cells undergo a process called apoptosis, which is the normal process of cells dying. But some cells stay in that in-between state and transform into cancer cells. Shortening of telomeres affects health and the lifespan of a person. Shorter telomeres are responsible for the development of disease and reduced survival.
  2. Telomere length can serve as an internal clock as to how long our cells and organs will live. In this context it is important to mention that lifestyles have an important role in preserving the length of telomeres (see below).
  3. Telomere length decreases with age. In humans the loss of telomere length is about 26 (24.8–27.7) base pairs per year. This is the “clock that is ticking”. A number of factors affect the telomere length: age; genetic factors (some people come from families with longevity); certain factors that influence the gene expression, called “epigenetic factors”; social status and economic well-being; exercise; and smoking. The good news for everybody: gender does not affect the rate of telomere length loss, but lifestyle does!

Measurements of telomere length

  1. People who had their white blood cell telomere length tested and got the result of having shorter telomeres than the average in their age group, had a 3-fold higher risk of developing a heart attack. People in nursing homes with shorter telomeres had a much higher risk of death than controls with longer telomeres. Excessively short telomeres can lead to genomic instability, inter-chromosomal fusion and cancer.
  2. In cancer cells the telomeres are short, but telomerase, an enzyme that can elongate telomeres is elevated compared to the normal surrounding cells. Several studies have shown that shorter telomeres are a risk factor for cancer. An example was a genetic syndrome, called dyskeratosis congenita. Dyskeratosis congenita – Wikipedia In this syndrome the body cells have short telomeres. This leads to premature graying, vulnerability to infections, progressive bone marrow failure, predisposition to cancer at a young age and premature death in adults.

Effects of smoking and stress on telomeres

  1. Effects of cigarette smoking: If you smoke one package of cigarettes per day, you lose an additional 5 base pairs in the telomere (on top of the average of 26 cited above). If you smoke one pack of cigarettes a day over 40 years, this is the equivalent to the loss of 7.4 years of life.
  2. Stress ages you faster. A study showed that telomeres were shorter in a group of stressed women and telomerase was missing as well, when research measured white blood cells (monocytes). Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress. The difference between the telomere length of a control group and the stressed women was the equivalent of 10 years of life on average!

Lifestyle factors that influence telomere length 

  1. Dietary factors: High fiber intake showed an association with elongated telomeres in a group of women, but excessive weight shortened telomeres. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid was shortening telomeres as well. Reduction of protein intake tended to cause longer telomeres, which is responsible for longevity. In rat experiments protein restriction early in life led to longevity and long telomeres. In these animals kidney cell telomeres were particularly long.
  2. Dietary supplements: Detailed studies exist about the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on telomeres. Studies followed women who consumed foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids for 5 years. A control group with low omega-3 fatty acids in their diet were also part of a study. The antioxidant effect of omega-3 fatty acids reduced the rate of telomere shortening. The control group lacking omega-3 fatty acid in the diet had much shorter telomeres. This group had a moderate risk for developing breast cancer. Other antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene showed a link to longer telomeres and a lower risk to develop breast cancer. Antioxidants protect the DNA of telomeres from oxidative damage.

5. Decreasing hormone production

Another factor of aging is hormone deficiency in general and human growth hormone (HGH) deficiency in particular. In the past the school of thought was that HGH was only important for bone growth in children and young teenagers. However, more research revealed that it has also an important maintenance function. This maintenance concerns our muscles including the heart and to preserve our brain. Here is a review article about human growth hormone deficiency that may be mind-blowing to you. When people age, they lose HGH production putting them at a considerable risk to get heart attacks and strokes. But they are also at a higher risk of serious falls due to muscle weakness and balance problems. When the doctor detects low IGF-1 levels in the blood this is a sign of HGH deficiency. https://www.tuck.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/HGH-levels-as-you-age.jpg

This graph shows that beyond the age of 60 HGH levels are extremely low. Tests that check for low HGH metabolites in a 24-hour urine sample are necessary to confirm this.

Replacement of HGH in aging people

When this test is also showing HGH deficiency, the time has come to do daily HGH injections with human HGH. The injection is easy, as it uses using a similar pen that is the common device for insulin injections. The dosage is only between 0.05 mg and 0.25 mg per day, and the administration is before bedtime. There is a significant cost to this treatment. For this reason it is important to check whether the personal health care plan covers injections with human growth hormone, as it is a true hormone deficiency in many aging people.

This is remarkably effective not only for heart attack and stroke prevention, but also to treat muscle weakness. In addition it treats lack of mental clarity and increases general well being. Patients report that their joint and muscle aches disappear. They can engage in physical activities again. But HGH is not the only hormone that needs monitoring. Tests for thyroid hormones, sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men are also necessary. When levels are low, there is a need for hormone replacement in the form of nature-identical hormones. The estimate is that you gain about 10 to 15 years of good and active living by replacing missing hormones with bioidentical ones.

6. What can we do to maximize our life expectancy?

Here are a number of factors that help preserve telomeres and thus reduce aging and keep you from getting serious illnesses like heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

  • Consider eating less.
  • Include antioxidants, fiber, soy protein and healthy fats (derived from avocados, fish, and nuts).
  • Stay lean, active, healthy, and stress-free (regular exercise and meditation).
  • Eat foods such as salmon, herring, mackerel, halibut, anchovies, catfish, flounder, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, kiwi, black raspberries, lingonberry, green tea, broccoli, sprouts, red grapes, tomatoes, olive fruit, and other vitamin C-rich and vitamin E-rich foods. They are a good source of antioxidants. Avoid tuna and grouper fish because they are too high in noxious mercury.
  • These habits combined with a Mediterranean type of diet containing fruits, and whole grains will help protect your telomeres.
  • Replace missing hormones
What Limits Our Life Expectancy?

What Limits Our Life Expectancy?

Conclusion

At the 23rd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 13, 2015 in Las Vegas the endocrinologist, Dr. Thierry Hertoghe from Belgium gave a talk about “How to extend the human lifespan by 40 years”. He said that bioidentical hormone replacement could add 15 years of life. Organ transplants, if necessary, telomerase activators and stem cell therapy can add another 25 years of life expectancy to a total of 40 years. He felt that there is a limit of about 120 to 125 years of life expectancy. I have blogged on this here: life extended by several decades.

“Living forever” is simply not in the cards, as we do not have all the answers to preserve DNA and mitochondria from damages. What nature has done since its existence is by rejuvenation through eggs and sperms create new life. This circumvents the longevity conundrum.

We are living longer than our ancestors. Many diseases have become treatable, and it is encouraging to see this progress. But there is a limit of what can be done.

More information http://nethealthbook.com/news/the-biology-of-aging/

Oct
28
2017

Take Enough Vitamin D3

Many people supplement with 300 to 400 IU of vitamin D3, but do they take enough vitamin D3? There is a simple way of finding out: ask your doctor to order a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test.   This will show whether the gut absorbed enough of the essential vitamin. It will also show whether or not your vitamin D3 capsules or tablets were strong enough. It is now generally accepted that a good range of the vitamin D blood level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml. Unfortunately many Americans who come down with various diseases have blood levels of less than 30 ng/ml. Here are some facts about what a lack of vitamin D3 can cause.

Increased risk of mortality with lower vitamin D levels in ICU patients

  1. A New England Journal study from 2009 reported about 1100 patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU). Their average vitamin D blood level was only 16 ng/ml. They tracked the mortality rates depending on the vitamin D blood level. Insufficient vitamin D levels showed an association with a mortality rate of 45%. An intermediate level had a mortality rate of 35%. And a satisfactory level of vitamin D had a mortality of only16%. Between the low level of vitamin D and the normal level there was a 3-fold difference in mortality!
  2. Another study from 2015 repeated the mortality study with 135 ICU patients. Researchers correlated Vitamin D blood levels with mortality rates of patients. When vitamin D levels were below 12 ng/ml, there was a mortality rate of 32.2%. Patients with higher levels of vitamin D had a mortality rate of 13.2%. The authors concluded that vitamin D blood levels were an independent risk factor for mortality. Patients less than 12 ng/ml had a 2.4-fold higher risk of dying than patients with normal vitamin D levels.

Do patients with multiple sclerosis take enough vitamin D3?

Perhaps one of the earliest results of vitamin D3 research was the following observation. More than 90% of patients with multiple sclerosis were deficient in vitamin D blood levels. Their levels were below 20 ng/ml. Other researchers showed that vitamin D could directly tone down the aggressiveness of the immune cells of MS patients. These were the ones that attacked the myelin sheath. As a result of this knowledge it is important for MS patients to take high enough vitamin D3 supplements. When they reach good vitamin D blood levels their MS is better controlled.

Canada as a northern country has 291 MS patients per 100,000 people. Contrast this to 110-140 MS patients per 100,000 people in the northern US (between the 37th parallel and the US/Canadian border). In addition south of the 37th parallel there are only 57-78 cases of MS per 100,000 people. Researchers have concluded that the less sun light people get, the higher the rate of MS in the population will be. However, instead of sun exposure you can supplement with vitamin D3 capsules to get the blood vitamin D levels up to the range of between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

Do stroke patients take enough vitamin D3?

Strokes are very common. About 6.8 million Americans survive a stroke and live with various disabilities. 15% die shortly after their stroke. 40% are left with moderate to severe disabilities. Many require special care.

  1. Studies have shown that patients with the lowest level of vitamin D have the poorest functional outcomes. Moreover, for every 10 ng/ml decrease in vitamin D levels the odds of a healthy recovery 3 months after the stroke fell by about half. This was independent of age and the initial stroke severity.
  2. In another 2015 study from South Korea 818 stroke patients took tests to evaluate whether they had adequate vitamin D blood levels. There was a clear division between those whose levels were higher than 10 ng/ml or lower. When the vitamin D level was higher, there was a 90% better recovery from their stroke after 3 months. In comparison those whose vitamin D levels were below 10 ng/ml had poor recovery rates. Experts say that vitamin D levels should stay in the range between 50 and 80 ng/ml. This will prevent numerous diseases.

Do diabetics take enough vitamin D3?

  1. Vitamin D3 can silence diabetes genes in connection with the right diet and cofactors of zinc and magnesium. A Mediterranean diet can stabilize the metabolism and fight inflammation. Zinc and magnesium are important cofactors in enzymes necessary to prevent diabetes. Vitamin D3 and omega-3intake are helping to control inflammation and preserve beta cells in the pancreas in diabetes patients. This is important for continued production of insulin.
  2. A Chinese research team found that vitamin D3 protects beta cells in the pancreas from dying off. The finding was that vitamin D3 receptors in the insulin producing cells prevented the dying off of these cells, as long as there was enough vitamin D available. Insulin production by the pancreas remained effective. And insulin is vital for long-term survival of diabetes patients. The key for diabetes patients is to take adequate doses of vitamin D3 to protect their insulin producing beta cells.
  3. A 2015 Italian study showed that micro vascular complications in diabetes patients were high, if the vitamin D3 blood levels were low. If patients had high levels of vitamin D3, there were no complications such as retinopathy or nephropathy. But if levels were below 20 ng/ml, damages were significant in the capillaries of the eyes and kidneys.

Do patients with inflammatory conditions take enough vitamin D3?

What do the lining of the arteries, the inflamed joints, a degenerative meniscus and heart attacks and strokes have in common? It is the inflammation that changes the body chemistry. It gets even more complicated, because the extra calories that we consume get stored as visceral fat. This is done automatically when you eat too much sugar and starchy foods. When the glycogen stores are full, any surplus sugar gets metabolized by the liver into triglycerides, fatty acids and LDL cholesterol and gets stored as body fat. The most active fat is the visceral fat between our guts and around our body organs. This produces interleukins and other inflammatory cytokines that circulate in the blood causing inflammation in all our arteries. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory cytokine. High interleukin-6 levels contribute to causation of various cancers.

This 2015 study from Seattle University followed 218 obese postmenopausal women with a body mass index of larger than 25.0 for 12 months. Both received weight loss intervention and either 2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily or a placebo pill. Both groups lost about 5 to 10% of weight in 12 months. However, the interleukin-6 level of the vitamin D3 group had a reduction of 37.3%. This was in stark contrast to the placebo group where the interleukin-6 level reduction was only 17.2%. This type of research shows the incredible power of vitamin D3. This likely is the reason why several cancer frequencies can show a reduction with regular vitamin D3 supplementation.

Attention deficit disorder and vitamin D3

  1. Other research compared a group of 37 children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD to 37 normal children. Blood levels of vitamin D were 19.11±10.10 ng/ml in the ADHD group and 28.67±13.76 ng/ml in the normal group. Other researchers have found similar findings, establishing that very low vitamin D levels have a connection with ADHD.
  2. A prospective study from Spain involving 1,650 mother-child pairs investigated the effect of mother’s vitamin D level during her pregnancy with the risk for ADHD by the time the child was 4 to 5 years old. Schoolteachers followed the standard test procedures to establish the ADHD diagnosis. The study showed that for every 10-ng/ml increment of the mother’s blood vitamin D level during her pregnancy the children had 11% less ADHD-like symptoms. The authors cautioned that it takes mega doses of vitamin D3 to reach these kinds of results. The usual 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will not achieve the desired increase of vitamin D3 levels, but amounts of 5,000 IU to 8,000 IU are necessary to achieve this.

Schizophrenia and vitamin D3

A 2014 Meta analysis found that low vitamin D levels have an association with a 2.16-times higher probability of having schizophrenia than controls with normal vitamin D levels. Another study examined whether those patients who had an acute psychosis would have lower vitamin D blood levels than schizophrenia patients in remission or control patients without schizophrenia. Studies compared 40 patients with an acute psychosis to 41 patients in remission and 40 healthy controls. Patients with an acute psychosis had extremely low vitamin D blood levels, while patients in remission had much better vitamin D levels. Healthy controls had the best vitamin D levels.

Absorption and metabolism of vitamin D3

Magnesium plays a central role in activating vitamin D3. This publication points out that magnesium is also necessary for absorption of vitamin D3 in the gut. The activation of vitamin D3 is also partially responsible for vitamin D absorption. Both vitamin D3 and magnesium play an important role in bone and calcium metabolism. The fact that every body cell has vitamin D3 receptors shows how important it is for the maintenance of the body. Many researchers say that vitamin D3 qualifies as a hormone because of the specific effects on cells via vitamin D3 receptors.

Take Enough Vitamin D3

Take Enough Vitamin D3

Conclusion

Vitamin D3 is an important signaling hormone and vitamin that regulates the body’s calcium absorption and is responsible for bone metabolism. Research has shown that the lack of vitamin D3 causes several unrelated diseases, like rickets, multiple sclerosis, and schizophrenia. But other diseases, where a lack of vitamin D3 was present, were diabetes, attention deficit disorder and strokes. When patients with elevated inflammatory markers take vitamin D3 their interleukin-6 levels dropped by 37.3%. To achieve this, patients needed to consume at least 2000 IU. We all should have our vitamin D blood level measured from time to time. It should be between 50 and 80 ng/ml. Too many Americans are deficient in vitamin D3 and come down with the diseases mentioned! Prevention and supplementation go hand in hand. You can prevent a lot of diseases this way.

 

Oct
21
2017

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Recently Medical News Today published an article on bioidentical hormone replacement in the Sept. 19, 2017 edition.

Although it was partially informative, I felt that there was an underlying bias against the use of bioidentical hormone replacement. The article made it sound as if hormone replacement therapy would not be safe. But the opposite is true with bioidentical hormone replacement.

Why are many women afraid of bioidentical hormone replacement?

At the time when there was a lot of confusion about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) made it even more confusing. After all there was one trial to show once and for all that HRT would be beneficial. The expectation was that HRT prevents 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, progestin and Premarin were responsible for the negative effects. Had research 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. But the horrifying results that are due to the use of synthetic hormones and that the WHI warned about linger on in the minds of many women.

The use of bioidentical hormone replacement

Dr. John Lee pointed out in several of his books that the physician should only replace hormone loss with bioidentical hormones. He also pointed out that physicians should only replace those hormones that are at low levels or missing. This means that the woman should have confirmatory blood tests like FSH, LH, blood estrogen and salivary progesterone. If estrogen and progesterone are missing, the physician usually starts the woman on progesterone cream first. After two months, when laboratory tests show a saturation with progesterone , the addition of estrogen can follow, typically as the Bi-Est cream. This is a mix of estriol and estradiol.

Caution to balance against estrogen dominance

Progesterone is started first to balance against the potential cancer-inducing effect of estradiol. With the addition of progesterone a balance is the result, and estrogen will not cause breast cancer. This is also why Bi-Est is used: it is a mix of estriol and estradiol. Estriol is neutral with regard to causing breast cancer. Estradiol is the main natural estrogen in a woman, so some of it is necessary to make the woman feel normal. This is how the body receptors are functioning. But estradiol alone, when not in balance with progesterone, can cause breast cancer and uterine cancer.

The key is that only women who need bioidentical hormones should receive it. There are some women whose blood tests do not show a lack of estrogen, but only a lack of progesterone. These women should receive replacement with bioidentical progesterone to re-establish the hormone balance between estradiol and progesterone.

Safety of bioidentical hormone replacement products

As I have mentioned before, the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 showed that on Premarin and progestin, two synthetic hormone products women came down with breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and thromboembolic events. They were using the synthetic drugs, namely conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate. The reason these women had to suffer these side effects was because their physicians insisted in using “pure hormones that a drug company had manufactured”. But these synthetic hormones were not pure hormones; they were adulterated with side chains so that pharmaceutical companies could patent them. These side chains made the synthetic hormones not fit the body’s hormone receptors. And this is the reason why the synthetic hormones created chaos in form of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

Women’s Health Initiative authors whitewashed study results

Instead of admitting their mistakes, the full truth never became public. Instead the authors of the WHI study stated that it would be necessary to limit hormone replacement in menopause to the minimum amount of synthetic hormones to control symptoms, and their use should not exceed more than 5 years. These authors never distinguished between bioidentical hormones that fit the body’s hormone receptors and the synthetic hormones that irritated or blocked the body’s hormone receptors. There are thousands of women in Europe who have been on bioidentical hormones for decades, and they are doing just fine!

Bioidentical hormones in balance have no side effects

The truth is that bioidentical hormones –as long as they are kept in balance-do not have any side effects. Bioidentical hormones are the same that a woman produces in her ovaries before menopause sets in. The production of her bioidentical hormones kept her healthy. But the treating physician needs to carefully watch the balance of the hormones in the woman who is replaced with bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. This means that she needs to get enough progesterone to counterbalance estrogen stimulation. Hormones are constantly changing and if you don’t measure them, you don’t know what you are dealing with.

Dr. Lee said to measure hormone levels

John Lee showed a long time ago that you 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 to replace what is missing. And they should also replace only as much as necessary to normalize the 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 applied to the forearms or to the chest wall once per day. This avoids the first-pass metabolism where the hormones, if absorbed from a pill in the gut have to pass through the liver. Part of the hormones can get metabolized and some of the hormone effect may disappear. By applying bioidentical Bi-Est cream and progesterone cream to the skin, 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.

What are the side effects of bioidentical hormone replacement?

Normally, when estrogen and progesterone are in balance, there should be no side effect. However, in the beginning of replacement therapy sometimes one of the hormones gets too high. If this happens with estrogen replacement, the woman becomes estrogen-dominant. She would experience symptoms of bloating, fatigue, weight gain, depression, headaches, loss of sex drive. She can also develop uterine fibroids, endometriosis and hypothyroidism. It was Dr. John Lee who first described this (Ref.1). There can also be mood swings, craving for sweets, irritability, and sluggishness in the morning. The key is to cut back on the estrogen dosage; alternatively, if progesterone is low in saliva tests, this hormone may need an increase, which would rebalance estrogen. At the end of fine-tuning of bioidentical hormone replacement the woman will feel normal and have no negative side effects, but the process of fine-tuning may take several months.

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 the serum and in the 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 blood test. This leads to overdosing progesterone. With salivary progesterone levels you see the physiological tissue levels, with blood tests you don’t. Dr. Zava emphasized that testing blood or urine as progesterone hormone tests will underestimate bio-potency and lead to overdosing the patient.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Conclusion

Bioidentical hormone replacement, properly done, does not cause cancer, does not cause blood clots and prevents heart attacks and strokes. It also prevents osteoporosis and the associated fractures in older women. The key is that the natural hormones fit the body’s own hormone receptors. The reason why menopausal symptoms appear is that natural hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are missing. With the replacement of the missing hormones in a menopausal woman through bioidentical hormone replacement, the menopausal symptoms disappear. Contrary to the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 when patients received synthetic hormones, there are no breast cancers, no heart attacks and no strokes with bioidentical hormone replacement. What is even better is that these women will live without all the postmenopausal problems, and their life expectancy will be about 10 years longer than without bioidentical hormone replacement.

References

Ref. 1. Dr. John R. Lee: “What your doctor may not tell you about menopause: the breakthrough book on natural hormone balance”. Sept. 2004.

Oct
14
2017

A New Genetic Marker For Alzheimer’s

“A new genetic marker for Alzheimer’s”; so reported a study dated August 11, 2017. Most of all, they found that a genetic marker, TOMM40 was stronger than the established genetic marker APOE4. It seems like the older studies overlooked the importance of the new TOMM40 genetic marker. This new marker may have been present at the same time as APOE4.

Details of study regarding a new genetic marker for Alzheimer’s

The APOE4 is especially relevant for the formation of lipoproteins. APOE4 showed a strong association with the formation of amyloid plaque. This is located in the brain areas where Alzheimer’s disease developed. Therefore the thinking in the past was that APOE4 would be the culprit behind memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, the new study shows evidence that the TOMM40 genetic marker is the gene that actually orchestrates the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Thalida Em Arpawong is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Southern California (USC) Dornsife College. She conducted research about the TOMM40 marker. Her supervisor was senior investigator Carol A. Prescott, who is a professor of psychology at the USC Dornsife College. She co-published the paper.

More info about the study involving a new genetic marker for Alzheimer’s

Professor Prescott used two verbal memory test results. They were the United States Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). In these tests immediate recall was compared to delayed recall 5 minutes later. Alzheimer’s patients have problems with short term memory recall.  In total the study examined 20,650 HRS participants and 11,391 ELSA participants. Their age was 50 years and above since this is the typical age for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic data was part of the examination in 7,486 HRS participants and 6,898 ELSA participants. The scientists looked at 1.2 million genetic variations of the human genome to fit the memory loss. In conclusion, only one gene area, TOMM40 showed a strong association with decline in immediate and delayed memory recall.

Hence professor Carol A. Prescott summarized the findings: “The results from this study…raise the question of how many findings in other studies show an association with APOE4 that may in fact be due to TOMM40 or a combination of TOMM40 and APOE4.”

Possible future clues from a trial using TOMM40 marker

A review paper points out the start of a new trial, called TOMMOROW. The review paper points out that the location of APOE and TOMM40 are on chromosome 19 in very close proximity. Pioglitazone is a drug that controls diabetes. Patients tolerate it well. It is used in the TOMMORROW trial. As this review paper states the TOMM40 gene is responsible for the outer mitochondrion membrane. Consequently the paper states: the “outer mitochondrial membrane channel through which peptides and proteins travel into mitochondria to support mitochondrial function and biogenesis” is the key for understanding Alzheimer’s disease. Because pioglitazone is a drug that induces mitochondrial doubling the researchers hope that it will help Alzheimer’s patients.  It will probably be interesting to follow the phase 3 trial TOMMORROW, where research will observe the delay in onset of minimal cognitive impairment.

A New Genetic Marker For Alzheimer’s

A New Genetic Marker For Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

Research has found a new genetic marker for Alzheimer’s, TOMM40 that identifies a higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Its location is close to the marker APOE on chromosome 19. It appears that TOMM40 may be more reliable in identifying patients at risk for Alzheimer’s disease than the older APOE marker. As a result research has started a new phase 3 trial, called TOMMORROW. This will tell whether or not Pioglitazone, a diabetic drug maybe useful in delaying Alzheimer’s disease in high-risk patients.

Oct
07
2017

How Much Drinking During Pregnancy Is Safe?

A recent review of the literature asked: how much drinking during pregnancy is safe? To the surprise of the researchers there was no clear answer in the medical literature between 1950 and July 2016. The researchers wanted to know whether 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks in a week would show a negative effect. Or would it affect the fetus and cause fetal alcohol syndrome?

What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

A mother who drinks several drinks of alcohol per day during her pregnancy will inflict serious damage to her baby. The end result is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). There is growth deficiency, usually below the 10 percentile in terms of weight, height or both. There is a characteristic facial appearance like small eye openings and a thin upper lip. In addition severe central nervous system damage is another toxic effect of alcohol on the fetal brain. This leads to gait problems, speech and psychological problems.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

When a pregnant woman consumes less alcoholic beverages, there may be less damage to the fetus. This partial damage to the fetus is called “fetal alcohol spectrum disorder”, which resembles the term “autism spectrum disorder”. However, these two conditions are not related.

In a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder some features of fetal alcohol syndrome would be present, but not all. A child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may be able to lead an independent life as an adult.

Present rules about drinking during pregnancy

The CDC and the FDA say that a pregnant woman should not consume any alcohol during pregnancy. It even includes the weeks before a pregnancy. In addition, it also applies to the male before he fathers a child. It is a fact that sperm and precursors of sperm are very sensitive to alcohol toxicity. A woman’s eggs are also sensitive to alcohol toxicity. There is no place for a romantic dinner with alcohol  and sex later in the evening, that leads to a pregnancy. Romance and a romantic dinner is quite possible without alcohol, if sex that leads to pregnancy is in the plans. If you plan on getting pregnant as a couple you must be responsible, male or female. In view of all of the knowledge it is just not a good idea to subject yourself to alcohol before pregnancy.

New questions about the minimum toxic amount of alcohol

A search of the literature between 1950 and July 2016 has not revealed any convincing data about what one glass of alcohol per day would do during pregnancy. Some researchers will likely want to approach this topic in the near future. There are many women in the US who drink that much during pregnancy, but do not tell their healthcare providers. Researchers would like to conduct a trial where they follow women who consume one glass of alcohol per day during pregnancy. They will want to compare that to a control group with no alcohol intake during the pregnancy. Next would be a thorough investigation of the offspring and about the presence or absence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. At the present time there is no such data. We know that some women expose themselves to these smaller amounts of alcohol. But we do not know whether or not there is a serious consequence for this.

New meta-analysis study from Bristol, England in 2016 regarding drinking during pregnancy

The closest study that may answer part of the above questions is a metaanalysis from England. It attempted to shed some light on exposure of smaller amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. They examined several studies where the exposure was up to 32 Grams of alcohol per week during pregnancy. This is called a meta-analysis.

Researchers examined several parameters like stillbirth, gestational length and preterm delivery (less than 37 weeks). They also examined other factors, like a small baby for gestational age, low birth weight (less than 2500 g), and features of FAS.

Findings of the Bristol study

Researchers pooled a total of 288, 512 participants from several studies. The low alcohol consumption group (less than 32 grams per week) had 10% preterm deliveries. 8% of the babies were small for their gestational age. The offspring of pregnant ladies who drank up to 32 grams of alcohol per week were compared to abstainers. The alcohol consuming group had babies that on average weighed 13.49 grams less. Low birth weights (less than 2500 grams) were the same in both groups. A large US study showed a 24% risk of placental abruption in the light-drinking group compared to abstainers. FAS symptoms, conduct disorder or hyperactivity syndrome were the same in any of the pooled studies. The outcome between abstainers and light-drinking mothers was the same. No apparent difference could be found between the children of either group.

Common sense about drinking during pregnancy

At this point it is the safest to go by the recommendation of the CDC and all the official medical societies that recommend to not drinking any alcohol 3 months before a planned pregnancy and during the pregnancy. I consider it common sense that you avoid a known nerve toxin like alcohol during pregnancy. The toxic effect of alcohol in a high enough dosage does horrendous damage, as it is obvious with fetal alcohol syndrome. It stunts the baby’s growth and damages the brain. We have also seen that a lower exposure to alcohol still produces fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It does not make sense to me to gamble, whether a lower concentration of alcohol may be “safe” to the fetus.

Limits of what research to do

Knowing that alcohol is a toxin to nervous tissue demands that no pregnant woman should drink alcoholic beverages at all. It simply is not safe. I suspect that some researcher who must do research at any cost will one day produce that hypothetical study of one drink of alcohol per day during pregnancy. I think it will show that a significant amount of cases have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The conclusion will be that it is safer not to drink alcohol during pregnancy.

How Much Drinking During Pregnancy Is Safe?

How Much Drinking During Pregnancy Is Safe?

Conclusion

Sometimes science is going beyond where it should go. In the study analyzed above several studies were pooled as a metaanalysis. There are limitations in terms of reliability of such studies.

But when it comes to testing what smaller amounts of alcohol do to a pregnancy we need to ask a few questions. Are we as a society really willing to risk future humans just to satisfy our curiosity whether or not drinking during pregnancy would be “safe”? Common sense tells us that alcohol as a known neurotoxic substance will be detrimental to a developing brain in a fetus, even in smaller amounts. Also, it is not clear whether ethics committees throughout the US will allow such a claim or will shut it down in the planning stages before it can ever take off. I would guess that it is more likely that any such plans for a trial of that nature will come under the scrutiny of the medical authorities including the CDC, the FDA and the American Medical Association and be shut down fairly quickly, because of the potential damage that could be inflicted onto the fetus.

It is much safer to carry on with the existing laws and recommendations and avoid all alcohol exposure before and during pregnancy.