Dec
23
2017

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

A recent study showed that the birth control pill increases the risk of breast cancer. This publication did research on 1.8 million of women of Denmark who took various forms of contemporary birth control pills (BCP). They were under the age of 50 and the observation of the participants continued for about 11 years.

Risks for breast cancer

When a woman took the BCP for less than one year, the risk of developing breast cancer was 9% higher compared to controls. But this rate increased even more to 38% after the use of the BCP for over 10 years. Women who had used progestin only intrauterine devices had a risk of 21% to develop breast cancer. It did not make a difference whether the BCP was a mix of estrogen and progestin or progestin. Researchers expressed the risk in the following fashion:

  • Less than one-year exposure to BCP: a 1.09-fold risk to develop breast cancer
  • Over 10-years use of BCP: a 1.38% risk to develop breast cancer
  • IUD with progestin in uterus: a 1.21% risk to develop breast cancer

Strokes and Heart attacks from the BCP

At the 86th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society in New Orleans/Louisiana a Canadian delegation presented this data. They had done a meta-analysis of 14 trials regarding side effects of the birth control pill (BCP). These women had taken the BCP on a prolonged basis (Ref. 1). The researchers monitored the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They found an association with the prolonged use of the low dose estrogen BCP. Researchers examined all of the studies between 1980 and October of 2002. 14 independent studies qualified for the meta-analysis.

Metaanalysis of BCP caused heart attacks and strokes

The strength of such a meta-analysis lies in the pooling of data and the fact that the data comes from a much larger patient population, which generally makes the results more reliable. Dr. J. Baillargeon from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Sherbrooke, Quebec/Canada, stated that they found a

  • 85-fold risk for developing heart attacks with long-term use of the BCP and at the same time there was a risk of
  • 54-fold of hemorrhagic strokes with long-term use of the low-dose BCP.

It is important that women who contemplate going on the BCP know not only about the dangers of developing breast cancer, but also about the dangers of heart attacks and hemorrhagic strokes.

Lessons learnt from the Women’s Health Initiative

The Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 showed that women who were on Premarin and progestin for hormone replacement in menopause came down with breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and thromboembolic events. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3127562/

They were using the synthetic hormones, namely conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate. The reason these women had to suffer these side effects was because their physicians insisted on using “pure hormones that a drug company had manufactured”. But these synthetic hormones were not pure hormones; they were hormones adulterated with side chains so that pharmaceutical companies could patent them.

Misfit of synthetic hormones with hormone receptors

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 the body with breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. In essence the mix of conjugated equine estrogen and the medroxyprogesterone were functioning like estrogens. So, there was an overdose of estrogenic hormones when taking these hormones and this use resulted in the development of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The BCP is very similar to these hormones that are in the medication for hormone replacement therapy in menopause, but the hormone dosage in the BCP is much lower.

Other high-risk settings for women taking the BCP

There are other higher risk subpopulations of women who should avoid the BCP:

  • Had 1st degree relative with breast cancer on one breast :5-fold relative risk ; there is a genetic reason for breast cancer here
  • 1st degree relative with breast cancer on both breasts : 9.5-fold relative risk ; genetic risk more obvious.
  • No relative, but patient had history of breast cancer : 4-fold relative risk ;
  • First child born later than 30 years of age : 1.9-fold relative risk ; in comparison with a woman who has her first child prior to age 20
  • If woman consumes 3 oz. of alcohol per day : 2-fold risk; in comparison with woman not using alcohol or BCP
  • Prior radiation for Hodgkin’s disease (age 10 to 19) : 10- to 75-fold risk; radiation exposure during time of breast development leads to an enormous risk ratio about 15 years later

Mechanism of the BCP

The BCP or OC (oral contraception) utilizes the fact that ovulation (=release of a fertile egg) requires a complex interaction between hormones to occur. The gonadotropin hormones LH and FSH from the pituitary gland must stimulate the ovaries. The right mixture of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries achieves this. Without that proper hormonal interaction ovulation will not take place leading to an infertile cycle. With contraception scientists were able to suppress ovulation for as long as patients are taking the birth control pill regularly. By giving a small amount of estrogen and progesterone like substance (called “progestin”) in the oral contraceptive form (the birth control pill) ovulation stops, the lining of the uterine cavity becomes stable through estrogen, and the mucous plug in the cervical canal thickens, making it much more difficult for sperm to enter.

Estrogen dominance from the BCP

The Women’s Health Initiative has taught physicians a tough lesson: you cannot mess with nature’s hormones or else you create a risk of strokes (41%), heart attacks (29% more), blood clots (twice as many), breast cancer (26% more), colorectal cancer (37% more) and the patient will have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease (76% more often). This was a trial involving over 16,000 postmenopausal women.

Although the hormones used in these women were slightly different in concentration, structurally they were very similar to the ones used for birth control purposes. What nature seems to tell us is that you cannot mess with hormone receptors, or you set up the body for one of the diseases mentioned.

Hormonal disruption

The truth is that the combination of  synthetic estrogen-like and progesterone-like substances  in the BCP are not bio-identical hormones. They suppress ovulation, which means they are creating progesterone deficiency in the woman who takes these synthetic hormones. The end result is that physicians create estrogen dominance in these women, which according to Dr. Lee is the reason for the above listed complications (Ref.2).

It makes more sense to use less invasive alternatives for birth control methods instead of the BCP. A well-fitted IUD (inserted by a gynecologist) is a good alternative. This will not create havoc with the woman’s hormones and will not create infertility after contraception is no longer needed. Bio-identical progesterone replacement using creams is being used to rebalance the original hormones when the BCP is discontinued.

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Conclusion

The birth control pill (BCP) is a popular form of contraception. But there are significant risks of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes associated with its use. According to the previous literature the risk of complications associated with the BCP was between 1.3- and 1.6-fold. The present study with smaller concentrations of hormones in the more modern BCP still showed a risk of 1.38-fold regarding breast cancer. It did not mention heart attacks and strokes as additional risk factors. The Danish study was supported by a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Novo Nordisk is a major producer of BCP’s in Europe and in the world. It would be in their interest to minimize the risks associated with the BCP. Any woman using the BCP should use it only as long as she really needs it. Ultimately she would be better advised to use alternatives like IUD’s and condoms.

References

  1. http://www.askdrray.com/birth-control-pill-increases-strokes-and-heart-attacks/
  2. John R. Lee, David Zava and Virginia Hopkins: “What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer – How hormone balance can help save your life”, Wellness Central, Hachette Book Group USA, 2005. Page 360 to 374 explains xenohormones.
Dec
16
2017

Mouth Flora And Your Health

You may not be aware that there is a connection between mouth flora and your health. But a recent publication provided proof that certain bacteria can cause esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer from certain bacteria

In a 2017 publication a study of mouth flora from 122,000 people showed an association to two types of esophagus cancer. The finding was that the periodontal pathogen Tannerella forsythia had as association with esophageal adenocarcinoma. This cancer is originating from the glandular tissue of the esophagus. In contrast, the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis caused another histological type of esophagus cancer, namely esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer originates from the inner lining of the esophagus. In addition, two mouth bacteria showed a relationship with reduced risk of causing esophageal adenocarcinoma. These two common mouth bacteria were the Neisseria species and the species Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Clinical example of a patient with esophageal cancer

To illustrate this with a clinical case description, here is an example from another publication. This is regarding a man who suffered from esophagus cancer. Initially doctors were puzzled about his diagnosis. He was a 53-year old patient with chronic alcoholic liver disease. He had an increased white blood cell count. A blood culture isolated Parvimonas micra, which is a pathogen normally only living in the mouth flora. A gastroscopy as part of the work-up showed an invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus. It had almost completely blocked the passage to the stomach. The pathological bacterium had accessed the blood circulation via the tumor mass in the lower esophagus. In the past physicians did not know about these associations.

Brush your teeth and floss every day

Brushing your teeth and flossing everyday controls the bacteria in your mouth. It prevents leakage of bacteria into your blood affecting your heart valves. Studies have shown that this also prevents heart attacks.

The literature on this is clear: chronic gingivitis has a link with bacteria in the mouth. They grow on the gums and can spread into your blood. They can then colonize in your heart valves and even in the lining of the arteries. This is particularly so in cases where there is already hardening of the arteries (arterial plaque). This can lead to heart valve disease like mitral valve disease. If this process occurs in coronary arteries, it can lead to heart attacks.This reminds you that there is a connection between mouth flora and your health.

Mouth wash

Many people feel they have “bad breath” and they need a mouthwash product. This is good marketing for companies that produce mouthwash. However, the truth is you need to be diligent about appointments with a dental hygienist, brush your teeth regularly and floss your teeth. If you suffer of constipation, increase your fiber intake and consider colonics. If you still think you have bad breath, use a natural mint product (read the ingredients). Why do I not like mouthwashes? They kill your mouth bacteria that are naturally there; this can disbalance the rest of your gut bacteria as you swallow part of the mouth flora when you eat or drink fluids. If you still want to use a mouthwash, use one without alcohol and without any carcinogens such as parabens. Also read this 2009 news item. It is as valid as it was then.

Chronic gingivitis and heart disease

It was not until about the mid 1990’s when it became apparent that gum infections and severe tooth decay could cause inflammation in the blood measurable by using the CRP marker (C-reactive protein). Dr. Joseph Muhlestein at the University of Utah demonstrated in 1996 that chronic gum infection could cause a heart attack. He isolated the bacterium Chlamydia pneumoniae in 79% of patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery, while samples from heart transplant patients isolated this bacterium in only about 5%. The new thinking was that bugs that multiply in diseased gums could migrate into the blood and cause platelets from the blood to clump together and block coronary arteries causing heart attacks. Also, restenosis after percutaneous coronary intervention was more likely to occur, if the pathogen count of gum bacteria in the blood was higher.

Infectious causes of endocarditis and heart attacks

Harvard University researchers have confirmed this. In the past physicians did not know that a bad tonsillitis with an aggressive bacterium, Streptococcus viridans, could cause subacute endocarditis, a dangerous infectious disease of the heart valves, which can be responsible for sudden death in younger persons. Neglected cavities in teeth can also harbor this bacterium. Another study in 2009 showed that two particular strains of bacteria in infected gums, Tannerella forsynthesis and Preventella intermedia, showed a connection with an increased risk for heart attacks; but it was more the overall burden of bacteria in the infected gums than the specific bacteria strains that mattered most.

See your dental hygienist regarding your mouth flora and your health

Given this background it is easier to understand that we need to take good care of our teeth and gums, if we want to maintain good health. As a start most people should see their dental hygienist (who usually works in a dentist’s office) twice a year. The dental hygienist will probe the depth of gingival pockets with a periodontal probe. A normal depth measures up to and including 3 mm. Deeper pockets than that usually indicate that the patient did not floss the teeth regularly. One needs to floss at least once per day, better twice per day, and it should not bleed after flossing (initially when a person flosses for the first time the gums tend to bleed a bit).

What the dental hygienist does

The hygienist will do scaling of plaques on the tooth enamel. If the hygienist detects any cavity, he or she will bring it to the attention of the dentist. At the end of the scaling procedure the hygienist will apply fluoride, which puts a coating on the tooth surfaces to prevent tooth decay.

When deeper pockets (6 mm or more) are detected a trial of sub-gingival root brushings has shown to have a very beneficial result within only 14 days.

Periodontal pockets were improved and bacterial counts of periodontal infections also showed improvement.

Mouth flora in alcoholics

This 2016 study from Poland examined the mouth flora of 25 alcoholics. They were compared to the mouth flora of 25 patients from a periodontology clinic.

There were significant differences between the two groups. The alcoholic group had higher bacterial counts of these three strains: Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Treponema denticola. There was no difference in bacterial counts between those who drank only little alcohol compared to those who drank lots. The bacterial concentration in the sub-gingival flora was the same. Patients with severe periodontal disease had the same distribution of the three strains of bacteria as chronic alcoholics. However, the concentration of bacteria in alcoholics was much higher. This fact may explain why chronic alcoholics are very sensitive to infections. Alcohol inhibits the immune system, but stimulates the growth of sub-gingival bacteria, which find their way into the system and in serious cases can kill the patient.

Mouth Flora And Your Health

Mouth Flora And Your Health

Conclusion

It is now a well-established fact that mouth bacteria play an important role in our health. Some of the healthy bacteria find their way into the gut providing the foundation of a healthy gut flora. But as described above there are also pathological bacteria that can multiply in our mouth cavity and our gums. This happens particularly in people who do not floss and who develop gingivitis and periodontitis. Tannerella forsythia was associated with esophageal adenocarcinoma. In contrast, the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis caused esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Streptococcus viridans could cause subacute endocarditis, a dangerous infectious disease of the heart valves. Tannerella forsynthesis and Preventella intermedia showed an association with an increased risk for heart attacks.

Bacteria associated with alcoholism

Here are three mouth bacteria associated with alcohol consumption and with chronic periodontitis. They are Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Treponema denticola. Don’t let the strange sounding names of mouth bacteria confuse you. Fact is that these bacteria, when entered into the blood vessels and the rest of the body, will play havoc with your health. Keep brushing your teeth at least twice per day and floss your teeth conscientiously once or twice per day as well. This will improve your mouth flora and your health.

More info: http://www.askdrray.com/flossing-and-brushing-saves-your-heart/

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.

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.

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Aug
26
2017

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

What do decreased sperm counts in men tell us about our world? A recent study has shown that over the past 40 years males in many centers that tested for sperm counts have lost 50% of the sperm count that was normal in the 1970’s. The question is, what could have caused this? Nobody has definite answers. But here are the factors that the Mayo Clinic lists for low sperm counts.

Medical causes of decreased sperm counts in men

  • A varicocele: A varicocele is dilatation of veins close to the testicles. It is presumed that this leads to a higher temperature inside the testicles and this causes a lowered sperm count and poor sperm quality.
  • Antisperm antibodies can cause infertility. Due to low sperm counts.
  • Infections in the testicles reduce sperm production. Gonorrhea and HIV infection are some of the common infections.
  • Some men develop retrograde ejaculation. With this the sperm enter the bladder on ejaculation instead of coming out from the tip of the penis. Alpha-blockers, a type of blood pressure medication can do this as a side effect. But there are also various health problems that can cause retrograde ejaculation like diabetes, surgery to the prostate, urethra and bladder. Spinal injuries can be also a cause of retrograde ejaculations. In many cases the sperm production in the testicles is still present and sperm could be sampled from there for artificial insemination.
  • Tumors of the pituitary gland can interfere with hormone production of testosterone and sperm counts will fall or stop. But other pituitary hormones, thyroid hormone and adrenal gland hormones are needed for fertility.
  • Chromosome defects like Klinefelter syndrome and others can be a cause of abnormal development of the male genitals with low or missing sperm production.
  • Celiac disease is a bowel disease that is due to gluten sensitivity. It causes low sperm counts and infertility, which responds to a gluten free diet. Sperm counts normalize with this diet.
  • There are medications that can decrease sperm production like chemotherapy, anabolic steroid use, antifungals and certain antibiotic medications and some ulcer medications.

Lifestyle causes leading to decreased sperm counts in men

Certain lifestyles and occupations can cause a man to have a decreased sperm count.

  • Drinking alcohol excessively can reduce testosterone production, which decreases sperm count.
  • Recreational drug use: steroids to increase muscle mass cause testicular atrophy and decreased sperm count. Cocaine and marihuana also decreases the sperm count.
  • Certain occupations like welding from exposure to heat and truck driving from prolonged sitting have been associated in some studies with infertility. But there are other studies that could not confirm this correlation.
  • Smoking: Men who smoke have lower sperm counts than men who don’t smoke.
  • Excessive weight: Obese men transform some of their testosterone into estrogen through the action of the enzyme aromatase, which is amply present in fat cells. This leads to low testosterone levels and low sperm counts.

Environmental causes of decreased sperm counts in men

The environment in terms of heat production around the scrotum or exposure to chemicals or ionizing radiation can lower sperm counts in men.

  • Heat around the testicles: studies do not all agree, but there is a tendency for low sperm counts when using saunas and hot tubs frequently. Sitting for longer times or using a laptop computer for longer periods can also increase the temperature of a man’s scrotum and lead to a low sperm count.
  • Exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercury and others can be the cause of infertility.
  • Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. With high doses of radiation sperm production may cease entirely. With lower radiation exposures sperm counts may be down for several years before they recover to normal.
  • Industrial chemicals: exposure to fumes from certain chemicals can lead to low sperm counts; benzenes, herbicides, pesticides, xylene, toluene, painting materials and organic solvents are on this list.

Recent study about decreased sperm counts in men as an indicator

We have now reviewed the major causes of low sperm counts in men. I like to revisit the recent sperm study I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. It is unlikely that men in North America, Europe and Australia would spontaneously produce less than 50% of the sperm than men 40 years earlier had produced. The next puzzling fact is that the study found normal sperm production in men in Africa, South America and Asia.

This points to epidemiological differences that reduce the sperm count in men in North America, Europe and Australia. In view of the multitude of possible causes it will require a task force that does a comparative study worldwide looking at exposure history, diets, social habits and other factors.

Fertility clinics are thriving because couples want children. With low sperm counts of males there is more infertility than there was in the past. Density gradient centrifugation is a reliable method of enriching sperm counts.

In the past a couple had no problem getting a successful pregnancy when they wanted it. Now couples often have to be assessed in a fertility clinic because of problems with regard to decreased sperm counts in men, which can cause infertility.

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Conclusion

A new study has noticed that over the past 40 years many men have developed low sperm counts. This has caused significant problems with fertility among couples. Fertility clinics are busy trying to help these couples. Density gradient centrifugation has become a common technique to enrich sperm samples prior to artificial insemination. It is a puzzle why the recent study has found normal sperm counts in samples of men living in Africa, South America and Asia. In contrast men living in Europe, North America and Australia have 50% lower sperm counts. The reason may be multifactorial. It will require a team of experts to sort out this discrepancy and hopefully find an answer for men in Europe, North America and Australia to bring their sperm counts back to normal.

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Jul
15
2017

Getting Rid Of Sugar

Scientific papers describe how unhealthy added sugar is, so getting rid of sugar in your diet is the answer.

An article was published in CNN that describes a one-month sugar detox program.

Brooke Alpert, the co-author of the book “The Sugar Detox: Lose the Sugar, Lose the Weight — Look and Feel Great” describes the details of a sugar detox program.

 The first three days of sugar detox

You need to go cold turkey for three days to eliminate any sugar to break the addiction cycle. During this time you may experience anxiety, sugar craving and moodiness.

You must not consume any added sugars during the first 3 days, but also keep away from fruit. Avoid starchy vegetables. This includes corn, sweet potatoes, peas and butternut squash. You also need to avoid dairy, because of the milk sugar in it. In addition avoid grains and alcohol. “You’re basically eating protein, vegetables and healthy fats”, says Alpert. You would enjoy a breakfast with 3 eggs any style. Lunch contains 6 oz. of poultry, tofu or fish. Add a green salad. For dinner your helpings are bigger, but it would be similar to lunch, perhaps with added vegetables. Snacks can be 1 oz. of nuts or a few slices of bell peppers with hummus. Your beverages: unsweetened tea, black coffee or water.

Sweeteners are not allowed according to Alpert. Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of Pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco agrees. He said that artificial sweeteners cause you to store more fat. Dr. Lustig added: “You also end up overeating later on to compensate for the increased energy storage”.

Day four of sugar detox

On day 4 an apple is reintroduced. It will now taste a lot sweeter, because in the past the natural fruit sugar taste was suppressed by refined sugar. Full fat, unsweetened cheese and yogurt are also part of the diet. Alpert added: “Fat, fiber and protein slow the absorption of sugar, so taking out fat from dairy will make you absorb sugar faster.” Higher sugar content vegetables like carrots and snow peas and high-fiber crackers are introduced in the second half of the first week. Three glasses of red wine can also be added for those who like it.

Second week of sugar detox 

Add a serving of berries that are full of antioxidants. Also add an extra serving of dairy. More starchy vegetables like winter squash and yams can be added.

Third week of sugar detox

Barley, quinoa and oatmeal can now be added back. Grapes and clementines are now also allowable. Another glass of red wine can be added for those who like wine. One ounce of dark chocolate per day can also be added. “Week three should be quite livable,” Alpert said.

Week four of sugar detox

You now can have two starches per day, like bread and rice. In addition you can enjoy high-fiber crackers. You can have 5 glasses of red wine per week. You may want to eat a sandwich. Once you have completed 31 days no fruit is off-limits. You can allow yourself the occasional indulgences like an ice cream or a piece of cake at a birthday party. “Because the addictive behavior is gone, having ice cream once or twice will not send you back to square one. The whole purpose is to give people control and ownership and a place for these foods in our life,” Alpert said.

Weight loss with sugar detox

There can be a lot of weight loss with a sugar detox; depending on how much sugar the person was consuming before the detox started. Alpert recalled that of 80 subjects who tested the sugar detox people lost between 5 and 20 pounds within 31 days. Many people reported that their belly fat was going and the belts had to be tightened. There were other things participants noted: brighter eyes, fewer dark circles around the eyes, clearer skin, more energy and not as many mood swings.

Many people are not properly educated; they reduce fat intake, but add sugar and start gaining weight. By cutting out sugar and adding healthy fats in their diet, they now feel satisfied. The sugar craving has disappeared.

Side effects of sugar detox

You may feel grumpy and weak. This likely is due to low blood sugar and a piece of fruit will help you overcome this. In other cases it could be due to too little fluid intake and when you drink some water, this feeling will pass. Make sure you have supportive family and friends through the first three-day of sugar detox. “You need people around you to help you be successful,” Dr. Lustig said. “The whole family has to do it together.” Some irritability is expected due to sugar and caffeine withdrawal. This will pass and get better with every day. There are persons who should not go on this program: diabetics, people who take medicine to control blood sugar and extreme athletes. Pregnant women should also not follow a sugar detox program.

Why it is important to limit sugar intake

The American Heart Association (AHA) clearly spelled out what the limits are for added sugars:

For men: a daily dose of 9 teaspoons of sugar from all foods,

For women: a daily dose of 6 teaspoons of sugar from all foods.

When you start reading labels, which I started to do since 2001, you realize that it is very easy to exceed these daily limits. What does this do? It makes your pancreas produce more insulin than is good for you. You start switching your metabolism into the metabolic syndrome, you gain weight, and you get inflammation. This is what the AHA is concerned about. You start developing high blood pressure; get high LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and atheromatous plaques in your coronary and brain arteries. Eventually you come down with a heart attack or a stroke.

In the last 100 years sugar consumption per person has skyrocketed.

This has led to a disbalance of our diet and it is because of this that we are facing the obesity wave now. All I am saying is replace sugar with stevia extract, which to my knowledge does not have the undesirable side effects that other sweeteners do and eat a Mediterranean type diet, which we know is balanced.

Watch the maximum recommended sugar intake per day set by the American Heart Association and balance your meals, and you will do a lot better than on the Standard American diet. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be anti-inflammatory.

Getting Rid Of Sugar

Getting Rid Of Sugar

Conclusion

We learnt about how a sugar detox can get you off sugar addiction. I also summarized why it is important to keep sugar consumption within limits set by the American Heart Association. Too much sugar can derange our metabolism, which is called metabolic syndrome. This can lead to diabetes. Eating a Mediterranean diet and keeping sugar intake low is the pathway to good health. It also keeps inflammation at bay.

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May
27
2017

What Your Shopping Cart Reveals

What your shopping cart reveals is what I studied on several of our trips to the US. As I am retired, my wife and I travel quite a bit in the US and find it interesting to watch what people place into their shopping carts.

Typical shopping cart I have observed

The typical shopping cart in a US grocery store seems to consist of white bread, pizza, bacon, hamburger meat, potato chips, cookies, cornflakes, grapes, celery, peppers, strawberries and apples. In addition many people buy prepared breaded chicken strips, milk and an assortment of fruit yogurts.

I like to comment on each of these items, what I am thinking and what precautions you need to be aware of.

White bread and pizza

The problem with white bread and pizza is the wheat, which nowadays is Clearfield wheat. A chemical company from Germany was able to chemically modify the genes of wheat in the 1960’s and 1970’s; in addition they used radiation of the seeds. The farmers liked that the new wheat (called Clearfield wheat) grew with stronger roots, shorter final stems and much larger grains so the yield per acre was higher. This type of wheat was patented under the name of Clearfield wheat and sold all around the world. What was not publicized at the time was that the gliadin content increased manifold from the composition of wheat strains used for thousands of years before. Gliadin gets rid of the glue like substance between the gut cells and causes leaky gut syndrome, something that I heard mentioned at many lectures at several of the Anti-Aging conferences of A4M in Las Vegas. This leads to exposure of immune cells to foreign proteins from the gut, which causes the immune system to hyper react with autoimmune antibodies. As a result, many persons react to wheat with indigestion and digestive problems. They may believe that they react to gluten. It is true that Clearfield wheat also has a higher gluten contents. But any tests for celiac disease will come up empty.

We don’t want to eat this as bread, burgers or pizza: but all of them are baked with the wheat that has been chemically force-hybridized into Clearfield wheat.

Bacon and hamburger meat

A prospective study of 72,113 women over 18 years found a definitive relationship between dietary patterns and cancer and heart attacks. A prudent diet with a high intake of vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, poultry, and whole grains had a very low cancer and heart attack rate. Conversely a Western diet consisting of high intake of red meat, processed meat, refined grains, French fries, and sweets/desserts led to a higher cardiovascular mortality risk of 22% and a higher cancer mortality risk of 16%.

There is another question you should ask: is it grain-beef or is the beef grass-fed?

Meat from grass-fed beef contains 5-times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids compared to corn- or grain-fed beef. Another issue is corn, if that is fed to beef cattle. There is obviously a deliberate marketing drive claiming that corn-fed beef would have a superior taste.

This link shows that the producers only care about their profit and how much of corn-fed beef they can sell. They do not mention that corn is a GMO crop, so this feed is somehow incorporated into the meat. No one has done long-term experiments to ensure that this meat is safe to eat. Moreover, we do know from measurement that corn-fed meat contains much less omega-3 fatty acids and much more omega-6 fatty acids than grass-fed beef. Cows are meant to be grass-feeding animals. If you want to stay healthy, eat grass-fed beef, but do not consume too much or you put yourself at risk for gout from purine metabolites. Corn-fed and grain-fed beef cattle have a lot more infections including liver disease. To control this, the animals are receiving antibiotics. These antibiotics end up in the meat, which can produce superbugs. These superbgs can enter into humans through the food chain.

Bacon is another food that is not only full of saturated fat, but it contains additives, such as sodium nitrite. Give the matter some thought before you put hamburger meat and bacon into your shopping wagon!

What’s wrong about potato chips, cookies, and cornflakes?

1. Potato chips

Potatoes are rich in carbs, but they are empty carbs. Their glycemic index is in the 70 to 80 ranges. I avoid any carbs that exceed 55 (the upper limit of the low-glycemic index). Strangely enough by the time potatoes are processed into potato chips, the glycemic value is only 51, but this is deceiving. The potatoes have been processed in fat and with tons of salt. We now have a product that surely will be bad for your arteries and cause high blood pressure over the long haul. Another important fact is that potatoes belong to the 12 dirty dozens fruit and vegetables that are heavily sprayed with pesticides (see below).

2. Cookies

Cookies are a mix of various ingredients. Here is a recipe for cookies. This is even a better than average quality cookie recipe as they used unsalted butter as a fat source. In many recipes they use margarine, which is an inferior fat. It contains free radicals from the manufacturing process. It is derived from omega-6 fatty acid vegetable oils. But the worst ingredients of cookies are the nutritionally empty white flour and the sugar. Both together are digested, absorbed as sugar into your blood, and a huge insulin response occurs after you have eaten it. Even the cheap chocolate used for the chips is full of unhealthy table sugar causing your pancreas to overproduce insulin.

3. Cornflakes

As mentioned above corn is a GMO crop and we do not know the long-term effects of GMO food on humans. There are more and more reports about gut dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases as a result of the breakdown of the gut barrier. Pro-GMO advocates deny these possibilities. I play it safe and stick to organic fruit and vegetables. But cornflakes are also high on the glycemic index (between 77 and 93). Usually there is sugar mixed in, and the starchy component consists of empty calories. It is simply not a sensible food choice!

The dirty dozen: grapes, celery, peppers, strawberries and apples

It is known for some time that certain foods are more contaminated with pesticides than others. Some of these fruit and vegetables contain between 13 and 15 different pesticides from spraying, as this link describes. Potatoes are one of the top contaminated crops among the dirty dozen.

Why is it important to know which crop is contaminated with pesticides? Pesticides are immune disruptors. Vegetables that are supposed to be healthy for us contain residues from insecticides and herbicides that have estrogen-like activities called xenoestrogens.They are known to cause breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Breaded chicken strips, milk and fruit yogurt

1. Chicken strips

Chicken are fed arsenic type antibiotics for faster growth.

The only way how to protect yourself from this contamination is by buying organic chicken, which I have done since 2001. Also, don’t buy breaded “anything” This brings us back to the wheat story mentioned under “White bread and pizza” above.

2. Milk

Milk in the US often contains antibiotics and genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which can cause various cancers in humans as this link shows. Recombinant BGH is banned in Europe and in Canada.

3. Yogurt

Most people like fruit yogurt, which is full of sugar and fruit syrup. Plain yogurt, sweetened with a bit of stevia is healthy. But the moment it is adulterated with minimal amounts of fruit, and high amounts of sugar,this “fruit yogurt” leads to weight gain and hardening of arteries. The best yogurt product is organic 1% or 2% plain yogurt. Use fruit of your choice to make a real fruit yoghurt!

What Your Shopping Cart Reveals

What Your Shopping Cart Reveals

Conclusion

Life is all about decisions. I like to make healthy food choices for myself. When I go grocery shopping, I notice that many people do not seem to give much thought to what they are purchasing. They likely also have never read the details about the type of facts I mentioned above. The ingredients that people buy at the grocery store are the ingredients of the Standard American Diet, a sad state of affairs indeed.

The key is to avoid wheat products because Clearfield wheat leads to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases. Next avoid processed foods and added sugar. What I have not mentioned above is the importance of cutting down on omega-6 fatty acids and to increase omega-3 fatty acids (fish, fish oil supplements). Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 fatty acids stimulate the arachidonic acid pathway leading to hardening of arteries and arthritis. This leads to stents of the coronary arteries and joint replacements of the hips and knees.

Avoid the dirty dozen of crops and buy them organic instead. Avoid milk products in the US; instead buy them organic to avoid exposure to recombinant bovine growth hormone.

It takes a bit of homework and re-education to eat healthy foods. Start reading labels! If a ten year-old cannot read the name of an additive, it should most likely be a signal for you not to buy this product! The more processed food is, the less nourishing it is likely to be. It is not a huge effort to educate yourself about products, but it does take time to steer away from old habits that are not the best for your health. Ultimately your efforts will pay dividends in terms of good health for years to come!

Apr
22
2017

Only Moderate Alcohol Consumption Benefits Your Heart

A new study from England finds that only moderate alcohol consumption benefits your heart. The study was released on March 22, 2017 in Great Britain. 1.937 million people (51% women, 49% men) had participated in this investigation over 6 years. The lead author, Dr. Steven Bell is a genetic epidemiologist. He said that this study was done to clear up some of the confusion from previous studies. He wondered why the control group without alcohol exposure had more cardiac problems than the moderate group. It did make sense though, that the high alcohol group had worse cardiac problems.

But he and researchers from Cambridge University and University College London did this study to get more detail. They wanted to know why the current non-drinking group used as a control was not looked at more carefully. It consisted of a mix of lifelong abstainers; people who drank formerly, but then gave it up. And the other group was those who drink on an occasional basis.

With this in mind the researchers designed their study. They also used also larger numbers to increase the reliability of the study.

Details of English study

The data comes from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink providing anonymous patient records from general practices in England. The patients upon entry into the study had to be older than 30 years, but have no evidence of cardiovascular disease. A total of 1,937,360 patients qualified to be part of the study.

Based on patients’ records and patients recollections people, researchers looked at 5 classes of drinkers:

  • Non-drinkers (14.3%)
  • Former or ex-drinkers (stopped drinking at one point, 3.7%)
  • Occasional drinkers (drinking rarely, 11.9%)
  • Moderate drinkers (drinking within sensible limits, 61.7%)
  • Heavy drinkers (hazardous alcohol use, 8.4%)

The end point of the study researchers concentrated on the frequency of cardiovascular diseases like angina, heart attack, sudden cardiac death, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm and others. I only listed 6 of the 12 cardiovascular diagnoses as otherwise it would get too technical.

More information: Most study participants were non-smokers, their BMI was within normal limits, and they also did not have diabetes.

Findings of the study

There were significant differences among subclasses of alcohol consumption and the development of cardiovascular diseases over 6 years.

  1. The findings were in line with a number of previous similar studies that showed a U-type dose response curve between developing cardiovascular diseases and alcohol consumption. The group of non-drinkers (where former and occasional drinkers were removed) often had a 20% to 56% increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, while moderate drinkers had no added risk.
  2. On the other hand the heavy drinkers were at risk of developing cardiac arrest (50% increased risk) or heart failure (22% increased risk). A death from a sudden heart attack occurred in heavy drinkers with a risk of 21% increased risk. A former drinker had a 40% increased risk for this, but a non-drinker a risk of 56% increased risk!
  3. A non-drinker had a 32% increased risk of getting a regular heart attack, a former drinker had a 31% increased risk, an occasional drinker 14%, a moderate drinker no added risk, and a heavy drinker had a 12% reduced risk! This seemed to show that drinking alcohol keeps the coronary arteries open and clean. I have had pathology demonstrations with Professor Dr. Adalbert Bohle at Tübingen University during my medical training in 1969. At that time he pointed out how clear and wide open the coronary arteries were in chronic alcoholics. It was not heart disease that killed those patients; they had died from end stage liver cirrhosis, and we saw pathological slides of that.
  4. Heavy drinkers get more ischemic strokes (33% increased risk) and more intracerebral hemorrhages (37% increased risk).
  5. Obstruction of blood vessels in the lower legs (peripheral arterial disease) is common with heavy drinkers (35% increased risk) and even former drinkers (32% increased risk). Non-drinkers have a 22% increased risk while moderate drinkers have a 0% risk (no increased risk).
  6. There was no association between heavy drinking and aortic aneurysm. On the other hand, non-drinkers (32% increased risk) and former drinkers (23% increased risk) showed an increased risk of aortic aneurysm formation.

Other effects of alcohol consumption

The study above did not take into consideration that alcohol consumption has many other consequences beside cardiovascular effects. One for instance is the effect on the brain and the increase of serious car accidents. Another effect is the causation of cancer.

The American Cancer Society clearly states that alcohol consumption has been causatively associated with the following cancers.

  • Cancer of the mouth
  • Cancer of the pharynx (throat)
  • Cancer of the larynx (voice box)
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Cancer of the liver
  • Cancer of the breast
  • Cancer of the colon
  • Alcohol also plays a role with cancer of the pancreas

Many studies have shown a dose-response curve between alcohol consumed and the development of these cancers. In other words there is never a safe low dose, below which no cancer would be caused over time.

These authors conducted a metaanalysis of 16 prospective cohort studies including 6,300 patients. It showed that alcohol caused cancer of the colon and rectum. High intake of alcohol showed a 50% increased risk of causing colon cancer. With regard to rectal cancer the risk was 63% higher. In both cases the highest alcohol intake was compared to the lowest category of alcohol intake.

These authors concluded their discussion by pointing out that 6% of the worldwide cancer deaths are attributed to alcohol intake. They also stated that colorectal cancer risk increased by 50% in the heaviest alcohol users. Among the group of heavy drinkers the cancer death rate would likely be 9%. There would a reduction of mortality from cardiovascular disease by one third in middle and old age. The end result would be 6% mortality again; essentially there is no change.

No matter how you try to solve this equation, there is a risk of cancer deaths from exposure to alcohol. There is also a risk that heavy drinking can cause significant cardiovascular diseases mentioned.

Only moderate alcohol consumption benefits your heart

Only moderate alcohol consumption benefits your heart

Conclusion

Everything we do in life has consequences. With regard to drinking you know that accidents are more common in drinkers; with prolonged exposure to higher alcohol consumption you can get dementia. Moderate amounts appear to have significant protection from heart disease, but the risk for several cancers is not negligible. This point was not mentioned in the study I discussed in the beginning of my blog. In the latter part I included some data about cancer risks from alcohol consumption.

The paradox remains that non-consumption of alcohol is associated with a significant cardiovascular risk because of a U-shape dose response curve. Moderate alcohol use is associated with the lowest cardiovascular risk. The question is whether we can balance moderate drinking with staying in the low cancer risk area. The recommendation of 1 glass of wine for women and 2 glasses of wine for men has been confirmed by the above study. This is considered a healthy preventative dose with respect to cardiovascular risk. It is the official recommendation for cardiovascular disease prevention. The cancer literature clearly states that there is a small cancer risk from moderate alcohol intake. This is particularly true for the 8 cancers discussed.

Dr James Nicholls, the director of research and policy development at Alcohol Research UK had this to say. He pointed to the fact that there are other ways to prevent cardiovascular disease. For those who do not drink at present it would not make sense to take up drinking. You can strengthen your heart by starting a Mediterranean diet and starting to exercise regularly. The beneficial substance for your heart in red wine is known as resveratrol that can be taken as a supplement. Resveratrol has no side effects and does not have the cancer risk of an alcoholic drink. Dr. Nicholls added, “If you drink within the existing guidelines it is unlikely that alcohol will either lengthen or shorten your life.” It is really up to every individual to balance the wine glass with personal health!

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Sep
17
2016

Seven Steps To Live Over 100 Years

Forbes invited me to publish a blog I wrote for Quora, “Seven steps to live over 100 years”.

The topic of habits by people who live more than a hundred years has been reviewed many times in the media. It continues to be popular. Here are seven things you can do to stay healthy followed by an explanation why.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step1: Stay active

You want to stay active every day, even if you retire. You want to move and keep your mind busy. Part of that is to do a daily formal exercise routine to keep those muscles toned, which will prevent falls in the future.

Explanation: when you keep your muscles toned and you move about, your balance organ and coordination remains sharp, you are less likely to fall and break a hip. 50% of those who sustain a hip fracture die.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 2: Eat a healthy diet

Eat a Mediterranean type diet or follow the Okinawan diet. These diets contain less meat (or no meat as in the Seventh Day Adventist diet), but lots of vegetables and fiber. This keeps your cholesterol down, your arteries open and your metabolism controlled, preventing diabetes. If you are not obese and you have no diabetes, you are going to be OK with your cardiovascular system for decades to come.

Explanation: Heart attacks are still on top of the mortality list. Avoid them and you got it made, if you want to make it to 100 and beyond. But we need to stay away from the poor fats and the obsession about eating beef. Red meat, if eaten too often gives you a higher risk of getting cancer and heart disease. So eat it only once a week at the most, the rest would be chicken, turkey meat or fish. Nothing wrong with a vegetarian meal, let’s say kidney beans or lentils on a day in between. This still gives you protein for your muscles, but spares you a heart attack.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 3: Take care of your teeth

Brush your teeth and floss every day. This will control the bacteria in your mouth and prevent leakage into your blood affecting your heart valves. Studies have shown that this prevents heart attacks.

Explanation: When I heard this first about 20 years ago, I found it strange. But the literature is clear: chronic gingivitis is associated with bacteria that grow on the gums and spread into your blood. They can then colonize your heart valves and even the lining of the arteries, particularly where there is already hardening of the arteries (arterial plaque). This can lead to heart valve disease like mitral valve disease or heart attacks.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 4: prevention of disease

See your physician right away if there is a new skin lesion or anything that is different on your body. Removal of early cancer and treatment of any early medical condition is always easier to treat than waiting until it is out of control. Particularly with cancer treatment at an early stage, which usually involves only a small surgical procedure, this will reward you with a ripe old age.

Explanation: I learnt this point in general practice. Patients who waited until small problems become big problems were always much worse off than patients who saw me for small problems that we could remedy at an early stage. As mentioned above this is particularly important in cancer cases, as usually stage 1 and 2 of a cancer is curable with surgery. Once you get lymph node metastases and distant metastases, the cancer is much more difficult to treat, if at all. This is a principle that is pretty much true for any disease. The prevention factor is huge. Make use of it!

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 5: Lifestyle matters

Watch excesses like smoking (cut it out!), alcohol intake, and recreational drugs. Smoking causes heart attacks, strokes, and cancers, which shorten your life. Recreational drugs just interfere with your body chemistry and have side effects. Cut them out, if you cherish growing older than 100. Alcohol needs to be kept at a very low consumption, if you want to preserve your liver, which is your central metabolic organ. If you can’t handle moderation with alcohol consumption, cut it out. No one has died from not consuming alcohol.

Explanation: I have already explained why lifestyle choices matter. The alcohol question is one that will be discussed back and forth for centuries. There are cardiologists who tell you that men should drink 1 to 2 drinks per day and women 1 drink per day and we all live longer, because of prevention of heart disease. The wine industry makes sure that you will hear this cardiology rule. It is true that centenarians often drink one glass of red wine per day. But there are plenty of centenarians who never drank in their life. It is a matter of personal choice.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 6: Avoid obesity and diabetes

I did mention to avoid obesity under point 2 above, which is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Your ideal body mass index should be in the 21 to 22 range. You can achieve this by following the diets I mentioned above. You should cut out sugar and starchy foods.

Explanation: I have followed such a diet since 2001 and my body mass index is between 21 and 22. I grew up in Germany where an emphasis was put on sweets and starchy foods. Needless to say my modified Mediterranean diet deviates from the good old German diet significantly. I find healthy food very tasty.

Seven steps to live over 100 years – step 7: Sleep and hormones

Getting sleep regularly, having an optimistic outlook on life, and having good relationships help to keep the immune system strong and keep your hormones balanced. This in turn will keep you healthy emotionally and physically.

Explanation:

There are two comments I like to make. One is that when you have calm nerves, and your emotions are balanced, your stress hormones are controlled. We know that people who are laid back and easy going live longer. The type A personality is the one who gets a heart attack.

The other point is that hormones have running times. When they start missing, we get menopause or andropause. When we are in our 50’s it is time to have your hormones checked by a knowledgeable health practitioner (naturopath, anti-aging physician). At this point regular physicians are mostly uneducated about bioidentical hormone replacement. I mention this as in European studies it has been shown that replacement of missing hormones with bioidentical hormones resulted in more youthful lives. Life expectancy can be prolonged by 15 years using bioidentical hormones according to Dr. Hertoghe, an endocrinologist in Belgium. http://www.askdrray.com/life-extended-by-several-decades/

Seven Steps To Live Over 100 Years

Seven Steps To Live Over 100 Years

Conclusion

People have always been fascinated about the factors that lead to a healthy age above 100 years. I am suggesting that you concentrate on enjoying your life and keeping toxins out. Engage in some form of exercise or stay active all the time. Adopt a healthy diet. This is where perhaps most people go wrong. They think they can go on pouring junk foods and alcohol down their throats and never get heart disease or cancer. The truth is not quite like that. We do need to adopt a healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet. We also need to limit drinking to a healthy level. Replacing missing hormones with bioidentical ones will prolong your life as well. Given these recommendations, happy journey to 100 and beyond!

Sep
03
2016

Hidden Cause Of Depression

About 15.7 million Americans suffer from depression every year, but there remains a hidden cause of depression.

Not everybody responds well to antidepressant medicine. Only 30 to 50% of depressed people respond to antidepressants. There are two blood tests many physicians do not know and therefore fail to order: homocysteine blood levels and 5-methylfolate levels (5-MTHF).

Homocysteine as a hidden cause of depression

In 2004 a research group studied 924 middle-aged men. They noted that those men who fell into the highest third of homocysteine levels had a two-fold higher risk of being depressed than those who fell into the lower third of homocysteine levels. Other studies showed that SAMe, a nutrient that is required to build up mood enhancing neurotransmitters was sadly lacking in depressed people. In addition, folate levels were also found to be low in depressed people.

Having found this association between lack of nutrients and depression offered new opportunities to treat depression. Two studies examined the effect of taking 5-methylfolate on the effect of antidepressants. The result was astounding: in one study 7% of patients taking an antidepressant experienced improvement of their depression when assessed with a standard depression score. However, the same group improved their depression by 19% when 5-methylfolate was given in addition to the antidepressant.

Patients with the most severe depression on antidepressants had a 16% improvement of their depression. Adding 5-methylfolate to the antidepressant caused a 40% overall improvement in these severely depressed people, 24% more than without this simple vitamin supplement.

There is other evidence that patients with depression recover faster in the presence of 5-methylfolate. Moderately depressed patients recovered within 231 days on antidepressants alone, but in only 177 days when 5-methylfolate was present as well. The most severely depressed patients recovered within 150 days with antidepressants alone, but recovered within only 85 days on 5-methylfolate and the antidepressant.

Hidden cause of depression and Alzheimer’s disease

The story is getting more involved. Depression is related to proper balance of neurotransmitters that can be influenced by antidepressants and 5-methylfolate. But new research showed that Alzheimer’s disease (dementia) patients with cognitive decline have elevated homocysteine blood levels. A study in the New England Journal of medicine in 2002 found that after 8 years of observation more than 75% of them were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. When blood homocysteine levels exceeded 14 micromole per liter the risk of Alzheimer’s had doubled compared to those with normal homocysteine levels. The researchers concluded that homocysteine is an important risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s diseases and dementia, although it is not the only one.

Methylation pathway defects as a hidden cause of depression

40% of the population is defective in one or more genes that control the so-called methylation pathway in each of our cells (Ref. 1). This can slow down the metabolism of brain cells including the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters. At the same time it can cause the rising of homocysteine, which is then a useful marker for methylation defects. Another marker is the 5-methyl folate level, which, when low, indicates a deficiency in methyl donors including 5-methylfolate (5-MTHF).

Mental illness is an area where epigenetic factors play an important role. Depression that responds only partially or not at all to SSRI’s (antidepressants) often responds to L-methylfolate, a simple supplement from the health food store as a supplement. Similar epigenetic approaches can be used to treat psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other illnesses due to methylation defects

Dr. Rozakis mentioned that 92% of migraine sufferers have a defective methylation pathway involving histamine overproduction and they can be helped with a histamine-restricted diet (Ref.2).

Autism, ADHD (hyperactivity) and learning disabilities are other diseases where methylation pathway defects are present. Every patient with autism should be checked for methylation pathway defects, and appropriate supplements and diet restrictions can help in normalizing the child’s metabolic defects. DAN physicians (“defeat autism now”) are well versed in this and should be consulted.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) defects are another type of methylation defect, which is associated with certain liver, colon and gastric cancers.

Dr. Rozakis went on to say that methylation defects lead to disbalances between T and B cells of the immune system and are important in autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Methylation defects can also cause autoimmune thyroiditis and type 1 diabetes. They can also cause cardiac disease by raising homocysteine levels, which causes dysfunction of the lining of arteries and premature heart attacks.

Epigenetic factors through global methylation defects from vitamin B2, B6 and B12 deficiency can cause many different cancers. Hypomethylation is the most common DNA defect of cancer cells.

With skin diseases it has come to light that atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma and vitiligo are related to methylation.

When we age, certain hormones are gradually missing, which leads to menopause and andropause. This leads to impaired cell function, elevated cholesterol, arthritis, constipation, depression, low sex drive, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and fatigue. Replace the missing hormones with bioidentical ones, and symptoms will normalize.

Tests and treatment for hidden cause of depression

It is important for a physician to test patients for homocysteine levels once per year. As we age, we tend to lose some of the methylation pathway enzymes, which can result in an increase of homocysteine in the blood. A normal homocysteine level is less than 7 to 8 micromoles per liter. This is lower than the commonly recommended 15 micromoles per liter.

If the homocysteine level is too high, the treatment consists of methionine containing foods like dairy products and meat. Methionine, an essential amino acid, functions as a donor of methyl groups, which will normalize the methylation pathway defect and allow the homocysteine level in the blood to decrease. Research studies have been using 1000 to 5000 micrograms of 5-methyl folate daily to reduce homocysteine. Other B vitamins are necessary to reduce homocysteine, like vitamin B2, B6 and B12 in addition to 5-MTHF.

Hidden Cause Of Depression

Hidden Cause Of Depression

Conclusion

Depression and several other illnesses that are related to methylation pathway defects can be caused by a lack of 5-MTHF resulting in high homocysteine blood levels. It is important for elderly patients to be checked for homocysteine blood levels once per year to prevent depression, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines and a number of other illnesses mentioned above.

Once a methylation pathway defect has been identified, it is relatively easy to treat the patient with a proper methionine rich diet and 5-MTHF supplements as well as other B vitamins as discussed. It can prevent a lot of disability and human suffering.

References

Ref.1: William J. Walsh, PhD: “Nutrient Power. Heal your biochemistry and heal your brain”. Skyhorse Publishing, 2014.

Ref. 2: http://www.askdrray.com/life-expectancy-is-influenced-by-lifestyle/

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