Aug
11
2018

HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

HPV testing for cervical cancer is more sensitive than the traditional Pap test. For years physicians recommended the traditional Pap test once a year to prevent cancer of the cervix. But a few years ago a new cervical cancer screening test, namely the HPV test made the news. It stems from the observation that cancer of the cervix develops in 99.7% of women who test positive for the HPV virus. There are many types of HPV, here we are interested in the few subtypes that produce cancer (carcinogenic HPV virus).

Transmission of the HPV virus between men and women

The human papilloma virus transmits from males to females through bisexual contact. The problem starts when he develops HPV lesions on his penis. Without him wearing a condom, the contact with her cervix during sex can transmit HPV to her cervix. Both partners are not aware of the transmission of that virus, as it does not cause any symptoms. HPV invades the superficial skin layer of the cervix in the woman. In the man HPV will invade the skin of the glans of the penis. After certain incubation time it causes transformation into cervical cancer in the woman. Strangely enough it does not cause cancer in the male. However, in both sexes HPV virus is in the mucous membranes and can contaminate the other sex’s genital.

A recent study comes from UBC Vancouver, British Columbia, which compared the Pap test with HPV testing.

Details of the Vancouver study on HPV testing for cervical cancer

On July 3, 2018 this study appeared in the medical journal JAMA.

19,009 women were part of this randomized clinical trial. With HPV testing only 2.3 cases per 1000 women of early cervical cancers were present four years later. Using the traditional Pap test this figure was 5.5 cases per 1000 women after 4 years. 224 clinicians participated in this study. Women were recruited for this study from January 2008 to May 2012. Follow-up took place till Dec. 2016. The participating women in this study were 25 to 65 years of age.

In 2017 in the US there were still 12,820 women in the United States who got cancer of the cervix. Approximately 4210 are dying from this disease every year. Many women do not like to take the Pap test or the HPV testing. There are compliance problems with either one of these tests.

Significance of this trial regarding HPV testing for cervical cancer

The newer HPV testing was superior to the regular Pap test. The HPV test was more sensitive and resulted in much lower cancer rates after 4 years of follow-up. Every woman would have an HPV test every 4 years. In this case we likely would see cervical cancer go to the bottom of cancers that kill women. The reason for that is that HPV testing and colposcopy pick up cancers much earlier. This leads to a more effective treatment of cervical cancer. After 4 years much less cancer of the cervix was found when the researchers tested again using HPV testing.

Implications of HPV testing for cervical cancer

In third world countries

Many 3rd world countries do only the HPV testing. At the time when this decision was made, it was unknown that they had actually chosen the better method to test for cancer of the cervix. Now this trial reassures all the health care providers in 3rd world countries that they should continue with the program, and they only have to do the test every 4 years, not every 2 years, which makes it even more cost effective.

Implications for the US

In the US so far the recommendation was to do both the regular Pap test and the HPV test simultaneously. This trial, however, says that this is not necessary. It would be better to use the more sensitive HPV test and abandon the more expensive and less sensitive PAP test. In 2012 a taskforce recommended to do the Pap smear in women age 21 to 65 every 3 years. The taskforce further recommended to women age 30 to 65 that they screen with a combo of cytology and HPV testing every 5 years. The lead investigator, Dr. Ogilvie said: “Offering women HPV [testing] for cervical cancer screening detects more precancerous lesions earlier, and also a negative HPV test offers more assurance that women will not develop precancerous conditions in the next four years,” she said. “This can mean that women may need less frequent screening but have more accurate results.”

What other doctors are saying about HPV testing for cervical cancer

Comments by Dr. Kathleen Schmeler

Dr. Kathleen Schmeler said that the study was “well-designed” and provided a much-needed comparison of Pap versus HPV testing. She is a gynecologic oncologist and at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. She was part of the new research. Dr. Schmeler added: “The bottom line is that this could really potentially simplify how we screen women and have it be more effective and not quite as complicated and burdensome — and opens the door for doing just HPV testing, which is actually what’s currently recommended by the World Health Organization for countries that don’t have Pap testing capabilities,”

Comments by Dr. Stewart Massad

Dr. L. Stewart Massad Jr. is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the division of gynecologic oncology at Washington University School of Medicine. He wrote an editorial to the study in the JAMA. He wrote: “What will replace the Pap test? In 2012, the American Cancer Society endorsed co-testing with cervical cytology testing and HPV testing at 5-year intervals as the preferred strategy for screening women 30 to 65 years of age because this approach combines the sensitivity of HPV testing with the familiarity of traditional Pap testing,” He then went on to say: “However, the addition of cervical cytology testing adds little to the accuracy of HPV testing while increasing cost and false-positive results. In 2018, organizations that develop cancer screening guidelines are wrestling with whether to recommend replacing co-testing with primary HPV testing as the optimal screening strategy.”

Future dilemma

In view of all those comments the regulatory agents will have to come up with solutions for what is in the best interest of women for testing for cervical cancer.

HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

HPV Testing For Cervical Cancer

Conclusion

A large randomized clinical trial in Vancouver, BC, Canada has compared screening methods for cancer of the cervix in women. Half of the subjects underwent screening by the newer HPV tests that checks for the presence of HPV virus. The other half received conventional screening by the Pap test (a cytological screening test.) The result was that the HPV test was more sensitive and resulted in less early cancer tests 4 years down the road. With the conventional Pap test there were more than double the amount of abnormal cells present 4 years down the road, which makes the Pap test less safe compared to the HPV test.

It appears from this trial that the Pap test is no longer a choice, except for colposcopy procedures that take care of early cervical cancers. But for screening in general HPV testing every 4 years is all what every women needs for her protection.

Related topics:

  1. Cancer rates increased in women.
  2. Catch cancer early.
  3. HPV testing was described in this blog in 2013: Low cost cervical cancer screening.

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Jun
30
2018

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

A recent article has pointed out that there are 5 dangers that can lurk in beach sand. There are invisible bacteria that can pose a problem. But there are also parasites, fungi and parasitic roundworms. Here is a review of these common dangers.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: hookworms

In February 2018 a Canadian couple from Windsor/Ont. came back from a beach holiday in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. They brought with them parasites in their feet from walking barefoot on infested beaches in the Caribbean. This parasite is known to lay larvae into the sand that can survive there for several days. When beach goers walk barefoot the condition is right for the larvae to attach to the bare feet and puncture the skin. The full-grown hookworm can then develop and produce the symptoms described in the link (rash, itching, pain). The larvae of it are called “larvae migrans”, or in plain English the disease has the name “creeping eruption“. The best medicine for this condition is the anti-parasitic medication Ivermectin, the “wonder drug” from Japan. Originally developed in Japan, Ivermectin is available in the US, but not in Canada.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: Gut bacteria

A California study found that several gut bacteria were present in California beaches. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Aeromonas, and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, human viruses (adenovirus, enterovirus, norovirus, and hepatitis A virus), amoeba, and protozoa were all cultured from beach sand. However, it is difficult to prove that any one of these pathogens would have caused any gastrointestinal upset. Just picking up one of these bugs on your skin does not mean you will come down with that particular infection. It makes sense though to wash your hands or take a shower after your beach walk. But the study noticed that there was a difference in the infection rate. There were those who only had casual contact with beach sand. Others were digging into sand or buried themselves in sand. The latter group was more likely to come down with gastrointestinal infections shortly after their beach outing.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: superbug MRSA

According to the California study cited above there were 2.7% of beach sand samples on California’s beaches that contained MRSA bugs. These are the cause of flesh-eating disease. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. When there is a cut in the skin, this antibiotic resistant bug can pose a big problem. On the other hand, it is not known whether the mere existence of MRSA on the skin actually poses a danger. Researchers do not know at the present time whether or not this will cause flesh-eating disease. But they recommend that after a beach visit it is a good idea to take a shower, as this will cleanse the skin to a large extent of any pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: fungi

The types of fungi that can hide in the beach sand belong to the group of dermatophytes. Common fungal skin infections are caused by the dermatophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, which is a very common dermatophyte, is the culprit that causes nail fungus, ringworm; jog itch and athlete’s foot. Other fungi around beaches are Aspergillus and Candida that affect mostly people with a weak immune system. Aspergillus may be responsible for lung infections and Candida for yeast infections.

Dangers that can lurk in beach sand: roundworms

Roundworms become a problem on beaches where dogs are allowed. The main problem is Toxocara canis, a parasitic roundworm. The roundworm normally lives in the gut of dogs. But dog feces from roundworm-infested dogs contain lots of eggs, which can get into soil along with the dog feces. People can inadvertently swallow contaminated sand. An Australian study found roundworm-infested samples among 266 random beach samples. They found that there were not as many positive samples when there were only adult dogs allowed on beaches. In contrast, they found a lot more positive roundworm samples in beaches were puppies were allowed.

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

Dangers That Can Lurk In Beach Sand

Conclusion

We associate pristine beaches with nature, health and relaxation. Knowing of these scientific studies we would do well to not let our guards down. Think about the ocean water: is it safe or could it be the cause of contamination of the beach sand? Then think about the beach itself. Is it a busy beach with lots of people that may contribute to contamination of the beach sand? Are dogs allowed or not? There may be dogs that defecate and deposit eggs of roundworms. Or there may be larvae from the creeping eruption, a parasitic disease. Other dangers can lurk in the sand: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is an antibiotic resistant bacterium that can cause flesh-eating disease. Other bacteria may be buried in the sand that can cause various gastrointestinal upsets.

Being more careful around beaches

Having these thoughts in mind may help you to be more careful about the beach and shower off after you leave the beach. It is also not a bad idea to wear sandals on the beach to prevent direct contact of your skin with the beach sand. It is also obvious that the beach towel on which you lay on the sand is no longer “clean”. Wash it after your beach outing, or choose the option to relax on a cot. Wherever you travel this summer, have a safe journey!

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Jun
16
2018

Writing A Medical Book

In my 40’s when I was practicing medicine, I was dreaming about writing a medical book. This was in the mid 1980’s and I was busy seeing 30 to 40 patients a day. I would never have found the time to write a medical book at that time. I thought, perhaps I could show how patients could stay younger for longer by adopting the right life style in order to stay well. Fast forward 3 decades, and the medical book writing began. But instead of one book the project turned into 4 books. There were too many topics to cover to fit them all in one book.

Prior to writing a medical book

First of all, in 2002 I published a large website. Its structure is like a book on the Internet: Net Health Book . It contains descriptions of the major diseases, mental and physical, and their current treatment modalities. I still maintain this work. Furthermore, I started another website in 2003, a weekly blog, called “Ask Dr. Ray” . This is a compilation of interesting research. Some medical research papers can get too scientific. For this reason I translated it into easier language. The topics tend to be anti-aging topics. This blog comes out Saturdays.

Retirement hobby

When I retired in 2010 I revamped my websites. In the process the web developer suggested I should add to Net Health Book a blog (nethealthbook.com/news) where I review current health news that I find interesting. This is a weekly blog, which I publish on Wednesdays. All of this is still going on, and it gave me lots of opportunities to write and publish on a smaller scale. In addition, I finally started publishing books.

A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging

My first book came out with Amazon in 2014. I had joined the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) in the early 2000’s. The lectures at their conferences were very open-minded and pointed out details of what one could do to delay aging and avoid premature deaths. My own experience with changing our diet in 2001, starting bioidentical hormone replacement and changing my lifestyle became topics that were part of this book. I dedicated this book “to those who are willing to work on prevention in order to achieve a longer life without disabilities”. This is still the basis of prolonging your life.

Lifestyles can be deleterious

I start out in this book describing the obesity wave and how this changes the metabolism (metabolic syndrome). I used statistics from the Framingham Heart Study to show the detrimental effects of various lifestyles on mortality. Subsequent chapters deal with food, exercise, stress and missing hormones as life-shortening factors. There is a separate chapter on vitamins and supplements. They as a group can create 5.1% longer telomeres, which translated into 9.8 years of longer life expectancy (see also a study by Dr. Xu  in the book). Subsequently it describes how a change of your lifestyle can have a positive impact. Changing your eating habits and exercise activity will make a tremendous positive difference on the long term.

Successful Aging in the Kitchen

The book ends with an appendix, written by my wife: “Successful Aging in the Kitchen”. You are presented with recipes for 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners. In addition she has provided 7 healthy desserts for you. Bon Appétit!

Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right

In another book, which got appeared in 2016 I gave a few examples of how famous people were failed by medicine. It started already in the past: Ludwig van Beethoven’s physicians did harm instead of healing their patient. However, this is happening now as well: physicians mismanaged the health care of Elvis Presley, Churchill, Michael Jackson and JF Kennedy. The physicians treated symptoms, but they never properly attended to the causes of the ailments of their patients. The end result was premature death in all of them. Churchill who had good genetics made it to age 90, but during his last 15 years he suffered of severe disabilities.

Treatment of symptoms will fail, treatment of causes succeed

These examples of famous people’s health problems resemble to what happens to today’s patients in various office settings. Their symptoms are mostly being treated, but their causes often not. Simply treating symptoms will not work on the long term. It did not work in the past, and it does not work now.

Other chapters in this book

Other chapters in this book deal with preventing disease, keeping a healthy brain and keeping a healthy heart. Next I discuss why food matters, followed by the health of limbs and joints. Subsequently I am discussing how to keep toxins out. The next chapter deals with how to reduce the impact of cancer. It is always important to diagnose cancer as early as possible as removal by surgery has the highest success rate at an early cancer stage. The next chapter is entitled: “Stable hormones key to health”. If any of your hormones are missing (particularly around the age of menopause and/or andropause) it is time for nature identical hormone replacement. The next chapter gives you general thoughts on anti-aging. This is followed by “supplements yes, but do not overdo it”.

Alternative treatment for ADHD

A final chapter gives you an example of an alternative treatment for ADHD, where the idea of not just treating symptomatically, but treating causes is included. References and an index are also provided for the book.

Prostate Cancer Unmasked

Furthermore, I did not intend to write this book. But in early 2016 my PSA (prostate specific antigen) level jumped from 3 to 8.6. For years it had been in the 1.5 areas, then slowly increased to 3. But 8.6 was too high for comfort! I had an MRI scan done, which showed one lesion in my left prostate, which was suspicious for prostate cancer. I was referred to a urologist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, one of the top clinics in Canada. But I had already researched the literature and came across research by Dr. Gary Onik from Ft. Lauderdale who warned me about the pitfalls of “standard therapy”.

The conservative urologist in Vancouver

The urologist in Vancouver told me that without a positive biopsy he cannot accept that the shadow on my MRI scan would be prostate cancer. And the only way they do a prostate biopsy was by random trans-rectal biopsies. He also wanted to include me in a random clinical trial where they would compare active intervention with active surveillance. I politely declined the trans-rectal prostate biopsy and the inclusion into a trial.

Assessment by Dr. Onik

I booked a flight to see Dr. Onik in Ft. Lauderdale. His method is well researched and orchestrated.

Initial assessment

He assesses you with a rectal ultrasound and he sees the prostate on a TV screen. He said right away that I had three separate lesions, one in the left as shown on the MRI scan and two in the right lobe, which was missed by the MRI scan. False negative lesions are common on MRI scans, which can become a source of cancer recurrence.

3-dimensional prostate biopsy

The following day he booked me for a 3-dimensional prostate biopsy via the perineal approach. The perineum is easy to sterilize, so there is no risk of septicemia. A metal grid with holes for biopsy needles was used to get 96 biopsies of my enlarged prostate. For a normal size prostate, Dr. Onik said about 60 biopsy needles are normal. You don’t feel anything, because you are asleep.

Cryoablation prostate surgery

Next was the cryoablation surgery of the 3 prostate cancer lesions. This happened one month after the biopsy. I was seen at the hospital in Ft. Lauderdale. The same grid from the biopsy was used to relocate exactly where the cancer lesions were. The pathologist had confirmed them as Gleason 6 and 7 prostate cancers. This was treated with Argon sounds and frozen twice. I felt nothing, because I was under a general anesthetic. But Dr. Onik told me that everything went very well. Some cancer was too close to the neurovascular bundle, so he used the NanoKnife, an invention where nano-size holes get blasted into cancer cells, but it leaves normal tissue intact.

I needed to do self-catheterization for about one month to empty my bladder, as there was a lot of swelling from the prostate hypertrophy and the surgery. But eventually my normal water works returned.

Follow-up blood work

My follow-up PSA blood work 3 months after the surgery was down to 1.0. Prior to the surgery the Oncoblot test was positive for prostate cancer. A repeat Oncoblot test 3 months after the surgery was now negative for prostate cancer. I realize that not every physician accepts this new cancer-screening test, but I felt a lot better to know that all the cancer markers were now gone.

9 cancer treatments reviewed

In my book I described a total of 9 prostate cancer treatments and their 10-year survival statistics. None of the other treatment methods were as good as Dr. Onik’s statistics. I believe it is linked to the precision of the 3-dimensional biopsy and the surgery being done through the same grid. If you do not perform the surgery this way, you miss cancer lesions and this becomes the source of failure 10 years down the road. My book details all these alternative treatments. It also has a section on lifestyle modifying factors. I needed to write this book as a service to any man who suddenly is faced with a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Unmasking prostate cancer

Like me he needs to unmask the cancer. Is it really there? How far advanced is it? Which way to safely biopsy it (definitely NOT through the rectum for fear of blood poisoning=septicemia)? What is the best method to remove it? I came to the conclusion that Dr. Onik’s method was best for me. But with the information in this book you can decide what is best for you.

Medical Questions Answered

Finally I wrote my 4th book. From more than 4400 medical questions that I have answered on the site Quora.com I selected the most popular questions for this book. The editorial board of Quora said that I own the publishing rights for my answers. The questions were rephrased without changing the meaning. I selected more than 120 questions under 44 different headings.

Here are some of the areas that are covered: Acne, the best home remedies. Aging: can it be reversed? What is the limit for a human? Alcohol: how does it affect your body? Alzheimer’s disease: which foods promote brain health? Arthritis: what can you do about osteoarthritis? Back pain: what can I do about it? Cancer: why can cancer still not be cured? There are as well 15 other answers about cancer. Depression: will my depression ever go away? Diabetes: will a 600-calorie diet help diabetes control?

Further topics discussed

Diet: I want to get rid of sugar in my diet. How can I do this long-term? Other answers about diet are included. Exercise: How useful is cardiovascular exercise? Gut disease: Is “gluten free” food healthy? Heart disease: What can I do to clean out my arteries and reduce my risk for heart disease? Hormones: Is estrogen present in the male body? Life Expectancy: What is the theoretical life expectancy of humans? Lifestyle Habits: Can good habits change your life completely? Pain: Pain relief for a headache or other pain: Aleve, Advil or Tylenol? Pregnancy: Best age for a successful pregnancy? Prostate Cancer: How dangerous is prostate cancer? Does it kill you? Schizophrenia: What complementary approach may help a patient with schizophrenia? Sleep: What happens when you go to bed late every night? And many other answers under this topic.

And the book finishes with these topics

Sugar: will I be OK living without sugar? Vaccinations: Is there a connection between vaccinations and autism? Vitamins and supplements: Are taking vitamins and supplements healthy or are they harmful? Weight loss: I am working out every day, but I am not loosing weight. What should I do? There are many more answers under this topic. Younger for longer: What are three things I can do every day to stay younger for longer?

These are only a few selections of all of the topics dealt with in this book.

Writing A Medical Book

Writing A Medical Book

Conclusion

I have reviewed briefly why I published the books mentioned above. My prostate cancer book developed out of the necessity that I had to deal with my newly diagnosed prostate cancer in 2016. I felt that the review process I went through would be good for those men who have to face a similar situation. The anti-aging book comes from my interest in anti-aging medicine. “Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right” developed from the observation that physicians in the past and often even now tend to only treat symptoms. But if a cause can be found, this should be treated, as this often leads to a permanent cure.

Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition

Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition. “Medical Questions Answered” is a collection of medical topics where I answered various medical questions. It was a way for me to cover a vast array of medical topics. Some of the topics are dealt with in depth (acne for instance); others are very short. I have also two medical blogs that come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I hope that some of that medical information will be useful to you.

Mar
24
2018

Prevent Plugged Arteries

There are several ways to prevent plugged arteries, which will translate into less heart attacks and strokes. The message is simple: if you get less heart attacks and strokes, you will live longer. Below I am examining ways to prolong life by various ways to prevent plugged arteries.

You probably heard of plaque formation in the arteries. This is the process where a combination of fat, calcium, cholesterol and cell waste forms a deposit (plaque) under the lining of the arteries.

The end result is that the blood won’t be flowing freely through the affected arteries. This can cause a heart attack or a stroke. Essentially, this is the point where a clot forms in the narrowed passage of the artery. It is also the point, when the clinicians make a diagnosis of a heart attack or a stroke.

Let’s examine what leads to plaque formation in the arteries.

Trans fats

Trans fats are contained in fried foods like French fries, in margarines and other butter substitutes. As margarine is a common ingredient of cakes, cookies, pastries and pies, these are all bad news for our heart health. I consider them off limits. If you eat those foods, you build up plaque in your arteries, which leads to premature heart attacks and strokes.

Lack of exercise

It has been common knowledge for a long time that being sessile leads to premature hardening of the arteries. In the late 1800s to the early 1900s physical exercise was promoted in various countries around the world.

The latter part of the 20th century saw a renaissance of the fitness movement. It was trendy to go running, cycling, and swimming or working out at a gym. It is not only trendy but healthy: cardiologists support all of these sports to help people stay healthy and keep the arteries free from plaque formation.

Too many refined carbs

Sugar and processed foods, especially those with added sugar to improve flavor, have a direct relationship to heart attacks and strokes. It is known that sugar causes high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. In addition sugar also causes inflammation of the arterial walls, which causes plugged arteries. However, sugar is only part of the problem. Starchy foods like rice, noodles, cakes, cookies and other foods made with flour get broken down into sugar. Both lead to insulin production. And both lead to changes of the lining of the arterial walls.

In the 1980s and 1990s there was a school of thought that a low fat diet would be healthy in terms of heart attack and stroke prevention (the low fat/high carb diet). This turned out to be a nutritional disaster: the high carb content of such a diet was the problem. It led to weight gain, obesity and death.

Red meat is a problem

Several studies have documented that saturated fat from red meat is only part of the problem. The other part is carnitine, which is abundantly present in beef, pork, lamb and venison. But mortality of people eating unprocessed red meat is only marginally elevated. It is when people eat processed red meat that there is a significant rise in mortality from heart attacks and strokes. This study examined this. They found that gut bacteria were stimulated by red meat to produce substances that stimulate bacteria in your gut to secrete TMA and TMAO, which makes your platelets more sticky and contributes to plugging your arteries. This research paper from the Cleveland Clinic explains it in more detail.

What must I do to prevent plugged arteries?

Eat the right food

A Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. It contains lots of vegetables, but little red meat. Fish and chicken that contain much less L-carnitine are more dominant in Mediterranean food. As mentioned above, you want to avoid trans fats. And you also want to avoid sugar and too many starchy foods. This includes sugar-sweetened beverages. Making these changes will keep your insulin levels in the normal range eliminating inflammation in your arteries. Avoid eating processed foods, because they contain food preservatives and lots of sugar that we want to avoid. Eat more unsaturated fats like avocados, walnuts, olives, trout, herring, and salmon. The last three contain marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids that are particularly helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes by being anti-inflammatory and by elevating the protective HDL cholesterol. Drink lots of green or black tea, rooibos tea, or ginger tea. They contain antioxidants and bioflavonoids that prevent plugged arteries.

Regular exercise

Many publications have shown that regular physical exercise will lower blood pressure, condition your muscles including your heart and lower mortality.

Only 10 minutes of brisk walking every day reduced the death rate by 33% compared to those who did not exercise at all.

Regular physical exercise does not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, it also reduces the risk of getting another 35 chronic diseases, as the link shows.

Here are some common exercises: jogging, cycling, running, brisk walking, swimming, playing tennis and doing aerobics. All of them will strengthen your muscles and condition your heart and lungs.

Other ways to prevent plugged arteries

Smokers must quit smoking, as smoking has been identified as a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Exposure to prolonged stress is a factor that leads to hardening of arteries. Stress management is possible by counseling, by self-hypnosis, yoga, tai chi and other relaxation methods.

Risk factors associated with plugged arteries

We already have mentioned the risk factors that are associated with clogged arteries. But for clarity I would like to repeat the major risk factors here.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol)
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol (HDL is increasing with exercise)
  • Obesity (often associated by ingestion of too many carbs)
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Lack of exercise (too much sitting in front of the TV or doing computer work)
  • Unhealthy diet (Standard American diet instead of Mediterranean diet)
Prevent Plugged Arteries

Prevent Plugged Arteries

Conclusion

We often think that we have no input whether or not we get a heart attack or a stroke. This is completely wrong. If you adopt the solutions I have listed here, you can change things for the better. You will reduce your risk to get a heart attack or a stroke. Treat high blood pressure. Stop smoking. Cut out sugar and starchy foods to reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Exercise regularly and your HDL will protect you from heart attacks and strokes. Shed pounds, if you are obese by starting a Mediterranean diet and cutting out sugar. This will also improve your insulin resistance or diabetes. Start daily exercise as this reduces your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. In addition exercise reduces the risk of 35 chronic diseases that have also been mentioned in one of the links.

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Mar
17
2018

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Don Benedict hurt his lower back and tells about benefits of hot baths and saunas to relieve his chronic pain. He is a 70-year old former handball player. He played competitive handball for 30 years in the Pacific Northwest. His story is reviewed here. In order to stay in shape, he ran 5 miles every other day. But at the age of 57 he ruptured a disc in his back. In the following years he ruptured several more discs and had three back surgeries for that. Eventually scar formation set in and no more surgery was possible. This left him with a chronic pain syndrome, for which he received prescriptions for strong pain medications. OxyContin, Tramadol and anti-anxiety pills were on his prescription list. He needed to take 14 doses of pills per day to control his chronic back pain.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for chronic pain

Finally he remembered that as a younger man he was a summer river guide on Idaho’s Salmon River. When he and his wife had sore muscles they would relax in the hot baths of natural hot springs. Other people who visited these hot springs told him how having hot baths helped them for their aches and pains. For the past four years Don and his wife have been visiting the hot springs in Idaho City three times per week. This has decreased Don’s back pain significantly. He could reduce more than half of his pain medications and reduce the potency of the pain pills as well. The water temperature in the hot springs hovers between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit (36 to 37 degrees Celsius). His wife, who has an asthmatic condition, reported that the hot soaks helped her muscle spasms around the throat.

Other treatment modalities to prevent chronic pain

13 years ago, when Don ruptured his first disc stem, cell treatments were not readily available. But if the same would happen today an unconventional stem cell therapy could be a treatment modality, and chronic pain could be avoided. I am mentioning this here, because Don’s suffering from chronic back pain was causing him a lot of unnecessary suffering. Discectomy surgery, which destabilizes the back and causes scarring, is not the first choice of treatment today.

Stem cell therapy

Instead stem cells are taken from the patient’s fatty tissue (liposuction) and from the bone marrow. A stem cell mix between bone marrow stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells (from fatty tissue) is made. Platelet rich plasma is added to this as an activator. The mix is injected into the disc space of the ruptured disc. Now the stem cells do their magic healing. The beauty of this medical procedure is that healing takes place without any scarring. The stem cells mend all of the damage. They do so by transforming themselves into identical body cells that overbridge broken tissues.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for heart

  1. 2016 study published in the Journal of Physiology describes a study that included adults in their low twenties. Their arms were intermittently exposed to 40.5°C (105°F) water temperature for 60 minutes over a period of 8 weeks. This lowered their blood pressure and caused the arteries in the treatment group to be more flexible.
  2. Scientists in Finland have focused on the benefits of saunas, which is a Scandinavian tradition. Their study in the American Journal of Hypertension followed more than 1,600 middle-age men for almost 25 years. The results showed that the more the men visited saunas, the less they were suffering from high blood pressure. These were the statistics:
  • Visited sauna 2 to 3 times per week: 24% less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those who had a sauna only once or not at all.
  • Visited sauna 4 to 7 times per week: 46% reduction of blood pressure.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas regarding dementia prevention

2016 study out of Finland found that frequent exposures to saunas could reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Compared to having a sauna only once per week (no reduction of dementia) these were some observations:

  • Visiting the sauna 2-3 times per week: 22% reduction of dementia.
  • Visiting the sauna 4-7 times per week: 66% reduction of dementia.

With regard to Alzheimer’s disease the corresponding figures were a 20% reduction and a 65% reduction.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for brain injuries

Dr. Burke from the Emory University Rehabilitative Hospital is investigating the benefits of hot baths and saunas regarding brain-injured patients.

He recommends 4 saunas per week for brain-injured patients. Dr. Burke said: “This is one thing that’s passive and easier to do, especially in people who have injured joints who need to keep their brains and hearts in good condition, but can’t physically do some of the exercises.“

Caution regarding benefits of hot baths and saunas

Within 48 hours of a new injury, Dr. Burke says, it is best to use ice packs in order to reduce the swelling of the tissues. But subsequently he switches the patients to heat in form of saunas. Some patients have low blood pressure to start with. They may not be good candidates for hot baths as they may pass out when their already low blood pressure gets a further reduction. Always check with your own doctor before doing hot baths or saunas.

Europe’s history of hot baths and saunas

Saunas have a long history in Finland and in the rest of Europe.

Hot baths have a century-old history in Europe and Japan.

Father Sebastian Kneipp invented hydrotherapy, where cold and hot water baths are applied sequentially. The present resurgence of interest in the benefits of hot baths and saunas for healing purposes is nothing new. What may be new is that the medical profession at large is finally paying attention to the research of Father Sebastian Kneipp. He knew that there were benefits of hot baths and saunas.

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Conclusion

There are benefits of hot baths and saunas. This is what was spelled out in the studies cited in this review. The fact that heat can heal was something that Father Sebastian Kneipp knew long time ago. Medical facts have a way to recirculate. But now we know that it can lower blood pressure and can improve the flexibility of arteries. It can help with tissue perfusion and reduce chronic pain. But it also prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition it helps patients with brain injuries to recover faster than without hot baths and saunas.

Advantage of heat treatments

The advantage of heat treatments is the fact that no side effects occur like with the use of drugs. Heat treatments are natural, but drug treatments are artificial. Hot baths and saunas can easily be part of one’s lifestyle. If you feel you need more of it, you can go ahead and do it, but if you feel you don’t need as much, use less. Make it fit into your lifestyle. It is also obvious that too much of a good thing is no longer a good approach to wellness. Limit the temperature in hot baths and don’t exaggerate the time you spend in a hot sauna.

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Feb
24
2018

What Causes Premature Aging?

Some people look 10 years older than their stated age, and we often wonder: what causes premature aging? Accelerated or premature aging can have a multitude of underlying causes. I will list a few here:

1. Weakening hormones

Men go through andropause at around the age of 60 to 65 and women go through menopause around the age of 55 to 65. In both males and females it is the sex hormones that are missing around that age. If hormones replacement follows fairly quickly with bioidentical hormones, this will not affect the visual appearance that much. In contrast, if bioidentical hormones are not the therapeutic choice for  hormone replacement, but synthetic ones, the hormones are not in balance, as synthetic hormones do not restore the hormonal balance. Nothing is gained, as the person will still age prematurely.

Synthetic versus bioidentical hormone replacement

In addition the synthetic hormones will cause heart attacks, strokes, clots, and cancer. Prescriptions for synthetic hormones are often the cause that the aging patient population gets these serious complications. Frequently physicians insist on using synthetic hormones from a “reputable” drug company to replace missing hormones. The reason this does not work is that a male has testosterone receptors. They need to be stimulated by bioidentical testosterone to restore all of his missing functions. Also, the same is true in menopausal females who need stimulation of their estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. Consequently, only bioidentical hormones will return a postmenopausal woman back to normal. There is a perfect fit between the bioidentical replacement hormones and her hormone receptors. Using synthetic hormones is like trying to unlock a door with a key that does not have a perfect fit: you damage the lock!

2. Missing human growth hormone (HGH) and thyroid hormones

These hormones have a special place in aging.

Human growth hormone deficiency

First, HGH production is running out in many people at age 60. A person with HGH deficiency will have lower muscle mass and strength. Other symptoms are dry and thin skin, particularly at the back of the hands. Men are balding, and they loose interest in sex. There are difficulties concentrating and they may have “senior moments”, which are memory lapses. Often they are prone to depression and anxiety. A blood test will frequently show elevated triglycerides. A blood test (IGF-1) and a urine test exist which make it possible to look for HGH metabolites to assess whether a 40, 50 or 60 year-old person is producing enough HGH. Many may need replacement of HGH. This is administered by injection through a tiny needle into the skin, similar to a diabetic injecting insulin. This will bring back what was missing due to HGH deficiency.

Thyroid hormone deficiency

Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are other important factors that could make you look older prematurely. Your hair is getting thinner; your skin turns dry and pale. The nails may be getting brittle. When the outside half of the eyebrows is very thin or missing, this can be a sign of hypothyroidism. In a similar vein the skin in the face may be puffed up due to swelling of the layers under the skin (myxedema). It is important to diagnose hypothyroidism, which is common in the aging population. The physician needs to order a blood tests (TSH, T3 and T4). If TSH is above the upper limit, your physician needs to replace both T3 and T4 by tablets (I prefer Armour as the T3 and T4 is balanced).

3. Smoking

The lining of the airways absorb cigarette smoke. The chemicals circulate around in the blood and lead to aging of the skin. Chronic cigarette smoke exposure also melts away the subcutaneous tissue. The end result is a haggard look. The natural glow disappears from the skin and because of carbon monoxide binding to hemoglobin the skin color looks more greyish. In addition the blood vessels are narrowing or clogging. This means that the body cannot absorb nutrients as well, and cells are starving. There is only one remedy for this: quit smoking!

4. Overexposure to ultraviolet light

The radiation of UV light can penetrate deep into and under the skin. This makes the subcutaneous fat melt away. The largest UV exposure is in the facial area. As a result we see aging there. The end result is a sagging appearance of the face. This link has an image of a woman before and after a non-surgical facelift with stem cells and fatty tissue: Stem Cell Treatments That Are Currently Available – Medical Articles by Dr. Ray

In a surgical procedure the physician harvests mesenchymal stem cells from fatty tissue by liposuction. A cell separator separates the mesenchymal stem cells, the connective tissue and the fat cells. The connective tissue is discarded. Mesenchymal stem cells and fat cells are mixed and injected into the thinned subcutaneous fatty tissue until the person’s younger facial contour is back to normal. Typically this will last for 10 years or more.

5. Drugs and alcohol abuse

Both can lead to malnutrition with weight loss and loss of subcutaneous fatty tissue, which causes sagging breasts in women. In men “beer tits” are common. The reason for this is estrogen accumulation, as alcohol interferes with the elimination of estrogen in the liver. Alcohol is a general cell poison. It causes all of the cells to age prematurely. The more alcohol you drink, the faster you age. The skin develops wrinkles, loss of elasticity and collagen, redness and puffiness. In other words chronic alcohol abuse ages you prematurely. The only remedy for this is to quit drinking. Some of your skin vitality may come back. Our body has an amazing capability to heal itself!

6. Medical illnesses

Many medical illnesses like diabetes, mental illness (depression and schizophrenia), multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease; cancer and others make you look a lot older very fast.

I will briefly explain the reasons for this.

  • Diabetes

With diabetes type 2 the pancreas releases too much insulin after a meal with starches and sugar; think about a sweet muffin or a toast with jam. The extra insulin causes inflammation. This stimulates enzymes that break down elastin and collagen, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin.

  • Mental illness like depression and schizophrenia

We know from studies that depression leads to shortening of telomeres. This in turn causes cell death in the most rapidly dividing cells like in the skin and hair follicles. The end result is prematurely aged hair and skin. Schizophrenia also leads to premature shortening of the telomeres, which causes premature aging, mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation and oxidative stress. The end result is that the person looks older than what their chronological age is.

  • Multiple sclerosis

It is sometimes difficult to discern in patients with MS what is normal aging and what is aging from the disease. This link gives some background on this. Many MS patients are anxious, and anxiety and stress by itself also leads to premature aging.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

The chronic inflammation of either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can lead to premature aging. High doses of vitamin D3 and molecularly distilled fish oil can be useful to help treat the inflammation. Probiotics are also important to restore the bowel flora.

  • Cancer

Cancer leads to cachexia (excessive weight loss). There is also excessive inflammation, which leads to accelerated aging. The inflammation causes increased oxidative stress. This leads to tissue damage and DNA damage, which makes all cells more vulnerable to develop other cancers. Oxidative stress can substantially accelerate telomere shortening. As a result skin can become saggy, wrinkles develop and the person looks prematurely aged.

7. A chronic lack of physical activity

People who never exercise tend to get overweight and eventually obese. This leads to premature aging. Exercise would elongate telomeres, but inactivity shortens them. Obesity leads to increased oxidative stress and to DNA damage. Obesity also shortens telomeres. All of this leads to premature aging.

What Causes Premature Aging?

What Causes Premature Aging?

Conclusion

These are only a few examples of causes of accelerated aging. The key is to stick to a healthy, balanced diet (like the Mediterranean diet) and exercise regularly. Stop smoking (if you do), don’t take street drugs, and make sure you get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep helps your hormones regenerate overnight. The sympathetic overdrive from your daily activities is counterbalanced by the parasympathetic activities during sleep that causes relaxation. For hormone replacement you may have to see an anti-aging physician, a naturopath or integrative medicine physician. This may be your only chance to address any hormonal deficiencies. Conventional medicine does a very poor job of HRT (hormone replacement therapy) with synthetic hormones. Conventional practitioners want to treat you with synthetic hormones that will make you sick. Hormones for replacement have to be bioidentical! This way you will live 10 to 15 years longer, look younger and stay healthy.

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Jan
20
2018

Lower Cholesterol

When your cholesterol is high, what can you do to lower cholesterol? First, there is the bad cholesterol, called LDL cholesterol that should not be too high. Furthermore, there is the good cholesterol, called HDL cholesterol that you want to be to higher to protect you from hardening of the arteries. LDL cholesterol finds its way into plaques of arteries, and later calcification occurs. HDL cholesterol does the opposite; it dissolves LDL cholesterol and brings it to the liver.

Food contributes only to a small portion to the increases of your LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the blood. The minor part of the body’s cholesterol stems directly the refined carbs and trans fats from your diet. Here are a number of steps that will protect your heart from LDL cholesterol.

1. Cut out red meat

Cutting out red meat (like beef, pork and sausages) to an absolute minimum, for instance once per week or less is important. The reason is that these meats have more cholesterol in them and also more saturated fats than any other foods. Compare that to poultry, fish and vegetables like beans, which are healthy food sources.

2. Eliminate trans fats

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

Artificial trans fats

Quite the opposite is true for artificial trans fats in margarine that comes from vegetable oil. Avoid bakery items like sweet pieces or muffins and other products that contain hydrogenated oils. Read labels! Use olive oil or coconut oil, but avoid vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil or grape seed oil to get away from trans fats and unstable oils that turn rancid. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries.

3. Cut out sugar and starchy foods

You need to cut out sugar and starchy foods because these will raise your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which also leads to hardening of your arteries. This is an important observation. Starchy foods are broken down by  pancreatic juices into sugar, which enters your blood stream, causing an outpouring of insulin from the pancreas. When the short-term storage of sugar as glycogen is exhausted in muscle and liver tissue, the liver has to process any surplus of sugar that is still there. The end results are triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Unfortunately the protective HDL cholesterol does not reach higher levels, when the LDL cholesterol is increased. A persistent diet of high-refined carbs will increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It follows from this that we are all better off cutting out sugar and starchy foods from our food intake.

4. Increase your soluble fiber intake

Increase your soluble fiber intake by eating vegetables, oats and oat bran, lentils, fruits and beans. Why does this decrease LDL cholesterol? The liver tries to eliminate too much cholesterol by binding it to bile salts and excreting it into your small bowel. But the last part of the small bowel reabsorbs some of these bile salts , and from there they return to the liver. This is called the enterohepatic pathway of bile salts. Soluble fiber intake binds those bile salts and prevents re-absorption in the enterohepatic pathway, eliminating cholesterol safely in stool. Soluble fiber from psyllium, pectin, beta-glucans and others have been shown in clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol by binding bile salts in the gut (interrupting the enterohepatic pathway).

Plant sterols and fiber supplements

Plant sterols (usually sold as sterol esters) are recognized by the FDA as reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, if taken in high enough amounts (2.4 grams of sterol esters per day). There are other useful supplements like artichoke extract, pomegranate, soy protein, Indian gooseberry (Amla), garlic and pantethine (vitamin B5) that are beneficial in terms of prevention of heart attacks and strokes. It would be too lengthy to get into more details here.

5. Take a whey protein supplement

There are two major milk proteins, whey and casein. Only whey protein binds to total and LDL cholesterol, lowering both. It is available in health food stores. Follow the package insert of the whey product for dosing.

6. Increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake

Omega-3 fats are healthy fats naturally present in fish oils and nuts. They increase the amount of circulating HDL cholesterol, which binds the bad LDL cholesterol. Go ahead and eat salmon, herring and mackerel as well as walnuts, ground flaxseeds and almonds. You can also take molecularly distilled (or pharmaceutically pure) EPA/DHA supplements. This pure form of fish oil is free of mercury and other heavy metals. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid or omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is the acronym for docosahexaenoic acid, an important supplement for the brain. Tests have shown that fish oil supplements at a dosage of 3.35 grams per day of EPA plus DHA reduce triglycerides by up to 40%, equally to Lipitor or even more effective, but without the statin side effects. The end result is that your total cholesterol/HDL ratio decreases. This reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

7. Eat foods with anthocyanin

In a 24-week study with diabetic people HDL levels rose by 19% when food was eaten that was rich in anthocyanin. This consisted of eggplant, purple corn, red cabbage, blueberries and blackberries. The advantage of raising the HDL cholesterol level is that the total cholesterol to HDL ratio decreases, which lowers the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

8. Exercising regularly

Exercising will increase your HDL cholesterol, which again decreases the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. This number should be between 1 and 3.5, the lower, the better.

9. Take a supplement called Ubiquinol, or Co-Q-10

Adults above the age of 60 need 400 mg once daily, younger people need between 200 mg and 300 mg daily. Co-Q-10 prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which would aggressively attack the arterial walls causing hardening of the arteries. What causes oxidation of cholesterol? The answer is clear: fried foods like french fries or deep fried chicken will lead to oxidation; other culprits are margarine, commercially baked goods and cigarette smoking.

10. Calcium and vitamin D3

Recently a study on postmenopausal and overweight or obese women found that supplements of calcium combined with vitamin D3 lowered cholesterol.

11. Polyphenols

Flavonoids are the largest group among the polyphenols  in such common foods as vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate and wine. Over 130 studies on humans have shown improvement of the lining of the arteries (endothelial functioning) and lowering of blood pressure. Polyphenol consumption has a connection  to a lower risk of mortality from heart attacks. Eat a Mediterranean type diet or a DASH diet, and you will automatically get enough polyphenols with your food. However, resveratrol, the powerful red wine polyphenol, warrants a separate daily supplementation as it prevents LDL oxidation in humans (Ref.1). Take about 250 mg of resveratrol daily.

12. Niacin/ nicotinic acid

This supplement comes as “flush-free niacin” and also as extended release niacin; it can raise the beneficial HDL cholesterol by 30 to 35% when patients take higher doses of 2.25 grams per day. In a metaanalysis of 7 studies researchers found a significant reduction of heart attacks and transient ischemic attacks (precursor syndrome before developing a stroke). Niacin can change the small particle LDL into a large particle size LDL, which is less dangerous. Niacin also reduces oxidation of LDL, which stops the atherosclerotic process. For a healthy person 500 mg per day of flush-free niacin is adequate.

13. Curcumin

This is a powerful heart and brain protector combining three different mechanisms in one; it is reducing oxidative stress, is an anti-inflammatory and counters the process that threatens to destroy the lining of the arteries. One study on healthy volunteers showed reduction of 33% in lipid oxidation, a 12% reduction of total cholesterol and an increase of 29% of the protective HDL cholesterol when patients took 500 mg of curcumin for only 7 days (Ref.1). This is the daily dose I would recommend for prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

14. Vitamin E (tocopherols)

This fat soluble vitamin is an antioxidant and in the past knew about its use as being heart supportive. Strangely enough some conservative physicians bad-mouthed this vitamin. In the meantime health practitioners have returned to using the vitamin. It turns out that there are 8 different types of tocopherols, with the alpha tocopherol being the best-known, but you also want to be sure that you are getting gamma tocopherol with your balanced vitamin E supplement every day. It remains the one that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Simply ask staff at your health food store for a vitamin E supplement with gamma tocopherol in it. Take 400 IU per day (of the mix).

Lower Cholesterol

Lower Cholesterol

Conclusion

There is a lot you can do to control your cholesterol level by changing your diet, shedding some pounds, exercising and quitting smoking. All this will contribute to lower cholesterol. This will have a beneficial, long-term effect regarding prevention of heart attacks and strokes. In addition there are specific supplements and vitamins, which prevent heart attacks and strokes as well. With these measures the majority of people with high LDL cholesterol can change their cholesterol levels without taking statins. Statins have serious side effects like Alzheimer’s disease and a painful muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis. None of the other measures described here have any such side effect. Even if you chose to only concentrate on a few of these 14 points to lower cholesterol there will be significant improvements in your LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, when you ask your doctor to order these blood tests.

More info: http://www.askdrray.com/statins-can-hurt-the-consumer/

References

Ref. 1: Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

 

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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.

Sep
23
2017

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

 

A 20-year study showed that close diabetes control prolongs life. A study divided 160 people with diabetes into two groups. The one group continued to get standard care. Yet the other group received a multi targeted, aggressive treatment protocol. As a result after 20 years the group with the intensive treatment protocol lived 7.9 years longer than the group with the standard treatment.

Dr. Oluf Pederson was the senior investigator of the physician team that followed the diabetes group. He said that they concentrated on a number of known adverse factors and treated them aggressively. These factors were first of all high blood glucose values and clotting risks, also high blood pressure and high triglycerides and in addition cholesterol values. Behavior modification was the therapeutic method to get people with risk factors to exercise more, adopt a healthy diet and stop smoking. Medication in select cases also played a role.

More details about the study

The intervention of intensive treatment lasted 8 years. After that the patients were still in a follow-up study for 13 years. At the beginning of the study patients were on average 55 years old and were borderline obese.

The investigation team screened for complications of diabetes. This included screening for kidney disease, heart disease and blindness. Dr. Joel Zonszein, the director of the New York Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center said: ”These results are impressive and most patients do not receive the correct treatment, according to national surveys.”

Other studies about diabetes  

Foreign studies

Study from Croatia
  • Another study from Croatia involved 200 patients. It concentrated on patients who did not respond to metformin. Physicians used alternative treatment modalities, and they observed and measured blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C in the following 6 months. The study concluded that those patients who received aggressive treatment of their condition did better than those who did not receive the same vigorous approach.
Study from Japan
  • This Japanese study documented that female patients with type-2 diabetes developed kidney damage earlier than their male counterparts.  Consequently, the investigators pointed out how important it is to treat diabetes aggressively to avoid kidney damage.
Study from Singapore
  • This 2016 study from Singapore analyzed retroactively the impact of diabetes on the long-term survival after coronary bypass grafting (CABG).  5720 consecutive patients had their isolated first CABG surgery between 1982 and 1999. The mean follow-up was 13 years. 34.6% of the patients had diabetes, 51% had high blood pressure and 46.6% had elevated blood lipids. The initial mortality after the CABG surgery was 2.4% in the diabetic group and 1.8% in the non-diabetic group. 20-year survival rates following CABG surgery were 30.9% in diabetics and 49.2% in the non-diabetics, an 18.3% difference. The 20-year freedom from cardiac mortality rates was 56% in diabetics and 68.4% in non-diabetics. Other risk factors that led to cardiac mortality were the following: female gender (1.43-fold risk), diabetes (1.51-fold risk), previous heart attack (1.54-fold risk) and a low left ventricular ejection fraction of less than 35% (2.6-fold risk). The conclusion from this study was that long-term survival in diabetics following CABG surgery was much lower than that of non-diabetic controls. Hence the key to improving long-term survival for diabetics is to treat comorbidities like high blood pressure and elevated lipids aggressively as well as getting blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C values under control.

US studies

  • In this US study 558 youth (age less than 21) between February 2012 to July 2015 received follow-up. Between 40% and 50% of these diabetics needed insulin to improve their diabetes. Unfortunately their diabetes showed poor control, as their high hemoglobin A1C values indicated. Median HbA1C was 6.7%, 8.5%, 9.6%, and 9.7% in those with disease duration less than 1 year, 1-2 years, 2-3 years and less than 4  In other words, the longer the young patients had diabetes, the less seriously they took their treatment. Only 33% treated their high blood pressure and only 11% their elevated blood lipids. Microalbuminuria, an indicator of diabetic kidney disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease were present in 5% to 6% of these young diabetic patients. The authors came to the conclusion that there were serious gaps in treating these young diabetics. Further follow-up data of the same group of patients in the coming years will provide further data. In conclusion, the new hemoglobin A1C ranges of 3.8% to 4.9% as the new normal range explains why these youths who do not treat their diabetes properly are at high risk to develop complications from their poorly controlled diabetes.
Heart attacks and erectile dysfunction
  • Heart attacks are more common among patients with uncontrolled diabetes. This US study classified diabetics according to the tightness of their diabetes control. Researchers found examining 606 men and 606 women with diabetes that they could reduce their risk of a heart attack, if they controlled smoking, glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1C), systolic blood pressure, and total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The control of all these risk factors could contribute to the prevention of heart attacks. 35% of men and 45% of women could prevent having a heart attack. A laxer control still would prevent 36% of heart attacks in men and 38% in women. A very aggressive diabetes control could prevent 51% of heart attacks in men and 61% in women. Most noteworthy: close diabetes control prolongs life.
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a big problem among diabetic men. This study from Seattle shows the investigation of 136, 306 men with erectile dysfunction. 19, 236 of these men had diabetes prior to their ED problem. Over a two-year observation period diabetic men had much worse ED problems. As a result they needed to receive secondary line treatments  like penile suppositories or injectables. Others needed tertiary treatments like penile prostheses. In those whose diabetes control was good, oral agents as first-line therapies were usually sufficient.
More studies about risks and benefits of lifestyle
  • Middle-aged women with diabetes have a 4- to 5-fold higher risk for developing heart attacks while men do not show such a higher risk. It is probably particularly important for women to control diabetes when they are diagnosed with it to reduce the risk of coming down with a heart attack.
  • In 2011 Taylor from Newcastle University showed in a group of diabetes patients that he could cure diabetes permanently with an extremely low calorie diet. The trial was simple: he took overweight or obese patients with diabetes and put them on a starvation diet of 600-700 calories per day for 8 weeks. Consequently 43% of diabetic patients received a permanent cure of their diabetes. More info: http://nethealthbook.com/news/cure-diabetes-permanently/

 

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

Close Diabetes Control Prolongs Life

Conclusion

The new hemoglobin A1C ranges that are desirable are between 3.8% to 4.9%. When diabetics bring their hemoglobin A1C level into this range, they do not get complications from their previously poorly controlled diabetes. Close diabetes control prolongs life. But as can be seen from a brief review of the literature physicians tend to be lax, patients are lax, and diabetes is often not well controlled. This leads to erectile dysfunction in males, to heart attacks and kidney failure in both sexes. Blindness and painful diabetic neuropathy are also common complications of poorly controlled diabetes. Amputations from clogged arteries are also among the complications. “Close diabetes control prolongs life” is the new mantra that everybody with diabetes needs to follow.

Lifestyle changes control diabetes and prolong life

As stated above Dr. Taylor from Great Britain has shown that a brief 600 to 700 calorie diet can cure 43% of diabetic patients permanently. Quit smoking, bring the glycated hemoglobin (hemoglobin A1C) into the normal range, control your systolic blood pressure as well as your total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Do all these things, exercise regularly, and your diabetes will be well controlled. Remember: close diabetes control prolongs life!

Jun
24
2017

Lower Blood Sugar Prevents Diabetes

Conventional medicine has ignored for several decades that lower blood sugar prevents diabetes. After this topic has been reevaluated, it has become clear what should be normal blood sugar values. Another evaluation concentrates around the hemoglobin A1C range.

In 2016 UCLA researchers reported that 46% of adults in California are either prediabetic or have diabetes.

But 33% of young adults (age 18 to 39) also have prediabetes.

What is worse is the fact that patients with prediabetes get complications that are normally associated with diabetes. These include kidney disease, retinal problems with loss of vision, neuropathy, hardening of the arteries and cancer.

Key to preventing this from happening is to recognize that prediabetes is already the beginning of diabetes. Not only should diabetes be prevented, but prediabetes as well.

Determination of prediabetes and diabetes

The conventional test for diabetes is a fasting blood sugar.

Prediabetes

Fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) was considered to be prediabetes.

Diabetes

126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes.

Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test

This test gives an average of blood sugar over 2 to 3 months. A hemoglobin A1C test below 5.7% was considered normal, between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicated prediabetes and at 6.5 or higher on two separate tests meant you have diabetes.

Re-evaluating normal ranges to diagnose diabetes and prediabetes

Many researchers have said that the normal values from the guidelines for blood sugar or for glycated hemoglobin A1C are too high. This is the reason why diabetic complications developed even with prediabetes.

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 diabetes 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 associated with diabetes. Conventional guidelines would have considered this patient to be normal.

A 1999 study made it clear that patients with a blood sugar of more than 85 mg/dL were at risk of developing diabetes complications. About 2000 patients with fasting blood sugars of more than 85 mg/dL were observed over 22 years. About 40% of them died of heart attacks or strokes!

The authors concluded that fasting blood glucose in the upper normal range was an independent risk factor of cardiovascular death.

New guidelines

Prediabetes is not a separate diagnosis, but is mild early diabetes, which is reversible with aggressive treatment. Dietary changes (cutting out sugar and refined carbs) are often effective. In some cases the addition of metformin may be required.

The new normal ranges are:

Fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or less is normal.

Hemoglobin A1C of 3.8% to 4.9% is the new normal range.

These values are based on observing patients over a long period of time and seeing whether or not they develop complications from diabetes.

Uncontrolled diabetes leads to complications like damage to the lining of the arteries in all the key organs. It is the cause for the following conditions: kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), brain and nerve damage (neuropathy), as well as heart attacks and strokes (vascular damage).

Patients often end up with dialysis when kidney failure has set in. Retinopathy causes blindness and neuropathy leads to excruciating pain. Heart attacks and strokes often cause premature death. Those who ingest a high-glycemic diet have a 49% higher risk of getting lung cancer than those with a low-glycemic diet as this link from the MD Anderson Cancer Center showed.

Calorie restriction

A research group found that calorie restriction reduced fasting insulin levels in a group of overweight men and women.

Another study showed that restrained eating patterns lower fasting glucose and postprandial (after meals) glucose. It also improved insulin sensitivity in normal weight individuals.

Some practical hints about diets to treat diabetes

  1. The obvious fact is that excessive sugar intake is harmful. But in addition a drastic reduction of refined carbs is also needed, as they just turn into sugar within half an hour of ingesting them. Cut out potatoes, pasta, and bread. You may have a slice of rye bread or full grain bread occasionally. This type of diet is called a low-glycemic index diet. As indicated earlier a study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center has shown that lung cancer is more common the higher the glycemic index is and is also more common in diabetics.
  2. A Mediterranean diet has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. As diabetes and prediabetes are associated with chronic inflammation, it is useful to go on a diet that counters inflammation. The DASH diet, which was developed for high blood pressure patients, is also anti-inflammatory. Here are a few examples of snacks that may be helpful.
  3. Include fish and fish oil supplements in your diet. These contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory. Eat lots of vegetables and salads as they contain healthy bioflavonoids and antioxidant vitamins. This stabilizes the lining of your arteries.
Lower Blood Sugar Prevents Diabetes

Lower Blood Sugar Prevents Diabetes

Conclusion

The old blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C guidelines are outdated. Instead new guidelines based on actual measurements and clinical trials that showed no complications of prediabetes on the long term have replaced them.

A fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or less is normal. A hemoglobin A1C of 3.8% to 4.9% is now the new normal range.

The doctor needs to be more aggressive about early nutritional intervention and possibly include metformin as well to restore insulin sensitivity. It is no longer appropriate to allow complications of diabetes like nephropathy, retinopathy or neuropathy to develop. Unfortunately food manufacturers still overload processed food with sugar. Each patient needs to be vigilant about the food he/she eats. Low glycemic nutrition is the mantra to follow. Also stick to natural, unprocessed foods instead of the highly processed foods that populate the shelves of the supermarkets.