May
11
2019

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

A review article of CNN reviewed how male fertility could be improved naturally. Studies have shown that males contribute about 40 to 50% of the responsibility of any fertility problem of the couple. This means that a couple with infertility issues will benefit from interventions that include the male partner. Dr. Natan Bar-Chama is the director of the Center of Male Reproductive Health in New York. He is a board-certified urologist and male infertility specialist. Dr. Bar-Chama has done research into what affects male fertility. He found that there are several factors that are important for male fertility.

Lifestyle factors

The big factors that interfere with fertility are obesity, caffeine and alcohol intake, smoking, marijuana intake, lack of exercise and wearing too tight underwear resulting in increased scrotal temperature.

Obesity

Overconsumption of refined carbs like sugar and processed foods leads to obesity. The best for him is to change his diet to a Mediterranean diet. This supports weight loss and at the same time improves sperm quality.

Obese men tend to father children that often are not viable. It may be that it is due to genetic changes in the sperm in obese men. These changes can affect fertilization, but also embryo development. Researchers have detected sperm DNA fragmentation in sperm from obese men, which can lead to pregnancy loss. Weight loss in obese men improves sperm quality.

Caffeine and alcohol intake

More than 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day relates directly to difficulties for a couple to conceive. When it comes to alcohol intake, the male should not drink more than one glass of wine or the equivalent of alcohol in beer or spirits per day. Higher consumption results in male infertility due to poor sperm quality. Physicians have warned women for a long time that they should stop drinking alcoholic beverages, if they want to become pregnant. It is best, if both partners don’t drink for the sake of a healthy pregnancy.

Smoking

Stop tobacco and drug use. Smoking and drug abuse have been consistently shown to be bad for sperm quality and are associated with infertility. Marijuana use leads to low sperm counts, which is a cause of infertility.

Lack of exercise

Moderate aerobic exercise and resistance exercise can improve sperm quality.

However, excessive exercise has shown negative effects on sperm. Bicycling for 5 hours or more has been shown to reduce sperm quality due to the heating up of the scrotum and the testicular tissue. For the same reason men wearing boxer shorts instead of tight underpants were observed to have higher sperm concentration and sperm counts.

Antioxidants

Oxidative stress can damage sperm. This involves smoking, a junk food diet, obesity, pollution, radiation and heavy metals like mercury from big game fish (like tuna, shark, sable fish, sword fish etc.). Dr. Bar-Chama said: ”When you cause damage to cell membranes, you are impacting the ability of the sperm to attach, penetrate and activate the complex fertilization process”. In order to counter these negative effects of the environment it is helpful to take antioxidants.

Some of the common antioxidants are: vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, folic acid, lycopene and coenzyme Q-10. If you get 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, you get most of the antioxidant vitamins and minerals. You find selenium in Brazil nuts, sardines and halibut. Oysters, dark-meat poultry, crab, and fortified cereals contain zinc, which supports male fertility.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish and seafood has been shown to increase the success rate of couples who want to get pregnant. Low mercury seafood like scallops, clams, shrimp, oyster, sardines, salmon and squid are a good source of omega-3 fatty acid.

Get some nuts

A handful of nuts or two also helps the male to produce more healthy sperm. This study showed that nut consumption improved the total sperm count. In addition, it increased vitality, motility, and morphology of the sperm.

Cut out processed meats

Another study showed that consumption of processed meat had a negative association with fertility rates in couples that desired children. However, eating chicken instead of processed meat gave the fertility rates a boost.

 

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

Male Fertility Could Be Improved Naturally

Conclusion

We have been lulled into thinking that when there are fertility problems in a marriage, it would likely be due to female reproductive problems. This kind of thinking is old school and has been disqualified by newer research. It turns out that often the problem originates from the man, if he is unwilling to change his lifestyle to get ready to father a child. As outlined above there are quite a few factors that interfere with sperm production and motility of the sperm. If he wants to father a child, he needs to take good care of his sperm by adopting healthy lifestyles. Sperm, it turns out are much more vulnerable to toxic changes, heat from tight clothing, and nutritional deficiencies.

Healthy food for the man results in a healthy child

Not everything is exclusively the responsibility of the female. The male also needs to eat balanced meals and might also benefit from some antioxidants and supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids from nuts and seafood are also good for sperm production and motility. Add some moderate physical exercise, and he will be ready to father a child. It is very much a team effort, as both parents- to- be have to do their part and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Apr
20
2019

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

It can be confusing to see that various countries have big differences in cancer rates, but here I am giving some reasons for variations in cancer rates.

The following countries have high cancer rates: Denmark, France, Belgium, United States, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia.

These countries have low cancer rates: Niger, Yemen, Oman, Nepal, Mauritania, Gambia, Cape VerSe, Bhutan. These are only samples; it is not a complete list.

Short life expectancy in many low cancer rate countries

People in many low cancer rate countries do not live long lives because of parasitic infestations, bacterial infections and AIDS. Life expectancy in Gambia, for instance is only 61.15 years. People in Yemen suffer from malnutrition and the life expectancy is only 64.95 years. One can make an argument therefore that people do not live long enough to get a lot of cancer. Cancer is a disease of the older population, as DNA mutations, shorter telomeres, and loss of mitochondria in older cells cause many cancers.

These three countries have various cancer rates

Low cancer rates in India

India is one of the countries with lower cancer rates when compared to the US. Scientists have pointed out that 40% of Indians are consuming vegetarian diets without meat; (red meat consumed in high amounts like in the US is carcinogenic). India has some of the highest spice consumption in the world. We know that curcumin, for instance, has cancer-preventing qualities. You could say that Indians inadvertently treat themselves with herbal, non-toxic chemotherapy (curcumin and others spices) before a cancer even occurs. On the other hand India is a nation with high consumption of refined sugar, which is a factor that can cause cancer over a long period of time. The life expectancy in India is only 68.56 years, which skews the statistics towards lower cancer rates when one compares India to countries with a life expectancy of 80.0 years.

Why is Denmark a high cancer rate country?

The biggest factors are a reliable cancer reporting system, but also a high smoking rate among Danish women and high alcohol consumption in the Danish population. See below what these factors do.

Why is Oman a low cancer rate country?

A study done in Oman showed that a lot of people do not know that certain risk factors could be changed to lower the present cancer incidence. Cigarette smoking, passive smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, reduced intake of fruit and vegetables, increased consumption of red meat and processed meats, infection with HPV, being overweight, less physical activity and an age above 70 are all risk factors for cancer. At the present time Oman still compares favorably with the US, as there is less obesity in Oman. But the average person still eats fairly healthy with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables.

Increasing cancer rates in Oman

The cigarette consumption per year per person in Oman is 271.1 versus 1016.6 in the US. The life expectancy has increased from 50.47 in 1970 to 77.03 in 2016. Oman is expecting the cancer rate to double by the year 2030 due to the increasing life expectancy and lifestyle factors (more drinking, smoking and gaining weight from junk food). A lot of the differences in the cancer rates between the US and Oman are simply due to lifestyle differences. 

Cancer risk factors analyzed

What do the various cancer risks mean in terms of cancer development?

Cigarette smoking

About 480,000 premature deaths are caused by cigarette smoking in the US. This is due to a combination of cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Smoking causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon, rectum, but also acute myeloid leukemia.

Passive smoking

Passive smoking is as bad, if not worse than smoking. This reference explains that a passive smoker has double exposure to cigarette smoke, namely to the smoke from the smoker, but also to the direct smoke from the burning cigarette. This means that a passive smoker may have exposure to a higher concentration of carcinogens than the smoker!

Excessive alcohol consumption

Heavy alcohol consumption introduces a cell poison into your body. If you drink more than 8 drinks per week as a woman or more than 15 drinks per week as a man, you are a heavy drinker. It leads to cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, colon, liver, breast and prostate. The data on prostate cancer is somewhat weaker.

Reduced intake of fruit and vegetables

Consumption of fruits and vegetables, but also foods high in fibre are known to reduce the risk of cancer. This is why the WHO brought out this fact sheet. So, when you lower the intake of fruits and vegetables, you have less of a cancer protective effect, which leads to more cancer.

Increased consumption of red meat and processed meats

Another big factor about cancer causation is when you eat foods that contain known carcinogens. Such cancer causing substances are contained in red meat, processed meat like sausages, and salt-preserved foods.

Infection with HPV

Type 16 and 18 HPV virus is the cause of cervical cancer, penile cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer, vulvar and vaginal cancer. It can be of concern for all sexually active people.

Being overweight

When a person gets overweight or obese, there is more estrogen production from the fat cells that circulate in your blood.  There is also more insulin production and IGF-1 production, which is a growth factor for cancer cells. Estrogen dominance due to estrogen production from fat cells with a relative lack of cancer-controlling progesterone tips the balance towards cancer development. These are the cancers that are common in obesity: breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), esophagus, kidneys and pancreas.

Less physical activity

Breast cancer and colon cancer are reduced when people exercise regularly. This seems to be because of a reduction in circulating estrogen in women and because of reduced insulin and insulin-like growth factors. Even prostate cancer can be kept at bay with a regular brisk walk.

An age above 70

The medium age for cancer diagnosis is 66 years. This means that half of the cases are below this age, the other half above it.  25% of new cancer cases are diagnosed in the age group of 65 to 74. Age is an independent, but important risk factor for the development of cancer.

Sugar and starchy food consumption

Refined sugar and starchy foods lead to an accumulation of fat. At the same time there is a metabolic change with more insulin production and growth factors appear in the blood. It is these growth factors and an increase in estrogen (via aromatase) from the fat cells that lead to conditions that favor cancer development. Switch to a low-glycemic diet like a Mediterranean diet, and you can reverse this process.

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

Some Reasons For Variations In Cancer Rates

Conclusion

It is never too late to reduce your cancer risk. No matter how old we are, it is never too late to live healthier, which translates into a stronger immune system. We can stop smoking, or cut out drinking too much. If we keep a healthy weight and eat a healthy diet we will stop chronic inflammation in our bodies and strengthen our immune system. We need to stay away from ultraviolet light (direct sun exposure). We also need to stay active, no matter whether it is choosing to take the stairs and take daily walks, or whether we exercise regularly in a gym.

Feb
16
2019

The Most Addictive Drugs

Recently CNN reported about the most the 5 most addictive drugs. Before I review these drugs I like to briefly describe the dopamine reward system in the brain.

Introduction

The pleasure center consists of the nucleus accumbens, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Together they contain dopamine neurons that communicate with the grey matter nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex. A pleasurable meal, sex, winning a video game, listening to music, earning money and reading a funny cartoon can all cause dopamine release that is perceived as pleasure. But so can drugs, such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and taking street drugs. The problem is that these latter dopamine releasing substances and drugs cause stronger activation of the dopamine system than natural rewards. But unlike natural rewards they do not cause satiety. This is the basis why drug addiction can kill.

Review of the five most addicting drugs

The neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt has been part of a committee that decided what the five most addictive drugs are.

Heroin

This is the most addictive drug. It is an opiate that causes the dopaminergic neurons to release up to 200% more dopamine than usual in experimental animals. Heroin is dangerous, because the dose that kills a person is only five times higher than the dose that leads to a high. Most deaths occur because of overdoses.

Cocaine

This drug turns dopamine neurons on, but prevents them from turning the dopamine signal off. In animal experiments cocaine caused the dopamine level to get elevated three times the normal level. 21% of people will become dependent on cocaine sometime during their life when they try it. Methamphetamine, another street drug, is similar to the strength and addictive qualities of cocaine.

Nicotine

When a person smokes a cigarette, the nicotine in it reaches the brain quickly as it is absorbed through the lungs and transported in the blood vessels to the brain. In 2002 there were about 1 billion people on earth who smoked. Every year about 8 million people die from smoking. It was shown in rats that smoking causes dopamine levels in the reward system to rise 25% to 40%.

Barbiturates

This class of drugs also has the name “downers”, because they calm you down and put you to sleep. But they also killed Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Both died from an overdose, which suppressed their respiratory center, and they stopped breathing. In low doses barbiturates stimulate the brain and they cause euphoria, but higher doses cause respiratory failure. Nowadays barbiturates are more difficult to get, because physicians prescribe different drugs for insomnia. When a drug is not easily obtainable, it tends to fade in importance in the addiction scene.

Alcohol

In contrast to barbiturates alcohol is readily available. When a person consumes alcohol, the dopamine neurons release between 40% and 360% more dopamine than usual. 22% of people who consume alcohol develop a dependency problem later in life. The WHO estimated that about 2 billion people are addicted to alcohol and 13 million are dying from it every year. The causes of death are varied: car accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, alcohol induced dementia and various cancers.

Dr. Amen’s brain scans

Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist who specializes in SPECT scan technology. SPECT stands for Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography. This is summarized in this review.

Briefly, a SPECT scan shows where the blood flows in the brain and where it doesn’t flow. People who abuse drugs or nicotine develop areas that have a lack of perfusion. It looks like holes in the brain as depicted in this link, which can create abnormal thinking patterns. Fortunately with drug rehabilitation the brain pattern can normalize again.

The Most Addictive Drugs

The Most Addictive Drugs

Conclusion

The hallmark of drug and nicotine addiction is that the addicted person relies on using a drug to release dopamine from the reward system. Normal pleasures that would do this such as good food, sex or exercise are no longer acceptable to the addicted person. They need drugs, alcohol or nicotine to experience a stronger response. Dr. Amen’s work has shown that this behavior leads to altered brain function with holes visible on SPECT scans (Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography). Rehabilitation from drug use normalizes the findings on SPECT scans and helps the patient to return to normal functioning.

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Dec
22
2018

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological age is different from the chronological age said professor Morgan Levine from Yale Medical School. She is working in the department of pathology. She has found in her research that people of the same chronological age have very different biological ages. From a biological standpoint they may be much younger or older than their chronological age. When people are younger than their chronological age, they have less disease and less mortality. This article has reviewed the facts.

Measuring biological age

Dr. Levine also has developed tools how to determine the biological age. And when the biological age is higher than the chronological age, she recommends lifestyle changes that will set back the biological clock. We age differently according to what we eat, how our genetic make-up is, which we cannot change, whether we are physically active and what environmental toxins we are exposed to. So, the biological age determines our health status and what our final life expectancy will be.

Biomarkers for biological age

A simple blood test that your family doctor can order consists of the following. A fasting blood sugar, kidney and liver tests, immune tests and inflammatory tests. In addition the doctor will want to know whether you are smoking or not, how much alcohol you consume and how much red meat and processed meat you eat. A computer program processes these results, which determines your biological age.

Lifestyle improvements can lower biological age

Biological age testing has a strength built in. By changing your lifestyle you can lower it. When you exercise more regularly and switch to eating a Mediterranean diet you can lower your biological age. Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory. A telomere test, which also determines the biological age, is fixed. It is not easily changed by dietary measures and increasing your exercise.

Dr. Levine said: “I think the most exciting thing about this research is that these things aren’t set in stone.”

Putting the biological age to the test

Dr. Levine was curious what her own biological age was. She entered her blood test data and lifestyle facts into the computer. She was surprised that her biological age was not as good as her first assumption. Now she is trying to get more sleep, has increased her exercise level and improved her diet.

Her research team is working on getting the algorithm online so that everyone will be able to put one’s blood tests and other data into the computer program and calculate the biological age. The program will also recommend what steps are likely most helpful to increase one’s health and decrease the biological age.

Lower your biological age

No one wants to live a long life, if they are in pain and have various illnesses like arthritis or Alzheimer’s. But things are different, if they can change lifestyle factors and maintain a low biological age for a long time. Now they can stay active, have no pains and are able to contribute to society.

“By delaying the onset of diseases and cognitive and physical functioning problems people can still be engaged in society,” Dr. Levine said. “I think that is the ideal we should be striving for.”

Other literature about biological age

Inflammation increases the biological age

In this publication the authors stressed that inflammation is the common denominator for developing disease and premature aging. The authors stress further that it is mandatory to change one’s lifestyle to lower the biological age and live longer.

Diastolic blood pressure predicts mortality

In an older study the diastolic blood pressure was related to mortality. The higher the diastolic blood pressure was, the higher the mortality.  The authors also noted that it was the persons with the higher biological age who were at the highest risk of dying.

Scientific study about the predictors for the biological age

Here is a scientific study that examines predictors for the biological age.  This is not easy reading, but I placed it here for completeness sake.

Link to a site that can calculate your biological age

Here is a link to a site that calculates your biological age. It is probably not as good as Dr. Levine’s computer analysis will be when it is available. However, it is a good approximation to what it will be like.

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Biological Age Is Different From The Chronological Age

Conclusion

The dream of staying younger for longer is not new. Research has shown that we actually can do something about it. If we look after our lifestyle, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessively, eat a sensible Mediterranean-type diet and exercise regularly, our biological age will be less than our chronological age. It is the biological age that determines how old we get and whether or not we will suffer from age-related illnesses. Researchers also found out that when your biological age is younger than your actual age mortality will occur later. The math is simple. Let’s assume that your biological age is 15 to 20 years younger than your chronological age. As the average life expectancy presently is 80 years, your life expectancy can increase to 95 or 100 years.

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Sep
29
2018

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

New research, more extensive than previous research has shown that no amount of alcohol is good.

This is completely against the widespread belief that moderate consumption of alcohol would prevent heart disease.

Specifically, previous research had shown the following: one glass of alcohol per day for women and 2 glasses of alcohol for men was reportedly make us live longer.

New research with larger population numbers

But a new study involving much larger population groups, all ages, and drinkers versus non-drinkers came to a different conclusion. It concluded that the previous recommendation was based on only heart attack rates, but excluded other causes of sudden death like heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and strokes. With the compilation of all these cardiovascular diseases, the statistics suddenly started to look different. Now even small amounts of alcohol killed. What is worse, there was clear evidence that binge drinkers have much worse survival statistics than moderate drinkers. When you drink according to the American Heart Association’s recommendation, you drink smaller amounts of alcohol daily.

Binge drinking

But many of us like to live it up on weekends or whenever there are friends over who also like a few drinks. This binge drinking habit lowers the life expectancy by an average of 10 years. It does so because the list of complications I mentioned above. In addition there are alcoholic liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and various cancers that shorten your life.

Global health study

The funders of this global health study was the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The original study appeared in the Lancet. The combined study population was 28 million individuals. There were 649,000 cases of various deaths due to alcohol. Here is a summary of the abbreviated outcome of the global health study. As you can see from this, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption as even small amounts of alcohol over a long period of time lead to significant damage in the body. You can prevent heart attacks to a certain extent. But instead people die from a ruptured aorta, from strokes or from heart failure. The leading cause of death for men and women age 15 to 49 worldwide was alcohol. It accounted for almost 1 in 10 deaths.

Some alcohol-related statistics

The following were the observaions in the study.

  • Over 300 disabilities and diseases were directly related to alcohol consumption. The findings were collected in 195 countries, classified by age and sex. The data was gathered between 1990 and 2016.
  • Globally, 2.4 billion people drink alcohol. 25% are women who consume 0.73 drinks on average each day, 39% are men drinking 1.7 drinks a day.
  • Denmark, Norway and Germany drank the most alcohol globally.
  • For ages 50 and up the leading causes of death were: road injuries, suicides and tuberculosis.

More statistics

  • Most deaths caused by alcohol came from cardiovascular disease and cancer for all countries.
  • When you look only at drinkers, the standard recommendation of the American Heart Association regarding low alcohol consumption seems true. But the new study compared non-drinkers with drinkers. From this it is clear that even one drink a day has a risk of premature death.
  • At the age of 40 cutting down long-term alcohol use will add 1 to 2 years of life expectancy.
  • For all ages 2.8 million people die globally every year from alcohol related diseases.
  • Half of the world does not drink at all. This means that the ones, who drink, consume double as much as the statistics show.
  • Americans prefer beer. They drink about 27 gallons of beer, 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per adult/year.

Common clinical conditions from alcohol consumption

Binge drinking is the consumption of 5 drinks or more in an evening for men or 4 drinks for women. The CDC is concerned about binge drinking, because of its association with significant organ damages. There are 4 major concerns regarding these effects. Heart disease and cancer; diabetes; memory loss and appearance. In the following I will zero in on these alcohol-related conditions. 

Heart disease

As this article pointed out above, there is a very limited protective effect, but mostly in above 55-year-old women who drink in moderation (1 glass of alcohol; per day). They have some protection from developing heart attacks, because their LDL cholesterol gets lowered and their clotting system is influenced in positive ways. But 6% of breast cancer in women is due to the effect of alcohol consumption, which is a downfall. For both men and women binge drinking is what kills. Binge drinkers who drink more than 100 grams of alcohol per week (more than 7 drinks in the US) experience increased deaths. The causes are heart failure, strokes, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where the main artery bursts. Apart from that alcohol-related pancreatitis and liver cirrhosis can kill as well.

Cancer

A relatively new finding is that alcohol has a close relationship to causing various cancers. Alcohol weakens the immune system. Also, alcohol has a negative influence on the bacterial composition, the microbiome in our digestive tract, is. This can be a cause for colon cancer. Liver cancer, mouth cancer and breast cancer also has a direct relationship to increased alcohol consumption. Esophageal cancer and laryngeal cancer are also related to alcohol consumption.

Diabetes

Alcohol can stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which may give you hypoglycemic attacks. As alcohol contains empty calories, over the course of several years alcohol consumption can add to your weight, causing obesity and type 2 diabetes. As diabetes has detrimental effects on the heart and blood vessels, this mixed with alcohol consumption, can worsen cardiovascular disease thus increasing the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Memory loss

In the beginning of chronic alcohol consumption you may enjoy the relaxing effect of alcohol. This is merely the toxic effect of alcohol on brain cells. Alcohol has the effect of inhibiting brain cells, which makes you feel relaxed, super-sociable and even silly. In reality you are starting to loose control. After several years of this effect you are left with feelings of anxiety, depression and anger. This is when trouble starts to occur. People out of control are more likely to get into fights and get injured or killed. People can develop blackouts where they do not remember parts of the evening or an entire event. Memory loss is starting. The hippocampus is an important part of the brain that is involved in processing short- term memory into long-term memory. A form of dementia can occur that was brought on by chronic alcohol overconsumption.

Appearance

Alcohol dries out the skin cells and body cells. The face gets wrinkles. Your skin looks parched and gives you the appearance of a prematurely aged person. Alcohol can interfere with your sleep and when you have a lack of it you end up with dark circles around your eyes as well as puffy eyes. It does not make for a good picture, whether it happens inside the body or on your skin!

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good

Conclusion

A new study that was larger and more comprehensive than any previous study has exposed the myth that one drink for women and two drinks for men would protect you from heart disease. It may protect you from heart attacks, but it definitely does nothing to protect you from other heart conditions. There is also sudden death from heart failure, a rupture of the aorta (aneurysm), high blood pressure that kills (fatal hypertensive disease) and stroke. When you factor all that in as well, even your low, moderate alcohol consumption has health risks. The global health study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looked at the burden that alcohol puts on 195 countries. The combined study population was 28 million individuals.

Alcohol related deaths and diseases

649, 000 registered cases of various deaths occurred due to alcohol. This included deaths from traffic accidents, injuries, cancer, heart disease and suicide. This global study compared the life expectancy and disease frequencies of alcohol-consuming people with non-alcohol consuming people. It concluded that non-alcohol consuming people live on an average up to 10 years longer than their alcohol-consuming counterparts. No studies up to now have been that comprehensive. The results from twenty-eight million people speak for themselves, and the death statistics are clear. It is worthwhile to look at the details and draw your own conclusion.

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Jun
09
2018

What Makes Chips Addictive?

When you emptied an entire bag of potato chips, you may ask yourself: what makes chips addictive? Scientists talk about hedonic hyperphagia or hedonic hunger. In plain English, it is the pleasure of eating, even when you are not hungry. There are certain foods that seduce you to overeat, and one of these are chips. Chocolate or candy can be other high-hedonic rating foods.

Erlangen experiments

A group of researchers from the Erlangen University in Germany set out to get to the bottom of this addiction eating. 17 healthy subjects with a body mass index of between 19 and 27 were recruited for eating experiments. They got either high calorie chips or low calorie zucchini. The chips created a marked stimulation on a functional MRI scan where the nucleus accumbens was lighting up. When they consumed zucchini no such stimulation could be documented. The researchers had done similar experiments with the same foods on rats. They too had functional MRI scans and the tests showed similar stimulation after the test animals consumed chips, but not after zucchini.

Nucleus accumbens, the addiction center for food

Professor Andreas Hess and his team in Erlangen say that the nucleus accumbens is the addiction center for food. They also did experiments with fat to carbohydrate composition to find the most addictive mixture. There is a certain fat to carbohydrate ratio that triggers food addiction. What surprised the Erlangen researchers was that both in rats and humans the optimal addiction potential was identical.

  • They found that rats preferred 35% of fat and 45% of carbohydrates in their chips. With humans there is the other factor: on top of the fat/carb mixture we like to taste some salt and spices, because this also will stimulate our appetite. The food industry has figured this out long time ago. This knowledge from tasting experiments is built into processed food.
  • The Erlangen researchers  also found that in obese people the nucleus accumbens was lighting up more intensely the higher the BMI was. That means that obese people are more food-addicted!

Triggering the nucleus accumbens

  • Professor Hess postulates that the 35% fat to 45% carb mix in potato chips is ideal for the body. It can mobilize quick energy from carbs, but also have storable energy from fat at the same time. It is this mix, which stimulates the addiction center in the nucleus accumbens.
  • In a study from Bethesda, Maryland researchers found an overlap between food addiction and drug addiction.  The common pathways in both is the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. This dopamine release makes us feel good, and as a result, we want to experience it again.
  • In this study patients with bulimia nervosa were examined. They found that   overconsumption of sugar-laden foods had very similar effects as drugs in drug-addicted patients. It is the release of dopamine, glutamate and the opioid system that are involved in both. The nucleus accumbens is also receiving stimulation in both situations.

What can be done about food addiction?

This publication noted that people who are food addicted eat higher amounts of fat and carbohydrates. With this mix the feel-good nucleus accumbens produces most dopamine, which is the driving force behind the addiction.

  • If you cut out sugar, you find it easier to control your eating portions. But you also must cut out processed food, as this is where a lot of hidden sugar is coming from.
  • Cut down on your fat consumption. Even if you reduce it from 35% to 10% or 15%, this is a huge step forward. It reduces your calorie intake significantly, but also reduces the stimulation of your appetite center.
  • Eat lots of vegetables, salads and some fruit. Be careful with some fruit like grapes, bananas, mangos, papayas and dates. They are all higher in sugars. If you cannot entirely avoid those, use portion control, so you are not overeating on them.

Portion control

Besides changing the food quality, you can reduce the portions of food you are eating. Instead of mindlessly emptying a whole bag of chips, you could get a small bowl and fill part of the bag of chips into it. Remove the bag into a cupboard that is difficult to reach. If you are sitting and watching TV, you could eat one chip at a time, but only during commercial breaks. This way your chip eating becomes more conscious and more controlled, and you set a limit. In time you may find that you can replace the chips with a lower calorie food like slices of apples, celery sticks or carrot sticks.

What Makes Chips Addictive?

What Makes Chips Addictive?

Conclusion

Researchers found that chips were addictive in rats and in humans. Functional MRI scans of brains in rats and humans showed that potato chip eating stimulated the nucleus accumbens. It was lighting up in both species when the test subjects consumed potato chips. Surprisingly, it did not matter, whether these were test animals or humans! A review of several research papers showed a similarity between food addiction and drug addiction. It is dopamine and other brain transmitters that stimulate the nucleus accumbens, which is the addiction center. One of the keys, professor Hess from Erlangen University in Germany found, is the fat/carb mix. When the potato chips contained 35% fat and 45% carbs, this stimulated the nucleus accumbens.

Changing your eating habits

Knowing all of this helps us to be able to change our eating habits. To avoid the pitfalls of food addiction, cut out sugar and starchy foods, and remove processed foods from your diet. Also reduce some of the fat to 10% or 15% fat in your total diet. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit low in sugar. In addition you should also consider with portion control to avoid mindless munching. Before you know it you can shed the pounds that you may have accumulated before. You will be able to reduce your BMI to 21 to 23. Many people have done it before you.

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Mar
10
2018

Dementia From Excessive Alcohol Abuse

A new study from France documented dementia from excessive alcohol abuse. One million patients who needed admission to hospitals in France for early dementia took part in that study. This was based on this publication. Dementia is a clinical syndrome, where the cognitive ability deteriorates progressively.

The study from France regarding dementia from excessive alcohol abuse

According to the French National Hospital Discharge database it was especially relevant that alcohol use disorders were present in 16.5% of the men and 4% of the women with dementia. Those who did not have the diagnosis of dementia had only half the amount of alcohol abuse disorders in both sexes.

There are other diseases that can lead to dementia like Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. These cases were not part of this study.

The association with alcohol abuse was particularly evident in early dementia cases at an age below 65.

Furthermore, alcoholics also have a shorter life expectancy.

Several mechanisms responsible for dementia development

Alcohol can cause dementia in several ways.

  • First of all, alcohol and the metabolic by-product acetaldehyde have toxic effects on the brain. They cause long-term toxic effects and functional brain damage is the result.
  • Furthermore, heavy alcohol abuse leads to liver damage with resulting changes in metabolism. Ammonia production from the cirrhotic liver causes brain damage in a condition called hepatic encephalopathy.
  • In addition, heavy drinking is a strong vascular risk factor. This leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
  • Often it is the population group that is uneducated, people who smoke and people with depression who suffer from the effects of alcohol abuse.
  • Finally, heavy drinking is more frequent in men than in women. In men the dementia risk was 4.7-fold, in women 4.3-fold.
  • Obesity, smoking and high blood pressure are also risk factors for dementia. If these cases were not part of the study, heavy alcohol abuse caused an increase in dementia in both sexes by a factor of 3-fold.

Possible biases of the study

Dr. Kostas Lyketsos, a neuropsychiatry professor and director of the John Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center did not take part in the study and its investigation. A non- biased observer, Dr. Kostas Lyketsos stated that there is a problem with precision of the data the larger the study population is. In this case there were more than 1 million participants, so a number of biases can influence the outcome of the study. For instance, one problem is that these patients with mild cognitive impairment were inpatients in a hospital. Normally such patients would not be in a hospital. Another fact was that none of the participants had received questionnaires of the amount of alcoholic drinks they consumed, and as a result it is difficult to knows exactly how high the amount of alcohol was that caused the damage to the brain.

Country bias

The large sample size was from only one country, France. This means that we do not know whether there would be ethnic differences between countries. Nevertheless the findings of this study are important. In a 2014 review by the WHO the average person in France consumed 12.2 liters of pure alcohol per year. In contrast the average person in the US consumed only 9.2 liters of pure alcohol in this year. Apart from these concerns it is important to realize that alcohol has toxic effects on the brain. This can also result in dementia.

Other studies regarding alcohol abuse and dementia

The media has praised alcohol for preventing heart attacks. On the other hand, there are other articles in which we hear about alcoholic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis, both of which can be killer diseases. To get some clarification, let us examine the various facts.

Dr. Finnel mentioned that 7.9% of all emergency room visits in the US are due conditions which have an association to alcohol(Ref.1). When the causes of deaths  that are a consequence to alcohol are listed, they are: cancer of the mouth and pharynx, alcohol abuse disorders, coronary heart disease causing heart attacks, cirrhosis of the liver, traffic accidents, poisonings, falls and intentional injuries. You don’t get that from the news. Instead you read about the one glass of red wine per day that is good for women and up to two glasses of red wine that is good for men to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Bioflavonoids

It is the bioflavonoids and among those in particular resveratrol, that are the active ingredient responsible for heart health.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that protects against ischemia-reperfusion injuries.  It is responsible for the cardio protective properties of red wine known as the “French paradox” (Ref.2). According to this reference resveratrol contributes to at least 3 processes that stabilize the metabolism.

Toxicity of alcohol

According to the WHO 5.9% of all deaths worldwide is a consequence of alcohol overconsumption.  In 2012 the WHO recorded that 7.6% of deaths in males, but only 4% of female deaths were due to alcohol. Toxicity comes from the breakdown product acetaldehyde, which all cells can convert from alcohol. Liver cells are especially able to do that. According to Ref. 3 alcohol diffuses easily through all of the cell membranes and reaches every organ in the body. The toxicity of acetaldehyde is shutting down the mitochondria, which affects the energy metabolism and causes cell death. The immune system reacts with inflammation, when it attempts to repair the damage.

So, what are the major damages which alcohol can cause? First there is fat accumulation (steatosis), next chronic inflammation followed by necrosis (dying of cells) and finally fibrosis. An example of fibrosis is liver cirrhosis, where non-functioning connective tissue replaces liver cells.

Different tissue sensitivity to alcohol

Certain tissues are more susceptible to alcohol toxicity than others. As the concentration of alcohol is highest in tissues that are in direct contact with alcoholic drinks, cancers related to alcohol consumption develop in the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and in the colon and rectum. The pancreas is particularly vulnerable to inflammation and fibrotic changes with degeneration into cancer of the pancreas. The heart tissue and the arteries are very sensitive to alcohol.  Hypertension, heart attacks, stroke, cardiomyopathy and myocarditis as well as irregular heart beats (arrhythmias) can develop. The brain is very sensitive to toxic effects of alcohol as well. This causes major depression, personality changes with violent behavior, car accidents and injuries.

Other toxic effects of alcohol on organs

Kidney disease (alcoholic nephropathy) is another illness due to too much alcohol. Five percent  of breast cancers in northern Europe and North America are a direct consequence to the toxic effects of alcohol (Ref.3). Finally, the liver being so active in detoxifying alcohol, will be not functioning and finally develops liver cirrhosis, as described before. This accounts for a lot of premature deaths at a relatively young age (typically in the mid to late 50’s).

Ref. 3 goes on to say that literature exists which claims that 1 to 2 drinks per day would be useful for prevention of heart disease. But the observation of the authors is that people will not discipline themselves to stick to these limits and very quickly enter into the zone of alcohol toxicity. The authors further noted that with regard to causing any kind of cancer there is no safe lower limit; the risk is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol consumed and the risk starts right above the zero point.

The pathologist has the last word

When I studied medicine at the University of Tübingen, Germany I attended lectures in the pathology department where Professor A. Bohle, M.D. demonstrated pathology findings of deceased patients. Dr. Bohle had a special interest in Mallory bodies. These are alcohol inclusion cysts within liver cells that can be stained with a bright red dye.

Histological documentation of toxic effects in livers of corpses

I will never forget when Prof. Bohle pointed out that the livers of this most diverse population, whose bodies we had the privilege as medical students to study, had a rate of 25% positive Mallory bodies. He wanted to impress on us as medical students to watch out for the alcoholics that are usually missed in general practice. Obviously 25% of the pathology population was affected by the consumption of alcohol. It was Prof. Bohle’s hope that we could perhaps interfere on the primary care level before things went out of control. Many of these corpses were the sad results of traffic accidents that could have been prevented. (In 2018 things have changed: seat belts and alcohol limits are standard, in 1968 in Germany they were not).

Alcohol as an aging substance

Consistent use of alcohol on a regular basis will slow down cell metabolism and hormone production significantly. The major effect of alcohol leads to poisoning of the mitochondria in multiple organs, which translates into faster aging and a shortened life expectancy. This in turn results in a change of appearance. An older person who has abused alcohol for a number of years may look 5 to 10 years older than their chronological age.

50% of people above the age of 65 drink daily (Ref.4). Some more statistics: alcohol abuse in elderly men is 4-times higher than in elderly women. 5% to 10% of all dementia cases are related to alcohol abuse. About 15% of older adults are experiencing health risks from abusing alcohol. And about 90% of older adults are using medications. Close to 100% of medications can adversely interact with alcohol (Ref.4).

Social pressure

These are the scientific facts, and then there is social pressure, when you are invited to a party.

When you are young and believe that you are invincible, do you care what the science says? You want to have a “good time” and not worry about consequences. The data about long-term exposure and a slowly increasing cancer risk is there. The wine industry will remind you that 1 drink for women and two drinks for men will protect you from heart attacks. They will withhold the cancer information from you, as they don’t really want to hear about that (yes, it’s bad for their business!).

Resisting social pressure and doing what is good for you

Can you have a good time at a party without drinking alcohol? Yes, you can. You can talk and you can listen; you are probably more with it than those who had too much to drink. I like mineral water and hold on to a glass of that.

I explained in a blog before how I was convinced by three speakers at an A4M conference to join those who abstain from alcohol.

Socializing without alcohol is doable. You may at times miss it, but you can warm up even to a crowd that had a few drinks too much. It is about choice: we can choose what we want out of life.

 

Dementia From Excessive Alcohol Abuse

Dementia From Excessive Alcohol Abuse

Conclusion

Alcohol is a cell and nerve poison. The medical need for “one glass of wine for women and two glasses of wine for men to prevent heart attacks and strokes” has been vastly exaggerated. Fact is that resveratrol and other antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E can also prevent cardiovascular disease. They are alcohol-free! The risk of dementia development as a long-term result of alcohol exposure is something that is only now getting attention by the medical profession. We live longer these days, and this makes alcohol exposure over the decades a real threat to our mental wellbeing. Consumption of alcohol needs to be re-evaluated by every one of us. What risks are we willing to take? Is the stress-relieving effect of alcohol worth the risk of losing our mind to Alzheimer’s disease? If we care about our future the answer should be clear!

References

Ref. 1: John T. Finnell: “: Alcohol-Related Disease“ Rosen’s Emergency Medicine, Chapter 185, 2378-2394. Saunders 2014.

Ref. 2: “Hurst’s The Heart”, 13th edition, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2011. Chapter 54. Coronary Blood Flow and Myocardial Ischemia.

Ref. 3: Ivan Rusyn and Ramon Bataller: “Alcohol and toxicity”, 2013-08-01Z, Volume 59, Issue 2, Pages 387-388; copyright 2013 European Association for the Study of the Liver.

Ref. 4: Tom J. Wachtel and Marsha D. Fretwell: Practical Guide to the Care of the Geriatric Patient, Third Edition, Copyright 2007 by Mosby.

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Mar
03
2018

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

There are foods that can protect you from cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I will list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly also touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat 

When you use the BBQ, avoid burning your meat. As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat, and cook the meat for a longer time. In this way you won’t create carcinogens, which are cancer-producing chemicals. Healthy Grilling Tips to Minimize Carcinogens in Your Food. This is particularly important for the red meats (like beef, lamb, bison or pork).

Sugar can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer, but they do. 5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are Best Friends.  What is the reason for this? The answer is found in the metabolism of cancer cells. Cancer cells use 10- to 12-times more sugar for their metabolism than normal cells.  Over-consuming sugar is the worst thing a cancer patient can do. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless sweetener. It does not lead to an insulin reaction. You need to avoid all other sugar substitutes as there are other health problems associated with them.

Avoid macaroni and cheese because of phthalates

Avoid macaroni and cheese: Phthalates are found in almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens.

High fat diet

A high fat diet increases the risk for breast cancer: High-Fat Diet Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA: New FDA Food Guidelines – Medical Articles by Dr. Ray. Increase your consumption of fish and seafood. Only one proviso: predator fish like shark, marlin, tilefish, swordfish and grouper are high in mercury. But wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury; so are shrimp and squid. Before You Buy Fish, Check This Mercury Level List.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

In order to avoid cancer, take high dose vitamin D3 supplements to avoid cancer. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue. Strong statistics exist showing that vitamin D3 is a powerful tool to lower your risk of developing cancer. Your family doctor should take a blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D level to monitor that you absorb enough vitamin D3. Some people absorb vitamin D3 slowly and fast absorbers absorb it more rapidly.  The only way how to find out how well your gut is absorbing vitamin D3, is by doing this blood test. It is now generally accepted that a good range of the 25-hydroxy vitamin D level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml.

Also curcumin 500 mg per day is good for cancer prevention. Turmeric | Cancer in general | Cancer Research UK.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. Foods for Cancer Prevention. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber. Vitamin D3 in cancer prevention and therapy: the nutritional issue.

Avoid processed meat

The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is causing a lot of cancer. They labeled processed meat as a probable carcinogen. Processed meat causes colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.

Moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables. The claim in the past that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as it was thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for essential nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer. Fruit and vegetables and cancer risk. This is a case where eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but it will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

Drink green tea or black tea, sweetened with stevia for cancer prevention: Winter Beverages for Cancer Prevention. Green tea contains polyphenols and antioxidants. One of the antioxidants is called catechin, which prevents cell damage. The antioxidants help to prevent breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In addition tea is heart healthy.

Avoid alcohol consumption 

Avoid alcohol consumption as much as possible to prevent cancer: Drinking Alcohol Really Does Raise Your Cancer Risk, Doctors Warn. We were indoctrinated by cardiologists that one glass of wine per day for women and two glasses of wine per day for men would be a prevention against heart attacks. But these relatively small amounts of alcohol do have an effect on causing cancer.  This British study showed that small amounts of alcohol indeed are cardioprotective. In contrast, these amounts and higher alcohol amounts can also cause cancer of the pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, colon and pancreas.

Avoid too much red meat consumption

Beef, lamb and pork probably contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense, and eat more fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother said when I grew up in Germany that beef was a meal reserved for Sunday dinner only. The rest of the days we ate little in the way of meats, but lentils, beans, eggs or fish instead. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking, if you still do. This is by and large the biggest risk for developing lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Watch your calorie intake: eat smaller meals more often. This way the production of your digestive juices will consume some calories and because you satisfied your hunger for foods, you will not gain weight. This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risks for developing cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity: Obesity and Cancer . With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association with developing liver cancer, pancreas cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop colorectal cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer. Diabetes and Cancer: A consensus report.

Pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer: How air pollution can cause cancer. If you can move to a less polluted city, do so.

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Foods That Can Protect You From Cancer

Conclusion

As shown above there is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Others, including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3, can help prevent cancer. If we avoid as many of the known cancer producing foods and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer, our cancer risk will decline significantly. In addition, if you quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce your alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

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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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Feb
03
2018

Drugs Are Not An Escape

We have a drug epidemic, but drugs are not an escape. Along with this epidemic there have been thousands of lethal overdoses. I like to review why so many people use street drugs or prescription pain pills. It started years ago with heroin injections had become more popular. But then heroin was getting a bad name, it became illegal, and prescription pain pills replaced heroin. Percocet, OxyContin and morphine prescriptions took off. Together with it the number of people with addiction increased drastically. The latest fashion craze is Fentanyl.  Fentanyl works faster than morphine, but also wears off faster. One of the deadly side effects is respiratory depression. This  means that a person cannot breathe and as a result will die. This is what is happening right now and what creates the news headlines.

Pain receptors

There are pain receptors all over the body, in muscles, organs and the skin. They are called nociceptors. Many medical conditions lead to pain in various parts of the body. For instance, with end stage degenerative arthritis bone rubs on bone. This causes a lot of pain in joints like the knees or the hips. Physicians often prescribe narcotics like OxyContin to control the pain. It may help for some time. But after a few weeks patients complain that the strength of OxyContin has worn off. The same dosage that gave them relief from the pain initially just does not give them relief any more. This observation is crucial. It is exactly what people who use OxyContin as illicit street drug found as well. The drug wears off, because the opioid receptors are getting weaker.

Pain receptor resistance

Nociceptors or opioid receptors are pain receptors. These receptors report pain to the body, and they have connections through the spinal cord to the brain. When an opioid is interacting with the pain receptor it inhibits acute pain to a large extent. But when the pain becomes chronic, the pain receptor is not working as well. More and more of the pain medication is necessary to achieve pain relief.  Eventually the opioid medication is not working to relieve pain any more. The name for this phenomenon is “pain receptor resistance”. Scientific work behind why pain receptors get lazy in responding to opioids is still ongoing. In the meantime it simply is an observation. This is the reason why drug addicts are tending to increase the dosage of OxyContin or of Fentanyl. The toxic threshold of Fentanyl that is exceeded in the process is the reason for the deaths.

Insulin resistance

You may have heard of insulin resistance in diabetics. This is a very similar problem. With insulin resistance the diabetic no longer has a 100% response to insulin. This means that blood sugar is not going through cell membranes effectively as it should when the insulin receptor is working. The blood sugar values stay high and make the diabetes worse.

With pain receptor resistance the opioid is not giving the relief from pain it used to give. No wonder that the patient is feeling frustrated that the pain medication is no longer working properly.

Therapeutic index

The layperson does not normally know that there is a dosage for any drug where it becomes toxic. There is also a lower dosage where the drug is becoming effective. The difference between the two dosages is the “therapeutic window” or the “therapeutic index”.

Morphine has a therapeutic index of 70:1. Compare that to alcohol with a therapeutic index of only 10:1. Fentanyl has a therapeutic index of 300:1.

The danger of Fentanyl

One would think that Fentanyl should be safer than morphine, because the therapeutic index is larger. But the onset of Fentanyl is much faster than that of morphine and by the time drug users take Fentanyl they often are desperate for the drug to take their pain away and they overdose, which causes respiratory depression. If they are not intubated by an anesthetist and connected to artificial respiration, they die very quickly. Janssen Pharmaceutica first developed Fentanyl in 1959. Fentanyl was strictly part of the pre-anesthetic medicine for patients before going into surgery requiring a general anesthetic. The anesthetist was right there and would intubate the patient. That’s why we never heard of deaths from Fentanyl in the past.

If a person gets no pain relief from any opioid because of receptor resistance, the tendency is to increase the dosage. But this is what pushes the person into toxic ranges and this is what causes death from inadvertently suppressing the ability to breathe. People can get into trouble with alcohol overdoses, but the ordinary person usually knows how to handle alcohol. Fentanyl is a lot different due to the fact that respiratory depression (not being able to breathe) is one of the early symptoms that hits you suddenly.

What drugs do to your brain

Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist and brain researcher has used SPECT brain scans to produce images of different clinical conditions. This link shows the effect of a stroke, of Alzheimer’s disease and of drug abuse on the brain. Dr. Amen says that a brain can be rehabilitated. He has other SPECT images showing the images of an addicted brain and that of a rehabilitated brain. Spect scans are expensive.  But they may be worth it, to impress a drug addict to stop the drugs and get rehabilitated.

Big Pharma and opioid drugs

In 1995 the FDA approved the use of OxyContin for chronic pain. Perdue Pharma, the drug company that had developed this opioid convinced the FDA that OxyContin stayed in the blood for 12 hours and they claimed that by being active longer than other opioids this would lead to better pain control and less addiction. It turns out that this was a slick sales pitch, however it was not true. Pain receptor resistance is as much a problem with OxyContin as with any other opioid. And the drug is as addictive as all the others. But the problem is that the FDA had approved OxyContin. What’s more, Purdue Pharma sent aggressive drug representatives to all the practicing physicians misleading them as well as the FDA that OxyContin would not be as addictive as other opioids.

Penalty for misrepresentation of OxyContin

In 2007 Purdue Pharma had to pay a fine of 634 million $ for misrepresenting the addiction potential of OxyContin. But the drug company was allowed to continue to market OxyContin. Since 2015 Purdue Pharma has been cashing in 2.4 billion $ annually from the sales of opioids including OxyContin. In the meantime Fentanyl, despite its danger of suppressing the ability to breathe, has taken off with regard to sales. Fentanyl also has taken over in terms of causing deaths across the US and other countries.

Alternative treatment of pain

According to Ref. 1 chances are that 70% of patients with back pain will get better with a few visits to an acupuncturist. In 1972 Dr. Ulett’s laboratory at the University of Missouri succeeded in getting the first NIH research grant for the study of acupuncture in the US. During these studies they found remarkable facts, the most important perhaps that electrical stimulation of acupuncture needles resulted in a doubling of the effectiveness of traditional Chinese acupuncture. After extensive research Dr. Ulett stated: ”The ancient practice of traditional Chinese acupuncture is now obsolete” (Ref.1). in the meantime the more effective electro-acupuncture has replaced acupuncture needles with the use of electrical skin pads.”

Other applications for electroacupuncture

Beside pain relief many other applications exist for electro-acupuncture. Addiction medicine makes use of electro-acupuncture in weaning people from morphine or heroine etc. It is effective to treat psychiatric illness, particularly depression. It is useful in relieving nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy with cancer treatments or associated with pregnancy without affecting the pregnancy.

Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy has been successful for the treatment of back and neck pain, for arthritic pain and pain from chronic muscle spasm. When prolotherapy is done by itself 12.5% Dextrose is injected into the area of injury. Dr. Fields said that the reason it works is that there is activation of local stem cells in the injured area in the area of the Dextrose injection site. These stem cells will do the healing (details explained in an interview with Dr. Reeves). Further improvement of this technique and better results are possible by injecting a small amount of platelet rich plasma (PRP) very focally to an area of ligament rupture. PRP is obtained by centrifuging blood from the patient’s vein. The red blood cells are not necessary, but the platelet fraction and some of the plasma are part of the the PRP preparation.

It is often striking how much pain control occurs after only one or two prolotherapy treatments.

Stem cell therapy with PRP and low-dose laser therapy

This is a more direct way to get stem cells where the doctor wants them to do their work. Stem cell therapy with PRP and low-dose laser activation is the latest in terms of controlling pain. At the 22nd Annual Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas (Dec.10 to 14, 2014) Dr. Purita gave an overview of this method of pain control. He discussed the importance of the proper harvesting of PRP. He explained that apart from white blood cells (WBC) and platelets an important component of PRP are very small embryonic like stem cells (VSELs). They are visible through the microscope. The missing link has been the observation that white blood cells produce inflammatory substances, which have been detrimental in stem cell injections with PRP in the past. There was a poor survival rate of stem cells.

Low dose laser activation of stem cells and PRP

Photo-activation of the PRP before injection leads to anti-inflammatory behavior of the WBC in PRP. Dr. Purita calls this “light activated PRP”, which leads to the best results with stem cell/PRP injections.

Soft laser stimulation with red, green and blue soft lasers have also been effective to improve tissue healing significantly when stem cells and PRP are used together with light activation. The main sources for good stem cells are the fat tissue (from the “love handles”) and the bone marrow (obtained from pelvic bone). The stem cells mesenchymal stem cells (from fatty tissue) and bone marrow stem cells. The mix of all of this can mend osteoarthritic joints, degenerative disc of the spine, in short all musculoskeletal injuries that may be painful. The hallmark of healing with stem cells is that chronic pain disappears.

Curative treatment versus symptomatic treatment

It is one thing to treat a patient for pain symptomatically by prescribing OxyContin or other opioids. It is a completely other thing when the physician cures the pain by one of these alternative methods. Let us assume that a patient has a fall of a few step from a ladder and sustains a contusion of the lower back. This can be painful and may require a few pain pills. But if it does not improve within one week and diagnostic tests show that there is no fracture, electroacupuncture may be the solution to treat the pain rather than the use of an opioid. If this does not help, consider the combination stem cell/PRP/low-dose laser therapy. Chances are better than 80% that this will help. The patient will no longer suffer of pain. With healing life can go on: no pain pills. No addiction. No death.

Drugs Are Not An Escape

Drugs Are Not An Escape

Conclusion

Conventional medicine treats pain symptomatically instead of treating the cause. It gets the physician to prescribe opioids, which can be the beginning of a series of tragic events. It can lead to drug addiction, dose acceleration, toxic effects of opioids including possible death through asphyxiation from no longer being able to breathe.

Stem cell therapy

The physician who concentrates on treating causes will use alternative methods to treat pain. The most effective of these methods is stem cell therapy. It is a mixture of adipose mesenchymal stem cells with bone marrow stem cells that are part of the therapy. The addition of platelet rich plasma is another part of the mix, and the final step is activation of stem cells with low-dose laser therapy. The cell mix is injected in the critical area. The end result is that the patient’s pain disappears, and it leads to a cure. The only situation where short-term opioids are justifiable is following surgical procedures. But even in these cases the narcotics should only be necessary for a few days to avoid serious side effects.

Reference 1: George A. Ulett, M.D., Ph.D. and SongPing Han, B.M., Ph.D.: “The Biology of Acupuncture”, copyright 2002, Warren H. Green Inc., Saint Louis, Missouri, 63132 USA

More info about electroacupuncture: https://www.askdrray.com/electro-acupuncture-twice-as-effective-as-conventional-acupuncture/

More about prolotherapy stem cell therapy: https://www.askdrray.com/prolotherapy-and-stem-cell-therapy/

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