May
16
2020

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

A Jan. 8, 2020 study stated that cutting out bad lifestyle habits increases life expectancy. It was a publication in the British Medical Journal by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The senior author of the study was Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School. The researchers looked at data collected from a large group of males and females that had been accumulated for 34 years. They found that a 50-year-old male or female who did not change their lifestyle habits had another 25.5 years to live for males and another 29 years to live for females.

Five bad lifestyles and life expectancy 

The 5 bad lifestyle habits were smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet.

When people cut out all of those risky lifestyles, 50-year-old men and women had a life expectancy of 37.6 years for men and 43.1 years for women. This was an addition of 12 years of healthy life for men compared to controls who did not change their lifestyles. With regard to women there was an addition of 14 years of life compared to controls.

Diseases that kill prematurely

The research team wanted to know what diseases caused the most reduction in life expectancy when people did not change their bad lifestyle habits. Men and women who cut out all negative lifestyle habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. They also were 65% less likely to die from cancer. Bad lifestyles caused the two major diseases, cardiovascular disease (heart attack and strokes) and cancer, which increased overall mortality. The overall study time was about 30 years. The third major disease that can cost lives is diabetes. In addition, the research team identified chronic diseases as being another potential cause of people dying prematurely.

Additional life expectancy

When life expectancies were broken down according to diseases, the following was noticed.

For men:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

6 more years             9 more years                         10 more years

For women:

When cancer free    When free of heart issues   Without diabetes

8 more years            10 more years                       12 more years

Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said: ”We found that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free”. Those who do not shed their bad lifestyle habits will come down with one or more of the mentioned diseases and die prematurely. Others who cut out all their bad lifestyle choices live substantially longer.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack.

It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking.

Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, cancer of the colon and rectum are also caused by consuming too much alcohol in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into the system and adds to the chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Cutting Out Bad Lifestyle Habits Increases Life Expectancy

Conclusion

Bad lifestyle habits are what causes us to get illnesses and die prematurely. Functional medicine and anti-aging medicine are at the frontier of modern medicine. These specialties are teaching us how to stay well and age gracefully. For decades conventional medicine has treated only symptoms, but not the causes of diseases. But this has not changed the mortality rates of heart attacks and cancer. Smoking, a body mass index above 25.0, excessive alcohol intake, exercising less than 30 minutes of exercise per day and an unhealthy diet are causes that make us sick. These bad lifestyle factors cause chronic inflammation in our system. They are the real cause of heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes, the major killer diseases that prevent healthy aging.

Facing bad lifestyle habits

Bad lifestyle habits cause chronic inflammation. T he C-reactive protein blood test can measure the degree of inflammation that is present. A fasting insulin level can detect whether a person is in danger of developing diabetes and improved lifestyle habits can prevent this from happening. Men can add 12 years and women 14 years of healthy life by eliminating bad lifestyle habits. By eliminating chronic inflammation our new life expectancy, which is 79 to 80 years, now can reach 92 to 94 years. It is up to you how healthy you stay and whether or not you age gracefully.

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Apr
18
2020

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Dr. James LaValle gave a presentation about changes of metabolism by inflammation in Las Vegas. I listened to this lecture on Dec. 15, 2020. The 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas took place from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. His original title was: “Innovations in Metabolism and Metaflammation”. This talk was complex and as a result it may not be easy reading. But it shows how various factors can affect our metabolism and our life expectancy.

In the first place he understands “metabolism” as all of the chemical reactions together that make you feel the way you feel today. In the same way metabolism is the chemistry that drives you toward future health. It is equally important to note that disregulation of your metabolism occurs from global metabolic inflammatory signalling. As has been noted he called this “metaflammation” (inflammation affecting your metabolism).

Dr. LaValle said that understanding disruptors of your metabolism can lead to renew your health on a cellular level. The key to achieve this is to remove inflammatory signals.

Factors that accelerate aging and damage your metabolism

It is important to realize that several factors interfere with the normal aging process. Oxidative stress and inflammation are major factors. But hormone disbalance and increased blood sugar values and insulin resistance can also contribute to accelerated aging and damage your metabolism. Certainly, with a disturbance of the immune balance, autoimmune reactions can take place, which also does not help. In addition, pollutants from the environment derange the metabolism due to heavy metals that block important enzymatic reactions. In the minority there are also genetic factors that can interfere with a normal metabolism.

Many of the metabolic changes can lead to chronic inflammation. One source of inflammation can be lipopolysaccharides that stimulate the immune system to start an inflammatory process.

Many conditions are associated with inflammation such as diabetes, obesity, stress, the SAD diet (standard American diet), and liver or kidney damage.

How Metaflammation is developing

Metaflammation can start in the gut with microbiota alterations. The wrong types of bacteria can release lipopolysaccharides, and low grade endotoxemia develops. With obesity inflammatory kinins start circulating in the body. Stress can activate inflammatory substances in the brain and the rest of the body. Major contributors to inflammation in the body come from faulty diets. The Western diet contains too much sugar and refined carbs; it is too high in trans fats and saturated fats. It contains too many artificial additives, preservatives, salt, sweeteners and dyes. And it is too low in nutrients, complex carbs and fiber.

More problems with metaflammation

Kidney and liver illness can contribute to metaflammation. Several diseases come from chronic inflammation, like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, depression, cancer, dementia, osteoporosis and anemia. Metaflammation alters the methylation patterns, which can slow down your metabolism. Increased blood lipids and chronic inflammation of the blood vessels lead to cardiovascular problems. The liver and kidneys are the major detoxification organs, and their disease leads to more metaflammation. Metaflammation also leads to hormone disbalances, sleep disorders and dysfunction of the immune system. The brain reacts to metaflammation with cognitive dysfunction and mood disorders. Muscle loss (sarcopenia) is another issue, so is osteoporosis. Finally, chronic metaflammation can cause cancer.

Major causes of metaflammation

The three major causes of metaflammation are changes of the gut microbiome, obesity and chronic stress. When the gut bacteria change because of a Western diet, the wrong bacteria release lipopolysaccharides that are absorbed into the blood. The gut barrier is breaking down and a low grade endotoxemia develops. With obesity adipokines, which are inflammatory substances secreted by the fatty tissue, circulate in the blood. Chronic stress activates inflammation in the brain and in the body.

Two major conditions are common with metaflammation: hyperlipidemia (high fat levels in the blood) and hyperglycemia. Both of these conditions change the metabolism and lead to cardiovascular disease (hyperlipidemia) or to type 2 diabetes (hyperglycemia). Both of these metabolic changes lead to one or more of the conditions mentioned above, accelerate the aging process and lead to premature deaths.

Interaction of various organ systems can cause metaflammation

Dr. LaValle stated that it is vital that your hormones stay balanced. With chronic stress cortisol production is high. This causes increased insulin production, reduced thyroid hormone and lowered serotonin and melatonin production in the brain. It also leads to autoimmune antibodies from the immune system and decreased DHEA production in the adrenal glands. In addition, growth hormone production and gonadotropin hormones are slowing down. We already heard that cortisol levels are up. The end result of these hormone changes is that the blood pressure is up and abdominal visceral obesity develops. The brain shows cognitive decline, with memory loss as a result. The bones show osteopenia, osteoporosis and fractures. The muscles shrink due to sarcopenia, frailty is very common. Heart attacks and strokes will develop after many years. The immune system is weak and infections may flare up rapidly. There are also higher death rates with flus.

Other mechanism for pathological changes with hormone disbalances

When Insulin is elevated, inflammatory markers are found in the bloodstream. This elevates the C-reactive protein and leads to damage of the lining of the blood vessels in the body. A combination of insulin resistance and enhanced atherosclerosis increases the danger for heart attacks or strokes significantly.

There is a triangle interaction between the thyroid, the pancreas and the adrenals. Normally the following occurs with normal function. The thyroid increases the metabolism, protein synthesis and the activity of the central nervous system. The pancreas through insulin converts glucose to glycogen in the liver. It also facilitates glucose uptake by body cells. The adrenal hormones are anti-inflammatory, regulate protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and contribute to energy production.

Change of thyroid/pancreas/adrenals triangle when cortisol is elevated

When cortisol is elevated the balance of the thyroid/pancreas/adrenals’ triangle is severely disturbed. Cortisol is high, the T4 to T3 conversion is limited and, in the brain, there is hippocampus atrophy with memory loss and brain fog. The immune system will change with production of inflammatory kinins (IL-6 and TNF alpha). Insulin sensitivity is down, sugar craving up and weight gain develops (central obesity).

Change of thyroid/pancreas/adrenals triangle when the thyroid is depressed

The thyroid activity can be lower because of autoimmune antibodies (Hashimoto’s disease) or because of hypothyroidism developing in older age. This leads to decreased pregnenolone synthesis from cholesterol. As pregnenolone is the precursor for all the steroid hormones, the metabolism slows down profoundly. Mentally there is depressed cognition, memory and mood. The cardiovascular system shows reduced function. In the gut there is reduced gastric motility. The mitochondria, which are tiny energy packages in each cell, are reduced in number, which causes a loss of energy. There is increased oxidative stress, increased lactic acid production and decreased insulin sensitivity.

Cardiovascular disease not just a matter of high cholesterol

Dr. LaValle stressed that a heart attack or stroke is not just a matter of elevated cholesterol. Instead we are looking at a complicated interaction between hypothyroidism, diabetic constellation and inflammatory gut condition. The inflammatory leaky gut syndrome causes autoimmune macrophages and Hashimoto’s disease. The end result is hypothyroidism. The inflammatory kinins (TNF-alpha, IL-6) affect the lining of the blood vessels, which facilitates the development of strokes and heart attacks. You see from this that cardiovascular disease development is a multifactorial process.

Microbiome disruption from drugs

Drugs affecting the intestinal flora are antibiotics, corticosteroids, opioids, antipsychotics, statins, acid suppressing drugs like protein pump inhibitors (PPI’s) and H2-blockers. Other factors are: high sugar intake, pesticides in food, bactericidal chemicals in drinking water, metformin, heavy metals and alcohol overconsumption. Chronic stomach infection with H. pylori, stress and allergies can also interfere with the gut microbiome.

The microbiome disruption affects all facets of metabolism. This means that there can be inhibition of nutrient absorption and this may affect the gut/immune/brain axis. There are negative effects on blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. A disturbance of the sleep pattern may be present. A significant effect on the hormonal balance can occur (thyroid hormones, sex hormones and appetite related hormones). When liver and kidney functions slow down, there is interference of body detoxification.

Dr. LaValle talked more about details regarding the gut-brain-immune pathology. I will not comment on this any further.

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Changes of Metabolism by Inflammation

Conclusion

Dr. LaValle gave an overview in a lecture regarding changes of metabolism by inflammation. This took place at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019.

This article is complex and contains a lot of detail, but there is one simple truth: oxidative stress and inflammation are major factors that influence our health on many parameters and lead to a list of illnesses. They lead to hormone disbalance and increased blood sugars and insulin resistance, which can also contribute to accelerated aging and damage of your metabolism. Dr. LaValle explained how high cortisol from chronic stress can lead to low thyroid hormones and in the brain, there is hippocampus atrophy with memory loss and brain fog. With alterations of the immune system there is production of inflammatory kinins (IL-6 and TNF alpha). Insulin sensitivity is down, sugar craving up and weight gain develops (central obesity). It does not stop there! We put our hope in medications, but the sad truth is that there are

Drugs that change the gut biome

Many drugs that are common also change the gut biome with resulting increased permeability of the gut wall (leaky gut syndrome). This overstimulates the immune system and leads to autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Whenever there is an injury to the gut barrier, the blood brain barrier is following suit. This is how brain disease can develop as a result of a change in the gut biome. Impaired cognition, memory and mood can result from this. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the worst conditions that may be related to a combination of gut inflammation, chronic stress and inflammatory kinins.

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Mar
07
2020

Eat Right for a Long Life

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas stressing the importance to eat right for a long life. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. The actual title of her presentation was “Nutrition for Longevity”.
Dr. Gersh has a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine.

In the first place she pointed out that an anti-inflammatory diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy oils like olive oil and fish. This is a modified Mediterranean diet. On the other hand, with a pro-inflammatory diet or Western diet, you eat high fat, cholesterol, lots of protein from red beef, high sugar, excessive salt and a lot of processed and fast-food.

Prevention of diseases

It is important to realize that for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases you need to eat fruits and vegetables, which contain important phytochemicals. They contain a wide variety of molecules, like carotenoids, vitamins and polyphenols. Another key point is that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale) contain glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds. They protect you from cancer.

Vitamins and magnesium

It must be remembered that in order to strengthen the immune system and prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) we need the following: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the enzyme Co-Q10, vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, carotenoids, phytosterols, stilbenes and flavonoids. Another key point is that magnesium is extremely important. Many of our dietary habits have reduced magnesium intake to a minimum. Our soils are depleted of magnesium, it is no longer in drinking water, and it is absent in processed foods. However, magnesium is involved as a co-factor in more than 700 enzymatic reactions in our bodies. Magnesium is involved in heart contractions, is important to maintain our blood pressure and is important for glycemic control. It is also important for bone development and for DNA and RNA synthesis. Magnesium binds serotonin and dopamine to their receptors and plays a role in many more body functions.

Brassica vegetables

This group of vegetables consists of broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Notably, they have long been recognized to lower the risk of many cancers. The first thing to remember is that the active ingredients in them are glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Certainly, food preparation has a lot of influence on maintaining beneficial substances in the brassica vegetables. To emphasize, finely shredded vegetables had a marked decline of their glucosinolate levels by 75% within only 6 hours. On the negative side, microwave cooking destroys 74% of glucosinolates, but on the positive side, storage in room air preserves almost all of the glucosinolates for 1 week. In addition, stir frying brassica also preserves the glucosinolates. This reference points out how fruit and vegetables can contribute to cancer prevention.

The gut microbiome

The Western diet leads to a change in the gut flora with Gram-negative bacteria taking over the healthy gut flora and disrupting the intestinal barrier. To emphasize, this result is called endotoxemia. Part of this is increased serum endotoxin, which mainly consists of lipopolysaccharides. Indeed, it causes gut inflammation and a breakdown of the gut barrier. When this happens, autoimmune antibodies are produced. To put it another way, the Western diet undermines your health. In a word, high fat foods and added sugars (refined carbohydrates) lead to increased Gram-negative bacteria and the disruption of the intestinal barrier.

An unhealthy diet causes disease

In the long run this causes autoimmune diseases, leads to higher heart attack rates and to diabetes. Healthy gut bacteria in fact help to digest fibre, which leads to three short-chain fatty acids: butyrate, acetate and propionate. For the most part, they are important as energy source, affect cardiometabolic health and appetite. On balance, butyrate also helps to maintain the blood brain barrier.

Importance of fiber

Higher fiber content in food leads to less cardiovascular disease, has positive effects on obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Fiber changes the microbiome in the gut, leads to less gut permeability and more short-chain fatty acids production.

The best diet

  • 60% to 70% complex carbohydrates are the foundation of a healthy diet. It consists of vegetables, green leafy and root vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains and fruit.
  • Eat healthy fats from nuts, olives, seeds, krill or fish oil. Limit fat intake to 18 to 28% of your daily calorie intake. Avoid hydrogenated fats. Limit your saturated fatty acid intake. 85% chocolate is OK. Otherwise consume olive oil and omega-3 fatty acid containing foods (from seafood and fish).
  • Add about 12% of the daily calorie consumption as protein per day. Choose fish, seafood, lean cuts of chicken, only the occasional red meat (organic or grass-fed meat)
  • Eat lots of fiber, eat organic and minimally processed food. Limit sugar, fat and salt. Avoid antibiotics from the agricultural industry, sweeteners, gluten and excessive alcohol intake. Take a daily probiotic and eat probiotic food. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. A fasting mimicking diet once per month for 5 days activates your longevity genes.
Eat Right for a Long Life

Eat Right for a Long Life

Conclusion

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. She said that we need to eat right for a long life. She gave a thorough outline of what to eat and what not to eat. It is important to note that she suggested to cut out additional refined sugar and processed food. The bacteria in the gut must be normal, or the gut barrier breaks down. This failure can cause autoimmune diseases. Eating lots of vegetables and fruit as well as fiber will help to keep your gut bacteria normal.

What foods to eat

A Mediterranean type diet gives you the right foods that you need for your health. Avoid the Standard American diet as it is unhealthy and kills the good gut bacteria. Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts prevent the development of many cancers. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. This fits best into the diurnal rhythm of your gut bacteria.

 

Dec
14
2019

When Natural Substances Turn Into Poison

Although people increased the use of brain stimulating substances in the last 17 years, nobody paid attention to the situation, when natural substances turn into poison. The Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Ohio State University College of Medicine, both in Columbus, OH conducted a study. The researchers looked at the use of natural substances from 2000 to 2017. They noted that during this time marijuana had increased by 150% and there was a 64% increase of nutmeg use. Nutmeg contains the hallucinogenic substance myristicin, a potent mind-altering substance. There was a 4949% increase of kratom use, which comes from the leaves of a South American tree which have powerful mind-altering substances. The original study of the researchers was published here.

More hallucinogenic substances

Other natural substances came from Jimson weed, where the leaves and seeds contain natural substances that cause hallucinations and euphoria. It contains the chemicals atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine. These interfere with the normal messenger molecule acetylcholine in the brain and in nerves. 21% of all toxic reactions between 2000 and 2107 were due to Jimson weed. Besides those, 16% of all toxic reactions came from magic mushrooms. There are other natural substances which are similar. They come from a shrub that grows in East Africa and southern Arabia. Khat contains the alkaloid cathinone, which is a stimulant. It causes excitement, loss of appetite, and euphoria.

More details about the different natural substances and their actions

Marijuana

Marijuana includes dried leaves, the stem, seeds and flowers of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant. The mind-altering THC compounds are what people are seeking out. When a person smokes marijuana, the THC enters the blood through the lungs. The THC reaches the brain and causes a “high”. This can be associated with seeing brighter colors, get an altered sense of time, have hallucinations, delusions and in severe cases a psychosis. Marijuana peaks at different times depending on whether it is smoked or taken in as an edible. When smoked, the effect of marijuana is felt by the user within a few minutes. Ingested as edibles will take 30 minutes to one hour to show an effect, but it lasts a lot longer (3 to 4 hours). This is important to know, particularly if other agents including alcohol are combined with marijuana.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is used in small amounts as a spice, typically ¼ to ½ teaspoon in a family dinner. However, when a person consumes 2 teaspoons or more of nutmeg, such as more than 10 mg, toxic symptoms occur. Symptoms from myristicin, the active substance in nutmeg, can be hallucinations, dizziness, confusion and seizures.

Kratom

Kratom is a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciosa), which is native in Southeast Asia. The leaves contain mind-altering compounds. At this time kratom is freely available on the Internet. There is no restriction in the US. But there are health concerns. Kratom has both opioid and stimulant effects on the brain. It produces sensations of pleasure, sedation and decreased pain. In small amounts people experience increased energy, sociability and alertness. There are a number of side effects: nausea, sweating, itchiness, dry mouth, increased urination, constipation, loss of appetite, hallucination and seizures. Kratom caused 8 of the 42 deaths reported by the Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH study.

Jimson weed

The leaves and the seeds of Jimson weed are used by drug-seeking individuals. It causes hallucinations and euphoria, a heightened sense of well-being. It contains the chemicals atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine. These interfere with acetylcholine, one of the major hormones in the brain and nerves. 15-100 grams of leaf and 15-25 grams of the seeds can be lethal. Children are more sensitive, so the lethal dose is much smaller for them. Jimson weed slows down the stomach emptying and also the activities of the large intestine leading to severe constipation. It can cause glaucoma and also rapid heartbeat. Urinary retention is also common.

Khat

Khat is a drug found in the wild East African shrub called Catha edulis. It contains a central nervous system stimulant, called cathinone. People living on the Arabian Peninsula are chewing the leaves of this plant. It is illegal in Canada and the US. In Ethiopia 30% of adolescent girls and 70% of the adolescent boys chew khat. The effect of khat is similar to the effect of a strong coffee. It has a stimulant effect like the coca plant that is used to make cocaine. It increases respirations, elevates blood pressure and leads to gum disease. This results in tooth decay. Ulcers and constipation occur more often. People on khat become more talkative, elated and euphoric. Some say that they have more imagination and are able to associate things better. From a medical point of view Khat causes constipation, hemorrhoids and impotence. Other symptoms are blurred vision, headaches and dizziness.

Kava kava

Piper methysticum, a plant native to the western Pacific Islands is from which kava kava is made. Kava kava relaxes you, but it has caused liver damage and is even responsible for a few deaths. It has been banned from many European countries and Canada. It is still available in the US. Some people take kava kava for sleeping problems, anxiety and restlessness. There are many more claims that kava kava would be effective for other diseases, but those claims have not been confirmed by research. Kava kava is detoxified in the liver, but in doing so there are profound interactions with other drugs that get detoxified in the liver. This liver toxicity has led to irreversible liver damage requiring a liver transplant. Several people have died because of liver failure.

Magic mushroom

Wild mushrooms, namely magic mushrooms that contain psilocybin are a popular way to get a high. Psilocybin is psychoactive and hallucinogenic. Psilocybin is classified as a Schedule I drug in the US, meaning that it is highly addictive, but has no currently accepted medical use for treating any medical condition. Magic mushrooms cause nausea, yawning, drowsiness, nervousness, panic, paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis.

Toxic side effects of natural substances reported to Poison Control

There were 67,369 calls to poison control centers in the United States between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2017 regarding natural substances. This is when natural substances turn into poison. There were 41.4% from calls regarding older than 19-year-old individuals. 34.8% of calls to the poison control center was regarding the age group between 13- and 19-year olds. 46.9% of cases were due to marijuana, 21.1% of the calls to the poison control centers were due to anticholinergic plants, 15.6% were due to hallucinogenic mushrooms. In the age group of 3-19 years 47.8% called because of marihuana overdoses. Above the age of 19 it was 53.0% who overdosed on marijuana. In children less than 6 years of age 44.4% of toxic overdoses came from anticholinergic plants.

Deaths reported in the study

The study reported 42 deaths from 2000 to 2017. 8 deaths were due to kratom. 7 deaths among the 42 deaths occurred in people under the age of 18. 5 of the 42 deaths occurred in teenagers aged 13 to 19. Two of the deaths occurred in children under the age of 12. These were due to marijuana.   

Discussion

When reviewing the research of natural substances with the potential to cause addiction, it is important to see things in the right perspective.

Natural substances can be poisonous for you

Many people think that a natural substance, like a leaf from nature, should be trustworthy. But it is the chemicals that people swallow, inhale or chew that matter. Opium also comes from a “harmless” poppy seed. But opium is a powerful and addictive substance. All of the natural substances reviewed above contain potent mind-altering agents. This means that the natural substances are not safe.

Using SPECT scan to measure brain activity

None of the above-mentioned natural substances are harmless. They all attack the brain and interfere with the action of the natural brain hormones in the brain. This may be reversible for a few weeks, but eventually it leads to a chemical burn with permanent damage to the brain. This is when natural substances turn into poison. Dr. Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist has developed a scan that will depict changes in the brain in addicted persons. It is called the Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography or SPECT scan. This nuclear medicine scan measures blood circulation of the brain and brain activity. With prolonged use all of the natural substances show a decreased brain activity pattern on the SPECT scan.

Missing toxicity studies about natural substances

Armed with the SPECT scan as a tool and the knowledge that all of the reviewed “natural” substances have toxic effects on the brain makes one wonder how US citizens could willingly consume these substances for the past 17 years. It was probably a mix of curiosity, peer pressure and the fact that these natural substances were readily available, which made many people try them. There is very little research about toxicity in this field. This is only starting now. To my way of thinking this is another warning sign that people should stop their love-affair with mind-altering natural substances.

When Natural Substances Turn Into Poison

When Natural Substances Turn Into Poison

Conclusion

I have reviewed the thorny issue of natural substances and how they can turn into poisons. All of the substances reviewed affect brain function. This is why people experience hallucinations, elations and euphoria. But this is not real. It is due to the toxic effect of chemicals on the brain.Advertisements promote kava kava as a relaxing substance. But it can damage the liver and as a result several people have died. It is unknown to a large extent how these natural substances interact with other illicit drugs or with alcohol.

It is best to avoid consuming any of these natural substances. Anybody who consumes them is knowingly consuming a poison, and it means that the user will get into health problems…naturally!

Nov
02
2019

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

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

New drug against Alzheimer’s may be expensive

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

Alternative approach to treating and preventing Alzheimer’s

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

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

Lack of exercise

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

Inflammatory conditions, foods and drugs that can affect memory

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

Promoting brain health

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

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

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

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

Portion control and healthy fats

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

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

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

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

Specific food recommendations

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

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

Brain nutrients

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

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

DHA

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

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

Phosphatylserine (PS)

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

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

Ginkgo biloba

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

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

Other supplements

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

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

Genetic factors

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

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

A New Drug For Alzheimer’s

Conclusion

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

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

Reference

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

 

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Sep
14
2019

Beware Of Arsenic In US Wines

A former wine industry employee warns to beware of arsenic in US wines. Recently wine testers detected that many California wines contain high amounts of arsenic. Here is a full list of wines where arsenic was found. Often it is the cheaper wines that have the highest arsenic content.

Trader Joe’s has a problem with three wines. The 2 dollar Zinfandel (“Two Buck Chuck)”, their “Menage a Trois Moscato” and “Franzia White Grenache” were too high in arsenic. They had 3-5 times the allowable amount of arsenic than the limit that is acceptable for drinking water.

The lawyers of a lawsuit against the wine industry think that the norm for arsenic content in wine should be the same as the one established for drinking water. However, the wine industry is defending itself saying that people drink more water than wine.

Arsenic in rice

In the past there were high arsenic levels in rice.  An investigation found the high levels of arsenic in rice linked to high levels of arsenic in soil. By and large high arsenic levels in rice come from inadvertent human poisoning. As explained in the Consumers Report high arsenic values were found in rice grown in these states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas. These are the same states, where farmers grew cotton in the past. The U.S. has been the world’s leading user of arsenic at that time. Since 1910 about 1.6 million tons of arsenic been in use for agricultural/industrial purposes. Half of this occurred since the mid-1960s. Although arsenic is banned as an insecticide since the 1980’s, residues from the decades of use still linger on in agricultural soil today. For decades arsenic compounds were used for decades in an attempt to combat the boll weevil beetle.

Arsenic in grape juice, apple juice and chicken meat

Arsenic containing insecticides are also in use in the fruit growing industry. This explains the presence of arsenic in grape juice and apple juice. Another source of contamination with arsenic compounds comes from chicken feed that the chicken farmer uses to promote growth. As a result arsenic will be in chicken meat. For this reason alone it is recommendable to eat organic chicken that is free of arsenic.

Keep in mind that brown rice has persistently tested higher in arsenic than white rice.

Beware of arsenic in US wines and in your food

We know for some time now that chicken raised in farms have arsenic in their meat because of the practice to feed arsenic compounds to promote growth. Arsenic is a carcinogen, and is causing many cancers. As the last link said, there is a great need to regulate the food industry and check for arsenic contamination of food in general as well.

How do wine growers introduce arsenic into wine?

There are several possibilities how wine could become contaminated with arsenic. The example of arsenic in rice taught us that old cotton fields where in the past arsenic containing pesticides were in use could be the source of arsenic in rice today. If wine is grown in similar soil that has contamination with arsenic , it likely could get into the grapes.

At this point there has not been an investigation into arsenic in wine. The fact that the majority of wines had high arsenic values makes me believe that the wine growers spray arsenic compounds onto the leaves and grapes of wine plants to treat for various pests.

Organic wine

Organic wine must have a certification by an independent third-party organization. This organization does annual audits on vineyards. The grapes they grow and the soil on which the vine plants grow have to all be examined. Strict standards apply and the organic winegrower has to comply with them to receive the organic certification. Not only is there supervision by the organic certification body, but also by the department of agriculture. The wine grower cannot sell wine as “organic”, if it is not certified.

If you want arsenic free wine, buy organic wine. Here is a brief description of what certified organic wine is.

What arsenic does to your body

Long-term exposure to low doses of arsenic can interrupt the way cells communicate and function. It can contribute to developing diabetes, cancer, vascular disease and lung disease. In addition, high levels of arsenic can cause skin cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer and heart attacks. It is the inorganic arsenic compounds that are more toxic. This is what researchers found in water and unfortunately also in wine. Organic arsenic compounds as found in seafood are less toxic.

Beware Of Arsenic In US Wines

Beware Of Arsenic In US Wines

Conclusion

There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding arsenic in regular wines. In the US the limit for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion (ppb). Wines on average have 24 ppb of arsenic in it. A legal case is presently awaiting a trial. The issue is whether the arsenic limits in drinking water also apply to arsenic limits in wine. The wine industry is adamant that people drink more water than wine, so one could not compare the two. But the wine industry also wants to sell more wine.

You can switch to an organic wine, which by definition should have less arsenic in it. Arsenic can cause lung disease and various cancers (lung and kidneys). If you drink very little or moderately, you are fairly safe from toxic effects of arsenic. But this topic needs further evaluation, and caution is in order.

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Aug
03
2019

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death, that’s why it is important to learn about the best ways to prevent cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances (carcinogens) from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I shall list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat

When you use the BBQ, you should avoid burning your meat. Even though the marks of “charring” are considered desirable on meat from the grill, this is really burnt! As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat and simply cook your food longer. This way you don’t create carcinogens. Avoiding to burn your meat is particularly important for the red meats.

Sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods could cause cancer, but they do. The reason is that the metabolism of cancer cells is using 10- to 12-times more sugar than the metabolism of normal cells. The worst thing a cancer patient can do is to over-consume sugar. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless, plant-based sweetener and does not lead to an insulin reaction. Avoid all other sugar substitutes, as there are other heath problems with most of them.

Avoid phthalates

Those who have a craving for macaroni and cheese are out of luck. This food contains phthalates that are part of the ingredients of almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. So you must definitely avoid macaroni and cheese, at least the stuff from the box. Prepare your own!

A high fat diet

What does a high fat diet do? It increases the risk for breast cancer. But it can also increase colorectal cancer risk. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA. 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. You can also enjoy shrimps and prawns.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

High dose vitamin D3 supplements help you to avoid cancer. There are strong statistics 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 make sure that you absorb enough vitamin D3. There are slow and fast absorbers and the only thing to know how well your gut absorbs vitamin D3 is in doing this blood test.

Also, curcumin (turmeric) 500 mg once per day is good for cancer prevention.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. When you eat plant-based food, you automatically get fiber in it. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber in their diet.

Avoid processed meat and too much red meat consumption

Processed meat and red meat cause cancer.

Beef, lamb and pork seem to contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense and eat fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother served beef as a Sunday dish.The rest of the week simple, plant-based foods appeared on the table. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

The claim that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as researchers thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer.

This link explains that eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

If you like tea, drink green tea or black tea. Sweeten it with stevia, but not with sugar. Tea has been shown to have cancer prevention properties.

Avoid alcohol consumption to prevent cancer.

Coffee is a healthy drink and it has mild anti-cancer effects as well. It does not matter whether you drink it caffeinated or decaffeinated.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking

If you are still smoking, quit smoking! Smoking 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. In addition your taste buds are satisfied, so your hunger for food is more controlled. The end result is that you will not gain weight.

Prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes

This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risk factors to develop cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity. With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association to developing liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop cancer of the colon and rectum, breast cancer and bladder cancer.

Pollution

Poor air quality with pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer. Pollution does not stay local, but travels through the stratosphere around the globe. The result is that now 10 to 15% of lung cancer in the US occurs in patients who never smoked. This translates into 16,000 to 24,000 deaths annually of never-smokers in the US. In certain cities such as Beijing lung cancer rates have doubled in 9 years between 2002 and 2011. Lung cancer in non-smokers can be caused from exposure to radon, to second-hand tobacco smoke, and other indoor air pollutants.

Bioidentical hormone replacement

When males do not replace missing testosterone in andropause they are much more prone to develop prostate cancer. Similarly, when women are menopausal and do not get progesterone supplementation, they develop a higher amount of breast cancer due to estrogen dominance. It follows from this that bioidentical hormone replacement in menopause and andropause will help to prevent prostate cancer and breast cancer.

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Conclusion

There is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Other foods including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3 can help prevent cancer. Basically, you want to avoid all that is known to cause cancer and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer. This will help to decline your cancer risk. I suggest that in addition you should quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce excessive alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake. By doing this you prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, and you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

Practical hints regarding the best ways to prevent cancer

The best ways to prevent cancer is to avoid processed red meat and all other processed foods. Eat more vegetables, fruit, wild salmon and other seafood. Don’t eat red meat more often than once a week and make it red meat from grass fed animals. In addition exercise regularly, get enough sleep and practice some form of relaxation (yoga, Tai Chi, self-hypnosis etc.). This lifestyle will not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, but also the majority of cancers.

Previously published here.

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Jul
27
2019

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

A recent study showed that occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates. The study came from the Columbia University, New York and was done with a senior population in the US. (7,904 seniors born between 1931 and 1941). The researchers followed this population for 16 years, from 1998 to 2014. There were 5 categories of drinking.

5 drinking patterns

Lifetime abstainers: had less than 12 drinks in their lives.

Current abstainers: they drank in the past, but were abstainers during the present observation period.

Heavy drinkers: drinking 3 glasses or more per day or binging more than 5 drinks in a single day. For women heavy drinking was defined as having more than 2 drinks per day or binging more than 4 drinks in a single day.

Moderate drinkers: they drank 1 to 3 (men) or 1 to 2 (women) drinks per day 1 or more times per week.

Occasional drinkers: they drank less than 1 day per week (for instance once or twice per month) and drinking a maximum of 3 drinks for men and 2 drinks max for women.

Binge drinkers were incorporated into the heavy drinker category.

Findings

The key findings were that over 16 years occasional and moderate drinkers had a lower mortality than lifetime abstainers or current abstainers. Heavy drinkers had a higher mortality as well. The researchers depicted their data as survival curves in a graph. They also tabulated them as data.

A male moderate drinker had a 35% lower mortality, a male current abstainer had a 73% increased mortality, a male lifetime abstainer had a 19% increased mortality and a male heavy drinker had a 20% increased mortality. The researchers set the male occasional drinkers as the reference at 100%.

Women had the following results: a female moderate drinker had a 29% lower mortality, a female current abstainer had a 98% increased mortality, a female lifetime abstainer had a 71% increased mortality and a female heavy drinker had a 11% increased mortality. Again the female occasional drinkers were the reference set at 100%.

Comments about the limitations of the study

The researchers pointed out that the findings of the current abstainers were surprising. However, they were of the opinion that the volunteers in that group likely had health reasons why they quit drinking. If there were cardiac, pancreatic or liver problems (cirrhosis of the liver), these conditions may well have become the reason why they died earlier than the other groups.

They also pointed out that various confounding factors could interfere with the study. Such factors as mental health, body mass index (BMI) or socioeconomic status could interfere with the findings of the study. Further, the researchers found that smoking status in men showed less influence on mortality than it did in females.

Confounding factors

The authors of the study pointed out that it went on for 16 years with many assessments of the drinking status on an ongoing basis. Other studies were one-point assessments, which are not as reliable.

The authors were studying the effects of confounding factors, such as other diseases. They found that lung disease, depression, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer and arthritis had their own effects on mortality figures. In addition they looked at the effects of daily activity difficulties, BMI, smoking status, education, age and race/ethnicity on mortality. When all of these confounding factors were normalized, occasional and moderate drinkers still had the lowest mortality.

Graph regarding percentage of survival as a function of time

One of the most convincing findings is the depiction of the data as a percentage of survival plotted as a function of time. This clearly shows that all the time over the entire 16 years the occasional and moderate drinkers had the longest survival times. It also shows clearly that the moderate drinkers lived longer than the occasional drinkers.

Discussion

We know from other studies that moderate alcohol consumption prevents fatty deposits in coronary arteries. Over the centuries pathologists found that the arteries of alcohol consuming individuals were entirely clear of fatty deposits, although they died of other diseases. However, in heavy drinkers the balance tips and cardiovascular disease is more prominent. The biggest effect of reducing mortality likely comes from a reduction in cardiovascular disease. However, alcohol can also cause various cancers. Because of this you will want to keep alcohol consumption in the lower ranges.

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

Occasional and moderate drinkers have lower mortality rates

Conclusion

An important large study involving 7,904 seniors in the US that lasted 16 years has shown the following findings: Occasional and moderate drinkers had a lower mortality rate than lifetime abstainers or current abstainers. Heavy drinkers had a higher mortality rate as well. The researcher examined possible confounding factors, but after normalizing for these, the findings were still the same.

The French paradox answered

This study may explain the French paradox: the French eat cholesterol-rich foods. However, they live a long life without heart attacks. The difference to the US is probably that they consume red wine regularly. The study described here seems to indicate that occasional and moderate alcohol consumption prolongs life. It does not give anybody a ticket to overindulge, because “it is good for you”. The importance is the dosage: stay under the limit with your alcohol intake. Be an occasional consumer and don’t exceed the limit of moderate consumption. In this case you can raise a glass to your health!

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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.

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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.