Mar
14
2020

Telomeres are Important

In the first place, Dr. Joseph Raphaele reviewed why telomeres are important at a Conference in Las Vegas in December 2019. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15, 2019. The actual title of his lecture was: “Telomeres in 2019; clinical developments and cutting-edge applications”.

Notably, Dr. Raphaele reviewed how various animals have quite different life expectancies. First, the Aldabra giant tortoises, for instance can live up to 152 years. Second, the house mouse can at the most live up to 6 years, but its predator, the cat lives up to 38 years. Finally, humans can live up to 122.5 years.That is to say, the average mortality rate doubling curve of man is 8 years. Dr. Raphaele introduced the terms “lifespan” and “health-span”.

Lifespan versus health-span

The first thing to remember is that our lifespan is defined by the number of years we live. On the contrary, the health-span is defined by the number of years you do not have any disease and your physical and mental health are good. Dr. Raphaele explained that for the most part the body’s organs have a limit of functioning after 80. For this reason the kidneys, the maximum heart rate, the maximum breathing capacity and the maximum work rate (oxygen uptake) all decline after the age of 80. It is important to realize that in 1961 Dr. Leonard Hayflick showed that there is a limit of how often cells can divide. After 60 doublings cells in tissue culture either die or just stop dividing. The built-in molecular clock resides in the telomeres. The telomeres are the caps at the end of the chromosomes in the cell’s nucleus.

Telomeres and their function in aging

In a word, what is the function of telomeres? In essence, the telomeres protect the integrity of our genes. For the most part, they protect the chromosomes from deteriorating, prevent DNA fusion and massive instability of the genes. In addition, the telomeres allow the cells to divide in an orderly fashion, but only up to the Hayflick limits. In short, the bottom line is that telomeres prevent cells from mutations of the DNA, from senescence and from death.

Shortening of telomere length with age

Dr. Raphaele said that one of the important findings was that telomere length is shortening with age. Notably, he showed a slide similar to this. To clarify, this graph shows telomere length as a function of the lifespan in years. The telomere length is obtained by a blood test. This determines the length of the telomeres in white blood cells. At a young age it has a length of between 8 and 10 kb. kb stands for kilobase. A kilobase consists of 1,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. So, 10 kb means 10,000 pairs of nucleic acid sequences. Around the age of 80 people have much shorter telomeres, only 4 to 6 kb. There is an enzyme, called telomerase that can elongate telomeres by approximately 10%. But this may not be desirable as too much telomerase activation can also stimulate cancer growth.

Age changes telomere length

Dr. Raphaele explained further that a telomere loses about 100 base pairs per cell division. But there are other factors that shorten telomeres. Smoking, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress and a low antioxidant status all can shorten telomeres. Certain congenital conditions can shorten telomeres by 28%. Dyskeratosis congenita is such a condition where 80% patients die by the age of 30 due to aplastic anemia. This is associated with bone marrow failure. 10% of these patients die from cancer. Apart from age, which shortens telomeres slowly, lifestyle factors are very important. A good lifestyle where you exercise regularly, you don’t smoke and you eat a healthy diet will slow down the shortening of your telomeres. Controlling your stress, sleeping enough hours per night and taking supplements also delays telomere shortening. Certain medications that control diabetes, high blood pressure or thyroid medication that treats hypothyroidism also delay telomere shortening.

Telomeres and shortened lifespan

Researchers could show that good lifestyle practices work by increasing telomerase to a certain degree. This results in lengthening of telomeres and translates into up to 10 years of increased life span. Jerry Shay, PhD said in 2011: “While the aging process is complex and certainly cannot be explained solely on the basis of telomere biology, there is a growing consensus that in some situations telomere biology and telomere tests may have important utility similar to cholesterol assays or blood pressure monitoring measurements.”

Telomeres are not just a biological clock inside our cells. They have a great influence on the function of mitochondria and on how many mitochondria multiply inside cells. This latter process is called mitochondrial biogenesis. In addition, telomeres regulate gene expression.

Chronic diseases associated with shortened telomeres

Here is a list of chronic diseases where all the patients have shortened telomeres.

  • High blood pressure
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Chronic stress
  • Metabolic syndrome

Telomeres in cardiovascular disease

Telomere length was found to be shortened in those who developed a heart attack. Researchers compared the telomere length in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients to people with no history of heart attacks. In comparison to this normal group the heart attack victims had telomeres typical for people who are chronologically 11.3 years older than the healthy controls. The researchers calculated that people with telomere shortening had a 3-fold higher risk of coming down with a heart attack.

Telomere length enhancers

  1. Lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Examples are smoking cessation, weight loss and stress reduction.
  2. Dietary changes: we know that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) supplements elongate telomeres as does a low-fat diet.
  3. Supplements like vitamin D3, antioxidants (vitamin C and E) and astragalus (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. The astragalus supplement, TA-65 showed a significant elongation of telomeres after 12 months while controls lost telomere length.
  4. Exercise: in a 24-week experiment of care workers regular aerobic exercise increased the telomeres by 67.3 base pairs.
  5. Bioidentical hormone replacement in aging people: when hormones are missing after andropause and menopause, the natural hormones need replacing, or the telomeres are shortening.
  6. High cortisol levels cause telomere shortening.
  7. Human growth hormone elongates telomeres via telomerase activation.
  8. The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was shown to extend life and telomeres as well.

Therapeutic rationale for telomere lengthening in CAD and AD

Patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) are at risk for developing heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Here is an overview of many clinical trials that have been done in humans with CAD. It shows shortening of telomeres in these high-risk patients. But the review also shows that telomeres can lengthen by changing the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Researchers were increasing the enzyme telomerase that indirectly lengthens telomeres. Both approaches prevent serious cardiovascular disease and increase life expectancy significantly. In severe cases of telomere shortening the physician can consider TERT gene therapy.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) also is a condition where telomeres are shortened compared to normal controls. Time will tell whether TERT gene therapy is possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Telomeres are Important

Telomeres are Important

Conclusion

Telomeres are the caps of the chromosomes in our cells. In the past the word “telomere” appeared obscure and only scientists discussed this among themselves. Now we know that telomere shortening is often the reason for chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and obesity. Patients who have these conditions often have shortened telomeres in their white blood cells. Over the years we have learnt that lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Smoking cessation, exercise, weight loss and stress reduction are elongating telomeres.

Additional factors elongating telomeres

In addition, supplements like antioxidants (vitamin C and E), vitamin D3 and astragalus root (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well. By elongating telomeres, a person can add 10 to 11 years of disease-free life to the normal life expectancy. Researchers showed that telomerase activation by human growth hormone increased telomere length without causing cancer. Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium spoke about HGH replacement in aging people on other occasions. He said that cautiously treating patients with low doses of HGH when blood tests showed deficiency, adds about two decades of life-expectancy to these patients’ lives.

Feb
22
2020

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Dr. Kurt Hong, professor of clinical medicine spoke about clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 14, 2019. Although he spoke on various forms of fasting, he concluded that the fasting mimicking diet had the best results and was most consumer-friendly.

How we age

Dr. Hong reviewed the processes of aging. We age, because our cells experience oxidative damage and our telomeres (the end caps of our chromosomes) get shorter in time. We also age, because there are genetic mutations in our cells’ DNA and our mitochondria are aging as well. The mitochondria are the small energy packages inside the cells that give us energy. When people age, they have lost mitochondria, there is less energy that the body makes out of food and we feel chronically tired.

Above the age of 65 we are also likely to develop diseases of various organs:

  • Heart disease: 31%
  • Cancer: 24%
  • Chronic lung disease (lower respiratory disease): 21%
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 13%
  • Diabetes: 11%

Women are generally healthier than men and their life expectation is 4 to 5 years longer than that of men.

Cellular and molecular aging

Longevity researchers have done mouse experiments and human clinical trials for decades. Dr. Hong asked the question: how much longer could humans live, if we could cure cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes? The answer is: 13 years. But if we transfer the animal data to humans it should be 30 years of longer life. Why is there such a discrepancy? The answer is that it is easy to force good lifestyles onto animals, but humans are resistant to changes. Humans have their habits; they like to continue to smoke and eat fast food instead of switching to a healthier Mediterranean diet. Humans also resist a regular exercise program. And they do not want to hear that they should replace missing hormones with bioidentical ones. The result is that we humans will prolong our lives only by less than 50% of what we could achieve.

The concept of intermittent fasting

Dr. Hong stated, that ten thousand years ago, people did not always have enough food to eat. They were forced to intermittently fast. That did not mean that they had long life expectancies, as there was no cure for any disease. But one fact was true: the body learnt to rejuvenate itself during periods of fasting. And these longevity genes are still present in our genes. But they will only help us when we actually fast for some periods of time.

Dr. Hong reviewed what kind of fasting methods are available.

Prolonged fasting and juice fasting are not among the options. With prolonged fasting electrolyte disturbances become an issue. Juice fasting does not remove enough calories and nutrients. This, however is needed to allow the body to stimulate the longevity genes.

How fasting diets work

Dr. Hong explained that there are essentially 5 fasting diets that are effective in regulating the key nutrient sensitive pathways of IGF-1, TOR and PKA. This increases cellular protection and maintenance. It also increases activation of stress resistance pathways and removes and replaces damaged and dysfunctional cells. Finally, a fasting diet also reduces inflammation, which is often the start of disease.

A review of the 5 fasting diets

Time-restricted eating (TRE)

With TRE the person fasts for 12 to 16 hours every day. The person restricts the daily food consumption to a 4- to 12-hour window. The disadvantage is that this fast is done every day. The period of fasting may not be long enough to change the metabolism, where the above-mentioned effects take place.

Alternate-day fasting  

This is a 24-hour fast every other day with a 1:1 day eating-fasting cycle. This does not appear to be physiological and is disruptive with regard to social activities.

5:2 intermittent fasting

With this fast you fast for 2 days every week. With this 2:5 eating-fasting cycle the person fasts for 2 days every week; the other 5 days you eat as much as you desire.

Although this is effective, it can be quite disruptive to your lifestyle.

Periodic fasting

You fast for 48 to 72 hours every couple of months. This fast is socially more acceptable. It is not that often, just a couple of times in a year. The question remains whether it is effective in changing the metabolism to trigger the effects mentioned above.

Fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)

The original suggestion by Dr. Longo, the inventor of the FMD was that you should fast for 5 days once every month. Since then he has modified it and said that you can achieve similar metabolic changes, if you only fast for 3 days and do this a couple of times per year. I have done the FMD since December 2017 and I adhere to the original schedule of doing the FMD monthly for 5 days. This has provided me with more energy. It is easier to keep my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Dr. Hong explained that the FMD allows you to eat, but it tricks the body into acting like you are fasting. Because you are eating 500 to 600 calories per day, you are getting some fluid and nutrients, so the hunger pangs are tolerable.

More details about the FMD

Here is Dr. Hong’s summary about the FMD: “The stomach sees food, while the cells see fasting”. Dr. Hong said that the FMD is the most user-friendly method of fasting. It also has had the most scientific studies to validate that it is indeed working. Poorly functioning mitochondria and misfolded proteins are removed by a process of phagocytosis. The FMD reduces heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Stem cell production also gets a boost. This promotes cell regeneration and reduces risk factors of premature aging.

Publication on the effectiveness of the FMD

A publication came out in 2017 reporting about the findings of a clinical trial regarding the FMD.

Researchers followed markers of aging, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease in 100 volunteers. They underwent a FMD for 5 days on 3 consecutive months. The results were astounding. The body mass index, the fasting blood sugar level, triglycerides, total and LDL cholesterol and the CRP were all lower. CRP stands for C-reactive protein, which measures the degree of inflammation in the body. The blood pressure was also lower. Overall the 5-day FMD was a safe method with no side effects. The FMD reduced markers and risk factors of aging and age-related diseases. In doing so it prolongs life by reducing the likelihood of coming down with disease.

Who should abstain from fasting?

Dr. Hong mentioned that the FMD is not for everybody. Pregnant women should refrain from going on it, also type 1 and type 2 insulin dependent diabetics. Anybody who has a sign of an active infection (coughing, having a fever or diarrhea) should be excluded. Other exclusions are people who are underweight (BMI less than 18.5) or are malnourished (protein deficiency). Patients with heart failure and advanced kidney or liver disease should not take part in a fasting program.

Autoimmune diseases and FMD

The myelin sheath around the axon of nerve cells in the central nervous system are supported by oligodendrocytes. In multiple sclerosis (MS) patients T lymphocytes activate macrophages and B cells to produce autoantibodies. They destroy oligodendrocytes breaking down the insulating barrier of the myelin sheath. In MS patients the broken-down myelin sheath suppresses the electrical impulses transmitted through the nerve fibers. The FMD led to clinical improvements.

In a pilot study intermittent fasting changed the gut flora into a healthier flora.

This triggered the immune system in the gut to make less inflammatory T cells producing the IL-17 cytokines. There was also an increase in regulatory T helper cells.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBM) can be improved with several courses of FMD. As the authors showed, intestinal inflammation improved with FMD. The intestinal gut flora improved with the FMD and it promoted intestinal regeneration.

Reversal of physical and functional decline

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) has a variety of effects on the human body. Dr. Hong showed a slide where we could see that ketone bodies, cortisol and ghrelin levels are increased in the blood. At the same time glucose, insulin, leptin and IGF-1 levels are reduced. In addition, triglycerides and LDL levels are getting lower. Inflammatory markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP) are reduced as well.

Effects of the FMD on various organs in the body

A look at all of the organs shows that in the liver the ketone body production and insulin sensitivity are up. Glycogen production in the liver as well as the liver size are down.

The intestines produce ketone bodies. In the skeletal muscles the insulin sensitivity is increased, while the muscle structure and function are improved. In the brain the hunger feeling increases the release of neurotropic factors including the neuropeptide Y. Cognitive function and stress resistance increase with the FMD. The FMD reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. With respect to the cardiovascular system the heart rate drops down and blood pressure gets lower. The insulin production in the pancreas is reduced.

Fatty tissue

In fatty tissue lipolysis is up and also the production of adiponectin. This is a protein hormone involved in glucose and fatty acid metabolism. Insulin sensitivity with the FMD is also increased. On the other hand, the FMD reduces fat mass, leptin production and inflammation.

The FMD is the solution to preventing disease and prolonging your life

All of these effects lead to a reversal of physiologic and functional declines. Age-related metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes are postponed or eliminated. The FMD prevents neuro-cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the risk of developing cancer is getting lower. In summary, the FMD improves the health-span, quality of life and can prepare you for a long life.

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Clinical Applications of the Fasting Mimicking Diet

Conclusion

Dr. Kurt Hong is a professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. He gave a talk at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019. He discussed what we could do to help patients with various autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. It turns out that the fasting mimicking diet (FMD) is the best solution to reduce inflammation and modify  the autoimmune response from aggressive T lymphocytes. With the FMD you consume only 500 to 600 calories per day for 5 days every month. The rest of the days of the month you eat a healthy Mediterranean-type diet.

Fasting mimicking diet, the best way to treat autoimmune diseases

Dr. Hong explained in detail what cellular mechanisms are at work to achieve the modification of the immune system in autoimmune diseases. The FMD is also the solution to slow down aging in healthy people. Dr. Hong discussed clinical applications of the fasting mimicking diet fort autoimmune diseases. It is easier to prevent disease than it is to cure an illness. The FMD is an easier way, because you don’t fast completely, you only reduce your food intake to the bare minimum, but your body “thinks” that you are fasting.

Ultimately, this approach does take some effort, and it does take time to familiarize yourself with it. If patients do it for the first time, they will experience some hunger, the first and second day tend to be a hurdle! Once you make it part of a health routine on a regular basis, it is a lot easier.

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Feb
08
2020

Two Clinical Cases Demonstrating the Healing Effects of Peptides

Dr. Joseph Cleaver gave a talk about two clinical cases demonstrating the healing effects of peptides. His presentation on Dec. 13, 2019 was part of the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. The topic of his talk was “The Power of Peptides – Treatment of End Stage Renal Disease and Congestive Heart Failure, Case Studies “. Dr. Cleaver presented how his 86-year old father who had end stage kidney disease was able to go home from a palliative care facility following peptide treatment.

Next he presented another case of a 51-old man who had sustained a viral cardiomyopathy 7 years earlier. His cardiac condition had recently deteriorated, and his physicians put him on an urgent heart transplant list. After only 3 weeks of the peptide therapy he was taken off the heart transplant list as his condition had improved so much.

The medical team

Both patients received initial treatment by a conventional medical team. In the case of the 86-year old man treatment consisted of draining fluid from both lung areas and doing dialysis for chronic kidney failure. Otherwise the family received the sad news that nothing more was available to help, and he was discharged to the palliative care unit. Similarly, the 51-year old man with an end stage heart condition received conventional treatment and learned that the only other possibility to help him was a heart transplant.

The integrative medicine team that treated both patients later consisted of Dr. Mark Houston, an integrative cardiologist. In addition, there was Dr. Joseph Cleaver, one of the leaders in peptide therapy. The third person was Dr. Andrew Heyman, an expert in integrative medicine.

An 86-year old patient with end-stage kidney failure

Dr. Cleaver said that in May 2019 he received a phone call from the emergency room doctor of the hospital. He said that his father was admitted with serious heart problems and was deteriorating rapidly. He had a history of a multiple myeloma with abnormal deposits called amyloidosis. This material formed deposits in his brain and his heart muscle. As a result, he had developed a weakening of the heart resulting in fluid collection in his lungs. Just recently, on April 3, 2019 two stents were placed in his coronary arteries because of hardening of the heart vessels. He also had chronic renal failure with a very low glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is a measure of the severity of the condition. The GFR was only 15 meaning that he needed 5 dialysis treatments per week to keep him alive.

Findings in the emergency department

An echocardiogram of the heart confirmed amyloidosis of his heart. He had an effusion around the heart, called pericardial effusion. He also had pleural effusions in both lungs. A further test confirmed kidney failure. He needed daily dialysis treatments to combat the kidney failure. The physicians removed 1600 ml of fluid from both lung cavities. Drug therapy was started to improve his heart failure. He required antibiotics for the beginning of blood poisoning (sepsis). By mid-June he had stabilized and his treatment team sent him to palliative care. The purpose of the transfer was to have another medical team look after him for end of life care.

Dr. Cleaver consulted with his integrative medicine collogues to discuss options of integrative medicine treatment of his father.

Integrative medicine approach to treat kidney failure

On June 10, 2019 the integrative medicine specialists ordered to start therapy with the peptide TB4. TB4 stands for thymosin beta 4. It can reduce infarct size in people with heart attacks. But it can also improve heart muscle function in general.

Another peptide was started on June 10, 2019, namely BPC-157. The doctors ordered this to repair organ damage.

He also received general nutraceutical supplements including the mitochondrial antioxidant MitoQuinol.

Results of integrative treatment

Dr. Cleaver’s father was able to return home in August 2019. His grip strength, gait and general strength were the best he has been in years. He returned to wood working (building furniture). He lifts weights and uses an exercise bike every day. His chronic lower back pain has mostly disappeared. His gait is strong and his balance has improved. He maintains his kidney function with only one dialysis treatment per week. He is looking after his garden, walks without assistance and enjoys spending time with his wife. His heart function has normalized and there is significant improvement in his kidney function.

A 51-old man with viral cardiomyopathy waiting for a heart transplant

The second clinical case that Dr. Cleaver presented was that of a 51-year old man who had contracted a viral cardiomyopathy 7 years earlier. His heart function had slowly deteriorated since then. The doctors had nothing else to offer him with his heart condition except to put him on a waiting list for a heart transplant. His symptoms were shortness of breath and fatigue. In addition he required two pillows for sleeping to cope with his shortness of breath.

Integrative medicine approach to treat heart failure

Here is what the treatment plan from the integrative medicine team for this patient included.

The team concentrated on heart muscle cell regeneration and reconditioning of the cardiac mitochondria. The main peptides used were BPC-157 and thymosin beta 4. Another peptide was Ipamorelin, which is known to release growth hormone. Human growth hormone has been shown to improve heart function in patients with heart failure.

The doctors also ordered CoQ-10 and MitoQuinol to stimulate the mitochondria of the heart muscle. In their search for effective alternative remedies for cardiomyopathy the integrative medicine team found supportive literature. They found that growth hormone releasing hormone and Ipamorelin were stimulating receptors on cardiac stem cells. This stimulates survival of heart muscle fibers and modulates genes that regulate cardiac remodelling. The team also administered Hexarelin and ghrelin, which release growth hormone in the body.

Within only three weeks this patient’s shortness of breath disappeared. His ejection fraction, a measure of left heart chamber contraction normalized. He felt energy and no longer needed two pillows to sleep. Due to his improvement his doctor took him off the heart transplant list.

Discussion

These two cases demonstrate the limits of conventional medicine. Chronic kidney failure and chronic heart failure are conditions for which the normal health care system has no answers. But interestingly, the integrative medicine team managed using innovative peptides that helped in both of these cases. Dr. Cleaver reminded us that we should not only trust in conventional medicine, particularly when there is no positive result. Integrative medicine can offer alternative approaches for the difficult cases that conventional medicine cannot solve. At this point we do not know all the mechanisms of why peptides are helping. Some papers point out that peptides may stimulate pluripotent stem cells to heal whatever condition it is in the body. Dr. Cleaver provided extensive literature references regarding several peptides that are now in clinical use.

Two Clinical Cases Demonstrating the Healing Effects of Peptides

Two Clinical Cases Demonstrating the Healing Effects of Peptides

Conclusion

Dr. Cleaver gave a talk about peptides at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine on Dec. 13, 2019. He presented two clinical examples, which could not be dealt with by conventional medicine. The first was an 86-year old patient with end-stage kidney failure. The second was a 51-old man with viral cardiomyopathy waiting for a heart transplant. Miraculously, both cases responded to peptide therapy with TB4 (thymosin beta 4) and BPC157. Within a matter of a few weeks there was clinical improvement in both cases. The 86-year old man could return home from a palliative care home, attend to his garden and do woodworking. The 51-year old man regained his cardiac strength and his physician took him off the heart transplant list. Integrative medicine can be useful in chronic cases that conventional medicine cannot improve.

Nov
09
2019

Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

In the following I am discussing the non-drug treatment for migraines in women. There are a number of different types of headaches: common headaches, tension type headaches, cluster headaches and migraine headaches. Here I am only zeroing in on migraine headaches.

Introduction

A migraine headache is the second most common headache and occurs with an average frequency of about 12% in the general population. Women outnumber men in the U.S. by a factor of 3 to 1 with migraines. There is a genetic factor as migraine sufferers’ family members are getting migraines about 3-fold more often than the general public. Newer insights into hormonal connections point to the fact that often migraine sufferers are in an estrogen dominant state (Ref. 4). With estrogen dominance there is a disbalance between estrogen production and progesterone production. For instance, many women who develop fibroids miss their ovulation and as a result can have fertility problems (no corpus luteum developed in the ovaries). The reason for infertility, fibroid development and the development of migraines in some migraine sufferers is the lack of progesterone in the second half of the cycle.

Xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens (pesticides, artificial hormones like Provera, the birth control pill etc.) can also function as a contributor to the estrogen load as a woman’s estrogen receptors will have a partial fit with them. The resulting hormone disbalance can trigger migraines in migraine sufferers. The trigger is the relative lack of natural progesterone. This may also be the reason why migraines are much more common in woman than men. On the other hand Dr. S.A. Dugan has done hormone studies on both male and female patients with migraine. He found that both sexes are often also suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and lipid disorders including high cholesterol, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems and depression. When these patients had hormone tests were done on these patients the majority had what Dr. Dzugan called “steroidopenia” (low levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA). This is discussed in more detail under Ref. 3.

Symptoms

Migraines present in 85% without an aura (formerly called “common migraines”) and in 15% with an aura (formerly called “classic migraines”). An aura consists of changed behaviors such as pacing, yawning, craving of certain foods, lethargy, depression or mild euphoria. These symptoms are separate from the migraine aura, which consists of neurological symptoms such as visual symptoms arise 1 or 2 hours before the migraine headache starts and disappear about 1 hour after the start of the migraine.

Types of migraine aura symptoms

These migraine aura symptoms are quite varied and can include numbness of the skin in a hand or a foot on the side where the migraine is and around the mouth area. Spotty eye field defects can also occur immediately prior to the onset of the headache and there may be deficits in language expression and pronunciation. Other such migraine aura symptoms can consist of double vision, ringing in the ears, balance problems, a gait abnormality and decreased levels of consciousness.

Typically a migraine is confined to one side of the head

The actual migraine headache is on one side of the head, can last 4 hours to 3 days, is throbbing in nature, moderately to severe in intensity and is made worse by physical activity, light or noise. The patient is complaining of nausea and might be vomiting with a severe migraine. In a small percentage of patients a more severe form of complicated migraine (or “migraine with prolonged aura”) can develop where the patient has prolonged symptoms of a migraine aura for more than 1 hour, but usually less than 1 week. These patients should be investigated thoroughly by a neurologist as a small percentage of these patients can develop persistent neurological symptoms including a “migraine stroke ” (=a stroke like clinical picture) (Ref. 1, p. 2067).

Conventional treatment of migraines

Medication that is used is quite different between attacks as compared to during an attack. During a migraine attack non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (=NSAIDs) and dihydroergotamine or Sumatriptan, which stimulate serotonin receptors, are common medications. Drug dependency issues on narcotics have to be discussed frankly with the patient because of the danger of rebound migraines that are triggered by the continued use of narcotics. Sumatriptan can be given intranasally, but it is important for the physician to monitor overuse and dependency on this medication. In males there is a higher risk for heart attacks as a side effect of the medication. The patient can also receive Prochlorperazine (brand name: Stemetil or Compro) intravenously as a drip in an Emergency room setting. This can abort a migraine.

Preventatives of migraine attacks

Between migraine attacks there are a number of preventatives that are effective. They consist of beta-blockers such as propranolol, metoprolol, Timolol and others; NSAIDs such as ASA, naproxen or ketoprofen; calcium channel blockers such as Verapamil or Flunarizine, also antidepressants such as amitriptyline.

Gabapentin is the latest medication that research found to be useful in several smaller studies. Gabapentin (brand name: Neurontin) releases GABA in some parts of the brain and inhibits the NMDA pain receptors. Dr. Stephen Clarke, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Div. of Neurology of the University of BC/Vancouver/Canada, reviewed the use of gabapentin at a conference in Vancouver/BC in November 2004 (Ref. 2).

Other medication for headache prevention are the anticonvulsant gabapentin; the MAO inhibitor phenelzine and the serotonin stimulating drugs methysergide and cyproheptadine. Unfortunately many of these medications do not work 100% and there is a lack of good randomized studies to prove effectiveness.

Non-conventional, but effective treatment of migraines

Bioidentical progesterone treatment

In light of what I explained above with regard to a hormone disbalance in women migraine sufferers, it is logical that Dr. Lee suggested (Ref. 5) using 20 mg of a bioidentical progesterone cream applied to the skin during the second half of the cycle (day 12 to 26 of the cycle). After three months there is usually a significant improvement of the migraines. With only a partial response to this low dose of progesterone cream, the doctor can increase the progesterone dosage temporarily to 40 or 50 mg per day from day 12 to 26 of the cycle for several months. If there is a response, the doctor continues treatments with bioidentical progesterone cream until menopause. An alternative to bio-identical progesterone cream is Prometrium (micronized progesterone) by mouth, 100mg or 200mg at bedtime. Discuss this with your doctor. You will need a prescription from him/her for Prometrium.

Avoid migraine triggering factors

It is important to include in the regimen of anti-migraine measures non drug regimens such as avoidance of triggering factors like certain foods (chocolate, red wine, certain cheeses and strong smells) or bright lights and noises. It is important to pay attention to consistent sleeping patterns and meal times. When emotional factors play a role, counseling, relaxation techniques like yoga, self-hypnosis and biofeedback methods are all helpful as well. The doctor refers more complex migraine cases to a neurologist or a multidisciplinary headache clinic.

Dr. Dzugan’s “correction of steroidopenia” approach

Since Dr. Dzugan published the results of treating migraine sufferers with the Dzugan method, it is important to look at all of the hormones including steroid hormones as mentioned above. Any hormone deficiency is rectified using bio-identical hormones; then the doctor repeats hormone levels to verify hormone balance. Dr. Dzugan found that following “correction of steroidopenia” after 9 to 12 months at the latest almost all of his patients were migraine free and lost all of the other accompanying symptoms.

Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

Non-Drug Treatment For Migraines In Women

Conclusion

Many women suffer needlessly from migraines because of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance occurs when they miss an ovulation (because of a lack of the corpus luteum that manufactures progesterone in the second part of the menstrual cycle). But taking the birth control pill or taking HRT with synthetic hormones in menopause can also cause estrogen dominance. This is when bioidentical progesterone replacement can help to rebalance progesterone and estrogen. Migraines often disappear in the process of this approach. If you have migraines, you should discuss the bioidentical progesterone approach with your doctor.

References

  1. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 21st ed.,2000, W. B. Saunders Company
  2. The 50th Annual St. Paul’s Hospital Continuing Medical Education Conference for Primary Physicians, Nov. 16 – 19, 2004, Vancouver,BC, Canada
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubm…: Dzugan SA, Rozakis GW, Dzugan KS, Emhof L, Dzugan SS, Xydas C, Michaelides C, Chene J, Medvedovsky M.: “Correction of steroidopenia as a new method of hypercholesterolemia treatment.” Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(1):77-81.
  4. Dr. John R. Lee, David Zava and Virginia Hopkins: “What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer – How hormone balance can help save your life”, Wellness Central, Hachette Book Group USA, 2005. On page 256 and 257 Dr. Lee describes how he uses progesterone as a cream to treat PMS.
  5. Dr. John R. Lee: “Natural Progesterone- The remarkable roles of a remarkable hormone”, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2nd edition, 1999, Bristol, England.

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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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Oct
12
2019

Naps For Heart Health

In an article published online Sept. 9, 2019 a Swiss research group mentions naps for heart health. Specifically, they observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped for 5 minutes to an hour once or twice per week had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. When the researchers constructed survival curves, people who did not nap had the worst survival curves. On the other hand, the persons who napped once or twice per week had the best survival curves. The ones who napped 3 to 5 times per week or 6 to 7 times per week were in between the other survival curves.

Naps for heart health with adrenal gland fatigue

Adrenal gland fatigue is one of the clinical conditions where we know that naps rebuild energy. This is a hormone weakness where the adrenal glands can have reduced hormone production. The location of our adrenal glands is right above the kidneys. These hormone glands have a circadian rhythm. The highest amount of adrenal gland hormones production occurs in the morning and there is a gradual decline throughout the day. Our meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as any snacks lead to mini peaks of the adrenal gland hormone production. If we get enough sleep, there is no excessive stress in our lives and we do not smoke or abuse alcohol and drugs, most people will not know that they have adrenal glands as they are quietly working in the background. However, your adrenal glands may function in the lower end of normal bordering to adrenal gland fatigue.

Power naps during the day can normalize your adrenal gland hormones

When you take a power nap during the day, your adrenal gland hormone production normalizes. This makes you feel good and energetic. Patients who have adrenal gland fatigue feel more energy when they remove sugar and refined carbs from their diet. They also feel more energy when they have small snacks halfway through the morning and afternoon. Vitamin C as a supplement is useful as it stabilizes adrenal gland hormone production.

Discussion of the Swiss research regarding naps for heart health

There was no medical explanation given regarding why napping prolongs life. But it is entirely possible that those people who unknowingly have borderline adrenal gland fatigue are responding to building up their adrenal gland production. We know from the literature that stress kills. It would make sense that if the ACTH/adrenal gland hormone system is functioning better, mortality would be reduced. From people in Spain that value their “siesta” during the early afternoon we know that they are doing something right. Their life expectancy was an impressive 82.83 years in 2016 compared to 78.69 years for the US average. 

Naps For Heart Health

Naps For Heart Health

Conclusion

A Swiss study observed 3462 subjects over 5.3 years. The ones who napped during the day for 5 minutes to an hour had 48% less heart attacks, strokes or heart failure than those who did not take naps during the day. This resulted in less mortality of those who napped during the day. The researchers had no explanation for this observation. When I reviewed the literature regarding adrenal gland fatigue, I was impressed by the fact that many borderline patients get help from power naps and snacks of food between meals. Their ACTH/cortisol production can normalize this way and they survive better. At this point we do not know for sure why a nap reduces heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. 

More about adrenal gland fatigue here.

Oct
05
2019

Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

New research showed that the breast cancer risk persists after hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This is described in this CNN article. It is common knowledge for some time that female patients who use synthetic hormones as hormone replacement in menopause, have a 1.6-fold to 1.8-fold risk to develop breast cancer. However, since the abrupt ending of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002 the truth about the risks of HRT became known and made HRT more confusing. After all, in this trial they wanted to show once and for all that HRT would be beneficial. The expectation was that HRT would prevent osteoporosis, heart attacks and breast cancer. But the results were quite different. Instead the study found a 41% increase in strokes, 29% increase in heart attacks, 26% increase in breast cancer, 22% increase in total cardiovascular disease and a doubling in the risk for blood clots.

Missing information about synthetic hormones

What the authors of the study did not explain was the fact that it was the properties of the synthetic hormones, progestagen and Premarin, that were responsible for the negative effects. Had researchers insisted to perform the study with bioidentical hormones, the results would have been quite the opposite! With bioidentical hormone replacement we see the prevention of heart attacks and clots; cancer rates are lower than controls, and the prevention of osteoporosis is another benefit. The end result is a reduction in mortality rates. These horrifying results from the use of synthetic hormones still frighten many women. This is particularly so when it comes to replacing hormones after menopause.

Breast cancer risk study with HRT in more details

The research study described in the CNN article is based on this comprehensive Lancet study. The researchers did a Meta analysis of 58 prospective studies. Unfortunately all the hormones given were synthetic hormones (not bioidentical ones) that had the same configuration as in the WHI. On average women became menopausal at age 50. This is when the physicians commenced HRT. The prospective follow-up showed that 108,647 postmenopausal women developed breast cancer around the age of 65. 55,575 women (51%) had used HRT. Postmenopausal women who used estrogen/progestagen combinations during years 1–4 had a relative risk of 1.60-fold to develop breast cancer. This risk increased during years 5–14 after exposure to estrogen/progestagen with a relative risk of 2.08-fold to develop breast cancer. 

More details about breast cancer risks

The risk of developing breast cancer was lower when women took estrogen only as a form of HRT. For years 1-4 the relative breast cancer risk for patients on estrogen alone was only 1.17-fold. Regarding years 5-14 with estrogen-alone replacement the breast cancer risk was 1.33-fold.

Women of average weight who started their HRT of estrogen/progestagen pills at age 50 with menopause one woman in 50 users developed breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 69. In women who used estrogen regularly, but progestagen only irregularly, one in 70 users developed breast cancer. For estrogen only users one in every 200 women developed breast cancer.

Discussion of the above results

Dr. Wright and Dr. John Lee have pointed out years ago that there are alternatives to taking synthetic hormones as HRT. Taking oral synthetic hormone preparations is problematical. First, the pharmaceutical company attached chemical side chains to the synthetic hormones. The women’s estrogen receptors recognize the synthetic hormones only partially. Hormone researchers developed progestagen to mimic a woman’s progesterone. But it turns out that the estrogen receptors read progestagens like an estrogen. This is the reason why there are higher breast cancer rates with the combination of estrogen/progestagen than estrogen alone. Secondly, there is a problem of estrogen dominance, which causes a higher likelihood that the patient develops breast cancer or heart attacks.

Avoiding estrogen dominance reduces breast cancer risk

If estrogen is balanced with progesterone, the cancer promoting effect of estrogen is counterbalanced, and the women on bioidentical hormone replacement are protected from the serious side effects women of the WHI had to endure.

Bioidentical estrogen applications are available through creams that women apply to the skin. This avoids the problem of the first-pass effect; if estrogens are absorbed from a pill in the gut they have to pass through the liver, which is the organ that metabolizes them.

Bioidentical hormone replacement as an alternative to HRT

In Europe there has been a strong resistance to using synthetic hormones. As a result long-term studies were able to show that there is no danger when bioidentical hormone replacements therapy uses creams that are applied to the skin or intravaginally. This avoids the first-pass effect in the liver, as is the case with synthetic estrogens and progestagens taken orally as pills.

John Lee stated that physicians should measure hormones and identify those women who are truly hormone deficient. These are the ones who need hormone replacement. However, physicians should use only bioidentical hormones in a hormone replacement therapy. And they should also replace only as much as necessary to normalize the hormone levels. This is also the level where postmenopausal symptoms disappear. Dr. Lee noted: “A 10-year French study of HRT using a low-dose estradiol patch plus oral progesterone shows no increased risk of breast cancer, strokes or heart attacks”.

How is bioidentical hormone replacement done?

The best method is usually a bioidentical hormone cream application to the forearms or to the chest wall once per day. A woman on bioidentical hormone replacement applies bioidentical Bi-Est cream and progesterone cream to the skin of her forearms or chest wall. The hormones get directly absorbed into the blood stream and can do their job without interference. The treating physician can prescribe different amounts of the bioidentical hormones depending on saliva tests or blood tests. 1 or 2 months later repeat blood or saliva tests can follow to verify that the amounts of the replacement hormones and their absorption are adequate for the patient’s need.

Difficulties to measure progesterone levels

Dr. David Zava, PhD gave a talk on breast cancer risks. This was a presentation at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. Dr. Zava, who runs the ZRT laboratory, spent some time to explain how to measure progesterone in a physiological way.

Blood (serum) progesterone levels do not adequately reflect what the hormone tissue level is like in a woman’s breasts. On the other hand saliva hormone levels are giving an accurate account of what breast tissue levels are like.

Progesterone blood levels versus progesterone tissues levels

Dr. Zava gave an example of a woman who received an application of 30 mg of topical progesterone. Next, laboratory tests observed hourly progesterone levels in serum and saliva. The serum progesterone levels remained at around 2 ng/ml, while the saliva progesterone levels peaked 3 to 5 hours after the application. It reached 16 ng/ml in saliva, which also represents the breast tissue progesterone level. Dr. Zava said that the important lesson to learn from this is not to trust blood progesterone levels. Too many physicians fall into this trap and order too much progesterone cream based on a misleading low blood test. This leads to overdosing progesterone. With salivary progesterone levels it is possible to see the physiological tissue levels, which is impossible with blood tests. Dr. Zava emphasized that testing blood or urine as progesterone hormone tests will underestimate bio-potency and lead to overdosing the patient.

Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

Breast Cancer Risk Persists After Hormone Replacement Therapy

Conclusion

A new Meta analysis of 58 prospective studies with a large amount of participants showed that standard hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for postmenopausal women causes breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who used estrogen/progestagen combinations during years 1–4 after menopause had a relative risk of 1.60-fold to develop breast cancer. This risk increased during years 5–14 after exposure to estrogen/progestagen with a relative risk of 2.08-fold to develop breast cancer. Unfortunately all of the patients had received the standard Premarin estrogen and synthetic progestagen combination. The body’s estrogen receptors read both of these synthetic hormones as estrogen, which led to estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance (with missing natural progesterone) is known to cause breast cancer.

Comments and discussion of bioidentical hormone replacement (BHRT)

I have explained in my comment that the investigators should have used bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) instead of making a similar mistake as in the Women’s Health Initiative, where synthetic hormones caused cancer, heart attacks and blood clots.

Bioidentical hormone replacement is started with progesterone creams first in order to avoid estrogen dominance. After hormone tests estrogen is gradually introduced as Bi-Est cream applied to the skin and balanced with the progesterone. The physician orders blood estrogen levels and progesterone saliva hormone tests from time to time to monitor the hormone levels. No cancer occurs with bioidentical hormone replacement. It also protects from osteoporosis, heart attacks and strokes.

Part of this blog was published here before.

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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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Jun
08
2019

How Can We Prolong Our Lives?

The question “How can we prolong our lives?” is something that fascinates many people. It is not one thing, one activity, one diet, or one lifestyle factor that determines longevity. It is the combination of all of the things listed below that are necessary.

Longevity is partially inherited from your mother

The reason for this is that mitochondria in your body cells come from your mother’s body. As you know, the egg (ovum) contains the mitochondria (the energy packages of the cell). The sperm that is the winner penetrating the ovum is shedding the tail outside the ovum. The tail of the sperm had loads of mitochondria in it to give it the energy to wiggle its way up the Fallopian tube to meet the ovum. This is the reason why we all inherit our mitochondria from our mother. If there is longevity on your mother’s side, you likely will have the longevity gene as well. So, this certainly helps, but on the other hand, we cannot pick our ancestors! Don’t be discouraged! There is enough that you can do.

Diet

The best type of diet is a Mediterranean-type diet. There is a new fasting mimicking diet, that likely turns on latent longevity genes that need to be intermittently activated, if we are serious about wanting to increase longevity. Dr. Longo is the inventor of the fasting mimicking diet. I have discussed this in detail here. Briefly, it consists of eating 500 to 600 calories on 5 consecutive days. The rest of the month you eat normally. The important part is that Dr. Longo has shown in humans that telomeres get elongated by the 5-day protocol per month. Longer telomeres means longer life. This is what we want, because this adds life to our life expectancy!

Lifestyle

Don’t smoke and don’t do drugs. Drugs interfere with our hormone- and other cell surface receptors. Our body cells don’t like artificial chemicals from outside. Don’t overlook the fact, that alcohol is also a drug! Alcohol is a nerve and cell poison. It has been shown to even be toxic, so don’t drink all the time. If you want a drink here and there, you probably get away with it. But binge drinkers (6 drinks or more in one evening) are out of luck; their life expectancy is shorter than that of non-drinkers.

Exercise

Regular exercise recharges your mitochondria to give you extra energy. It conditions your heart and lungs and also your muscles. Many people think exercise would cause weight loss. But it is not leading to that much weight loss at all! What is more important is the fact that it is reducing the overall mortality from many diseases by up to 47%! Exercise also improves blood sugar control, energy levels and sleep patterns. There are also hidden benefits, as the heart is being conditioned and the lungs are improving their vital capacity from regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercises like running or using a treadmill. But muscle strength also benefits from regular exercise.

Get enough sleep

You need 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and it is best to go to sleep between 10 or 11 pm. During your sleep your brain is being renewed and your hormones are reloaded. There is a diurnal hormone rhythm that ensures you have enough energy for the following day. A Swedish study found that white-collar shift workers had a 260% higher mortality compared to a control group of daytime white collar workers: Shift work and mortality.

Vitamins and supplements

Some minimum vitamin and mineral supplements are helpful for longevity: Mornings: 2 capsules of molecularly distilled fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids). Two tablets of vitamin C 500 mg chewable, one capsule of 150mg of chelated magnesium, resveratrol 500mg, vitamin B complex B-50, zinc 30mg, vitamin K2 two capsules of 100 micrograms, vitamin D3 5000IU every morning, CoQ-10 400mg. Evenings: 2 capsules of molecularly distilled fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids). Vitamin B complex B-50, chelated magnesium 150mg, melatonin 3mg to fall asleep, valerian root 500mg capsule (if you have anxious thoughts); you may repeat melatonin and valerian root in the middle of the night, if you wake up at 2AM or 3AM in the morning.

Brief explanation for vitamin and mineral replacement

In case you wonder about the rationale of my suggestion for vitamin and mineral replacement, here is a brief explanation: vitamin C stimulates the adrenal glands and helps support the immune system. You get more energy and get fewer infections. Molecularly distilled fish oil is anti-inflammatory, helps prevent osteoporosis, but also prevents heart attacks by preventing inflammation of the arteries. Magnesium and zinc are co-factors in hundreds of biochemical reactions inside our cells, so this helps your metabolism.

Resveratrol an anti-aging supplement

Resveratrol is a bioflavonoid derived from red grapes. It has multiple beneficial effects. It lowers blood pressure, helps to control diabetes better and prevents osteoporosis. But resveratrol also elongates telomeres, which translated into a longer life and less diseases. B complex vitamins are good for energy and many metabolic processes. Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work together to get calcium out of our arteries and deposit calcium into our bones. This prevents osteoporosis, which is particularly important for postmenopausal women, but is also important for men. Resveratrol also prevents heart attacks and strokes. CoQ-10 is important to lower cholesterol, but also supports the metabolism of mitochondria, the energy packages of our cells.

Hormone deficiencies

We all know that there is menopause for women and andropause for men. But there are silent hormone deficiencies that are less well known. For instance melatonin secretion gets reduced fairly quickly after the age of 20. Between the age of 50 and 60 you are basically deficient for melatonin, so using a supplement of melatonin tablets would be very reasonable. Another hormone, namely human growth hormone (HGH) is very likely deficient in us by the time we are 50 to 60 years old. I will deal with this further below.

Menopause

Women get into menopause between 45 and 55, but they can get there earlier or later. Women are missing estrogen and progesterone. Many women were horrified by the Women’s Health Initiative result in 2002. But this trial involved synthetic hormones that the body did not like. So women got breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes from Premarin and Provera, both synthetic hormones. Had physicians been sensible and put them on bioidentical hormones instead, they would have prevented heart attacks, strokes and osteoporosis. They would also have prevented breast cancer and colon cancer. The proper way to replace missing hormones in women with menopause is to replace them with bioidentical progesterone cream and bioidentical estrogen cream.

Andropause

Men get into andropause between 55 and 65. The testicles will no longer provide the man with enough testosterone. This leads to lack of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, but also to more heart attacks, muscle weakness and a lack of energy. The problem is that there is not enough testosterone to stimulate the mitochondria. Mitochondria are very prominent in the heart muscle, skeletal muscles, but also in the brain. When the doctor confirms a lack of testosterone with blood tests, he orders replacement with bioidentical testosterone cream or by a simple testosterone injection twice per week. The man will feel better after a short period of time (4 to 6 weeks) as all his functions return back to normal.

Many speakers at anti-aging conferences, which I attend every December in Las Vegas, seem to agree that bioidentical hormone replacement adds 10 to 15 years of life both in men and women. It also gives people renewed energy, and they look younger.

Human growth hormone

Many people do not know that human growth hormone (HGH) is important for longevity in adults. In childhood it was important for bone growth. Growth hormone deficiency is the one factor that has been underestimated. The discussion of dwarfs in comparison to their healthy brothers and sisters showed us the following. Growth hormone production can add between 19 and 34 years (average 26.5 years) of life. Dr. Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium has done blood tests (IGF-1) and lately also 24-hour urine metabolite tests of growth hormone on aging patients and found that many were deficient with regard to HGH production. These were patients where Dr. Hertoghe already replaced their thyroid hormones, if abnormal and replaced their sex hormones when they were low.

Symptoms of human growth hormone deficiency

But they lost hair, developed old looking faces with wrinkles. In addition, a loss of subcutaneous fatty tissue is giving the face a hollow appearance. They also had muscle and joint pains and thin skin, particularly over the back of their hands.

Replacement of growth hormone

He replaced their missing HGH using daily HGH self-injection with a tiny needle (similar to diabetes injections). Within 1.5 to 3 years the wrinkles disappeared, the faces started to look younger and patients did feel younger. Their muscle and joint pains had disappeared and their hair grew back. The dosage range is between 0.1mg and 0.3mg, a tiny amount of HGH daily. This is not inexpensive, but some health care plans pay for this, as a lack of HGH is a true hormone deficiency.

How Can We Prolong Our Lives?

How Can We Prolong Our Lives?

Conclusion

I have given you an overview of the important elements of what increases longevity. The key is to have a healthy, balanced diet and leave junk food out. Don’t smoke and don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol. No alcohol consumption would be best, because alcohol essentially is a nerve poison and can lead to dementia. Exercise regularly to lower mortality and strengthen your heart and lungs. Get enough rest and sleep to refresh your diurnal hormone rhythm. When we age, it is important to keep an eye on our hormones. You need a physician who is knowledgeable about it.

Hormone replacement

Hormones that are missing need to be replaced by bioidentical hormones. In addition you need to know what the level of IGF-1 is. HGH controls the IGF-1 level. If IGF-1 is low, you need HGH replacement. Studies have shown that replacement of missing HGH may be able to add 2 decades of good life. All of the other hormones replaced by bioidentical hormones will add 10 to 15 years. As stated in the beginning, there is not one thing only that increases longevity, but a combination of all these factors.

First published here: https://www.quora.com/What-increases-longevity/answer/Ray-Schilling

Apr
13
2019

New Alzheimer’s Genes

A recent genetic study summarized in a CNN article describes the detection of new Alzheimer’s genes. First of all, it appears that Alzheimer’s genes and trigger factors have to interact to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Secondly, in a 2013 study the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project had examined a population of 75,000 Alzheimer’s patients. Thirdly, in a new Feb. 28, 2019 publication of the same research group the population of Alzheimer’s disease patients had been enlarged to 94,437. This gives the study a higher statistical power. Previously the group had identified 20 genetic risk loci for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD). In the 2019 study 5 new genetic loci for Alzheimer’s disease were identified. Specifically, one of them is the neurological and immune-mediated disease haplotype HLA-DR15. It is a risk factor for LOAD.

Reconfirmation of some older Alzheimer’s research findings

Notably, this latter finding shows that immunity, lipid metabolism, tau binding proteins, and amyloid precursor protein (APP) metabolism are all sharing a connection in the development of late Alzheimer’s disease. In the past they have been implicated in the development of familiar Alzheimer’s disease. Now it became apparent that changes in the immune system, changes in the lipid metabolism and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease have an association also in late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Research from 2016 showed that in obese patients the metabolic syndrome can indeed trigger the genotype CYP46 to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

It seems that a variety of factors, like the CYP46 genotype and the metabolic syndrome with elevated cholesterol levels are interacting to cause amyloid beta plaques. In addition, neurofibrillary tangles from tau protein deposits are also part of the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. These appear to lead to damage of nerve cells.

Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease

Inasmuch as it has become clear how many factors have to come together to trigger the development of Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to point out the factors that counter the development of Alzheimer’s.

Several genetic loci have to work together to cause Alzheimer’s

Research has defined many genetic loci tcyphat have impact on the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have stated that in order to develop Alzheimer’s disease several of these genes and risk factors that trigger the genes into action must occur in combination. This is in contrast to Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease where only one genetic mutation causes the disease.

Resveratrol

Certainly, this powerful antioxidant from the skin of red grapes has a positive effect on early Alzheimer’s patients with improvement of their memory.

Correction of hormone deficiencies

With older age many of our hormones are decreasing or vanishing. But replacement of the missing hormones with bioidentical hormones has shown to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This link explains that replacement of low testosterone in males and estrogen replacement in females is important to prevent Alzheimer’s. In addition, in women progesterone also has a neuroprotective function. Melatonin in both sexes is a powerful anti-oxidant hormone that preserves brain tissue. Thyroid hormone, if low, also needs replacement to maintain memory.

Other lifestyle factors affecting the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

Sugar and too much starchy food

Heavy consumption of starchy foods like potatoes, rice, bread and pasta as well as sugar are risk major factors. They contribute to the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar consumption (and starch, which gets metabolized within 30 minutes into sugar) causes oxidization of LDL cholesterol and plaque formation of all the blood vessels including the ones going to the brain. On the long-term this causes memory loss due to a lack of nutrients and oxygen flowing into the brain.

Lack of exercise

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. Exercise also increases mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins.

Vitamin D intake

A 2014 study showed that a low vitamin D level had a strong association with a high risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, the findings were as follows.

  • Vitamin D level of less than 10 ng/ml: 122% increased risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Vitamin D level 10 to 20 ng/ml: 51% increased risk of Alzheimer’s

The same research group found in two trials that vitamin D deficiency leads to visual memory decline, but not to verbal memory decline.

Generally supplements of vitamin D3 of 5000 IU to 8000 IU are the norm now. But some patients are poor absorbers and they may require more- up to 15,000 IU per day. The physician can easily determine what the patient needs in the dosage of vitamin D3 by doing repeat vitamin D blood levels (as 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels). The goal is to reach a level of 50-80 ng/ml. The optimal level with regard to nmol/L is 80 to 200, according to Rocky Mountain Analytical, Calgary, AB, Canada.

Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation leads to memory loss, but so does the use of aspartame, the artificial sweetener of diet sodas. Make your own homemade lemonade. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon. Add mineral water to fill an 8 oz. glass. Add a tiny bit of stevia extract for sweetening. Stir and enjoy. Stevia has been in use for thousands of years and is non-toxic contrary to other artificial sweeteners.

Avoid insulin overproduction

I already mentioned the effect of sugar consumption above. But here I am mentioning it again because of the insulin reaction to sugar. An overload of refined carbs leads to an overstimulation of the pancreas pouring out insulin. Too much insulin (hyperinsulinemia) causes hormonal disbalance and leads to diabetes type 3, the more modern name for Alzheimer’s. All starch is broken down by amylase into sugar, which means that anybody who consumes starchy food gets a sugar rush as well. Too much sugar in the blood oxidizes LDL cholesterol, which leads to inflammation in the body. The consequence of chronic inflammation is as follows: hardening of the arteries, strokes, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and brain atrophy, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and cancer. It is because of this that a Mediterranean diet or a MIND diet is a sensible pollution for Alzheimer’s patients. Both of these diets have been shown to be anti-inflammatory.

New Alzheimer's Genes

New Alzheimer’s Genes

Conclusion

At the present time research knows of a total of 25 genetic risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease. It appears that they have to interact, and lifestyle factors can be a trigger to cause Alzheimer’s disease. This means that we can interfere with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Get into some form of regular exercise like swimming, walking or Yoga exercises. Refrain from eating sweets and starchy foods. Adopt a Mediterranean diet or a MIND diet. Replace any missing hormones with bioidentical ones to re-establish your hormone balance. Watch your vitamin D3 intake. We need a lot more of it than what was previously known t to prevent the onset of this disease. Ensure you get enough sleep. This helps your brain to regenerate overnight. A resveratrol supplement every day will improve your memory, as a study has shown.

These are some of the easy steps you can do to avoid getting Alzheimer’s disease.

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