Archive for August, 2008

Dangers of Statin Drugs – Part III

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Enter the Statins

Statin drugs entered the market with great promise. They replaced a class of pharmaceuticals that lowered cholesterol by preventing its absorption from the gut. These drugs often had immediate and unpleasant side effects, including nausea, indigestion and constipation, and in the typical patient they lowered cholesterol levels only slightly. Patient compliance was low: the benefit did not seem worth the side effects and the potential for use very limited. By contrast, statin drugs had no immediate side effects: they did not cause nausea or indigestion and they were consistently effective, often lowering cholesterol levels by 50 points or more. During the last 20 years, the industry has mounted an incredible promotional campaign–enlisting scientists, advertising agencies, the media and the medical profession in a blitz that turned the statins into one of the bestselling pharmaceuticals of all time. Sixteen million Americans now take Lipitor, the most popular statin, and drug company officials claim that 36 million Americans are candidates for statin drug therapy. What bedevils the industry is growing reports of side effects that manifest many months after the commencement of therapy; the November 2003 issue of Smart Money magazine reports on a 1999 study at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (apparently unpublished), which found that 36 percent of patients on Lipitor’s highest dose reported side effects; even at the lowest dose, 10 percent reported side effects.

Muscle Pain and Weakness

The most common side effect is muscle pain and weakness, a condition called rhabdomyolysis, most likely due to the depletion of Co-Q10, a nutrient that supports muscle function. Dr. Beatrice Golomb of San Diego, California is currently conducting a series of studies on statin side effects. The industry insists that only 2-3 percent of patients get muscle aches and cramps but in one study, Golomb found that 98 percent of patients taking Lipitor and one-third of the patients taking Mevachor (a lower-dose statin) suffered from muscle problems. A message board devoted to Lipitor at forum.ditonline.com (update 09 JUL 2007: reader alerted us the forum is now defunct) contained more than 800 posts, many detailing severe side effects. The Lipitor board at www.rxlist.com contains more than 2,600 posts (click on Message Boards at upper left and then choose Lipitor; also note that as of 09 JUL 2007 there are 3,857 messages).The test for muscle wasting or rhabdomyolysis is elevated levels of a chemical called creatine kinase (CK). But many people experience pain and fatigue even though they have normal CK levels.
Tahoe City resident Doug Peterson developed slurred speech, balance problems and severe fatigue after three years on Lipitor–for two and a half years, he had no side effects at all.5 It began with restless sleep patterns–twitching and flailing his arms. Loss of balance followed and the beginning of what Doug calls the “statin shuffle”–a slow, wobbly walk across the room. Fine motor skills suffered next. It took him five minutes to write four words, much of which was illegible. Cognitive function also declined. It was hard to convince his doctors that Lipitor could be the culprit, but when he finally stopped taking it, his coordination and memory improved. John Altrocchi took Mevacor for three years without side effects; then he developed calf pain so severe he could hardly walk. He also experienced episodes of temporary memory loss. For some, however, muscle problems show up shortly after treatment begins. Ed Ontiveros began having muscle problems within 30 days of taking Lipitor. He fell in the bathroom and had trouble getting up. The weakness subsided when he went off Lipitor. In another case, reported in the medical journal Heart, a patient developed rhabdomyolysis after a single dose of a statin. Heel pain from plantar fascitis (heel spurs) is another common complaint among those taking statin drugs. One correspondent reported the onset of pain in the feet shortly after beginning statin treatment. She had visited an evangelist, requesting that he pray for her sore feet. He enquired
whether she was taking Lipitor. When she said yes, he told her that his feet had also hurt when he took Lipitor.

Active people are much more likely to develop problems from statin use than those who are sedentary. In a study carried out in Austria, only six out of 22 athletes with familial hypercholesterolemia were able to endure statin
treatment. The others discontinued treatment because of muscle pain.By the way, other cholesterol-lowering agents besides statin drugs can cause joint pain and muscle weakness. A report in Southern Medical Journal described muscle pains and weakness in a man who took Chinese red rice, an herbal preparation that lowers cholesterol. Anyone suffering from myopathy, fibromyalgia, coordination problems and fatigue needs to look at low cholesterol plus Co-Q10 deficiency as a possible cause.

The Westen Price Foundation, Statin Drugs, June 2004
http://www.westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/statin.html

(Final part IV to follow)

Dangers of Statin Drugs – Part II

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Of course, statins inhibit the production of cholesterol–they do this very well. Nowhere is the failing of our medical system more evident than in the wholesale acceptance of cholesterol reduction as a way to prevent disease–have all these doctors forgotten what they learned in biochemistry 101 about the many roles of cholesterol in the human biochemistry? Every cell membrane in our body contains cholesterol because cholesterol is what makes our cells waterproof–without cholesterol we could not have a different biochemistry on the inside and the outside of the cell. When cholesterol levels are not adequate, the cell membrane becomes leaky or porous, a situation the body interprets as an emergency, releasing a flood of corticoid hormones that work by sequestering cholesterol from one part of the body and transporting it to areas where it is lacking. Cholesterol is the body’s repair substance: scar tissue contains high levels of cholesterol, including scar tissue in the arteries.

Cholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D, necessary for numerous biochemical processes including mineral metabolism. The bile salts, required for the digestion of fat, are made of cholesterol. Those who suffer from low cholesterol often have trouble digesting fats. Cholesterol also functions as a powerful antioxidant, thus protecting us against cancer and aging.

Cholesterol is vital to proper neurological function. It plays a key role in the formation of memory and the uptake of hormones in the brain, including serotonin, the body’s feel-good chemical. When cholesterol levels drop too low, the serotonin receptors cannot work. Cholesterol is the main organic molecule in the brain, constituting over half the dry weight of the cerebral cortex.

Finally, cholesterol is the precursor to all the hormones produced in the adrenal cortex including glucocorticoids, which regulate blood sugar levels, and mineralocorticoids, which regulate mineral balance. Corticoids are the cholesterol-based adrenal hormones that the body uses in response to stress of various types; it promotes healing and balances the tendency to inflammation. The adrenal cortex also produces sex hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, out of cholesterol. Thus, low cholesterol–whether due to an innate error of metabolism or induced by cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs–can be expected to disrupt the production of adrenal hormones and lead to blood sugar problems, edema, mineral deficiencies, chronic inflammation, difficulty in healing, allergies, asthma, reduced libido, infertility and various reproductive problems.

The Westen Price Foundation, Statin Drugs, June 2004
http://www.westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/statin.html

(Part III to follow)

 

Dangers of Statin Drugs

Friday, August 29th, 2008

What You Haven’t Been Told About Popular Cholesterol-Lowering Medicines
By Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD

Hypercholesterolemia is the health issue of the 21st century. It is actually an invented disease, a “problem” that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood. High cholesterol exhibits no outward signs–unlike other conditions of the blood, such as diabetes or anemia, diseases that manifest telltale symptoms like thirst or weakness–hypercholesterolemia requires the services of a physician to detect its presence.

Many people who feel perfectly healthy suffer from high cholesterol–in fact, feeling good is actually a symptom of high cholesterol!

Doctors who treat this new disease must first convince their patients that they are sick and need to take one or more expensive drugs for the rest of their lives, drugs that require regular checkups and blood tests. But such doctors do not work in a vacuum–their efforts to convert healthy people into patients are bolstered by the full weight of the US government, the media and the medical establishment, agencies that have worked in concert to disseminate the cholesterol dogma and convince the population that high cholesterol is the forerunner of heart disease and possibly other diseases as well.

Who suffers from hypercholesterolemia? Peruse the medical literature of 25 or 30 years ago and you’ll get the following answer: any middle-aged man whose cholesterol is over 240 with other risk factors, such as smoking or overweight. After the Cholesterol Consensus Conference in 1984, the parameters changed; anyone (male or female) with cholesterol over 200 could receive the dreaded diagnosis and a prescription for pills. Recently that number has been moved down to 180. If you have had a heart attack, you get to take cholesterol-lowering medicines even if your cholesterol is already very low–after all, you have committed the sin of having a heart attack so your cholesterol must therefore be too high. The penance is a lifetime of cholesterol-lowering medications along with a boring lowfat diet. But why wait until you have a heart attack? Since we all labor under the stigma of original sin, we are all candidates for treatment. Current edicts stipulate cholesterol testing and treatment for young adults and even children.

The drugs that doctors use to treat the new disease are called statins–sold under a variety of names including Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin) and Pravachol (pravastatin).

The Westen Price Foundation, Statin Drugs, June 2004
http://www.westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/statin.html

(Part II to follow)

Food for Thought

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

In Dr. Andrew Weil’s July Newsletter he points out the value of watching which foods you eat.

Learning that omega-3 helps as an anti-inflammatory fatty acid and the anti-inflammatory fatty acids are also good for brain health, Dr. Weil mentions four foods that are especially good as brain boosting foods.

Salmon Many studies have shown the importance of omega-3 fatty acids for the brain, and newer research suggests that DHA is especially good in preventing cognitive decline.

Leafy greens Leafy greens loaded with vitamin E are vital to overall health – especially brain health. Vitamin E is better absorbed when combined with fat so a great salad of greens with olive oil is just the ticket.

Turmeric Turmeric gives curry its vibrant color and has already been linked to the low incidence of dementia among elder villagers in India. Researchers in Singapore found that seniors who regularly ate curry did better on cognitive tests than those who rarely ate it. In animal studies, turmeric has also been shown to prevent buildup of plaque which is associated with Alzheimer’s.

Berries Cranberries and raspberries have the highest concentration of antioxidants among fruits and may help protect against brain cell degeneration. A new British study shows that eating plenty of blueberries enhances the spatial memory and learning.

(Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing, July 2008)

omega-3 test results

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

ConsumerLab releases omega-3 test results

By Lorraine Heller

Independent product tester ConsumerLab.com has given the thumbs up to almost 50 omega-3 dietary supplements and functional foods for delivering on dosage and being contaminant-free.

This is good news for those taking omega-3 food supplements. There is enough hype so this is good news.

05-Aug-2008 –The report, released today, is the group’s most comprehensive analysis of fish oils to date, said ConsumerLab president Tod Cooperman. The large majority (85 percent) of visitors to the organization’s site are consumers looking for independent information on which products to purchase.

A total of 50 omega-3 fish oil supplements, foods and beverages were tested for contaminants and dosage (including two marketed for pets). Out of these, 23 were randomly selected by ConsumerLab to provide a “snapshot” of the market based on popular products found at different retail outlets. The other 27 products were tested at the request of their manufacturers, through ConsumerLab’s Voluntary Certification Program.

According to the results, all products met their label claims in regard to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) levels, with levels ranging from16 mg in a yogurt product to 1,000mg in a single pill.

In addition, all of the products tested were free of contaminants common in fish, including mercury, lead and PCBs. These contaminants have been associated with fish oil supplements in the past, and Consumerlab suggested cleaner fish stocks as well as improved processing had contributed to the glowing report card.

Nordic Naturals was one of those omega-3 tested and I’m happy to report that I have no fish oil taste from taking them.

Massage

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Massage has been going on for more than 120 years, yet many people do not take advantage of it. Some people think of massage as an expensive luxury.

Studies have shown there are health benefits. They have shown massage helps in decreasing blood pressure in hypertensive people. It has also reduced or eliminated pain with those who suffer migraine headaches.

From my own experience I know how massage relaxes muscles and lowers tension.

Other studies show that office workers were more alert after receiving regular massages. Even autistic children showed less erratic behavior after massage therapy.

Massage also helps in faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments.

Massage helps in improving immune functions, stimulating muscle tissue and helping with blood flow throughout the body. This in turn helps with a wide range of medical conditions such as anxiety, circulation, depression, headaches and all types of stress.

There are different types of massage so ask your massage therapist about the benefits of each. Remember every person is different and there is no “one size fits all” in massage.

Lessons to Learn from Tim Russert’s Death

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Lessons to Learn from Tim Russert’s Death
By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C. <http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/authors/stephen-t-sinatra-md-facc> on August 01, 2008 in       Heart Health <http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/heart-health>

I was deeply saddened when I heard about the sudden death of Tim Russert, the host of TV’s popular “Meet the Press.” He was 58, at the top of his career, when an arterial plaque ruptured. A resultant blood clot apparently caused ventricular fibrillation, a wild arrhythmia that effectively stopped the normal pumping activity of his heart muscle-a classical and deadly scenario in cardiovascular disease. Russert had asymptomatic coronary disease that was under control with medication and exercise, his doctor said.

This headline death carries multiple messages for all of us. It brings attention to one of the most insidious realities in cardiology. Ninety percent of the time, people with coronary artery disease are asymptomatic. And 50 percent of the time, the very first symptom is sudden death. Some 300,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrest each year without knowing they have heart disease. Russert was conscientious about his health. He knew he had heart disease, was being treated for it, but it still didn’t help him.
If a patient complains of typical symptoms like jaw or chest pain, we can jump on those clues, do the tests, and start treatment aimed at stabilizing plaque and preventing a heart attack. At least we have a chance to head off a disaster. Sometimes we may only be able to delay it.
Russert’s death reminds us all of our vulnerability in the fast-paced nature of our society. In his case, it looked like he had just taken an overnight flight from Europe and was busy working the day he died. Modern life is full of ups and downs, and stress and pressure that affect the heart in a way that most people, even doctors, don’t fully appreciate. Stress kills, accelerating arterial disease and its most powerful risk factors: blood pressure, heart rhythm disturbances, insulin resistance, the tendency to clot, smoking, alcohol, drug use, and insomnia. On top of that, our arteries are besieged by mercury, lead, sugar, bacteria, and other damaging inflammatory agents.
Russert’s death evoked multiple flashbacks to my days as a young cardiologist when I lived in fear of patients dropping dead while I treated them. I saw it happened too many times: a truck driver stressed by traffic and delivery deadlines, a businessman who couldn’t take the pressure anymore, a person fired from a job, somebody going through a nasty divorce, and even my own father who died in my arms from sudden cardiac death. I’ve seen many life dramas end in the emergency room or my office. They are the most devastating situation that occurs in medicine.
Years ago in this pressure cooker situation I rapidly became aware of my own vulnerability. and I started popping aspirin. I remember one high-level attorney I was treating in my office who was having an acute heart attack. He refused to go to the emergency room. I said I would drive him myself. It was only a short three-minute ride. Reflexively, I pulled out an aspirin and started chewing it.
“Why are you doing that?” he said.
“Because I am afraid I am going to have a heart attack dealing with you,” I answered.
He got the message. He saw that I was serious, that he could really die, so he relented. I drove him to the emergency room and we had a happy ending.
More than fifteen years ago I learned about fish oil, which became the main weapon in my anti-plaque program. Fish oil protects against sudden cardiac death, as was first discovered by Danish researchers back in the 1970s. They found that Greenland Eskimos had a low incidence of heart attacks compared to Westerners. The Danes linked the hardiness of Eskimo hearts to a diet with abundant fish oil, which they felt had potential anti-atherosclerotic benefits. This original study inspired more than 4,500 scientific investigations of fish oil on metabolism and health, and resulted in repeated confirmation of cardiovascular benefits.
One of the most impressive studies was the famous GISSI prevention trial in Italy during the 1990s. In this study, researchers monitored more than eleven thousand highly vulnerable patients who had suffered a recent heart attack. They found that the patients who took a 1 gram supplement of fish oil daily had a dramatic decrease in sudden death of more than 40 percent compared to non-supplemented patients. These results are rendered even more extraordinary by the fact that all the patients in the study were being treated with standard medication and, in general, eating a protective Mediterranean diet.
When you ingest fish oil it gets within the structure of any arterial plaque within three days, making the plaque much less prone to rupture. Fish oil reduces inflammation, improves the variability of the heart rate, and makes the blood less sticky. Those are all cardiology goals.
I don’t know if Tim Russert took fish oil. I do know that a lot of doctors fail to recommend fish oil to their patients despite all the research. Last year a survey was conducted among Washington State family physicians to determine their prescribing frequency of fish oil supplements as a form of prevention against heart disease. Fully 99 percent of them agreed on the importance of nutrition in preventing cardiovascular disease and 57 percent knew of fish oil’s effectiveness, but only 17 percent prescribed it to any significant degree! That’s a serious disconnect, and a tragic one in my opinion.
If there is one thing I consistently rely on for my cardiac patients, it is adding fish oil to their plaque stabilization and prevention program. It can make the difference between life and death! Preventively, everybody on the planet should be getting some fish oil-at least one gram a day through the diet (good quality fish like wild salmon) or a supplement. For existing heart disease I recommend 2 grams.

Study sheds light on bee decline threatening crops

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

Study sheds light on bee decline threatening crops

By Sarah Hills

Source: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/

(Since bees pollinate about 120 of our crops I thought this an interesting article)

20-Aug-2008 – Researchers may be a step closer to explaining the mysterious decline in the bee population in the US which has caused alarm in the food industry over honey supplies and crops dependent on bees for pollination.

A study by researchers at the University of Toronto suggests that a disease is being spread to wild bumble bees from commercially reared bumble bees used to pollinate greenhouse crops, and this could be a factor in declining populations.

It concluded that improved management of domestic bees, for example by reducing their parasite loads and their contact with wild bees, could diminish or even eliminate the spread of disease.

The research, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, said: “The conservation of insect pollinators is drawing attention because of reported declines in bee species and the ‘ecosystem services’ they provide. This issue has been brought to a head by recent devastating losses of honey bees throughout North America, so called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), yet we still have little understanding of the cause(s) of bee declines.

“Wild bumble bees have also suffered serious declines and circumstantial evidence suggests that pathogen ‘spillover’ from commercially reared bumble bees, which are used extensively to pollinate greenhouse crops, is a possible cause.”

In North America, greenhouses have used commercial bumble bees extensively for the pollination of tomato and bell pepper. Generally, bee pollination is valued at $15b annually to US agriculture and honey bees are responsible for pollinating more than 130 different crops.

For the last few winters, more than 25 per cent of the US honey bee population has vanished, with early reports from beekeepers indicating this phenomenon was continuing in 2008.

The various reasons for the decline in bees include poor nutrition, invasive mites and CCD, where bees from a colony desert the hive and die.

Trans Fatty Acids

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Trans fatty acids are found in many fried foods including French fries and fried chicken. You will also find them in the form of partially hydrogenated oil in many packaged foods such as doughnuts, cookies and crackers. It is interesting as you learn about these foods to read the labels on each item that you buy in the store. In the United States the fat content in a typical French fry is about 40% trans fatty acids.

“The process of hydrogenation was developed primarily because, in contrast to saturated and unsaturated fats, hydrogenated fats can be stored almost indefinitely and do not need to be refrigerated. That artificial stability, however, had led to a high health cost, which a whole generation is now paying for. Trans fatty acids are now known to increase blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol, while lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol. This is one of the many factors, along with obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor nutrition, that have led to heart disease and stroke being the top causes for death and disability in the industrial world. A 1993 study by W. C. Willett and colleagues found that men who consume the most trans fatty acids have twice the risk of developing heart disease as those men who consume the least. Additionally, because of the unnatural folding at their double carbon bonds, trans fatty acids require the body to use extra enzymes to process them; these enzymes are then unavailable for processing the essential fatty acids that make up cell membranes.”

Since 2006 the FDA requires food manufacturers to list the content of trans fatty acids.

Dr. Maroon was the source of most of this information.

Saturated versus Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Dave asked the question about “hydrogenation”

Let me give a little information on these saturated and unsaturated fatty acids from Dr. Maroon.

“Fatty acids can be grouped into two categories: those whose hydrocarbon chains are fully saturated with hydrogen atoms and those whose chains are not. Carbon atoms have only four ‘open’ bonds available. In a fatty-acid hydrocarbon chain, at least two of those bonds connect each carbon atom to adjacent carbon atoms. When the remaining two bonds for all the carbon atoms in the chain are uniformly filled with hydrogen atoms, a fatty acid is ‘saturated.’ Fats made of saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature.

“If a carbon atom in the hydrocarbon chain is double-bonded to an adjacent carbon atom, however, leaving just one bond available for hydrogen, it is ‘unsaturated,’ because a hydrogen atom is now missing from the hydrocarbon chain. Fats made of unsaturated fatty acids are liquid at room temperature. An unsaturated fatty acid containing just one double bond is called monounsaturated. Fatty acids that have multiple double bonds are called polyunsaturated.

“Corn oil has a high concentration of linoleic acid. Because linoleic acid is polyunsaturated, corn oil is liquid at room temperature. If you wanted to solidify it, you must subject it to high heat to break some of the double carbon bonds and add hydrogen atoms to more fully saturate the fatty acids. The process of saturating the fatty acid hydrocarbon chains with hydrogen is called hydrogenation, and it creates partially hydrogenated oil, which is the main ingredient in vegetable shortening and margarine. A byproduct of this artificial saturation is trans fatty acid.

Trans Fatty Acids

“Unsaturated fatty acids have double carbon bonds that come in two forms: trans and cis. These two forms are differentiated by the direction of folding that occurs at the double bonds, which affects the location of the hydrogen atoms bonded to the double-bonded carbon atoms. Unsaturated fatty acids in their natural form are cis fatty acids, in which the folding is in the ‘right’ direction and the hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double bond. This shape allows cis fatty acids to be more easily incorporated into cell membranes and allows for the membranes’ fluidity and functional activities.

“Trans fatty acids are chemically identical to cis fatty acids but fold in an unnatural direction at the double bonds. The unnatural folding results from the application of high heat, whether during the hydrogenation process or in cooking (such as in deep-fat frying).”

[Dr. Maroon has the charts for Linoleic Acid and Alpha-Linolenic Acid on pages 35 and 36 in FISH OIL: THE NATURAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. The information for this article is also taken from these pages.]