Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Many so-called experts will tell you not to worry about taking vitamins if you are eating a balanced diet. Unfortunately, dieting alone can’t provide enough essential vitamins and minerals to promote optimal health. For instance, you would need to consume 5,000 calories per day (mostly fat) in order to get the recommend minimum (400 IU) of vitamin E, and 12,000 calories per day to get the minimum amount of chromium. Most of our foods are processed and, therefore, the nutrients have been leeched out of them. Could this be one of the reasons pre-senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have increased so dramatically over the last few decades?
Thousands of studies validate the benefits of taking a multivitamin/mineral formula on a daily basis. These studies have been reported in medical journals, popular newspapers and magazines. A good multivitamin/mineral formula offers a broad range of health benefits. Taking a daily multivitamin/mineral formula reduces the incidence of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, glaucoma, depression, macular degeneration, diabetes, senile dementia, and various cancers.
1. Multivitamin Use Is Associated With Lowering A Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine states that an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, C-reactive protein (CRP), can be reduced by the intake of a multivitamin. An elevated CRP level found in one’s blood serum is associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Source: American Journal of Medicine, Volume 115, Issue 9
2. Daily Multivitamin Use May Bring Significant Savings To Older Americans. According to a this study, the daily use of a multivitamin by older adults could bring about more than $1.6 billion in Medicare savings over the next five years.
3. Slash Cancer Odds. Taking 200 micrograms of selenium daily for four and a half years cut cancer rate 42 percent and cancer deaths in half in a group of 1300 individuals. The incidence of colorectal cancer dropped 64 percent and prostate cancer an amazing 69 percent! University of Arizona Study.
4. Prevent Alzheimer’s. Not a single elderly person who took separate doses of vitamin E (200-800 IU) or vitamin C (500-1000 mg) developed Alzheimer’s disease during a four-year double blind study. Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging.
5. Boost Immune System. Taking 200 IU of natural vitamin E daily boosted immune functioning in older people. A supplement with only 60 mg of vitamin E daily did not improve immune functioning. Obviously, superior immune functioning lessens infections, possibly cancer and heart disease. Tufts University Study
6. Stop Heart Attacks. A daily dose of 400-800 IU of natural vitamin E cut subsequent heart attacks in men with heart problems by an astonishing 77 percent. Cambridge University, England.
7. Stop Strokes. High doses of B vitamins decreased the amount of plaque in carotid (neck) arteries by 10 percent during a four-year study. Blocked carotid arteries can cause strokes. Plaque increased by 50 percent in non-vitamin B takers. University of Toronto.
8. Prevent Fractures. Taking 500 mg of calcium and 700 IU of vitamin D daily for three years significantly cut the rate of bone loss and non-vertebral fractures in men and women older than age 65. Tufts University Study.
9. Save Vision. Women taking vitamin C supplements cut their risk of cataracts by 77 per cent. Tufts University and the National Institutes of Health.
10. Prolong Life. Taking vitamin E and vitamin C (in higher doses than in a multivitamin) cut chances of death from all causes by 42 percent. Vitamin E users were 47 percent less apt to die of heart disease and 59 percent less likely to die of cancer. National Institute on Aging.
11. Help Decrease The Risk Of Stroke. According to researchers from Harvard, the long-term dietary intake of folate and vitamin B12 may help decrease the risk of ischemic stroke. Source: Stroke, Volume 35, 2004
12. Vitamin C Deficiency May Be Linked To Respiratory Disorders. In a two-year study, researchers found that vitamin C may prevent symptoms linked to airway diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Volume 101, Number 10, 2004
Almost as unacceptable as not recommending vitamin and mineral supplements is the recommendation of them based on the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). The RDA is the measured amount or dosage of nutrient per vitamin and minerals recommend. The RDA or as I call it the Recommended DiseaseAallowance, may keep you from getting Scurvy, but it certainly won’t stand- up to the many chronic diseases that continue to plague modern man.
The U.S. federal government sets these levels based on the “average adult.” The “average person plan” assumes that you are an adult under 60 years old who is in good health, has normal digestion, isn’t overweight, leads a relatively stress-free life, has no medical problems, doesn’t take any medication, eats a balanced diet, and consumes 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Needless to say, most of us don’t fit into the definition of the average person defined by RDA. In fact, most adult women don’t meet the RDA for zinc, Vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin E. Likewise, most adult men don’t meet the RDA for zinc and magnesium. Fewer than 29% of people eat 5 fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Furthermore, 20% of the U.S. population doesn’t eat ANY fruits or vegetables at all!
The recommended daily allowance is some fifty years out of date. It was never intended to advance health, only to prevent malnutrition diseases like scurvy or rickets. Taking the minimum amount of a nutrient to prevent gross deficiency diseases doesn’t help those people who want to be truly healthy and not just be free of symptoms.
The RDA is inadequate if your goal is for prevention and or treatment of heart disease, cancer, cataracts, depression, senility, diabetes, arthritis and other age related disorders. For optimal health and well-being, many health practitioners are recommending many times higher than the RDA on certain nutrients. It’s no secret, for the majority of the U.S. population the diet is poorly lacking in essential nutrients. Additionally, nearly all Americans are deficient even in the minimal RDA requirements, and are therefore exposed to premature death.
Taking an optimal daily allowance multivitamin/mineral formula is the best way to ensure you obtain and maintain optimal health.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Neurontin for Everything?
How does a drug company take an unproven, worthless, and potentially dangerous drug like Neurontin, and turn it into a billion dollar blockbuster? Through deceit, lies, and bribery, reports New York Times health writer and author Melody Peterson.
Peterson, in her book "Our Daily Meds," reveals the chicanery, pseudoscience, and greed behind the marketing of many of today's well-known drugs.
The history of one drug in particular, Neurontin, shows just how deceitful, ruthless, and cold-hearted some drug executives can be.
The original clinical studies evaluating the efficacy of Neurontin for treating epilepsy were less than impressive.
The studies not only showed that the drug was ineffective, and potentially dangerous, but that in 5-10% of patients it actually increased the frequency and severity of the epileptic seizures.
The FDA found the drug be worthless and had grave concerns over its potential dangers. But, eventually they gave in to pressure and allowed Neurontin to be marketed as a second line drug. This meant that it was to be used only after other epilepsy drugs had first been tried and failed.
No problem - drug executives were determined to make Neurontin into a million dollar blockbusting drug and a little thing like science wasn't going to stop them.
It didn't matter that legitimate research had proven that Neurontin was ineffective in the 10 conditions it was being promoted for, including attention deficit disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, mood disorders, migraines, and bi-polar disorder.
Worried the scientific truth may interfere with their plans for establishing Neurontin as a block buster, Pfizer sought to cover-up these studies including the one showing Neurontin was no better than a placebo in reducing diabetic nerve pain- "I think we can limit the potential down sides of the study by delaying the publication for as long a possible...it will be more important to how we write up the study."
Realizing that new studies would be expensive and most likely negative, they aggressively hatched a plan to ignore science, clinic trials, and morals, and began to market Neurontin for an assortment of chronic illnesses.
John Ford, a senior marketing executive had this to say at one sales meeting, "Neurontin for pain, Neurontin for monotherapy, Neurontin for bi-polar, Neurontin for everything."
Not to be out done Phil Magistro a senior level sales executive left a voice message for his sales force stating, " When we get out there, we want to kick some ass. We want to sell Neurontin for pain. All right? And monotherapy and everything we can talk about. That's what we want to do."
And that's exactly what the sales reps did; they drank the "purple Kool-Aid" and hyped the snake oil for every illness they could think of. And it worked; eventually 90% of the 2.7 billion dollars in Neurontin sales came from off-label use - 90% of the prescriptions were for unproven uses.
So how does a drug company take an unproven, potentially dangerous drug and successfully market it to doctors?
Easy, deceive then bribe them. The company paid marketing copywriters to write pseudoscientific, and of course, incredibly favorable articles on the wonders of Neurontin.
Medical Education Services, a ghost writing marketing firm was paid $60,000 to create dozens of fabricated studies on Neurontin. Doctors were then paid $1,000 each to "sign-off" on the article.
One in-house memo from this group is revealing - "Draft completed. We just need an author." This particular piece was targeted at children with attention deficit disorder. Consider the side effects of Neurontin which include:
Skin rash and itching
Sore throat and fever
Difficulty in concentration
Increased chance of certain types of seizures
Mood or mental changes
Nosebleeds or other unusual bleeding or bruising
Shortness of breath
Sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
Unusual tiredness or weakness
Wheezing, tightness in chest, or troubled breathing
Sales reps were paying doctors to recommend this drug to 10 year olds. Scary huh?
Sales reps found doctors were enthusiastic to attend- "meet, greet, and treat dinners." Doctors were paid to up to $300 to hear sales pitches for Neurontin while dining at 4 star restaurants. The doctors giving these dinner talks were paid up to $100,000 a year.
And Neurontin sales executives were also happy to pay doctors $750 each to attend all expense paid vacations including one at the posh Château Élan located just outside Atlanta. Doctors received continuing education hours while being brainwashed on the wonders of Neurontin in the morning, leaving their afternoons free to lounge by the pool, get their daily spa-treatment, play golf, dine on gourmet meals, and enjoy the nightly entertainment, including free tickets to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Not satisfied with their growing largesse, marketing executives decided to simply pay doctors $350 for every patient they placed on Neurontin.
In 2004, the lies and deceit campaign came to end. Pfizer pleaded guilty to criminal fraud in the promotion of Neurontin, and agreed to pay $430 million.
In October 2008 a new lawsuit, brought by the same attorney, alleges that the company's misdeeds went much further than originally charged.
According to newly unsealed court documents, not only did the company and its subsidiaries push Neurontin for unapproved uses--the practice at the center of the first suit, which Pfizer admitted to as part of its settlement--they did so knowing that the drug was ineffective for several of those conditions.
Pfizer, according to the documents, engaged in "outright deception of the biomedical community, and suppression of scientific truth"--stalling or stopping the publication of negative study results; manipulating both trial designs and data to make the drug look more effective than it was; and using questionable tactics to enhance the drug's image and increase its sales.
The question is how many other drugs are being marketed with little to no scientific studies to prove them effective? Could Pfizer's Lyrica, the spitting image of Neurontin (same drug, different packaging) be the snake oil? Perhaps, so since the studies for it and fibromyalgia are less than stellar- in spite of the real likelihood that the study was manipulated to yield positive results.
Melody Peterson's book "Our Daily Meds" is a must read for anyone who wants to make informed decisions about their most important asset, their health.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Electromagnetic Fields And Poor Sleep
Artificially generated electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are produced when alternating current passes through electrical wires or a portal device, like your cell phone. The energy that's produced, known as an EMF, exerts pressure and impacts everything around it including the cells in your body.
The Earth has its own static electromagnetic fields, with magnetic poles located roughly at our North and South Poles. We don't fully understand these magnetic fields. We do know that many of our basic bodily functions, including sleep and sense of direction are largely controlled by these fields.
For decades, numerous scientific entities including the World Health Organization have been telling the public that there are almost no credible health risks from excess exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). The official public-health-agency position is that, aside from a small increased risk of childhood leukemia, consumers are perfectly safe no matter how many appliances litter their homes and offices, or how many power lines exist nearby.
However, this view is being challenged by dozens of studies including the $8 million, seven-year study by the California Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF) Program.
"To one degree or another, all three of the scientists who worked on the EMF Program are inclined to believe that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and miscarriage," says Dr. Raymond Neutra, one of the scientists who wrote the report.
I’ve been educating my patients about the potential dangers of excess EMFs for several years now. I’m particularly concerned EMFs and their ability to deplete normal melatonin levels. Low melatonin levels contribute to poor sleep- linked to numerous health conditions including anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, obesity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hypothyroid, low metabolism, accelerated aging, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, diabetes, and migraine headaches.
The Importance of Melatonin
The pineal gland is located at the base of our brain, and the ancient Greeks considered it the seat of the soul. This thought may not be far off, since the pineal gland is responsible for releasing melatonin, an extremely important hormone that plays a vital role in regulating the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant that plays a part in preventing cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, colds, chronic inflammation, fibromyalgia, mood disorders, headaches, and heart disease.
Once a curiosity to scientists, melatonin is now known to slow down or perhaps even reverse the effects of aging. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that, unlike other antioxidants, can cross the blood-brain barrier and attack any free radicals floating around in the brain. This is perhaps one reason why it is so important in preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, two illnesses that attack the brain.
Normally, melatonin levels in your body begin to rise in the mid-to-late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then decline in the early morning hours.
But some things can work against your body’s production of melatonin. Levels gradually decline with age, and some older adults produce very small amounts or none at all.
Melatonin is also affected by a person’s exposure to light.
Levels start to rise as the sun goes down and drop off as the sun comes up. The eyes are extremely sensitive to changes in light, and an increase in light striking the retina triggers a decrease in melatonin production. Conversely, limited exposure to light increases melatonin production.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields can also deplete melatonin. Do you keep any of these things in your bedroom? Electric clock or radio, electric blanket, sound machine, cell phone, electric telephone, electric fan, television, or computer? In fact, any plugged-in electrical device generates electromagnetic fields. I recommend you remove all EMF generating appliances from your bedroom.
Melatonin levels can also be decreased by certain drugs including non-steroidal anti- inflammatory (NSAIDs), antidepressants (SSRI’s), and anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines).
If you’re like some 20 million Americans who find it hard to fall asleep at night find it hard to fall asleep at night, you may be suffering from delayed sleep phase insomnia- a disruption of normal circadian rhythms. Removing those melatonin- zapping EMFs from your bedroom may be all you need to do for a good night’s sleep.
However, if your melatonin levels are really depleted, you may need to use over the counter melatonin replacement therapy. Studies have shown that 3-6 mg. of melatonin taken at 11 p.m. helps reset these rhythms while providing deep restorative sleep.
An alternative to supplementing is to get more melatonin in the foods you eat. Foods high in melatonin include oats, sweet corn, rice, Japanese radishes, tomatoes, barley, and bananas.
I recommend that before bed, you turn off the TV, computer, avoid all EMF generating gadgets (cell phones), and find a comfortable, quiet room (other than your bedroom) where you can read something pleasant by the light of a soft low-wattage lamp.
Relax and read or listen to soothing music for 30 minutes to an hour. Keep the lights low, and avoid any stimulation, especially the TV. Simply pour one cup of Epsom salts into a warm bath, and soak.
A.N. Vgontzas, “Modest sleep loss increases/alters normal secretion of IL-6, TNF-alpha, cortisol,” 84th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society, San Francisco, June, 2002.
• T. Wehr et al., “A circadian signal of change of season in patients with seasonal affective disorder,” Archives of General Psychiatry 58(12) (2001): 1108–14.
• H.A. Welker et al., “Effects of an artificial magnetic field on serotonin in acetyl transferase activity in melatonin content in the rat pineal gland,” Exp Brain Research 50 (1983): 426–32.
• I.V. Zhdanova et al., “Sleep inducing effects of low doses of melatonin ingested in the evening,” Clinical Pharmacological Therapeutics 57 (1995): 552–8.
Popp. F.A. Dr.: Is Disease an Energy Disturbance. Lectures: Aug-Sept 1979. Bioresonance and multiresonance therapy, ed. Brugemann.
Hans. Haug International Vol. 1. 1993, p.177.
Andrea Alberti1, et al. “Plasma cytokine levels in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome: a preliminary study,” Journal of Sleep Research 12(4) (2003): 305.