New Study: Roundup more toxic than officially declared

CRIIGEN PRESS RELEASE
GM Watch
Thu, 21 Feb 2013 16:52 CST

The most widely used herbicide in the world contains compounds more toxic than declared – new research shows 

In a new research(1) published in the highly ranked scientific journalToxicology, Robin Mesnage, Benoit Bernay and Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, from the University of Caen, France, have proven (from a study of nine Roundup-like herbicides) that the most toxic compound is not glyphosate, which is the substance the most assessed by regulatory authorities, but a compound that is not always listed on the label, called POE-15. Modern methods were applied at the cellular level (on three human cell lines), and mass spectrometry (studies on the nature of molecules). This allowed the researchers to identify and analyse the effects of these compounds. 

Context: Glyphosate is supposed to be the “active ingredient” of Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and it is present in a large group of Roundup-like herbicides. It has been safety tested on mammals for the purposes of regulatoryrisk assessment. But the commercial formulations of these pesticides as they are sold and used contain added ingredients (adjuvants). These are often classified confidential and described as “inerts”. However, they help to stabilize the chemical compound glyphosate and help it to penetrate plants, in the manner of corrosive detergents. The formulated herbicides (including Roundup) can affect all living cells, especially human cells. This danger is overlooked because glyphosate and Roundup are treated as the same by industry and regulators in long-term studies. The supposed non-toxicity of glyphosate serves as a basis for the commercial release of Roundup. The health and environmental agencies and pesticide companies assess the long-term effects on mammals of glyphosate alone, and not the full formulation. The details of this regulatoryassessment are jealously kept confidential by companies like Monsanto and health and environmental agencies. 

Conclusion and consequences: This study demonstrates that all the glyphosate-based herbicides tested are more toxic than glyphosate alone, and explains why. Thus their regulatory assessments and the maximum residue levels authorized in the environment, food, and feed, are erroneous. A drink (such as tap water contaminated by Roundup residues) or a food made with a Roundup tolerant GMO (like a transgenic soya or corn) were already demonstrated as toxic in the recent rat feeding study(2) from Prof. Séralini team. The researchers have also published responses to critics of the study (3). This new research explains and confirms the scientific results of the rat feeding study. 

Overall, it is a great matter of concern for public health. First, all authorizations of Roundup-type herbicides have to be questioned urgently. Second, the regulatory assessment rules have to be fully revised. They should be analyzed in a transparent and contradictory manner by the scientific community. Agencies that give opinions to government authorities, in common with the pesticide companies generally conclude safety. The agencies’ opinions are wrong because they are made on the basis of lax assessments and much of the industry data is kept confidential, meaning that a full and transparent assessment cannot be carried out. These assessments are therefore neither neutral nor independent. They should as a first step make public on the Internet all the data that underpin the commercial release and positive opinions on the use of Roundup and similar products. The industry toxicological data must be legally made public. 

Adjuvants of the POE-15 family (polyethoxylated tallowamine) have now been revealed as actively toxic to human cells, and must be regulated as such. The complete formulations must be tested in long-term toxicity studies and the results taken into account in regulatory assessments. The regulatory authorisation process for pesticides released into the environment and sold in stores must urgently be revised. Moreover, since the toxic confidential adjuvants are in general use in pesticide formulations, we fear according to these discoveries that the toxicity of all pesticides has been very significantly underestimated. 

This study was conducted in the University of Caen with the structural support of CRIIGEN in the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER www.ensser.org ). 

Contact: criigen@unicaen.fr; phone +33 (0)231565684 (France). www.criigen.org 

Notes 

(1) Mesnage R., Bernay B., Seralini G-E. (2013, in press). Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicityToxicology 
(2) Seralini G. E., et al. (2012). Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.Food and Chemical Toxicology 50 (11): 4221-4231. 
(3) Seralini G. E., et al. (2013). Answers to critics: Why there is a long term toxicity due to NK603 Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize and to a Roundup herbicide. Food and Chemical Toxicology

 

If you get a heart attack, insist on magnesium!

Ronald Grisanti
Your Medical Detective
Mon, 25 Mar 2013 10:45 CDT

If you end up in the emergency room with a heart attack, make sure you insist on a 2 cc injection of magnesium sulfate

In double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific study, they looked at 273 patients who were admitted to the hospital for a heart attack. The study published in one of the most prestigious medical journals revealed that after 4 weeks, the people who received the magnesium, only 7% died versus 19% who did not get the magnesium. That means magnesium cut the death rate a walloping 63%. 

What was interesting is the fact that the study indicated that the people in the study were give far less than the 2 cc of magnesium recommended above. 

Furthermore, the injection of magnesium decreased arrhythmias by 55%. Remember having a heart arrhythmia is one issue doctors are seriously concerned about following a heart attack. 

In another study in the same medical journal approximately ten years later revealed that magnesium produced a 24% reduction in the number of deaths in one month after the heart attack. 

Besides the proven benefits for victims of a heart attack, another study showed people who were given IV magnesium had a76% reduction in death from a fatal blood clot. And by the way this same study showed that aspirin made no difference. 

It is in your best interest to insist that your doctor check your magnesium levels. However, don’t settle for the serum magnesium commonly ordered by most physicians. This test only evaluates the extracelluar magnesium which makes up only 1% of the magnesium in your body. You want your doctor to order the goal standard “intracellular magnesium test” which gives you the “real” picture of your level of magnesium in your body. 

Your best protection is to keep your magnesium level high enough to possibly prevent having a heart attack in the first place. Considering that government studies show the average American diet only provides 40% of the magnesium that we need in a day, your best protection against a heart attack is to keep your magnesium level high enough. The best absorbed form of magnesium I’ve seen in 31 years is Magnesium Chloride Liquid 200 mg/cc, and use half teaspoon once or twice a day. 

References 

Rasmussen HS, et al, Intravenous magnesium in acute myocardial infarction, Lancet, 234-5, Feb. 1, 1986 

Woods KL, et al, Intravenous magnesium sulfate in suspected acute myocardial infarction: Results of the Second Leister Intravenous Magnesium Intervention Trial (LIMIT-2), Lancet, 339: 1553-8,1992

Obamacare Will Cause Medical Claims Costs To Jump 32 Percent: Study

 

 

Obamacare Medical Claims

AP  |  By By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVARPosted: 03/26/2013 1:32 pm EDT  |  Updated: 03/27/2013 1:49 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Insurance companies will have to pay out an average of 32 percent more for medical claims on individual health policies under President Barack Obama’s overhaul, the nation’s leading group of financial risk analysts has estimated.

That’s likely to increase premiums for at least some Americans buying individual plans.

The report by the Society of Actuaries could turn into a big headache for the Obama administration at a time when many parts of the country remain skeptical about the Affordable Care Act.

While some states will see medical claims costs per person decline, the report concluded the overwhelming majority will see double-digit increases in theirindividual health insurance markets, where people purchase coverage directly from insurers.

The disparities are striking. By 2017, the estimated increase would be 62 percent for California, about 80 percent for Ohio, more than 20 percent for Florida and 67 percent for Maryland. Much of the reason for the higher claims costs is that sicker people are expected to join the pool, the report said.

The report did not make similar estimates for employer plans, the mainstay for workers and their families. That’s because the primary impact of Obama’s law is on people who don’t have coverage through their jobs.

The administration questions the design of the study, saying it focused only on one piece of the puzzle and ignored cost relief strategies in the law such as tax credits to help people afford premiums and special payments to insurers who attract an outsize share of the sick. The study also doesn’t take into account the potential price-cutting effect of competition in new state insurance markets that will go live on Oct. 1, administration officials said.

 

At a White House briefing on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes forhealth insurance today is so skimpy it can’t be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. “Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don’t pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus,” she said. “They’re really mortgage protection, not health insurance.”

A prominent national expert, recently retired Medicare chief actuary Rick Foster, said the report does “a credible job” of estimating potential enrollment and costs under the law, “without trying to tilt the answers in any particular direction.”

“Having said that,” Foster added, “actuaries tend to be financially conservative, so the various assumptions might be more inclined to consider what might go wrong than to anticipate that everything will work beautifully.” Actuaries use statistics and economic theory to make long-range cost projections for insurance and pension programs sponsored by businesses and government. The society is headquartered near Chicago.

Kristi Bohn, an actuary who worked on the study, acknowledged it did not attempt to estimate the effect of subsidies, insurer competition and other factors that could mitigate cost increases. She said the goal was to look at the underlying cost of medical care.

“Claims cost is the most important driver of health care premiums,” she said.

“We don’t see ourselves as a political organization,” Bohn added. “We are trying to figure out what the situation at hand is.”

On the plus side, the report found the law will cover more than 32 million currently uninsured Americans when fully phased in. And some states — including New York and Massachusetts — will see double-digit declines in costs for claims in the individual market.

Uncertainty over costs has been a major issue since the law passed three years ago, and remains so just months before a big push to cover the uninsured gets rolling Oct. 1. Middle-class households will be able to purchase subsidized private insurance in new marketplaces, while low-income people will be steered to Medicaid and other safety net programs. States are free to accept or reject a Medicaid expansion also offered under the law.

Obama has promised that the new law will bring costs down. That seems a stretch now. While the nation has been enjoying a lull in health care inflation the past few years, even some former administration advisers say a new round of cost-curbing legislation will be needed.

Bohn said the study overall presents a mixed picture.

Millions of now-uninsured people will be covered as the market for directly purchased insurance more than doubles with the help of government subsidies. The study found that market will grow to more than 25 million people. But costs will rise because spending on sicker people and other high-cost groups will overwhelm an influx of younger, healthier people into the program.

Some of the higher-cost cases will come from existing state high-risk insurance pools. Those people will now be able to get coverage in the individual insurance market, since insurance companies will no longer be able to turn them down. Other people will end up buying their own plans because their employers cancel coverage. While some of these individuals might save money for themselves, they will end up raising costs for others.

Part the reason for the wide disparities in the study is that states have different populations and insurance rules. In the relatively small number of states where insurers were already restricted from charging higher rates to older, sicker people, the cost impact is less.

“States are starting from different starting points, and they are all getting closer to one another,” said Bohn.

The study also did not model the likely patchwork results from some states accepting the law’s Medicaid expansion while others reject it. It presented estimates for two hypothetical scenarios in which all states either accept or reject the expansion.

Larry Levitt, an insurance expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, reviewed the report and said the actuaries need to answer more questions.

“I’d generally characterize it as providing useful background information, but I don’t think it’s complete enough to be treated as a projection,” Levitt said. The conclusion that employers with sicker workers would drop coverage is “speculative,” he said.

Another caveat: The Society of Actuaries contracted Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, to do the number-crunching that drives the report. United also owns the nation’s largest health insurance company. Bohn said the study reflects the professional conclusions of the society, not Optum or its parent company.

___

AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.

Online:

Society of Actuaries __ http://www.soa.org/NewlyInsured/

TV ads for statins drive overdiagnosis and overtreatment according to study

Dr. Mercola
Mercola.com
Wed, 20 Mar 2013 14:31 CDT

The United States is one of only two countries, the other being New Zealand, that allows drugs to be advertised on TV, and it’s not difficult to understand why nearly every other country has given such ads the boot.

As with all commercials, the ads are intended to influence you to buy their products. In the case of prescription medications, the “product” is a potentially dangerous chemical drug that is loaded with side effects. 

In a 2009 Harris Poll, 51 percent said that drug ads encourage them to ask questions when they go to their doctor, and a whopping 44 percent actually believe drug ads make them more knowledgeable about treatments for their ailments. 

Now, a new study assessing the effect of direct-to-consumer drug advertising has concluded that TV ads for statins may be a driving factor of overdiagnosis of high cholesterol and overtreatment with the drugs.1 

The reason is clear. People who dutifully ask their doctors about a drug advertised on TV usually end up receiving a prescription… 

Is it any wonder then that one in four Americans over the age of 45 is now taking a statin drug, despite the fact that there are over 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to diabetes and increased cancer risk. 

Odds are likely greater than 100 to 1 that if you’re taking a statin, you don’t really need it. The ONLY subgroup that might benefit are those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol. 

TV Ads for Statins Drive Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment 

To determine the relationship between estimated exposure to direct-to-consumer advertising for statin drugs and two clinical variables: diagnosis with high cholesterol and statin use, the featured study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine,2 used logistic regression to analyze repeated cross-sectional surveys of more than 106,000 Americans, merged with data on the frequency of ads appearing on national, cable, and local television, between 2001 and 2007. Interestingly, those who reported seeing statin ads on TV were:

  • 16-20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with high cholesterol
  • 16-22 percent more likely to be using a statin drug

That’s quite a boost in diagnosis and treatment, and proof positive that advertising works, even when you’re selling something with greater potential harms than benefits, as is the case with statins. 

Tellingly, both the diagnosis of high cholesterol and increased statin use was driven almost exclusively by those who were at LOW risk for future cardiac events, indicating that overdiagnosis and unnecessary drug treatment is quite real. Conversely, those at high risk of heart disease were not more likely to be taking a statin after seeing the commercials. According to the authors:

“Our findings raise questions about the extent to which direct-to-consumer advertising may promote over-diagnosis and over-treatment for populations where risks may outweigh potential benefits. In addition, we found no evidence of favorable associations between exposure to statins in television advertisements and statin use among those at high risk for future cardiac events.”

Turning People into Patients – At YOUR Expense 

The 1997 change in direct-to-consumer advertising laws unleashed an avalanche of drug commercials. Two years later, the average American was exposed to nine prescription drug TV ads every day. Between 1994 and 2000, TV drug ads increased 40-fold.3 

In 2005, two of the top four most heavily promoted drugs were cholesterol-lowering medications. In that year alone, Merck/Schering-Plough spent $161.5 million on ads for Vytorin, and AstraZeneca spent $158.6 million advertising Crestor – down from the $212 million4 they spent the year before. 

In all, pharmaceutical companies spend an estimated $4 billion a year on these types of consumer marketing campaigns in the US, so you can bet they’re getting a hefty portion of this expense back in the form of increased profits. 

No doubt you’ve heard that drugs cost so much because it’s expensive to perform research and development of new drugs. Yet pharmaceutical companies spend nearly TWICE as much on marketing in the US as they do on R&D! This finding was published in the journal PloS Medicine in 2008.5 According to the authors:

“From this new estimate, it appears that pharmaceutical companies spend almost twice as much on promotion as they do on R&D. These numbers clearly show how promotion predominates over R&D in the pharmaceutical industry, contrary to the industry’s claim.

While the amount spent on promotion is not in itself a confirmation of Kefauver’s depiction of the pharmaceutical industry, it confirms the public image of a marketing-driven industry and provides an important argument to petition in favor of transforming the workings of the industry in the direction of more research and less promotion.” [Emphasis mine]

The US is, by far, the largest market for pharmaceuticals in the world, representing around 43 percent of global sales. This is in part due to Americans being grossly overcharged. As I recently reported, Americans pay TWICE the price compared to other countries for the identical drugs.6 

Well, here’s part of the answer to the question why: You’re paying for their direct-to-consumer advertising, which is illegal everywhere else (with the exception of New Zealand). 

Aside from their inherently misleading nature, and the fact that they dramatically increase drug prices, direct-to-consumer drug ads like those on TV often plant a seed in your mind that you may be sick. Drug companies are masters at disease mongering — inventing non-existent diseases and exaggerating minor ones, with the end result making you rush to your doctor to request their drug solutions. It also misleads people into thinking drugs are the only option for every ill. If you think about it, a child who grows up seeing these ads is clearly going to be indoctrinated to turn to a drug when something goes wrong, unless he or she receives a different education from some other source. 

Effective Statin Ads Place Millions of Americans at Risk of Serious Health Problems 

Statins are HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, that is, they act by blocking the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for makingcholesterol (HMG-CoA reductase). The fact that statin drugs cause side effects is well established – there are now 900 studies proving their adverse effects, which run the gamut from muscle problems to increased cancer risk

Please note that statins are classified as a “pregnancy Category X medication” meaning, it causes serious birth defects, and should NEVER be used by a woman who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy. If it is prescribed, it is simply gross negligence and malpractice. 

Statins have also been shown to increase your risk of diabetes, via a number of different mechanisms. The most important one is that they increase insulin resistance, which can be extremely harmful to your health. Increased insulin resistance contributes to chronic inflammation in your body, and inflammation is the hallmark of most diseases. 

In fact, increased insulin resistance can lead to heart disease, which, ironically, is the primary reason for taking a cholesterol-reducing drug in the first place. It can also promote belly fat, high blood pressure, heart attacks, chronic fatigue, thyroid disruption, and diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. 

Secondly, statins increase your diabetes risk by actually raising your blood sugar. When you eat a meal that contains starches and sugar, some of the excess sugar goes to your liver, which then stores it away as cholesterol and triglycerides. Statins work by preventing your liver from making cholesterol. As a result, your liver returns the sugar to your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels. 

Drug-induced diabetes and genuine type 2 diabetes are not necessarily identical. If you’re on a statin drug and find that your blood glucose is elevated, it’s possible that what you have is just hyperglycemia – a side effect, and the result of your medication. Unfortunately, many doctors will at that point mistakenly diagnose you with “type 2 diabetes,” and possibly prescribeanother drug, when all you may need to do is simply discontinue the statin in order for your blood glucose levels to revert back to normal. 

Statin drugs also interfere with other biological functions. Of utmost importance, statins deplete your body of CoQ10, which accounts for many of its devastating results. Therefore, if you take a statin, you must take supplemental CoQ10, or better, the reduced form called ubiquinol. Statins also interfere with the mevalonate pathway, which is the central pathway for the steroid management in your body. Products of this pathway that are negatively affected by statins include:

  • All your sex hormones
  • Cortisone
  • The dolichols, which are involved in keeping the membranes inside your cells healthy
  • All sterols, including cholesterol and vitamin D (which is similar to cholesterol and is produced from cholesterol in your skin)

Ninety-Nine Out of 100 People Do Not Need Statin Drugs 

That these drugs have proliferated the market the way they have is a testimony to the effectiveness of direct-to-consumer marketing, corruption and corporate greed, because the odds are very high – greater than 1000 to 1 – that if you’re taking a statin, you don’t really need it. From my review, the ONLY subgroup that might benefit are those born with a genetic defect calledfamilial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes them resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol. 

Even more importantly, cholesterol is NOT the cause of heart disease. If your physician is urging you to check your total cholesterol, then you should know that this test will tell you virtually nothing about your risk of heart disease, unless it is 330 or higher. HDL percentage is a far more potent indicator for heart disease risk. Here are the two ratios you should pay attention to:

  1. HDL/Total Cholesterol Ratio: Should ideally be above 24 percent. If below 10 percent, you have a significantly elevated risk for heart disease.
  2. Triglyceride/HDL Ratio: Should be below 2.

I have seen a number of people with total cholesterol levels over 250 who were actually at low risk for heart disease due to their elevated HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen many people with cholesterol levels under 200 who had a very high risk of heart disease, based on their low HDL. NMR testing is another important new lipid assessment you can now take to determine your risk for heart disease. 

Remember, your body NEEDS cholesterol – it is important in the production of cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps your brain form memories and is vital to your neurological function. There is also strong evidence that having too little cholesterol INCREASES your risk for cancer, memory loss, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal imbalances, stroke, depression, suicide, and violent behavior. 

To learn more about statins, please see my special report: Do YOU Take Any of These 11 Dangerous Cholesterol Drugs? 

Turn Off the Tube and Tune in to Your Body’s Innate Wisdom 

These ads are now on your TV, in magazines and on the Internet, so it’s difficult to eliminate your exposure. What you can do, however, is keep a healthy air of skepticism about you whenever you do see a drug commercial. Really listen to the side effects and ask yourself if cancer is an acceptable risk for a drug to treat an embarrassing skin condition, for example. 

If you think you might need the drug, first seek out an unbiased source of information to see if you truly do. The internet can frequently be a helpful tool here. 

Also check for the truth about side effects. The average drug comes with a list of 70 potential reactions, according to researchers who used a computer program to analyze 5,600 drug labels. If you take one of the more commonly prescribed drugs, the potential drug reactions rise to about 100 — and some drugs even carry over 500. Given that, it’s not so surprising that more than 700,000 people visit U.S. emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse drug reactions. Not only that, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adverse drug reactions from drugs that are properly prescribed and properly administered cause about 106,000 deaths per year, making prescription drugs the fourth-leading cause of death in the US. 

Polypharmacy Raises Drug Side Effects Exponentially 

According to the latest statistics from the Kaiser Health Foundation,7 the average American aged 19 to 64 now takes nearly 12 prescription drugs. The average senior is on 28. The word ‘polypharmacy’ means “many drugs,” and essentially refers to these instances where an individual is taking multiple drugs — often because more drugs are prescribed than are clinically indicated. 

This is a significant problem, as the more drugs you mix together, the greater the chances of serious side effects. And, if the average American is taking a dozen different prescription drugs, and the average prescription drug carries 70 side effects… do the math! That’s an average of 770 potential individual side effects but the drug to drug interaction is far higher and is likely one to two orders of magnitude greater. To me, this is simply unacceptable, especially considering that most drugs people take are for conditions that can be better treated, and prevented, using natural methods

Take Control of Your Health 

Anytime you’re considering taking a drug, whether you’ve succumbed to a seductive drug ad or your doctor wants to prescribe one for an ailment you’ve presented, please do remember that you carry the ultimate responsibility here. Don’t trust blindly; ask questions about the drugs prescribed to you, such as:

  • Do I really need this drug?
  • Is it prescribed appropriately, or is it being prescribed for an off-label use?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Is it addictive?
  • What are the natural alternatives?

In the majority of cases, you’ll likely find that you can prevent or resolve the condition not by taking a drug, but by following these basic tenets of optimal health:

    1. Eat a healthy diet focused on fresh, whole foods (ideally organic and/or locally-grown). Try to eat a large portion of your food raw.
    2. You want to pay careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, which means avoiding sugars and grains of all kinds, and replacing the lost carbs with healthful fats. Also be mindful of your protein sources, making sure they’re of high quality (ideally organically-raised and pasture-fed). A high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet is likely to improve the health of most people. My optimized 

Nutritional Plan

         can guide you, whether you’re at a beginner’s or advanced level.

      1. Consume healthy fat. The science is loud and clear on this point: omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health. Unfortunately most fish commercially available today are polluted with mercury, PCBs and other toxic substances, which is why I recommend you take a supplement like krill oil instead of getting it from your food. Other healthy fats include coconut oil, avocados, olives, olive oil, butter and macadamia nuts. All these fats are low in protein and carbs and will not impair insulin, leptin or mTOR.
      2. Make clean, pure water your primary beverage, and steer clear of all sweetened and/or flavored beverages, including those that contain artificial sweeteners.
      3. Manage your stress.
      4. Exercise regularly. Ideally, you want a comprehensive fitness regimen that includes stretchinghigh intensity interval trainingcore strengthening exercises and strength training.
      5. Get plenty of appropriate sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D levels naturally. UV exposure also has additional health benefits beyond vitamin D production.
      6. A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for your health. The D*Action project has been initiated by GrassrootsHealth along with 42 leading vitamin D researchers to demonstrate how health can be achieved right now with what’s known about vitamin D with a combination of vitamin D measurement and health outcome tracking. To learn more, please see this recent

article

        . I encourage you to

participate in the D*Action Project

        , which has multiple concurrent vitamin D programs going on. Not only will you be able to take control of your own health by participating, you’ll also become part of one of the most profound public health projects of the 21st Century. To participate, simply purchase the

D*Action Measurement Kit

         and follow the registration instructions included. As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee each 6 months for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a test kit to be

used at home

      , and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”
  1. Limit your exposure to toxins of all kinds. The number of toxic chemicals and their sources is so large, addressing them all could easily require an entire library, but I believe you can help you keep your toxic load as low as possible by becoming an informed and vigilant consumer. This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
  2. Get plenty of quality sleep. Scientists have discovered that your circadian rhythms regulate the energy levels in your cells. In addition, the proteins involved with your circadian rhythm and metabolism are intrinsically linked and dependent upon each other. Therefore, when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can have a profound influence on your physical health. For example, research has also linked disrupted sleep cycles to serious health problems like depression, coronary heart diseases, and even cancer. If you have any kind of sleep problem, whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep is packed with great tips to help you finally get some good rest.

It Takes Personal Involvement to Stay Healthy in a Sick System 

Ultimately, it’s your body, and the decision to medicate yourself for an ailment is yours alone. However, I urge you to research any drug your doctor prescribes before you take it. Do not just take your doctor’s word for its safety. Most physicians have little information to offer you aside from what they’ve been told by their drug reps

Also remember that no drug is completely safe. Even under the BEST circumstances — such as with a drug that has gone through unbiased, stringent, long-term testing — anything can happen when a drug is released into the uncontrolled environment of your body. It may interact badly with another drug you’re taking, or perhaps a food you eat causes an unforeseen reaction, or maybe your genetic makeup, metabolism or the state of your immune system will cause it to have an unpredictable impact. 

Ads are intended to make you want to buy a product – they are NOT public health announcements! 

In the case of prescription medications, the “product” is a potentially dangerous chemical that may do more harm than good. This is certainly the case with statins. One in four Americans are now taking a statin, when the odds are greater than 100 to 1 that you don’t need it! Please understand that unless you have familial hypercholesterolemia, you do NOT need a drug to normalize your cholesterol. This can easily be achieved via diet and exercise. 

References 

Eurekalert March 7, 2013 
Journal of General Internal Medicine; DOI 10.1007/s11606-013-2379-3 
Sourcewatch.com Direct-to-Consumer Advertising in the US 
ProQuest Trends in DTC Advertising 
PloS Medicine 5(1): e1 
Time Magazine February 20, 2013 
Kaiser Health Foundation, StateHealthFacts.org, Retail Prescription Drugs Filled at Pharmacies (Annual per Capita by Age), 2011

 

 

Salt, sugar, and fat: Why we can’t quit junk food’s holy trinity

Claire Thompson
Grist
Thu, 21 Mar 2013 14:55 CDT

Veteran New York Times journalist Michael Moss entered the world of food reporting when he covered a salmonella outbreak in a Georgia peanut factory, a story he came to see as being about “loss of control by the food industry.” He followed up on that theme with an investigation of E. coli-tainted Cargill hamburger, which earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 2010. Around that time, he says, a close source told him, “As bad as these contamination incidents are, there’s this other public-health crisis out there that’s caused by the stuff we intentionally put it into processed foods, and have absolute control over.” Meaning, of course, salt, sugar, and fat – the “holy trinity” of processed-food ingredients, and the namesake of Moss’ new book. 

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us traces how these ingredients worked their way into our food in ever-larger amounts, not by accident but as part of a concerted effort by food companies to make their products as irresistible and addictive as possible. Moss profiles the food scientists whom corporations like Kellogg and Kraft pay to formulate exact combinations of ingredients that target consumers’ “bliss point”: where food is as tasty as possible without being so satisfying that we stop wanting more. Think junk food like Cheez-Its, movie-theater popcorn, and Oreos: You can kill a whole bag of the stuff without even noticing. 

Moss reveals how fundamental these ingredients have become to the processed-food industry’s entire model: how sugar intensifies our cravings; how fat and sugar work together to make products vastly more tasty than either ingredient could alone; how fat plays up a given food’s most desirable traits (such as smooth texture) while masking others (like the acidity of sour cream), and how salt smothers the chemical tinge that would otherwise make most junk food inedible. Salt, sugar, and fat also make possible the long shelf life and easy preparation that inspired the term “convenience food” and sold it to a new generation of working moms. 

We got a chance to chat with Moss when he stopped by the Grist office last week. Here are some highlights from our conversation. (Interview has been condensed and edited.) 

Q. Salt Sugar Fat reveals parallels between the food industry and tobacco industry’s efforts to get us hooked on their products – not just through creative marketing, but by focusing on the way our bodies react to key ingredients. Does this mean we could legally go after food companies in the same way? 

A. The processed-food industry is entirely confident it can withstand tobacco-type litigation. I think their confidence comes from the difference between tobacco and food, inherently, and the difficulty that a lawyer would have blaming any one company or any one product for the obesity crisis or diabetes

That said, there’s certainly nothing stopping the states from going after processed food collectively, because the estimates are that obesity is causing as much as $300 billion in extra medical expenses and lost productivity every year. So it’s probably a [bigger] issue financially for the health system than even tobacco. 

What really struck me in reporting the book was how the tobacco industry plays another role. Philip Morris, the largest tobacco company, became the largest food manufacturer in North America, by buying first General Foods and then Kraft. Starting in the late ’90s, Philip Morris kind of gets religion on tobacco – it’s under increasing regulatory pressure, it starts worrying that it’s losing the public trust, it’s constantly polling consumers, and its reputation is plummeting. It becomes the first tobacco company to embrace government regulation as a way of avoiding complete disaster. So they turn to their food division, and said to them, you guys are going to face as great, if not a greater, problem with salt, sugar, and fat as we are with nicotine and tobacco. You’ve got to start doing something to reexamine your dependence on [those ingredients]. 

I found it really startling that tobacco would be the entity warning the food companies about obesity. 

Q. In the book, you emphasize how hooked the food companies themselves are on salt, sugar, and fat. How much of a barrier is that dependence to efforts to change the industry from within? 

A. The industry makes a convincing argument that it never wanted to make us obese or otherwise ill. The problem lies in their collective zeal to do what companies do, which is make as much money as possible by selling as much product as possible, and on their dependence on these three ingredients to make their products ultra-convenient, ultra-low-cost, as well as utterly, irresistibly tasty. These three ingredients to them are miracle ingredients. Sugar, for example, will allow long shelf time, and will also add bulk and color to cookies and donuts and breads. Salt is perhaps the most magical of all three. It’s really cheap – 10 cents a pound – and it allows them to avoid using more costly ingredients like fresh herbs and spices. And salt masks some of these awful tastes that are inherent to processed foods. Meat, for example: They have to cook it once, and then they’ll put it in the box or the can, and when you reheat it, it emits what’s called warm-over flavor. Food scientists describe the taste as being like wet dog hair, maybe a little cardboard, too. Salt acts as a masking agent for all that. 

All of this [became] really clear to me when Kellogg invited me to taste special versions of their icons that they had prepared without salt. We started with Cheez-It crackers, which normally I could eat day in and day out, but without salt they were just god awful. They stuck to the roofs of our mouths. Then we went to the frozen waffles, popped them in the toaster, and they came out looking and tasting like straw. And then the clincher was the cereal. We put it in the bowl, added milk, and before I could say anything, the company spokeswoman [who also tasted the cereal] gets this look of horror on her face and she goes, “Metal. I taste metal. M-E-T-A-L.” 

Q. That begs the question, then, whether these companies can make their food healthier without changing their entire product lines and business model. What does that say about how much power we as consumers have? 

A. Certainly in my life, I’m not seeing an ability to get away from processed foods. My wife works outside the home and I have two young boys. Our strategy is more to gain control over these foods rather than avoid them. My wife recently said, “Look, guys, let’s try to limit ourselves to cereal that has five grams or less sugar per serving.” When you engage them that way, now when we go shopping, it’s a bit of an Easter egg hunt for them. They’ll grab the box and look on the label and look for five grams or less. 

They’ll have to reach low on the shelf, or I’ll have to reach high, because strategically, the less sugary cereals are put out of eyesight. The industry’s done research – they put devices on people’s heads to measure their eye movements – and they know that when you hit the aisle, your eyes go right to the middle part of the aisle, at eye level. So if you’re looking for plain oatmeal, it’s likely going to be either way up or down, toward the ends of the aisles, where you’re less apt to see it. 

Q. Couldn’t they just put all the healthy food in the middle of the aisle, then? Do unprocessed foods just need better advertising? 

A. Another problem in the grocery store is the processed foods are so much cheaper than the fruits and vegetables. The White House is looking at not necessarily taxing the processed food or its main ingredients, but shifting subsidies that already exist that benefit processed foods over to the fruits and vegetables – as a way of avoiding the nanny-state label that Mayor Bloomberg of New York doesn’t mind getting hit with. 

[Former Philip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible said to me], I’m no friend of government regulation, but what you’re seeing with the food industry is that anytime one of these companies tries to do the right thing individually, the competitors swoop in. He said in this case, it’s pretty clear that unless the industry can get together – which I don’t think is going to happen – regulation may make sense, if only to give them cover from Wall Street. That’s one of the huge forces here. 

When you’re inside these companies, they’re not evil, they’re just doing their jobs as best as they possibly can. 

Q. What has industry reaction to the book been like? 

A. It’s been pretty quiet. I’d like to think it’s because the reporting is fair and balanced and it’s already incorporated all of [the food companies’] main arguments. The notion that they themselves are dependent on [salt, sugar, and fat], they saw as a defense, but in fact it sort of turns on them when you put it into the right context. 

Knock on wood. They may be sitting right now and plotting.

‘Evidence Is Compelling’ on Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean Diet photo:  6a0120a4dc5af5970b014e88978475970d-800wi.jpg

 

Eric J. Topol, MD

Mar 07, 2013

 

Mediterranean Diet Study

Hello. I am Dr. Eric Topol, Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. I am thrilled to be the new editor-in-chief; this is an extraordinary way for information to be disseminated to the medical community, and I am hoping to contribute with all the staff and our physician colleagues working around the globe to take Medscape to an “über level.”

In this brief segment today, I will talk about the Mediterranean diet study. This is a study that was published in the February 25 New England Journal of Medicine.[1] I will try to get some commentary, either from myself or other colleagues, about really important studies, and I believe that this is one of them.

We don’t talk enough about diet in medicine, but this is the largest randomized trial to date. The Mediterranean diet has been studied previously in randomized trials but not in a trial as large as this. It is fascinating that this was a study of more than 7400 individuals who were randomly assigned to 3 different diets. Two were Mediterranean diets enriched with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts and other Mediterranean foods, both including more than 7 glasses of wine per week. The control diet was a low-fat diet, which some people have argued is not an ideal control. There was very good compliance with the diets in this large number of people for many years. The primary endpoint was death, heart attack, or stroke. There was a very important significant reduction of this cluster endpoint in the Mediterranean diet groups. Particularly noteworthy, even by itself, was the reduction in stroke.

 

Clinical Impact of the Mediterranean Diet Study

We now have dietary evidence that is fairly compelling. The absolute size reduction was not large, but the fact that the Mediterranean diets tested in this trial had such a positive impact gives us some anchoring about a diet that does lower critical cardiovascular endpoints. For many years, there has been discussion about this low-fat diet and whether it had a meaningful clinical impact. At one point, the Mediterranean diet was very much supported by the American Heart Association and other organizations. Now we see that it appears to be superior. The trial has had criticism, particularly honing in on the low-fat control arm of the study, but nonetheless, the evidence is compelling.

Why is this trial unique? It was funded by the Spanish government. This is a country that isn’t known these days for having extraordinary resources to fund research, but the government of Spain got behind an important trial, perhaps the most impressive diet-randomized trial that has been performed. We have to give a lot of credit to them, because this trial was done with that level of funding and with superb investigators throughout the country of Spain, and it makes a lasting contribution. We are always in search of more information about what we eat, and this is welcome. It is particularly nice to know that you can have 7 glasses of wine or more each week and it might have a favorable effect.

We will be trying to highlight similar studies that are interesting, taking us across the whole spectrum of diagnostics, medical devices, genomics, wireless medicine, and topics such as diet and nutrition, to broaden some of the special coverage that we have at Medscape. Thanks very much for your attention.

References

  1. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med. 2013 February 25. [Epub ahead of print]. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303 Accessed March 6, 2013.

Your brain on fructose

Emily Deans, MD

Primal Docs
Sat, 09 Mar 2013 11:40 CST
 
Right on the heels of the little case study I wrote about last time came a paper in JAMA that made a bit of a splash in the news: Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved With Appetite and Reward Pathways

I know. Sounds like a nail-biter. 

The paper is a Tale of Two Sugars, glucose and fructose. Fructose is somewhat sweeter than glucose, and it is metabolized differently (as those in the paleosphere are no doubt agonizingly aware). Fructose, for example, only causes slight bumps in insulin, which is known to work in the central nervous system to increase the satiety and decrease the reward value of food. Compared to glucose, fructose also doesn’t increase a satiety hormone glucagon-like polypeptide 1, and fructose doesn’t decrease levels of ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone. 

Let’s translate into something simple rather than paperspeak: 

Glucose: Increases insulin, increases GLP-1, decreases ghrelin: all of which increase satiety and decrease reward seeking behavior. 

Fructose: Barely increases insulin, doesn’t increase GLP-1, and doesn’t decrease ghrelin, so after ingestion you will presumably still be hungry and looking for the next bag of skittles. 

In rats, if you inject fructose into the brain, it stimulates food-seeking behavior. If you inject glucose into the brain, rats decrease their food intake. Please do not inject fructose or glucose into your brain. And while that rat factoid is certainly interesting, I’m hoping that when you drink a vat of agave nectar*, much of the fructose doesn’t get past the liver anyway, as it is pretty oxidizing and toxic in the bloodstream. 

In human and rat brains, appetite is controlled in the hypothalamus. Sleep kinda lives there too. It’s also part of the HPA axis that makes up our stress response. And the researchers hypothesized that if fructose stimulates appetite more than glucose, it will increase blood flow in the hypothalamus and other reward areas of the brain. They rustled up some humans and stuck them in a functional MRI to measure brain blood flow, and out came some data. 

20 normal weight, non-diabetic “healthy” volunteers were used, 10 men and 10 women, average age 31.The women were all scanned during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle. Each volunteer was scanned and blood samples were taken after an overnight fast. Then they drank a glucose and (on a separate day) a fructose sweetened drink and were scanned again after 60 minutes. The order of drinks was blinded and randomized. The drinks are described as 75g** of sweetener, plus cherry flavored water. Participants were asked to rate fullness, and serum levels of glucose, appetite hormones, insulin, etc. were measured at 10 minute intervals after injestion through the scanning. Serum levels of fructose were also examined, to see how much got past the liver. 

In a complimentary rodent experiment, they gave rats fructose IV and then measured the amounts of fructose that were in the brain to see if some made it through the blood brain barrier. Interesting. 

The results! Well, hypothalamic blood flow tended to decrease after ingestion of glucose (within 15 minutes) ingestionwheras it did not with fructose. At all time points, blood flow in the hypothalamus was decreased after glucose compared to fructose drinks (presumably meaning that appetite was decreased after the glucose ingestion but not decreased with fructose ingestion). Glucose also decreased activity in the brain’s striatum, which fructose did not. Predictably, both plasma glucose and insulin increased with glucose ingestion, whereas there was very little increase with fructose ingestion. 

Plasma fructose in humans did increase after fructose ingestion compared to glucose (scary, and, duh), but levels of ghrelin and leptin were not different in the two groups. Another hormone, PYY, and then lactate was higher in the fructose drinkers. The glucose drinkers felt less hungry and more sated after drinking, whereas fructose drinkers still felt somewhat hungry and not quite as satisfied after the drink. 

In the rodent study, fructose in the plasma did translate to an increase in fructose in the brain (compared to a saline IV), and they found that the RNA for fructose transporters (GLUT5) were expressed in the hypothalamus, liver, and kidney. 

So, for a small study, rather interesting. Big difference in straight up fructose vs. glucose in how the brain and appetite centers react, and one would tend to think from the results that glucose decreases appetite and reduces food-seeking behaviors, whereas fructose doesn’t really fill you up. Of course, no one drinks straight fructose unless you are glopping agave nectar into your tea, and it would have been interesting to see what the soda version of HFCS (from memory, I think it is 55% fructose, 42% glucose) did compared to straight-up glucose. And fizzy (hard to blind that one)! And cherry-flavored! Someone get me some healthy volunteers and an enormously expensive functional MRI machine! 

*don’t drink a vat of agave nectar 
** the typical oral glucose tolerance test is 50g of dextrose in an orange-flavored concoction.