Dear Friends and Patients:
First of all, our staff and I want to say THANK YOU for all of your referrals this past year. Our heartfelt wishes go out to you and your families for a healthy and joyous holiday season. We hope that you have a stress-free holiday with your loved ones. Many of you have been enjoying our quarterly newsletters which we publish on www.prevent-doc.com. As each issue is posted you should have received an e-mail from our office, notifying you that the Newsletter is available for viewing. For this issue only we are mailing out a printed copy to be sure you have been included on our e-mail list. If you receive this mailing, but have not been receiving our e-mails, please contact Kim at 352-331-5138.
In the September 2011 issue I began a series of the “Top 5 Foods to Avoid” and discussed healthy and unhealthy fats (including butter, corn, soy, coconut and canola oils) and cholesterol. In this Newsletter I am going to discuss issues with soy and also issues with eating a high meat diet. But before I do I wanted to briefly comment on the recent headlines regarding a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, claiming that vitamin use might lead to an earlier death. The study was “junk science” at its worst. Adding to the hype, the media skewed and misreported the study. There are numerous previous studies showing vitamins reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease that were not mentioned in either the journal article or news reports. Unfortunately, we expect this study to be used to support the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) recent attack on nutritional supplements.
Your Access To Supplements is Being Threatened
Are you aware that your access to many nutritional supplements will be blocked in the near future? Earlier this year I was notified by McGuff Pharmaceuticals that they could no longer manufacture and ship intravenous vitamin C (previously available for decades). McGuff received written notification from the FDA that this form of vitamin C was now considered a “drug” and could not be manufactured without going through the same approval process as prescription drugs. Here’s what’s going on. According to the proposed FDA regulations that are pending before Congress, any supplement introduced or modified since October 15, 1994 would be considered “new dietary ingredients” and would have to undergo extensive safety testing and an approval process similar to new drugs. Now supplement companies do not have the financial resources that a pharmaceutical company does to go through the rigorous approval process. It doesn’t matter if the ingredient in question is a naturally occurring nutrient present in food that has been on the market for 17 years. In 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) which stated “dietary supplements are safe within a broad range of intake, and safety problems within the supplements are relatively rare.” The DSHEA also states “the Federal Government should not take any actions to impose unreasonable regulatory barriers limiting or slowing the flow of safe products and accurate information to consumers.” Currently, you have a choice of obtaining an Omega-3 fish oil by prescription that is manufactured by a drug company, or you can obtain a high quality Omega-3 fish oil from a supplement company. The quality is comparable. The prescription for a pharmaceutical company-manufactured Omega-3 fish oil costs anywhere from $135 to over $500 dollars for 100 capsules. You can buy an Omega-3 fish oil from us, or a retail or health food store or over Internet for about $18 for 100 capsules. But you may not have access to the $18 product if the FDA proposal becomes law.
Action to Take
This is not the first time the FDA has tried to turn high-potency vitamins and minerals into prescription drugs. This has nothing to do with safety but has everything to do with preserving your freedom of choosing to use natural products to improve your health. You can help by contacting your U.S. senators and congressman. The Alliance for Natural Health USA is an organization dedicated to health freedom. It is spearheading lobbying efforts and filing lawsuits to challenge the FDA’s proposed guidelines as inconsistent with both the letter and spirit of the DSHEA. If you would like to obtain more information and updates or consider joining this organization, log on to their website www.anh-usa.org or just go through the “Links” section of our website.
Top 5 Foods to Avoid Series #2 – Unfermented Soy Products
Soybeans are marketed as a “health food.” I used to eat a lot of soy products, but as I became more educated I discovered soy has a number of dangerous components. The first is phytic acid. All seeds and legumes have this, but not to the extent soybeans contain. Phytic acid binds to needed minerals such as calcium, zinc and magnesium. Even slow cooking does not always adequately break down phytic acid, but long fermentation (6 months to several years) does. So eating natto, miso or tempeh, which are fermented foods, is okay. Soy also contains enzyme inhibitors that reduce protein absorption and processed soy contains nitrates and other chemicals that are carcinogenic (cause cancer).
Soybeans are a genetically modified crop. In 1997, only 8% of the commercially raised soybean crop in the USA was genetically modified. By 2010 this figure was up to 93% (National Agricultural Statistics Board annual report, June 30, 2010). Monsanto company in 1996 introduced “Roundup Ready” soybeans so that their herbicide product “Roundup” could be sprayed on the soybean fields without destroying the soybean crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the use of Roundup Ready soybeans, but be aware that the FDA does not monitor or even require labeling of genetically modified foods (GMOs). You are unknowingly buying GMOs in your supermarket. The Europeans either do not allow GMOs or they require that they be labeled.
Our readers should also be aware that modern processed soy products, including soy burgers and soy cheese are not the same as traditional Asian soy. Soybean oil I place in this same category and do not recommend using it (olive oil is a much better choice). It is a common ingredient in commercial salad dressings, so read the label. Most soy products are, by and large, unfermented and this includes tofu and soy protein. These products do not provide the same benefits as fermented soy products. Unfermented soy is also the second most common allergen, so babies who are allergic to cow’s milk and are switched to a soy formula often develop an allergy to the soy formula. Soy milk is high in aluminum, because it is processed in large aluminum tanks.
Soy milk also contains large quantities of phyto-estrogens as do soy infant formulas. The soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein are similar to 17 beta-estradiols, but are 100,000 times weaker in estrogenic activity. Although these isoflavones are weak estrogens, over time, high concentrations of isoflavones in the body can have a significant cumulative estrogenic and toxic effect, especially when they are exposed to organs that have sensitive estrogen receptors sites such as the breasts, uterus, and ovaries. I recommend babies or men do not take soy products with any regularity. If a post menopausal woman needs more estrogen, then fermented soy could be of benefit.
Studies have shown that 30 grams of unfermented soy consumed daily can affect thyroid function and has been linked to auto immune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well as hypothyroidism.
There are some studies that have shown taking 35-60 grams of soy protein a day can protect the body against breast cancer. This is because genistein acts as a natural aromatase inhibitor and because the very weak isoflavones can occupy estrogen receptor sites in the human body, blocking stronger estrogens such as estrone. On the other hand, there are studies showing that women eating soy had a higher incidence of pre-malignant changes in their body’s cellular structure such as epithelial hyperplasia. Whether soy is beneficial or detrimental to those with estrogen dominance or in breast cancer prevention is controversial. There are safe ways to treat estrogen dominance without using soy products.
The bottom line in this update is if you are going to eat soy products, do so in moderation and only choose fermented soy products.
Top 5 Foods to Avoid Series #3 – Meat, to Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question
Simon Weiss was my father-in-law. He was a butcher and had a saying “the meat makes the meal.” Of course, he would eat meat more than once a day. He died of a stroke at age 92 several years ago, but lived a relatively disease-free life. As I grew up and even in medical school we were taught meat and dairy were great sources of protein, but plants were not. In my medical practice, patients frequently ask me what I think of a vegan or vegetarian diet. Up until 2005, when a book called The China Study was published, physicians didn’t have a lot of scientific data to go by. The China study is a 20 year observational study involving 6,500 individuals living in 130 villages in China. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas Campbell, M.D., his son, are the authors. Dr. Campbell is a Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. The study concluded that people with a high consumption of animal-based foods (meat, eggs, dairy products) were more likely to suffer chronic disease (such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer), while those who ate a plant-based diet were the least likely. A closer look at the study reveals important limitations that impact the reliability, usefulness, and interpretation of the study results. There are technical issues with the limited number of data points. And the study jumps to conclusions and doesn’t differentiate between causation and association.
Key et. Al in 1998 did an analysis of 5 large prospective studies and found no difference in death rates from certain cancers (stomach, colon, lung, breast, and prostate) among vegetarian vs. non-vegetarian. Key found that vegetarians were less likely to die of ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians.
Factors Other Than Just “Too Much Animal Protein.”
Less than sixty years ago, cows and poultry were different than they are today. Back then, animals were allowed to roam freely outdoors. Cattle grazed off grass or hay and were not given estrogens and androgens, antibiotics, genetically modified corn or soy, or growth hormones. Chickens were also allowed to roam freely and not confined to a cage. They also were not given hormones or antibiotics, and were not fed grains that had been adulterated with arsenic to kill parasites (after decades of arsenic use in the U.S. poultry industry, the FDA this year, after mounting pressure, banned this practice because of the harm it could cause in humans). The meat from grass-fed cattle have a higher Omega-3 oil content than seafood, and the human body will do well with some meat if it is organic, free range and not eaten more than once a week. Be warned that a product labeled “natural” is not the same thing as “organic.” And that “natural” product may contain hormones or antibiotics. Personally, I get most of my protein from wild Alaskan salmon or cod (not farm raised), which is very low in mercury and other contaminants.
There are some forms of meat that are especially harmful. Preserved meats (ham, cold-cut turkey or beef, bacon, hotdogs, salami, pastrami or other deli meats) contain added nitrates, which have been linked to a variety of cancers. They also contain sodium, which patients with heart or kidney disease, or hypertension may need to avoid. Barbequed meats (and vegetables) are highly toxic. I used to BBQ a lot and didn’t really want to believe this because I loved picnics and family events. But I did some research. What happens is that fire or hot metal directly touches the food without the presence of liquid or oil, and will burn the food, creating cancer-causing free radicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). They are formed whenever there is incomplete combusion or burning. This incomplete burning also occurs in cigarettes. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are the main cancer causers in cigarettes. But such incomplete burning also takes place in charcoal grills and in the smoking of food. The fat drops on the charcoal, partially burns and spatters up onto the meat. Charcoal grilled meat contains large quantities of such chemicals. A 1.1 kilogram (2.4 pound) charcoal grilled steak contains as much cancer causing chemicals as 600 cigarettes according to a 1964 article in Science magazine! These chemicals last in the body up to a month, which is a long exposure. Worst of all is that they taste good, so you don¹t realize what you are taking in. The position of the National Cancer Institute is that although there are studies linking PAHs and HCAs to multiple different types of cancer in animals (including breast, colon, prostate, leukemia, skin, and liver) there are no direct studies that show barbequing food causes cancer in humans. But then the National Cancer Institute “hedges” on their website and goes on to say “Nevertheless, numerous epidemiologic studies have used detailed questionnaires to examine participants’ meat consumption and meat cooking methods to estimate HCA and PAH exposures. Researchers found that high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats was associated with increased risks of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.”
The National Cancer Institute recommends if you must BBQ, before you barbecue meat, partially cook it in the microwave and then throw out the juices that collect in the cooking dish. Finish cooking the meat on the grill. Precooking a hamburger for a few minutes in the microwave reduces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by up to 95 percent, and frequently flipping burgers further reduces PAHs. The longer the cooking time and the higher the heat, the more HCAs. Barbecuing produces the most HCAs, followed by pan-frying and broiling. Baking, poaching, stir-frying, steaming and stewing produce the least HCAs. The National Cancer Institute suggests keeping the cooking temperature at 300 degrees or below to avoid HCA production.
I leave the choice of whether to eat meat in limited quantities or not up to each patient. I do encourage cancer patients and those with chronic diseases to emphasize a plant-based diet and minimize meat and dairy.
Canadian Guidelines Support No Routine Mammograms Until 50
The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care in November 2011 issued new recommendations on breast cancer screening, and they are similar to the controversial guidelines issued in 2009 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Both task forces recommended women ages 40 to 49 who are at average risk for breast cancer not get routine mammograms. The Canadian guidelines also recommend a longer screening mammogram interval of once every 2 or 3 years (The USPSTF guidelines recommend every 2 years for women aged 50 to 74). What the task force concluded looking at the evidence was more frequent screening didn’t have an impact on the outcome and breast cancer death rates. There was also concern with the risk for false-positive tests and then unnecessary work and over-treatment. I agree with these recommendations.
There are a growing number of physicians who are concerned about exposing pre-menopausal female breasts to radiation on an annual basis. Their breast tissue is especially sensitive to radiation. Contrary to conventional assurances that radiation exposure from mammography is trivial- and similar to that from a chest X-ray or spending a weekend at the beach, about 1/1,000 of a rad (radiation-absorbed dose) – the routine practice of taking four films for each breast results in some 1,000-fold greater exposure, 1 rad, focused on each breast rather than the entire chest. Thus, premenopausal women undergoing annual screening over a ten-year period are exposed to a total of about 10 rads for each breast. A Johns Hopkins study published in 2009 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute warned radiation exposure from annual mammograms could trigger breast malignancies in women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancers who have altered genes (identified as BRCA1 or BRCA2). And contrary to popular belief and assurances by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Cancer Society (ACS), mammography is not a technique for early diagnosis. Unfortunately, a breast cancer has usually been present for about eight years before it can finally be detected.
An FDA approved adjunct (not replacement for) to mammography is Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging, better known as Thermography. Thermography is not an x-ray and there is no touching or compression of the body. Thermography is a test of physiology that uses a very sensitive medical digital infrared-sensing camera that develops a color image on a computer of a body’s thermal patterns. The underlying principle by which thermography detects pre-cancerous or cancerous growths is because tumors have an increased blood flow and increased number of blood vessels to maintain their increased cellular growth. This causes an increase in temperature that is seen on the thermographic scan. Thermography is the only modality that can demonstrate whether a condition called estrogen dominance is affecting the breasts. Estrogen dominance is a potential risk factor for the development of breast breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. Mammography does not demonstrate this hormonal imbalance. For detailed information on thermography go to our website www.prevent-doc.com and link to thermography, or call Gainesville Thermography at 352-332-7212.
Patient Success Story – 20 Year Old With Panic Attacks
Miss E. is a 20-year-old lady who first came to see me a year ago. She began having panic attacks when she was involved in a “stressful relationship.” She was hospitalized and placed on Ativan (a benzodiazepine tranquilizer). Miss E. stated this medication did not help her panic attacks and she abruptly quit the medication. “I went into a full-blown psychosis where nothing seemed real.” She was unable to function either in school or at her job. She saw multiple physicians and also two psychiatrists. She was placed on Klopopin (a benzodiazepine class drug used for panic disorder and for control of seizures). She took this drug for a period of time and later Celexa, an anti-depressant in the serotonin reuptake inhibitor family. When she came to the Center she was on no medication and was complaining of a severe emotional and physical breakdown. She couldn’t cope and was sleeping 14 hours a day. She complained also of “air hunger” where she would need to take in a deep breath and also complained of experiencing a rapid heart beat (tachycardia) of up to 130 beats per minute. Previous evaluations with a pulmonary medicine specialist and a cardiologist were all normal.
Lab testing through the Center included a salivary cortisol study, which showed an elevated salivary cortisol level in the morning, indicative of stress. A Neuroscience neurotransmitter panel showed an imbalance of urinary neurotransmitters. Miss E. was placed on targeted amino acid therapy to help balance her neurotransmitters, and an herbal/amino acid product to help balance her cortisol levels. Within a six week period of time she began having significant improvement in mood, decreased anxiety level, and improvement in her energy level. Her sensation of air hunger continued.
Her clinical course was complicated by her developing a bronchitis. She was placed on Septra DS, a sulfa antibiotic. Within a few doses she began having recurrent panic attacks, headaches and mis-emotion. The antibiotic was stopped. Miss E. did not want to take a different antibiotic and elected to undergo bio-oxidative treatment with IV Vitamin C, which boosts immune function through a mechanism of stimulating the body’s white blood cells to produce hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and possibly viruses. Her bronchitis improved. One of her last visits here was several months ago, where she was doing better emotionally. She was seeing a psychologist and was no longer needing targeted amino acid therapy or supplements. She stated her acupuncturist felt her previous anxiety attacks were related to the drugs she took in the past. She is scheduled to be seen in December for a follow up visit here.
According to a recent large study by Medco Health Solutions, more than 1 in 5 Americans now takes at least one drug to treat a psychological disorder, ranging from antidepressants like Prozac to anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax. In women, the statistic was 1 in 4. What is alarming is the degree of increasing use of mind-altering drugs in teenagers and in elders, two groups who are especially sensitive to drugs. Anti-depressant drugs can have side-effects identical to the symptoms the person is suffering with to begin with – anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, insomnia, respiratory symptoms, sexual dysfunction, changes in weight, and others. So when a treating physician doesn’t see a response or a worsening of a patient’s anxiety or depression, that physician may increase the dose of the drug rather than decrease it, or add a second drug to the mix. Getting a patient off a tranquilizer like Xanax or Ativan is often impossible without significant drug withdrawal symptoms. In Miss E. antibiotics also caused a recurrence of her panic attacks and depression. This is something that is not well-recognized. Antibiotics kill not only harmful bacteria, but also alter the friendly bacteria in our gastrointestinal systems. Our gastrointestinal tract is a huge source of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine and nor-epinephrine. According to WebMD, 90% of our body’s serotonin resides in the intestinal tract and not the brain. So antibiotics can affect bacteria that participate in the conversion of tryptophan in the gut into 5-hydroxytryptophan and finally serotonin. The result is a neurotransmitter imbalance and anxiety/depression or even panic attacks.