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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is a good time to evaluate certain risks, lifestyle factors and habits that can impact breast health.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'd like to take the next two weeks to discuss breast health. The occurrence of benign breast lumps, cystic diseases of the breast and breast cancer are rising. Perhaps as many as one in five women will develop breast cancer, and the number may be as high as one in three in heavily populated areas.
Medical literature has identified many risks for breast cancer, including oxidative stress (free radical damage), poor nutrition, obesity, chemical contaminants in food and the environment, smoking, alcohol, hormonal factors, pollution, electromagnetic radiation, diminished immunity and genetic risks. There is no doubt that many of these risks can be impacted favorably by healthy lifestyle, including good nutritional practices.
Taking care of breast health is a lifelong commitment for women, and regular self breast examination is absolutely crucial. Being self-aware of body structures, including the breasts, is an important initiative for women. In fact, women can benefit from keeping a personal record of self-examination of their bodies, including their breasts.
Vigilance and self-examination are so important because early detection of breast cancer can lead to a better outcome of treatment. Women are encouraged to follow the American Cancer Society's guidelines for breast cancer prevention. These guidelines involve monthly self-examination with an annual physical exam for women 20-39 years of age, and an annual mammogram and physical exam for women over 40. A family history of breast cancer often causes a need for more stringent monitoring of breast health.
Identifying Breast Cancer Risks
Body type "Apple shape" (extra weight in the upper body and stomach), as opposed to "pear shape" (extra weight in the hips and thighs), increases risk.
Diet Poor diet (high in fat, low in fiber, deficiency of vitamins A, C, E and selenium) increases risk.
Heredity Risk is greater for women whose mothers, sisters or aunts have a history of breast cancer.
Marital status Women who have never married are at higher risk. Menarche Early menarche (prior to age 12) increases risk.
Menopause Late menopause (after age 55) increases risk.
Motherhood Never having given birth, or having a first child after age 30, increases risk.
Nationality Women born in or have a higher risk. Recent trends indicate increased breast cancer occurrence in women of Hispanic, Asian and African descent.
Some food scientists and researchers believe that all risk factors put together may not exert as much influence on breast cancer risk as good nutrition. The type of diet known to support breast health has multiple other health benefits, including the promotion of cardiovascular health. This healthy diet is low in saturated fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish oil), high in fiber, nutrient-dense, and low in calories and simple sugars. It also must incorporate certain protective substances, such as antioxidants and other plant compounds found in fruit, vegetables and soy.
The wise woman must avoid the potential carcinogens in her environment. Some of these sources are summarized in Table 2.
Aflatoxins Often found in moldy nuts, seeds and grains.
Burned proteins From charred meats off the grill.
Cyclamates Including artificial sweeteners such as saccharin.
Coal-tar-based food colorings Also found in some cosmetics.
DDT A pesticide banned in the U.S., but still used in other countries.
DES Diethylstillbestrol, a synthetic estrogen.
Formaldehyde An industrial solvent used in rugs, plastics and new clothing. Nitrates and nitrites Found in prepared foods such as hot dogs, bacon and lunch meat.
Pesticides The Environmental Protection Agency identifies more than 60 pesticides as potential carcinogens.
Radiation Low doses from environmental sources can accumulate in the body. Smoked foods Including bacon, ham, fish and cheese.
Tobacco Smoking or second-hand smoke.
Dietary supplements are not to be used to treat or prevent any disease and discussions about the nutritional management of breast cancer must conform with this legality stated in the U.S Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA, 1994). Thanks to emerging research, the power of nutrition in the management of breast health is becoming increasingly apparent. Part 2 of this newsletter published in Breast Cancer Awareness Month will focus on some modern concepts on the use of nutrition for breast health.
The promotion of breast health is a key public health initiative in the U.S. However, current breast cancer prevention strategies have some disadvantages and limitations. These strategies depend on early diagnosis and intervention, which may not always be possible through manual breast exams or mammograms. Fortunately, new strategies have shown promise for earlier and more accurate diagnosis or prediction.
It's been stated that overall breast cancer risk may be closely related to lifetime exposure to estrogen. Estrogen is made by the body (as estradiol, estrone and estriol), and its metabolic pathways are complex. Certain types of estrogen appear to be more "friendly" for health in comparison to others. Estradiol is the type of estrogen that is most often linked to breast cancer risk. In addition, exposure to synthetic chemicals in plastics and other consumer goods can flood the body with xenoestrogens, which are foreign and potentially hazardous types of estrogens.
There are many natural plant substances that have weak estrogenic activity, including soy isoflavones, certain lignans and red clover flavonoids. However, these natural substances are examples of biological response modifiers, not just simple estrogens. There is much misinformation broadcast about plant phytoestrogens. Soy isoflavones (genistein, daidzein and glyceitin) can downregulate effects of naturally occurring estrogenic hormones or xenoestrogens, especially in states of estrogen excess; and they can upregulate estrogenic stimuli in states of estrogen deficiency. Therefore, soy isoflavones are best perceived as substances that promote the body's normal estrogen balance.
A comprehensive review of medical literature shows that soy foods are associated with breast health support. These matters are discussed in detail in two of my books ("The Soy Revolution," Dell Publishing, NY, 2000 and "Soya for Health," Mary Ann Liebert Publishing Inc, NY, 1996, or available at www.stephenholtmd.com).
A useful baseline support regimen for breast health is to use multivitamins, supplemented with powdered extracts of fruit, vegetables, berries and greens. The phytochemical content of this regimen provides potential protection by antioxidant actions, inactivation of carcinogenic chemicals and inhibition of enzymes that encourage cancer growth. The most notable phytochemicals with protective effects include: carotenoids, flavonoids, indole-3-carbinol, sulforaphane and D-glucaric acid.
The incorporation of good dietary fats also plays a major role in breast health. Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-9 fatty acids appear to have protective benefits. Flax seed contains precursors of valuable essential fatty acids, but benefits are most likely related to fiber or lignan content. Flax is not a sufficient source of active omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in flax only in precursor forms. As little as two percent of precursor forms of omega-3 fatty acids are converted to active fatty acids such as eicosapentoic acid (EPA). Active omega-3 fatty acids are best taken in enteric-coated fish oil capsules, for enhanced absorption and reduced gastrointestinal side effects.
Phytochemicals with antioxidant actions are also ideal for use in synergistic formulations to promote breast health. My recommendations for evidence-based synergistic supplement approaches include: ellagic acid, Wakame seaweed, lycopene, bioflavanoids, garlic, green coffee been and green tea polyphenols, resveratrol, sulforaphane, evening primrose oil, Panax ginseng, calcium D-glucarate, flax seed, indole-3-carbinol, Maitake mushroom and turmeric.
I want to make it clear that antioxidants tend to work in a synergistic (additive) manner, and I recommend the use of mixed antioxidant preparations for health and longevity. Some of these matters were discussed in an earlier newsletter ("Antioxidant Combinations: Crucial for Health," available at www.holthealthnews.com).
Finally, internal detoxification is another important approach to maintaining breast health, especially for individuals living in geographic locations with a high occurrence of environmental contamination. The increasing industrialization of third world countries is occurring with questionable control of environmental toxins.
This newsletter may overwhelm the layperson in some areas, but I cannot simplify matters at the risk of distorting information. I hope my readers understand the complexities of discussions about the wide-ranging beneficial effects of nutrition on health and well-being. That said, I must make a strong disclaimer statement again that dietary supplements are not to be used to prevent or treat disease. This column contains third party literature allowed under DSHEA 1994, and it is not meant to support the use of any specific dietary supplement, nor is it to be perceived as part of any labeling statement.
The opinions I express may not be the same as those of other medical practitioners, and I strongly advise anyone with breast disease or concerns about breast health to visit his or her own healthcare practitioner for advice. I do not wish to provide information that will interfere with any healthcare practitioner/client relationship. I am not providing treatment advice, but I welcome you to share this information with any healthcare provider, and I respect the opinions of my colleagues. The purpose of providing references in this article is to help demonstrate that there is evidence to support some of the statements I have made. All consumers of dietary supplements must respect the rules and regulations that govern the use of non-prescription dietary supplement products. My books are available at www.stephenholtmd.com.
Stephen Holt, MD is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Emerite) and a medical practitioner in New York State. He has published many peer-review papers in medicine and he is a best-selling author with more than twenty books in national and international distribution. He has received many awards for teaching and research. Dr. Holt is a frequent lecturer at scientific meetings and healthcare facilities throughout the world. He is the founder of the Holt Institute of Medicine (www.hiom.org) and www.stephenholtmd.com
Stephen Holt, MD
Will This Remarkably Inexpensive Nutrient Cure Alzheimer’s Disease
If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, what you’re about to read could be life changing. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine may have found a cure.
That’s right, a cure! And, even better, this cure is remarkably inexpensive. The study I’m about to tell you about is a preliminary study, so I can’t promise this treatment will work for everyone. But the scientists involved in the study believe they have found the cure for Alzheimer’s.
The cure is a nutrient that’s been around for decades. In fact, years ago, nutritionally minded psychiatrist Abe Hoffer taught that this nutrient could cure mental illness. Now the California study shows some startling results in Alzheimer’s mice. This nutrient actually restored their memory!
Here’s the story: The scientists genetically engineered mice to get the equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, animals can get dementia just like humans, with beta amyloid plaque (Alzheimer’s hallmark) in their brains.
The scientists added a vitamin to their drinking water beginning at four months of age. The researchers then tested the animals’ short-term and long-term memory during the next four months.
They tested memory patterns known to be dependent on certain brain structures that are damaged by Alzheimer’s. The nutrient? It’s the simple $2 nutrient niacinamide. Niacinamide is just an easy-to-tolerate form of vitamin B3. And its ability to treat Alzheimer’s is truly amazing.
The results of this study showed that oral niacinamide treatment prevents the cognitive deficits in mice with Alzheimer’s, while improving the short-term spatial memory in non-demented control animals. At the end of the study the Alzheimer’s mice performed as well in memory testing as healthy mice.
This suggests that the vitamin protected their brains from memory loss and restored memory that was already lost. I don’t need to sell you on this. Just look at the words of author Dr. Kim Green. “Cognitively, they were cured,” Dr. Green said. “They performed as if they’d never developed the disease.” “The vitamin completely prevented cognitive decline associated with the disease, bringing them back to the level they’d be at if they didn’t have the pathology.”
Furthermore, healthy mice fed the B3 performed better than mice on a normal diet. “It actually improved behavior in non-demented animals, too,” said Dr. Green. Dr. Frank LaFerla, the lead author of the study, said: “This suggests that not only is it good for Alzheimer’s disease, but if normal people take it, some aspects of their memory might improve.”
How does niacinamide work? Neurons are constructed with microtubules. These are scaffolding within the cells that conduct information. When the microtubules break down, the cells can die.
The tubules are like highways inside cells. Dr. Green said that niacinamide is “making a wider more stable highway.” Alzheimer’s disease breaks down the highway (tubules). But niacinamide prevents this from happening.
I’ve previously told you how the toxic metal mercury also destroys these microtubules, potentially causing Alzheimer’s disease. So anything that can prevent the damage or reverse it is a huge discovery.
Dr. Green says that niacinamide has a very robust affect on neurons. It prevents the build-up of “tau,” which are proteins along tracks inside neurons. In the early stages of the disease, these protein clumps impair the nerve-cell functions. But, ultimately, the tau proteins can stop the nerves from functioning and kill them. Dr. Green told the Alzheimer’s Research Forum: “It’s absolutely dramatic.
This [biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease, the tau protein] is just wiped from the brain specifically.” The dose the researchers gave the mice was 200 mg/kg per day. That’s a hefty dose. The UCI researchers have been recruiting patients for a human study.
The participants in this study will take 1,500 mg of niacinamide twice daily. From my perspective, that’s a very tolerable dose of a very inexpensive vitamin. I have been waiting patiently for a break in Alzheimer’s disease like this.
As I mentioned earlier, Abe Hoffer showed years ago that vitamin B3 and other nutrients could cure or control schizophrenia. With the new understanding of its ability to protect microtubules, Hoffer’s observations and work has reached even greater heights.
Niacinamide is an absolutely wonderful nutrient that has a lot more benefits than just treating Alzheimer’s. I will tell you more about these wonders in an upcoming issue. But this information was just too incredible to delay. If you have dementia of any kind, consider niacinamide, 1,500 mg twice daily.
Please keep me informed of your progress. I have always maintained that diseased neurons (or any cell for that matter) can be saved if the remedy is provided before they die. These incredible researchers have shown us, at least in a rodent model, that you can save and normalize Alzheimer’s diseased neurons with vitamin B3.
Considering that the pathology in humans is virtually identical to the disease in the experimental mice, if and when these results are duplicated in humans, niacinamide could be the Alzheimer’s breakthrough of all time. One final note: Be sure that you use niacinamide, and not its sister niacin.
The latter is another form of B3 that will cause an uncomfortable prickly flush, and is often used for cholesterol problems. It sometimes irritates the liver. Fortunately, the niacinamide form does not produce the flush.
And it doesn’t have any significant irritating effects on the liver, even in high doses. You can find niacinamide at a health food store and on the Internet.
Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/alternative-medicine-articles/will-remarkably-inexpensive-nutrient-cure-alzheimers-disease-1433911.html#ixzz15lJVpSlj
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
One of the most important nutrients we get from animal foods is vitamin B12. The vitamin is also the largest known biomolecule and the only nutrient with a stable carbon-metal bond. One molecule of cobalt lies at the center of each B12 molecule, which has the approximate (and awesome!) chemical formula of C61-64H84-90N14O13-14PCo. Isolated B12 is a crystalline compound with a bright red color, due to the presence of cobalt. One practitioner has referred to B12 as "those ruddy drops that cheer sad hearts and strengthen faint hearts."1
Vitamin B12 works with folic acid in many body processes including synthesis of DNA, red blood cells and the insulation sheath (the myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells and facilitates the conduction of signals in the nervous system. Severe depletion manifests as pernicious anemia, which was invariably fatal until the discovery of B12 in liver. But long before anemia sets in, other conditions may manifest, most often neurological problems (numbness, pins and needles sensations, a burning feeling in the feet, shaking, muscle fatigue, sleep disorders, memory loss, irrational anger, impaired mental function and Alzheimer’s) or psychological conditions (dementia, depression, psychosis and obsessive-compulsive behavior). President Kennedy has been quoted as having said he would never have become president without injections of B12.2
Absorption Absorption of vitamin B12 is a complex process, subject to problems at several points.
B12 from animal food enters the stomach as part of animal proteins and must first be liberated by pepsin and hydrochloric acid. Free B12 then attaches to R-protein, which is released from the salivary cells and parietal cells (the same cells that release hydrochloric acid). To be absorbed efficiently, B12 must attach to a protein called intrinsic factor (IF) which is also secreted in the stomach. This cannot happen until the R-protein complexes are broken down by pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine. B12 then binds with the intrinsic factor and proceeds through the gut to the lower portion of the small intestine, where the intrinsic factor-B12 complex attaches to cell receptors, a process that involves calcium.
Thus, deficiencies in pepsin, hydrochloric acid, R-protein, pancreatic enzymes, intrinsic factor, calcium and cell receptors can all lead to B12 deficiency through blocked absorption. Once in the bloodstream, transport proteins bind to B12 and deliver it to the cells. Within the cells, enzymes liberate B12 from the protein complex and convert it to its two coenzyme forms, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Deficiency in the required enzymes can block this conversion.
Because the absorption process is so complicated, and therefore subject to various blocks, many people--particularly the elderly--may develop deficiencies even though they are taking in plentiful B12 in their food. Fortunately, the body absorbs about 1-5 percent of free B12 by a process of passive diffusion. Thus supplementation with large doses of crystalline B12 or with foods extremely rich in B12 can successfully treat deficiencies caused by compromised protein digestion or lack of R-protein, intrinsic factor or pancreatic enzymes. Supplementation with the coenzyme forms methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin (the forms found in the cells) can overcome B12 deficiency in the cells caused by lack of, or malfunction of, conversion enzymes.
Vegetarians B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods such as liver, kidney, meat, fish, shellfish, milk products and eggs but the original source of B12 in nature is bacteria, the only creatures able to manufacture this vitamin. In humans and animals, these bacteria produce B12 in the colon; however, little if any is absorbed across the colon wall so we must get our B12 from animal foods. Bivalves such as clams, mussels and oysters contain high levels of B12 because they siphon large quantities of vitamin B12-synthesizing microorganisms from the sea.3 Production of B12 supplements involves fermentation procedures similar to those used for penicillin and other antibiotics.
Interestingly, while eggs contain B12, they also contain substances that block absorption,4 a fact that leaves only milk as a good source of B12 for vegetarians. Some studies indicate that B12 is better absorbed from milk than from meat.5 However, one source indicates that B12 in milk is destroyed by boiling.6 Analysis of B12 in pasteurized milk reveals only a 10 percent loss; however pasteurization deforms the milk proteins that aid in B12 absorption.7
Interestingly, some sources claim that fermentation of yoghurt from milk lowers B12 levels,8 although food tables indicate similar levels in commercial milk and yoghurt.
The vitamin B12 molecule is resistant to temperatures in excess of the boiling point, unless exposed to an alkaline medium. The molecule breaks down at 250o C. Thus B12 is destroyed on the surface of grilled meat, but not in the interior. Eight percent of B12 in liver is lost by boiling for five minutes.9 Thus gentle braising or cooking steaks to rare or medium-rare best preserves B12 in meat.
Until recently, vegetarian and vegan literature claimed that certain plant foods could provide B12--seaweeds, fermented soybeans, spirulina, even unwashed vegetables that have been fertilized with manure. Proponents of vegetarianism pointed to inhabitants of India, who did not seem to exhibit signs of B12 deficiency in spite of very low levels of animal foods in the diet. Yet as early as 1974, an American study found that 92 percent of vegans, 64 percent of lactovegetarians, 47 percent of lacto-ovovegetarians and 20 percent of semi-vegetarians have blood levels below normal, that is, below the low range that marks the onset of pernicious anemia.10
Today, most vegetarian literature does warn about the very real possibility of depletion and recommends routine supplementation with B12. We now know that a source of B12 in the tropical, mostly vegetarian diet in India was insect excrement and parts in stored grains and legumes.11 These would have been an unavoidable feature of traditional diets in hot climates until the advent of modern sterilization and storage techniques. Plant foods said to be sources of B12 actually contain B12 analogs (called cobamides)--substances that block the uptake of true B12 and increase the body’s need for the nutrient.12 A surprising source of cobamides is bacterial overgrowth in the small intestines, which can produce B12 analogs.13 The use of antibiotics, or a diet high in refined carbohydrates, can encourage the proliferation of bacterial overgrowth and lead to B12 deficiencies.
Yet another area for concern is multivitamin products! The late Victor Herbert, a noted B12 researcher, maintains that many multivitamin products contain spurious and even dangerous analogs of B12 possibly formed when crystalline B12 interacts with other nutrients in multivitamin products, such as vitamin C, iron and copper.14
High levels of folic acid can accelerate neuropsychiatric complications in persons with B12 deficiency.15 Since folic acid intakes of vegetarians tend to be high (from green vegetables and from grain products that have been fortified with folic acid), those following a vegetarian lifestyle may be at increased risk of neurological and psychological problems.
The body stores considerable B12 in the liver. Thus a delay of 5-10 years may separate the beginning of a vegetarian diet (or absorption problems) and the onset of deficiency symptoms. Interestingly, the body can recycle over 75 percent of the B12 it uses.16 Used B12 is excreted in bile and then reabsorbed in the small intestine by the same complex process described earlier. Some people have a more efficient recycling system than others and hence can go longer on a vegetarian diet without signs of deficiency. However, more B12 is excreted in the presence of high levels of fiber, a common feature of vegetarian diets.17
Vegan and vegetarian diets present a real danger for growing children because their stores are very low, especially if their mothers avoided animal foods during pregnancy and lactation. The scientific literature contains numerous case studies describing severe anemia, dramatic growth retardation, irritability and delays in the acquisition of motor skills in B12-deficient children from vegetarian families.
In a recent study, researchers assayed cognitive development in 72 young people raised on diets free of all animal products until at least the age of six and then on a diet containing milk and eggs. When compared with children who had eaten normal mixed diets (including meat) all their lives, they scored substantially lower on tests measuring spatial ability, short-term memory and "fluid intelligence," that is, the capacity to solve complex problems, abstract thinking ability and the ability to learn.18
Measuring B12 Deficieny American medical opinion defines blood levels lower than 200 pg/mL as an indication of deficiency. This number is based on the level associated with the most severe manifestation of deficiency, pernicious anemia. In contrast, the lower limit in Japan and some European countries is 500-550 pg/mL, the levels associated with psychological and behavioral manifestations such as dementia and memory loss. Physicians in these countries consider blood levels of 500-1300 to be the normal range.19
According to Dr. John Dommisse, an expert in B12 deficiency, the acceptance of high levels as normal in Japan, and the willingness to readily treat psychiatric symptoms with B12 explains the low rates of Alzheimer’s dementia in that country--as well as the reason for the very high rates of Alzheimer’s in the US.20
Even with the very low cutoff currently considered the risk point, large numbers of Americans are deficient. In the ongoing Framingham Offspring Study, involving 3000 men and women in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts, researchers found that 39 percent had B12 levels in the so-called "low normal" range, that is below 258.21 Had the researchers chosen the optimal range of 1100-1300 as a measure of B12 status, very few would have qualified as B12 replete.
One of the most surprising findings of this study was the fact that the youngest group (26 to 49 years old) had about the same B12 status as the oldest group (65 and up), an indication that deficiencies are becoming more common.
Pernicious Anemia Pernicious (that is, "deadly") anemia occurs when a person lacks the intrinsic factor and cannot absorb B12. The most common underlying cause of pernicious anemia is an autoimmune reaction that attacks and destroys the stomach cells that produce intrinsic factor. The disease is characterized by immature, abnormally large red blood cells (macrocytes), which are very inefficient at carrying oxygen, and by white blood cells with abnormal nuclei.
Early symptoms of pernicious anemia include paleness, weakness and fatigue; severe anemia causes shortness of breath, dizziness and a rapid heart rate.
Those suffering from pernicious anemia require very high levels of B12 to overcome the lack of intrinsic factor. The traditional treatment was one pound per day of calf’s liver, providing almost 200 micrograms B12. Today doctors prescribe injections or oral supplements of even higher doses.
Symptoms of Aging B12 deficiency mimics many of the features of old age--ataxia (shaky movements and unsteady gait) muscle weakness, spasticity, incontinence, slowed reactions, memory loss, disorientation, depression and confusion can all occur when B12 levels are low.
Whether or not Alzheimer’s disease constitutes a condition of B12 deficiency is the subject of considerable debate among physicians. A recent and fascinating study of a family in Wales provides convincing evidence that low levels of B12 and Alzheimer’s are linked.22
Researchers evaluated members of a family with a genetic predisposition towards Alzheimer’s disease. They found that four out of six (67 percent) family members with confirmed Alzheimer’s disease had abnormally low blood levels of vitamin B12, compared to one out of 12 (8 percent) who were at equal genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s but did not. The researchers speculated that a vitamin B12 deficiency could result in impaired methylation reactions in the central nervous system, a characteristic feature of Alzheimer’s, as well as the possibility that the genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s may actually be related to a genetic impairment in the ability to absorb B12.
Investigators have found vitamin B12 deficiency in 3-42 percent of persons aged 65 and older. In a recent study of geriatric patients, 43 percent had levels below 295 pmol/L.23 Should a higher point be used as bench mark, it is likely that almost all seniors would be diagnosed as deficient.
Current medical practice has fixated on cholesterol as the marker for good health, using expensive lifelong drugs and soul-numbing diets to bring cholesterol levels as low as possible--a policy that has resulted in untold misery for millions and a huge financial burden on the medical system. How much more felicitous and cost effective to test everyone who reaches age 50 for B12 levels instead. For a fraction of the cost, old age could be transformed into a period of peace and contentment, instead of one of heartbreaking suffering for the elderly and their families.
Research shows tremendous potential for B12 to reverse mental decline in elderly patients. In one study, 61 percent of patients with mental impairment had complete recovery with supplementation; investigators speculate that those that did not recover had suffered from deficiency so long that damage to the nervous system had become irreversible.24 Supplementation results in little improvement for those who have had full blown Alzheimer’s symptoms for greater than six months.25 Thus, routine early testing for B12 has the potential to prevent mental decline in the vast proportion of the elderly. By the time Alzheimer’s is conclusively diagnosed, it may be too late for supplementation to be effective.
Heart Disease It was Dr. Kilmer McCully who elucidated high blood homocysteine levels as a marker for heart disease. Homocysteine is formed in the body from the amino acid methionine in a process that can be blocked by folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. High homocysteine levels can result in endothelial dysfunction (a narrowing of the arteries) which in turn is believed to be a precursor of atherosclerosis. Researchers in Taiwan now report that homocysteine-induced endothelial narrowing can be avoided or at least reduced by supplementing with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.26 Ironically, the American Heart Association and government agencies have demonized B12-rich foods like liver and raw milk (which is also an excellent source of B6).
Cancer Since B12 helps repair DNA that is damaged by radiation or oxidation, it plays a role in protection against cancer. Low levels of B12 are associated with cancer of the cervix27 and the breast28 in human studies.
But research on B12 and cancer is contradictory. In one study, high levels of vitamin B12 were associated with an up to 3-fold increase in risk of developing prostate cancer.29
One explanation for these disparities lies in the fact that cancer cells develop receptors that allow them to absorb huge amounts of B12. In fact, researchers are looking at cancer drugs that combine B12 with cellular toxins such as nitric oxide. Inside the tumor cell, the nitric oxide component of the targeted drug is released, triggering cellular events leading to up-regulation of genes causing apoptosis--or programmed cell death.30
Yet, a recent study found that injections of large doses of methylcobalamin were non-toxic and suppressed tumor growth in mice fed a diet deficient in B12.31
Furthermore, holistic physicians have reported good results giving B12 to cancer patients. Dr. Max Gerson, who treated terminal cancer patients with extraordinary success, gave his patients liver injections, often combined with additional B12.32
Nervous Disorders One condition that would seem obviously correlated with B12 deficiency is multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease characterized by demyelination of the central nervous system. Yet many studies indicate that those with MS have normal blood levels of the vitamin. Japanese researchers have found that in MS patients, there is a decrease in the binding capacity of B12, thus inhibiting the transport of B12 into the cells, even in patients with normal levels in their blood.33 Even so, they were able to achieve some improvement with high-dose supplementation.
The benefit of B12 for depression may be due to B12’s ability to activate a substance called tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4), a compound which in turn helps activate "feel good" neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.34
Surprisingly, B12 has also proven successful in treating diabetic neuropathy, possibly because the condition of diabetes deranges B12 metabolism.35
Recurrent seizures may be a manifestation of B12 deficiency. One study found that individuals who suffered from seizures had low B12 levels.36
Other neurological problems associated with B12 deficiency include urinary incontinence37 and migraine headaches.38 In one case history, B12 worked better than steroids as a treatment for Bell’s palsy.39 Another case study reports that shaky leg syndrome responds well to B12 injections.40
Fertility B12 plays a critical role in cellular replication so it is no surprise that deficiency can manifest as low sperm count. High doses are key to successful treatment. In one study, 27 percent of men with sperm counts less than 20 million given 1000 mcg per day of vitamin B12 were able to achieve a total count in excess of 100 million;41 in a study in which men were given 6000 mcg per day, 57 percent of men with low sperm counts demonstrated improvement.42
As pernicious anemia often leads to infertility, B12 supplements can allow a woman to conceive. Traditional societies considered foods rich in B12 as important for fertility. B12 plays a key role in the development of new tissue; thus women who are deficient may not ovulate, or a fertilized egg may not develop, resulting in miscarriage. Prolonged B12 deficiency results in infertility. In one study, a woman who had suffered seven miscarriages before discovering her B12 deficiency went on to have three children once the problem was corrected.43
However, when it comes to B12 itself, supplementation with isolated B12 is often necessary and appropriate. The many factors in our modern lifestlye that block the complicated uptake pathways of this important nutrient--from nutrient deficiencies to exposure to toxins to factors in processed foods that cause reduced stomach acid, autoimmune disease and enzyme disruption--make it difficult to obtain sufficient quantities from our normal diet; and since vitamin B12 in supplements is produced in exactly the same way as B12 in nature, that is, by bacterial fermentation, the danger of high doses in most cases is negligible.
B12 supplements have the potential of making life better for a large portion of the population, and not just the elderly. Regular testing and treatment with supplements as needed is an important step in the transition from the modern diet back to a nutrient-dense traditional one, when, after a generation or two, supplements of any kind will no longer be needed.
The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of Lee Clifford, MS, CCN, for providing her extensive files on vitamin B12.
Signs of B12 Deficiency Poor growth/failure to thrive in infants
Premature grey hair
Disturbed carbohydrate metabolism
Loss of hearing and tinnitus
Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
Hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation (dark and light patches in the skin)
Neuralgia, neuritis and bursitis
Anemia, including pernicious anemia
Spinal cord degeneration
Psoriasis and other skin problems
Irrational or chronic anger
Lack of balance/abnormal gait
Any emotional disorder up to and including insanity
Testing for B12 Deficiency The first step in determining B12 deficiency is a test of B12 levels in the blood. However, many doctors believe that blood levels are an unreliable indicator of deficiency and that tissue levels of B12 may be quite low even though blood levels are normal. They recommend also testing for elevated levels of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid (MMA), two precursors to the metabolic reactions controlled by B12. Since homocysteine levels can be elevated by a number of conditions (folic acid deficiency, B6 deficiencies, renal failure, hypothyroidism and certain genetic defects), doctors consider elevated MMA levels to be the more reliable indication of B12 deficiency.
Other tests include the Schilling test, in which a tiny dose of radioactive B12 is given by mouth and the amount absorbed measured. If vitamin B12 is absorbed only when given with intrinsic factor, the diagnosis of pernicious anemia is confirmed.
Because testing is so complicated, the levels considered normal in dispute, and disruption possible at numerous levels, many physicians have come to the conclusion that the only reliable way to assess the effects of subtle B12 deficiency on the blood, especially in older patients, is to observe changes (especially psychological changes) after treatment and determine empirically the best amount of supplementation for the individual patient. Since B12 is not toxic, except perhaps at extremely high levels, the empirical use of large doses to treat patients poses no danger.
Avoiding B12 Deficiency Get a plentiful amount in your food. Liver or shellfish eaten at least once a week is the the best way to ensure that you are taking in adequate amounts.
Avoid overconsumption of foods that block vitamin B12 intake or increase the body’s need for the vitamin, such as soy foods and spirulina.
Avoid antacids and drugs that lower stomach acid levels: acid-suppressing drugs such as Tagamet, Zantac and Losec can lead to serious B12 deficiency (Koop H. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1992;6:399-406 [review]; Marcaurd SP and others. Ann Intern Med 1994;120:211-215).
Avoid diabetes drugs such as Glucophage which also interfere with B12 absorption (Archives Int Med 2002 Feb 25;162:484-85.
Consume plenty of calcium. Calcium is involved in the absorption of B12 from the lower small intestine. Best sources are raw dairy products and bone broths. (Bone broths also help heal intestinal inflammation that could cause absorption problems.) Dolomite powder can also be used as a calcium source.
Take coconut oil and consume lacto-fermented foods: these help fight against pathogens such as helicobacter pylori, which is associated with B12 deficiency. Eradication of the organism often clears up B12 deficiency. (Archives of Internal Medicine, May 8, 2000 160:1349-53)
Avoid foods fortified with folic acid. Taking folic acid without B12 can mask signs of B12 deficiency in red blood cells but will not protect against deficiencies in the nervous system. Folic acid and B12 work together and any supplementation program should include both of these nutrients (Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. National Academy Press. Washington, DC 1998).
Avoid taking excess vitamin C, especially for long periods. The ability of vitamin C to destroy B12 has been observed by several researchers--although this is disputed by others. Small amounts of natural vitamin C are a better choice than large amounts of synthetic vitamin C. (Herbert V and Das KC. Folic acid and vitamin B12. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 8th ed. PhiladelphiaL Lea & Febiger, 1994:404.)
Don’t smoke. Cigarette and cigar-smoking deplete vitamin B12 (New Eng J Med 1995 Nov 2;333(18):1176-82).
Take extra B12 before and after surgery. Nitrous oxide anesthesia during surgery can deplete B12, a fact that may explain many cases of post-operative depression (Marie RM and others. Arch Neurol 2000 Mar;57(3):380-2).
Avoid vaccinations containing thimerosol and other mercury-containing compounds. Vitamin B12 is depleted by mercury (J Molecular Psychiatry Apr 2004).
Avoid molds in the environment and your food. Mycotoxins produced by molds disrupt or interfere with the normal functions of vitamin B12 (Anyanwi EC and others. Scientific World Journal 2004 Aug;4:736-45).
Do not take oral contraceptives (the pill), which can deplete vitamin B12. (Henley S. Body Forum 1977 Jan 30;2(7):20; Sutterlin MW and others. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 2003 Mar 26;107(1):57-61; Lussana F and others. Thromb Res 2003;112(1-2):37-41).
Take B12 supplements if you have any conditions that might interfere with B12, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and similar intestinal disorders, especially if you are elderly or exhibit any of the symptoms of B12 deficiency.
B12 Supplementation--Shots or Pills? The standard treatment for B12 deficiency involves injections, which deliver B12 quickly into the bloodstream and bypass any defective components of the absorption mechanism. Injections are indicated in cases of extreme deficiency, when B12 stores must be replenished very quickly. The standard protocol is 1000 micrograms daily for three days, then weekly for a month, then one injection per month indefinitely.
However, shots are unpleasant and expensive, requiring regular visits to the doctor’s office unless the patient is able to self administer. For all but the most urgent situations, a growing body of medical opinion supports the use of oral supplementation, especially sublingual tablets. Practitioners are now recommending a dose of 100-250 micrograms per day for maintenance purposes. Those with absorption problems may need 1000 -2000 micrograms per day. Such doses are safe because cobalamin has no known toxic effects. Those with absorption problems will absorb only a fraction of the dose (through a process of diffusion across the gut wall) but studies indicate that consistent use of oral supplementation will correct deficiency in most patients with malabsorption. In fact, a recent study showed that oral supplementation with 2000 micrograms per day was three times as effective as injections in increasing B12 levels in pernicious anemia patients (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, January 1997 45(1):124).
Dr. John Dommisse recommends very high dose lozenges (2000/2500 mcg) taken after one or two meals daily, as effective as injections in maintaining serum B12 levels in the ideal range (www.johndommisse.com/b12.html).
Nasal gel perparations have also been found to be capable of maintaining ideal serum B12 levels, although this method of supplementation remains controversial. Another possible delivery method, recommended by Dr. Joseph Mercola, is delivery through the skin by mixing B12 with DMSO (www.mercola.com/2000/aug27/vitamin_b12_deficiency.htm).
The most commonly used form of B12 for treatment in the US is cyanocobalamin. Only two forms are active in the body, however, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. Cyanocobalamin must be converted in the body to either methyl or adenosyl cobalamin by the enzymatic removal of a cyanide molecule. (The amount of cyanide produced during this process is very small but still could be problematical); whereas the body can immediately use supplements of methylcobalamin (the only active form of vitamin B12 commercially available in the US). In a study that looked at the ability of vitamin B12 to extend life in mice with cancer, methylcobalamin led to significant increases in survival time while cyanocobalamin had no effect (Tsao CS and Myashita K. Pathobiology 1993;61(2):104-8).
The Patient Who Wept for Six Months From Your Nutrition Prescription by Dr. H.L. Newbold
Several years ago a seventy-six-year-old woman was brought to my office by her daughter, who stated that the mother had been weeping uncontrollably for the past six months and had recently become so incapacitated that she was unable to do her housework. She had been to see five physicians who had treated her in five different ways, mostly with antidepressants and tranquilizers. One doctor had given her injections of multiple vitamins, which had not helped either.
In spite of her normal B12 level, I gave her a trial injection of 1000 mcg of vitamin B12. I told myself that unless she quickly improved, she would need antidepressants. If the antidepressants didn’t help her a great deal within a month, she would need electroconvulsive therapy.
When she returned to my office three days later, she was considerably improved. She was no longer crying, and reported that she felt much stronger and had slept throughout the night for the first time in many months.
At the time of her next visit three days later, she looked happy and told me she could do her housekeeping again.
During subsequent visits the daughter was taught to administer the injections to her mother twice a week, or more frequently if she seemed in greater need of the vitamin. When she returned several weeks later, the elderly lady told me that she could feel herself becoming depleted of the vitamin every three or four days, and always felt completely restored after receiving another injection. At the time of that visit she was feeling the way she had felt ten years earlier, and was busy with all the household chores which she, like so many good German housewives of her generation, immensely enjoyed.
She was instructed to take the injections more often. If the injection gave her a lift, then she had waited too long.
This woman is a good example of a vitamin-dependent individual. I am sure we had elevated her serum vitamin B12 level to enormous heights. It would have been a waste of money to retest her.
Perhaps she was one of those people whose enzyme functions gradually fade with age. But this patient was restored to normal by giving her massive amounts of vitamins. It is even possible that certain metabolic pathways, not normally employing vitamin B12, switched pathways, and made use of this invigorated set of enzymes. At any rate, a few injections of B12 turned a crying, shuffling old woman into a bright-eyed, merry, elderly housewife who could once more take an active role in life and enjoy her remaining years.
Such transformations are what chemistry and nutrition are all about.
Vitamin B12 and the Nobel Prize The discovery, description, isolation and synthesis of B12 is a good example of science at its best and has resulted in four Nobel prizes, three in chemistry and one in medicine.
1934: Whipple (California), Minot and Murphy (Massachusetts) won the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for the discovery of the "anti-pernicious anemia factor" in liver.
1964: Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (Oxford) won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her crystal structure analysis of B12 crystal, using new X-ray techniques.
1965: R. B. Woodward (Harvard), working with B12, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for outstanding achievements in the art of organic synthesis.
1981: K. Fukui (Kyoto) and R. Hoffman (Cornell), working with B12, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for quantum mechanical studies of chemical reactivity.
Sources of Vitamin B12 Mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, etc) 3 ounces 84.1 micrograms Liver, beef, 1 slice 47.9 micrograms Trout, wild, 3 ounces 5.4 micrograms Salmon, 3 ounces 4.9 micrograms Trout, farmraised, 3 ounces 4.2 micrograms Beef sirloin, 3 ounces 2.4 micrograms Yoghurt 1.4 micrograms Milk, 1 cup 0.9 micrograms Pork, cured ham, canned, 3 ounces 0.6 micrograms Egg, hardboiled 0.6 micrograms Chicken breast, 1/2 breast 0.3 micrograms
Vitamin B12 Recommended Daily Allowance Age RDA 0-6 months no RDA 7-12 months no RDA 1-3 years 0.9 micrograms 4-8 years 1.2 micrograms 9-13 years 1.8 micrograms 14 and older 2.4 micrograms Pregnancy 2.6 micrograms Lactation 2.8 micrograms
Before you fill up your glass at the tap, consider what could be lurking in that refreshing drink. Have these common contaminants made their way into your water supply?
Chlorine is deliberately added to municipal water supplies to kill bacteria and disinfect the water you drink on a daily basis. While the addition of chlorine is a convenient way to ensure cleaner water, there may be a downside. When chlorine reacts with other elements within tap water, it can form trihalomethanes (TMHs), toxins that may negatively impact health. Carbon-based filters can help remove TMHs and excess chlorine from drinking water.
Did you know that nearly 15 percent of lead exposure in the U.S. comes from drinking water? Lead typically gets into the water supply via aging pipes within the house or in the neighborhood. Because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless, the only way to detect lead in drinking water is to test for it. If lead is leeching into your water from pipes inside your house, the Centers for Disease Control recommends running your tap on cold for several minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking, or using a water filtration or purification system that is certified to remove lead.
Giardia and Cryptosporidium
These microscopic parasites come from animal feces and can make their way into the water supply through runoff or sewage contamination. Although the intensive water treatment process removes most of these microorganisms, there is a small possibility that they may occasionally be present in tap water. Certain filters are certified to remove protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
This potentially poisonous element makes its way into the water supply from natural deposits or through agricultural or industrial waste and pollution. According to the NRDC, as many as 56 million Americans may be drinking water with higher than acceptable levels of arsenic. Water filtration and distillation systems can reduce or eliminate the amount of arsenic in your tap water.
Thought bottled water was a better alternative? Think again. Although some may come from natural springs, the majority of bottled water is simply re-packaged tap water. Regardless of the source, however, bottled water is not subjected to the same stringent testing as tap water.
Clean water is critically important for many activities in everyday life, including drinking, cooking and bathing. To find out exactly what's in your tap, request a copy of your city or county's water quality report. Consider using a water purification or filtration system to ensure you and your family are getting clean, safe and fresh water that's free of chlorine, lead, parasites and other questionable contaminants.
Cancer Prevention 30 Ways
Worship a wee bit of sun. People who get the most vitamin D, which lies dormant in skin until ultraviolet rays activate it, may protect themselves from a variety of cancers, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, breast, and colon. Ironically, it even improves survival rates of melanoma, the most serious skin cancer. But 10 to 15 minutes a few days a week is all it takes to benefit. (Or you could try a supplement--aim for 400 IU a day.) If you're out any longer than that, slather on the sunscreen.
Eat an orange every day. It just may zap a strain of the H. pylori bacteria that causes peptic ulcers and can lead to stomach cancer. Researchers in San Francisco found that infected people with high levels of vitamin C in their blood were less likely to test positive for the cancer-causing strain.
Listen to Katie Couric. Though colonoscopies are about as popular as root canals, if you're 50 or older, get one. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Don't think you're off the hook because you got a digital fecal occult blood test at your last checkup: Research by the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study found that the test missed 95% of the cases. (Schedule your first colonoscopy before your 50th if you have a family history of colon cancer.)
Steam a little green. Piles of studies have shown that piles of broccoli help stave off ovarian, stomach, lung, bladder, and colorectal cancers. And steaming it for 3 to 4 minutes enhances the power of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane, which has been shown to halt the growth of breast cancer cells. (Sorry, microwaving doesn't do the trick; it strips out most antioxidants.) Get more protection by sprinkling a handful of selenium-rich sunflower seeds, nuts, or mushrooms on your greens. Researchers are discovering that sulforaphane is about 13 times more potent when combined with the mineral selenium.
Pick a doc with a past. Experience--lots of it--is critical when it comes to accurately reading mammograms. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that doctors with at least 25 years' experience were more accurate at interpreting images and less likely to give false positives. Ask about your radiologist's track record. If she is freshly minted or doesn't check a high volume of mammograms, get a second read from someone with more mileage.
Drink jolt-less java. Downing 2 or more cups of decaf a day may lower the incidence of rectal cancer by 52%, finds a study from two large and long-term research projects--the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study from Harvard University. One theory is that coffee increases bowel movements, which helps to reduce the risk. Why decaf reigns supreme, however, remains a mystery.
Drop 10 pounds. Being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women and 14% among men, notes the American Cancer Society. (You're overweight if your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9; you're obese if it's 30 or more. Click here to gauge your BMI.) Plus, losing excess pounds reduces the body's production of female hormones, which may protect against breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancers. Even if you're not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after the age of 30 increases your risk of developing breast, pancreatic, and cervical, among other cancers.
Make like a monkey. Or a bunny. Women who ate four to six antioxidant-laden bananas a week cut their risk of kidney cancer by 54%, compared with those who didn't eat them at all, found an analysis of 61,000 women at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Gnawing on root vegetables such as carrots did the same.
Get naked with a friend. You'll need help examining every inch of your body--including your back, scalp, and other hard-to-see places--for possible changes in the size or color of moles, blemishes, and freckles. These marks could spell skin cancer. Women, take special note of your legs: Melanoma mainly occurs there. For the guys, the trunk, head, and neck are the most diagnosed spots. While you're at it, check your fingernails and toenails, too. Gray-black discoloration or a distorted or elevated nail may indicate the disease. And whether you see changes or not, after age 40, everyone should see a dermatologist yearly.
See into the future. Go to Your Disease Risk to assess your chance of developing 12 types of cancer, including ovarian, breast, and colon. After the interactive tool estimates your risk, you'll get personalized tips for prevention.
Pay attention to pain. If you're experiencing a bloated belly, pelvic pain, and an urgent need to urinate, see your doc. These symptoms may signal ovarian cancer, particularly if they're severe and frequent. Women and physicians often ignore these symptoms, and that's the very reason that this disease can be deadly. When caught early, before cancer has spread outside the ovary, the relative 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is a jaw-dropping 90 to 95%.
Get calcium daily. Milk's main claim to fame may also help protect your colon. Those who took calcium faithfully for 4 years had a 36% reduction in the development of new pre-cancerous colon polyps 5 years after the study had ended, revealed Dartmouth Medical School researchers. (They tracked 822 people who took either 1,200 mg of calcium every day or a placebo.) Though the study was not on milk itself, you can get the same amount of calcium in three 8-ounce glasses of fat-free milk, along with an 8-ounce serving of yogurt or a 2- to 3-ounce serving of low-fat cheese daily.
Sweat 30 minutes a day. One of the best anticancer potions is a half hour of motion at least 5 days a week. Any kind of physical activity modulates levels of androgens and estrogen, two things that can protect women against estrogen-driven cancers such as ovarian and endometrial, as well as some types of breast cancer. The latest proof comes by way of a Canadian study that found that women who get regular, moderate exercise may lower their risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 30%. Bonus: All that moving might speed everything through your colon, which may help stave off colon cancer.
Stamp out smoking--all around you.Lung cancer is well known as one of the main hazards of smoking. But everything the smoke passes on its way to the lungs can also turn cancerous: mouth, larynx, and esophagus. The fun doesn't stop there. Smokers are encouraging stomach, liver, prostate, colorectal, cervical, and breast cancers as well. The good news: If you give up the cigs today, within 15 years, your lung cancer risk will drop to almost pre-smoking lows. Share that news with the people who puff around you, because exposure to someone else's smoke can cause lung cancer, and it may boost your chances of cervical cancer by 40%.
Step away from the white bread. If you eat a lot of things with a high glycemic load--a measurement of how quickly food raises your blood sugar--you may run a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women who eat low-glycemic-load foods, finds a Harvard Medical School study involving 38,000 women. The problem eats are mostly white: white bread, pasta, potatoes, and sugary pastries. The low-glycemic-load stuff comes with fiber. To find out how your diet fares, go to "Your Guide to the Glycemic Index."
Have your genes screened. Do you have a strong family history of any kind of cancer or multiple cancers? Talk with your doctor about genetic counseling. For instance, nearly everyone born with familial adenomatous polyposis (the genetic predisposition to colon cancer) develops the disease by age 40 if preventive surgery isn't done. Knowing this early can aid in prevention and early detection.
Request a better breast scan. If you're at high risk of breast cancer--you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, for example--ask your doctor to pair your routine mammogram with an MRI. One study found that together, the two picked up 94% of tumors; mammography alone detected just 40% and MRI, 77%.
Grill smarter. Cooking your food over an open flame is a great way to cut calories. Unfortunately, it can also raise your cancer risk: The grill's high temps can trigger substances in muscle proteins to form cancer-causing compounds called hetero-cyclic amines, or HCAs. But avoiding this potential hazard is easy; simply keep gas jets low or wait until the charcoal turns into glowing embers before you start cooking. Protect yourself even more by lacing your burgers with rosemary (and perhaps other antioxidant-rich herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme). This helps reduce the amount of some HCAs in meat, a Kansas State University study found. Also helpful: Microwaving meat ahead of time helps disable HCA formation and cuts down on grilling time.
Keep your house clean. Yet another reason to love your Swiffer: Active postmenopausal women who got most of their exercise from housework cut their risk of breast cancer by 30%, Canadian researchers say.
Let garlic lie. Thanks to this bulbed wonder, you can ward off vampires and stave off cancer. To preserve the potential cancer-fighting power of garlic, chop it up and let it sit a bit. Research suggests that heating garlic can block 90% of the activity of alliinase, the enzyme that helps to form a cancer-fighting compound. Alliinase is activated when the cloves are crushed or cut, but if cut garlic cools its heels for 5 to 10 minutes before heating, enough compounds are formed to survive cooking.
Check for radon. Exposure to this odorless, radioactive gas that's produced by the natural decay of uranium is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the EPA. Test your home to see if you're safe. The National Safety Council's National Radon Hotline (800-767-7236) offers low-cost test kits; they're also available at hardware stores.
Play hot tomato. Red fruits (watermelon, tomato, pink grapefruit) are loaded with lycopene, a substance that has been proven time and time again to be a potent cancer fighter. It seems that heating said fruits makes the lycopene easier for the body to use, which explains why men who eat a lot of ketchup, pizza (it's in the sauce), and spaghetti (ditto) are far less likely to get prostate cancer.
Ditch the wieners. You can smother 'em in all the ketchup you want, but you can't negate a hot dog's, well, negatives. One study of 190,545 people found that eating a wiener daily may boost your risk of pancreatic cancer, which is nearly always fatal, by 67%. Same goes for sausage and other processed meats.
The Perfect Cancer- fighting Salad
Can you spot the cancer fighters at the salad bar? Build yourself some powerful protection with these ingredients.
Start with leafy greens. They contain a hefty amount of the B vitamin folate, which has been shown to reduce one's chances of getting colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers. In one study, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that women who ate the mostly dark greens were among the least likely to get breast cancer. Apparently, folate can halt changes in DNA that trigger runaway cell growth, the main characteristic of cancer.
Add shredded carrot. . In a study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, women who ate just five servings of four raw carrot sticks a week had a 54% decrease in their risk of getting ovarian cancer, compared with women who ate them less than once a month. Carrots may also reduce your risk of kidney cancer.
Serve yourself some tomatoes. If you don't feel like turning up the heat on your tomatoes, you can still get some of their cancer-shielding benefits. German research on 165 colonoscopy patients found that those who had the lowest blood level of lycopene, one of the chemicals that give tomatoes their color, had the highest rate of colorectal adenomas, a precursor to colorectal cancer. Toss a few into your guy's salad: They also reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Heap on beans. Women who ate beans at least twice a week were 24% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who ate them less often, report Harvard School of Public Health researchers, who analyzed data from 90,630 people. Legumes may lessen risk of breast cancer, thanks to their ability to suppress the production of enzymes that encourage tumor growth.
Add a little fish. Want to add something hardy to your lunchtime salad? Go wild with salmon. When B6-rich foods (like salmon) are eaten with folate-filled foods (dark leafy greens), they can help reduce the recurrence of colorectal adenomas, a precursor to colorectal cancer, by 39%, a University of Arizona study found. Salmon may also help shield regular eaters from skin cancer, British research found.
Splash on some vinaigrette. Mixing your favorite vinegar with olive oil can also help prevent breast cancer. Scientists from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine found that oleic acid in olive oil dramatically cuts the levels of the cancer gene Her-2/neu, associated with highly aggressive breast tumors with poor prognosis.
Garnish with citrus peel. They're like eating sunscreen--but they taste better. Limonene - a compound that gives oranges, lemons, and limes their scent--is linked to a 34% reduction in skin cancer, finds a University of Arizona study of 400 people.
From The April 2000 Issue of Nutrition Science News
Cancer's Sweet Tooth
by Patrick Quillin, PHD, RD, CNS
photo by Robert Morrissey/Dot for Dot
During the last 10 years I have worked with more than 500 cancer patients as director of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Okla. It puzzles me why the simple concept "sugar feeds cancer" can be so dramatically overlooked as part of a comprehensive cancer treatment plan.
Of the 4 million cancer patients being treated in America today, hardly any are offered any scientifically guided nutrition therapy beyond being told to "just eat good foods." Most patients I work with arrive with a complete lack of nutritional advice. I believe many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their outcome if they controlled the supply of cancer's preferred fuel, glucose. By slowing the cancer's growth, patients allow their immune systems and medical debulking therapies—chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to reduce the bulk of the tumor mass—to catch up to the disease. Controlling one's blood-glucose levels through diet, supplements, exercise, meditation and prescription drugs when necessary can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer recovery program. The sound bite—sugar feeds cancer—is simple. The explanation is a little more complex.
The 1931 Nobel laureate in medicine, German Otto Warburg, Ph.D., first discovered that cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. The crux of his Nobel thesis was that malignant tumors frequently exhibit an increase in anaerobic glycolysis—a process whereby glucose is used as a fuel by cancer cells with lactic acid as an anaerobic byproduct—compared to normal tissues.1 The large amount of lactic acid produced by this fermentation of glucose from cancer cells is then transported to the liver. This conversion of glucose to lactate generates a lower, more acidic pH in cancerous tissues as well as overall physical fatigue from lactic acid buildup.2,3 Thus, larger tumors tend to exhibit a more acidic pH.4
This inefficient pathway for energy metabolism yields only 2 moles of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy per mole of glucose, compared to 38 moles of ATP in the complete aerobic oxidation of glucose. By extracting only about 5 percent (2 vs. 38 moles of ATP) of the available energy in the food supply and the body's calorie stores, the cancer is "wasting" energy, and the patient becomes tired and undernourished. This vicious cycle increases body wasting.5 It is one reason why 40 percent of cancer patients die from malnutrition, or cachexia.6
Hence, cancer therapies should encompass regulating blood-glucose levels via diet, supplements, non-oral solutions for cachectic patients who lose their appetite, medication, exercise, gradual weight loss and stress reduction. Professional guidance and patient self-discipline are crucial at this point in the cancer process. The quest is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates from the diet but rather to control blood glucose within a narrow range to help starve the cancer and bolster immune function.
The glycemic index is a measure of how a given food affects blood-glucose levels, with each food assigned a numbered rating. The lower the rating, the slower the digestion and absorption process, which provides a healthier, more gradual infusion of sugars into the bloodstream. Conversely, a high rating means blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop blood-sugar levels. This rapid fluctuation of blood-sugar levels is unhealthy because of the stress it places on the body (see glycemic index chart).
Sugar in the Body and Diet
Sugar is a generic term used to identify simple carbohydrates, which includes monosaccharides such as fructose, glucose and galactose; and disaccharides such as maltose and sucrose (white table sugar). Think of these sugars as different-shaped bricks in a wall. When fructose is the primary monosaccharide brick in the wall, the glycemic index registers as healthier, since this simple sugar is slowly absorbed in the gut, then converted to glucose in the liver. This makes for "time-release foods," which offer a more gradual rise and fall in blood-glucose levels. If glucose is the primary monosaccharide brick in the wall, the glycemic index will be higher and less healthy for the individual. As the brick wall is torn apart in digestion, the glucose is pumped across the intestinal wall directly into the bloodstream, rapidly raising blood-glucose levels. In other words, there is a "window of efficacy" for glucose in the blood: levels too low make one feel lethargic and can create clinical hypoglycemia; levels too high start creating the rippling effect of diabetic health problems.
The 1997 American Diabetes Association blood-glucose standards consider 126 mg glucose/dL blood or greater to be diabetic; 111125 mg/dL is impaired glucose tolerance and less than 110 mg/dL is considered normal. Meanwhile, the Paleolithic diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean meats, vegetables and small amounts of whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits, is estimated to have generated blood glucose levels between 60 and 90 mg/dL.7 Obviously, today's high-sugar diets are having unhealthy effects as far as blood-sugar is concerned. Excess blood glucose may initiate yeast overgrowth, blood vessel deterioration, heart disease and other health conditions.8
Understanding and using the glycemic index is an important aspect of diet modification for cancer patients. However, there is also evidence that sugars may feed cancer more efficiently than starches (comprised of long chains of simple sugars), making the index slightly misleading. A study of rats fed diets with equal calories from sugars and starches, for example, found the animals on the high-sugar diet developed more cases of breast cancer.9 The glycemic index is a useful tool in guiding the cancer patient toward a healthier diet, but it is not infallible. By using the glycemic index alone, one could be led to thinking a cup of white sugar is healthier than a baked potato. This is because the glycemic index rating of a sugary food may be lower than that of a starchy food. To be safe, I recommend less fruit, more vegetables, and little to no refined sugars in the diet of cancer patients.
What the Literature Says
A mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumors are sensitive to blood-glucose levels. Sixty-eight mice were injected with an aggressive strain of breast cancer, then fed diets to induce either high blood-sugar (hyperglycemia), normoglycemia or low blood-sugar (hypoglycemia). There was a dose-dependent response in which the lower the blood glucose, the greater the survival rate. After 70 days, 8 of 24 hyperglycemic mice survived compared to 16 of 24 normoglycemic and 19 of 20 hypoglycemic.10 This suggests that regulating sugar intake is key to slowing breast tumor growth (see chart).
In a human study, 10 healthy people were assessed for fasting blood-glucose levels and the phagocytic index of neutrophils, which measures immune-cell ability to envelop and destroy invaders such as cancer. Eating 100 g carbohydrates from glucose, sucrose, honey and orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria. Starch did not have this effect.11
A four-year study at the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection in the Netherlands compared 111 biliary tract cancer patients with 480 controls. Cancer risk associated with the intake of sugars, independent of other energy sources, more than doubled for the cancer patients.12 Furthermore, an epidemiological study in 21 modern countries that keep track of morbidity and mortality (Europe, North America, Japan and others) revealed that sugar intake is a strong risk factor that contributes to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.13
Limiting sugar consumption may not be the only line of defense. In fact, an interesting botanical extract from the avocado plant (Persea americana) is showing promise as a new cancer adjunct. When a purified avocado extract called mannoheptulose was added to a number of tumor cell lines tested in vitro by researchers in the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford University in Britain, they found it inhibited tumor cell glucose uptake by 25 to 75 percent, and it inhibited the enzyme glucokinase responsible for glycolysis. It also inhibited the growth rate of the cultured tumor cell lines. The same researchers gave lab animals a 1.7 mg/g body weight dose of mannoheptulose for five days; it reduced tumors by 65 to 79 percent.14 Based on these studies, there is good reason to believe that avocado extract could help cancer patients by limiting glucose to the tumor cells.
Since cancer cells derive most of their energy from anaerobic glycolysis, Joseph Gold, M.D., director of the Syracuse (N.Y.) Cancer Research Institute and former U.S. Air Force research physician, surmised that a chemical called hydrazine sulfate, used in rocket fuel, could inhibit the excessive gluconeogenesis (making sugar from amino acids) that occurs in cachectic cancer patients. Gold's work demonstrated hydrazine sulfate's ability to slow and reverse cachexia in advanced cancer patients. A placebo-controlled trial followed 101 cancer patients taking either 6 mg hydrazine sulfate three times/day or placebo. After one month, 83 percent of hydrazine sulfate patients increased their weight, compared to 53 percent on placebo.15 A similar study by the same principal researchers, partly funded by the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., followed 65 patients. Those who took hydrazine sulfate and were in good physical condition before the study began lived an average of 17 weeks longer.16
In 1990, I called the major cancer hospitals in the country looking for some information on the crucial role of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) in cancer patients. Some 40 percent of cancer patients die from cachexia.5 Yet many starving cancer patients are offered either no nutritional support or the standard TPN solution developed for intensive care units. The solution provides 70 percent of the calories going into the bloodstream in the form of glucose. All too often, I believe, these high-glucose solutions for cachectic cancer patients do not help as much as would TPN solutions with lower levels of glucose and higher levels of amino acids and lipids. These solutions would allow the patient to build strength and would not feed the tumor.17
The medical establishment may be missing the connection between sugar and its role in tumorigenesis. Consider the million-dollar positive emission tomography device, or PET scan, regarded as one of the ultimate cancer-detection tools. PET scans use radioactively labeled glucose to detect sugar-hungry tumor cells. PET scans are used to plot the progress of cancer patients and to assess whether present protocols are effective.18
In Europe, the "sugar feeds cancer" concept is so well accepted that oncologists, or cancer doctors, use the Systemic Cancer Multistep Therapy (SCMT) protocol. Conceived by Manfred von Ardenne in Germany in 1965, SCMT entails injecting patients with glucose to increase blood-glucose concentrations. This lowers pH values in cancer tissues via lactic acid formation. In turn, this intensifies the thermal sensitivity of the malignant tumors and also induces rapid growth of the cancer. Patients are then given whole-body hyperthermia (42 C core temperature) to further stress the cancer cells, followed by chemotherapy or radiation.19 SCMT was tested on 103 patients with metastasized cancer or recurrent primary tumors in a clinical phase-I study at the Von Ardenne Institute of Applied Medical Research in Dresden, Germany. Five-year survival rates in SCMT-treated patients increased by 25 to 50 percent, and the complete rate of tumor regression increased by 30 to 50 percent.20 The protocol induces rapid growth of the cancer, then treats the tumor with toxic therapies for a dramatic improvement in outcome.
The irrefutable role of glucose in the growth and metastasis of cancer cells can enhance many therapies. Some of these include diets designed with the glycemic index in mind to regulate increases in blood glucose, hence selectively starving the cancer cells; low-glucose TPN solutions; avocado extract to inhibit glucose uptake in cancer cells; hydrazine sulfate to inhibit gluconeogenesis in cancer cells; and SCMT.
A female patient in her 50s, with lung cancer, came to our clinic, having been given a death sentence by her Florida oncologist. She was cooperative and understood the connection between nutrition and cancer. She changed her diet considerably, leaving out 90 percent of the sugar she used to eat. She found that wheat bread and oat cereal now had their own wild sweetness, even without added sugar. With appropriately restrained medical therapy—including high-dose radiation targeted to tumor sites and fractionated chemotherapy, a technique that distributes the normal one large weekly chemo dose into a 60-hour infusion lasting days—a good attitude and an optimal nutrition program, she beat her terminal lung cancer. I saw her the other day, five years later and still disease-free, probably looking better than the doctor who told her there was no hope.
Patrick Quillin, Ph.D., R.D., C.N.S., is director of nutrition for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Okla., and author of Beating Cancer With Nutrition (Nutrition Times Press, 1998).
The October 6, 2010 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports that nearly half of orthopedic surgery patients are deficient in vitamin D, a condition that impairs bone healing, muscle function and surgery recovery.
Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and chief of the Metabolic Bone Disease Service at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery Joseph Lane, MD and colleagues reviewed the charts of 723 men and women scheduled for orthopedic surgery from January, 2007 to March, 2008. Forty-three percent of the patients had insufficient preoperative vitamin D levels, defined as 20 to 32 nanograms per milliliter, and 40 percent had deficient levels of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter. Younger individuals, men, and those with dark skin were likeliest to be low in vitamin D.
Dr Lane explained that healing of bony tissue takes place two to four weeks following bone surgery, and sufficient vitamin D is needed for this process. "In the perfect world, test levels, fix and then operate," Dr Lane stated. "If you are really aggressive right before surgery, you can correct deficient levels quickly, but you have to correct it, measure it, and then act on it."
Sixty percent of trauma service patients had insufficient levels and 52 percent were deficient. A high percentage of vitamin D insufficiency was also observed in Sports Medicine and Arthroplasty (hip and knee replacement) services. "We frequently see stress fractures in the Sports Medicine Service and if you want to heal, you have to fix the calcium and vitamin D," Dr. Lane noted. "With arthroplasty, there is a certain number of patients that when you put in the prosthesis, it breaks the bone adjacent to the prostheses, which can really debilitate patients.
"This study should serve as a wake-up call to orthopedists that vitamin D deficiency is widespread, not necessarily tied to age, sex or background and screening for it should be part of routine presurgical care for adults," Dr Lane stated. "Meanwhile, patients who are planning to undergo any orthopedic procedure can request a screening (specifically, a blood test called the 25 hydroxyvitamin D test) or ask to be placed on a medically supervised vitamin D supplement regimen prior to surgery."
"The take home message is that low vitamin D has an implication in terms of muscle and fracture healing, it occurs in about 50 percent of people coming in for orthopedic surgery, and it is eminently correctable," he concluded. "We recommend that people undergoing a procedure that involves the bone or the muscle should correct their vitamin D if they want to have an earlier, faster, better, result. What we are saying is 'wake up guys, smell the coffee; half of your patients have a problem, measure it, and if they are low, then fix it.'"
From Life Extension
1. Brain Damaging Habits
1. No Breakfast
People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower blood sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration.
2 . Overeating
It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.
3. High Sugar consumption
Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere with brain development.
4. Air Pollution
The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.
5. Sleep Deprivation
Sleep allows our brain to rest.. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells..
6. Head covered while sleeping
Sleeping with the head covered increases the concentration of carbon dioxide and decrease concentration of oxygen that may lead to brain damaging effects.
7. Working your brain during illness
Working hard or studying with sickness may lead to a decrease in effectiveness of the brain as well as damage the brain.
8. Lacking in stimulating thoughts
Thinking is the best way to train our brain, lacking in brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.
9. Talking Rarely
Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain
2. Liver Damaging Habits
1. Sleeping too late and waking up too late are main cause.
2. Not urinating in the morning.
3 . Too much eating.
4. Skipping breakfast.
5. Consuming too much medication.
6. Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food coloring, and artificial sweetener.
7. Consuming unhealthy cooking oil.
As much as possible reduce cooking oil use when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is very fit.
8. Consuming raw (or overly done) foods also add to the burden of liver.
Veggies should be eaten raw or cooked 3-5 parts. Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.
3. Habits for Cancer
1. Hot Dogs
Because they are high in nitrates, the Cancer Prevention Coalition advises that children eat no more than 12 hot dogs a month. If you can't live without hot dogs, buy those made without sodium nitrate.
2. Processed meats and Bacon
Also high in the same sodium nitrates found in hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats raise the risk of heart disease. The saturated fat in bacon also contributes to cancer.
Doughnuts are cancer-causing double trouble. First, they are made with white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils, then fried at high temperatures. Doughnuts, says Adams , may be the worst food you can possibly eat to raise your risk of cancer.
4. French fries
Like doughnuts, French fries are made with hydrogenated oils and then fried at high temperatures. They also contain cancer- causing acryl amides which occur during the frying process. They should be called cancer fries, not French fries, said Adams .
5. Chips, crackers, and cookies
All are usually made with white flour and sugar. Even the ones whose labels claim to be free of trans-fats generally contain small amounts of trans-fats.
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