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 A Case of Déjà Vu

The FDA has approved a new flu vaccine, Fluad, containing an adjuvant called squalene. Unfortunately, Fluad is not an improvement from its predecessor Agriflu and its new adjuvant may be associated with serious adverse effects.

Adjuvants in vaccines, such as aluminum, are used to cause a greater immune system response, which is hypothesized to result in an enhanced efficacy of the vaccine. Therefore, a flu vaccine with an adjuvant such as squalene should result in a more robust antibody response when compared to the regular adjuvant-free flu vaccine, Agriflu (an FDA-approved trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine).

However, in a multicenter trial that enrolled 7,082 individuals, 65 years of age and older, who received either Fluad or Agriflu, Fluad induced antibody levels that were comparable to the levels induced by Agriflu. Since the results were comparable, then why did we need to spend money on this new flu vaccine?  In addition, the old flu vaccines fail the majority who receives them.

Furthermore, the science is not clear on whether it is safe to inject squalene in a human being.  Although squalene is produced in our bodies naturally, it has been associated with serious illnesses, which affected thousands of U.S. soldiers who received squalene-containing vaccines in the first Gulf War.  Squalene-containing vaccinations have also been associated with many serious autoimmune disorders including arthritis, Lupus, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and Guillain Barre Syndrome.

Consequently, you may want to avoid any flu vaccine since all of them have a high failure rate. However, if you are forced to get a flu vaccine, use one that is mercury and adjuvant free.

Epicatechin and Quercetin Impact Biomarkers of Endothelial Function

The flavonoids epicatechin and quercetin improve endothelial function in individuals with prehypertension, a new study published in July 2015 reports. The endothelium, which lines blood vessels, heart valves, and cardiac chambers plays a significant role in vascular function, influencing the development of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Endothelial dysfunction and activation is characterized by a proinflammatory, proliferative, and procoagulatory state that favors atherogenesis and degenrative valve disease.

In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, researchers evaluated 37 healthy individuals with prehypertension, ages 40 to 80 years. The subjects received 1) 100 mg per day of epicatechin, 2) 160 mg per day of quercetin-3-glucoside, or 3) placebo, for four weeks. At the beginning of the study and after each four-week intervention period, the investigators evaluated plasma biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction including soluble endothelial selectin (sE-selectin), an endothelial adhesion molecule that plays a role in inflammation, and the inflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1-beta.

The investigators determined that both epicatechin and quercetin decreased sE-selectin levels. Quercetin was also shown to reduce levels of IL-1-beta and the overall inflammatory score.

The researchers stated, "In (pre)hypertensive men and women, epicatechin may contribute to the cardioprotective effects of cocoa and tea through improvements in endothelial function. Quercetin may contribute to the cardioprotective effects of tea possibly by improving endothelial function and reducing inflammation."


Dower JI, et al. J Nutr. 2015;145:1459-63.

Probiotic Reduces Occurrence and Severity of Rhinovirus Infection

Supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG decreases the occurrence of rhinovirus infections and reduces the severity of common cold symptoms, according to a study published in October 2015. The average adult experiences 2 to 3 colds per year, while children average 8 to 12 annually.

Researchers randomly assigned 59 subjects to receive 1) 100 mL of fruit juice supplemented with 109 CFU of live L. rhamnosus GG, 2) fruit juice supplemented with 109 cfu of heat-inactivated L. rhamnosus GG, or 3) a control juice daily. After three weeks, the subjects were exposed to experimental rhinovirus by intranasal inoculation. The investigators assessed the subjects for infection rate based on at least one positive culture for rhinovirus during the five days following inoculation or at least a four-fold increase in antibody response to the viral infection. The occurrence and severity of cold symptoms were also evaluated.

Infection rate was 14/19 in the live probiotic group, 18/20 in the heat-inactivated probiotic group, and 18/20 in the control group. Cold symptoms were found to occur less often and were less severe in the live probiotic group.

The study authors concluded, "This trial was the first one dedicated to the investigation of the effect of probiotics using the experimental rhinovirus model. The model showed potential for demonstration of efficacy of probiotics in controlled respiratory viral infections. Occurrence and severity of cold symptoms and number of subjects with rhinovirus infection was lowest in the group receiving live L. rhamnosus GG, but differences were not statistically significant. Further large-scale studies are needed to demonstrate the efficacy of L. rhamnosus GG in respiratory infections."


Kumpu M, et al. Benef Microbes. 2015;6:631-9.

Green Tea Consumtion Reduces Risk of Digestive System Cancers, December 2012

Consuming green tea consistently lowers the risk of stomach, colon and esophageal cancers, according to a recent Asian study. Catechins are the cancer protective compounds found in green tea. Also, consumption of 3-10 cups of geen tea per day has been shown to have the following beneficial effects:

  • Increase antioxidant activity in the blood                                            
  • Increase energy expenditure
  • Improve fat metabolism
  • Reduce appetite
  • Help normalize blood glucose level
  • Offer neuroprotection
  • Improve cardiovascular function
  • Reduce risk of development of various cancers and metastasis
  • Support chemotherapy
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support detoxification     
  • Has antiviral/antibacterial properties      
  • Improve testosterone metabolism


An average cup of green tea is typically made from 5 g dry green tea leaves which provide about 240-320 mg polyphenols, and among these, EGCG (EpiGallo-Catechin-3-Gallate) constitutes about 200 mg. EGCG, one of the more extensively studied green tea polyphenols, has been proven to account for many of the benefits observed from dry green tea or green tea extract consumption. EGCG peaks in the plasma 2 hours after consumption and levels return to baseline after 24 hrs.  For quality and effectiveness, standardized extracts are advisable, as they guarantee a potent amount of the desirable active component with research proven benefits.



  1. Prospective cohort study of tea consumption and risk of digestive system cancers: results from the Shanghai Women's Health Study, Sarah Nechuta et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012
  2. Benzie IF, Szeto YT, Strain JJ, Tomlinson B. Consumption of green tea causes rapid increase in plasma antioxidant power in humans. Nutr Cancer 1999;34:83-7
  3. Kostrzewa RM, Segura-Aguilar J. Novel mechanisms and approaches in the study of
    neurodegeneration and neuroprotection. a review. Neurotox Res. 2003;5(6):375-83.
  4. Additional resources upon request.


Low-Fat Diet Better for Type 1 Diabetes Control, December 2012
Researchers at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center found that patients with type 1 diabetes have higher blood sugar levels after high-fat meals and need more insulin as a result. Up until now, people with type 1 diabetes have focused on carbohydrates, but these new results suggest a new focus on fat may be in order. Low-fat vegan diets are known to be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes may benefit, too. Reducing fat intake may reduce insulin requirements and may also help prevent complications.


Wolpert HA, Atakov-Castillo A, Smith SS, Steil GM. Dietary fat acutely increases glucose concentrations and insulin requirements in patients with type 1 diabetes: implications for carbohydrate-based bolus dose calculation and intensive diabetes management. (Diabetes Care. Published ahead of print November 27, 2012.


Vegetarian Men at Reduced Risk for Heart Disease, October 2012

Vegetarian men's weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels are lower, compared with the meat-eaters, according to a new study in Nutrition and Metabolism. Researchers in China compared 171 vegetarians to 129 age-matched nonvegetarians and found that the vegetarian men have less cardiovascular
disease risk because their arterial walls were healthier. Researchers have known for years that Westerners adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet are healthier than meat-eaters. This new study shows that, even within a country where rice and other plant foods are staples, those who avoid meat completely are better off than those who include even modest amounts of meat.



Yang SY, Zhang HJ, Sun SY, et al. Relationship of carotid intima-media thickness and duration of vegetarian diet in Chinese male vegetarians. Nutr Metab. 2011;8:63.


High Levels of Arsenic Found in Rice, September 2012

Consumer Reports found arsenic in a wide variety of rice and 60 rice products, sometimes at levels that are higher than safe limits set for drinking water. These results are dreadful since rice cereal is often a baby’s first solid food.'s Health
Also, arsenic is also found in organic compounds used as antibiotics in animal feeds or “dips,” pesticides, fungicides, weed killers, and pigments (Paris Green). It is commonly sprayed on grapes, tobacco, and cotton.
Besides food, exposure to Arsenic can occur through water and air. Food is the main source or arsenic adding up to about 11-14 mg/day:

  • 80% from meat, fish, or poultry that are commonly given arsenical antibiotics (Roxarsone) as growth promoters and antiparasitics. Wine, seafood (bivalves and bottom feeders), seaweed
  • Water: agricultural runoff; leaching from bedrock; current EPA standard = 50 ppb (50 mcg/liter)
  • Air: volcanic eruptions, burning wood, automotive exhaust, smelters, electronics manufacturing plants


  • Chronic moderate-level exposure to arsenic can cause abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, pancytopenia (low number of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets), ventricular arrhythmias, headaches, lethargy, paresthesias, and hepatotoxicity
  • Chronic low-level exposure are linked to atherosclerosis, diabetes, and sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy (may be first sign)

Diagnostic tests

  • 24-hour urine (for inorganic As)
  • Blood (levels drop 24-48 hours after exposure)
  • hair (best reflection of past exposure)

Sulforaphane (SFN) activates the transcription factor Nrf2, which plays a critical role in metabolism and excretion of xenobiotics. Exposure of mouse hepatocytes (liver cells) to SFN resulted in activation of Nrf2 and significant elevation of protein expressions responsible for excretion of arsenic into extracellular space. Pretreatment with SFN 24 hours prior to arsenite exposure reduced not only arsenic accumulation in the cells but also cellular toxicity of this metalloid. This indicates a potential function of SFN in reducing cellular arsenic levels, thereby diminishing arsenic toxicity.


Sulforaphane and Arsenic Toxicity Sulforaphane, an activator of Nrf2, suppresses cellular accumulation of arsenic and its cytotoxicity in primary mouse hepatocytes. FEBS Lett. 2006 Mar 20;580(7):1771-4.


2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, June 2012

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in produce, baby food, tap water with updated information on 45 popular fruits and vegetables and their total pesticide loads. EWG report highlights the worst offenders with its new Dirty Dozen Plus™ list and the cleanest conventional produce with its Clean Fifteen™ list. This shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce gives consumers easy, affordable ways to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding most of the pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other chemicals in produce and other foods. (


Pesticides in Produce

EWG researchers analyzed annual pesticide residue tests conducted by the USDA and federal Food and Drug Administration between 2000 and 2010. The most recent round of tests showed that as late as 2010, 68% of food samples had detectable pesticide residues. EWG found striking differences between the number and amount of pesticides detected on the Dirty Dozen Plus™ and Clean Fifteen™ foods. The produce samples were first washed or peeled prior to being tested so the rankings reflect the amounts of the crop chemicals likely present on the food when is it eaten.

Some alarming USDA findings:

  • 100% of nectarines tested had measurable pesticide residues
  • 98% of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides
  • Grapes have 64 different chemicals, more than any other fruit
  • Domestic blueberries tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues
  • Lettuce samples tested positive for 78 different pesticides
  • 13 different pesticides were measured on a single sample each of celery and strawberries
  • Disturbing concentrations of pesticides were found in some baby foods and widespread in finished tap water
  • The produce least likely to test positive for pesticides were asparagus, avocado, cabbage, grapefruit, watermelon, eggplants, pineapples, mushrooms, onions, frozen peas and sweet potatoes

This year, EWG expanded their Dirty Dozen™ with a Plus category ( to highlight two crops -- green beans and leafy greens, meaning, kale and collard greens – that were contaminated with highly toxic organophosphate insecticides. These insecticides were associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children. Infants in particular should avoid exposure to these pesticides since they are more susceptible to the effects of chemical insult than adults. Organophosphate insecticides have been largely removed from agriculture over the past decade. But they are not banned and still show up on some food crops.

Pesticides in Baby Food

USDA scientists analyzed about 190 samples of baby food consisting of green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Green beans prepared as baby food tested positive for five pesticides, among them, the organophosphate methamidiphos and the organophosphate acephate. Pears prepared as baby food showed significant and widespread contamination. Fully 92% of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, with 26% of samples containing 5 or more pesticides and 15 different pesticides on all samples. Disturbingly, the pesticide iprodione, which EPA has categorized as a probable human carcinogen, was detected on three baby food pear samples. Iprodione is not registered with the EPA for use on pears. Its presence on this popular baby food constitutes a violation of FDA regulations and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It is bad enough that baby food contains pesticides at all; the fact that pears contain a likely human carcinogen is an outrage. Parents should purchase organic baby foods, or better yet, prepare their own by putting organic foods through a simple hand-turned food mill (search the internet for "baby food mill"). It is vital that an infant's developing brain and nervous system receive only uncontaminated, nutrient-dense foods. Sweet potatoes sold as baby food, a Clean Fifteen™ crop, had virtually no detectable pesticide residues.

Pesticides in Drinking Water

In 2010 USDA analyzed samples from 12 community drinking water systems that use surface water such as reservoirs, lakes and rivers as their water sources. Tests of 284 samples taken after treatment detected 65 pesticides or their metabolites. The toxic herbicide atrazine or its metabolites were found in every single sample. The herbicides 2,4-D and metolachlor were detected in more than 70 percent of the samples. Six other pesticides were found in at least half the samples.


Since researchers are constantly developing new insights into how pesticides act on living organisms, no one can say that concentrations of pesticides assumed today to be safe are, in fact, harmless.


Low-Carb Diets Increase Heart Risk, June 2012
Low-carbohydrate diets can lead to weight gain and heightened risk of heart disease, according to a new study in Sweden. As part of an effort to reduce heart disease risk in the 1980s, more than 140,000 individuals were encouraged to decrease their fat intake. They did so, and their cholesterol levels fell—for a while. However, in the early 2000s, the low-carbohydrate diet fad led many of these individuals to forgo healthful carbohydrates and eat fattier foods instead. The results were higher cholesterol levels and overall increased heart disease risk.

This should not be a surprise, because not all carbs are the same. Eliminating vegetables and fruits will only make more room for foods that will turn on inflammatory genes and lead to the progression of heart disease, as well as diabetes and cancer.



Johansson I, Nilsson L, Stegmayr B, Boman K, Hallmans G, Winkvist A. Associations among 25-year trends in diet, cholesterol and BMI from 140,000 observations in men and women in Northern Sweden. Nutr J. 2012;11:40.



Acupuncture Regulates Appetite and Reduces the Effects of Stress

A study published in January 2012 reports that acupuncture modulates levels of the stress-related protein neuropeptide Y in rats. Neuropeptide Y is released by the hypothalamus in the brain during ongoing stress, contributing to the physiological stress response. Also, neuropeptide Y regulates energy intake/appetite and the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus, which is also involved in the  stress response.

In this study, researchers subjected rats to 14 days of cold stress. Some of the rats received electroacupuncture at a true acupuncture point, while the control group received a sham-acupuncture treatment. Neuropeptide Y levels were evaluated in the plasma and in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. The researchers demonstrated that pretreatment or concomitant electroacupuncture treatment at acupuncture point stomach 36 resulted in suppressed levels of neuropeptide Y in both the plasma and hypothalamus. The rats that received the sham-electroacupuncture treatment did not show a change in neuropeptide Y.

Furthermore, the true electroacupuncture treatment showed a long-lasting effect, as it maintained suppressed levels of neuropeptide Y, even when it was discontinued early and the cold stress continued. Also, the true electroacupuncture treatment inhibited the stress-induced increase in receptors for neuropeptide Y in the paraventricular nucleus.

According to the researchers, electroacupuncture at stomach 36 “is effective in preventing one of the sympathetic pathways stimulated during chronic stress, and thus may be a useful adjunct therapy in stress-related disorders.”

Eshkevari L, Egan R, Phillips D, Tilan J, Carney E, Azzam N, Amri H, Mulroney SE. Acupuncture at ST36 prevents chronic stress-induced increases in neuropeptide Y in rat. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2012 Jan 1;237(1):18-23.



We Can Predict and Prevent Heart Attacks, March 2012

According to a study published March 21, 2012, a new blood test ( may reveal Researchers showed that heart attack patients in the study had five times more abnormally shaped versions of circulating endothelial cells (CECs) in their blood, when compared to the healthy patients’ blood. CECs are a type of cells that line our blood vessels and control their ability to widen and prevent clots.  Researchers believe that these cells are most likely released from ruptured arteries in the weeks leading up to a clot formation. Therefore, they assume that the CECs accumulation in the blood is a warning sign of an impending heart attack.

However, before we rush to consider this test as the “Holy Grail” of cardiovascular medicine we need to remember that it does not show that such cells were present before the heart attack started. This will have to be explored in future studies. It will also be important to show that the abnormal cells only appear during a heart attack and are not also present in other illnesses.

Furthermore, we do not have to wait for this new test to become commercially available. We already have Lp-PLA2, Lp(a), F2-isoprostanes, hs-CRP markers that can detect the presence of inflammation and vulnerable plaque 6 months before a heart attack, which will give patients enough time to take appropriate measures to prevent it. (  Unfortunately, most doctors do not know about these tests and do not order them routinely, although they are being performed by most laboratories and covered by many insurance plans. (

Consequently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with more than a million Americans experiencing a heart attack every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Ultimately, it would be best to make lifestyle adjustments before we develop arterial plaque. Science had repeatedly proven that there is no better heart attack prevention than a plant-based diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and controlling inflammation.  


Red Meat Increases Risk of Dying, March 2012

Eating red meat increases the risk of dying prematurely, including from heart disease or cancer, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health.1 Among a group of 121,342 individuals followed for up to 28 years, each daily serving of red meat increased the risk of dying by 12 percent. For processed meats (e.g., hotdogs, ham, or bacon), each daily serving increased the risk of death by 20 percent.

An accompanying editorial by Dean Ornish, M.D., highlighted how the reduction of red and processed meat would not only lead to health benefits, but would help decrease health care costs and the environmental impact of meat-based diets.2

A previous review of 12 studies showed intakes of red meat and processed meat were associated with 21 and 41 percent increased risk for diabetes, respectively.3 Other studies have linked red and processed meat to prostate cancer,4 colon cancer,5 and bladder cancer.6

  1. Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM, et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies. Arch Intern Med. Published online March 12, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287.
  2. Ornish D.Holy cow! What's good for you is good for our planet. Arch Intern Med. Published online March 12, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.174.
  3. Aune D, Ursin G, Veierod MB. Meat consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2009;52:2277-2287.
  4. Sinha R, Park Y, Graubard BI, et al. Meat and meat-related compounds and risk of prostate cancer in a large prospective cohort study in the United States. Am J Epidemiol. 2009;170:1165-1177.
  5. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington, D.C.: AICR, 2007.
  6. Ferrucci LM, Sinha R, Ward MH, et al. Meat and components of meat and the risk of bladder cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Cancer. 2010;116:4345-4353.


Obesity is associated with hypothalamic injury in rodents and humans, January 2012

High-fat diet (HFD) proved to cause peripheral and hypothalamic inflammation in just 1-3 days, prior to substantial weight gain in humans and laboratory animals. [Hypothalamus is the area in the brain responsible for hunger, thirst, hormonal balance, and the body's natural rhythms and cycles.] This inflammatory event was marked by the accumulation of large glial (supportive) cells in the hypothalamus areas where neurons have been damaged within the first week of HFD feeding. These inflammatory changes subsided temporarily, suggesting that neuroprotective mechanisms may initially limit the damage. However, with continued HFD feeding, the hypothalamus became permanently inflamed. This inflammatory mechanism generated by the consumption of HFD suggest that, in both humans and rodent models, obesity is associated with neuronal injury in a brain area crucial for body weight and hormonal control. To make matters worse, previous studies have shown that all neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by inflammation. Once again, diet does matter.


Eating Eggs Increase Risk of Prostate Cancer, October 2011

Eating eggs may increase risk of developing a lethal-form of prostate cancer among healthy men, according to a new National Institutes of Health-funded study. By consuming 2.5 eggs per week, men increased their risk for a deadly form of prostate cancer by 81%, compared with men who consumed less than half an egg per week. Researchers followed 27,607 men who were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1994 to 2008. For men who already had prostate cancer, eating poultry and processed red meat increased their risk of death.
Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Chan JM. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate specific antigen-era: incidence and survival. Cancer Prev Res. Published ahead of print September 19, 2011


Avoiding Cow’s Milk in Infancy May Cut Risk of Type 1 Diabetes, August 2011
Children who are not exposed to cow's milk proteins during infancy may have less risk of developing type 1 diabetes, according to a new report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the Trial to Reduce Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus in the Genetically at Risk (TRIGR) study, women were encouraged to breastfeed. Those who then transitioned their infants to baby formula were given a specially prepared formula in which proteins were broken up so that no intact cow's milk proteins remained. The full study results are not yet in. However, the TRIGR pilot study, including 230 infants followed until about 10 years of age, showed that those who followed the special feeding plan were 60 percent less likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes, compared with children who drank regular cow's milk formula during infancy. The study adds more support to the long-held theory that cow's milk proteins trigger the production of antibodies that can destroy a child's insulin-producing cells.

Knip M, Virtanen SM, Becker D, Dupré J, Krischer JP, Akerblom HK. Early feeding and risk of type 1 diabetes: experiences from the Trial to Reduce Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in the Genetically at Risk (TRIGR). Am J Clin Nutr


Higher Fiber Intake for a Longer Life, March, 2011

Higher fiber intake is associated with significantly lower risk of dying, according to a study published online this week. Researchers looked at diet records from 219,213 people who were part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health)-AARP Diet and Health Study. Those who ate the most fiber had lower risks of death from cardiovascular disease and infectious and respiratory diseases, compared with participants who ate the least. Men who ate the most fiber also had a lower risk of cancer death, compared with men who consumed the least. Women with the highest fiber intake showed a non-statistically significant lower risk of death from cancer. Fiber is only found in foods from plants, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Park Y, Subar AF, Hollenbeck A, Schatzkin A. Dietary fiber intake and mortality in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Arch Intern Med. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.18.


Lifestyle Changes Vital for Preventing Cancer, February, 2011

Lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and limiting alcohol could prevent about 340,000 cancer cases per year in the United States, according to a new report released by the American Institute for Cancer Research for World Cancer Day. Worldwide, cancer is a leading cause of death accounting for 7.6 million deaths and 12.7 million new diagnoses per year. Lifestyle changes could decrease cancer risk by 38 percent for breast cancer, 45 percent for colon cancer, and 47 percent for stomach cancer.

AICR/WCRF preventability estimates: Update to estimates produced for the 2009 Policy Report. 2011. American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund.


Healthy Body Linked to Healthy Mind, January 2011

People over the age of 65 with metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of cognitive decline, according to a study published this month in Neurology. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms, including hypertension, abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and high blood sugar levels. Researchers in France looked at 4,323 women and 2,764 men. In addition to cognitive decline, those with metabolic syndrome were more likely to have symptoms of depression and a history of heart disease.

Raffaitin C, Féart C, Le Goff M, et al. Metabolic syndrome and cognitive decline in French elders: The Three-City Study. Neurology. 2011;76:518-525


Diabetes Numbers Rising Rapidly, January 2011

An estimated 25.8 million children and adults in America have diabetes, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, the figure was 23.6 million. About one in four is unaware of the condition. An additional 79 million now have pre-diabetes, 22 million more than estimated in 2008.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National diabetes fact sheet: national estimates and general information on diabetes and pre-diabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.


For Weight Loss, Food Choices Play Bigger Role than Exercise

Food intake has a larger impact on weight loss than exercise, according to a new study in the International Journal of Obesity. A review of school-based interventions found that weight loss could be achieved by diet changes alone, while exercise without diet changes was not effective. Researchers explain it is difficult to “out-exercise” dietary intake. For example, a one-hour bicycle ride burns 240 calories and, in comparison, one small order of French fries—which are consumed in much less than an hour—contains nearly the same number of calories.

Katz DL. Unfattening our children: forks over feet. Int J Obes. 2011;35:33-37.


Vegetarian Diets Better for Kidney Patients, December 2010

Vegetarian diets are healthier for kidney patients, compared with animal-based diets, according to a new study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Patients who followed vegetarian diets had lower serum phosphorous levels, compared with those who consumed meat. Maintaining normal phosphorous levels is critical for patients with chronic kidney disease and is typically controlled by restricting intake.

Moe SM, Zidehsarai MP, Chambers MA, et al. Vegetarian compared with meat dietary protein source and phosphorus homeostasis in chronic kidney disease. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. Published ahead of print December 23, 2010.


Carcinogen in Grilled Chicken May Worsen Breast Cancer, November, 2010

A carcinogen found in grilled chicken may worsen breast cancer, according to new research. In the October issue of Toxicology, Imperial College London researchers shared results of a study treating human breast cancer cell lines with PhIP, one of a group of carcinogens called heterocyclic amines. PhIP is commonly found in grilled and barbecued meats, especially chicken. The researchers found that very small doses of PhIP caused the cells to exhibit extracellular invasive behavior. The invasiveness of the cells increased with increasing doses of PhIP, with some doses of PhIP surpassing the positive control, 17B-estradiol, the most common form of estrogen. Estrogen is a major promoter of breast cancer cells.

The authors concluded that PhIP is not only a potent breast cancer culprit due to its ability to damage DNA, but could also increase the likelihood that breast cancer cells will become metastatic, worsening existing disease.

Lauber SN, Gooderham NJ. The cooked meat-derived mammary carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6- phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine promotes invasive behaviour of breast cancer cells. Toxicology. Published ahead of print October 15, 2010.


Soy Decreases Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence, October 2010

Women consuming the most soy products have a lower risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers observed the amounts of soy isoflavones consumed by 524 women with breast cancer. Postmenopausal women who ate more than 42.3 milligrams of soy isoflavones daily had a 33 percent decreased risk of recurrence, compared with women who ate less than 15.2 milligrams per day. Sources of soy isoflavones included soy milk, tofu, and edamame. Eight ounces of soymilk contains roughly 20 milligrams of soy isoflavones.

Kang X, Zhang Q, Wang S, Huang X, Jin S. Effect of soy isoflavones on breast cancer recurrence and death for patients receiving adjuvant endocrine therapy. CMAJ. Published ahead of print October 18, 2010


Low-Carb, High-Animal-Protein Diet Linked to Higher Risk of Mortality, September 2010

A low-carbohydrate diet based on animal food sources increases mortality risk, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study included 85,168 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,548 men from the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study with an average of 23 years of follow-up. Researchers found that a high-animal-food, low-carbohydrate diet was linked with higher all-cause mortality, including a higher rate of cancer deaths. A high-vegetable-food, low-carbohydrate diet was associated with lower mortality, especially reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular events.

Fung TT, van Dam RM, Hankinson SE, Stampfer M, Willett WC, Hu FB. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: two cohort studies. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:289-298.



Current Heart Disease Therapy Does Not Target Cause: The Western Diet, September 2010

Renowned Cleveland Clinic researcher Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., highlights the need to change standard approaches to heart disease in an article to be published next week in the American Journal of Cardiology. Dr. Esselstyn explains why common methods of treating heart disease, such as stent and bypass surgeries, may have their place among a minority of patients, but for the vast majority, they are not as effective as low-fat, plant-based diets. The author acknowledges that physicians’ time constraints can limit the ability to provide information to patients. But ultimately, educated patients experience weight loss, blood pressure normalization, and improved or resolved diabetes, angina, and heart disease.

Esselstyn CB. Is the present therapy for coronary artery disease the radical mastectomy of the twenty-first century? Am J Cardiol. 2010;106:902-904.


Meat Intake Linked to Bladder Cancer, August 2010

Consumption of red and processed meats increases the risk of bladder cancer, according to a new study. Researchers looked at 300,933 men and women and found that those who consumed the most red meat had a 22 percent increased risk of bladder cancer, compared with those who ate the least. Consumption of nitrites and nitrates, compounds used for preserving, coloring, and flavoring processed meats, was associated with a 28 to 29 percent increased risk at highest intake levels. PhIP, a chemical commonly found in grilled chicken and other meats heated to a sufficient degree, was associated with a 19 percent increased risk of bladder cancer. Participants were part of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study and were included in a 7-year follow up.

PhIP has been linked to numerous cancers in humans, including breast, colon, and prostate. Nitrites and nitrates have long been recognized as potent carcinogens.

Ferrucci LM, Sinha R, Ward MH, et al. Meat and components of meat and the risk of bladder cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Cancer. Published ahead of print August 2, 2010. doi: 10.1002/cncr.25463.


Diabetes Linked to Increased Cancer Risk, July 2010

People with diabetes have up to twice the risk of developing liver, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers, compared to the risk for people who do not have diabetes, according to a study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. Cancers of the colon, rectum, bladder, and breast are also more common among people with diabetes. The reason for the increased risk is unknown but may be due to similar risk factors for both diseases, such as obesity and older age. However, the link may also be from diabetic complications like high blood sugar, high blood insulin, inflammation, or altered hormone regulation, all having the potential to increase cancer risk. This report from the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society suggests that a high intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and low intake of processed and red meats are associated with lower cancer risk.

Giovannucci E, Harlan DM, Archer MC, et al. Diabetes and Cancer: A Consensus Report. CA Cancer J Clin. Published ahead of print June 16, 2010. doi: 10.3322/caac.20078. 


Animal Protein Bad for Bones, July 2010

Animal protein is associated with decreased bone health, according to a study in this month's British Journal of Nutrition. In Beijing, China, 757 girls with an average age of 10 years were randomly assigned to a group consuming cow's milk fortified with calcium, one consuming cow’s milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D, or a third group that served as controls and made no changes. Bone mass was measured at the beginning of the study and at 12, 24, 48, and 60 months. While calcium intake was positively associated with bone health, animal protein, especially from meat and eggs, was negatively associated with bone mineral density and content.

Zhang Q, Ma G, Greenfield H, et al. The association between dietary protein intake and bone mass accretion in pubertal girls with low calcium intakes. Br J Nutr. 2010;103:714-723.


Vegetarian Diet and Healthy Lifestyle Rejuvenate Coronary Arteries, June, 2010

A low-fat vegetarian diet may help prevent heart attacks, according to a new study in this month’s American Journal of Cardiology. Researchers found that individuals who followed a low-fat vegetarian diet, along with a moderate exercise plan and stress management, measurably improved the function of their endothelium—the inner lining of arteries that is key to preventing heart attacks. This 12-week study included 43 participants in Dr. Dean Ornish’s Multisite Cardiac Lifestyle Intervention Program. In the control group, the endothelial function worsened.

Dod HS, Bhardwaj R, Sajja V, et al. Effect of intensive lifestyle changes on endothelia function on inflammatory markers of atherosclerosis. Am J Cardiol. 2010;105:362-367. 


Vegetable Intake Increases Ovarian Cancer Survival Rates, May 2010

Women with the highest fruit and vegetable intakes have better ovarian cancer survival rates than those who generally neglected these foods, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Researchers examined food patterns prior to ovarian cancer diagnosis in 341 Illinois women. They found that yellow and cruciferous vegetables, in particular, contributed to longer survival, whereas consumption of dairy products and red and processed meats shortened lifespan. The authors concluded that low-fat, plant based diets are not only beneficial for cancer prevention—they may also play a role in increasing survival time after diagnosis. Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the United States. 

Dolecek TA, McCarthy BJ, Joslin CE, et al. Prediagnosis food patterns are associated with length of survival from epithelial ovarian cancer. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:369-382.