Monkeying with Calorie Restriction

If you thought yesterday’s post about calorie restriction was interesting, you’ll love this report—it’s got monkeys! Everyone loves monkeys. Especially a healthy looking social monkey and an overweight lethargic grumpy one—the primate odd couple!

The New York Times introduces us to Canto and Owen, two rhesus monkeys on totally different sides of the calorie restriction spectrum. Canto who eats 445 calories a day is healthier and much younger looking than his buddy Owen who consumes 885 calories daily—Owen doesn’t appear happy about it. Some scientists believe the plight of Canto and Owen sheds serious light on the benefits of calorie restriction for humans. Michael Mason reports:
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have been tracking the health of small groups of calorie-restricted dieters. Earlier this year, they reported that the dieters had better-functioning hearts and fewer signs of inflammation, which is a precursor to clogged arteries, than similar subjects on regular diets.

In previous studies, people in calorie-restricted groups were shown to have lower levels of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, and triglycerides. They also showed higher levels of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, virtually no arterial blockage and, like Mr. Linksvayer, remarkably low blood pressure.

“Calorie restriction has a powerful, protective effect against diseases associated with aging,” said Dr. John O. Holloszy, a Washington University professor of medicine. “We don’t know how long each individual will end up living, but they certainly have a longer life expectancy than average.”

Researchers at Louisiana State University reported in April in The Journal of the American Medical Association that patients on an experimental low-calorie diet had lower insulin levels and body temperatures, both possible markers of longevity, and fewer signs of the chromosomal damage typically associated with aging.
Anyone else want a pet rhesus monkey now?

The Happy Housewives Club, episode 3

Veggies Not Great for Cancer Protection?

In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman says he considers cancer a disease resulting from fruit and vegetable deficiency. Here are his reasons:
  • Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency disease.
  • Raw vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer properties of all foods.
  • Studies on the cancer-reducing effects of vitamin pills containing various nutrients (such as folate, vitamin C and E) get mixed reviews; sometimes they show a slight benefit, but most show no benefit. Occasionally studies show that taking isolated nutrients is harmful, as was discussed earlier regarding beta-carotene.
  • Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.1
I point this out because today there’s a video on CNN stating that fruits and vegetables just don’t offer the big-bang for cancer protection that researchers once thought. Now, I’ve watched the video a few times and I still don’t understand their claim.

They say fruits and vegetables aren’t the saviors many thought them to be, but the report still recommends people eat a diet heavy in diverse plant matter. Hard to know what to make of that.
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Dr. Fuhrman's Diet Advice for Prostate Health

From the July 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

1. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, rich not only in lycopene but in thousands of other protective compounds. Each year, researchers find another carotenoid that has powerful beneficial effects and reduces cancer. Spinach was this year’s recipient of the anti-prostate cancer award, with researchers in Japan finding neoxanthin compounds (a class of carotenoids) that powerfully inhibit prostate cancer. In the past, pink grapefruit, watermelon, cooked tomatoes, pomegranate, cruciferous vegetables, red peppers, berries, figs, and many other foods all have been shown to inhibit the development of prostate cancer.

2. Drink a glass of fresh squeezed vegetable juice daily.

3. Have a bowl of soup made with cruciferous greens, leeks and beans almost every day.

4. Limit or avoid animal products to less than 5 percent of total calories, and don’t drink milk or eat cheese or butter. Do not take flaxseed oil; studies suggest it may worsen prostate cancer. Limit the use of all oil, using avocado, whole nuts, and seeds as the main source of fat in your diet and in sauces and salad dressings.

5. Take a multivitamin daily to assure adequate selenium, iodine, B12, and other trace minerals.

6. Take a small amount of DHA fat daily or a few times a week, to assure ideal omega-3 status.

7. Get a blood test for vitamin D every few years to assure you do not need additional supplementation. At the same time, check blood for homocysteine and MMA (methylmalonic acid) to assure that B12 and folate status are ideal.

Aspirin Use Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

From the November 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

A study released from findings gathered from the longitudinal Nurses Health Study at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found women who had taken at least two aspirin tablets per week for twenty years or more experienced a 58 percent higher risk of pancreatic cancer than women who did not use aspirin. The increased risk for pancreatic cancer ranged from 86 percent among women who took fourteen or more aspirin tablets a week, a 41 percent increased risk for taking six to thirteen tablets per week, and a 29 percent increase for four to six tablets per week.

The Nurses Health Study, initiated in 1976 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is the longest-running major women’s health study ever undertaken.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer. Very few survive for five years after this diagnosis. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2003 about 30,000 will die from this disease. Other factors, such as eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in meat, cheese, and processed foods, also have been shown to be associated with pancreatic cancer.

Utilizing drugs to combat the effects of a disease-causing diet, rather than removing the dietary causes of disease, will always be less than optimally effective, and for some, it will be deadly.

Health Points: Monday

Doctors say it is good news that the number of pounds gained is less than the widely believed 15, but bad news that "Generation XL" kids seem to be learning patterns of gradual weight gain that could spell trouble way beyond graduation.
  • Okay fellow gym rats, how many of you get stiff or sore from working out? It certainly happens to me from time to time. Jeannine Stein of The Los Angeles Times explains the right stretches can help get you right:
Your stiffness and soreness might be due to the fact that although weight-lifting increases the size of the muscle, it does nothing to make the muscles more flexible, according to Suzanne Martin, an Alameda-based physical therapist, Pilates instructor and author of the book "Stretching." For that, you need to stretch.
But a now-ponderous stack of research has shown that trans fats raise heart disease risk four to five times more sharply than do saturated fats. Trans fats both raise "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, and cause "good" cholesterol, or HDL, to drop, while saturated fats only raise LDL. Moreover, trans fats are linked to ailments such as diabetes and dementia, said Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.
Scientists pointed to numerous factors that contribute to 32.7 percent of boys under 10 and 27.8 percent of girls being overweight: massive portions at meals, the "energy density" -- calories per gram -- of food eaten, children being drive rather than walking to school, and ethnic group, among others.
Obesity -- which affects one in every three Americans -- and the illnesses associated with it cost the United States some 90.7 billion dollars a year in health care costs, a University of Pennsylvania researcher said.
  • I don’t think this will alarm too many Eat to Livers, but we have an egg salad crisis. The Associated Press reports suspected contamination caused a particular brand to be recalled from seventeen states:
Ballard's President David Ballard said the company has temporarily suspended producing egg salad while it investigates the contamination. Consumers can return the 12-ounce containers of egg salad for a refund.
"There is an overwhelming number of studies that show a link between obesity and breast cancer," Cheryl Rock of the University of California, San Diego said at the annual conference of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO).

Health Points: Friday

A billion people out of the world's six billion population are now considered overweight, compared with 800 million who do not have enough to eat.
Researchers said the drug appeared to slow children's growth rates. They grew about a half-inch less in height and weighed 3 pounds less than expected, based on estimates of their growth.
"Hazardous electronic waste is flowing to Africa on container ships every day. It's not as dramatic as was what happened in Ivory Coast, but over the long run it will have more of an environmental impact," Jim Puckett, founder of the Seattle-based environmental watchdog, Basel Action Network, told The Associated Press by telephone from London.
Women who underwent high-dose radiation therapy to their uterus seem to be the most likely to have problems. The authors of the study, published in the Oct. 18 issue of the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute, found that half of babies born to a sampling of these women were premature, compared to roughly 20 percent among their sisters.
In an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Oct. 11, Dr. Daniel Menzies, a clinical research fellow in the Asthma and Allergy Research Group at the University of Dundee, said the study showed that the smoking ban “has led to a rapid and marked improvement in the health of bar workers.”
  • Keep all windows and doors to the house locked to keep her from wandering outside.
  • Don't let her sleep in a bunk bed, and put baby gates in front of stairs.
The researchers assessed the effects of modern shoes on gait and lower extremity joint loads in 75 patients with knee OA [osteoarthritis]. Their mean age was 59, their mean body mass index was 28.4, and 59 of the 75 were women.
Researchers also found that participants who were taking insulin were six times more likely to die from infectious diseases or kidney failure than non-diabetic participants. Women treated with insulin had a particularly high mortality risk.
"There are people who have been dropped to their knees" by trigeminal neuralgia, said Alana Greca, a registered nurse and director of patient support for the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association. "That's how intense and how horrendous the pain can be."
Researchers say those consuming the highest amounts of bread doubled the risk for kidney malignancy, compared to those eating the smallest amounts.
Full-time working mothers were suffering the most with 59 percent saying they were not getting enough sleep. Half of the working mothers said they were getting six or fewer hours sleep a night.
Smoking will be banned in government offices, shops and halls from January. But the ban will not be applied to bars and other places of entertainment until 2009 to give them time to adjust.
"In mice and rats ghrelin triggers the same neurons as delicious food, sexual experience, and many recreational drugs; that is, neurons that provide the sensation of pleasure and the expectation of reward," the researchers write in Friday's issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

NY Times: Puberty in Preschool

In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman discusses the onset of early puberty in children consuming the Western diet. No one wants to think about preschoolers going through puberty, but a recent article in The New York Times investigates and the information is startling. Darshak M. Sanghavi reports:
Increasingly — though the science is still far from definitive and the precise number of such cases is highly speculative — some physicians worry that children are at higher risk of early puberty as a result of the increasing prevalence of certain drugs, cosmetics and environmental contaminants, called “endocrine disruptors,” that can cause breast growth, pubic hair development and other symptoms of puberty.

Most commonly, outbreaks of puberty in children are traced to accidental drug exposures from products that are used incorrectly.
In addition to these potential causes Sanghavi cites a study from The Lancet that connected breast enlargement among hundreds of Italian schoolchildren to estrogen contamination of beef and poultry.

Much of Disease-Proof Your Child describes the trend toward earlier puberty--which correlates with later cancer risk--and makes specific recommendations. Dr. Fuhrman describes how a diet heavy with fruit and vegetables, especially starting at a young age, can play a major role.
Worldwide, there is a linear relationship between higher-fat animal products, saturated fat intake, and breast cancer.1 However, there are areas of the world even today where populations eat predominantly unrefined plant foods in childhood and breast cancer is simply unheard of. Rates of breast cancer deaths (in the 50-to-70 age range) range widely from 3.4 per 100,000 in Gambia to 10 per 100,000 in rural China, 20 per 100,000 in India, 90 per 100,000 in the United States, and 120 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland2…

…Fat cells produce estrogen, so excess fat on the body during childhood results in more estrogen production. A large volume of high fiber from fruits and vegetables in the gut serves to lower circulating estrogen naturally. The high fiber and the resultant healthy bacteria that colonize the gut of a person consuming a high produce diet conjugates (binds together) estrogens so they are more readily excreted in the stool. As estrogen cycles into and out of the digestive tract, a person eating more animal products and less high-fiber vegetation reabsorbs more estrogen from the digestive tract, rather than losing more in the stool.

Diet powerfully modulates estrogen levels. One recent study illustrated that eight-to-ten-year-olds, closely followed with dietary intervention for seven years, dramatically lowered their estrogen levels compared to a control group with dietary modification.3 Clearly, changing the diet of our children after the age of eight is not futile. It will lower the risk of developing cancer, even when the most sensitive years affecting growth and age of puberty have passed. The good news is that we are not helpless after childhood to reduce the risk.
For more on this topic, check out these previous posts:
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Prostate Cancer Facts

From the July 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Debunking exaggerated claims about risks and treatment benefits. With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States. Medical autopsy studies show that by age seventy, 70 percent of men who die from accidental deaths are found to have prostate cancer.

The simple fact is that if you are a male and you eat similarly to other Americans, you eventually will get prostate cancer. No one can escape from the biological laws of cause and effect, and the Standard American Diet (SAD) is powerfully cancer-promoting. The good news is that only an extremely small number of men eventually die from their prostate cancers. The prostate cancer death rate is 226 per 100,000 male deaths over age sixty-five, which is a pretty small death rate.

All of the biopsies, treatments, and surgeries done in the hope of helping men with prostate cancer live longer cause significant side effects, such as incontinence, rectal bleeding, and impotence.

It is reasonable to ask if men actually benefit from such invasive intervention, including the destruction of part of the prostate or its removal. Are the side effects balanced by clear-cut advances in life expectancy?

Long-term side effects
The side effects of prostate cancer treatment are debilitating and demoralizing, and the percentage of patients who suffer from them is shockingly high.
Erectile dysfunction: over 50%
Bowel dysfunction: over 10%
Urinary dysfunction: over 20%

PSA screening
In spite of being heavily marketed to patients by physicians, PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening and the resultant treatments that follow have never been shown in medical studies to prolong life. In my “Why Prostate Screening and Treatments Don’t Work” article on page 3 of this newsletter, I explain some of the complicated issues regarding testing for and treatment of prostate cancer, to help you understand why it might be wiser to reject PSA screening for prostate cancer.

After a comprehensive review of the scientific studies available on this important issue, my conclusion is that men who are found to have low-grade prostate cancer would be better off not knowing about it because it is extremely unlikely to be their cause of death. Low-grade prostate cancer results in only 6 deaths per 1,000 patient years (number of patients with the disease multiplied by number of years they live after their cancer diagnosis), seen after 20 years of follow-up care.1

Men who are found to have high-grade prostate cancer do not benefit from surgery or radiation to their prostate, either. Invariably, this type of prostate cancer already has spread outside of the prostate when it is first diagnosed, and whether CT scans and bone scans show cancers outside of the prostate that are visible on these tests or not, it is still there. There is no technology to measure cancer at the microscopic level. So bone scans, CT scans, and MRIs cannot offer reassurance that the cancer has not spread. Cutting out, radiating, burning, and freezing the prostate with this more aggressive type of prostate cancer is futile. Yet, thousands of prostate operations and procedures are performed all over the country, every day, without probable benefit.

When it comes to the treatment of the higher-grade forms of prostate cancer, typically distinguished with a high Gleason score, only nutritional excellence and hormonal therapy— which can treat the cancerous cells that have already left the prostate, as well—are worthwhile.

For the majority of men treated for prostate cancer, it appears that their lives would have been much better off if their prostate cancer had never been diagnosed, since it is most likely that the side effects experienced from the treatment are not balanced by an increase in life span.
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