Arthritis in the News

For a long time I thought arthritis was just one of those things that accompanied getting older, along with an AARP card, early-bird specials, and white shorts with suspenders. But, like a lot of degenerative diseases, Dr. Fuhrman insists they don’t have to be a part of your life. You can do something about it. In Eat to Live he talks about how nutrition impacts arthritis:
Working with patients with autoimmune diseases such as connective tissue diseases, myositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus is very rewarding. These patients had been convinced they could never get well and are usually eternally grateful to be healthy again and not require medication.

An aggressive nutritional approach to autoimmune illnesses should always be tried first when the disease is in its infancy. Logically, the more advanced the disease is, and the more damage that has been done by the disease, the less likely the patient will respond. My experience with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis is that some patients are more dietary-sensitive than others and that some patients have very high levels of inflammation that are difficult to curtail with natural therapy. Nevertheless, the majority benefit—and since the conventional drugs used to treat these types of illnesses are so toxic and have so many risky side effects, the dietary method should be tried first. Modern drugs often contribute to the disability and misery of patients with an autoimmune illness and increase cancer risk. Studies show that the long-term outcome is poor after twenty years of taking such medication.1 A recent study in the British Journal of Rheumatology showed the major drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, and methotrexate, increases the likelihood that the person will die of cancer.2
It’s too bad you don’t hear about more doctors embracing this approach. Well, sometimes they come close. In this study researchers have identified a protein that leads to development of arthritis. That kind of sounds like nutrition, right? Janice Billingsley of HealthDay News is on it:
By identifying a protein that appears to be one of the culprits in the unhealthy buildup of this fluid, which is called synovial fluid, Dr. Yasushi Miura and her colleagues at Kobe University School of Medicine hope that a new, targeted medication can be developed to treat the disease.

"The protein Decoy receptor 3 (DcR3) is one of the pathological factors of RA and can be a new therapeutic target for treatment," said Miura, an associate professor in the division of orthopedic sciences at the medical school.

Her findings are in the April issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, the journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

DcR3 is a member of the large tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) "super family," which has been identified in the last decade as important in the regulation of cell growth and cell death, fundamental processes in biology, said Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of the division of rheumatology and immunology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.

"We have known of the importance of cell growth and cell death in studying cancer but more recently have found that it is also important in autoimmune diseases like RA and lupus," he said.
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Food Research Revealed

Ever wonder what’s involved in food research? Well look no further. Stephen Smith of The Boston Globe examines the process:
Now, gold-standard studies into food and its effects on our health require culinary mastery rivaling anything whipped up by a five-star restaurant, with dietitians spending months perfecting research menus that are both palatable and scientifically sound. (That means, for instance, not including too many olives or too much tarragon. People, it turns out, don't want olives and tarragon every day.)

Then there are the volunteers. They must pledge to never indulge their weaknesses and to always clean their plates, and, along the way, yield samples of blood, stool, or urine to measure the consequences of a particular vitamin or a whole diet.

"All of a sudden, you can't grab your favorite food anymore. They hate us because we did that to them," said Helen Rasmussen, a gregarious dietitian at Tufts whose job is to make science tasty. "I ask them how they respond to nagging from their mother -- at least they appreciate the warning."

Typically, the studies begin with a well-informed hunch. Researchers might know, for instance, that a certain nutrient has been shown in the lab or anecdotally to provide a health benefit.

Beef Bad for the Boys

Hey mom! Where’s the beef? Hopefully not on her plate because according to a new study women who eat a lot of beef while pregnant may give birth to sons who grow up to have low sperm counts. Good thing my mom has never eaten a lot of red meat. I have enough problems with women as it is. More form Reuters:
They believe pesticides, hormones or contaminants in cattle feed may be to blame. Chemicals can build up in the fat of animals that eat contaminated feed or grass, and cattle are routinely given hormones to boost their growth.

"In sons of 'high beef consumers' (more than seven beef meals a week), sperm concentration was 24.3 percent lower," the researchers wrote in their report, published in the journal Human Reproduction.

The team at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York studied data on the partners of 387 pregnant women in five U.S. cities between 2000 and 2005, and on the mothers of the fathers-to-be.

Of the 51 men whose mothers remembered eating the most beef, 18 percent had sperm counts classified by the World Health Organization as sub-fertile.
I have to admit, this report makes me a little nervous. Now every time I drive past a burger joint I’m afraid it’ll have the same effect as a cold swimming pool. Okay, all kidding aside, meat can be a rather troublesome food. And its not just beef, in Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman talks about some of the problems with chicken:
Chicken has about the same amount of cholesterol as beef, and the production of those potent cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef.1 Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.2 Likewise, studies indicated that chicken is almost as dangerous as red meat for the heart. Regarding cholesterol, there is no advantage to eating lean white instead of lean red meat.3
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Pizza for Health?

Every week or so a report comes out that makes me want to bash my head against the wall. Like this one for example. Blogging Baby passes on new research claiming pizza can be healthy, yeah, I said pizza. Take a look:
If your kids -- or you, even -- are overly fond of pizza, there is good news coming out of Maryland. food chemists at the University of Maryland have found that by optimizing baking and fermentation methods, they can increase the levels of antioxidants in pizza dough. Bonus points if you like the deep-dish, Chicago-style pizzas -- their thicker crust and longer baking times "may have the potential to deliver higher levels of antioxidants in comparison to other pizza styles," says study co-author Jeffrey Moore.
Now I know I’m defying my Italian blood on this one, but, Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear that cheese, is far from health-promoting. In fact, he considers cheese one of the worst foods you can eat:
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
In Eat to Live he points out that dairy products, including cheese, are also loaded with harmful compounds called dioxins:
Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese.1
Now the crazy part of this report is we’ve heard this before. A few months back Domino’s tried to convince us that pizza is actually a health food. No bull! From Nutrient-Dense Pizza:
Domino's list the following "facts" about their pizza:
  • Pizza is essentially a meal in itself, as you can find foods from the four basic food groups in one slice.
  • A crunchy thin crust Domino's pizza contains less than half the carbohydrates of Domino's classic hand-tossed pizza.
  • None of the core products on Domino's menu (pizza, bread side items, chicken) contain trans fats.
  • Customers seeking a healthier pizza have the option of ordering their pizza with a lighter portion of cheese.
  • The tomatoes in pizza sauce contain lycopene, which helps protect against prostate cancer. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Tisk, tisk, tisk.
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Television Ads and Junk Food

Get a load of this next report. New research has determined that most of the commercials that kids are exposed too are for junk food. Not a real shocker here. Growing up some of my most vivid T.V. memories are Cinnamon Toast Crunch and McDonalds advertisements—robble, robble! Kevin Freking of the Associated Press reports:
For years, health officials have warned that kids were being inundated with commercials about not-so-healthy foods. Now, researchers have put numbers to those warnings in the largest-ever study of commercials aimed at children.

"The vast majority of the foods that kids see advertised on television today are for products that nutritionists would tell us they need to be eating less of, not more of, if we're going to get a handle on childhood obesity," said Vicky Rideout of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducts health research.

Overall, the foundation's researchers monitored 13 television networks. The viewing took place primarily between late May and early September 2005. They saw 2,613 ads featuring food and drinks that targeted children and teens.

Children ages 8-12 see the most food ads on TV — an average of 21 a day, or 7,600 a year. Teenagers see slightly fewer — 17 a day, or about 6,000 a year; and children ages 2-7 see the fewest — 12 a day or 4,400 a year.

Have a Drink, But Which One?

Here’s a curious little report from The New York Times. Last year, the Unilever Health Institute published a “Beverage Guidance System” in order to help people make more informed beverage choices. It’s worth noting that Unilever also owns Lipton Tea, keep that in mind. Jane E. Brody reports:
Coffee, Tea and Caffeine
Here the news is better. Several good studies have linked regular coffee consumption to a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and, in men and in women who have not taken postmenopausal hormones, Parkinson’s disease.

Most studies have not linked a high intake of either coffee or caffeine to heart disease, even though caffeinated coffee raises blood pressure somewhat and boiled unfiltered coffee (French-pressed and espresso) raises harmful LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Caffeine itself is not thought to be a problem for health or water balance in the body, up to 400 milligrams a day (the amount in about 30 ounces of brewed coffee). But pregnant women should limit their intake because more than 300 milligrams a day might increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight, the panel said.

Mice prone to an Alzheimer’s-like disease were protected by drinking water spiked with caffeine equivalent to what people get from five cups of coffee a day. And a study of more than 600 men suggested that drinking three cups of coffee a day protects against age-related memory and thinking deficits.
Okay, Unilever’s research does a nice job bashing sweetened drinks and alcohol, but—and Dr. Fuhrman would agree—it goes way too easy on milk, and, pulls a lot of punches when it comes to caffeinated beverages. Again, a major tea-producer is behind this report. Now I’m no lawyer, but in the court of life, shouldn’t this research be thrown out the window?

So, allow Followhealthlife to provide objective criticism on caffeinated beverages, and what the heck, milk too. Let’s start with caffeine, Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Eat to Live:
Caffeine addicts are at higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias that could precipitate sudden death.1 Coffee raises blood pressure and raises cholesterol and homocysteine, two risk factors for heart disease.2
And a little more on caffeine from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.3 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
I agree with Dr. Fuhrman on this one. I used to drink a lot of coffee, which contributed to intense bouts with gastiris—that often landed me in the hospital! But, since I ditched the coffee/caffeine cold-turkey and began eating my weight in fruits and veggies, I haven’t had a problem since. Okay, now what about milk? From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The leading cause of digestive intolerance leading to stomach complaints is dairy products. Many kids have subtle allergies to cow's milk that perpetuate their nasal congestion, leading to ear infections.

Milk, which is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow, has about half its calories supplied from fat. The fatty component is concentrated more to make cheese and butter. Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. If we expect our children to resist many common illnesses, they simply must consume less milk, cheese, and butter. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.
Pretty scary stuff, right? Now this report makes me wonder. For example, what if Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Lipton Tea, and The American Dairy Association had all gotten together to publish this beverage guide? Seems to me that all four beverage choices would have received a glowing endorsement—aren’t hidden agendas grand! That's why I drink water.

Curious about alcohol and soft drinks, check out these previous posts:
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The Sugar-Blocker Diet

Fad diets are like rabbits, look way for second and—BAM—there’s another one. Now introducing a medicinal herb that promises to make all senses of sweetness disappear—PRESTO CHANGE-O! Jamie Talan of Newsday is on it:
An ingredient of a plant used for centuries as a medicinal herb in India can block receptors in the mouth from tasting sweet foods. Using a concentrated form of this ingredient, a company has developed a tablet that, when sucked or chewed, rapidly makes all sense of sweetness disappear for up to 30 minutes…

…George Kontonotas, president of Genotec Nutritionals Inc. in Commack, N.Y., says it helps overweight people resist sugary snacks and removes the sweet taste from tobacco smoke.

He says cigarette manufacturers put at least 20 substances into cigarettes, including cloves and apple juice extract, to make smoking more palatable. When sweet receptors on the tongue cannot sense those tastes, "the true taste of tobacco is awful."
Now that’s marketing at its finest, “Well, well, the cigarette companies do it. So why can’t we?” I actually feel stupider after reading this report. One more of these and you’ll find me curled up in the corner sucking my thumb.

High Blood Sugar and Cancer

The Diabetes Blog relays new research linking high blood sugar to cancer risk:
Researchers identified 2,478 incident cases of cancer from records of 33,293 women and 31,304 men who participated in the study. Participants were recruited in the mid-1980s at age 40, 50 and 60 and the study covered a 13-year period. The records included levels of glucose in the blood when fasting and after receiving an infusion of glucose. Researchers calculated the cancer risk relative to blood glucose while adjusting for: age, year of enrollment, fasting time and smoking status. Women with blood sugar levels higher than normal have a total higher risk for cancer while for men the risk was unchanged at higher blood sugar levels. The overall risk of developing cancer for women in the top 25% of fasting blood glucose levels was 26% higher than those in the bottom 25%. Women with high fasting glucose levels had a higher risk of pancreatic, breast and endometrial cancers, while the increase in risk for malignant melanoma was two times higher.

Diet-Blog on Portion Sizes

At most restaurants portion sizes are borderline monstrous. It’s basically a badge of courage to over eat. Diet-Blog talks about it:
An entree alone can set you back about 2,000 calories – the average amount you would need in an entire day.

What are restaurants' interests in continuing to serve such huge portions?

One could argue that if restaurants cut back on the amount of food served, they would automatically save money – just from the diminished need to buy large quantities of food.
But is that what would really happen?

Americans have come to expect the large volume of food served at restaurants. They are hungry and seem to assume this is a “normal meal.”

If restaurants started serving smaller meals, I believe Americans would just find something else that suited them better – namely, more food. Business would wane, and various eateries would have no choice but to start serving more food again.

What's a Flavonoid?

For starters, it’s the not thing in the Domino’s Pizza commercials from the 80s—that’s the Noid. Flavonoids are a little different. According to Dr. Fuhrman flavonoids are important health-promoting antioxidant phytochemicals found in a variety of plant foods. Here are a few notable sources:
Pomegranate Power
“Pomegranates' potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.1 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.”

Ten Super Foods to Use in Your Recipes and Menus
“Blueberries/Blackberries are packed with tannins, anthocyanidins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and proanthcyanidins that have been linked to prevention and reversal of age-related mental decline. They also have powerful anti-cancer effects. Use frozen organic berries in the winter when fresh ones are not available.”

It's Lime Time
“Nutritionally limes are a very good source of vitamin C, as mentioned before, and a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron and copper and they are low in sodium. They also contain the flavonoids called flavonol glycosides which have antibiotic properties and are said to stop cell division in many cancer cell lines. Due to the high vitamin C levels and antibiotic properties they are a natural way to prevent gum disease and to ease bacterial infections and colds. They are also a remedy for indigestion, heartburn, and nausea.”
Now these are only the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Fuhrman points out that flavonoids can also be found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. From Popeye Was Right--Greens Pack a Powerful Punch:
Now, which has more vitamin E or vitamin C--broccoli or steak? I'm sure you are aware that steak has no vitamin C or vitamin E. It is also almost totally lacking in fiber, folate, vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin K, flavonoids, and thousands of other protective phytochemicals. Meat does have certain vitamins and minerals, but even when we consider the nutrients that meat does contain, broccoli has lots more of them. For many important nutrients, broccoli has more than ten times as much as steak. The only exception is vitamin B12, which is not found in plant fare.
So why list all these foods? Because of America’s tendency to romanticize magic beans and miracle cures, that’s why. From ginkgo biloba to protein bars, to ephedra and diet soda, we love quick fixes. And this next report only perpetuates that love affair. According to HealthDay News flavonoids in dark chocolate can boost the function of blood vessels. Robert Preidt reports:
Cocoa is rich in a group of antioxidant compounds called flavonoids, which are also found in fruits and vegetables, wine and green tea. Research suggests that consumption of foods rich in flavonoids may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, included 45 healthy people with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 35 kg/m2. The participants were divided into three groups that ate either eight ounces of cocoa without sugar; cocoa with sugar; or a placebo.
Here’s a question. Why bother with the candy? Sure, dark chocolate might have this healthful property, but why risk it? Instead of trying to dupe yourself into not feeling guilty about downing a bag of chocolate, wouldn’t it be smarter to get flavonoids from more health-promoting sources? Like maybe one of the ones Dr. Fuhrman mentions. What do you think?
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Mercury in Fish, Better Alert the World!

Mankind has a lot of nasty habits. Arguably the worst is our tendency to pollute. We pollute the air with smog, television with American Idol, and the ocean with Mercury. And, mercury contamination probably goes unrealized by millions of people everyday. This report by EurekAlert confirms it:
The health risks posed by mercury contaminated fish is sufficient to warrant issuing a worldwide general warning to the public — especially children and women of childbearing age-to be careful about how much and which fish they eat. That is one of the key findings comprising "The Madison Declaration on Mercury Pollution" published today in a special issue of the international science journal Ambio.

Developed at the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant last August in Madison, Wis., the declaration is a synopsis of the latest scientific knowledge about the danger posed by mercury pollution. It presents 33 principal findings from five synthesis papers prepared by the world's leading mercury scientists and published in the same issue of Ambio. The declaration and supporting papers summarize what is currently known about the sources and movement of mercury in the atmosphere, the socioeconomic and health effects of mercury pollution on human populations, and its effects on the world's fisheries and wildlife.
Dr. Fuhrman has been screaming about the dangers of mercury contamination for a long time. He issues a lot of warnings in Eat to Live, take a look:
Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.1 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.3 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis…

… Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.2 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.3 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
Now, I barely eat any animal products anymore, but, from time to time I do like a nice piece of fish. So, what’s safe and what’s not safe to eat? Back to Eat to Live:
Fish with Highest and Lowest Mercury Levels

  • tilefish
  • swordfish
  • mackerel
  • shark
  • white snapper
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • flounder
  • sole
  • tilapia
  • trout
Okay, even though Dr. Fuhrman points to these five varieties of fish as safer choices, he still warns that people shouldn’t eat fish more than twice a week.
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Obesity: The Dutch to the Rescue!

Isn’t ironic that the people responsible for some of world’s richest chocolates are now on a mission to invent foods that prevent obesity? That’d be like Marlboro coming out with a line of dietary supplements! Anna Mudeva of Reuters explains:
The Top Institute Food and Nutrition (TIFN), funded by the Dutch government and food groups like CSM Anglo-Dutch Unilever, is also developing food ingredients which can stop an obese person from developing diabetes.

"We are working on certain food ingredients, which provoke more satiety than others do on the long run, so that our partners can use them in food manufacturing," said Professor Robert-Jan Brummer, program director at TIFN.

"These products should trigger satiety and stop us eating more and more. They should also meet our dietary requirements, have a very good taste and be enjoyable to eat," he told Reuters.
Brummer declined to give details, saying it was a commercial secret, but added these nutrients could eventually be used in any kind of food from drinks to spreads and bread.

Several other research centers in the world are working to develop nutrients that could prevent obesity but Brummer said that none of them, including his own, had achieved big breakthroughs so far.
Didn’t mother nature already invent obesity-preventing foods? Aren’t they called fruits and vegetables? Uh duh!

Your Job Can Make You Fat!

Add it to the list. Not only can work make you crazy, manic, irritated, annoyed, and just plain angry, now it seems your chosen profession can also make you fat. Reuters reports:
The more job strain men and women reported, the more likely they were to become obese, Dr. Eric J. Brunner of the Royal Free and University College London Medical School and colleagues found. Higher stress levels were also tied to excess fat around the middle, which is particularly harmful for health.

Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease and the metabolic syndrome, a constellation of symptoms including excess belly fat that increases the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Brunner and his team note. They hypothesized that job stress might make people more likely to develop obesity during adulthood as well.
I can speak from experience on this one. I used to have a miserable office job, by the time I quit, I bloated to the size of a baby elephant—a very surly baby elephant.

No More Hijacking of the FDA?

You only have to look at the American political landscape to see that money talks—grease the right wheels and anything’s possible. Same goes for the Food and Drug Administration. Why do I say that? Well, why else would this happen?

Gardiner Harris of The New York Times reports that under a new mandate advisors to the government that receive cash from drug and device makers would be disallowed from voting on the approval of that company’s products. More from the article:
Indeed, such doctors who receive more than $50,000 from a company or a competitor whose product is being discussed would no longer be allowed to serve on the committees, though those who receive less than that amount in the prior year can join a committee and participate in its discussions.

A “significant number” of the agency’s present advisers would be affected by the new policy, said the F.D.A. acting deputy commissioner, Randall W. Lutter, though he would not say how many. The rules are among the first major changes made by Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach since he was confirmed as commissioner of food and drugs late last year.

Advisory boards recommend drugs for approval and, in rare cases, removal, and their votes can have enormous influence on drug company fortunes.

“The $50,000 threshold is something that we think strikes an appropriate balance between” getting smart advisers and reassuring the public that their advice is not tainted, Dr. Lutter said.
Okay, it’s a start, but, I’m very suspicious of the $50,000 threshold. It seems like they’re saying it’s alright to be just a little corrupt. What do you think?

High-Fat Diet Ups Breast Cancer Risk

According to Megan Rauscher of Reuters a new study links high-fat diets to increased breast cancer risk. Take a gander:
Using a more precise 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire, "we found a 32-percent increased risk of breast cancer" among women with a high level of fats in their diet, study chief Dr. Anne C. M. Thiebaut from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health.

The increased risk of breast cancer associated with a high-fat diet was seen for all types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and seemed to be confined to women who were not using hormone replacement therapy at the start of the study.
Now, normally I’d look for some of Dr. Fuhrman’s work supporting the study and link to it, but, I’m not going to do that. Instead, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on this specific study. He makes some very important points worth remembering:
The suggestion that hormone therapy mediates the association between dietary fat intake and risk of breast cancer should be studied further, the authors suggest

The downside of these studies is that people keep arguing about the relationship of fat to breast cancer and fail to remember that breast cancer is multi-factorial (like other diseases)

It occurs from a witch’s caldron of causes such as eye-of-newt, claws of cats, and salamander tails.

In reality, it is our low-nutrient diet, centered on animal products, oil, sugar, corn syrup, white bread, pasta and the lack of vegetables, beans, seeds, fruits, and nuts that lead to a cancer epidemic. So your pasta dinner also contributed to breast cancer, not just the cheese melted on top.

It will take a major shift in America's dietary consumption pattern to see cancer rates drop significantly because American's only eat about 5 percent of their total caloric intake from unrefined produce.

This is indeed a central purpose of this blog; to get the message out to America that we can win the war on cancer, heart disease and stroke, not by going on a "low-fat" diet but rather by adopting a high-nutrient diet with a high phytochemical index score and high micronutrient score. See chart in the library at for food micronutrient scores.
And here it is:

Fruits and Veggies vs. Diabetes and Colon Cancer

In this age of modern medicine patients and doctors alike are quick to throw themselves at the altar of prescription drugs and invasive procedures, often ignoring rudimentary causes and cures for many of the common afflictions that plague this country.

Take diabetes and cancer for example, big pharma has indoctrinated us into believing that lifelong dependency on medication and chemotherapy are our only hopes. Now, if you read this blog you know, this is foolhardy to say the least. And Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear. You have other options.

Does a diagnosis of Type-II Diabetes mean a life sentence of insulin shots? Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think so. From Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes:
How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies? How can they lower their lipids and blood pressure, lose weight, and avoid taking dangerous drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas? They need to adopt a diet based on nutritional excellence.

Fortunately, the best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat To Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature's perfect foods—green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.
And what about cancer? In Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer Dr. Fuhrman talks about how vegetable-based nutrition hits cancer where it hurts:
While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds-- especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens.

These vegetables also contain indole-3- carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells1
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer2
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells3
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer4
Now, Dr. Fuhrman has been talking about this for years, but it’s still cool to read about it in the news. Like this report from Reuters. Apparently a new study has determined avoiding meats and fatty foods and eating plenty of salads and cooked vegetables reduces the risk of developing Type-II Diabetes. Michelle Rizzo explains:
There was an inverse association observed between the Salad and Vegetable pattern and diabetes. The Meat pattern was positively associated with diabetes. No association was observed between the Fruit pattern and diabetes risk.

"Our results suggest that avoiding an eating pattern including meat and fatty foods, and favoring a pattern high in salad and cooked vegetables could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes," Dr. Allison Hodge, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, said in an interview with Reuters Health.
Okay, call it coincidence, but here’s another Reuters report worth checking out. It seems new research has determined that people who eat a diet high in fruit and low in meat reduce their risk of developing colon cancer. Have a look:
Gregory Austin and colleagues analyzed the answers and found there were three groups -- people who ate a lot of fruit but little meat, people who ate a lot of vegetables and a moderate amount of meat, and people who simply ate a lot of meat.

The people who recalled eating large or moderate amounts of meat were 70 percent more likely to have had a polyp than those who said they ate a lot of fruit but little meat.
So then, all this begs the question. Why don’t more doctors and patients seek out this kind of information? Oh, that’s right, there are no pushy sales reps and million dollar advertising campaigns behind your local farmers market.
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Be Careful with that Chinese Food

College kids, lonely bachelors, and deadline-pressed reporters might want to take a few deep breaths before reading this next report. Libby Quaid of the Associated Press explains that those endless cartons of Chinese food pack a lot—a whole lot—of salt:
The battered, fried chicken dish with vegetables has 1,300 calories, 3,200 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat.

That's before the rice (200 calories a cup). And after the egg rolls (200 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium).
Looking back on it, I can’t believe how much Chinese food I ate in college—what was I thinking?

Curious about salt? Check out this earlier post:

Roasted Nuts and Trans Fat

C. Claiborne Ray of The New York Times investigates the question, “Is it true that the “good oil” in nuts turns to a trans fat when the nuts are roasted?” The answer is pretty obvious:
Some trans fat is produced by ruminant animals, Ms. Stark said, and so ends up in butter and meat. But most of the trans fat we eat comes from a manufacturing process in which liquid vegetable oil gets hydrogenated, in the presence of a metal catalyst, so that its chemical structure more closely resembles a saturated fat. The body treats this partially hydrogenated fat like a saturated fat, raising the risk of heart disease.

Nuts are obviously high in fat, she said, but mostly the “good” kind, either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.
If you’re still curious about nuts, take a gander at these previous posts:

Splenda: Big Business Protecting its Interests

Personally, I don’t trust artificial sweeteners. If you can drink zero calorie diet beverages and not question what the heck is in them, well, do the world a favor and don’t reproduce. Sorry, but artificial sweeteners are too shrouded in mystery for me to feel comfortable consuming them. Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think they’re a good idea either. From Eat to Live:
Clearly this is a controversial subject because much of the research documenting the so-called safety of aspartame was financed by the aspartame industry, and a huge amount of political and monetary pressure led to eventual FDA approval. My opinion is that the possible dangers of aspartame are still unknown. Utilizing such artificial products is gambling with your health. Aspartame also exposes us to a methyl ester that may have toxic effects. I recommend playing it safe and sticking to natural foods.

Many health gurus recommend substituting Stevia in place of artificial sweeteners. Stevia is natural and its use is permitted in Japan and other countries. Despite its widespread use, there is a surprising lack of human clinical trials evaluating its safety. Unlike with saccharin, no evidence has been reported that stevioside and its metabolites are carcinogenic. However, animal reports of nephrotoxicity do exist, which suggest that Stevia is likely safer than the other sweeteners, but not entirely without risk.1 The extent of risk is unknown at this time.

Bottom line: try to enjoy your food choices without sweeteners. Fresh fruit and occasionally a little date sugar or ground dates is the safest way to go. I recommend dropping colas, sodas, sweetened teas, and juices. If they don’t contain artificial sweeteners, they are loaded with sugar. Eat unrefined food and drink water. Melons blended with ice cubes make delicious, cooling summer drinks.
So, maybe the jury hasn’t made a definitive decision on the safety of all artificial sweeteners, but remember, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Apparently the makers of Splenda are buying up domain names like,, and I wonder why? Diet-Blog has more:
Splenda is the brand name for Sucralose - an artificial sweetener created by UK food processing company Tate & Lyle. The product was co-developed in the US by Johnson & Johnson - and is now sold under the umbrella company McNeil Nutritionals.

According the Sustainable is Good blog, Johnson & Johnson, and Tate & Lyle embarked on a two-pronged campaign to stifle any negative press.
  1. Find any negative websites about Splenda, and buy up all similar names. (I checked one site I know of - This is owned by blogger Joey Goldman. I then checked the site -- and found it was owned by Johnson & Johnson).
  2. Register any domain name they can think of that might be used to write negative information. (see the Sustainable blog for a bigger list).
Isn’t big business grand!
Continue Reading...

Antibiotics: Not Always for Sinus Infections

Over the past month antibiotics have really made the headlines. First the FDA restricted a particular antibiotic due to incidents of severe liver problems. Next, HealthDay News reported that many pneumonia patients receive antibiotics when they don’t really need them. And finally, it seems some chickens possess antibiotic resistant bacteria—all very scary stuff.

Well, it gets worse. According to the Associated Press new research has determined that antibiotics commonly prescribed for sinus infections might not be a good idea because most cases are caused by a virus rather than bacteria. Timberly Ross reports:
The researchers say the findings are troubling because overuse of antibiotics is leading to more virulent and even drug-resistent bacteria. Their concerns echo those of doctors who've studied the effectiveness of antibiotics on ear infections.

"We don't want to be using up our antibiotics on these people," said Dr. Don Leopold, chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Department of Otolaryngology who worked on the sinus study.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology, looked at two national surveys of patient data from 1999 to 2002. They showed 14.28 million doctor visits were for diagnosed chronic rhinosinusitis and another 3.12 million for acute rhinosinusitis.

We Still Don't Eat Enough Fruits and Veggies

Yeah, kind of a no-brainer—heck, I’ve got friends that for as long as I’ve know them, I’ve never seen them look at a piece of fruit, let alone eat one! And this next report only confirms my observation. According to HealthDay News most Americans are still not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Steven Reinberg explains:
Even though many people know that fruits and vegetables help lower the risk of many diseases, consumption is still a long way from reaching the government goals set in Healthy People 2010, the researchers said. Their bad news is delivered in this week's issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

…Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine thinks eating a healthful diet should be a national priority. "There needs to be an effort to find ways to get more people to eat fruits and vegetables and to convince them that it's important for health," he said.
Okay, we all know Dr. Fuhrman agrees with the fact that people aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies, but, why aren’t they eating them? What makes people so resistant to this vital part of the human diet? So I asked him. And here’s what he had to say:
Without the understanding of the addictive nature of low nutrient, high calorie foods, and how to solve it, people can't stop eating what they are addicted to.

Our medical culture has convinced the masses that taking pills (folate during pregnancy for example) and going to doctors and getting drugs are the answer to our health problems. We have a pill for each lifestyle and nutritionally caused disease today.

Diet books and the media articles even the "scientists" are still debating which unhealthy low nutrient diet is best and it is the blind leading the blind. Without understanding natural micronutrient density, they are just spinning their wheels and confusing the public.

The medical industry, the drug industry and the food industry have been effective at controlling the minds of Americans and we now have the most sickly and overweight, junk food eating population in the history of the human race.

Cow Farts

We’ve all heard someone say that mass flatulence from livestock is harming the environment, but is it true? To the casual observer it might seem like an urban legend. But sadly, unlike a good fart joke, it’s no laughing matter. Take a look at this report Dr. Fuhrman emailed me from The UN News Centre, pretty scary stuff:
Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed, according to a new United Nations report released today…

…The livestock business is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
Another great thing about this report is it’ll give you a glimpse at how the “magic” happens here at Followhealthlife. Check out the brief email exchange between me and Dr. Fuhrman regarding this article:
Dr. Fuhrman:
I am sending it over to Gerry, he may want to blog about it. I know he loves things related to flatulence.

Yes, I do fancy myself a bit of a fart connoisseur.
Hey, not all our collaborations can be winners!

Obesity-Link: High Fructose Corn Syrup

FoodNavigator is all over new research claiming to have found a link between fructose syrup and obesity. Stephen Daniells reports:
The study could increase pressure on formulators to remove the ingredient from their products, with the use of high fructose corn syrup specifically accused of playing a major role in the rising obesity epidemic.

Researchers from the University of Barcelona report that, according to their rat study, liquid fructose changes the metabolism of fat in the liver by impacting a specific nuclear receptor called PPAR-alpha, leading to a reduction in the liver's ability to degrade the sweetener.

"Because PPAR-alpha activity is lower in human than in rodent liver, fructose ingestion in humans should cause even worse effects, which would partly explain the link between increased consumption of fructose and widening epidemics of obesity and metabolic syndrome," wrote the authors in the journal Hepatology.
You won’t find high fructose corn syrup getting any love here. Just take a gander at these previous posts:

Bad News for Franken-Corn

Call me crazy, but I think futzing with Mother Nature is foolhardy. Apparently millions of years of natural evolution aren’t good enough for us. Well, here’s what we get. It now seems some genetically modified maize is showing signs of health risks. More from Stephen Daniells of FoodProductionDaily:
The study, performed by French researchers from the independent CRIIGEN (Committee for Independent Research and Genetic Engineering), based at the University of Caen reports that rats fed the maize for three months showed signs of liver and kidney toxicity, as well as differences in weight gain between the sexes.

"Our counter-evaluation show that there are signs of toxicity and that nobody can say scientifically and seriously that consumption of the transgenic maize MON863 is safe and good for health," lead author of the study, Professor Gilles Eric Séralini told France's TF1 television station.

MON863 is a transgenic maize genetically modified to express the Bt-toxin (Cry3Bb1) which enables the plant to be insect repellent against the corn rootworm pest. It is different from other GM corns of the market since these express the Cry1Ab toxin which is toxic to the European corn borer.

Examining the Twinkie

Long before my vegetable-based diet days I used to eat junk food, but, I can honestly say, I’ve never had a Twinkie. I guess that makes me un-American. And why was I never tempted by an over-processed, industrialized, snack-cake? Maybe its 39 ingredients have something to do with it. Anne Underwood of Newsweek takes a look at a new book examining the Twinkie:
If you've ever puzzled over why packaged foods contain "polysorbate 60" or "mono and diglycerides," Steve Ettlinger's new book, "Twinkie, Deconstructed," is a treat you'll want to try. Chapter by chapter, Ettlinger—the author of previous food books like "Beer for Dummies"—decodes all 39 ingredients in the little crème-filled cakes. He explains their uses and the processes by which raw materials are "crushed, baked, fermented, refined and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name," which then appears on a label full of other incomprehensible and barely pronounceable ingredients. Unraveling it all was a major undertaking—and Ettlinger received no help from Hostess and its parent company, Interstate Brands Corp., despite appealing directly to the Vice President of Cake.

Tips on Preventing Childhood Obesity

Obesity is a big deal—no pun intended—and arguably it’s an even bigger deal with children. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman points out obesity is the most common nutritional problem facing kids in the United States:
The number of children who are overweight in the United States has more than doubled during the past decade. Social forces, from the demise of cooking to the rise of fast food, as well as dramatic increases in snack food and soda consumption, have led to the most overweight population of children in human history. Added to this dietary disaster is television, computer, and video technology that entertains our youngsters while they are physically inactive. Unless parents take a proactive role in promoting and assuring adequate nutrition and an active lifestyle, you can be sure the children of American will continue this downward spiral into obesity and ill health. Obese children suffer physically and emotionally throughout childhood and then invariably suffer with adult heart disease, and a higher cancer incidence down the road.
As a result, there are a lot of “tips” out there promising to help parents avoid obesity with their own kids. Like these from the American Academy of Family Physicians. Diana Kohnle of HealthDay News reports:
  • Don't force him to eat when he isn't hungry -- he shouldn't have to clean his plate if he's already full.
  • Don't use food as a reward, or as a comfort when he's upset.
  • Feed your child a healthy, balanced diet -- one that includes fast food no more than once a week.
  • Limit your child's TV watching and encourage physical activity, like playing outside. Offer to play outside with your child.
  • Encourage your child to get regular exercise, so that he continues to exercise into adulthood.
All these make sense to me, but “one that includes fast food no more than once a week?” Yeah, I don’t know about that. How about no fast food? Why? Because it’s junk! Better yet, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s Secrets to Getting Your Children to Eat Healthfully. Here’s a few:
1. Keep only healthy food in the house. Every person in the household should have the same food choices available.

2. Offer and feed a wholesome diversity of natural foods, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit, while giving each child as much latitude as possible to eat what they prefer.

3. Don't attempt to manage your children's caloric intake. They can do that on their own.
Of course if words are too intimidating, have listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s podcast on Getting Children to Eat Well.

Oil and Health

Growing up cooking oil was always a subject of debate in my family. Is it good or bad? Oh that’s right, canola oil is bad and olive oil is the good. Or is it the other way around? Truth be told, it can get pretty confusing. Take me for example. For a long time I thought eating plenty of grilled chicken, olive oil, and pasta was a good idea. Now clearly I’ve wised up.

But in regard to oil, I think a lot of people still don’t get it. I mean just look at all these deep-fried creations, surely someone is eating them. Although, there are others—like myself—that do our best to avoid oil and fried-foods. So then, what’s the deal with oil? Should we eat it? Dr. Mao of attempts to answer to that question:
Oils that originate from vegetable, nut, and seed sources provide the essential fatty acids that are critical for our nerve and brain functions. The typical vegetable oils that can be found at supermarkets have undergone chemical and heat processing that destroy the quality of the oil — bleaching, cooking, defoaming, distillation, extraction, refining, and the addition of preservatives. Additionally, many of these oils are exposed to light and air and are even potentially filled with pesticides.

All of this causes the formation of free radicals, which undermine the health benefits of consuming essential fatty acids. To ensure that you are receiving all of the possible benefits from your oil, buy organic, cold-pressed, minimally processed oils at your local health food store. Be sure that you consume oil within three months; to prevent it from becoming rancid, store your oil in the refrigerator in dark glass containers.
Now after reading this, I’m not so sure Dr. Mao is telling the whole truth about oil. Sure, certain oils might have some nutritional elements to them, but, in this weight-conscious culture of ours, are they really a good idea? Dr. Fuhrman talks about oil in his book Cholesterol Protection for Life, take a look:
I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

Sure, olive oil and almond oil are improvements over animal fats and margarine, but they still are a contributor to our overweight modern world. Overweight Americans consume and average of three tablespoons of oil in their daily diet, adding and extra 360 calories to their food each day. You need to reach a thinner, ideal weight to achieve maximum protection against heart disease and to reverse heart disease. Use oil, even olive oil sparingly or not at all; certainly, do not have more than one teaspoon per day.

As an alternative to oil, you can make great tasting salad dressings from raw nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios and avocados.

Antibiotics, Bacteria, and Chickens

I’m sure happy I stopped eating chicken. Friday we learned about the arsenic-chicken feed connection. Pretty scary, right? And now, HealthDay News is reporting that antibiotic resistant bacteria can be found in chickens on antibiotic-free farms and even in chickens raised in pristine laboratory conditions. Robert Preidt explains:
Dr. Margie Lee, a professor in the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, said her findings suggest that when poultry arrive at farms, they already harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which may be acquired as they're developing in their eggs.

This means that reducing or eliminating the use of antibiotics on poultry farms will have little or no impact on lowering rates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can pose a threat to human health.

"The resistances don't necessarily come from antibiotic use in the birds that we eat, so banning antibiotic use on the farm isn't going to help. You have to put in some work before that," Lee said in a prepared statement.

Diet Food or Junk Food?

Have you walked through a supermarket lately? Isles and isles of packaged food proclaiming their ability to keep you slim, but, are they all they’re cracked up to be? Diet-Blog doesn’t think so. In fact, maybe all these weight-control foods are just one big oxymoron:
Here's the reality check: Every food is a weight control food. The only requirement is that we as consumers exercise control over how many forkfuls we put in our mouths.

Some of us need to put down the fork - others can practice moderation. In the case of some food items - it may be better to leave the fork in the drawer and bypass the foods altogether.

Please Mr Big Food - no more gimmicky food products. What next? 6-pack-ab Sandwiches? Flat Tummy Fajitas? Muscle Maintenance Mac 'n Cheese?

FDA: New Produce Guidelines

You remember the spinach crisis, right? Sure you do! It was all over the news this fall. That darn E. coli really threw a monkey wrench into the whole operation. And Followhealthlife was there, here are a handful of posts about it:
So, in response to all this, the FDA is planning new safety guidelines for fresh-cut produce. Not a bad idea if you ask me, especially since the overwhelming majority of my diet is fresh fruits and vegetables! Know what I mean? Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News has more:
In light of contaminated produce scares that have rattled American consumers since September, U.S. health officials on Monday released a draft of proposed guidelines for commercial processing of fresh-cut vegetables and fruits.

The voluntary guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggest ways that food industry processors can minimize contamination of ready-to-eat produce by harmful bacteria that are common in the processing of these products.

"The recent outbreaks indicate that clearly more needs to be done to further minimize the risk of food-borne illness," Dr. David W.K. Acheson, director of the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response at the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said during an FDA teleconference. "The vast majority of food-borne illnesses are, in theory, preventable."
And they better get this right! If not Followhealthlife’s new series Freaky Fruits and Strange Veggies is doomed. Did you miss the first two installments? Well, what are you waiting for? Check them out:

Eyesight and Beta Carotene

I guess a lot of people have been popping beta-carotene supplements in the hopes of staving off vision loss, but, apparently that doesn’t work. New research suggests that beta carotene pills are powerless against a common variety of vision loss among older people. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press reports:
An earlier large study had shown that beta carotene — when taken with certain vitamins and zinc — could slow or prevent vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration. Commercial formulations of the eye-protecting combination vitamins are sold over the counter.

But the new study found no benefit for beta carotene supplements alone against the disease.

That may be a comfort for smokers with signs of macular degeneration. Smoking is a risk factor for the condition, but beta carotene has been shown in other research to raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers. So eye doctors have advised smokers concerned about macular degeneration to find a vitamin regimen without beta carotene.

Dr. Fuhrman on Copper

Last week new research came out linking copper to the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Dr. Fuhrman knows a thing or two about dietary copper. Here’s what he had to say:

I thought I would mention that I do NOT have copper in my Gentle Care Formula and do not recommend people take copper. Copper (rich in animal products) is sometimes considered a marker for a high-protein diet. Higher intake of copper is linked to increased cancer and overall mortality and increased risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. The absence of copper (and beta carotene, iron and Vitamin A) is a key feature that makes my multi unique.

So I guess my suggestion not to eat a steaming plate of pennies was a good idea—kudos to me. Dr. Fuhrman also emailed me some studies that help crystallize his position on copper, take a look:

Zinc, copper, and magnesium and risks for all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality.
Epidemiology. 2006; 17(3):308-14 (ISSN: 1044-3983)

Leone N ; Courbon D ; Ducimetiere P ; Zureik M
Unit 744 National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), Lille Pasteur Institute, Lille, France.

BACKGROUND: Experimental data suggest that zinc, copper, and magnesium are involved in carcinogenesis and atherogenesis. Few longitudinal studies have related these minerals to cancer or cardiovascular disease mortality in a population. METHODS: Data from the Paris Prospective Study 2, a cohort of 4035 men age 30-60 years at baseline, were used to assess the association between serum zinc, copper, and magnesium and all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality. Serum mineral values measured at baseline were divided into quartiles and classified into low (1st quartile, referent group), medium (2nd-3rd quartiles), and high (4th quartile) values. During 18-year follow up, 339 deaths occurred, 176 as a result of cancer and 56 of cardiovascular origin. Relative risks (RRs) for each element were inferred using Cox's proportional hazard model after controlling for various potential confounders. RESULTS: High copper values (4th quartile) were associated with a 50% increase in RRs for all-cause deaths (RR = 1.5; 95% confidence interval = 1.1-2.1), a 40% increase for cancer mortality (1.4; 0.9-2.2), and a 30% increase for cardiovascular mortality (1.3; 0.6-2.8) compared with low values (1st quartile). High magnesium values were negatively related to mortality with a 40% decrease in RR for all-cause (0.6; 0.4-0.8) and cardiovascular deaths (0.6; 0.2-1.2) and by 50% for cancer deaths (0.5; 0.3-0.8). Additionally, subjects with a combination of low zinc and high copper values had synergistically increased all-cause (2.6; 1.4-5.0) and cancer (2.7; 1.0-7.3) mortality risks. Similarly, combined low zinc and high magnesium values were associated with decreased all-cause (0.2; 0.1-0.5) and cancer (0.2; 0.1-0.8) mortality risks.

CONCLUSIONS: High serum copper, low serum magnesium, and concomitance of low serum zinc with high serum copper or low serum magnesium contribute to an increased mortality risk in middle-aged men.

High dietary iron and copper and risk of colorectal cancer: a case-control study in Burgundy, France.
Nutr Cancer. 2004; 49(1):66-71 (ISSN: 0163-5581)

Senesse P ; Meance S ; Cottet V ; Faivre J ; Boutron-Ruault MC
Registre Bourguignon des Cancers Digestifs, Faculta de Madecine, Dijon cedex, France.

Several hypotheses have been proposed for colorectal carcinogenesis, including formation of free radicals. A case-control study compared nutrient intake in 171 colorectal cancer cases versus 309 general population controls, using a detailed face-to-face food history questionnaire. A food composition table enabled us to determine the mean composition of the diet in macro- and micronutrients. Dietary intakes were separately categorized into quartiles by gender. Logistic regression models were adjusted for age, sex, energy, exercise, and body mass index. High energy, copper, iron, and vitamin E intakes were associated with an overall increased risk of colorectal cancer. The odds ratios associated with the fourth quartile of intake were 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.3-4.0), 2.4 (1.3-4.6), 2.2 (1.1-4.7), and 1.8 (1.0-3.4) for energy, copper, iron, and vitamin E, respectively. There were no significant associations with dietary fiber, folate, calcium, or antioxidant vitamins other than vitamin E. These findings regarding iron and copper suggest that free radicals play an important role in colorectal carcinogenesis, while the findings regarding vitamin E are so far unexplained

Trace elements and cognitive impairment: an elderly cohort study.
Arch Gerontol Geriatr Suppl. 2004; (9):393-402 (ISSN: 0924-7947)

Smorgon C ; Mari E ; Atti AR ; Dalla Nora E ; Zamboni PF ; Calzoni F ; Passaro A ; Fellin R Second Department of Internal Medicine, University of Ferrara, Via Savonarola, 9 - 44100 Ferrara, Italy.

Dementia is one of the most pressing public health problems with social and economic implication. The form called cognitive impairment non-dementia (CIND)represents a subclinical phase of dementia. Different studies have shown a possible effect of micro- and macro-nutrients on cognitive function. Trace elements, being involved in metabolic processes and redox reactions in the central nervous system (CNS), could influence the cognitive functions. This study evaluated the presence of an eventual correlation between serum trace element concentrations and cognitive function in a group of subjects with CIND and manifest dementia (Alzheimer dementia = AD, and vascular dementia = VaD), and compared them with a control group. Thirty -five patients were enrolled in this study. Each patient underwent a clinical and biochemical examination. We also performed a neuropsychological and functional assessment (the Milan overall dementia assessment = MODA, activities of daily living = ADL, and instrumental activities of daily living = IADL), and a computerized tomographic (CT) cerebral scan. Patients were than divided in 4 groups according to the obtained diagnosis (Controls, CIND, AD, VaD).The presence of any acute or chronic conditions, affecting cognitive functions, was considered as exclusion criteria. A blood sample was collected to determine iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu),molybdenum (Mo) and aluminium (Al) serum concentrations (chromatographic,spectrophotometric methods). In our cohort we found a positive correlation between cognitive function, expressed as the MODA score, and Se, Cr, Co and Fe serum levels,while a negative correlation was observed between MODA score, Cu and Al serum levels.Moreover, some statistically significant differences in Se, Cr, Co, Cu and Al concentrations were found among the groups. According to these results, we may suppose that Se, Cr and Co protect cognitive function, Cu influences the evolution of cognitive impairment, while Al contributes to the pathogenesis of AD.

Nutrient-Rich Soda?

My stupidity meter pegged when I read this report. Apparently Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are rolling out brand new lines of “healthy” sodas. Oh I’m serious. These carbonated soft drinks promise to be full of vitamins and minerals—not to mention fairy dust and pixie tears. Andrew Martin of The New York Times has more:
A survey by Morgan Stanley found that only 10 percent of consumers interviewed in 2006 considered diet colas a healthy choice, compared with 14 percent in 2003. Furthermore, 30 percent of the consumers who were interviewed last year said that they were reluctant to drink beverages with artificial sweeteners, up from 21 percent in 2004.

Even so, several industry analysts said soft drink makers were smart to experiment with new types of carbonated diet soft drinks to stimulate sales. Besides the vitamin-fortified diet sodas, PepsiCo is introducing Diet Pepsi Max, with increased caffeine and ginseng, and Coca-Cola has started a new marketing campaign for Coke Zero, emphasizing how closely it tastes to Coke Classic.
What do you think? Will America buy into the hype? Personally, I can already see the billboards in Times Square and every other yahoo on the subway smugly sipping one of these concoctions.

Toxic Chicken Feed

It seems the pursuit of bigger plumper chickens might be biting—or should I say pecking—us in the behind. Apparently arsenic added to chicken feed since the 1960s poses a serious contamination risk. Don Hopey of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:
Organic arsenic is added to the feed of some 70 percent of the 7 billion roasters grown annually in the United States. The inorganic arsenic is found in poultry waste, which is used as fertilizer.

That increases the risk that the inorganic arsenic will contaminate surface water and groundwater drinking supplies in farming areas where the chicken litter fertilizer is spread repeatedly, said John Stolz, professor of biology at Duquesne and co-author of the study reported in January in the peer-reviewed Environmental Science & Technology Online News.
Gee, who would have thought? Arsenic bad? What a revelation! Good thing I don’t eat chicken anymore.

Processed Junk

Diet-Blog laments about all the stuff crammed into processed foods:
Recently I was offered a "truffle" - not a real truffle - but some kind of chocolate looking thing. I accepted the offer and proceeded to enjoy the delicious looking morsel. The texture was odd to say the least, and about half way through my indulgence, I turned the package over to look at the food label.

I wished I hadn't.

The first ingredient was Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil. The second ingredient was sugar. The "truffle" was simply a dollop of sweetened trans fat.

Should We Know More about Drug Safety?

Personally, I think the more we know the better, although drug companies disagree. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News has more on this:
Changes need to be made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policy regarding the confidentiality of drug safety data from clinical trials, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Current rules allow drug companies to keep data secret, which prevents the public from learning about dangerous side effects of drugs, the researchers said. Allowing greater public access to this data would enable outside experts to independently evaluate the data and perhaps detect risks sooner.

Kids and Adult Drugs

Now this is a scary report. According to new research almost 80 percent of children hospitalized in the United States are given drugs that have only been approved for adult patients. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
"Any time you prescribe a medication, you ideally think the benefits outweigh the risks," said Dr. Samir S. Shah, lead author of the study and an attending physician in pediatric infectious diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The problem when you're using a drug off-label is, oftentimes, there may not be enough evidence to help you make that decision in an informed way. We think the benefits outweigh the risks, but we don't have enough evidence."

Using drugs "off label' for conditions other than their original approval is perfectly legal but causes concern among some experts. A 2001 U.S. government report concluded that, overall, about 21 percent of prescribed drug use was for conditions not indicated on the label.

Dairy Soon to be Even Scarier

How do you feel about dairy? Personally, I don’t like it. Of course this wasn’t always the case. As a kid I loved my morning cereal, but, puking it up ten minutes later was no picnic. Yes, it took a while before the family realized I was lactose intolerant. Now I barely touch the stuff, actually I can’t remember the last time I knowingly ate any dairy.

But for lots of people avoiding dairy is total blasphemy. After all, just last week it was reported that diary foods help with fertility. Not to mention people like BellaOnline's Low Carb Editor Lisa Shea consider foods like cheese to be a delicious and nutritious snack:
Cheese is a delicious, nutritious food. It is in essence milk from a cow (or sheep, goat etc.) that has been processed and solidified. Therefore, cheese is full of calcium and can make just about any meal very tasty. It's a perfect snack, too! Just don't put it on bland bread. Try it on a slice of cucumber, or on a pepperoni ring!
So then, how can dairy be bad for us? Come on, America grew up on dairy. Cookies and milk, whip cream on pumpkin pie, and what about sharing a strawberry shake with your sweetheart? Not a good idea according to Dr. Fuhrman.

Maybe it’s our emotional connection with milk and ice cream, but it sure seems like people ignore the dangers dairy. In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman points out the link between Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, ovarian cancer, and dairy consumption. From Milk: Does It Do A Body Good:
The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings…

…The researchers also concluded that the non-fat aspects of milk have atherogenic effects (plaque-building) both biochemical and immunological, and the simultaneous attack from all these directions explains why milk was found to have such a strong effect on death rate2…

…A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3
Dr. Fuhrman is especially worried about cow’s milk and children. In Disease-Proof Your Child he explains that consuming milk puts children at risk for a whole bunch of issues, including Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. Here’s a bit of the book:
Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases.
When I read stuff like this I don’t feel ashamed about not eating dairy. Although my friends still think its weird that I can walk into a pizzeria and not order a slice. In fact, I’m probably the only full-blooded Italian that orders a salad at the local pizza joint.

So, if all this daunting research isn’t enough to make you think twice about downing that glass of milk, check out this report by The Washington Post. Apparently the FDA is about to approve a cattle drug that could put humans at risk. Rick Weiss has more:
The American Medical Association and about 12 other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals probably would speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotic, as has happened with other drugs. Those supermicrobes could then spread to people.

Echoing those concerns, the FDA's advisory board last fall voted to reject the request by Intervet of Millsboro, Del., to market the drug for cattle.

Yet by all indications, the FDA will approve cefquinome this spring. That outcome is all but required, officials said, by a recently implemented "guidance document" that codifies how to weigh threats to human health posed by proposed new animal drugs.
You’ve got to love the FDA. They’ve always got our best interests at heart—that was sarcasm folks.
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Vending Machine History

If you’ve ever worked in an office you know how tempting the vending machine can be. Boss driving your crazy? E14. Phone won’t stop ringing? A6. Just annoyed that it’s Monday? C2. Diet Blog presents the evolution of the vending machine, in pictures. The outcome might surprise you.

The French Crackdown on Junk Food

Can you blame them? Just look at what junk food has done to this country. It shouldn’t surprise you that the French government wants to put the screws to processed snacks and fast food. Marie-Laure Combes of the Associated Press has more:
This from a nation where just slightly more than 9 percent of the 63.4 million citizens are obese and fewer than a third are overweight, according to government figures. In the United States, by comparison, one-third of adults are obese, about two-thirds are overweight. Several Mediterranean and Eastern European countries have similar statistics.

The ad restrictions fly in the face of the image of the trim and cuisine-conscious French, perpetuated by books like Mireille Guiliano's best seller "French Women Don't Get Fat." The book argues that the French can eat croissants and foie gras without ballooning because they take time to savor flavors and eat judiciously.

Dairy: Ice Cream for Fertility?

Dairy has been crammed down our throats for decades. School lunch trays across America sport that familiar mini-carton of milk and college students basically survive on a diet of grilled cheese and breakfast cereal. And if you don’t eat dairy people act as if something’s wrong with you. Having a lactose intolerance is like being branded with a scarlet letter. But don’t worry. According to Dr. Fuhrman avoiding dairy isn’t exactly a bad idea. From Eat to Live:
Dairy is best kept to a minimum. There are many good reasons not to consume dairy. For example, there is a strong association between diary lactose and ischemic heart disease.1 There is also a clear association between high-growth-promoting foods such as dairy products and cancer. There is a clear association between milk consumption and testicular cancer.2 Dairy fat is also loaded various toxins and is the primary source of our nation’s high exposure to dioxin.3 Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese.4 Cheese is also a power inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss further.5 Considering that cheese and butter are the foods with the highest saturated-fat content and the major source of our dioxin exposure, cheese is a particularly foolish choice for obtaining calcium.
So then, I imagine articles like this only confuse the heck out of people. The Associated Press reports that ice cream might help fertility. I wonder what the magic ingredient is, the chunks of cookie dough or the hot fudge? Marilynn Marchione explains:
Researchers found that women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were nearly twice as likely to have trouble conceiving because of lack of ovulation than women who ate less than one serving of such foods a week.

Conversely, women who ate at least one fatty dairy food a day were 27 percent less likely to have this problem.

Even the researchers say women should not make too much of these results, which are based on reports of what women said they ate over many years - not a rigorous, scientific experiment where specific dietary factors could be studied in isolation.

"The idea is not to go crazy and start to have ice cream three times a day," said the lead author, Dr. Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow at Harvard. "But it is certainly possible to have a healthy diet with low saturated fat intake by having one serving of high-fat dairy a day."
Now when you weigh all the risks of consuming dairy, is it really worth it? I’m sure millions of people read a report like this and use it to justify loading up on Double Chocolate Chip Mint, Oreo Snickers Cookie Surprise, or whatever other concoction they’ve come up with now.

A lot of people eat dairy because they believe it’s essential for getting adequate calcium. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. In fact, check out these posts for great sources of veggie calcium:
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Grey Salmon, Anyone?

From the May 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The European Union is requiring salmon farms to cut the dose of pigment found in salmon feed. The pigment, called canthaxanthin, has been found to damage human eyesight by accumulating in the retina. Most of the salmon in the wild get their pink hue by eating lots of shrimp, but in the farms they would be grey if not artificially colored.

United States and Canada list canthaxanthin as “generally recognized as safe for human use” and do not restrict the use of these pink dyes in fish farms.

Dr. Fuhrman comments:
Considering that farm-raised salmon also has been found to be high in cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) levels and are the most PCB-contaminated source in the current U.S. food supply, it does not seem to be the “health” food most people think. Fish raised under such crowded conditions are treated with drugs, pesticides to ward off parasites, and toxic chemicals to keep nets free of algae.
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