Natural Health Reviews - November 2004
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Headlines for November
- Drinking green tea is good for men
- Chronic back pain has been linked to cognitive decline
- An explanation of how the medical journal con works
- Ancel Keys dies at age 100
- Antioxidants supplements reduce men's risk of cancer
- Antioxidant supplementation has no effect on elderly cognition
- Higher selenium intake might reduce colorectal cancer risk
- Compound in apples may help fight Alzheimer's disease
- Heavy Computer Use Linked to Glaucoma
- Body building with multiple sets is recommended
- Vitamin E found to be harmful - Not!
- Walking, Cycling to Work May Reduce Cancer Risk
- Walking downhill offers exercise benefits
- Fruits and vegetables offer no protection from cancer - Not!
- Optimists live longer
- FDA allows food labels to tout olive oil's benefits
- Benefits of Grain-Based Foods Supported
- Abdominal muscle stimulation machine quackery might actually work!
Researchers found that the polyphenols in green tea help prevent the spread of prostate cancer. The bad news is that these researchers were studying mice, rather than humans.
Chronic back pain shrinks the brain by as much as 11 percent, according to new research.
About 1.3 cubic centimeters of the part of the brain that processes information and memory was lost for every year of chronic back pain. It was equivalent to the amount of gray brain matter lost in about 10 to 20 years of normal aging.
At least two of the research studies that I have recently reviewed appear to document the failure of the peer review process to keep garbage from being published as quality nutrition research. I shall directly quote a few comments about medical scientism from the article.
"Too many of these journals are masquerading as stewards of good science -- they pretend to show articles that are well-researched ... and that have been put through a rigorous quality control process known as peer review. ... You also find a closed network of old school, closed-minded, conventional researchers and medical doctors who primarily use the journals to protect their own belief systems ... In that regard, it's more like a dogma or a religion than a scientific community.
Often, the so-called scientific truth presented by these journals is ... a rather obvious case of circular reasoning on their side. ... to put it more plainly, it's true if they say it is ... Scientific fact is whatever they tell you it should be."
The short write up about the author Mike Adams is as interesting as this article is. His picture shows him to be a long time bodybuilder. "Adams uses no prescription drugs whatsoever and relies exclusively on natural health, nutrition and exercise to achieve optimum health." Of course, Adam would be more credible if he were 30 years older. I see far too many young people bragging about their health.
Ancel Keys, Ph.D., is best known for researching and promoting the Mediterranean lifestyle. Keys wrote a best-seller called Eat Well and Stay Well in 1959.
His longevity has reaffirmed his central health message: Eating well can help people live longer. Keys advocated eating less meat, eggs and dairy products. And, eating more fish, chicken, calves' liver, Italian food, Chinese food, fresh fruit, vegetables and casseroles. His daughter said that he kept physically active by building rock walls, gardening, walking and swimming.
"'People should know the facts,' he once told an interviewer. 'Then if they want to eat themselves to death, let them.'"
Taking antioxidants supplements seems to reduce men's risk of cancer, but not for women according to the findings of a French study of more than 13,000 men and women aged 35 to 60 years.
"All participants took a single daily capsule of a combination of 120 mg of ascorbic acid, 30 mg of vitamin E, 6 mg of beta carotene, 100 g of selenium, and 20 mg of zinc, or a placebo" for 7.5 years.
It is theorized that the difference between men and women may have been because the men had a lower blood concentrations of these antioxidant nutrients at the start of the study, because men in general eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
While oxidation is thought to be involved in common forms of dementia, antioxidant supplementation was found to have no effect on elderly cognition in a new study.
After an average of 6.7 years, a total of 2166 patients who completed study showed no cognitive improvement from taking "500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 units of vitamin E, and 15 milligrams of beta carotene; or 80 milligrams of zinc and 2 milligrams of copper; or antioxidants plus zinc and copper; or placebo."
This is another one of those review studies. A researcher at the University of Arizona in Tucson pooled data from three previous studies that tested the effects of diet on cancer recurrence in patients who had undergone colon cancer surgery. These studies were about diet, rather than supplementation.
Some reviewers have suggested that it is possible that selenium supplementation could protect against colon cancer. American grow wheat is not deficient in selenium. So, Americans who include a lot of whole wheat bread in their diet, wont be deficient in selenium. Rather than higher selenium supplementation, I would suggest that you try eating a healthy diet that includes whole wheat.
This news headline sounds interesting until you actually start reading the story. These researchers were actually soaking rat brain cells! I would say the probability that these scientists remotely know what they are talking about is zero.
But, this story does give me the opportunity to mention a general health guideline. You should regularly eat good tasting apples. Why? Because apples are a fruit. And, eating fruit is good for you. You do not need to know anything more than this. Worrying about which specific health conditions eating apples might or might not benefit is a total waste of time.
Of course, you don't want to knowingly eat apples soaked in pesticides. But, I personally would not be too paranoid about the pesticide issue.
Siting long hours in front of a computer screen is bad for your eyes, a recent Japanese study reports. People suffering from myopia, or short sightedness are more vulnerable to computer stress and glaucoma then the general population.
My solution is to wear very slightly colored amber sunglasses that have ultraviolet light protective coatings while working in front of a computer screen. Or, wear clear prescription eyeglasses with similar protective coatings. It is the blue and ultraviolet light spectrums that damage your eyes.
Body building with single sets is good only for maintaining a basic level of strength. Initial gains for beginners who do single-set routines disappear in about only three months. Multiple sets offer better long term strength gains.
All the recent headline stories about Vitamin E being more harmful than helpful were just that: stories. The Vitamin E study's conclusions were both unwarranted and misleading. There were so many things wrong with it that the headlines should have been about yet another failure of the peer review process to prevent such frivolous studies from being published.
- All of the clinical trials involved adults with
serious chronic diseases and, thus, its findings
cannot validly be generalizable to healthy
- Drug interaction bias: Old gravely ill individuals are almost certainly taking large amounts of toxic prescription medication. Why wont use of these medications explicitly disclosed in this study? "Perhaps some of the mortality associated with vitamin E could be explained by an interaction of vitamin E with these drugs similar to the known interaction of an antioxidant cocktail containing vitamin E with statins and niacin that reduces the increase in HDL cholesterol."
- 18 of the 19 studies analyzed showed no
statistically significant increase in mortality.
- This can be verified by reviewing the data in the study's Figure 2. The vitamin E group accounted for 9.17% of the deaths while the control group accounted for 9.22%. From these apparently neutral results, the researchers had to apply statistical techniques before they misleadingly concluded that Vitamin E increased all cause mortality with a dosage dependent trend.
- One Lancet study alone accounted for most of the
entire 5% negative death rate. Interestingly this
Lancet study made an entirely different
- MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of
antioxidant vitamin supplementation in
20,536 high-risk individuals: a
randomised placebo-controlled trial.
Lancet. 2002;360:23-33. PMID: 12114037 [abstract]
- Confounder bias: Use of beta-carotene, a supplement previously shown to increase mortality.
- Lancet reported: "There were no significant differences in all-cause mortality ... Among the high-risk individuals that were studied, these antioxidant vitamins appeared to be safe."
- MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of antioxidant vitamin supplementation in 20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2002;360:23-33. PMID: 12114037 [abstract]
- Combining these 19 clinical trials into a single
large cohort misleadingly gave greater
statistical power to this Lancet study. And,
thus, can not be justified.
- Statistical methods used bias: Use of traditional meta-analytic approaches yielded non-significant results. So, why did the authors decide to use hierarchal logistic regression?
- Heterogeneous data: The analysis included clinical trials of many different time durations, with many different trial designs, doses sizes and combinations that made valid comparisons both impossible and fallacious.
- Selection bias: The meta-analyses was biased
towards studies with higher mortality rates
because ten clinical trials in which there was
less than 10 deaths occurred were excluded from
- "The researchers chose not to review long term studies of the general population which demonstrate vitamin E's positive health benefits, including the Nurses Study, the Finnish Study and the Iowa Women's Study."
- "Of 36 identified trials to consider studying, 12 of them were excluded as they reported fewer than 10 deaths. I question the bias this creates as 30% of the available data on mortality, or lack there of, was systematically exluded."
- Antioxidant ratio bias: "Analysis of the relationship between mortality and the ratio of vitamin C to E given in the studies shows a strong significant trend with no effect or a small detriment possible at a ratio of less than unity and culminating in the significant 47% reduction of mortality seen at the doses of 440 for E and one gram for C in the PPS study."
- Biological heterogeneity bias: Men might benefit from supplementation while women might not.
11-16-04 Calls for Balanced Reporting on Vitamin E Analysis
11-18-04 There are several flaws in the meta-analysis ...
11-18-04 Given the results of the dose-response analysis ...
11-19-04 Potential bias in methods may negate statistical significance ...
Miscellaneous Rapid Responses
A Chinese study suggests that daily physical activities reduces colon cancer risk. Those who exercise a minimum of seven hours a week with jogging had a 50 percent reduced risk of colon cancer. Long-time exercisers, who maintained consistently high physical activity levels showed a 69 percent risk reduction.
In a recent study, downhill hikers were better able to handle sugar while those who hiked uphill showed little impact. While walking is generally considered the low-end of exercise, walking down hill stresses your body even less than regular walking while still offering exercise benefits.
Consuming a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables was found to reduce the risk of heart attack and strokes by 12%. However, no effect on cancer risk was seen; according to a new study.
Of course, such a conclusion is patently absurd since many other studies have supported a reduction in cancer risk (ex., Nutr Cancer. 1992;18(1):1-29.) One possible reason for the new findings might be that raw vegetables provide a greater cancer risk reduction than cooked vegetables do.
Studies like this one, generate more questions than answers. Why at this point in time in nutrition research is this question even being studied? If they have not already conclusively answered this question, then the science of nutrition knows absolutely nothing about how to improve personal health. How could this study of 71,910 women who participated in the Nurses' Health study and 37,725 men who participated in the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study conclude that fruits and vegetables do not protect against cancer? Better yet, why was such an obviously faulty study even published?
This study relied on food frequency questionnaires that are notoriously inaccurate. All they did was take a fresh look at the data collected previously by others. Put in garbage data, and you will obviously end up with conclusions that are garbage. Further, since when are health professionals even known for eating a healthy diet? Nurses are known for having high stress jobs with long hours. Do physicians eat any better? How many nurses have the time to eat a lot of home cooked meals? If most of these nurses were working in hospitals, then this study might prove that hospital food is notoriously bad for your health? Another alternate explanation is that high stress levels can reduce the health benefits of eating fruits & vegetables.
Maybe, this study is providing a wake-up call? Here, is what you should expect from eating a so-so diet? Half-way measures might only provide half-way results? Perhaps, raw vegetables really do provide a greater cancer risk reduction? Maybe it is time to start taking your diet more seriously?
If you are waiting for these research scientists to save you, then you better think again.
Highly optimistic persons live longer than pessimists do, a Dutch study found.
The FDA has announced the availability of a qualified health claim for monounsaturated fat from olive oil and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Limited, but not conclusive, scientific evidence suggests that consuming about 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil.
A comprehensive review of hundreds of studies done by the Grain Foods Foundation shows that grain-based foods provide many health and wellness benefits. Their study showed that grain-based carbohydrates cannot be blamed for obesity. They concluded that the preponderance of the literature supported the beneficial role played by grain-based foods in achieving and maintaining optimal health.
New research indicates that those abdominal muscle stimulation machines which the scientific community was so quick to dismiss as quackery might actually work.
Researchers from the University of Ulster tested a group of normally sedentary women over an eight week period. Those who wore the muscle stimulation device while walking achieved better results.
Only about 30 percent of physical aging can be attributed to our genes. During the last years of life, genetics actually play a reduced role compared to lifestyle influences. Too many elderly people take the position that their genetic makeup will determine their life expectancy
The myth that the length of our life is genetically predetermined and etched in stone has been shattered by the MacArthur Foundation researchers.
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