Archive for October, 2015

Does meat cause colon cancer?

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Getting to the meat of the matter

The oversimplified food scare of the week is a report from the World Health Organization about the slight increased risk of colorectal cancer from eating certain types of meats. Original Report. The meats with the most credible science regarding risk are smoked and processed meats, but the report also took a tentative swipe at red meat, processed or not. Does meat cause colon cancer? Here are some details and perspectives to keep in mind while you decide what to do with the warning:

  • Problems with the report. The recommendations were a bit vague and cautious because no study has proven the connection. Although a large number of studies were reviewed for the report, in the end it was based the opinion of experts who did not all agree. I am concerned about a common bias in studies. It is well known that folks who consume a lot of meats and especially processed meats do not eat as many vegetables and fiber as other folks. They also often have other bad habits like drinking and eating junk. Therefore, the broad averages in population studies dilute the health statistics of the folks who exercise, filter their water, avoid sugar, eat vegetables and whole grains, etc. but also eat some red meat and bacon.
  • The study defines processed meat as…”meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by products such as blood.” Examples include bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, corned beef, beef jerky, canned meat and lunch meat like baloney.
  • Exceptions. Those terms are kind of broad. For example just because the deli slices freshly roasted turkey thin for sandwiches doesn’t make that processed food. In my cupboard I have a package of organic beef jerky that has no chemicals. It is just dehydrated meat with added spices. Again, not processed food. Raw pork belly doesn’t fit the definition and it is sometimes used like bacon, but note that it is “red meat”, so keep reading. “Uncured bacon” seems to be in a gray area because it is not preserved with artificial nitrates, but instead uses nitrates that occur naturally in the likes of celery extract or sea salt. These distinctions were not allowed for in the studies.
  • Quantity. “The experts concluded that each 50-gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.” A 50-gram portion is roughly a bit more than the weight of one hot dog and the biggest concern is with 10 servings a week of processed food. Although they said that the risk increases as more is eaten, researchers only cautioned consumers to moderate their intake, not to cut out the foods entirely. In my opinion, there are sufficient health concerns about the chemicals in some of these processed products that I would recommend avoiding frequent intake. That is a tough assignment in this era when you might even be offered a cupcake with bacon in it. A corny dog at the State Fair?…go for it. By the way, Applegate Corn Dogs are uncured beef, gluten free and have relatively clean ingredients. 
  • Stats. The highest rates of colon cancer worldwide are in Korea, Slovakia and Hungary. Happily the US didn’t rank in the top 20. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer in the US is 5%. Those who eat a lot processed meat theoretically increase their risk to 5.9%. The report estimates that “34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meat.” That number translates to 1 in every 206,000 people. By comparison, smoking kills 1 in 1,200.
  • Red meat defined. The report includes “all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.” In the opinion of the panel it is “probably” cancer-causing based on “limited evidence”. There have previously been hints that diets high in red meat may influence pancreatic and prostate cancer. (The study bias I mentioned in the first bullet also applies here and there are more confounders in the next item.)
  • The red meat story. Red meat contains excellent protein and a lot of other nutrients. The studies never look at organic meat that does not contain hormone and antibiotic residues. Nor do they make sure the cows aren’t eating GMO grain. Commercial meat is higher in inflammatory omega-6 fats in contrast to grass fed meat which is higher in anti-inflammatory omega-3. Those factors would surely skew the results just as the poor conditions in big agribusiness feed lots foster food contamination and infection with Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) which has been linked to breast cancer. Study
  • There are some issues with even the best red meat. Perfectly good meat can develop carcinogenic compounds when charbroiled or cooked at very high heat. Red meat is red because of the iron it contains. Although iron is a blessing to younger folks, older men especially can store too much iron (high ferratin in the blood) and that creates trouble. Read this great article on the topic by Bill Sardi about helping with that and testosterone with simple fixes like donating blood.

My bottom line: Sugar is a worse risk for cancer (and every other disease) than is meat consumption. With fish we have to worry about mercury contamination and with chickens (except organic) it is hormones. It is very difficult for vegetarians to avoid deficiencies. So, what to eat? I say, eat a wide variety of foods because they all have their pluses and minuses. Buy the best quality protein sources you can afford and don’t ruin them with high heat. And, be sure to get plenty of vegetables even if you were brought up as a meat and potatoes person. Washing processed meats down with sodas makes matters worse, but coffee may actually improve your odds.

Drugs in supplements

identity

Too often the media is a bit fuzzy about the details in stories about dietary supplements. In fact, I could probably spend full time writing “clarifications” of what the health news actually means for the public. Here are some recent examples:

Underestimated value

When a study appears to show no value for supplements, where are the investigative journalists asking the tough questions? Last week a CBS headline read “Calcium, vitamin D do not lower colon cancer risk, study finds”. In spite of previous studies hinting that calcium helped reduce the risk of polyps, this study found that it didn’t. I’m not surprised because as we discussed earlier this month, there are issues with calcium, especially at their high 1,200 mg dose. (A similar study with magnesium might have a dramatically more positive outcome.) Knowing the importance of vitamin D for proper functioning of the immune and other systems, I wondered about that part. It turns out that the subjects were only given 1,000 IU of D which is not enough to do much. Recent research shows that a more realistic dose of vitamin D should be more on the order of 7,000 IU or we need to be in the sun a lot more. Note: The control group was not given any vitamin D. I really don’t know how they could ethically conduct such a study.

Mistaken identity

Initial reports about Lamar Odom being hospitalized after collapsing claimed that the culprit was supplements. Unfortunately some of the public probably never heard anything more. (Lamar is known for being the husband of Khloé Kardashian…he also plays basketball for the LA Lakers.) Such a side effect seems impossible with a supplement. Later it was revealed that he downed an overdose (10) “sex-enhancing supplements” containing the active drug used in prescription Viagra. Yes, drugs in supplements. Oh, and he also used cocaine. Beware the drug-laced supplement known as “Reload”. (The makers should be jailed because they are breaking the law.)

Exaggerated risks

That leads us to another headline which blared that 23,000 people per year visit an emergency room as a result of dietary supplements. While that may true technically, the meaning becomes clearer with additional information:

    • About 25% of adult supplement-related ER visits were associated with weight-loss products and 10% with energy supplements. These types of supplements, just like the sex pills mentioned above, are subject to both contamination with drugs and to outright abuse. The stimulants in them can cause lightheadedness and a racing heart, both of which are alarming.
    • Among senior citizens, 38% had a pill or part of a pill get stuck somewhere on the way down. (Perhaps they attempted too big a pill or did not drink enough water. Or maybe their prescription drugs caused a dry mouth.)
    • About 20% of those ER visits involved children who accidentally took the products unsupervised. Some visits may have just been precautions by worried parents, but iron tablets can be lethal. That is why they are supposed to be in childproof bottles.
    • In many cases sensible doses and instructions weren’t followed.
    • In some cases, entirely separate factors were to blame for the problem and supplements just happened to be at the scene of the crime.
    • The study was not based on the official Adverse Event Reports system which documents to the FDA serious complaints about supplements.
    • To put 23,000 trips to the ER in perspective, that is 0.0001687% of the hospital visits per year. Painting supplements with such a broad negative brush is like implying that all food is bad because of the 200,000 ER visits a year due to reactions to foods like strawberries.

With the side effects of prescription drugs killing hundreds of thousands each year, perhaps the researchers’ attention could be directed more productively.

Natural medicine for children

kids website

Healthy by Nature is very excited about a new project. We would really appreciate (and need) your help—even if nothing more than to simply view a short entertaining video (where among other things you’ll see that I should have had a stylist to fix the back of my hair). 

I was inspired by a mom, Rachel Wilson, whose creative idea for her child’s health has the potential to help kids and parents everywhere. When her daughter, Julia, was teething or ill, the toddler refused standard medicines. Rachel solved the problem by dissolving safe effective natural medicine in ice pops. Children love these frosty treats and besides the benefit of the formula, the ice itself is obviously soothing—especially for problems like fever, cough/sore throat and teething. These xylitol-sweetened homeopathic pops contain no artificial colors or scary chemicals. The video tells more about them and how Healthy by Nature came to partner with Rachel to form Remedy Ice.

This is a unique opportunity for all of us to help kids feel better and give a break to parents stressed out by an understandably cranky child. But, I am even more passionate about providing safe and effective alternatives to the drug store chemicals and replace them with natural medicine for children. Besides often being unpleasant and messy, some are even risky. (Adults can enjoy Remedy Ice pops too. For example, have adult braces? Try the teething pops! And who wouldn’t want a soothing frosty treat when they have a fever or a sore throat?)boxes_group web sizeRachel and Healthy by Nature have done a ton of work behind the scenes to get to this point, but need help with the last step of bringing these formulas to market. Although we would greatly appreciate a pre-order of product or a donation of any amount* on our crowd funding site, even visiting the site will raise our standing as a “trending” cause that is worthy of more attention. By the way, among the thank you “perks” at some levels, I am giving an e-book on children’s health and I’ve offered to conduct personal consultations by phone or face to face.

It would mean a lot if you would spread the excitement about this campaign by contacting friends. For example, please forward this newsletter. Also the Indiegogo “share tools” make it very easy to alert your contacts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn! Just tell them that a friend of yours is launching a fun new product and to please check it out! Thank you so much. CLICK HERE to view the video and story.

*A recent scientific study showed that being generous is good for our health. Seriously!

calcium, D & diet guidelines

Newspaper headline Extra Extra isolated on white background

Some important research hits the front page, but many times it doesn’t or does so with unhelpful spin. For example, in this case calcium, D & diet guidelines. 

  • Research shows that persons over age 60 decline mentally three times faster if they have low levels of Vitamin D. Study LINK. Assuring adequate levels of vitamin D is one of the easier diet and lifestyle changes that can ward off dementia. Here is a link to our article on vitamin D. Hmm, the government keeps telling us to take small amounts of vitamin D and to slather ourselves with sunscreen so we don’t get any accidentally.
  • There has recently been some bad press regarding the previously assumed benefits of calcium in supplements and foods for building fracture-resistant bones. Study LINK. We’ve been saying this for a long time. Children need calcium, but for adults, osteoporosis is a result of hormone insufficiency and other factors. I don’t know why there has been such a focus on calcium when it also takes magnesium, manganese, zinc, boron, vitamin K, vitamin C, stomach acid and a lot more to build bone. Excess calcium can inactivate stomach acid. Calcium that doesn’t make it into bone can end up not only as bone spurs, but also as hardening for arteries if it is not escorted to bone by sufficient vitamin K and other factors. A 2013 HBN newsletter ran a 2-part series on calcium. Part 1. Part 2. I also suggest the book Death by Calcium which we have in our book store. Hmm, the government is still telling us to take calcium.
  • The US government creates dietary guidelines that affect everything from school lunches and research funding to product labels and indirectly food policy around the world. Those guidelines are theoretically based on the latest research as compiled by unbiased experts. However, a report in the British Medical Journal says that is not what is happening. BMJ reported that there is not a systematic review of evidence, but rather reliance on the opinions of experts who are not required to reveal conflicts of interest. The journal suggests that there is too much influence from groups such as the American Heart Association that take significant funding from food and drug companies.

The report also specifically points out that the “new” guidelines don’t reflect recent research trends such as those that demonstrate the benefits of a reduced carbohydrate diet and those that have shown that saturated fat is probably not a cause of heart disease. That the “experts” have stuck to their opinionated guns has left us with the same high carbohydrate advice that for decades has made us fat and sick. LINK to BMJ Report. The US Congress has scheduled hearings…that might help if the moneyed interests don’t put too much pressure on the proceedings. Fingers crossed.

It is starting to sound as though we would be safest to do the opposite of what the government tells us to.

Thermography compared to mammograms

thermography mix

In last week’s blog I talked about fall colors and October pink. This week I want to talk about the red, yellow, green and blue colors of typical thermography prints as shown in the picture. Thermography is simply the measurement of heat. The body generates heat in varying amounts depending on the health and activities of tissues. For example, inflammation equals higher levels of heat. That is why chiropractors sometimes use thermography to show patients trouble spots in their spines. I am particularly interested in thermography for evaluating breast health because it does not involve exposing that tender tissue to radiation. There is simply no debate over the fact that radiation causes cancer. That is just one reason for the current controversy regarding mammograms.

Mammograms are often mistakenly lumped in with other ways to “prevent” cancer. However, clearly breast x-rays at best provide “earlier detection” of disease than waiting for a large lump to appear. Unfortunately, by the time a tumor is visible, it has been growing for some time…most likely many years. Mammograms can miss smaller cancers that might be detectable by more sensitive means. Those are called false negatives. At the other extreme, mammograms very often produce false positive results—indicating cancer when there is none. Those alarms create panic and dangerous over-treatment.

Therefore, the current view in mainstream medicine (read the Mayo Clinic opinion) is very confusing. But, the direction is toward recommending that women should get fewer mammograms than was the previous standard. Some writers, such as Joseph M. Mercola, DO point to studies that question the most fundamental risk-to-benefit basis of mammograms as a way of reducing deaths from breast cancer. There are unique differences in each case and I will not get between a woman and her doctor’s recommendation on that subject.

Thermography compared to mammograms. There is no harm in thermography and it can show abnormalities at a much earlier stage where improvements in diet and lifestyle might turn the situation around. (Thermography is what Dr. Mercola recommends.) Some women have mammograms less frequently and get thermograms in between.

One type of thermography called “infrared regulation thermography” measures cellular metabolism and responses of the nervous system. It records precise skin temperatures and temperature changes over specific organs around the body. That can reveal a great deal of information about how various body systems are functioning. The information gained from such an analysis would take thousands of dollars of very sophisticated conventional medical tests to discover if one even knew what to ask for. Thermography does not diagnose disease, but it is a nifty screening tool to provide the person with the right questions on which to follow up.

Thermography may be an excellent investment in health, but it is typically not yet covered by insurance because it has not been proven to the satisfaction of mainstream medicine. (Sadly, I question if it will be any time soon since there is such a huge economic system supporting mammography and so few funding sources to conduct comparative studies.)

I have been pleased with the Thermography Center of Dallas. In October they are giving their clients 20% off a whole body thermography session. They are located at 5220 Spring Valley Suite 405 Dallas, Texas 75254 | Phone: 214-352-8758

For those readers not in the DFW metroplex, search online for thermography to see what is available in your area, either standard or whole body.


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