Archive for March, 2016

Drug caution advised, especially for seniors


We are each unique… right down to the assortment of bacteria in our intestinal tracts. Unfortunately, that fact is often overlooked when medications are prescribed. Of course some drugs save lives, but obviously most are associated with potential side effects—some quite serious. The system needs to become much more nuanced in deciding how much of what to prescribe to whom. Women react differently to meds than men and that most drug testing has not included women has caused trouble. Older individuals process toxins such as pharmaceuticals differently than younger ones. Seniors sometimes have a reduced response to drugs but often experience a much greater reaction. Complicating matters is the fact that very few drugs have ever been tested in combination with other drugs. More than half of Americans take 2 drugs and 20% routinely take five or more. There have been no clinical trials I know of to test the safety of the poly-pharmacy chemical soup so many Americans are ingesting.

While the practice of medicine is figuring out these details and escaping the overpowering sales pressure of the pharmaceutical industry, we must protect ourselves. Drug caution is advised especially for seniors. I’d start by asking if any symptom a person has is possibly being caused, not by age or bad genes, but rather by some medication he or she is taking. (There are usually safer substitutes.)

Here are some resources that might help:

Drugs that are potentially not appropriate for seniors

My article on drugs. It has more resources.

Look up the type, side effects, instructions on meds Don’t forget to look up over-the-counter medications because they have side effects…here is a tiny sample: Tylenol / liver damage; Aleve / intestinal bleeding; Nexium / dementia, hip fracture, kidney disease, etc.

Look up interactions.

An article entitled “Are Psych Drugs Killing 500,000 Seniors?” This is especially sad when we know that nutrition interventions like B-vitamins, magnesium and fish oil are so much safer and in fact offer fringe benefits.

Give vitamin K2 a little respect

k2 small

Given its importance, it is quite surprising that we don’t hear more about Vitamin K2. We need to give vitamin K2 a little respect. One scientific paper said this: “…vitamin K2 deficiency…is a factor in several chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. This deficiency is very common in the mentioned diseases although it is rarely treated by clinicians.” Other experts note the crucial role of K2 in dental health, arthritis, kidney calcification and fertility. (Recently excess calcium has been blamed for worsening cardiovascular disease and other problems, but the problems may be just as much due to a lack of vitamin K2.) I was thrilled to receive this email from one of our listeners.


A few years back you interviewed, Dr. Kate, concerning her book on vitamin K2. I bought the book and did some due diligence to locate a reliable K2

At the time [I] was being “treated” for bilateral carotid stenosis [hardening of both arteries in the neck] and was assured by my health care professionals there was no way, other than surgery to remove the plaques.

Two years ago I started the K2 regimen.  The latest ultrasound examination in January, 2016 showed decreased blood velocity [a good thing] and no stenosis.  Next January I’ll have another Ultrasound examination and if it reveals no stenosis then I will ask why I am being treated for a disease that is no longer manifest.

Thanks to you for the information you provide.  You probably saved my life because they were talking about surgery as the only real cure. And, as I am sure you’re aware, carotid surgery is very dangerous.


There has been a lot of positive research on this topic, but one recent study of supplementation of K2 failed to show significant improvement in cardiovascular health. However, the six-month trial may not have been long enough and the abstract did not say what dose was used. Studies of bone chemistry typically recommend at least 100 milligrams a day. Vitamin K2 is only found in animal foods. We get another type, vitamin K1, from green leafy vegetables and broccoli. If…IF we get plenty of that and all our body systems are working up to snuff, we can convert some of that to the K2 form. The best type of K2 to supplement is MK-7 such as in this product from Jarrow.


An important piece of the prostate cancer puzzle


There seems to be a major tactical error in the “war on cancer”. They are looking for a cure. That is “a” as in one magic bullet. The problem is that like many other diseases, cancer is complex. It is usually the result of many things being wrong. While our genetic deck can be a predisposing factor, our diet and lifestyle determine which cards are played. Something as simple as a toxin (e.g. smoking) or a needed mineral (see selenium below) can turn genes on or off and can therefore be an important piece of the prostate cancer puzzle…or the missing piece in other cancers, heart disease or Alzheimer’s.

Good news:

As you have likely heard, prostate cancer screening is controversial. That is because the real threat is the fast-growing aggressive form of prostate cancer. Unfortunately, screening increases the use of risky treatments for less concerning slow growing cancers. (Men may die of old age before they do as a result of the slow growing type.) Here is the good news: In a study of 1,800 men, it was found that higher intake of antioxidant nutrients reduced the risk of the men suffering those more aggressive prostate cancers by an astounding 64-72%. And, it did not matter whether they got the antioxidants from diet or a combination of diet and supplements. Researchers looked at 42 different antioxidants. (Most people might be surprised to know there are that many!) STUDY

Sadly, the public is often scared away from many useful antioxidants. Here are two examples:

  • In an exciting interview with Dr. Richard Passwater, the researcher told us about a large randomized trial showing that a particular type of the antioxidant mineral selenium reduced prostate cancer 63%. It also cut cancer deaths in half and dramatically cut the incidence of other cancers (e.g., colon cancer by 58%, etc.). The study used selenium yeast (methylselenocysteine) which is the same type found in broccoli, onions and garlic. Sadly, when the National Cancer Institute began a study supposedly to “replicate” the research, they used a different kind of selenium and reported no benefit. Other selenium supplements such as the more common selenomethionine (as used in the misguided study) and sodium selenite have not been shown to have this dramatic effect. Follow the link to see an example of the correct form of supplement.
  • The “SELECT” trial and a follow up implied that not only was the antioxidant vitamin E unhelpful for prostate cancer, it might even cause more trouble. However, they didn’t use a natural form of vitamin E. They used just a single component rather than the whole family of vitamin E types. The chemical form they used (rac-a-tocopheryl acetate) has been shown to be only ½ as helpful as even a similar form found naturally in food. Many experts believe that the pills they used in the study blocked the protective effects participants would have enjoyed from natural complex vitamin E (mixed tocopherols including alpha, beta, delta, gamma forms plus Tocotrienols) as is contained in Jarrow’s FamilE.

This looks like a pattern to me. What’s more, all these antioxidants work together in teams, so any time you supplement just one, such as beta-carotene, you are asking for an imbalance and trouble. There are many many more puzzle pieces. For example, in my new book I mention the link between antibiotic use and prostate cancer. Also, prostate cancer patients have been shown to be lower in vitamin D than healthy subjects. My article on pancreatic cancer might provide a good model. A lot of the same protective factors and risks apply. It is good news indeed that detoxifying and getting good balanced nutrition is protective against most of our health complaints and disease risks.

Death by expert advice


How can I say “death by expert advice”? In recent decades the diet “dictocrats” (e.g. the government, doctor groups, institutions such as disease-specific charities and well-meaning consumer groups) encouraged the population to avoid dietary fats. The “experts” even warned us about eggs which I consider a near perfect food. Folks turned instead to carbs (most of them refined junk). The effect of that unfortunate advice (which was not based on science) was an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and increased risk for heart disease and cancer. We have literally been experiencing death by expert advice.

The 2015 official government-backed Dietary Guidelines do contain some good advice–e.g. to cut down on intake of sugar. The guideline “gurus” have softened their position on eggs somewhat and are slowly backing away from condemning fat in general. But, they have hung onto biases in favor of restricting salt and saturated fat. However, there are glimmers of hope that we are headed toward a more rational and historically defensible diet.

There never has been good science showing a link between saturated fat intake and heart disease. Likewise, there has not been strong evidence that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels. (For that matter, there isn’t even good support for the practice of lowering blood cholesterol as primary prevention of heart disease.) Now a study of 35,000 Dutch citizens actually turns the saturated fat edict on its head. I like the way People’s Pharmacy (PP) summed up the results on their website: “The [study] authors concluded that people who consumed high amounts of saturated fat were not at a greater risk for coronary artery disease. In fact, those who ate more foods containing saturated fatty acids were actually LESS likely to develop clogged coronary arteries. If people consumed highly processed high-carb foods instead of eating saturated fat, their risk of heart disease climbed significantly.” [I added the bold and caps.] Read the short PP article. Of course, this news doesn’t give us license to pig out on junk food because it often contains sugar and chemicals in addition to the butter or other saturated fat.

I have often wondered where the government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee gets the information that it bases its recommendations on. Well, apparently so did diligent Mayo Clinic Researcher Edward Archer, PhD, MS (article one and article two). Here is my summary of what he found:

  • The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (SR2015) was based on studies that simply asked people in interviews and surveys what foods they had eaten.
  • Science has not proved that gathering information from people’s memory is reliable. In fact, most evidence seems to say exactly the opposite. Using 2 independent methods Dr. Archer showed that in a major study that is often used as a reference for guidelines (the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey or NHANES) up to 88% of the calorie intake estimates appeared to not be plausible or even capable of sustaining life.
  • The way some of these study inquiries are structured actually encourages people to recall intake incorrectly.
  • There is no way to independently cross check or duplicate the results of that kind of investigation. That means the method isn’t considered science.
  • Also, the physical activity component was not adequately addressed.
  • In a letter, Dr. Archer stated his belief that making public policy based on conclusions from the shaky recall method is “a scientific fraud and a waste of taxpayer funding”.

It could be worse. Because people change behavior based on these official guidelines they can actually result in death by expert advice. Even if you and I know better than to follow errant advice contained in them, a wide variety of public policies reflect them…including food labeling laws, school lunches and subsidies of many kinds. I wish our presidential candidates could be persuaded to discuss this type of high-impact issue instead of the nonsense currently being “debated”.

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