Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lowering A1c below 6% will NOT give them heart attacks - Ruhl

 Lowering A1c below 6% will NOT give them heart attacks.

Over the past year I have heard from a horrifying number of people with diabetes whose doctors have reproached them for lowering their A1cs below 6% and warned them that lowering A1c to that level will give them heart attacks.

This is obscenely bad advice. But there is a reason why so many doctors are giving it. It goes back to a study called ACCORD, which was published in Februrary of 2008. You can read it here:

Effects of Intensive Glucose Lowering in Type 2 Diabetes The Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Study Group.[ACCORD] NEJM Volume 358:2545-2559, June 12, 2008 Number 24.

What ACCORD Really Found

This study was designed to see if lowering A1c to 6.5%, instead of the ADA's recommended 7.0%, could prevent heart attacks. The study was stopped early when analysis of preliminary data showed a slight excess of heart attack deaths in the subjects in the group who were striving to lower their A1cs.

This is all most doctors ever heard about ACCORD--that lowering A1c led to an increased risk of heart attack. What they didn't hear about was the methodology used in the study. That methodology makes it very clear that it wasn't the lowering of blood sugars that caused the deaths, but the way the study attempted to lower A1c.

ACCORD studied only people with long-standing Type 2 diabetes who had been diagnosed with heart disease before the start of the study. These patients were put on a statin drug (which we now know can further raise blood sugar) and a fibrate drug.

Then the researchers set out to lower blood sugar by putting their subjects the discredited high carbohydrate, low fat diet--which a large body of research has shown not only raises blood sugar but worses triglycerides and LDL. To counteract the blood-sugar-raising effect of this diet, the ACCORD researchers put the study subjects trying to lower blood sugar on a cocktail of every diabetes drug available at the time, including Avandia and Actos.

90.2% of ACCORD Subjects Were Taking Heart-attack Raising Avandia

In fact, a subsequent analysis of ACCORD data found that 4,702 of the 5,128 people in the intensive treatment arm of ACCORD were taking a drug in the TZD class that includes Avandia and Actos--That's 91.7% of all of them. But here's the kicker: almost all of them--4,677 or 91.2%--were taking Avandia. And of course, we now know that taking Avandia raises the risk of cardiac death independent of how much it lowers blood sugar.

The researchers who came up with this finding concluded,
Although other differences in drug exposure warrant further analysis, we think that the authors[of the ACCORD publications] should consider (and address in a secondary analysis) the role of rosiglitazone in the excess deaths from cardiovascular causes, especially in the absence of biologic plausibility of a glucose-mediated effect. Given unbalanced exposure, we think that the ACCORD trial is inconclusive and that the recommendation to abandon lower glucose targets is not supported and has unknown consequences for the long-term management of diabetes. [Emphasis mine]
Intensive Glucose Lowering and Cardiovascular Outcomes N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2263-2264 June 9, 2011

Those Who Lowered A1c Were Not Those Who Had More Heart Attacks

However, another analysis of ACCORD data actually overturned the idea that it had been the people with lowered A1cs who experienced the excess heart attacks.

Diabetes in Control reported on a presentation given at the 2009 ADA Scientific Sessions which found that further analysis of ACCORD data "did not confirm the proposed theory that low A1c levels might be the cause" of the elevated risk of death in the ACCORD patients who attempted to achieve tighter control.
Matthew C. Riddle, MD, Professor of Medicine, Oregon Health Science University and a member of the Glycemia Management Group of ACCORD, who was a site principal investigator for the ACCORD study is quoted as saying,
An A1c below 7% alone does not appear to explain the excess deaths in the ACCORD trial and is not necessarily a predictor of mortality risk...Further, the rate of one-year change in A1c showed that a greater decline in A1c was associated with a lower risk of death.[emphasis mine]
Dr. Riddle and his peers subsequently published these results in this paper:
Epidemiologic Relationships Between A1C and All-Cause Mortality During a Median 3.4-Year Follow-up of Glycemic Treatment in the ACCORD Trial. Matthew C. Riddle et al. Diabetes CareMay 2010 vol. 33 no. 5 983-990. doi: 10.2337/dc09-1278
This study concludes,
...a higher average on-treatment A1C was a stronger predictor of mortality than the A1C for the last interval of follow-up or the decrease of A1C in the first year. Higher average A1C was associated with greater risk of death. [emphasis mine]

These analyses implicate factors associated with persisting higher A1C levels, rather than low A1C per se, as likely contributors to the increased mortality risk associated with the intensive glycemic treatment strategy in ACCORD.
So the bottom line is that ACCORD actually proved that not lowering A1c was more likely to cause a heart attack. But neither of these later findings made their way into the medical newsletters that are what most doctors rely on to keep up with medical research. So as a result, most doctors are still convinced that ACCORD "proved" that lowering blood sugar is dangerous for people with Type 2 diabetes.

The Veterans Study

A second study has been interpreted to mean that lowering blood sugar is useless for people with diabetes. It was conducted among a group of veterans with Type 2 diabetes, whose average average age was 60. This study concluded, "Intensive glucose control in patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes had no significant effect on the rates of major cardiovascular events, death, or microvascular complications, with the exception of progression of albuminuria [protein in the urine, a marker for kidney damage]"

It also found a higher rate of hypoglycemia in the intensive management group.

Dangerous Drugs Again

A look at the methodology of this study reveals why we can ignore its findings. The researchers explain, "In both study groups, patients with a BMI of 27 or more were started on two oral agents, metformin plus rosiglitazone [Avandia]; those with a BMI of less than 27 were started on glimepiride plus rosiglitazone [Avandia]. Patients in the intensive-therapy group were started on maximal doses, and those in the standard-therapy group were started on half the maximal doses."

Avandia and glimipiride are both known to raise the risk of heart attack, so it is actually interesting that this study found no excess deaths, just no improvement in the incidence of cardiovascular deaths.

The excessive hypos are almost certainly due to the way that insulin was prescribed to the veterans. The "methods" section does not specify how insulin was prescribed, or even what kind of insulin was prescribed Were subjects put only on basal insulin, which only lowers fasting blood sugar, or were they given fast-acting insulins to cover their meals? Given how insulin was dosed in hospitals at the time this study was conducted, it is very likely that "insulin" was prescribed in the from of 70/30 mixtures which contain NPH, an insulin notorious for causing hypos, and that if fast acting insulin was prescribed at all, it was prescribed using the simple, but ineffectual "sliding scale dosing" technique which does not match the dose of fast-acting insulin to the amount of carbohydrate consumed.

Glucose Control and Vascular Complications in Veterans with Type 2 Diabetes. William Duckworth, et al.

What The Studies Didn't Study

No patients in ACCORD attempted to lower blood sugar solely by using a strategy of lowering the intake of the carbohydrates that raise blood sugar.

No patients in any of these studies attempted to lower blood sugar without the dangerous drugs Avandia, Actos, or one of the sulfonylurea drugs now known to raise the risk of heart attack.

And it is very unlikely that any of the patients using what researchers only call "insulin" were using modern, effective basal/bolus insulin dosing schemes that match insulin to carbohydrate intake and prevent hypos.

Therefore, if you are controlling your blood sugar with any combination of carbohydrate restriction, metformin, or a modern insulin regimen that matches the dose to the amount of carbohydrates you consume on a meal-to-meal basis, these studies are completely irrelevant, and you'd do well to pay attention to the many other studies that have shown that lowering blood sugar will prevent and, at times, reverse all the classic diabetic complications.

Bottom Line: There is not a scintilla of evidence that lowering blood sugar using techniques that do not involve dangerous drugs is harmful.

There is a great deal of evidence, even from ACCORD and the Veteran's study, that lowering blood sugar even to the still-too-high level of 6.5% improves kidney function and reduces the risk of heart attack. Other studies cited elsewhere on this site confirm that lowering blood sugar also lowers the incidence of nerve damage and of the retinal damage that leads to diabetic blindness.
Read the full article here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Omega-3/Fish Oil.... Good Bad? - Blanchet

Omega-3/Fish Oil.... Good Bad?

Listen to my doctor discuss over interpretation of a single bad study.

Several articles in the news lately, pretty much said that taking fish oil, or omega 3's, did nothing to help prevent heart disease. Should you toss your supply? Hear what Dr. Blanchet has to say about omega 3’s and their role in our health. Find out the facts about the studies that were done which prompted the media concern.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Science for Sale: Pharmaceutical Company Helped Write, Edit 'Highly Positive' Product Studies for Peer-Reviewed Journals.

While this article is not about the main topic here it is of deep concern because it speaks to the deplorable condition of medical science today!


Medtronic Helped Write, Edit Positive 'Infuse' Spine Studies

Highly positive studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals depicted Medtronic's spine fusion product as a major breakthrough in back surgery, but those studies drafted and edited with direct input from company employees, while the doctors listed as authors were paid millions, according to a U.S. Senate investigation.

The company's heavy, undisclosed manipulation of information about its bone morphogenetic protein-2 product called Infuse included removing and downplaying concerns about serious complications linked to the product and overstating its benefits.

The Money Trail
Over the course of 15 years, Medtronic paid $210 million to a group of 13 doctors who co-authored the series of now-repudiated papers about the product. The payments also included two corporate entities associated with some of the doctors.

The investigation by Senate Committee on Finance was prompted in part by Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigations that showed how the practice of medicine has been corrupted by conflicts of interest involving doctors, drug and device companies and medical journals.
The Senate report, to be released Thursday, details how Medtronic employees, including some working in the company's marketing department, covertly collaborated with the academic physician authors in producing 11 different papers between 2002 and 2009.

Such "ghostwriting," though not illegal, has been condemned as a breach of integrity and transparency because doctors and patients rely on information in those articles to make medical decisions, not knowing that the papers may contain biased, inaccurate or potentially harmful information.

The Senate's findings highlight problems that should have been reported as at least a decade ago, said Ray Baker, MD, a Kirkland, Wash., pain specialist who served on an advisory panel to Medicare and Medicaid on Infuse.

"I am just sad this happened," he said. "At every level when we thought, 'that wouldn't happen,' it happened. The integrity of our scientific literature is our foundation. It's what predicates our treatments."

Medtronic Denies
Medtronic disputed many of the findings in the Senate's report.
"Medtronic vigorously disagrees with any suggestion that the company improperly influenced or authored any of the peer-reviewed published manuscripts discussed in the report, or that Medtronic intended to under-report adverse events," a statement emailed by the company said.

The company said it reported the adverse events to the Food and Drug Administration and those risks also are listed the product label for Infuse. Medtronic also called the report's characterization of the payments to the doctors misleading and unfair.

"The vast majority of such payments were royalty payments made to compensate physicians for their intellectual property rights and contributions, not consulting payments," the company said.
In 2011, after the Spine Journal devoted an entire issue to repudiating Infuse research, the company, under its new CEO, Omar Ishrak, hired Yale University to oversee an independent review of the safety and effectiveness of Infuse.

"This sounds eerily familiar to many of the transgressions we've read about from the pharmaceutical industry," said Harlan Krumholz, MD, a professor of medicine at Yale University, when told of the Senate report. "It paints a picture of a company very heavily involved in the science; marketing contaminating the science; and the medical profession and researchers being complicit.

The Public Trust
"It's no wonder the public has lost confidence in the drug and device industries."
Krumholz is overseeing Yale's review of Infuse. Those results are expected in January.
Medtronic's behavior also drew sharp criticism from two key senators on the committee.
"Medtronic's actions violate the trust patients have in their medical care," Sen. Max Baucus, (D-Mont.), chairman of the committee, said in a statement. "Patients everywhere will be better served by a more open, honest system without this kind of collusion."

Senior member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the findings support the Physician Payments Sunshine Act that he and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) authored. That legislation will require drug and device companies to disclose such payments beginning next year.

"The findings also should prompt medical journals to take a very proactive approach...," Grassley said in a statement. "...The public will benefit from more transparency and accountability on their part."

In response to the Senate investigation, Medtronic turned over more than 5,000 documents, including emails involving the doctors and Medtronic employees as well as 14 years of payments from Medtronic to the doctors.

The Infuse Story
In January 2002, Hal Mathews, MD, spoke glowingly about Infuse to a FDA advisory panel that was considering whether to recommend approval of the product.

Mathews, then a Richmond, Va. spine surgeon who had taken part in the pivotal Infuse clinical trial, told the panel he had no direct financial interest in the product and that he was not being paid to appear at the meeting.

However, a 2001 email shows that Medtronic worked with the New York-based public relations firm, Ketchum, to prepare Mathews' speech to the panel, which went on to recommend approval of the product.

In addition, though Medtronic told the committee that Mathews was not paid for any activity undertaken in January 2002, Mathews was paid under consulting arrangements with the company in 2001.

In 2007, Mathews was hired by Medtronic as its vice president of medical and clinical affairs.

From the Pen of Medtronic
An email indicated that a Medtronic marketing employee, Julie Bearcroft, was involved in editing a 2005 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery article and recommended against publishing a complete list complications related to the structural integrity of the fused area.

Those complications -- known as implant migration, subsidence and end-plate fracture -- had been observed in a clinical trial and had been formatted in a detailed table, according to an internal Medtronic email. But, following the advice of Bearcroft, that table was not included in the published paper.

"I personally think it is appropriate to simply report the adverse events were equivalent in the two groups without the detail," Bearcroft wrote in a note on a draft of the article.

After the editing change was made, the lead author of the paper, Ken Burkus, MD, a Columbus, Ga. surgeon, sent a draft of the paper to his co-authors with the note, "this manuscript documents the superiority in clinical and radiographic outcomes with (Infuse)..."

Burkus, who got $6.4 million from Medtronic between 1998 through 2010, did not respond to an email seeking his comment.

Medtronic officials inserted into papers language that attempted to portray Infuse as a better, less painful alternative to the standard technique of using a small amount of a patient's own hip bone for fusing vertebrae, a claim that has been questioned by independent spine surgeons.

Giving Infuse the Edge
In 2001 and 2002, after viewing early drafts of a 2002 Infuse paper, Neil Beals, a Medtronic marketing official recommended that the physician authors make "a bigger deal" out of the supposed pain reduction with Infuse.

Subsequently, a sentence was inserted in the paper stating that Infuse spared patients from being exposed to problems associated using their own bone for the fusion.

In its review of Infuse last year, doctors writing in the Spine Journal said the often-cited donor site pain was less frequent and serious than Infuse proponents suggested.

In addition, in a draft of a 2003 paper the authors said that any pain at the site of the hipbone graft site had been resolved in the study subjects within a year of the surgery. But Beals questioned that and inserted language saying residual effects of the donor site should be noted.

The final article appears to have adopted his suggestions, noting that even 24 months after the surgeries "some patients continued to experience residual pain at the donor site and rated the appearance of the site as only fair."

Downplaying Safety Concerns
The company also tried, unsuccessfully, to adopt weaker patient safety rules for a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of Infuse in the cervical spine, a use that remains unapproved and which has been linked to life threatening swelling in neck.

In 2008, the FDA warned doctors against using Infuse in cervical spine fusions, citing 38 cases of swelling in the neck and throat leading to compression of the airway. Some of those cases required emergency tracheotomies.

The weaker safety rules sought by Medtronic would have allowed the company to continue the clinical trial even if patients experienced severe swelling in neck.

Infuse is a powerful biological agent that stimulates the growth of new bone, but excess bone growth can be a serious problem when the product is used in certain off-label surgeries. It was approved in 2002 for lumbar spine fusions in which the surgical approach is from the front.

The unapproved use has caused serious problems for Patricia Caplinger and hundreds of other spine surgery patients like her, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year against Medtronic in federal court in Oklahoma.

The complication experienced by Caplinger was the subject of a 2004 paper written by doctors who have received millions of dollars from Medtronic. That paper involved a clinical trial of Infuse that had to be halted five years earlier because of excess bone growth in the spinal canals of 70% of the patients.

That clinical trial used Infuse in a surgery similar to what Caplinger underwent in 2010.
The surgeons who wrote the article said that patients weren't harmed by the excess bone growth. But that claim that was refuted by an Oklahoma surgeon who took part in the trial and told the Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today last year that he had two patients who developed painful, excess bone growth that required additional surgeries. Caplinger who lives in Missouri was not one of those patients.

A helping hand in the OR
Caplinger says that her doctor and others surgeons were persuaded by Medtronic and its "paid physician promoters" to use Infuse in dangerous, off-label surgeries, according to her lawsuit.
In Caplinger's case, a Medtronic representative actually was present during her surgery and "was actively involved," providing information about use of Infuse in Caplinger's procedure, according to the lawsuit.

Because of the excess bone growth, Caplinger suffers continuous pain in her back and legs and developed a condition known as foot drop, which, in turn, led to a ligament tear in her right knee. She also has required revision surgery on her back and will need another revision surgery because the bone growth is continuing.

In an email, Caplinger, a nurse, said she is worried that the pain eventually will prevent her from doing what she loves the most, working in the emergency department.

"I live with pain every minute of every day," she said. "I have forgotten what not being in pain feels like."

A Medtronic spokesperson said the complaint lacks and the company has the court to dismiss the case.

Medtronic had answers
The Senate report and accompanying documents also show Medtronic employees -- in addition to editing drafts of a paper -- at times covertly drafted responses to questions raised by other doctors who were examining the work as part of medical journal peer review.

Case in point: A 2004 paper was published in the Spine Journal where co-author Charles Branch Jr., MD, also served as deputy editor. Branch, chairman of neurosurgery at Wake Forest University, received $3.1 million from Medtronic from 1998 to 2010. His royalty payments have been split with the university.

That article also was subject of a 2011 Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation.
The Senate documents include a 2003 email, as the article was being drafted, in which Bill Martin, the company's vice president of spinal marketing, wrote: "We may want to steer clear of calling it a flawed technique. There are still quite a few surgeons utilizing this technique..."

About a week later, Rick Treharne, another Medtronic executive, wrote to one of the paper's authors: "In looking over the data, I was impressed with how well the BMP (Infuse) patients actually did. So much so that I added a few paragraphs at the end that you may not agree with."

As peer reviewers for the journal looked over the paper, they raised concerns that it was a slanted, advertising piece.

"This manuscript is full of biased statements that are a reflection of the data evaluators -- the company that markets the product," wrote one reviewer.

"Unless the authors can discuss the results in this study in an unbiased manner, which they have been unable to do in its present form, this data should not be published," wrote another.

Treharne then sent one of the co-authors a draft of a letter to be sent to the editor of the journal addressing the concern. Another Medtronic executive also helped formulate a response to the editor.
The letter that ultimately was sent to the journal's editor sought to reassure him, claiming that three of the co-authors were independent, the Senate investigation found.

But between 1997 and 2003, two of the "independent" authors had received $8.5 million from Medtronic.

"We were falsely reassured that there were independent people looking at the data," said Eugene Carragee, MD, who took over as editor of the Spine Journal in 2009. "It's a violation of the fundamental trust of peer review."

When published, the paper described the results of halted clinical trial as encouraging."
Read the complete article here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Don't accept everything called a scientific paper as truthful! - Groves

Fraud In Published Scientific Papers Rises Dramatically

Barry Groves Date: 02 Oct 2012

Fraud, suspected fraud, plagiarism and duplicate publications are the main reasons why scientific papers are retracted today, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine reported in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) today.

Misconduct occurs at ten times the rate it used to in 1975 among scientific papers - scientific papers refers to articles that are published in academic journals. Two thirds of all retractions today are due to misconduct.

Senior author Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair and professor of microbiology & immunology and professor of medicine at Einstein, and also editor-in-chief of mBio said:
"Biomedical research has become a winner-take-all game-one with perverse incentives that entice scientists to cut corners and, in some instances, falsify data or commit other acts of misconduct."
A survey carried out by the BMJ (British Medical Journal) in January 2012 revealed that 13% of doctors and scientists had seen colleagues deliberately fabricate or change data during their research to make sure that it was published.

The authors examined 2,047 articles that had been retracted from biomedical literature up to the end of May 2012. They had set out to find out why retractions occur. They consulted several secondary sources, including the NIH (National Institutes of Health, the Office of Research Integrity, as well as Retractionwatch.com.

The authors found that:
21% of retractions were due to mistakes (error)

67% of retractions were due to misconduct, which was broken down as:
- fraud or suspected fraud 43%
- duplicate publication 14%
- plagiarism 10%
- unknown or "miscellaneous" reasons 12%

The problem with very skillful fraud, Dr. Casadevall said, is that it is hard to discover. There are probably several fraudulent papers still published and not retracted because misconduct has not yet been detected.

The authors explained that previous studies that underestimated the extent of scientific misconduct had relied completely on notices of retraction issued by the journal, which are written by the authors of the papers themselves.

Dr. Casadevall said:
"Many of those notices are wrong. Authors commonly write, 'We regret we have to retract our paper because the work is not reproducible,' which is not exactly a lie. The work indeed was not reproducible - because it was fraudulent. Researchers try to protect their labs and their reputations, and these retractions are written in such a way that you often don't know what really happened."
The report showed that higher-impact factor journals seem to have especially high retraction rates. Dr. Casadevall said that today scientists are disproportionately rewarded for publishing lots of papers, which should ideally appear in prestigious journals - most likely this kind of pressure has contributed to the growing number of retractions.

Dr. Casadevall said:
"Particularly if you get your papers accepted in certain journals, you're much more likely to get recognition, grants, prizes and better jobs or promotions. Scientists are human, and some of them will succumb to this pressure, especially when there's so much competition for funding. Perhaps our most telling finding is what happened after 2005, which is when the number of retractions began to skyrocket. That's exactly when NIH funding began to get very tight."
Dr. Casadevall had put forward a number of solutions to address the problem of scientific misconduct in the journal Infection and Immunity, which included:
  • There should be more emphasis on the quality of publications rather than how many are published
  • When rating journals, there should not be so much emphasis on impact measures
  • The research community should aim for more cooperation and collaboration
  • More sustainable, stable and reliable resources for research funding should be developed
  • Career pathways should offer scientists more flexibility to make sure talented professionals are not loss due to poor funding
Retractions come from very few laboratories

The authors stressed that not all is gloom and doom. Dr. Casadevall explained that 38 laboratories accounted for 43% of all retractions last year. There are thousands and thousands of labs whose scientists publish articles in academic journals.

Dr. Casadevall said:
"So while we're not looking at a systemic disease, so to speak, in the scientific community, our findings do indicate a significant problem that needs to be addressed."
Read full article here.
Another view of the same phenomenon by Dr Mercola:
Misdeeds, Not Mistakes, Behind Most Scientific Retractions     
October 17 2012 
By Dr. Mercola
The medical and health fields are absolutely riddled with dogmatic beliefs that defy both commonsense and scientific truth. And yet they prevail because they are supposedly backed by "science."

But what if that science was not actually trustworthy, but rather a carefully orchestrated product... the result of massive conflict of interest, perpetuated by self-interested groups and industries that push unfavorable research findings under the proverbial rug, or even tweak their studies to have the "right" results?

Would it change the way you feel about your diet, your lifestyle and even your medical decisions if it turned out the research upon which your prior choices were made was actually not science at all, but fraud?

67 Percent of Research Retractions Made for "Misconduct," Including Fraud

Much like a potentially dangerous product can be recalled from the market, journals have the right to retract research papers if they turn out to be seriously flawed.

You might assume that most of those flaws would be due to simple human errors, but a review of over 2,000 biomedical and life-science research papers that have been retracted through May 2012 found that only 21 percent were retracted due to errors.1 Instead, the most common reason, in over 67 percent of cases, was misconduct, including fraud or suspected fraud (43.4%), duplicate publication (14.2%), and plagiarism (9.8%).

...And the more respected or influential the journal was, the more likely its retractions were to be attributed to fraud or suspected fraud! The study reveals a disturbing epidemic of deception going on in the research world, which has largely been downplayed, according to the researchers. In reality, scientific fraud has been on the rise for decades:
"Incomplete, uninformative or misleading retraction announcements have led to a previous underestimation of the role of fraud in the ongoing retraction epidemic. The percentage of scientific articles retracted because of fraud has increased ~10-fold since 1975." 2
While previous studies have looked into this issue, they typically used the study's retraction notice to determine the cause of the retraction. This is problematic in and of itself, however, because the study authors often write the announcements, and they're certainly not going to say they fabricated the data!

NPR pointed out the case of a 1993 study in Science,3 in which the data was found to have been falsified. But the retraction notice said only that "some experiments have not been reproducible."4 To get around these misleading announcements, the researchers for the current study independently verified the retraction reasons using information from the Federal Office of Research Integrity and independent media reports – and their results speak for themselves.

I wish I could say this is not a widespread issue... but a survey published in the BMJ earlier this year revealed that 13 percent of scientists or doctors had actually witnessed colleagues intentionally changing or fabricating research data in order to get a study published, while another 6 percent said they are aware of possible research misconduct at their institution that was never properly investigated...5

Drug Research May be Even Worse

The study above focused on retracted biomedical and life-science research papers, whereas a study earlier this year reviewed retracted studies in the drug and biomedical literature.6 The highest number of incidents of misconduct occurred in the drug literature, as compared to general biomedical literature. Nearly 75 percent of the retracted drug studies were attributed to scientific misconduct, which includes:
  • Data falsification or fabrication
  • Questionable veracity
  • Unethical author conduct
  • Plagiarism
The most unfortunate thing about this is that these are the types of studies many health care professionals rely on to make treatment recommendations. Large numbers of patients – potentially millions – can be affected when false findings are published, as the average lag time between publication of the study and the issuing of a retraction is 39 months. And that's if it's ever caught at all.

It's important to understand that our current medical system has been masterfully orchestrated by the drug companies to create a system that gives the perception of science when in reality it is a heavily manipulated process designed to deceive you into using expensive and potentially toxic drugs that benefit the drug companies more than it benefits your health. Across the board, drugmakers do an excellent job of publicizing the findings they want you to know, while keeping very quiet about the rest.

You see, all research is NOT published. And it should come as no surprise that drug studies funded by a pharmaceutical company that reaches a negative conclusion will rarely ever see the light of day... What this means is that even if you scour the medical literature to determine what the consensus is on any given medical topic, what you'll find is an overwhelming preponderance of data in favor of the drug approach that in no way, shape or form reflects the reality of the scientific investigation that went into that specific drug.

Ex-FDA Chief Says J&J Broke the Law Promoting Risperdal

Of course, it's not only in the research realm that drugs are fraudulently promoted; it occurs all the time in the marketing realm, too. Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) antipsychotic Risperdal was heavily promoted for unproven off-label uses for more than a decade, even after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings against the misleading claims. Doctors are well within their legal rights to prescribe a drug for off-label use; it's actually a common, albeit sometimes dangerous, practice. However, drug companies may not promote them for uses other than those that are FDA-approved.
Research has shown that up to two-thirds of prescriptions for Risperdal were for unapproved uses that had little or no scientific support.

How did this happen? Simple – J&J's Janssen unit sent out an army of salespeople to doctor's offices, nursing homes, Veteran's Administration facilities, and jails to tout Risperdal as a proverbial miracle drug for mental illness and dementia in the elderly, as well as for unapproved uses in children and adolescents. Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, a pediatrician, said in an October trial report that the companies were in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act when they promoted Risperdal for non-approved uses in children and adolescents. He noted:7
"The promotion of non-approved uses by a manufacturer, because it undercuts the system and safeguards of drug regulation, is concerning... The promotion of non-approved uses by a manufacturer of powerful drugs is more concerning... The promotion of non-approved uses in the most vulnerable children of powerful drugs is most concerning. Janssen's promotion of Risperdal, a powerful drug, for non-approved uses in the most vulnerable children is deeply troubling."

Drugs in Search of a Disease: Pharma Targets Women

And if they're not promoting a drug for unapproved uses, the drug companies are actively developing drugs based on entirely questionable – some might even say fictional – diseases. Women are often the targets for these drugs, as statistics show U.S. women use nearly 65 percent more drugs, on average, than men8– making them a more lucrative market for the drug companies. Drug and biotech companies are currently testing or awaiting FDA approval for more than 850 different drugs for diseases that "disproportionately affect American women."9

Writing in Scientific American, Judy Stone, MD, recently highlighted the almost comical pursuit to classify what were once ordinary feelings into unique woman-centered diseases:10
" ...women still are the primary targets for pharmaceutical advertising, in part because they can be captured for multiple products – if not quite from the cradle, at least from puberty, through pregnancy, to menopause and to grave. What are some of the consequences of this relentless focus on women's hormones and common symptoms? For one, it seems to promote a nation of hypochondriacs. It is extremely profitable for pharmaceutical companies, but it is not so good for the target of this attention, women... be wary of innocent sounding offers of drugs to relieve all of your discomforts."
Among some of the more curious diseases she included are:
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): "In my day, it was moodiness at 'that time of the month,' more typically known as bitchiness. We didn't have an ICD-9 or DSM code. We had uncomfortable days but knew that this, too, would pass. Now cyclical hormones are a disease," Stone writes. Now women are being treated with antidepressant drugs, which might increase the risk of suicide, to avoid these symptoms.
  • Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD): Otherwise known as lack of libido, various pills and "female Viagras" are clamoring to get to the market. Interestingly, lack of libido is often a side effect of antidepressant use.

The Solution is Within Your Hands...

The take-home message here is that even if a drug or treatment is "backed by science" or marketed as the miracle cure you've been waiting for, this in no way guarantees it is safe or effective. Likewise, if an alternative treatment has not been published in a medical journal, it does not mean it is unsafe or ineffective.

You've got to use all the resources available to you, including your own sense of common sense and reason, true experts' advice and other's experiences, to determine what medical treatment or advice will be best for you in any given situation. I advise you to remain skeptical but open – even if it is something I'm saying, you need to realize that YOU are responsible for your and your family's health, not me, and certainly not drug companies trying to sell their wares and convince you to take dangerous "symptom-cover-ups" disguised as science-based solutions.

If you're facing a health challenge it is best to identify a qualified natural health consultant – someone who really understands health at a foundational level and has had extensive experience in helping others resolve their health care challenges. Just make sure to see a competent regular physician to make certain any serious disorders like cancer are ruled out as well. In the meantime, do all you can to take control of your health so you stay healthy, and drug-free, in the first place.
Read the complete article here.
A good video on "Why most published scientific research is probably false"


Look AHEAD halted: Lifestyle management fails to reduce hard CV outcomes in diabetics - O'Riordan

Look AHEAD halted: Lifestyle management fails to reduce hard CV outcomes in diabetics

October 19, 2012
A large cardiovascular-outcomes study funded by the National Institutes of Health that included 5145 adults with diabetes and a body mass index >25 kg/m2, Look AHEAD failed to show a difference in the rate of nonfatal MI, nonfatal stroke, death, or hospitalization for angina among patients randomized to an intensive lifestyle intervention and those randomized to a control arm consisting of education alone.
Despite significant reductions in weight and improvements in physical-fitness levels among patients with diabetes, investigators concluded that the intervention arm, which included individual sessions with a nutritionist and/or personal trainer, as well as group sessions and refresher courses, failed to provide any benefit in terms of cardiovascular outcomes.
Dr Anne Peters (University of Southern California, Los Angeles), one of the study investigators, said in an interview that the trial was successful on one level—namely, that patients lost weight and improved their fitness. Data published at four years showed that the intensive intervention led to weight loss of up to 10% in the first year and that patients maintained a 6.5% reduction in body weight in the following three years. Over an 11-year follow-up period, the patients reported a 5% reduction in body weight from baseline, said Peters.
In addition, early data showed that treadmill fitness levels, hemoglobin A1c levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, HDL-cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels were all significantly improved among patients in the lifestyle-intervention arm when compared with the control group. The only cardiovascular risk factor that remained unchanged with treatment was LDL-cholesterol levels.
Despite the lack of cardiovascular benefit observed in Look AHEAD, Peters stressed that diabetic patients should not stop exercising or begin eating anything they wish.
"We do know that weight loss and exercise can prevent diabetes," said Peters. "I am a big advocate of prevention, both early prevention of obesity altogether, as well as prevention of diabetes in individuals who have become overweight. Lifestyle changes can help prevent diabetes. Once you have diabetes, I think weight loss and exercise can have benefits, but they are not going to reduce the risk for the primary outcome that we set for Look AHEAD, which was a risk for macrovascular events or death."
Read the full article here.

Here is the official stated purpose of the Look AHEAD trial.

The primary objective of Look AHEAD is to examine, in overweight volunteers with type 2 diabetes, the long-term effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention program designed to achieve and maintain weight loss by decreased caloric intake and increased physical activity. This program will be compared to a control condition involving a program of diabetes support and education.
The primary hypothesis is that the incidence rate of the first post-randomization occurrence of a composite outcome, which includes
  • cardiovascular death (including fatal myocardial infarction and stroke),
  • non-fatal myocardial infarction,
  • hospitalized angina, and
  • non-fatal stroke,
over a planned follow-up period of up to 13.5 years will be reduced among participants assigned to the Lifestyle Intervention compared to those assigned to the control condition, Diabetes Support and Education.

Look AHEAD will also test for reductions in the incidence of three secondary composite outcomes and examine the effect of the intervention on cardiovascular disease risk factors, diabetes control and complications, general health, and quality of life, and psychological outcomes. The cost and cost-effectiveness of the Lifestyle Intervention relative to Diabetes Support and Education will be assessed.
from https://www.lookaheadtrial.org/public/home.cfm

A comment by Dr. Jack Kruse had this to say about the trial...

Jack Kruse said...

You said, you could not find all cause mortality data for the stop. Not surprising to some of us. The trial was stopped because their hypothesis was being demolished. You and I both know it. But this post further supports my concerns with RCT and so called evidence based medicine. The modern health care complex trump this brand of medicine. I loathe it. There is nothing more dangerous to modern humans than evidence based medicine and we all remain unaware of those pitfalls. Peter has touched on just that here.

I wrote very recently in my Brain Gut 14 blog this: The manner in which we ask questions is deeply flawed in medicine. Here is where the major causative factor lies in medicine that too few are talking about in research literature. You need to know it. Positive findings, whether they are good or bad for our biology, are twice as likely to be published as negative findings.

This dramatically skews the meaning of what the evidence is really showing us in medicine. It is at the core why people do not get better with evidence based practices and remain a medical annuity for the system. This is a cancer at the core evidence-based medicine today. When you become aware of what you do not know, it becomes easier to get to optimal. They key is for you to avoid those pitfalls before you access the healthcare system. Unfortunately, physicians are paid on this data and that is why it appears to many people that doctors just don’t get it. Many of us do get it, but if we step out of line we get punished by the system. That is how I feel about this Look Ahead nonsense. I am more cynical than Peter. I think the trial was ended because a current growth industry in healthcare might have been placed in peril if the trial continued.
from HyperLipid.

Friday, October 19, 2012

LDL is not “bad cholesterol” & it cannot build up in artery walls. Read the truth.

Cholesterol: Friend Or Foe?
Written by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
Sunday, 04 May 2008 19:17
The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. --Voltaire
In our modern world, cholesterol has become almost a swear word. Thanks to the promoters of the diet-heart hypothesis, everybody "knows" that cholesterol is "evil" and has to be fought at every turn. If you believe the popular media, you would think that there is simply no level of cholesterol low enough. If you are over a certain age, you are likely to be tested for how much cholesterol you have in your blood. If it is higher than about 200 mg/100ml (5.1 mol/l), you may be prescribed a "cholesterol pill." Millions of people around the world take these pills, thinking that this way they are taking good care of their health. What these people don’t realize is just how far from the truth they are. The truth is that we humans cannot live without cholesterol. Let us see why.

Our bodies are made out of billions of cells. Almost every cell produces cholesterol all the time during all of our lives. Why? Because every cell of every organ has cholesterol as a part of its structure. Cholesterol is an integral and very important part of our cell membranes, the membranes that enclose each of our cells, and also of the membranes surrounding all the organelles inside the cell. What is cholesterol doing there? A number of things.

Structural Integrity

First of all, saturated fats and cholesterol make the membranes of the cells firm—without them the cells would become flabby and fluid. If we humans didn’t have cholesterol and saturated fats in the membranes of our cells, we would look like giant worms or slugs. And we are not talking about a few molecules of cholesterol here and there. In many cells, almost half of the cell membrane is made from cholesterol. Different kinds of cells in the body need different amounts of cholesterol, depending on their function and purpose. If the cell is part of a protective barrier, it will have a lot of cholesterol in it to make it strong, sturdy and resistant to any invasion. If a cell or an organelle inside the cell needs to be soft and fluid, it will have less cholesterol in its structure.

This ability of cholesterol and saturated fats to firm up and reinforce the tissues in the body is used by our blood vessels, particularly those that have to withstand the high pressure and turbulence of the blood flow. These are usually large or medium arteries in places where they divide or bend. The flow of blood pounding through these arteries forces them to incorporate a layer of cholesterol and saturated fat in the membranes, which makes it stronger, tougher and more rigid. These layers of cholesterol and fat are called fatty streaks. They are completely normal and form in all of us, starting from birth and sometimes even before we are born. Various indigenous populations around the world, who never suffer from heart disease, have plenty of fatty streaks in their blood vessels in old and young, including children. Fatty streaks are not indicative of the disease called atherosclerosis.

Lipid Lifesavers

All the cells in our bodies have to communicate with each other. How do they do that? They use proteins embedded into the membrane of the cell. How are these proteins fixed to the membrane? With the help of cholesterol and saturated fats! Cholesterol and stiff saturated fatty acids form so-called lipid rafts, which make little homes for every protein in the membrane and allow it to perform its functions. Without cholesterol and saturated fats, our cells would not be able to communicate with each other or to transport various molecules into and out of the cell. As a result, our bodies would not be able to function the way they do. The human brain is particularly rich in cholesterol: around 25 percent of all body cholesterol is accounted for by the brain. Every cell and every structure in the brain and the rest of our nervous system needs cholesterol, not only to build itself but also to accomplish its many functions. The developing brain and eyes of the fetus and a newborn infant require large amounts of cholesterol. If the fetus doesn’t get enough cholesterol during development, the child may be born with a congenital abnormality called cyclopean eye.1

Human breast milk provides a lot of cholesterol. Not only that, mother’s milk provides a specific enzyme to allow the baby’s digestive tract to absorb almost 100 percent of that cholesterol, because the developing brain and eyes of an infant require large amounts of it. Children deprived of cholesterol in infancy may end up with poor eyesight and brain function. Manufacturers of infant formulas are aware of this fact, but following the anti-cholesterol dogma, they produce formulas with virtually no cholesterol in them.

Vital Brain Matter

One of the most abundant materials in the brain and the rest of our nervous system is a fatty substance called myelin. Myelin coats every nerve cell and every nerve fiber like the insulating cover around electric wires. Apart from insulation, it provides nourishment and protection for every tiny structure in our brain and the rest of the nervous system. People who start losing their myelin develop a condition called multiple sclerosis. Well, 20 percent of myelin is cholesterol. If you start interfering with the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, you put the very structure of the brain and the rest of the nervous system under threat.

The synthesis of myelin in the brain is tightly connected with the synthesis of cholesterol. In my clinical experience, foods with high cholesterol and high animal fat content are an essential medicine for a person with multiple sclerosis. One of the most wonderful abilities we humans are blessed with is the ability to remember things—our human memory. How do we form memories? By our brain cells establishing connections with each other, called synapses. The more healthy synapses a person’s brain can make, the more mentally able and intelligent that person is. Scientists have discovered that synapse formation is almost entirely dependent on cholesterol, which is produced by the brain cells in a form called apolipoprotein E. Without the presence of this factor we cannot form synapses, and hence we would not be able to learn or remember anything. Memory loss is one of the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

In my clinic, I see growing numbers of people with memory loss who have been taking cholesterol- lowering pills. Dr Duane Graveline, MD, former NASA scientist and astronaut, suffered such memory loss while taking his cholesterol pill. He managed to save his memory by stopping the pill and eating lots of cholesterol-rich foods. Since then he has described his experience in his book, Lipitor: Thief of Memory, Statin Drugs and the Misguided War on Cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol in fresh eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods has been shown in scientific trials to improve memory in the elderly. In my clinical experience, any person with memory loss or learning problems needs to have plenty of these foods every single day in order to recover.

Necessary Product Of The Body

These foods give the body a hand in supplying cholesterol so it does not have to work as hard to produce its own. What a lot of people don’t realize is that most cholesterol in the body does not come from food! The body produces cholesterol as it is needed. Scientific studies have conclusively demonstrated that cholesterol from food has no effect whatsoever on the level of our blood cholesterol. Why? Because cholesterol is such an essential part of our human physiology that the body has very efficient mechanisms to keep blood cholesterol at a certain level.

When we eat more cholesterol, the body produces less; when we eat less cholesterol, the body produces more. As a raw material for making cholesterol the body can use carbohydrates, proteins and fats, which means that your pasta and bread can be used for making cholesterol in the body. It has been estimated that, in an average person, about 85 percent of blood cholesterol is produced by the body, while only 15 percent comes from food. So, even if you religiously follow a completely cholesterol-free diet, you will still have a lot of cholesterol in your body. However, cholesterol-lowering drugs are a completely different matter! They interfere with the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, and hence they do reduce the amount of cholesterol available for the body to use.

Dangers Of Low Cholesterol

If we do not take cholesterol-lowering drugs, most of us don’t have to worry about cholesterol. However, there are people whose bodies, for whatever reason, are unable to produce enough cholesterol. These people are prone to emotional instability and behavioral problems. Low blood cholesterol has been routinely recorded in criminals who have committed murder and other violent crimes, people with aggressive and violent personalities, people prone to suicide and people with aggressive social behavior and low self-control.

I would like to repeat what the late Oxford professor David Horrobin warned us about: "Reducing cholesterol in the population on a large scale could lead to a general shift to more violent patterns of behavior. Most of this increased violence would not result in death but in more aggression at work and in the family, more child abuse, more wife-beating and generally more unhappiness."

People whose bodies are unable to produce enough cholesterol do need to have plenty of foods rich in cholesterol in order to provide their organs with this essential-to-life substance.
What else does our body need all that cholesterol for?

Endocrine System

After the brain, the organs hungriest for cholesterol are our endocrine glands: adrenals and sex glands. They produce steroid hormones. Steroid hormones in the body are made from cholesterol: testosterone, progesterone, pregnenolone, androsterone, estrone, estradiol, corticosterone, aldosterone and others. These hormones accomplish a myriad of functions in the body, from regulation of our metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, brain, muscle and bone formation to behavior, emotions and reproduction. In our stressful modern lives we consume a lot of these hormones, leading to a condition called "adrenal exhaustion." This condition is diagnosed very often by naturopaths and other health practitioners. There are many herbal preparations on the market for adrenal exhaustion. However, the most important therapeutic measure is to provide your adrenal glands with plenty of dietary cholesterol.

Without cholesterol we would not be able to have children because every sex hormone in our bodies is made from cholesterol. A fair percentage of our infertility epidemic can be laid at the doorstep of the diet-heart hypothesis. The more eager we became to fight animal fats and cholesterol, the more problems with normal sexual development, fertility and reproduction we started to face. About a third of western men and women are infertile, and increasing numbers of our youngsters are growing up with abnormalities in their sex hormones. These abnormalities lead to many physical problems.

Recent research has "discovered" that eating full-cream dairy products cures infertility in women.2 Researchers found that women who drink whole milk and eat high-fat dairy products are more fertile than those who stick to low-fat products. Study leader Dr Jorge Chavarro, of the Harvard School of Public Health, emphasized: "Women wanting to conceive should examine their diet. They should consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods, for instance by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating cream, not low-fat yoghurt."

The Liver And Vitamin Regulation

One of the busiest organs in terms of cholesterol production in our bodies is the liver, which regulates the level of our blood cholesterol. The liver also puts a lot of cholesterol into bile production. Yes, bile is made out of cholesterol. Without bile we would not be able to digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Bile emulsifies fats; in other words, it mixes them with water, so that digestive enzymes can get to them. After it completes its mission, most of the bile gets reabsorbed in the digestive system and brought back to the liver for recycling. In fact, 95 percent of our bile is recycled because the building blocks of bile, one of which is cholesterol, are too precious for the body to waste. Nature doesn’t do anything without good reason. This example of the careful recycling of cholesterol alone should have given us a good idea about its importance for the body!
Bile is essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamin E. We cannot live without these vitamins. Apart from ensuring that fat-soluble vitamins get digested and absorbed properly, cholesterol is the major building block of one of these vitamins: vitamin D. Vitamin D is made from the cholesterol in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight. In those times of the year when there isn’t much sunlight, we can get this vitamin from cholesterol-rich foods: cod liver oil, fish, shellfish, butter, lard and egg yolks. Our recent misguided fears of the sun and avoidance of cholesterol-rich foods have created an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the Western world.

Unfortunately, apart from sunlight and cholesterol-rich foods there is no other appropriate way to get vitamin D. Of course, there are supplements, but most of them contain vitamin D2, which is made by irradiating mushrooms and other plants. This vitamin is not the same as the natural vitamin D. It does not work as effectively and it is easy to get a toxic level of it. In fact, almost all cases of vitamin D toxicity ever recorded were cases where this synthetic vitamin D2 had been used. Toxicity is almost impossible with natural vitamin D obtained from sunlight or cholesterol-rich foods because the body knows how to deal with an excess of natural substances. What the body does not know how to deal with is an excess of synthetic vitamin D2.

Vitamin D has been designed to work as a team with another fat-soluble vitamin: vitamin A. That is why foods rich in one tend to be rich in the other. So, by taking cod liver oil, for example, we can obtain both vitamins at the same time. As we grow older, our ability to produce vitamin D in the skin under sunlight is considerably diminished. Taking foods rich in vitamin D is therefore particularly important for older people. For the rest of us, sensible sunbathing is a wonderful, healthy and enjoyable way of getting a good supply of vitamin D.

Skin cancer, blamed on sunshine, is not caused by the sun. It is caused by trans fats from vegetable oils and margarine and other toxins stored in the skin. In addition, some of the sunscreens that people use contain chemicals that have been proven to cause skin cancer3.

Immune System Health

Cholesterol is essential for our immune system to function properly. Animal experiments and human studies have demonstrated that immune cells rely on cholesterol in fighting infections and repairing themselves after the fight. In addition, LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), the so-called "bad" cholesterol, directly binds and inactivates dangerous bacterial toxins, preventing them from doing any damage in the body. One of the most lethal toxins is produced by a widely spread bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, which is the cause of MRSA (Methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a common hospital infection. This toxin can literally dissolve red blood cells. However, it does not work in the presence of LDL-cholesterol. People who fall prey to this toxin have low blood cholesterol. It has been recorded that people with high levels of cholesterol are protected from infections; they are four times less likely to contract AIDS, they rarely get common colds and they recover from infections more quickly than people with "normal" or low blood cholesterol.

People with low blood cholesterol are prone to various infections, suffer from them longer and are more likely to die from an infection. A diet rich in cholesterol has been demonstrated to improve these people’s ability to recover from infections. So, any person suffering from an acute or chronic infection needs to eat high-cholesterol foods to recover. Cod liver oil, the richest source of cholesterol (after caviar), has long been prized as the best remedy for the immune system. Those familiar with old medical literature will tell you that until the discovery of antibiotics, a common cure for tuberculosis was a daily mixture of raw egg yolks and fresh cream.

Varying Blood Cholesterol Levels

The question is, why do some people have more cholesterol in their blood than others, and why can the same person have different levels of cholesterol at different times of the day? Why is our level of cholesterol different in different seasons of the year? In winter it goes up and in the summer it goes down. Why is it that blood cholesterol goes through the roof in people after any surgery? Why does blood cholesterol go up when we have an infection? Why does it go up after dental treatment? Why does it go up when we are under stress? And why does it become normal when we are relaxed and feel well? The answer to all these questions is this: cholesterol is a healing agent in the body. When the body has some healing jobs to do, it produces cholesterol and sends it to the site of the damage. Depending on the time of day, the weather, the season and our exposure to various environmental agents, the damage to various tissues in the body varies. As a result, the production of cholesterol in the body also varies.

Since cholesterol is usually discussed in the context of disease and atherosclerosis, let us look at the blood vessels. Their inside walls are covered by a layer of cells called the endothelium. Any damaging agent we are exposed to will finish up in our bloodstream, whether it is a toxic chemical, an infectious organism, a free radical or anything else. Once such an agent is in the blood, what is it going to attack first? The endothelium, of course. The endothelium immediately sends a message to the liver. Whenever our liver receives a signal that a wound has been inflicted upon the endothelium somewhere in our vascular system, it gets into gear and sends cholesterol to the site of the damage in a shuttle, called LDL-cholesterol. Because this cholesterol travels from the liver to the wound in the form of LDL, our "science," in its wisdom calls LDL "bad" cholesterol. When the wound heals and the cholesterol is removed, it travels back to the liver in the form of HDLcholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Because this cholesterol travels away from the artery back to the liver, our misguided "science" calls it "good" cholesterol. This is like calling an ambulance travelling from the hospital to the patient a "bad ambulance," and the one travelling from the patient back to the hospital a "good ambulance."

But the situation has gotten even more ridiculous. The latest thing that our science has "discovered" is that not all LDL-cholesterol is so bad. Most of it is actually good. So, now we are told to call that part of LDL the "good bad cholesterol" and the rest of it the "bad bad cholesterol."

Marvelous Healing Agent

Why does the liver send cholesterol to the site of the injury? Because the body cannot clear the infection, remove toxic elements or heal the wound without cholesterol and fats. Any healing involves the birth, growth and functioning of thousands of cells: immune cells, endothelial cells and many others. As these cells, to a considerable degree, are made out of cholesterol and fats, they cannot form and grow without a good supply of these substances. When the cells are damaged, they require cholesterol and fats to repair themselves. It is a scientific fact that any scar tissue in the body contains good amounts of cholesterol.4

Another scientific fact is that cholesterol acts as an antioxidant in the body, dealing with free radical damage.5 Any wound in the body contains plenty of free radicals because the immune cells use these highly reactive molecules for destroying microbes and toxins. Excess free radicals have to be neutralized, and cholesterol is one of the natural substances that accomplishes this function.

When we have surgery, our tissues are cut and many small arteries, veins and capillaries get damaged. The liver receives a very strong signal from this damage, so it floods the body with LDL-cholesterol to clean and heal every little wound in our blood vessels. That is why blood cholesterol goes high after any surgical procedure. After dental treatment, in addition to the damage to the tissues, a lot of bacteria from the tooth and the gums finish up in the blood, attacking the inside walls of our blood vessels. Once again, the liver gets a strong signal from that damage and produces lots of healing cholesterol to deal with it, so the blood cholesterol goes up.

The same thing happens when we have an infection: LDL-cholesterol goes up to deal with the bacterial or viral attack.

Apart from the endothelium, our immune cells need cholesterol to function and to heal themselves after the fight with the infection.

Our stress hormones are made out of cholesterol in the body. Stressful situations increase our blood cholesterol levels because cholesterol is being sent to the adrenal glands for stress hormone production. Apart from that, when we are under stress, a storm of free radicals and other damaging biochemical reactions occur in the blood. So the liver works hard to produce and send out as much cholesterol as possible to deal with the free radical attack. In situations like this, your blood cholesterol will test high. In short, when we have a high blood cholesterol level, it means that the body is dealing with some kind of damage. The last thing we should do is interfere with this process! When the damage has been dealt with, the blood cholesterol will naturally go down. If we have an ongoing disease in the body that constantly inflicts damage, then the blood cholesterol will be permanently high. So, when a doctor finds high cholesterol in a patient, what this doctor should do is to look for the reason. The doctor should ask, "What is damaging the body so that the liver has to produce all that cholesterol to deal with the damage?" Unfortunately, instead of this sensible procedure, our doctors are trained to attack the cholesterol.

Many natural herbs, antioxidants and vitamins have an ability to reduce our blood cholesterol. How do they do that? By helping the body remove the damaging agents, be they free radicals, bacteria, viruses or toxins. As a result, the liver does not have to produce so much cholesterol to deal with the damage. At the same time, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, herbs and other natural remedies help to heal the wound. When the wound heals there is no need for high levels of cholesterol anymore, so the body removes it in the form of HDL-cholesterol or so-called "good" cholesterol. That is why herbs, vitamins, antioxidants and other natural remedies increase the level of HDL-cholesterol in the blood.

In conclusion, cholesterol is one of the most important substances in the body. We cannot live without it, let alone function well. The pernicious diet-heart hypothesis has vilified this essential substance. Unfortunately, this hypothesis has served many commercial and political interests far too well, so they ensure its long survival. However, the life of the diet-heart hypothesis is coming to an end as we become aware that cholesterol has been mistakenly blamed for the crime just because it was found at the scene.

Dietary Sources Of Cholesterol

  1. Caviar is the richest source; it provides 588 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. Obviously, this is not a common food for the majority of us, so let us have a look at the next item on the list.
  2. Cod liver oil follows closely with 570 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. There is no doubt that the cholesterol element of cod liver oil plays an important role in all the well-known health benefits of this time-honored health food.
  3. Fresh egg yolk takes third place, with 424 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. I would like to repeat: fresh egg yolk, not chemically mutilated egg powders (they contain chemically mutilated cholesterol)!
  4. Butter provides a good 218 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. We are talking about natural butter, not butter substitutes.
  5. Cold-water fish and shellfish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and shrimps, provide good amounts of cholesterol, ranging from 173 mg to 81 mg per 100 gram. The proponents of low-cholesterol diets tell you to replace meats with fish. Obviously, they are not aware of the fact that fish is almost twice as rich in cholesterol as meat.
  6. Lard provides 94 mg of cholesterol per 100 gram. Other animal fats follow.

Vitamin D Deficiency

What does it mean for our bodies to be deficient in vitamin D? A long list of suffering:
  • Diabetes, as vitamin D is essential for blood sugar control
  • Heart disease
  • Mental illness
  • Auto-immune illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rickets and osteomalacia
  • Muscle weakness and poor neuro-muscular coordination
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor immunity and susceptibility to infections
  • Hyperparathyroidism, which manifests itself as osteoporosis, kidney stones, depression, aches and pains, chronic fatigue, muscle weakness and digestive abnormalities

  1. Strauss E. One-eyed animals implicate cholesterol in development. Science. 1998 Jun 5;280(5369):1528-9.
  2. Chavarro JI and others. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction, Issue 28, Feb 2007.
  3. According to one theory, trans fats interfere in the metabolism of omega-3 fats, making them ineffective in producing their derivative eicosanoids, which leads to many types of cancers, including skin cancer. Trans fats also interfere with enzyme systems that help protect the body against cancer. References for the relationship of trans fats to skin cancer include:
    Alberts et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell: fourth edition, NY: Garland Science, 2002; _An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the U.S. due to inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation._
    Cancer. 2002 Mar 15;94(6):1867-75; _Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality._
    Prev Med. 1993 Jan;22(1):132-40.
    Review; Berg JM, Tymoczko JL and Stryer L. Biochemistry, 2006; _Does sunlight prevent cancer? A systematic review._
    Eur J Cancer. 2006 Sep;42(14):2222-32. Epub 2006 Aug 10. Review; _Does sunlight have a beneficial influence on certain cancers?_
    Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):132-9. Epub 2006 Feb 28. Revew; _Ecologic studies of solar UVB radiation and cancer mortality rates._
    Recent Results Cancer Res. 2003;164:371-7. Review; _Geographic patterns of prostate cancer mortality. Evidence for a protective effect of ultraviolet radiation._
    Cancer. 1992 Dec 15;70(12):2861-9; Skrabanek P, McCormick J. Follies and fallacies in medicine.
    Tarragon Press, Glasgow, 1989; _Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease._
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_ui ds=15585788)
    Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S-88S. Review; _UV radiation and cancer prevention: what is the evidence?_
    Anticancer Res
    . 2006 Jul–Aug;26(4A):2723-7. Review; _Vitamin D and cancer._
    Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4A):2515-24. Review; Epstein SS. Unreasonable risk. 2001. Published by
    Environmental Toxicology, PO Box 11170, Chicago, USA.
  4. Pfohl M and others. Upregulation of cholesterol synthesis after acute myocardial infarction--is cholesterol a positive acute phase reactant? Atherosclerosis. 1999 Feb;142(2):389-93.
  5. Enig, MG. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. Bethesda Press, Silver Spring, MD, 2000.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2007.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does Fish oil fail to deliver on its promise? Listen to an expert.

Fish Oil - Good for you or not?

Several articles in the news lately, pretty much said that taking fish oil, or omega 3's, did nothing to help prevent heart disease. Should you toss your supply? Hear what Dr. Blanchet has to say about omega 3’s and their role in our health. Find out the facts about the studies that were done which prompted the media concern.

Dr. Blanchet is my doctor and has helped me slow my coronary artery plaque to 5% per year. So do I take fish oil? You bet!

I am one of his patients over 65 years old and with a calcified plaque score of greater then 1000.

Listen to a pod cast by he and Lindsay talking about Omega-3 fatty acids here.
See other info about Dr. Blanchet here.

Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity: A New Clinical Entity

Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity: A New Clinical Entity
A common response to the suggestion that wheat may be causing digestive or other problems is “I don’t need to worry about wheat because my doctor checked me and I don’t have celiac disease.”

Despite thousands of anecdotal reports of improved digestive health with wheat avoidance, most people, including most physicians, cannot recognize a wheat sensitivity outside of an official diagnosis of celiac disease.

To the mainstream medical establishment, negative celiac tests mean you do not have wheat sensitivity.

“Our data confirm the existence of non-celiac wheat sensitivity as a distinct clinical condition.”

As William Davis documents thoroughly in Wheat Belly, celiac disease testing does a very poor job of identifying those of us who are sensitive to wheat. Perhaps one day, clinicians, and mainstream public opinion, will catch up with the research.
“As a whole group, the [non-celiac wheat sensitivity] group showed a higher frequency of anemia, weight loss, self-reported wheat intolerance, coexistent atopy, and food allergy in infancy than the IBS controls.”
Read the complete article here.

Also read this and

Here is part of another eye opening article about wheat titled
 The Problems with Modern Wheat

It’s less nutritious.

In 1843, agronomists at Rothamstead Research Station in Hertfordshire, England began what would become one of the longest-running continuous agronomic experiments in the world: the Broadbalk Winter Wheat Experiment. For the last two centuries, generations of scientists involved in the experiment have grown multiple wheat cultivars on adjacent plots of land and applied different farming techniques and fertilizers to study the effect on yield, nutritional content, and viability of the crop. They’ve rotated crops in and out, switched up fertilizers, and tracked the change in mineral content of both soil and wheat grain. It’s a stunning example of a well-designed, seemingly never ending (it continues to this day, as far as I can tell) experiment.

Between 1843 and the mid 1960s, the mineral content, including zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper, of harvested wheat grain in the experiment stayed constant. But after that point, zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper concentrations began to decrease – a shift that “coincided with the introduction of semi-dwarf, high-yielding cultivars” into the Broadbalk experiment. Another study found that the “ancient” wheats – emmer, spelt, and einkorn – had higher concentrations of selenium, an extremely important mineral, than modern wheats. Further compounding the mineral issue is the fact that phytic acid content remains unaffected in dwarf wheat. Thus, the phytate:mineral ratio is higher, which will make the already reduced levels of minerals in dwarf wheat even more unavailable to its consumers.

Increased yield leading to dilution of mineral density is one possible explanation for the reduction in wheat mineral content, but modern wheat has shorter root systems than ancient wheat, and longer roots allow greater extraction of minerals from the soil. Some people have proposed soil mineral depletion as the cause of reduced nutrient content of food, but – at least in the Broadbalk experiment – soil mineral content actually increased over time.

It’s more damaging to celiacs and gluten-sensitives.

One of the primary proteins in wheat, gluten provides the “viscoelastic properties” that allow wheat to be turned into bread, dough, pasta, and all sorts of processed foods. Gluten provides the chewiness of good bread, the bite of al dente pasta. Bakers, cooks, and foodies prize it – but some people fear it, and rightfully so. I wrote all about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease a few weeks back, but the basic gist is that for many people, consuming gluten inflames the body, perforates the gut, and opens them up to a whole host of health maladies.

So what’s the deal with modern wheat? Well, celiac disease is on the rise, and some researchers have suggested that this is caused by the prevalence of certain gluten proteins that predominate in the new varieties of wheat. Namely, a gluten peptide known as glia-α9, which is nearly absent in older wheats but prevalent in modern wheats, is the most reactive “CD (celiac disease) epitope.” In other words, a majority of people with celiac disease react negatively to glia-α9. It’s a common trigger, and older wheat doesn’t have as much of it.

Meanwhile, einkorn, an ancient variety of wheat, has been shown to cause less intestinal toxicity in patients with celiac. Einkorn and other related ancient strains of wheat still contain gluten, of course, but they do not appear to be as damaging to people sensitive to or completely intolerant of gluten and its related protein subfractions.

It’s prepared differently.

Consider how bread is made today:
With refined, old (often rancid) white flour instead of freshly ground wheat.

Using quick rise commercial yeast instead of slowly fermenting with proven sourdough cultures.
On an industrial scale instead of in the home.

Meanwhile, for the vast majority of our wheat-eating history, humans have been grinding whole wheat berries up fresh and fermenting them before baking and eating the stuff. Dr. Weston Price famously found several traditional cultures who thrived on wheat, but they weren’t eating refined white flour treated with quick-rising yeast. They were stone-grinding fresh wheat. They were fermenting it. They were doing all the things a person has got to do if they want to make wheat a staple of their diet and maximize the nutrition in the process. Later, Price conducted experiments in which he reversed dental decay and remineralized cavity-ridden teeth in refined white flour-eating people using wholesome, varied diets that included some freshly ground wheat. Fermentation effectively “pre-digests” the proteins in wheat, as I mentioned previously. If you have the right organisms, you can even break down wheat gluten to the point that celiacs can eat it without suffering symptoms.

That’s not to suggest you should go eat wheat. It’s simply to suggest that if you do, fresh, whole, ancient wheat prepared the old way is definitely healthier.

So, there you go: a few good lines of solid evidence showing why modern wheat – which is the only kind of wheat most people are ever going to encounter in the real world – should be avoided. Does that help? If you’re interested in more, check out Dr. Davis (of Wheat Belly fame), who’s made it something of his mission to rail against what he calls a “perfect, chronic poison.”

Read more here.