Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for March 03, 2008

Weird feeling on the way into work and once again it was fixed by taking calcium/magnesium. Is my potassium still too high??? I wonder if calcium actually lowers the potassium or just prevents it from going higher?

In addition to medical situations that can lead to hyperkalemia, cellular potassium covers aspects of bladder functions, as well as right-sided ovarian and testicular properties. Cellular zinc covers aspects of prostate / uterine functions, and left-sided ovarian and testicular properties. Elevated potassium is invariably found with acute or chronic Cystitis (bladder infections) or right-sided Ovarian cysts (but not dermoid or chocolate cysts), whereby right-sided ovarian and/or testicular Cancer will always result in excessively high potassium levels, which can also serve as a high risk indicator to be suggestive of a pelvic scan.

Interesting how high potassium levels are linked to testicular cancer. Interesting because Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Someone who would lose quite a bit of sodium from sweating all the time.

Lance Armstrong won a world title in bicycle racing before his first full season as a professional. At 25, he won the World Championships, the Tour Du Pont and multiple Tour de France.

Then he found out in 1996 he had testicular cancer. His cancer then spread throughout his stomach, lungs and brain. If cancer is testicular cancer is discovered early, a man is usually given a 70% chance of survival. Because, Armstrong says he ignored warning signals, his chances of survival dropped as low as 40%.

Armstrong said in an interview in the Testicular Cancer Resource Center, he remembered thinking, “Oh my God, I’m going to die!”

“It just got so painful, I couldn’t sit on my bike anymore,” Armstrong remembered in the interview. He even coughed up blood once. “I thought if I coughed up a little blood, and if I don’t do it tommorrow, then it must not be so bad.” Armstrong didn’t give up and this year he won the Tour de France race for the second year in a row–the major race in the world for bicyclists. The race lasts 2,274 miles over , 23 day test of stamina and courage.

Armstrong got to that point by not giving up. He said he declared himself a cancer survivor, not a cancer victim. He had chemotherapy and surgury. He had a physical treatment program , a competitive spirit and a support system. He was declared cancer free.

“In 1996, two months before I was diagnosed, the illness was raging,” Armstrong said in an interview with Associated Press. He says thirty years ago, 95 percent of those who had testicular cancer died, but today 95 percent survive. “In 2000, I’m not much of a miracle,” he explained “Thirty years ago, yes it would have been a miracle.”

Armstrong also wants to help others. In 1996, he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The organization provides grants and partnerships to institutions and organizations to help fight cancer. It also is active in public education about the disease.

In 1995 he established the Lance Armstrong Junior Series to promote the sport among youth. Armstrong may be a good model to young people, both for his accomplishments as an athlete and his successful fight against cancer.

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for January 23, 2008

And here’s someone who has suggested a revision to the Budwig Diet. Fascinating reading…

The Budwig Diet Revision

Germany’s Dr. Joanna Budwig is widely credited for discovering that 2 simple food items, cold-pressed flax seed oil and low-fat cottage cheese, will cure or prevent many forms of cancer and a long list of other degenerative diseases including cardiovascular diseases and skin diseases. But the 50-year old “Budwig Diet” is long in the tooth and newer data has emerged that shows where we can improve on it.

Sulfur-rich protein and calcium in the “Budwig protocol” is provided by cottage cheese. Because many people can not take “dairy”, lets look more closely at the cottage cheese. Human milk is higher in whey and much lower in casein than cow milk or goat milk; casein is the main protein in cheese and cottage cheese. Caseins differ somewhat; cow milk contains a lot of alpha-casein, which because of its different properties is the main cause of milk and “dairy” indigestion in humans. Beta lactoglobulins in cow milk can also be problematic as allergens, and cow milk also contains more alpha s1-casein than goat milk. All of this explains why many people find goat milk less problematic than cow milk.

Cottage Cheese vs Whey Protein

The Budwig Diet revision uses undenatured whey instead of cottage cheese. Undenatured whey contains the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine compounds including cystine. Methionine is transformed into cysteine by the liver. Cellular cysteine is the rate-limiting factor in production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier. Glutathione is crucial to life; it’s involved in ATP energy generation, immune system support, liver and other organ support, reducing toxin load and oxidative stress, and importantly, it shrinks tumors when levels are maintained. Cottage cheese doesn’t boast those benefits; in fact it’s only a sulfur amino acid source.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for January 23, 2008

Here’s another interesting article I came across while googling about treating cancer with an alternative approach. I don’t have cancer but I always find these kind of articles so incredible because we never hear about them in the mainstream media. Is it true? And does it work? Who knows…

Budwig Diet

The Flaxseed (Linseed) oil diet was originally proposed by Dr. Johanna Budwig, a German biochemist and expert on fats and oils, in 1951. Dr. Budwig holds a Ph.D. in Natural Science, has undergone medical training, and was schooled in pharmaceutical science, physics, botany and biology. She is best known for her extensive research on the properties and benefits of flaxseed oil combined with sulphurated proteins in the diet, and over the years has published a number of books on the subject, including “Cancer–A Fat Problem,” “The Death of the Tumor,” and “True Health Against Arteriosclerosis, Heart Infarction & Cancer.”

Dr. Budwig found that the blood of seriously ill cancer patients was deficient in certain important essential ingredients which included substances called phosphatides and lipoproteins, while the blood of a healthy person always contains sufficient quantities of these essential ingredients.

She found that when these natural ingredients where replaced over approximately a three month period, tumors gradually receded, weakness and anemia disappeared and life energy was restored. Symptoms of cancer, liver dysfunction and diabetes were alleviated.

Dr. Budwig then discovered an all natural way for people to replace those essential ingredients their bodies so desperately needed in their daily diet. By simply eating a combination of just two natural and delicious foods not only can cancer be prevented but in case after case it was actually cured. (These two natural foods, organic flax seed oil & cottage cheese) must be eaten together to be effective since one triggers the properties of the other to be released.)

After more than 10 years of solid clinical application, Dr. Budwig’s natural formula has proven successful where many orthodox remedies have failed. Dr. Budwig’s formula has been used therapeutically in Europe for prevention of: cancer, arteriosclerosis, strokes, cardiac infarction, stomach ulcers (normalizes gastric juices), Prostate (hypertopic), arthritis (exerts a favorable influence), eczema (assists all skin diseases), and even immune deficiences.

Thousands have been helped by her protocol. Testimonials can be found for almost every type of cancer and tumors, even late stage. Dr. Budwig has assisted many seriously ill individuals, even those given up as terminal by orthodox medical practitioners, to regain their health through a simple regimen of nutrition. The basis of Dr. Budwig’s program is the use of flaxseed oil blended with low-fat cottage cheese.

Dr. Johanna preaches against the use of what she calls “pseudo” fats – “hydrogenated,” “partially hydrogenated” and even “polyunsaturated.” The chemical processing causes the oils to become a harmful substance deposited within the body. The heart, for instance, rejects these fats and they end up as inorganic fatty deposits on the heart muscle itself. They end up blocking circulation, damage heart action, inhibit cell renewal and impede the free flow of blood and lymph fluids.

Science has proven that fats play an important role in the functioning of the entire body. Fats (lipids) are vital for all growth processing, renewal of cells, brain and nerve functions. Our energy resources are based on lipid metabolism. To function efficiently, cells require true polyunsaturated, live electron-rich lipids, present in abundance in raw flaxseed oil.

Lipids are only water-soluble and free-flowing when bound to protein; thus the importance of protein-rich cottage cheese. When high quality, electron-rich fats are combined with proteins, the electrons are protected until the body requires energy. This energy source is then fully and immediately available to the body on demand, as nature intended.

Budwig claims that the diet is both a preventative and a curative. She says the absence of linol-acids [in the average western diet] is responsible for the production of oxydase, which induces cancer growth and is the cause of many other chronic disorders.

The theory is: the use of oxygen in the organism can be stimulated by protein compounds of sulphuric content, which make oils water-soluble and which is present in cheese, nuts, onion and leek vegetables such as leek, chive, onion and garlic, but especially cottage cheese.

It is essential to use only unrefined, cold-pressed oils with high linolic acid content, such as linseed, sunflower, soya, poppyseed, walnut, and flax oils. Such oil should be consumed together with foods containing the right proteins otherwise the oils will have the OPPOSITE EFFECT, causing more harm than good.

The best combination is cottage cheese and linseed oil. The linseed should be freshly ground. Carbohydrates containing natural sugar, such as dates, figs, pears, apples and grapes, can also be included in the diet. Honey is also beneficial. She feels most of the synthetic vitamin A preparations are bad because they contain oxidation products, but much carotene as pro-vitamin A (from carrot) is consumed. Vitamin B from buttermilk, yogurt, and natural yeast is beneficial.

A person requires daily about 4 oz. of cottage cheese mixed well with 1.5 oz. of linseed oil. A blender or egg beater works fine. The mixture an be sweeten with honey or otherwise flavored naturally. Fresh fruits can be added.

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Entry for August 06, 2007

“We know best…”

Cancer fears over hikes in folic acid
Vitamin B reduces birth defects but may increase rate of colon cancer

Aug 07, 2007 04:30 AM
Denise Gellene
Los Angeles Times

Adding folic acid to flours, pastas and rice has reduced the rate of spina bifida and anencephaly, sparing 1,000 U.S. babies each year from these devastating birth defects.

But a new study suggests those health gains may have come at a cost: an extra 15,000 cases of colon cancer annually.

The report, from Tufts University, is the latest caution about a public-health policy that has been largely viewed as a success.

“Have we done more harm than benefit?” says Dr. John Potter, a colon cancer expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, who was not connected to the latest research.

Writing last month in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, scientists reported that colon cancer cases in the U.S. spiked after manufacturers began fortifying cereal grains with folic acid in the late 1990s.

They saw a similar trend in Canada, which began fortification with the B vitamin around the same time.

The pattern was surprising, researchers said, because colon cancer rates had been steadily dropping since the mid-1980s. Greater consumption of folic acid looked like the explanation.

Joel Mason, lead author and professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts, said the report does not prove that extra dietary folic acid causes colon cancer but does suggest fortification may have unforeseen trade-offs.

One-third to one-half of adults older than 50 have precancerous cells in their intestines, Mason said, so too much folic acid could put them at even greater risk. About 130,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer each year; 56,000 of die from it.

Nutritionists have long known that younger women need 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to reduce their chances of giving birth to infants with neural tube defects, caused by the failure of the fetal spinal column to fully close.

Spina bifida can cause paralysis, and infants with anencephaly – in which much of the brain does not develop – are stillborn or die soon after birth.

Since 1998, U.S. food manufacturers have been required to add 140 micrograms of folic acid to each 100 grams of cereal grains that are labeled “enriched.” Breads, cereals and other grain-based foods shipped across state lines are all fortified with folic acid, a B vitamin naturally found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, dried beans and nuts.

In only a few years, the rate of neural tube defects in the U.S. fell, from 10.6 per 10,000 births in 1996, before fortification, to 7.6 per 10,000 births in 2000.

Canada also saw a sharp decline: to 8.6 per 10,000 births in 2002 from 15.8 per 10,000 births in 1993, according to a report last month. Those results deepened the desires of some scientists and health advocates for even greater improvements.

The nonprofit March of Dimes will ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to further boost folic acid levels in cereal grains.

The March of Dimes said U.S. government surveys show that many women 18 to 45 do not receive adequate amounts of folic acid in their diets. In fact, the majority of those women consume about 130 micrograms of folic acid daily, well below the recommended dose, according to R.J. Berry, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But some researchers have cautioned against increased fortification because of possible downsides. Folic acid can mask symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency, common in the elderly. Unaddressed, a B-12 lack can lead to neurological problems.

Some researchers now caution against adding more folic acid to the diet until the possible cancer link is better understood.

“This is not the right time to be moving ahead and increasing the level of folic acid in the food supply,” Mason said.

August 7, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for August 05, 2007

Doctors these days have a “We know best” approach to health care and here’s another example:

Girls to get cancer vaccine
Premier to announce $39 million voluntary immunization program for Grade 8 students

Aug 02, 2007 04:30 AM
Kerry Gillespie, Queen’s Park Bureau

Starting this fall, Grade 8 girls across Ontario will be offered a free vaccine to protect them from a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

Premier Dalton McGuinty will announce the $39 million vaccination program – to reach as many as 84,000 students this year – at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto today.

“The vaccine for women is the next logical step in Ontario’s fight against cancer,” a government source said.

“We think other provinces are going to follow Ontario’s lead because it’s important to women’s health in every part of the country.”

The vaccine, Gardasil, immunizes against the most deadly forms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer.

It’s the second most common cancer for women aged 20 to 44, after breast cancer.

In Ontario, some 550 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 150 die every year.

Gardasil is already available in Ontario but OHIP does not cover the $400 per person cost of the vaccine. Some employee benefit plans may cover it.

Health Canada approved Gardasil last summer for use in girls and women aged 9 to 26.

Ontario’s Grade 8 vaccination program will be administered by public health officials in the schools.

The vaccine, which will be voluntary for Ontario’s 84,000 Grade 8 girls, is given in three doses over 6 months.

“This new vaccine will save the lives of women,” the source said.

The funding – for the first three years, at least – comes from the federal government, which announced $300 million for a national vaccine program to immunize against the virus earlier this year.

The details of the program, including what age group to vaccinate, were left up to the provinces.

Ontario is among the first to develop a program.

In June, Nova Scotia announced its vaccination program for Grade 7 girls, and P.E.I. has said it plans to vaccinate Grade 6 girls.

It’s unclear whether the federal government will continue the funding after three years, whether the province will take over the costs or whether the free program for Grade 8 girls in Ontario will end.

The vaccine protects against infection from four separate strains of HPV, which combined, cause 70 per cent of all cases of cervical cancer.

But a Canadian Medical Association Journal paper, released online yesterday, says there is no “epidemic” of cervical cancer in Canada to warrant a vaccination program for girls.

Most health groups have welcomed the vaccine, but the Canadian Women’s Health Network, a voluntary national organization dedicated to improving the health of girls and women, has raised concerns.

Some of these concerns include the possibility that the widespread use of the vaccine will lead women to think safe sex practices and annual Pap smear tests aren’t as important.

The group questions the speed with which the federal government decided to fund a national vaccination program.

Merck Frosst, which manufactures Gardasil, has been lobbying government officials both in Canada and south of the border about the need for school vaccination programs.

When the federal government first announced $300 million for a national vaccination program, eyebrows were raised because a former aide to Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a registered lobbyist on behalf of Merck Frosst Canada.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who made the announcement, said he did not discuss it with the former aide.

Instead, he praised those who press the government to provide money for things that benefit Canadians broadly.

Across Canada, cervical cancer kills 400 women each year.

Worldwide, about 250,000 women die from the disease annually.

August 6, 2007 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Entry for July 11, 2007

I add this because it’s very interesting and specific regarding certain foods needed to fight the ever growing incidence of cancer. Cancer in my belief is a basically a diet deficiency. So will there every be a cure? Nope, because people are not willing to change BEFORE it’s too late.

Cancer Fighting Foods

Red grapes:Though they are not nutrient rich they are a virtual treasure chest of cancer fighting carotenoids, phenols, anthocyanidins and quercetin. They contain some beta and alpha carotene as well as lutein, zeaxanthin, caffeic acid, ellagic acid and are a good source of resveratrol.

Watermelon:In addition to containing some beta and alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, this is one of the few food sources of lycopene. It is also very high in potassium.

Sweet Potato: A particularly rich source of beta-carotene (the darker or deeper the color, the more carotene) they are also a good source of Vitamin C and contain natural protease inhibitors, compounds being researched as anti cancer agents.

Spinach:Due to its high oxalic acid content, people prone to kidney stones should eat this vegetable sparingly. Spinach is a good source of fiber, twice that of many vegetables. It is one of the highest sources of lutein and zeaxanthin and is a very good source of beta-carotene.

Swiss Chard:Also high in oxalic acid, so kidney stone formers must be careful and limit foods such as these. It is a good source of beta-carotene and also contains alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. It is also a good source of calcium, iron and potassium.

Carrots:People that eat carrots a few times a week or consume carrot juice on a regular basis have lower rates of lung cancer and may reduce risk of esophageal, throat, mouth, stomach and skin cancers. Carrots are a good source of potassium and carrot fiber may reduce risks of colorectal cancer. Carrots are an excellent source of beta as well as alpha carotene.

Tomato:People that consume a lot of tomatoes or tomato products may be reducing their risk of lung cancer as well as pancreatic, bladder, colorectal and skin cancers. Lycopene of which the tomato is the primary dietary source, is the antioxidant carotenoid, that provides this protection. Lycopene is not destroyed by cooking or by heat, so it is found in tomato sauce, ketchup and tomato juice. It has also been found that compounds found in tomatoes inhibit nitrosimine formation, a leading cause of stomach cancer. New research suggests that lycopene may not only help to prevent prostate cancer, but may help to slow its progression.

Pumpkin: A member of the squash family, pumpkin contains a good amount of beta- carotene and is a very high source of alpha carotene. Adding pumpkin to your diet may help to reduce the risk of lung, stomach and skin cancer.

Onions:A powerhouse of disease fighting compounds such as phenols, sulfur and the bioflavonoid quercetin (yellow and red varieties.) Quercetin may inhibit melanoma and combat squamous cell carcinoma. Onions can also help lower blood pressure, keep blood free of clots and contains anti-inflammatory properties helpful in relieving symptoms of asthma and reducing the severity of the common cold.

Winter Squash:When cooked, winter squash is a good source of beta-carotene and contains smaller amounts of alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Parsley:Though parsley is usually served as a condiment, this tasty vegetable contains beta-carotene as well as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Green peas:In addition to their sweet taste, green peas are a good source of insoluble fiber, contains a small amount of beta and alpha carotene and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.

Kale:Vitamin K is needed to make proteins that insure proper blood clotting. Kale is a good source of this vitamin. It is also a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. Eating lots of crucifers have been associated with lower colorectal, breast and lung cancers. Kale is a great source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. It also contains the calcium equivalent to a glass of milk.

Red Pepper:A good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, it contains small amounts of beta and alpha carotene and some lycopene. Medium red peppers have three times the Vitamin C as oranges.

Romaine Lettuce:A rich source of carotenoids, particularly lutein and zeaxanthin. It is also high in Vitamin k.

Strawberries:Compounds in strawberries inhibit nitrosimine formation, a potent carcinogen that can lead to stomach cancer. They are a good source of anthocyanins and pectin, which are heart healthy. Strawberries are a good source of ellagic acid. A few servings a week can help reduce risks of cervical, breast, esophageal and skin cancers to name a few.

Pears:The insoluble fiber of a pear is a natural laxative and could help decrease cancerous polyps in the colon. Its pectin content helps lower cholesterol and may be of value in preventing gall bladder problems. They contain some beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin and the anti cancer bioflavonoid, quercetin.

Cantaloupe:This fruit is particularly nutrient rich, being one of the richest sources of potassium. Incredibly, they contain adenosine, a chemical used to thin blood in patients that have had heart attacks or angina. They are also one of the best sources of beta and alpha carotene.

Peaches:This fruit is a good source of beta and alpha carotene as well as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Cranberries: Though most often consumed around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, they are effective in blocking certain strains of E. coli, the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections. They also contain beta and alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin and the super cancer fighting phenol, ellagic acid.

Blackberries:A really good source of insoluble fibers, so necessary to the health of the digestive tract. They also contain anthocyanidins, beta-carotene and ellagic acid.

Raspberries:A good source of anthocyanidins for healthier blood vessels and good source of carotenoid nutrition, containing beta and alpha carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and the highest source of ellagic acid known.

Blueberries:Like other anthocyanin rich foods, blueberries may increase visual acuity as we age. They actually help with eyestrain quite a bit. Recent studies show blueberries to be neuroprotective. This is really quite an incredible food. In Europe they have been used in powders and soups as an anti diarrhea and to block the growth of E. coli. Like cranberries, they are also effective in treating urinary tract infections. They are an important source of manganese and contain beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Apples:A good source of the water soluble fiber, pectin, a bacteriostatic compound effective in combating E. coli, staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus faecalis. May help to reduce the risk of colon cancer and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind.) A good source of salicylates, a possible chemopreventive for skin cancer as well as quercetin and glucaric acid.

Oranges:This is a powerhouse of phytonutrients. Oranges contain beta and alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin; important bioflavonoids found in the pulp or white of the fruit including hesperin and are a very good source of potassium and the B vitamin, folic acid and glucaric acid.

Tangerines:Tangeretin is a very potent tumor inhibitor and may play a role in preventing skin and breast cancer. In addition to tangeretin, tangerines contain beta- carotene as well.

Red and Pink Grapefruit:A very good source of potassium as well as one of the few dietary sources of lycopene (
not nearly as good as tomatoes, but still a source nonetheless.) They also contain beta-carotene and limonene, a flavonoid being researched for its prophylactic role in skin cancer. Grapefruit pectin is an effective cholesterol-lowering agent.

Flaxseed Powder:Ligands are important factors found in fiber. Diets high in ligands are protective against breast cancer. They also help to lower blood cholesterol. Flaxseeds are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, important for heart health, improving mental health, lower triglycerides and in preventing certain cancers including skin cancer.

Dried Apricots:A very rich source of beta- and alpha-carotene, also contains lutein and zeaxanthin and is a rich source of potassium and glucaric acid.

Dried Prunes:Though best known for their laxative properties, prunes are a good source of beta and alpha carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Cherries:This fruit contains the anti cancer bioflavonoid, quercetin. Surprisingly, processed sweet cherries have nearly twice the amount as does fresh. Cherries also contain the monoterpine, periyll alcohol.

Brazil Nuts: Though high in calories and fat, a few of these nuts a day will provide the daily needed amounts of the mineral selenium, as one nut contains between 100 and 125mcg. It is by far the highest source of dietary selenium. They are also rich in protease inhibitors.

Walnuts:A good source of monosaturated fat (like that of avocados and olive oil) walnuts are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and they contain the anti-cancer phytosuperstar, ellagic acid. They are a good source of minerals as well as fiber.

Peanuts:A very good source of protein (though many people are allergic to this food) and resveratrol.

Other foods rich in carotenoids:

Green beans
Mangoes and papayas

Other foods in the skin cancer breakthrough program include:

Pecans (a source of ellagic acid)
Huckleberries and mulberries (sources of resveratrol)
Eggs (Hens fed a diet rich in ground flaxseed produce Omega 3 rich-eggs.)
Olive oil, flaxseed oil and perilla oil
Spices such as tumeric rich curry, garlic, and ginger
CLA rich organic cheeses

Highest Source of Beta-Carotene:

Dried apricots
Raw apricots
Beet greens
Cooked, canned and frozen carrots
Raw carrots
Dill (not dried)
Collard greens
Fresh parsley
Dried peaches
Red peppers
Cooked spinach
Cooked winter squash
Cooked sweet potato
Raw sweet potato
Raw swiss chard
Wheat grass
Barley grass

Highest Source of Lycopene:

Cooked, canned and stewed tomatoes
Guava juice
Raw guava (higher)
Pink grapefruit
Raw scallion

July 11, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 08, 2007

Here’s what Dr. Mercola has to say about vitamin D and sunblock.

Learn Why the Myth of the Sun Causing Skin Cancer Can Hurt Your Health

Most of us have been bombarded about the dangers of the sun by experts and the media. However, because it is one of the most pervasive and inaccurate myths persisting in most of the patients I see, I can only assume you are under the same misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this myth has contributed to massive amounts of disease and illness in our society.

Can sun exposure cause skin cancer? Absolutely. However, appropriate sunlight actually prevents cancer. Exposure to the sun provides many benefits such as promoting the formation of vitamin D. We also have strong evidence that sunlight is protective against MS and breast cancer.

The key is to never burn.

Although the American Academy of Dermatology will have you bathing in sunscreen, it is one of the LAST things you want to put on your body. It is a toxic chemical that can cause problems in your system. Even if it didn’t contribute to disease, the central issue is that it doesn’t even work.

A British dermatologist published an article earlier this year which showed no clear indication that sunscreens worked. Another study in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology last year found the same thing. A far more logical solution would be to use clothing to protect you against the sun.

You must exercise caution. At the beginning of the season go out gradually, perhaps as little as ten minutes a day. Progressively increase your time in the sun so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.

Remember also never to use sunscreen, another key. You can creatively use your clothing to block the sun’s rays during your build-up time.

The bottom line is, please avoid getting sucked into the hype that sunlight is dangerous. It is only dangerous if you are clueless about fat nutrition, which most medical doctors are. If you choose to ignore your omega 6:3 ratio and stay out of the sun, you could limit your risk of skin cancer, but is that worth the risk of getting MS, breast or prostate cancer?

June 10, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for June 08, 2007

Today I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this article in the Toronto Star. But what it doesn’t say is that when people use sunblock, it actually stops the absorption of vitamin D from the sun. Thank god for Dr. Mercola…

Start taking vitamin D, Cancer Society says
Vitamin D linked to reduced cancer risk

Jun 07, 2007 06:31 PM

Associated Press
Canadian adults should consider taking a specific amount of vitamin D, says the Canadian Cancer Society, basing its new recommendation on an expanding body of evidence linking the vitamin to reduced risk for colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.
The recommendation coincides with a study published in a U.S. journal Friday which found that taking vitamin D supplements and calcium substantially reduced all cancer risk in post-menopausal women.

The four-year study, conducted by researchers at Creighton University in Nebraska, initially enrolled 1,180 women who were over the age of 55 and living in a nine-county rural area of the state.

Of the 1,024 who completed the trial, those randomly assigned to take calcium and vitamin D and who had higher levels of both in their blood were 77 per cent less likely to develop cancer after the first year compared to those taking placebos or calcium alone.

The Canadian Cancer Society released its recommendation today for adults in Canada to consider taking a vitamin D supplement of 1,000 international units daily during fall and winter.

The recommended amount takes into consideration vitamin D intake from other sources, including food, water and a multivitamin, said Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Adults at risk of having lower Vitamin D levels should consider maintaining the recommended intake level year round, the organization said in a release. This includes people who are older, have darker skin, don’t go outside often and wear clothing covering most of their skin.

“A thousand units is really a reasonable recommendation (for) people, according to the evidence and guidelines that exist currently across North America,” Logan said.

But she cautioned that total vitamin D intake — from supplements and diet — should not surpass 2,000 international units.

In addition to the Nebraska research findings, the cancer society said another study released in May suggests women who consume more calcium and vitamin D may be less likely to develop breast cancer before menopause.

“This is a really exciting, emerging area of cancer prevention research and we’ll continue to follow it carefully, and as new information emerges we will update our recommendations accordingly,” said Logan.

The organization said Canada’s geographic location was also a motivating factor for issuing the recommendation. The country’s northern latitude, coupled with weakened sun rays in fall and winter, result in Canadians not producing enough vitamin D from sunlight.

But Joan Lappe, lead investigator on the Creighton University study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, said the implications of her study aren’t to suggest people living closer to the Equator in warmer climates require any less of the vitamin.

“Their vitamin D health is probably more optimal, but the point is that many people further north in the northern hemisphere … north of the 37th latitude just do not get enough months of sunlight exposure to give them optimal vitamin D in the whole year,” she said in a phone interview from Omaha, Neb.

That doesn’t mean Canadians should spend too much time in the sun, basking under harmful ultraviolet rays where they face overexposure, a prime risk factor for skin cancer, Logan said.

“We’re definitely not talking about going out to get a tan, or to go in the middle of the day when the UV index is high,” she said.

“(Supplementation) maximizes the potential benefits in reducing the risk of developing cancer with very few side effects at the doses that are recommended.”

Lappe said based on the study findings, examining the role calcium played requires further investigation.

“In the group that received calcium only there was a decreased incidence of cancer, but it wasn’t as strong as in the group that had both calcium and vitamin D.”

“We know from studies that calcium can bind some byproducts in the colon that actually prevent colon cancer in that way, but I’m not aware of any studies that show what (the) combination does together.”

Logan said while the Nebraska study is “compelling,” there are limitations to applying the results looking at a very specified group of subjects in one American state to the Canadian population at large.

“A large-scale clinical trial would include a much larger participant group that were more representative of the Canadian population, given our diversity, and they would be followed for a longer period of time,” she said.

“If these results can be replicated in a large-scale clinical trial they really would be a remarkable result.”

At this time, the Canadian Cancer Society said it does not have a recommendation for vitamin D supplementation for children.

Recent research highlighting the protective effect of early sun exposure on cancer risk outlines the need to consider boosting vitamin D intake for those at a younger age, said Dr. Reinhold Vieth, director of the bone and mineral lab at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

“It’s plausible, I think, that vitamin D over a relatively short period like the four years of study here does help to prevent cancer, but you can even take it another step further and start earlier in life to prevent the cancers,” Vieth said.

More vitamin D early in life also influences predisposition to get diabetes and multiple sclerosis, Vieth said.

While there are different schools of thought in regards to calcium and cancer, the influence of vitamin D is more difficult to dispute, Vieth said.

“The thing that is unambiguous, zero debate is that more vitamin D is good,” he said.

“This is one agent that has a lot of different science backing it up.”

June 10, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for May 18, 2007

Every alternative health professional will ask you if you are drinking enough water. I love my water now but it was hard getting used to it.

Interestingly, according to this web site, water can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%. I wonder if the Canadian Cancer Society knows this? Is it true fact? Who knows but 79% seems extremely high and yet we have everybody running for a cure that will never happen and nobody ever mentions drinking water. I’d love to see the study that came up with that those stats.

Here are some of the benefits of drinking water.


75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as 3%.

One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing.

Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

Are you drinking 64 ounces of water every day?

May 18, 2007 Posted by | Health | , | 1 Comment

Entry for March 27, 2007

Health Canada muzzles oilsands whistleblower

AB physician sounded cancer alarm, slapped with College complaint
By Peter Woodford

A northern Alberta physician who publicly aired concerns over carcinogenic pollution from the massive oilsands development is being investigated by the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. The complaint against him comes from none other than Health Canada, which claims the physician caused “undue alarm.”

The doc — widely held to be Dr John O’Connor of Fort Chipewyan — says he’s got a hunch the copious amounts of arsenic dumped into the water by the project might explain why so many of his mostly aboriginal patients are presenting with cancer — including rarer forms like cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).

The College won’t confirm or deny that Dr O’Connor has indeed been targeted. The family doc is no firebrand and an unlikely martyr for the environmental cause. When the government released selected data from a study and concluded that people in the community were less likely than the average Albertan to die of cancer, it pained him to disagree (fuller data, released later, would suggest his hunches were largely right). “I would absolutely accept it, if I saw they had done a complete analysis…, had all the information that they needed, and had the report peer reviewed prior to publishing it,” he said at the time.

In fact, the whole business of fighting with the government made him literally sick and he said that he’s planning to leave Fort Chip (as it’s known locally) in the summer because of it. “It’s been so consuming and so frustrating that my blood pressure has gone up and I have difficulty sleeping,” he told the CBC late last year — even before the complaint to the College was filed. “It’s just I’m worn out by this.”

Dr O’Connor is now refusing to speak to the media until the complaint with the College is settled, his lawyer says.


Colleagues and members of the community came to the quick conclusion that Dr O’Connor is paying the price for attacking a sacred cow — Alberta’s multi-billion dollar oil industry.

“It’s a similar scenario to what had me fired in 2002 for speaking in favour of ratifying the Kyoto Accord in the interest of public health,” said Dr David Swann, Liberal MLA for Calgary Mountain View, on his blog. Dr Swann was medical officer for the Palliser Health Region at the time he got the axe.

“I admire Dr O’Connor for his courage in standing up and speaking out on issues that should concern all Albertans,” added Dr Swann in a March 6 interview with Fort McMurray Today. “This is not acceptable. We’re a free country. We, as professionals, are called upon to act in the public interest and to raise issues, to challenge vested interest whether it’s government’s or industry’s monetary interest for the betterment of the society.”

Dr Swann and internist Dr Michel Sauvé — who’s head of the intensive care unit in the same Fort McMurray hospital where Dr O’Connor is based and also regularly flies in to Fort Chip to treat patients — both feel that this case is evidence that whistleblower legislation is needed to protect doctors. Dr Sauvé has said he thinks the complaint was “politically motivated.”

The parties involved in the alleged complaint against Dr O’Connor aren’t saying much.

“We can confirm that Health Canada physicians have lodged a complaint which involves several professional practice issues with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons against a northern Alberta doctor,” says Carole Saindon of Health Canada.

“The College of Physicians and Surgeons recommends that complaints not be discussed publicly. Health Canada respects this recommendation.”

Unsurprisingly, the College won’t comment on Dr O’Connor’s case, nor will the Alberta government.


The Athabasca oilsands (formerly called the tar sands) were long thought impractical to exploit. But high oil prices and technological innovations have made the area feasible to develop — and all of a sudden the province’s accessible oil reserves rival Saudi Arabia’s. But the catch is that to get oil from the bitumen (natural tar) enormous amounts of toxic waste water are created. And this raises concerns that profits from this development come at the expense of aboriginal lives.

“We need to know if there are excessive toxins in these resins and we need to see if people are dying from rare cancer or some devastating immune disorders — that someone is collecting some samples on these people to see what is the concentration of toxins,” explained Dr Sauvé to Fort McMurray Today.

There have been some studies looking at the arsenic levels found in the region’s fauna — but findings were contradictory. A recent study by Suncor, an oil company, found that a proposed development would lead to arsenic levels in moose meat — a local staple — 453 times the acceptable limit. The province and Imperial Oil dismissed the study saying their own data said the levels were much lower. Imperial Oil spokesperson Kim Fox stated back in November that her company’s study estimated arsenic levels were 15 times lower than the Suncor numbers. “The people who actually conduct these studies tend to be very, very conservative in their methodologies. Even with these conservative approaches, what we’ve found is that oilsands do not contribute to increase in arsenic in the area.”


Locals are not convinced. “Those big shots running our government — they don’t give a darn who dies, they’re not concerned about us,” said one Fort Chipewyan elder in a CBC radio interview. “I’ve fished since I was 13 in Lake Athabasca. I’ve seen fish in the last five or six years with great lumps on them, humpbacks, crooked tails, some of the pickerel rotting alive — I’ve never seen that before in all the years I commercial fished. What are they putting into the water?”

Such cynicism towards the provincial government is commonplace among First Nations communities living near the oilsands developments. On March 6, the Mikisew Cree in Fort Chipewyan pulled out of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA), dismissing the watchdog institution as a crock. “CEMA is a parking lot where everything, all the major issues, are placed. Meanwhile approvals [for new oilsands projects] are given,” Mikisew spokesperson Sherman Sheh told the CBC. Indeed, CEMA was initially given five years to release an assessment on how much oil development the province could sustain without permanently wrecking the environment. It’s already been seven years and CEMA hasn’t released its report, all the while oilsands development has been continuing apace. The Athabaska Cree have also given up on CEMA.

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for March 27, 2007

High illness rate near oilsands worrisome, says Alberta health official

A medical examiner in Alberta wants to know why there are reports of serious illnesses, including a rare cancer, in a small First Nations community near the province’s oilsands.

A high number of illnesses, including leukemia, lymphomas, lupus, and autoimmune diseases, have been diagnosed in Fort Chipewyan, a community of about 1,200 people living 300 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Elders in the community say they didn’t see these kinds of diseases until the oil industry started production near their homes on the southwestern tip of Lake Athabasca.

Syncrude and Suncor extract and process hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day in their oil sands projects near the community.

Further development is planned for the oilsands, which cover an area in northwestern Alberta that’s larger than the state of Florida.

But Fort McMurray Medical Examiner Dr. John O’Connor says he’d like some answers before more developments are approved. O’Connor says he is diagnosing unusually high numbers of immune system diseases affecting the thyroid and less serious ones such as rhumatoid arthritis and skin rashes.

He has also treated five people in the community who died recently from a rare, almost always fatal cancer that should occur once in every 100,000 people.

“With my increasing lack of ability to explain why I’m seeing such numbers, it worries me and it does call for a health study to be initiated as soon as possible,” says O’Connor.

He is in negotiations with Health Canada to start an epidemiological investigation that would track the health of the community.

Warren Simpson, a resident of Fort Chipewyan. says he hopes it happens soon before any more members of his small community die.

“My dad, my sister, my aunt, a lot of my cousins have it, my friends’ families … a lot of them have died of cancer and some of them are dying now of cancer,” he said.

Simpson successfully fought off cancer, but says he’s scared it will come back.

With between 1.7 trillion and 2.5 trillion barrels, the oilsands reserves are considered second only to those in Saudi Arabia.

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for March 23, 2007

Magnesium and zinc levels associated with 50% decline in cancer mortality
By Bill Sardi

There is a growing body of evidence that magnesium and zinc play important roles in countering the deleterious effects of loose copper in the body. Copper is required for growth and expansion of tumors as well as the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) that facilitate the spread (metastasis) of cancer. [Journal Trace Elements Medical Biology 18: 1-8, 2004]

The latest study, conducted by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in France, among 4035 men age 30-60 years over a period of 18 years, found males with the highest blood serum concentration of magnesium and zinc experienced up to a 50% reduction in cancer mortality, while high copper levels combined with low zinc and magnesium produced elevated cancer death rates. [Epidemiology 17: 308014, 2006]

Remarkably, 10% of the U.S. population consumes less than half the recommended dietary allowance for zinc and are at increased risk for zinc deficiency. [Journal Nutritional Biochemistry 15: 572-78, 2004]

Most Americans are also deficient in magnesium.

March 23, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Entry for January 28, 2007

Eat your veggies!!!

Veggie Combo Can Stave Off Prostate Cancer
Thursday January 25, 2007

It’s a diagnosis most men fear and about one in seven Canadian males will have to face at one point: prostate cancer. Diet can have a big impact on your health and a recent American study suggests that a combination of vegetables can help prevent the disease.

Broccoli and tomatoes have been proven to contain cancer-fighting agents separately, but scientists at the University of Illinois have found that when you eat them together they work even better at staving off the illness.

U of I doctoral candidate Kirstie Canene-Adams, the study’s lead author, and two food science and human nutrition professors teamed up and fed a powdered mixture of tomato and broccoli to rats with prostate cancer.

Some of the rodents received only the tomato or broccoli alone, some got lycopene, the cancer fighting agent in tomatoes, and others were given a drug commonly prescribed to men with enlarged prostates. A group of rats was also castrated.

After 22 weeks researchers weighed the animals’ tumours and found that the broccoli-tomato powder did the best job in curtailing tumour growth, after castration, which halts the production of the hormones that spur cancer growth.

While tomatoes and broccoli have been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells, doctors recommend that men try and eat a well-balanced diet, full of fruits and veggies of all varieties to help stave off disease.

“We’ve known for a long time that diet was a major factor in whether patients develop prostate cancer,” said Dr. Laurence Klotz, a prostate cancer specialist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “The diet that’s healthy for your prostate is healthy for your heart.”

If you’re thinking about taking a supplement instead of the real thing you may want to think again. Researchers found that taking a substitute didn’t work as well as eating the veggies.

January 29, 2007 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Entry for November 02, 2006

Study links colon cancer to low-folate diet
Nov. 1, 2006. 08:06 PM

A diet low in folic acid appears to increase the risk of colorectal cancer in laboratory mice — and a similar deficiency could play a role in the human form of the disease, a study by Canadian researchers suggests.

In a one-year study of 137 mice, scientists at McGill University found that animals fed a diet deficient in folic acid — a B vitamin also known as folate — were more likely to develop colorectal cancer than rodents given a fully balanced diet that contained adequate folate.

“We found tumours in the mice that were on the low-folate diet and no tumours in mice that were on the regular diet,” said geneticist Rima Rozen, scientific director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the study’s lead investigator.

Overall, one in four mice given low-folate diets developed intestinal tumours, with some of the animals developing more than one each, said researchers, whose study was published Wednesday in the journal Cancer Research.

Rozen said several large human-population studies have suggested that low intake of folic acid, which is found in leafy green vegetables and citrus fruits, might be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. But such studies cannot pinpoint with any accuracy what factor or factors definitely lead to a person developing a certain cancer.

Using mice allowed the researchers to carefully control possible contributing factors — including environment and diet, she said, bringing them closer to a direct cause and effect.

“What folate does, or the mechanism we propose in this study, is that lack of folate damages your DNA,” Rozen said Wednesday from Montreal.

Indeed, folic acid is vital to health: it is needed to help cells retain the integrity of DNA during division. Furthermore, the vitamin has been shown to help prevent certain types of heart disease, and it has been proven that pregnant women who do not get enough risk producing offspring with neural tube defects like spina bifida.

But Rozen stressed that she’s not suggesting people start loading up on folic acid. However, they should make sure to get the recommended daily allowance of 400 micrograms by eating foods such as broccoli, spinach and orange juice, or by taking a multivitamin.

“I want to make sure people understand the value of recommended daily allowances,” she said. “I don’t want people to go out and take pharmacologic doses of anything . . . In moderation, folate is important.”

As part of the study, the researchers also tested mice with a genetic mutation that impairs the body’s ability to metabolize folic acid. Rodents with the mutation that were also fed a low-folate diet had more than double the incidence of intestinal tumours.

“It’s sort of a double whammy in the sense that it’s not only the low dietary folate, but it’s the combination,” Rozen said, noting that 10 per cent of humans are believed to carry a similar genetic mutation.

Dr. Andy Smith, a colorectal cancer surgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said the study is important because it appears to confirm the long-held suspicion that inadequate folic acid plays a role in tumour formation.

“It really helps tease out the actual mechanisms,” said Smith. And while one shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the mechanism found in mice is exactly the same in humans, “I think in this case it really resonates because of the observations made so clearly in humans that low folate is associated with the development of tumours.”

Still, Smith said he operates on many people with colorectal cancer who have “beautiful diets.”

“Even if you have a healthy diet, you still ought to be talking to your physician about whether you should be having a test to screen for colorectal cancer,” he said, recommending that Canadians aged 50 or older should have a fecal occult blood test or a colonoscopy.

“Because while your risk may be reduced, it’s not eliminated. And people who live very healthy lives are still vulnerable to colorectal cancer.”

By year’s end, an estimated 20,000 Canadians will have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. About 8,500 will die of the disease in 2006, making it the second most deadly cancer after lung cancer.

Dr. Sharlene Gill, a medical oncologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency, lauded the study for advancing medicine’s understanding of folic acid’s role in tumour prevention. But she noted that unlike the mice in the study, humans are exposed daily to many other factors that could contribute to colorectal cancer.

“So it’s much more than just folate, but it’s one part of the puzzle,” Gill said from Vancouver. “This does support the idea that a balanced, healthy diet that does include an appropriate intake of fruits and vegetables may contribute to a lower incidence of cancer.”

November 2, 2006 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Entry for November 02, 2006

How toxic is your body?

Last updated at 08:34am on 31st October 2006

Bethan Jones, 14, has 17 gender-bending chemicals in her blood. She’s just a teenager and lives in the country – but Bethan already has 17 different gender-bending chemicals in her blood. As our disturbing tests reveal, many adults have TWICE that…and it’s common household products that are to blame:

They seem innocuous but many everyday household products – from face creams to computers and even carpets – contain chemicals that could seriously damage our health. Several studies have recently linked gender-bending chemicals to genital malformation, infertility and cancer.

Last week a study for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggested that they could account for the rise in breast cancer – over the past 30 years the number of cases has risen by 81 per cent.

These chemicals are known as hormone disruptors or EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals). They upset the delicate hormonal development of an embryo, fooling targeted cells into behaving differently. Or they act as a blocker, preventing natural hormones such as the male sex hormone testosterone from functioning properly.

Both men and women can be affected by exposure to such chemicals, both inside the womb and later in life. The worry is that some chemicals can bio-accumulate (build up in body fat).

There may only be a small amount in the environment, but they accumulate through the food chain. They get into our water supply, are ingested by fish and are passed on to humans. With each step in the chain more chemicals are passed on. We are, therefore, potentially exposed to a huge amount.

EDCs also settle in fatty tissue such as breast tissue, which could explain the rise in breast cancer, says Dr Andreas Kortenkamp, director of the Centre of Toxicology at London University’s School of Pharmacy, who produced the latest study for the WWF.

‘It is well-known that natural hormones play a role in the development of breast cancer,’ says Dr Kortenkamp. ‘This raises the question whether chemicals that mimic hormonal activity could be a cause, too.’

He says that, in isolation, many EDCs may not pose a dramatic health risk. ‘The concern is that there are so many of them in circulation in our environment and no one yet knows the long-term effect of this cocktail of chemicals.’ The WWF is pushing for a precautionary approach and is campaigning for strong EU chemicals regulation.

In the meantime, experts suggest we limit our exposure. Some of the more worrying chemicals are:

• ORGANO-CHLORINE PESTICIDES (OCPs): many pesticides have been banned in the UK because of their toxic effects, but they can remain in the environment for up to 50 years.

Some pesticides have been linked to cancers, such as breast and ovarian. A study of 159 women in Occupational And Environmental Medicine found women with breast cancer were five times more likely to have the banned pesticide DDT in their blood.

• POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBs): once widely as coolants and lubricants. Now banned, they are still leaked into the environment from old building material, lighting and appliances. They also enter our food chain via small organisms and fish.

A Dutch study found girls exposed to higher levels of PCBs tended to engage in masculine play, and boys in feminine play. Other research suggests babies who ingested PCBs in their breast milk were more likely to show low levels of physical and mental development.

• BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS: used to make products fireproof, found in carpets, foam-filled cushions, TV and computer screens and plastics.

Linked to breast cancer and cause sterility in mussels and marine snails, as well as rats to miscarry. They are released into the atmosphere where they are inhaled, and also mingle with house dust and settle on food.

• PHTHALATES: found in plastics, perfumes and toiletries. A recent American study linked exposure to phthalates to a higher risk of genital abnormalities in baby boys. Some experts believe that women may also be vulnerable.

Children can be exposed by chewing older PVC toys as phthalates leak into saliva. Phthalates can also be transferred from plastic packaging into meat and dairy products.

• PERFLUORINATED CHEMICALS (PFCs): exposure to perfluo-rinated chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA may cause birth defects, damage the immune system and disrupt thyroid function, which can lead to develop-mental problems in pregnancy.

A 2005 Greenpeace study found PFCs in umbilical cord blood from newborn babies. PFCs are used in non-stick pans, stain removers, floor waxes, and fast food packaging.

The only way to assess your individual exposure is by having a special blood test, which will reveal if you have any of these gender-bending chemicals.

Here three people have their levels checked. Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council’s Human Reproductive Unit, comments on the results.

Although there is no set guideline as to what is a ‘dangerous’ level, Professor Sharpe explains: ‘The problem is we don’t know their long-term effect so you don’t really want any in your system.’

BETHAN JONES, 14, lives on a farm in Welshpool, Wales, with her parents Enid, 53, and Arwel, 46, and her brother Alwyn, 11.

PCBs: 11
Flame retardants: 3
Phthlates: 1

BETHAN SAYS: I have always been a bit of a tomboy. I love playing football and doing sport and I don’t bother with make-up. So I was shocked when I heard about a study which said that girls with high levels of PCBs in their blood preferred masculine-type games.

Eleven types were found in my blood. I’ve been told this is lower than the adult testers, but then I’m half their age and it’s not the same as not having any there at all. It was weird to think these chemicals could influence the way I play.

I don’t understand how all these chemicals could get into my bloodstream. I live a healthy outdoor life.

I’m always helping on my parents’ farm and my mum cooks great home-made meals every night. We eat lots of meat such as lamb and beef, with vegetables from our farm or local markets.

My mum stopped using a microwave because she was worried about the possible effects on our health. She also stopped using nonstick pans, and instead of air fresheners we keep the windows open as much as we can.

Our farmhouse is quite old and the furnishings are very old-fashioned so I was surprised to find I had flame retardants in my blood.

The only toiletries I use are shampoo, conditioner and soap – nothing fancy, but it’s scary to think that the phthlates could have come from such ordinary products.

Dad does use some kind of chemical spray on some of the fields but I’m never nearby when he does. Anyway, the pesticides found in my blood have been banned for many years – which shows how long they stay in the environment.

The fact that I had two pesticides in my blood when I noticed that one of the other testers Matt, who doesn’t live on a farm, has three, suggests that living nearby has nothing to do with it. It seems these things are everywhere.

It’s horrible to think that some of these chemicals could affect my health or the health of any children I have in the future. It’s a long way off, but it is a worry just the same.


Bethan’s results really brings home the effects of exposure to environmental chemicals. She’s a young, growing girl but already has many chemicals in her blood.

Bethan is almost 30 years younger than Beth, yet had an equal number of phthlates. Phthlates can be risky for the developing foetus – they can get into breast milk and could be passed on to any children that Bethan may have.

Bethan should try to limit her exposure now. And especially when the time comes for her to plan a family. We don’t know what role they will play in her future.

BETH WILLIAMS, 42, an ecology lecturer, lives in Stourport, Worcestershire, with her partner Andrew Sharkey, 43, an operations director and their children Shamus, 15, and Connie, 13.

OCPS (pesticides): 2
PCBs: 22
Flame retardants: 3
Pthalates: 1
PFCs: 2

Beth Williams

Beth says: In my late 20s I was diagnosed with cancer in the soft fatty tissue of my right leg. I had liposarcoma, which is extremely rare.
Although I was successfully treated with surgery and radiotherapy, it did make me think about what could have triggered the disease.

I then found out that there is a potential connection between lip-sarcoma and pesticides – the chemical residues can build up in fatty tissues.

I realised that ordinary fruit and vegetables could have put my health at risk – which is why for several years we have grown our own fruit and vegetables organically. That’s why I couldn’t believe that my blood contained two types of OCPs – or pesticides.

I imagine that some of the chemicals come from food packaging. I lead a busy life, juggling family and work life and we can eat ready-made or takeaway meals four times a week.

I also sit in front of a computer – which exposes me to brominated flame retardants in the dust coming from the machine – for a few hours every day. I’d never thought about this but now I’m terribly worried.

I was also surprised by the presence of flame retardants. We live in an old Victorian terrace with few modern appliances and around 50 per cent of the house is tiled.

Even more alarming was the discovery of a phthalate in my blood – I already knew that the ese had gender-bending properties and I deliberately don’t use many cosmetics, so where did this come from?

The results of the blood tests shocked me. They made me realise how exposed we are on a daily basis to potentially hazardous che hemicals.

As a result, I’m now going to make some changes to my routine. If I needed to buy a new sofa I’d get one second-hand because the level of flame retardants would be much lower. I use chemical-free shampoos. But I still have no control over the gender-bending chemicals in the environment.

I’m particularly worried about the link between these chemicals and breast cancer. I have several friends in their 40s fighting the disease. As a child I don’t remember any of my mother’s friends having the disease at that age.

We are clearly doing something very wrong to ourselves, to our bodies and the environment.


OCPs and PCBs were banned many years ago so the fact they’re in Beth’s blood now is a potent illustration of how persistent these chemicals can be.

They accumulate in fat in the food chain – such as in milk and animal products – and build up over the years. That is a major worry for all of us, including Beth.

I am surprised that only one phthalate was found since they are absolutely everywhere.

The greatest threat they pose is to a developing foetus, so thankfully Beth isn’t at the stage in life where she is planning to have a family.

Some of the other chemicals in Beth’s blood may be connected to breast cancer, so Beth should carry out regular self-examinations.

MATT FARROW, 32, a website manager, lives in Goldaming, Surrey with his partner, Jackie Drennan, 32 and their 12-week-old daughter, Molly.

OCPs: 3
PCBs: 23
Flame retardants: 6

Matt Farrow

MATT SAYS: I’ve always strived to live a really healthy life. I don’t smoke and I like to exercise regularly: I go running, use the gym, and cycle to work.
I’m a vegetarian and even with a new baby in the house, we always make sure that we eat freshly-cooked meals every evening. We also try to use environmentally-friendly household products such as Ecover as well as hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos.

So I was really angry when I received the results of my blood testing. It seems that despite my efforts to live a blameless life my body is still exposed to and absorbs potentially hazardous chemicals.

I seem to have a lot of flame retardants – I wonder if they come from the new mattress and sofa that I bought this year. It has certainly made me think twice about buying any new furnishings for the house.

I do sit in front of a computer for long periods of time – up to 12 hours a day – so maybe that has caused my exposure.

I was also surprised by the PCBs since I believe they often get into the body through contaminated fish — and I’m a vegetarian. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, only around 50 per cent of which are organic. But this is now going to have to change as there were pesticides in my blood, too.

It took us six months to conceive our first child. Looking back, I wonder if chemicals could have played a part?

Now that I am a father I worry how much this could compromise my baby’s health in the future. She is being breast fed at the moment but some chemicals can get into breast milk. At some point she will go onto formula milk, yet Bisphenol A has been found in babies’ bottles. She is at such a vulnerable stage of her life.

While we do everything we can to limit her exposure it seems this chemicals are everywhere.

EXPERT’S VERDICT Matt can’t directly transfer chemicals from his body to his daughter’s in the same way as a breast-feeding mother. But his partner could have similar results and that is worrying.

Chemicals found in Matt’s blood might have caused DNA damage to sperm – he mentioned that it took six months to conceive.

He also has a high level of PCBs which – because of the rising rates of testicular cancer and their potential link to chemicals – means he should regularly check himself.

It is the unknown of the effect of any of these chemicals in any amount in our blood that is troubling so even though Matt’s results seem better than the those of the others, he may not be safe.

November 2, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for October 21, 2006

White bread increases cancer risk
Last updated at 10:12am on 20th October 2006

Eating lots of white bread raises the risk of a cancer that kills thousands of Britons every year, according to new research.

Those who eat five slices a day are almost twice as likely to develop the most common form of kidney cancer compared to those who have one and a half slices.

Scientists put the cause down to refined cereals triggering a surge in blood sugar and insulin levels, which is thought to fuel cancer cell growth.

People should particularly cut down on white bread, which causes the biggest rise in blood glucose levels, and opt for wholemeal varieties instead.

The study also adds to the mounting evidence of the health benefits of following a low GI diet.

This involves avoiding processed and refined foods, such as white bread which have a high Glycaemic Index.

Whole grain foods are classed as having a low GI value as they lead to slower release of sugar into the blood stream.

The new study published in the International Journal of Cancer set out to investigate potential triggers of Renal Cell Carcinoma.

It accounts for more than 80 per cent of the 6,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed each year in the UK and claims 3,400 lives annually.

The researchers from the Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy studied more than 2300 Italians – 767 who had the disease and 1534 who did not – and asked them detailed information about their diet in the previous two years.

The scientists discovered a clear link between eating lots of bread and the risk of getting the cancer.

The study did not specify what type of bread people ate.

However, overall those in the group that ate the most bread – equivalent to 35 slices weekly or five a day – were almost twice as likely to develop the cancer as those who had just 11 slices a week- around one and a half a day.

In contrast, those who ate a high proportion of poultry, meat and vegetables had a lower risk of getting the kidney cancer.

The study did not establish exactly what in bread may be to blame, however the researchers believe it may be linked to the high Glycaemic Index of many types.

Foods with a high GI cause a dramatic rise in blood sugar levels which leads to the release of insulin and in turn chemicals that can fuel cell growth.

The theory is that cancer cells use these chemicals and the glucose to fuel their own unchecked, and therefore dangerous, growth.

Lead researcher Dr Francesca Bravi said her study suggests that a diet with fewer cereals and more vegetables may help reduce the risk of renal cell carcinoma.

“On the basis of the study we can also suggest reducing the consumption of refined cereals and increase that of whole grain ones,” she added.

Past studies have also found women who follow a low GI diet after the menopause have a lower risk of breast cancer than those who have lots of high GI foods.

The diet is also advised for people with diabetes to help prevent peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels.

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Entry for October 18, 2006

Chemical cocktail blamed for soaring breast cancer rate
Cocktails of gender-bending chemicals, found in everyday products from CD cases to babies’ bottles, may be to blame for soaring rates of breast cancer, scientists have warned.

Experts fear the chemicals, used in pesticides, cosmetics, electrical goods and plastics, have the power to trigger the cancer which claims the lives of more than 1,000 British women a month.

The warning follows official figures which show the number of cases of breast cancer has almost doubled in a generation.

Almost 37,000 women in England and Wales were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 – 10 per cent more than in the previous year and 80 per cent more than in 1971.

Less than half of cases can be explained by genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet, leading to fears manmade chemicals may also play a part.

A report by the World Wildlife Fund points the finger at synthetic oestrogens – common chemicals with structures similar to that of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

Oestrogen, a key ingredient of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy, is already thought to fuel breast cancer, sparking fears manmade chemicals with a similar structure or action may have the same effect.

Among the chief suspects is bisphenol A.

Found in CD cases, lunchboxes, sunglasses, water bottles and babies’ bottles, and in the plastic lining inside tin cans and food packaging, the compound is a building block of many plastics.

Present in more than half of the cans of food on sale in British supermarkets, it is likely most of us have at least a little of it in our bodies.

Studies have linked it to a host of health problems, including breast and prostate cancer and birth defects.

It has also been implicated in infertility, miscarriage and diabetes.

Other suspects include polychorinated biphenyls or PCBs and pesticides such as DDT. Now banned, these industrial chemicals continue to contaminate our soil and are food.

Also of concern are artificial musks, used to scent perfumes, shampoos, shower gels and washing powders, and the aluminium compounds used to block the sweat glands and found in almost all spray and roll-on deodorants.

It is known that synthetic oestrogens affect the environment, leading to fish changing sex and snails’ reproductive systems going into overdrive.

Experts in pollutants say even small amounts of the chemicals could do untold damage to the body -and warn that no one knows the effect of a combination of chemicals.

It is thought puberty and the months before birth – both periods in which the breast tissue is developing – could be critical for exposure.

Studies have so far failed to either prove or rule out the possibility that the pollutants cause the cancer.

However, research shows that just one in 20 breast cancer cases are inherited. Even taking into account other factors such as diet and alcohol, only half of breast cancer cases can be explained.

Dr Andreas Kortenkamp (CORR), head of London University’s Centre of Toxicology, said: “The role of chemicals in breast cancer requires urgent attention and precautionary action is warranted to limit exposure.”

Elizabeth Salter Green (CORR), of the WWF, called on the Government to strengthen legislation on the use of chemicals.

In the meantime, women can cut their exposure by reducing their reliance on canned foods and heavily fragranced cosmetics.

“I have got no real synthetic fragrances in my house at all,” she said.

“Bisphenol A is in the linings of tin cans of baked beans and tomatoes and I choose not to use those.”

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Entry for October 18, 2006

And now the response to Pinkwashing… Glad I’m not the only one.

Letters: Breast cancer commercialization
Oct. 13, 2006. 06:19 AM

Re: Are we getting pinkwashed? (Oct. 6)

Samantha King’s article on the flood of breast cancer awareness merchandise was both timely and accurate.

As a breast cancer survivor, I am so sick of the commercialization of the entire breast cancer campaign. T-shirts, duct tape, cellphones — what are they thinking?

I’m all for raising breast cancer awareness, but how about we start with the family doctors. You know, the ones who send their patients home (the ones who just found a lump in their breast) telling them that at 35, they are too young to get breast cancer. No ultrasound. No mammogram. What about breast cancer awareness for men? Both my father and my uncle died of cancer that had spread from their breast into their lungs and bones. Janet Boccone, Toronto


FINALLY, someone has written an article that we who are breast cancer survivors can agree with. We are worn out by all the pink rip-offs trying to “help” us when all they are doing is filling their coffers.

Thank you for your article. Dotti Campbell, Crossville, Tenn.


I admire you for putting into print so many of my own thoughts about fundraising for specific diseases. In some ways breast cancer is considered “sexy” — not in an erotic sense, but in it being “okay” to have, to be public about, to support as a worthy cause. It really concerns me as other devastating diseases are ignored.

When did you last see a bumper sticker “I survive schizophrenia every day of my life”, or a T-shirt emblazoned with “My sister is bipolar, I am not, but neither of us is crazy”.

No one sends baskets of fruit, bunches of flowers, or boxes of chocolates to a psych ward patient.

How about a coin with a black centre for depression? Even better, make those coins out of cardboard as a reflection of the worn-out attitudes, patched together system, and general shabbiness of our society toward� one-fifth of its members.

Liz Powell, Elliot Lake


Kudos to Samantha King for voicing the opinions and concerns that I and many of my friends have regarding the breast cancer campaign. I cringe when October approaches simply because of the media blitz promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Unless you have just arrived from Mars, I think the majority of individuals, especially women, are “aware” of the devastations caused by this insidious disease.

I am truly sick of the way we are being placated and manipulated into believing that a cure is just around the corner. I am tired of being “pink-ribboned” to death.

Christine Filippelli, Mississauga

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Entry for October 18, 2006


Wendy Mesley’s investigative report on Breast Cancer had a huge effect on me and my attitude towards the actual root cause of illness and disease. I’m sick of hearing about how a cure is just around the corner… October is Breast Cancer month and it’s not just me who shares this opinion. Running for a cure is a waste of time. Run for the cause and I would donate everytime.

In the paper this week, a flyer contained a two page spread of items coloured pink with a portion of the proceeds going towards Breast cancer research. Matresses, blenders, flying pans!!?? This is all too much.

Are we getting pinkwashed?
Commercialization of breast cancer cause has overshadowed the search for a cure, author argues
Oct. 6, 2006. 01:00 AM
When I began researching the widespread public interest in fundraising for breast cancer 10 years ago, I was convinced that this was a fad that would soon diminish.

Like the brightly coloured silicone wristbands that swept in and out of our lives last year, the pink ribbon, I predicted, would quickly lose its lustre. It probably goes without saying that I could not have been more wrong.

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins, Canadians are once again confronted with a barrage of advertisements promoting merchandise with a breast cancer theme.

Frozen dinners, fishing tackle, popcorn, kitchen mixers, and running shoes are just some of the products on offer this year. For each purchase, sponsoring corporations promise a small donation toward the fight against the disease.

What’s more, consumers can now pay for their purchases with the new breast cancer quarter only the second coloured coin to be produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and the first to be devoted to a specific disease.

And those who wished to open their lungs, as well as their wallets, joined the 170,000 Canadians on Sunday’s CIBC Run for the Cure.

Public concern about a disease that kills more than 5,000 Canadian women and men each year is not in itself surprising. But the fact breast cancer has become a marketer’s dream, or that survivors of the disease proudly declare their identity as survivors by sporting bright pink T-shirts to distinguish themselves from other Run for the Cure participants, would have been unimaginable for much of the 20th century.

During that time, women with the disease were objects of stigma and a positive diagnosis was viewed as an individual tragedy best dealt with privately and in isolation.

One of the few formal mechanisms of support available was the Canadian Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery program, modelled on a service founded by New Yorker Therese Lasser in 1952.

Although Reach to Recovery was based on the then radical idea that women who had experienced breast cancer could provide a special kind of emotional support for women newly in recovery, certain topics such as family relationships, doctors, and the mastectomy scar itself were off limits for discussion.

Instead, volunteers were supposed to convince women who had undergone a mastectomy that they did not have a handicap, but, in the words of breast cancer scholar Lisa Cartwright, “a condition from which they can recover given the right attitude, clothes, and a prosthesis.”

Although Reach to Recovery remains to this day heavily focused on cosmetic counselling and women’s private struggles with the disease, broader social attitudes toward breast cancer began to change in the latter decades of the 20th century.

The development of the women’s health movement in the 1970s lay important groundwork for specific issues that breast cancer activists would address in the decades to come.

Heightened political activism dedicated to changing surgical practices and increasing funding for breast cancer research in the 1980s and 1990s, coincided with the emergence of large, well-funded organizations, such as the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, devoted to the struggle against the disease.

These shifts, together with the emergence of mammography as a routine aspect of women’s health care, placed breast cancer squarely in the public eye.

No longer “victims” or “patients” women with breast cancer began to describe themselves as “survivors” and the disease itself came to be more commonly understood as an enriching and affirming experience.

In some respects, this clearly marks a change for the better: women who are in a position to take advantage of the optimism and camaraderie of survivor culture are likely to find that it aids in their recovery.

Unfortunately, the new image of breast cancer has brought with it a slew of other problems.

The cheerfulness and consumer-oriented character of breast cancer survivor culture can be enormously alienating to women who do not have the financial means or networks of social support to participate in it, not to mention unintentionally working to denigrate those who have “failed” to survive.

It also has the effect, as American author Barbara Ehrenreich argues, of transforming the disease into a rite of passage, rather than an injustice to struggle against.

This particular problem has been magnified considerably by corporate interest in the disease. Businesses looking to sell more products to female consumers have been quick to latch onto to changing attitudes toward breast cancer, and the pink ribbon industry that has emerged as a result is deeply dependent upon a positive image of the disease.

Sickness and death do not sell, but images of survivors who are uniformly youthful, ultrafeminine, immaculately groomed, radiant with health, and seemingly at peace with the world, do.

The effect of breast cancer marketing campaigns is to erase from public consciousness the fact that incidence rates remain stubbornly high and newly diagnosed women face essentially the same options as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy than they did 40 years ago.

That mortality rates have been declining slightly since the early 1990s offers little comfort to the estimated 22,000 Canadian women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006.

In terms of prevention, the only new choices are pills like tamoxifen which, while effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence, also brings with it serious side effects including increased risk for uterine cancer and surgery (in the form of prophylatic mastectomies) more drastic than that available to women who already have the disease.

Corporations are not alone in promoting an overly optimistic account of the struggle against the disease, however. It is quite possible to attend, as I have done, numerous splashy fundraising events and to come away with the impression that breast cancer is a disease from which people no longer die.

The large breast cancer foundations have also discovered that upbeat messages result in more devoted individual fundraisers and more generous corporate sponsors.

People often point to the good work that breast cancer campaigns perform in raising “awareness” and argue that regardless of the accompanying messages, pink ribbon products and 5k runs raise large amounts of money for a good cause.

But this position raises its own set of questions: What exactly are we being asked to gain awareness of? And how is the money being spent? For those campaigns and events that venture into specifics, awareness usually means preaching the benefits of early detection through mammograms.

Although this approach might prompt people to discover if they already have breast cancer, this selective brand of awareness asks individuals to take personal responsibility for fending off the disease, while ignoring tougher questions related to what might be done to prevent it in the first place. And to overlook the limitations of mammography as a tool in the fight against breast cancer. Mammography is not a preventive technology, as its proponents often claim.

Some researchers say the small decreases in breast cancer deaths in recent years are better explained by the widespread use of tamoxifen and other new chemotherapy treatments than mammography.

As for the funds raised, contrary to claims commonly made about the great difference a minor purchase can make, breast cancer marketing often makes relatively small sums of money for research.

Take for example the nationwide breast cancer promotion undertaken by Yoplait, the yogurt company, last year. For every Yoplait Source yogurt purchased by a consumer, Ultima Foods, which owns the licence to produce the yogurt in Canada, promised to donate 10 cents to the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. But the offer runs for just eight weeks, ending Oct. 15, which means that a consumer would have had to buy and then consume the equivalent of three cartons of yogurt a day during that period to raise just $16.80 for the cause.

Of course it could be argued that as long as lots of people across the country are diligently buying their yogurts, it wouldn\’t matter if each individual raised only, say $5. But the donations are capped at $80,000. This means that if and when the maximum donation is reached, consumers are no longer contributing to the struggle against the disease with their purchases.

By tying their good intentions to marketing strategies and bottom lines, companies inadvertently exploit people’s generosity. The promotion, says Diane Jubinville, director of consumer service for Ultima Foods, “gives visibility to the cause.”

It didn’t lead to an increase in yogurt sales, but it’s allowing women to “be aware of breast cancer and fight against it. We have given almost a quarter of a million dollars (over three years) to the cause,” she says.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation raises 16.5 per cent of its funds, or $3.4 million last year, through corporate support. Barb Bryson, the foundation’s media manager says, “Pink ribbon products offer consumers an everyday purchase choice to buy something they need and contribute, however small the gesture, to doing something about breast cancer … all at little to no cost to the foundation.

“The fact that there are so many corporations focused on the breast cancer cause is a testament to the impact that breast cancer has in communities across Canada.”

But a well-funded research agenda is clearly necessary if we are going to induce a more precipitous drop in mortality rates. There is a pressing need for more effective, less-toxic treatments and, in particular, for research on how to stop tumours from spreading.

After all, people don’t die from the tumours in their breasts; they die when they spread to other parts of their bodies.

But because of biases in research granting, work on this problem has been noticeably underfunded. Most importantly, however, we must begin to take more seriously questions of primary prevention if we are going to make a real dent in incidence rates and stop this disease at its source.

While the sums of money raised by pink ribbon products comprise a tiny percentage of total funding for research, consumers could urge corporations to direct their largesse, however minimal, to preventive science.

The best approach is to circumvent what activists at Breast Cancer Action Montreal call “pinkwashing” and give directly to those organizations whose work we support. That way we might find ourselves on the path to a cure, or better still, a world without breast cancer.

October 21, 2006 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Entry for August 27, 2006


William Grant, an atmospheric scientist. I google him to see what I can find out about him. I come across a site called “The Citizen Scientist” and it has a published article:

New Findings by a Physicist/Atmospheric Scientist Regarding Diet and Solar Ultraviolet Radiation for Maintaining Optimal Health

William B. Grant, Ph.D.
Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center (SUNARC)
2107 Van Ness Avenue , Suite 403B
San Francisco, CA 94109-2529 , USA

How does one determine the dietary and lifestyle choices associated with optimal health? Well, one can read the popular books, ask an MD, or search the web. However, noting that recommendations and fad diets change, and that the profit motive seems to color many recommendations, I sought a better way: I decided to study the literature and interpret the appropriate data. However, since I’m neither trained in the study of nutrition and health nor funded for my research, I had to find an approach that is relatively simple and inexpensive, yet reliable. The approach I stumbled upon while investigating the role of acid rain and ozone on eastern oak and hickory forest decline is called the ecologic approach.

The Ecologic Approach

In the ecologic approach, populations defined geographically, such as states or countries, are the units of study. Population disease outcomes (incidence, prevalence, or mortality rates) are used along with population-averaged risk modifying factors such as diet, smoking, and solar ultraviolet (UV) irradiances. This approach was fairly widely used in the 1970s and early 1980s to make links between various factors and risk of disease, but was largely abandoned in 1981 after two leading British cancer researchers declared that ecologic studies could only generate hypotheses but not determine causality. Fortunately, I didn’t realize this until I had published a few papers using the approach.

Today, many countries are unwittingly conducting a large number of experiments related to health and well being in the form of culturally-linked diets and lifestyle habits. What is needed is a way to interpret the results of these ongoing studies. The ecologic approach provides such a tool; the data are often available but without interpretation related to diet or lifestyle.

One of the important lessons I learned while studying physics at UC Berkeley was that many important scientific discoveries are made by people outside the field who do not accept the paradigms of the field and often use different approaches. In my case, my physics education and atmospheric sciences background provided a solid foundation in experimental and theoretical research, which has proven very useful in health studies.

Applying the Ecologic Approach

My first use of the ecologic approach for health studies was to identify dietary risk modifying factors for Alzheimer’s disease. I identified total caloric supply and total dietary fat as the important dietary risk factors and fish and cereals/grains as the important risk reduction factors, and received press coverage by Dan Rather and CNN when my paper was published in June 1997. It was like hitting a home run the first time at bat in the major leagues, so I was hooked. (My findings were disputed at first, but later generally confirmed, although there are good fats and bad fats.) I kept my day job in atmospheric sciences at NASA, but spent many evenings and weekends on my health research. I went on to confirm dietary risk factors for coronary heart disease (sugar), rheumatoid arthritis (meat), and several types of cancer (animal products). I could tell that I was doing important work since, for three of my press releases, the related disease organization issued press releases rejecting my findings. In my opinion, many such organizations prefer to serve the pharmaceutical corporations and disease care system, rather than to determine simple ways to reduce the risk of disease.

When the latest version of the Atlas of Cancer Mortality Rates in the United States was published in 1999, I noticed that mortality rates for many cancers were about twice as high in the northeast as in the southwest. At first, I tried to find dietary data for different parts of the country in order to explain the differences, but I quickly learned that there are no more than 10-20% differences in dietary components for different quadrants of the U.S. I then started reading the work of Cedric and Frank Garland, who in 1980 first hypothesized that solar UVB reduced the risk of colon cancer through production of vitamin D. They arrived at this hypothesis after they had seen the first version of the Atlas of Cancer Mortality Rates and reasoned from their hiking experience in Arizona and New Mexico that the states with the lowest colon cancer rates were the sunniest ones. and that the main physiological effect of solar radiation was production of vitamin D. I found that solar UVB irradiation had been associated with four cancers by 2000: breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate.

Two Key Questions

I posed two questions to address: How many cancers are UVB/vitamin D-sensitive, and how many Americans die prematurely annually due to insufficient UVB/vitamin D.

Being a NASA atmospheric scientist who, at that time, flew around the world on various field missions to measure aerosols and ozone, I was aware of the UVB data for the U.S. provided by NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite. The UVB map for July 1992 shows a very strongly asymmetrical distribution, with the UVB irradiance east of the Rocky Mountains being much lower than at the corresponding latitudes in the Rockies and to the west. The primary reason for this difference is that as the prevailing westerly winds approach the Rockies , they push the tropopause up, making the stratospheric ozone layer thinner. In addition, some of the states have higher surface elevations than states east of the Rockies . This asymmetry was an excellent (inverse) match for the breast, colon, ovarian, and many other cancer mortality rates. Thus, I had an excellent data set to use along with the cancer mortality rate data, assuming that the high summertime UVB is most important in reducing the risk of cancer. Seeing that the cancer mortality rate data were available by county, state economic area, and state, I elected to use the state economic area data. This meant digitizing the color map of UVB for 500 regions of the country, a process that took several months. I then did simple linear regressions of UVB with cancer mortality rates for males and for females.

Using the ecologic approach with these data sets, I identified over a dozen types of cancer that had inverse correlations with UVB irradiance. To estimate the number of people who died annually due to insufficient UVB/vitamin D, I assumed that the value of cancer mortality rate represented the maximum protection from UVB and that any rate higher than that should be considered preventable. My estimate was 17-23,000 premature deaths per year, based on the population in 2001. I submitted the manuscript to the journal Cancer and it was quickly accepted and published in March 2002.

Expanding the Study

Then the criticism began. The primary criticism was that I had not included other risk modifying factors in my analysis, and that, until doing so, I couldn’t claim that the findings could not be explained by other important cancer risk modifying factors. Thus, I embarked on the second phase of this study, the use of a number of reasonable cancer risk modifying factors to explain the geographic variations. I obtained state-averaged data for alcohol consumption, degree of urbanization, fraction of the population living below the poverty level, fraction of the population considered Hispanic, and lung cancer mortality rates as the index of the adverse health effects of smoking. The main cancer risk factor not included in the analysis is diet, but that doesn’t vary much by state. The added complexity of the analysis made the project much more difficult. Nonetheless, I was able to show that most of the generally-associated risk factors for various types of cancer were easily identified and quantified using the ecologic approach with these data sets. An interesting finding was that vitamin D-cancer mortality rates were often associated with urban residence. I attribute this result to the fact that living in an urban area reduces one’s UVB irradiance.

However, in trying to get this work published, my lack of formal education in epidemiology and statistics became an impediment, so I invited Cedric Garland and coworkers to provide the epidemiology expertise and hired a statistician. The manuscript should be finished and resubmitted in the very near future.

The Outlook for Vitamin D Research

The interest in vitamin D is increasing rapidly: The National Institutes of Health sponsored two vitamin D conferences recently; a number of articles appeared in the popular press, and increasing research effort is now being devoted to determining the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of a large number of diseases. In addition to the mounting evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer, there is very good evidence that adequate levels of vitamin D can prevent falls and osteoporotic fractures, in part by helping with calcium absorption and metabolism, and in part by improving neuromuscular function. There is also very good evidence that vitamin D in winter can help reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis by strengthening the immune system during the season of most infectious diseases. There is also some evidence that vitamin D slows the progression of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of heart disease. Finally, there is tantalizing evidence from season-of-birth rate data that a number of birth defects and mental disorders are linked to maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy.

There are, of course, adverse health outcomes from excess solar UV irradiance, but these effects can largely be minimized by avoiding sun burning and excessive tanning. I do not recommend using sunscreen over prolonged periods but do recommend indoor tanning as a way to obtain vitamin D in the absence of adequate solar UVB irradiance and developing a good tan prior to traveling to sunny vacation spots.

The Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center

I retired from NASA in early 2004 and moved to San Francisco , where I formed the non-profit organization, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC). To follow along on my journey of discovery through the world of health research, please visit our web site, http://www.sunarc.org. There are a number of essays and press releases related to my work, as well as links to other web sites that provide some of the data used in my work or present interesting views on how to maintain optimal health. I’d be interested in hearing from readers on additional topics to study, perhaps as joint projects.

August 27, 2006 Posted by | Health | , | 1 Comment

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