Did you know that a tall Starbucks has about 7.6 times the caffeine of a can of Coke and 5.8 times that of a Diet Coke? That’s a flood of caffeine. A tall 12 ounce regular Starbucks coffee has 260 mgs. But, a Grande has 340! And a Venti has 420! Yikes!

A 12 ounce Coca Cola has 34 mgs of caffeine. A Diet Coke has a bit more: 45 mgs.

So you’d have to drink 8 Cokes or 6 Diet Cokes to equal the amount of caffeine that you get from one Starbucks coffee.

Coffee actually varies a lot in how much caffeine it contains. Typically, a 12 ounce cup of regular non-Starbucks coffee has 100 to 260 mgs caffeine.  The average works out to 180 mgs caffeine.

A 12 ounce can of Red Bull (which is the larger one) contains 114 mgs of caffeine.

Decaf coffee is not completely devoid of caffeine. The average cup of decaf has 5 mgs. However, Starbucks decaf has 9 to 12 mgs of caffeine.

A two-ounce 5-hour energy has 138 mgs of caffeine. That’s in the same ballpark as a cup of coffee, but remember, it’s just 2 ounces. Imagine if you drank 6 of them to equal the 12 ounces. You’d get 828 mgs of caffeine, which could actually be lethal.

Two tablets of Excedrin has the same amount of caffeine, essentially, as one 5-hour energy. So, if you take two tablets, the standard dose, it’s like drinking one 5-hour energy.

Coffee ice cream is pretty darn caffeinated. 8 ounces has 45 to 75 mgs of caffeine, so more than a can of soda.

Chocolate is relatively low in caffeine, but it does have some. Each Hershey’s kiss has 1 mg. Each Reese’s peanut butter cup has 4 mgs. Each Milky Way candy bar has 14 mgs of caffeine.

Tea has less caffeine than coffee but more than chocolate. Each 12 ounce cup of tea has 72 mgs of caffeine.  You can get rid of most of the caffeine in tea by steeping it the first time, discarding that liquid, and then steeping it again with the used tea bag. Most of the caffeine comes out in the first steeping, so this is an easy, practical way to decaffeinate tea.

Each little No-Doz pill (the over-the-counter stimulant drug) has 200 mgs of caffeine, and the same is true for Vivarin.

I thank Dr. Linda Carney, MD of Buda TX for this information.

 

 

This is an article about Vitamin D deficiency and its role in heart disease by a leading cardiologist. Note the statistics on Vitamin D deficiency among Blacks and Hispanics, and that's because of their darker skin. She advises that one shouldn't take more than 4,000 IUs without a doctor's approval, but the Vitamin D Foundation, which is run by a doctor, recommends 5000 IUs daily for most people. However, this time of year (summer) if you get plenty of sun, as I do, you should cut back. What I do is take 5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 every day for most of the year, but in June, July, and August, I cut back to 5000 IUs every other day.  Dr. Cinque

June 09, 2016

 

The author: Dr. Erin Michos, a preventive cardiologist and researcher at Johns Hopkins, has been studying the potential impact of vitamin D and cardiovascular health for over 10 years. Ironically, at her last annual checkup, Michos -- an avid outdoor runner -- was shocked to learn that she, too, was vitamin D deficient with a blood level of only 15 nanograms per milliliter. Should she take a vitamin D supplement for her heart health? In this piece, Michos and her internal medicine colleague Samuel Kim discuss the "sunshine" vitamin.

Vitamin D: Does it Even Matter?

Vitamin D is a hormone that helps control calcium levels in your body, which is ultimately important for your overall bone health. Vitamin D is produced in the skin from exposure to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight or taken in from food or dietary supplements. However, only limited food sources contain vitamin D, such as fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, milk, cereal and bread.

It's well-known that vitamin D is important for bone health. Very low levels of vitamin D can cause low levels of calcium in your blood, which can increase your risk of bone fractures, tingling and numbness sensation, and muscle weakness.

Recent research, including many of the studies that Michos conducted, has found that the sunshine vitamin may also be linked to other health conditions, like an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, erectile dysfunction and obesity.

Still, most of these observational studies do not prove a cause and effect because they don't involve intervention to correct low vitamin D levels. Having a low vitamin D level may simply be a risk marker indicating an individual is less healthy from other causes. Further research needs to be conducted to see if treating vitamin D deficiency through vitamin D supplementation can impact vascular disease outcomes. Fortunately, randomized clinical trials to answer this question are ongoing.

[See: The Best Foods for Lowering Your Blood Pressure.]

Who Becomes Vitamin D Deficient?

There are three major groups of people who develop vitamin D deficiency:

1. People who do not get enough vitamin D either through diet or sunlight exposure. Inadequate sunlight exposure is a problem for many people, especially darker-skinned individuals, those who use sunscreen for skin cancer protection and those who live in sun-limited areas in northern parts of the U.S.

2. Patients with kidney and liver diseases can have low vitamin D levels because they have decreased levels of important proteins that metabolize vitamin D.

3. Patients with bowel diseases, such as celiac disease, Crohn's disease and cystic fibrosis, or who have had any surgery that removes or reconnects the intestines or stomach cannot readily absorb vitamin D.

Who Should Get Tested?

In general, routine testing of vitamin D is currently not recommended except for people with kidney diseases, bowel diseases and a higher risk of osteoporosis, including previous bone fractures and low calcium levels.

When testing for vitamin D deficiency, physicians order the blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration. This is the form of vitamin D that is the best measure of vitamin D stores in the body.

There is some controversy though about what is considered a normal amount of vitamin D in a blood test. The Institute of Medicine says that blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D greater than 20 nanograms per milliliter should be adequate. However, many experts, including the Endocrine Society, advocate for levels greater than 30 nanograms per milliliter.

Because of the widespread use of sunscreen and more time spent indoors, particularly for occupational work, vitamin D deficiency is actually quite common. In the U.S. alone, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that over 40 percent of the American population was deficient in vitamin D (levels less than 20 nanograms per milliliter), with the highest rates seen in African-Americans (82 percent) and Hispanics (69 percent).

[See: Pharmacist Recommended Vitamins and Supplements.]

How Do You Treat Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D can be obtained from diet, but food sources generally have small quantities. In the absence of adequate sunlight exposure, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone. As a reference, 1 cup of milk (8 ounces) is roughly equal to about 100 International Units of vitamin D. For individuals with fair skin, 15 to 30 minutes of midday sun exposure during the summer months can give you close to 5,000 IU a day -- the equivalent of drinking 50 glasses of milk! Dark-skinned individuals and the elderly may produce less vitamin D in response to sunlight.

 

Prolonged peak sunlight exposure is not recommended for patients with a higher risk of skin cancer, especially individuals who are fair-skinned. Vitamin D from tanning beds is also not recommended given the high risk of skin cancer development.

In addition to diet and sunlight, you can get vitamin D from supplements. Vitamin D supplements come in either D2 (ergocalciferol) or D3 (cholecalciferol) forms. We generally recommend D3, since this is the form that is naturally produced in the body by sunlight, but either supplementation is reasonable. Most supplements at lower doses can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.

It is not completely clear what the ideal vitamin D intake goals should be for each individual. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults should intake at least 600 to 800 IU daily. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends somewhere between 800 to 1,000 IU daily for adults over age 50.

For patients with vitamin D deficiency, the guidelines recommend an initial treatment with a 50,000 IU vitamin D booster pill -- which normally requires a doctor's prescription -- once a week for eight weeks, then transitioning to a once-a-day supplementation between 1,500 and 2,000 IU. Patients on seizure medications, steroids, antifungals and HIV antiviral medications are often recommended to take two to three times more vitamin D because these medications can increase vitamin D metabolism. Personalized vitamin D treatments can be discussed with your doctor.

[See: The 12 Best Diets for Your Heart.]

What Are the Side Effects of Vitamin D Supplements?

In general, the side effects from vitamin D supplements are uncommon and relatively benign. However, high doses could lead to high calcium or phosphorous levels, increased thirst, a metallic taste in the mouth, tiredness, constipation and kidney stones. Although vitamin D toxicity is rare, it's not recommended to take more than 4,000 IU a day, unless a doctor is also monitoring your blood levels.

So What Does All This Mean for Me?

Vitamin D deficiency is common in the U.S., especially because many of us stay indoors and do not eat vitamin D-rich foods. There are reasonably good data to support the use of vitamin D supplementation by patients with a higher risk of osteoporosis. However, the benefit of supplementation in the normal aging population remains unclear.

Although there are more data to suggest that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and obesity, it is not unclear at this time if and how vitamin D treatment will improve the development or progression of these diseases. More research is needed. Also, vitamin D treatment may only benefit those with deficiency, not individuals who already have adequate levels from sunlight and diet.

Back to our case about the author: Despite her physical activity levels, perhaps it isn't so surprising that Michos ended up vitamin D deficient. She eats a largely vegetarian/vegan diet, does most of her outdoor physical activity in the early morning, avidly uses sunscreen in the summer and lives in the northern part of the U.S. -- all known risk factors for deficiency.

In the end, Michos decided take a vitamin D supplement for her bone health, particularly because of her family history of osteoporosis. But at this time, despite her own research, she cannot recommend vitamin D for the sole purpose of preventing heart and related vascular diseases. As mentioned, there are several large randomized clinical trials ongoing now to test whether vitamin D treatment can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and death. Hopefully, the results of these trials will inform future recommendations to patients.

 

Dr. Erin Michos is a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with a joint appointment in epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the associate director of preventive cardiology for the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease. Her research interests focus on general preventive cardiology, cardiovascular health in women, vitamin D and management of lipid disorders.

 

Increase the risk of Alzheimer’s by 50%? Kidney disease by up to 50%? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the science suggests.

For years, I have warned about the dangers taking acid-blocking drugs—conventional medicine’s completely wrongheaded approach to stomach pain and acid reflux.

What causes acid reflux? It isn't acid. The acid is supposed to be there. Producing it is the stomach's normal function. What causes escape of the acid from the stomach into the esophagus and throat is pressure: pressure chronically exerted against the valve between the stomach and esophagus.

Ironically, too little stomach acid may be a factor in causing acid reflux. That's because the stomach is programmed to get to a certain ph, and if it doesn't get there, it keeps producing more weak gastric juice, and the extra volume increases the pressure in the stomach.  And the high pressure exerted against the valve over time causes reflux.

Despite the evidence for this, conventional medicine gives us proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat stomach pain and acid reflux, which work by eliminating acid production—thus making the problem even worse.

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. Recent studies have revealed a frightening spectrum of side effects caused by acid blockers:

  • large study published in JAMA Neurology found PPIs to be linked with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that regular use of PPIs increased the risk for dementia by as much as 52% compared with nonusers.
  • Two new studies have linked acid blockers with chronic kidney disease. The increase in risk is cited as 20–50%.
  • Another study found that PPIs may raise the risk of heart attack by 15–20%. Other studies have shown that PPIs damage the lining of blood vessels and thus promote cardiovascular events.

The link with pneumonia and other infectious diseases was established years ago. This may be because acid is a barrier to infectious organisms getting inside your body.

Because stomach acid helps digest protein (and think of all the things your body does with protein) too little stomach acid can compromise protein digestion and nutrition overall. And, it can lead to nutrient deficiencies, since it is harder for the body to extract minerals and vitamins from food without stomach acid. An example is calcium, and reduced calcium absorption is a likely reason why PPI-takers are more susceptible to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Stomach acid also protects your body from infection because the acid acts as a sterilizer. It's your stomach acid that protects you from bad germs in your food and water. Do you want to lose that protection? At what peril?

It can also be hard to stop taking PPIs once started. When patients stop taking them, fermentation can cause pain. It may also be hard to re-establish the ability to produce acid.

Given these dangers, why do doctors continue to suggest these drugs to their patients? As always, it is instructive to follow the money. Blockbuster drugs in this class such as Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium bring in billions of dollars each year and are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the US. Nexium alone brings in about $6 billion a year. With so much money at stake, drug companies presumably do not want people to learn the truth, and drug companies hold a lot of sway with doctors.

The good news is that the problem can be managed without using these dangerous drugs. Mastic gum, deglycerated licorice (DGL) and orange peel extract are three natural remedies that are safe and effective. And, they can be combined, if necessary. It's a heck of a lot safer and better than taking acid-blockers.

Of course, lifestyle factors are paramount. If you need to lose weight, lose it. That will often help a lot. If you consume coffee and alcohol, stop both because they both make acid reflux worse. If you smoke, you obviously have to stop; you're killing yourself.

And another major and common factor is just plain over-eating. If you overfill the stomach, it's going to increase the pressure within the stomach and the pressure exerted against the esophageal valve. You just can't eat until you are full, as in stuffed. If you do that habitually, you probably will wind up with acid reflux. We just have to learn to stop eating before we feel stuffed.

Restoring stomach acid with hydrochloric acid supplements is another useful option, but I recommend talking to a doctor first before doing that, preferably one who is well-versed in complementary methods.

Acid-blockers are a big multi-billion dollar a year business, but I say it's all wrong. I would NEVER take them. I'm holding on to my stomach acid. That's because I need it.  Likewise, you need yours.

 

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer, according to findings published this month in the British Medical Journal. 

As such, medical errors should be a top priority for research and resources, say authors Martin Makary, MD, MPH, professor of surgery, and research fellow Michael Daniel, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

But accurate, transparent information about errors is not captured on death certificates, which are the documents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses for ranking causes of death and setting health priorities. Death certificates depend on International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for cause of death, so causes such as human and system errors are not recorded on them.

And it's not just the US. According to the World Health Organization, 117 countries code their mortality statistics using the ICD system as the primary health status indicator.

The authors call for better reporting to help capture the scale of the problem and create strategies for reducing it.

Cancer and Heart Disease Get the Attention

"Top-ranked causes of death as reported by the CDC inform our country's research funding and public health priorities," Dr Makary said in an university press release. "Right now, cancer and heart disease get a ton of attention, but since medical errors don't appear on the list, the problem doesn't get the funding and attention it deserves."

He adds: "Incidence rates for deaths directly attributable to medical care gone awry haven't been recognized in any standardized method for collecting national statistics. The medical coding system was designed to maximize billing for physician services, not to collect national health statistics, as it is currently being used."

The researchers examined four studies that analyzed medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008. Then, using hospital admission rates from 2013, they extrapolated that, based on 35,416,020 hospitalizations, 251,454 deaths stemmed from a medical error.

That number of deaths translates to 9.5% of all deaths each year in the US — and puts medical error above the previous third-leading cause, respiratory disease.

 

In 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer, and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease, according to the CDC.

The new estimates are considerably higher than those in the 1999 Institute of Medicine report "To Err Is Human." However, the authors note that the data used for that report "is limited and outdated."

Strategies for Change

The authors suggest several changes, including making errors more visible so their effects can be understood. Often, discussions about prevention occur in limited and confidential forums, such as a department's morbidity and mortality conference.

 

Another is changing death certificates to include not just the cause of death, but an extra field asking whether a preventable complication stemming from the patient's care contributed to the death.

The authors also suggest that hospitals carry out a rapid and efficient independent investigation into deaths to determine whether error played a role. A root cause analysis approach would help while offering the protection of anonymity, they say.

Standardized data collection and reporting are also needed to build an accurate national picture of the problem.

 

Jim Rickert, MD, an orthopedist in Bedford, Indiana, and president of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics, told Medscape Medical News he was not surprised the errors came in at number 3 and that even those calculations don't tell the whole story.

"That doesn't even include doctors' offices and ambulatory care centers," he notes. "That's only inpatient hospitalization resulting in errors."

"I think most people underestimate the risk of error when they seek medical care," he said.

He agrees that adding a field to death certificates to indicate medical error is likely the way to get medical errors the attention they deserve.

 

"It's public pressure that brings about change. Hospitals have no incentive to publicize errors; neither do doctors or any other provider," he said.

However, such a major step as adding error information to death certificates is unlikely if not accompanied by tort reform, he said.

Still, this study helps emphasize the prevalence of errors, he said.

Human error is inevitable, the authors acknowledge, but "we can better measure the problem to design safer systems mitigating its frequency, visibility, and consequences."

They add that most errors aren't caused by bad doctors but by systemic failures and should 'not be addressed with punishment or legal action.

 

Dr. Cinque: So, what do they mean by "systemic" errors as opposed to doctor error? Do they mean that the doctor followed the standard protocol but the protocol was wrong? That's what it sounds like to me.

First, note that this has been reported before that medical errors are killing people on a grand scale. I mean: it has been known for decades. And they said then that steps were going to be taken, etc. etc. to reduce the medical carnage, but obviously, it hasn't worked. Second, medical deaths are still being grossly underreported. Take heart disease, for instance, the leading killer. If a person dies from the adverse effects of medications for heart disease, such as calcium channel blockers which are dangerous because they can trigger heart attacks, it's likely to be called a death from heart disease rather than heart disease treatment.  

I'll admit that my perspective is very bleak. I think that most of medical treatment is killative.  Leastways, most of it is harmful. Most of it amounts to suppressive, symptomatic, pharmaceutical tinkering which adds a new abnormality to the ones you've already got- complicating your condition, even if in some ways it seems better or looks better. They are not making you healthier; they are just making your disease manifest differently as you continue going downhill.

A good example are diuretics which are very widely prescribed but rarely do anybody any good. You're better off living with whatever fluid retention you have than trying to get rid of it forcibly that way. Better yet, take some constructive actions with diet, salt restriction, weight loss, exercise, supplements, and perhaps fasting to see if you can get it to resolve naturally and spontaneously through actual biological improvement rather than forcing measures. What's so terrible about that? Remember, patience is a virtue. You start doing the right things, and then you give it time. There is no need to resort to anything reckless and drastic. 

This whole thing is complicated by the fact that there are areas in Medicine in which they do do valuable and beneficial things, such as surgery for cataracts, giving Metformin to Type II diabetics, antibiotics when necessary, and hormone replacement when indicated, especially when they are bio-identical. And I have no doubt that great work is being done with stem cells, and more is to come. But, none of that changes the fact that most of modern medical treatment is just disruptive pharmaceutical tinkering, which is hurting people and sometimes killing them. As a percentage, there isn't that much good in Medicine, and most of it should be avoided. 

Does that seem radical? Well, I'm sorry, but it's true. 

 

 

 

What follows below was sent as a supplement to Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's April newsletter. It is powerful evidence that statin treatment is doing much more harm than good, and it may not be doing any good. 
 
As medical articles may be difficult to read by those without a medical background. I shall tell you more about the paper by Vancheri and his coworkers, mentioned in my previous newsletter. 
 
As mentioned these authors found no association between the degree of statin increase  and the degree of mortality lowering in 12 countries. The fact is, that heart mortality started to decrease already in the early seventies, long time before the introduction of the statins, and the decrease continued in the same rate after the start of statin treatment. This is one of the strongest argument against its alleged benefit. If statin treatment was able to lower heart mortality, the rate should of course have been larger after its introduction in the early nineties, but as you can see from the following diagrams, it didn’t.
 
The first one shows the decline of heart mortality in Sweden between 1985 and 2005 ("Antal döde" means number of deaths)¨. I have used the figures from the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare 
 
 

 

 
 
The second figure demonstrates that the same happened in the US between 1979 and 2006. The blue line shows how cardiovascular mortality should have been if the lowering went at the same rate during all the years; the read line shows what happened in reality. As you can see the decrease became even a little slower in the nineties, at the time where statin treatment was introduced.
 
 
And there is more evidence that statin treatment is useless. Four years ago, Staffan Nilsson and his coworkers at the University of Linköping published a study of acute myocardial infarction and statin use in Sweden  They compared the use of statins with the incidence and mortality of this disease in all the municipalities between 1998 and 2002 and found the same association as in the studies mentioned above. However, there was no association within each community. In some of them both statin use and mortality increased; in other communities both of them decreased.

 

Obviously we cannot claim that the decline of heart mortality in most of the world is caused by the increased use of statins; there must be dotter reasons. Some of them are probably the decreasing number of smokers and better treatment of heart disease. When I was a young doctor in the sixties for instance, the standard treatment of an acute heart attack was six weeks bed rest, which resulted in many cases of venous thrombosis, and venous thrombi may loosen and go to the pulmonary arteries and kill the patient. Today patients with acute myocardial infarction are mobilized as soon as they are able to walk.
 
In my view the cholesterol campaign is the greatest medical scandal in modern time. In the early sixties there were about 8000 active doctors in Sweden. Today there are more than 40,000 and we need more although the number of inhabitants has increased from eight to nine millions only. How come? Could the reason be that almost a million Swedes are on statin treatment and that such treatment has many serious side effects, most of which are unknown to most doctors?
 
Uffe Ravnskov

I am republishing here the April newsletter of Dr. Uffe Ravnskov.  Dr. Ravnskov is a Swedish physician, a nephrologist (kidney specialist) and internist. And for many years, he has been at war with the medical establishment over cholesterol and use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, particularly statins.  The evidence is very strong that statins do no prolong life, and they may even shorten life.  I'm sure that Dr. Ravnskov would say that statins are the biggest medical scam of all time- and I agree with him. So, here is his latest newsletter. Be glad to know about this extremely knowledgeable and immensely competent physician, Dr. Uffe Ravsnkov. 

In a recent Danish paper published in European Heart Journal the authors claimed, that negative statin-related news stories decrease statin persistence and increase myocardial infarction and cardiovascular mortality. It was based on the fact, that early statin discontinuation by some of more than 800,000 Danish statin-treated people was associated with the number of negative statin-related news stories published in the media between 1995 and 2010., and that 1.1% more of those with early statin discontinuation had died after 10 years of follow-up compared with those who continued. 

A more reasonable explanation is that the statin-treated individuals learned that their many unpleasant symptoms were caused by the statins, because most adverse effects do not appear immediately. Very often they develop several weeks or months after the start of the treatment. As the side effects of almost all drugs appear immediately, neither the “patient” or the doctor realize that the late statin side effects are caused by the drug. The muscular problems, the mental disturbances and the decrease of sexual potency, the most common side effects, are therefore seen as a result of of increasing age. 

An interesting observation is that the heart mortality difference of 1.1% is what those who continued their treatment won after 10 years of treatment. This is much less than reported from the statin trials. In the first statin trial 4S for instance, the difference between the statin and then placebo group as regards heart mortality was 2.5% after about five years of treatment. Notary impressive, but more than four times as much as in this paper.

Furthermore, there was not a word about total mortality in the paper. The only reason for excluding this information is of course, that either there was no difference, or that those, who stopped statin treatment lived longer than those who continued. It was not possible either for a Canada Free Press journalist to get this information from Børge Nordestgaard, one of the authors and head of the department, where the study was performed. He just answered the followingWe probably could have looked at all-cause mortality. What I thought would have meaning for people that are interested in this field was myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death. Those are the two major endpoints that you look for when trying to prevent cardiovascular disease.  

Aren´t the main interest of people on preventive medicine to prolong their life?

In an interview in the Danish newspaper Politiken, Nordestgaard declared that people, who stop their statin treatment have a 26% increased risk of a heart attack and 18% higher risk to die from a cardiovascular disease compared with those, who continue the treatment. 

What explains his misleading words may be that he has strong economical links to the drug industry. In the section Conflicts of interest you can read the following: B.G.N. has received consultancy fees and/or lecture honoraries from Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Sanofi, Regeneron, Omthera, Dezima, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Aegerion, Fresenius, B. Braun, Kaneka, Lilly, Kowa, and Denka Seiden. 

Much evidence has shown that there is little benefit from statin treatment, if any at all. In my previous newsletter for instance, I told you about the Danish study, where the authors had calculated how may years you are able to prolong your life by statin treatment. What they found was that on average you can only prolong it by a few days. 

Recently a research group from Italy, the UK and Sweden published a study in BMJ Open about the trends of statin use and heart mortality between 2000 and 2012 in 12 European countries.  In all of the countries statin treatment has increased and heart mortality had decreased, apparently a support of statin treatment. However, there was no association between the degree of statin increase  and the degree of mortality lowering between the countries. In Germany, for instance, statin treatment had increased by 54% during these years and heart mortality had decreased by 85%, whereas in Portugal statin treatment had increased by102%, whereas heart disease had decreased by only 41%. 

As I have told you before, the directors of the statin trial do not allow access to the primary data. This has raised much criticism and a campaign, backed by the British Queen´s former doctor  Sir Richard Thompson calling for urgent public enquiry into drugs firms' 'murky' practices. You can read more about that in in Daily Mail, in Sunday Express and in The Western Australia 

In 2005 new, stricter regulations were introduced in the conduct and publication of randomized controlled trials. Since then the results of all statin trials have been minimal compared to those published before 2005 You can read more about that in a paper published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology by Professor Harumi Okuyama and his co-authors; in a paper in Journal of  Controversies in Biomechanical Research by Michel de Lorgeril and Mikael Rabaeus, and in Sunday Express. The authors of the two scientific journals are no amateurs; most of them are members of THINCS and de Lorgeril was the first who demonstrated the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

This letter has been sent to more than 1200 doctors, scientists, journalists and bright, openminded lay people all over the world, and unfortunately, it is not an April Joke

Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, independent investigator

A new study out of Sweden and published on Medscape, which is an online magazine for doctors,  reported that nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to that of smokers who soaked up the most rays. Hence, not getting sufficient sunlight is as dangerous and life-shortening as smoking. The study involved nearly 30,000 Swedish women over 20 years.

This indicates that avoiding the sun "is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking," write the authors of the article, published March 21 in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Compared with those with the highest sun exposure, life expectancy for those who avoided sun dropped by 2.1 years.

Pelle Lindqvist, MD, of Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Sweden, and colleagues found that women who seek out the sun were generally at lower risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and such diseases as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary diseases, than those who avoided sun exposure.

And one of the strengths of the study was that results were dose-specific — sunshine benefits went up with the amount of exposure.

The researchers acknowledge that longer life expectancy for sunbathers seems paradoxical to the common thinking that sun exposure increases risk for skin cancer.

"We did find an increased risk of.skin cancer. However, the skin cancers that occurred in those exposing themselves to the sun had better prognosis," Dr Lindqvist said.

Some Daily Exposure Important for Health

Given these findings, he told Medscape Medical News, women should not overexpose themselves to sun, but underexposure may be even more dangerous.

"We know in our population, there are three big lifestyle factors that endanger health: smoking, being overweight, and inactivity," he said. "Now we know there is a fourth — avoiding sun exposure."

Sweden's restrictive guidance against sun exposure over the past 4 decades may be particularly ill-advised, the study finds, in a country where the maximum UV index is low (< 3) for up to 9 months out of the year.

Use of sunscreen is also widely misunderstood in the country and elsewhere, Dr Lindqvist said.

"If you're using it to be out longer in the sun, you're using it in the wrong manner," he said. However, "If you are stuck on a boat and have to be out, it's probably better to have sunscreen than not to have it."

 

Women with more pigmentation would be particularly well-served to stop avoiding sunshine, he said, adding that many people in India, for instance, follow guidelines like those in Sweden to avoid sun year round.

And because melanomas are rare among women with darker skin, benefit goes up in those populations when weighing sun exposure's risk against benefits, Dr Lindqvist said.

Age and Smoking Habits

The researchers studied sun exposure as a risk factor for all-cause mortality for 29,518 women with no history of malignancy in a prospective 20-year follow-up of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort.

 

The women were recruited from 1990 to 1992 when they were 25 to 64 years old. Detailed information was available at baseline on sun-exposure habits and potential confounders such as marital status, education level, smoking, alcohol consumption, and number of births.

When smoking was factored in, even smokers at approximately 60 years of age with the most active sun-exposure habits had a 2-year longer life expectancy during the study period compared with smokers who avoided sun exposure, the researchers note.

.Role of Vitamin D Still in Question

The results add to the longstanding debate on the role of vitamin D in health and the amount of it people need, but this study doesn't resolve the question.

 

"Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to ultraviolet radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted," the authors write.

Dr. Cinque: Even the role of sunlight in causing skin cancer is not fully understood because it is not uncommon for people to develop skin cancers in areas which have not been over-exposed. Likewise, there are plenty of areas which, which for some people, are chronically over-exposed- say the arms of a fisherman- where the incidence of skin cancers doesn't correlate. Protecting the skin from too much sun exposure is definitely a good idea, apart from cancer, because we know it ages the skin and damages it. But, there are plenty of people who want to avoid the sun completely, and that is wrong. The sun's ultraviolet has a powerful anti-cancer effect which seems to work against every kind of cancer except skin cancer. And yes, skin cancer can be deadly, but caught early, it is about the easiest cancer to treat. Here's a good rule of thumb: if the sun exposure you are are getting is causing frank, visible tanning, then you're getting too much sun. The frank, visible tanning is a reaction to too much sun. And here's another good rule: if you want to protect your face all the time, it's fine. You are not going to suffer if that small part of your body doesn't get exposed to the sun. But, find large, broad areas of yourself that you can expose directly to effective sunlight for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. There is more danger if you don't than if you do.    

From a new study out of USC, it was learned that in both mice and humans, fasting caused stem cell regeneration of the immune system, after damage was done by chemotherapy.  Fasting was said to have "flipped a regenerative switch" activating the response of hemopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow which are responsible for building blood and immune cells.

“We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system,” said Longo, whose lab is in the process of conducting further research on controlled dietary interventions and stem cell regeneration in both animal and human studies.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said corresponding author Valter Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.

The process involved the reduction in an enzyme known as PKA which is believed to suppress stem cell regeneration. “PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system,” explained Longo, noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. “And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system.”

The longest fast involved was 4 days, and it resulted in the removal of old, damaged immune cells and their replacement with new ones.

I have been involved in conducting fasts for people most of my adult life, and I have seen fasts much longer than 4 days. The longest fast I have ever done is 28 days. That's water-only for 28 days. And the longest fast I have ever supervised is 40 days. However, we know beyond doubt that there have been fasts much longer than that- longer than 100 days. 

To many people, not eating for an extended period may seem drastic, but in practice, it's not as hard as it seems. For one thing, hunger disappears after a day or two. The ketosis of fasting, in which the body switches from burning glucose to burning fat, takes away the appetite. Most people feel quite indifferent to food while they are fasting. In fact, the biggest complaint we hear from fasters is not that they are hungry but that they are bored. And that's why we keep a lot of books and movies around to help them pass the time. Freeing the body from having to process food from scratch, saves the body a tremendous amount of energy and work. And, the process of living on one's reserves, forces the kind of cleaning-out of old damaged cells that we are looking for. The breakdown of tissues during fasting (in search of food) is a rigidly controlled process, and it results in discarding the bad and hoarding the good. You can compare it to peeling back the layers of an onion to get to younger, fresher tissue.

 I am proud to say that I am one of the most experienced fasting practitioners in the world.  And, I know that under the right environment and with the right conditions, fasting is one of the most healing and regenerative things that a person can do, as it aids and benefits a broad array of health issues. It would be great if the medical world became more aware of fasting and its potential to enhance human lives. 

 

 

 

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