Chemotherapy is a term that makes many people shudder, but what about chemoprevention? This is a topic we hear very little about, but wouldn't you rather be putting things into your body to prevent cancer than take hard-hitting drugs in hopes of treating cancer? Curcumin, the molecule that makes turmeric orangish-yellow, has been shown to inhibit all three stages of cancer development: initiation, progression, and promotion. This incredible herbal medicine has been the subject of 1,742 studies in the peer-reviewed literature. While I haven't read them all, every one I have read is incredibly positive. Best of all, turmeric is yummy! If you don't use this regularly in your cooking, go buy yourself an East-Indian cookbook--most of the recipes will contain some turmeric. Curcumin is also an ingredient in the undenatured whey that I sell in my office--I use it to make a smoothie every day! Read a great review on curcumin for chemoprevention here.
Ninety-four percent of adolescent girls test positive for pollutants known to possess estrogen-mimicking activity and to increase risk of some cancers. The girls tested were from New York City, Cincinnati, and Northern California, and ranges across four ethnic groups. They were tested for 22 chemical pollutants from three families: phytoestrogens, phthalates, and phenols. Benzophenone-3 was the pollutant most consistently found in high amounts. This toxic chemical has been banned from cosmetics in the European Union, but is still used in U.S. cosmetics. It does not break down in the body, nor is it excreted. It is a known carcinogen, weakens the immune system, and is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it disrupts hormonal balance. The main group of phytoestrogens found in the study was from soy (these are chemicals in soy that look enough like estrogen to bind receptors in the body). I'll write more about additional toxic compounds that these researchers studied in coming blogs. For now, don't buy foods or personal care products (soap, cosmetics, deodorants, household cleaners) with ingredients in them that you can't pronounce! Also, limit your soy consumption to fermented products like tempeh and miso. This study sheds a great deal of light on why girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier, breast cancer rates are skyrocketing, and 12% of males "in their prime" are infertile. Read the study --published in a journal of the National Institutes of Health, Environmental Health Perspectives.
Two thousand people per day go to the emergency room just because of problems caused by their medications. This staggering research is being published today by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Remember that these numbers are just visits to the ER that are known to be adverse drug reactions. The number of total adverse reactions is much higher due to 1)misdiagnosis of adverse reactions, and 2)many people suffer adverse reactions that never go to the ER. In addition to these people there are hundreds of thousands more suffering due to adverse events during a procedure such as surgery, or even more routine medical events (I had one patient lose the function of his hand because the nerves were torn when an IV was remove from his arm). I am not anti-medicine or even anti-pharmaceutical. I believe in the judicious use of necessary medication. What I am urging you to do is take charge of your health, exercise, eat right, enjoy life, and be informed about your health care choices. Question your doctors and take time to read--in the end, you are your responsibility! Article on the study.
Many people have written in requesting some information on how to meditate. There are many different styles of meditation as there are people--I recommend that you find a style that you resonate with and that is consistent with your spiritual path. Here is a very simple, yet powerful meditation for beginners--something to get you going.
Chiropractic adjusments improve the ability to contract a stomach muscle called transversus abdominis, researchers say. The tranversus abdominus goes all the way around your trunk--from your low back all the way around to the front--much like a girdle. The significance of this muscle is that it gives a tremendous amount of support to the low back and pelvis. Weakness in this muscle group is a significant predictor of chronic low back pain. This study sheds more light as to why many people who have low back pain do not get better with an exercise program until they receive chiropractic care. By normalizing the function in the joints of the low back, chiropractic effectively "turns on" the muscles necessary for a healthy back! Link to the reference.
Fish oil may counteract the harmful effects of plastics on pregnancy and infants, experts say. Pthalates are a family of industrial compounds primarily used in plastics. Pthalates are not bound to the plastic, so they leach out and have become "ubiquitous environmental contaminants." They are known to adversely effect fetal development and to shorten pregnancy duration. They stimulate the fetus in such a way as to promote inflammation, creating "a fetal systemic inflammatory response syndrome and a leading cause of preterm birth." Researchers believe that pregnant women can avert the harmful effects of phalates by consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Remember that these fats, found in fish oil, are profoundly anti-inflammatory and are necessary for normal development and function of the nervous system. You should also avoid phalates by storing your food and beverages in glass, rather than plastic containers. Read the summary of the paper In utero exposure to phthalates and fetal development.
A study appearing in the July edition of the journal Pediatrics made the following conclusion: "It would therefore appear that 100% full breast-feeding of 4-month-old infants would avoid 56% of hospital admissions in infants who are younger than 1 year." The primary cause of hospitalization that is prevented by breastfeeding is infectious disease. As the infant's immune system is maturing during the first year of life it is vitally important that the infant gets antibodies and other immune-enhancing compounds from mother's milk. It is equally important that foods other than breast milk be avoided until the infant's gut matures (single foods can be introduced in a healthy 4-month-old). Another important component of mother's milk is bacteria. It boggles my mind to hear that some mothers choose not to breast feed their babies. It also boggles my mind that people still drink pasteurized, homogenized milk when raw milk is available. Raw Milk is an incredible health food--full of the same beneficial bacteria and immune system-enhancing compounds that an infant needs to thrive!
Read the study.
After my recent blog on Chlorinated Pools and Asthma, I found a 1997 study that concluded the following: "These results suggest that exposure to chlorination by-products in drinking water is associated with increased risk of colon cancer." Indeed, the researchers found that people who drink primarily chlorinated water had a 68% increase in colon cancer and a 25% increased risk for any cancer! The moral is this: either drink well water or use a reverse osmosis unit to purify your water. Do not buy water that is stored in plastic bottles or consume chlorinated water (more on plastic bottles in a later blog).
Read the study.
A recent study found that whey protein is effective at both promoting healthy bone formation, and slowing bone resorption. Bone is a living organ, constantly changing in response to the stresses we place upon it. Besides its direct effect on bone density, whey helps you to build muscle (see my earlier blog on the subject). More muscle means more stress on bone, and greater call for your body to further increase bone density! Follow this simple program to build bone density while avoiding the detrimental effects of drug therapy:
1) Train with weights at least 3 times per week--start slow, but work toward intensity, as intensity is the key to building bone!
2)Take 10-20 grams of high quality, undenatured whey protein daily--I have this available at my office.
3) Eat a diet rich in whole foods that are high in calcium content as well as other minerals--Yogurt (real organic, whole yogurt) and dark leafy greens are excellent for osteoporosis.
4) Avoid low fat foods--low fat translates to high carb and/or high protein--both of which can be detrimental to bone health.
Too often women, in particular, consume low fat foods in an effort to lose weight. If this works at all, the weight loss will be short term, and your health will be affected adversely! Look for more information on osteoporosis on this site soon. Read the whey protein study.
Swimming in chlorinated pools, especially frequently and at a young age, has been shown to increase asthma risk. The chlorine in the pools reacts with organic matter such as sweat and urine (swimming anyone?!) to create trichloramine. The researchers believe that "chlorine by-products such as trichloramine disrupt the protective epithelial barriers of the respiratory tract, allowing allergens to enter the lungs." They found that "Cumulative time spent at swimming pools emerged as one of the most consistent predictors of asthma, just after family history of asthma or hay fever and atopy (a genetic tendency toward developing IgE-mediated allergies)." The association was greatest for children using chlorinated pools before age 7. If you're thinking of getting a pool, research the salt-water pool--a choice more popular in Europe. In the meantime, don't pee in the pool! Commentary on the study from Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 114, Number 10, October 2006