Archives for December 2011

Mediterranean Diet Gives Longer Life

Gianluca Tognon is a scientist at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

A Mediterranean diet with large amounts of vegetables and fish gives a longer life. This is the unanimous result of four studies to be published by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. Research studies ever since the 1950s have shown that a Mediterranean diet, based on a high consumption of fish and vegetables and a low consumption of animal-based products such as meat and milk, leads to better health.

Study on older people

Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy have now studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet on older people in Sweden. They have used a unique study known as the “H70 study” to compare 70-year-olds who eat a Mediterranean diet with others who have eaten more meat and animal products. The H70 study has studied thousands of 70-year-olds in the Gothenburg region for more than 40 years.

Chance of living longer

The results show that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer. “This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated 2 3 years longer than those who don’t”, says Gianluca Tognon, scientist at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Support in other studies

These results are supported by three further as yet unpublished studies into Mediterranean diets and their health effects: one carried out on people in Denmark, the second on people in northern Sweden, and the third on children.

“The conclusion we can draw from these studies is that there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters”, says Gianluca Tognon.

Italian background

Gianluca Tognon himself is from Italy, but moved to Sweden and Gothenburg specifically to collaborate with Lauren Lissner’s research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy, and develop research into the Mediterranean diet.

UNESCO has recognised the Mediterranean diet as an intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO states that the Mediterranean diet is based on such items as fish, vegetables, nuts and fruit, but the concept includes also a structure of traditional customs in which knowledge is transferred between generations, giving a feeling of communal identity and continuity to the local population.

 

Reference

Tognon G, Rothenberg E, Eiben G, Sundh V, Winkvist A, Lissner L. Does the Mediterranean diet predict longevity in the elderly? A Swedish perspective. Age (Dordr) 2011;  33 (3): 439–450.

 

One Man, One Cow, One Planet

What does an environmentally friendly biodynamic food system capable of feeding everyone actually look like? The film One Man, One Cow, One Planet (2007) is a blueprint for a post-industrial future. It takes you into the heart of the world’s most important renaissance.

The outcome of the battle for agricultural control in India may just dictate the future of the earth. Modern industrial agriculture is destroying the earth: Desertification, water scarcity, toxic cocktails of agricultural chemicals pervading our food chains, ocean ecosystem collapse, soil erosion and massive loss of soil fertility.

Our ecosystems are overwhelmed. Humanity’s increasing demands are exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity. A simple recipe to save the world? One old man and a bucket of cow-dung. Are you crazy?

Modern agriculture causes topsoil to be eroded at 3 million tons per hour (that’s 26 billion tons a year). Human mass is replacing biomass and other species. The carrying capacity of the earth is almost spent. To maintain our comfort zone lifestyles we will soon need five earths to sustain us in the style to which we have become accustomed.

The mantra of free trade has failed the world’s poor. There is a better way. Biodynamic agriculture may be the only answer we have left.

 

Low Iron Levels in Blood Give Clue To Blood Clot Risk

Computed tomography (CT) scan of the lungs of a patient with a large pulmonary embolus. Blood vessels should appear white, but the grey material is a blood clot which is blocking the flow of blood to the left lung.

People with low levels of iron in the blood have a higher risk of dangerous blood clots, according to new research published in the journal Thorax. A study of clotting risk factors in patients with an inherited blood vessel disease suggests that treating iron deficiency might be important for preventing potentially lethal blood clots.

Each year, one in every 1,000 people in the UK is affected by deep vein thrombosis – blood clots that form in the veins. These can cause pain and swelling, but can also be fatal if the clot is dislodged and travels into the blood vessels of the lungs. Although some risk factors for blood clots are recognised, such as major surgery, immobility and cancer, often there is no clear reason for the blood clot.

To look for new risk factors for blood clots, scientists at Imperial College London studied patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). HHT is an inherited disease of the blood vessels, the main symptoms of which are excessive bleeding from the nose and gut. Previous research by the same group had found that HHT patients have a higher risk of blood clots, but the reason for this was unclear.

“Most of our patients who had blood clots did not have any of the known risk factors ,” said the paper’s lead author Dr Claire Shovlin, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and an honorary consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. “We thought that studying people with HHT might tell us something important about the wider population.”

Dr Shovlin and her team analysed blood from 609 patients reviewed at the HHT clinic at Hammersmith Hospital from 1999 to 2011, to look for differences between the patients who had blood clots and those who did not. Many of the patients had low iron levels because of iron lost through bleeding. The researchers found that low levels of iron in the blood were a strong risk factor for blood clots. Patients who took iron supplements did not have higher risk, suggesting that treatment for iron deficiency can prevent blood clots.

“Our study shows that in people with HHT, low levels of iron in the blood is a potentially treatable risk factor for blood clots,” Dr Shovlin said. “There are small studies in the general population which would support these findings, but more studies are needed to confirm this. If the finding does apply to the general population, it would have important implications in almost every area of medicine.”

Iron deficiency anaemia is thought to affect at least 1 billion people worldwide. The association with blood clot risk might not have been found before because the iron levels demonstrating the link fluctuate during the day, and other markers of iron deficiency can be spuriously high if other medical conditions are present. Consistent timing of blood samples, as in this study, is therefore important for establishing correlations with health outcomes.

The link between iron levels and blood clots appears to be dependent on factor VIII – a blood protein which promotes normal clotting. High levels of factor VIII in the blood are also a strong risk factor for blood clots, and low iron levels were strongly associated with higher levels of factor VIII. The gene encoding factor VIII has sites where iron-binding proteins can bind, making it plausible that iron levels could regulate the factor VIII gene, and that this might be the mechanism for the link.

“We can speculate that in evolutionary terms, it might be advantageous to promote blood clotting when your blood is low in iron, in order to prevent further blood loss,” Dr Shovlin said.

 

Reference

Livesey JA, Richard A Manning RA, Meek J, Jackson JE, Kulinskaya E, Laffan MA, Shovlin CL. Low serum iron levels are associated with elevated plasma levels of coagulation factor VIII and pulmonary emboli/deep venous thromboses in replicate cohorts of patients with hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia. Thorax, published online 15 December 2011. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-201076

 

Dead Wrong: How Psychiatric Drugs Can Kill Your Child

From the makers of the award-winning documentaries Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging and The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane? comes a searing new documentary (2010), exposing how devastating—and deadly—psychiatric drugs can be for children and families.

Behind the grim statistics of deaths, suicides, birth defects and serious adverse reactions is the human face of this global drugging epidemic—the personal stories of loss and courage of those who paid the real price.

Psychiatrists claim their drugs are safe for children?

Once you hear what eight brave mothers, their families, health experts, drug counselors and doctors have to say instead, you will come away convinced of one thing… Psychiatrists are DEAD WRONG.

 

$29 Billion Reasons to Lie about Cholesterol

Millions of people around the world are currently taking medications to lower their cholesterol. In England alone, around 7 million people are taking cholesterol-lowering statins in the hope of reducing their risk of a heart attack. But an increasing number of doctors and researchers are questioning the supposed link between cholesterol and heart disease.

At the same time, many people are concerned about the mass prescription of medications. In particular, prescribing medications to people who are, for the most part, perfectly healthy.

A team is now working on a documentary about the cholesterol hypothesis.  The documentary will address several key issues: Have the facts about cholesterol and heart disease been distorted by pharmaceutical companies keen to increase their profits? Have our health authorities done their job to protect us from these commercial interests?

29 billion dollars is a conservative estimate of the current value of the cholesterol-lowering industry.

29 billion pounds is what cardiovascular disease costs the UK economy each year.

If the focus on cholesterol has been a mistake, then the greatest cost is associated with the lost opportunity to tackle heart disease.

 

Read More 

$29 Billion Reasons to Lie About Cholesterol29 Billion Reasons to Lie about Cholesterol provides the facts; enabling readers to make informed choices about the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.

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Vanishing of the Bees

Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives.

Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.

Vanishing of the Bees (2009) follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees.

Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.

 

Low Cholesterol and Infections

by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D.

Several researchers have claimed that statin treatment prevents infections. Recently a Dutch group published an analysis of the statin trials where the authors had reported the number of infections. Not unexpectedly they didn´t find any difference between the statin groups and the controls (those who got an ineffective placebo pill).

In an editorial in the same issue of British Medical Journal, where the Dutch report was published, Beatrice Golomb commented the study. It was certainly not expected either because, as she wrote, a number of relevant factors may distort the results. One of them is the fact that among 632 statin trials, only eleven reported the number of infections, and “most authors declined to provide the omitted information when approached”. “The best evidence”, she concluded, “is that statins should not be used to forestall infection or its consequences.” 

There is even evidence of the opposite. As Golomb also pointed out, low cholesterol is a risk factor for infection, and as we have a plausible mechanism to propose, we send a letter to British Medical Journal, now published as a Rapid Response.

If you sympathize with our letter you are most welcome to vote (on the right hand column). Many positive votes may possibly increase its chance to become published in the paper version as well.

 

Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, independent investigator
President of THINCS, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
Magle Stora Kyrkogata 9, 22350 Lund, Sweden
tel +46 46145022  or  +46-702580416
www.ravnskov.nu/uffe


Low Cholesterol and Cancer

by Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D.

In many western countries more and more get cancer although at the same time more and more people stop smoking, one of  the most cancer provoking factors. Members of The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics think that the reason is the increasing use of cholesterol lowering drugs. Those who promote such treatment argue that no analysis of the statin trials have shown any association and some even claim that the statins protect against cancer.

There are many ways to cover up the fact that lowering cholesterol may lead to cancer, but there are also numerous observations that point to low cholesterol as the villain.

But how can low cholesterol lead to cancer? This is a good question, and there is an answer. The reason is that the lipoproteins partake in the immune defense system, and because many cancers are caused by virus or bacteria.

Together with two members of THINCS, Kilmer McCully, the discoverer of the association between homocysteine and atherosclerosis, and Paul Rosch, President of the American Institute of Stress, I have tried to present the facts around this issue. The paper has finally been published in Quarterly Journal of Medicine. Before that, we sent the paper to six different medical journals (not at the same time of course), all of which rejected it. Here are their arguments:

Archives of Internal Medicine: I regret to inform you that its priority rating is not sufficiently high to warrant our considering it further for publication. Based on our initial review, we will not be sending the paper for additional outside editorial review.

CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians: Thank you for submitting your proposal for an article on “Low cholesterol, cancer and the role of lipoproteins” to CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. It is our editorial policy to concentrate on articles that address cancer more broadly (treatment modalities used for many cancer types, current treatment of common types of cancer, public health issues relevant to several cancer types, etc.). For these reasons, we cannot consider your article for publication in CA. However, you may want to consider submitting your article to CANCER, another peer-reviewed American Cancer Society journal, which publishes more focused papers such as the one you have described.

Cancer: Thank you for your recent manuscript submission of “Low cholesterol, cancer and the role of lipoproteins” (CNCR-11-2485) to Cancer.  Your paper has undergone initial review. I am sorry to report that it was not deemed to be of broad enough interest to our readership to merit further evaluation.

JAMA: Thank you for your inquiry. However, JAMA is not able to consider your manuscript for publication.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute: I am sorry that we shall not be able to use the above-titled manuscript. After careful evaluation, the Editorial Board did not accord it a priority sufficient for further consideration.

Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal:  Thank you for submitting the manuscript # SCAR-2011-0151 entitled “Low cholesterol, cancer and the crucial role of lipoproteins” to the Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal. The questions raised are important, indeed, and deserve a thorough analysis and discussion. Admittedly not being an expert on this field, my impression is that the present manuscript is polemic in style, and biased. This view was shared by one leading cancer epidemiologist; he/she finds the present selection and interpretation of the literature superficial and subjective. Hence I choose not to forward your manuscript to our reviewers.

Read the paper yourself and tell me if it the paper is not “of broad enough interest” or if it is “polemic in style” or if “its priority rating is not sufficiently high”

What I have told you here is no exception. Many of our members including myself can tell you about how difficult it is to publish papers that go counter to conventional wisdom.

 

Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD, independent investigator
Spokesman; THINCS, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
Magle Stora Kyrkogata 9, 22350 Lund, Sweden
tel +46 46145022  or  +46-702580416
www.ravnskov.nu/uffe

 

Reference

Ravnskov U, McCully KS, Rosch PJ. The statin-low cholesterol-cancer conundrum. QJM. 2011 Dec 8. [Epub ahead of print]