The world of natural cancer treatment options is changing every day with promising new developments and breakthrough treatments. Stay on top of all the latest news right here on the NorthStar blog on cancer.

  1. Nuts drive down cancer and heart disease risks

    Keep cancer and heart disease at bay with this tasty treat?

    Have you gone nuts yet?

    I sure hope so.

    If you're a regular Guide to Guide Health reader I don't have to tell you that I've been singing the praises of this health-food-in-a-hard-shell for years now. Nuts, no matter the kind, are one of the best snack foods around. They pack a powerful punch of nutrition that's good for you practically from head to toe.

    Like, for example, snacking on walnuts may be able to drop a woman's diabetes risk by a hefty 24 percent, according to a recent report in the Journal of Nutrition. This echoed earlier research from Tufts University that found that trading in your whole-wheat breakfast muffin for nuts could help lower both blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

    Nuts are a good-for-you whole-food snack that has already been associated with heart health, cancer prevention, and improved cognitive function.

    And, as I shared with you way back in 2011, no less than 57 clinical trials have found that regularly chomping on walnuts might help protect us against heart disease: the results of one of those trials was even published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine!

    Penn State researchers showed that snacking on walnuts could lower blood pressure in just six weeks, while improving how your body reacts to stress.

    You're probably starting to see why I called nuts one of the best snack foods around. And that's why I wasn't at all surprised when nuts were in the news again recently not once, but twice.

    Ward off prostate problems

    New research from the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center has confirmed that walnuts could be a guy's best friend.

    Over three years ago now I told you about a mouse study conducted at UC Davis that found that nuts may slow prostate tumor growth. Now a new study published in the journal Cancer Investigation is providing us with even more evidence that nuts could be a potent weapon in the war against prostate cancer.

    Researchers injected immune-deficient mice with human prostate-cancer cells which typically would produce tumors in a large number of the mice within three to four weeks. But the scientists added a twist... they fed some of the mice a walnut-enriched diet. And sure enough the walnut-eating mice fared better than the non-walnut eaters.

    Only three of the walnut eaters developed tumors compared to the other group's 14. And not only that, the walnut eaters who did get tumors had slower growing ones that were about a fourth of the size of the tumors in the other group.

    (A previous study showed similar findings for breast cancer.)

    According to the researchers it didn't take a boatload full of walnuts to produce these effects either. In fact, for humans about 2 ounces... or two modest handfuls ... of walnuts a day would be the equivalent.

    But the good nut news doesn't stop there.

    Beat back cancer and heart disease

    In a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine, Spanish researchers were also singing the praises of these nutritional powerhouses... and for good reason. The longitudinal study--meaning the information was gathered over a long period of time--found that those who ate nuts more than three times week were less likely to die from cancer or heart disease.

    And we're talking a HUGE drop in risk here... a 40 percent lower risk of dying from cancer and a 55 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

    In addition, in the nut eater's group there were lower body mass indexes (BMIs), smaller waists, and fewer cases of diabetes and high blood pressure.

    If you haven't gone nuts yet, well, clearly it's about time you got started. Replacing two snacks a day with a small handful of nuts could help you fight everything from diabetes to cancer.

    I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a delicious deal.

  2. Poor sleep and prostate cancer risk factors

    Sleep problems may double prostate cancer risk

    There's an old proverb that says a good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. I couldn't agree more, especially when it comes to sleep and prostate cancer.

    While everyone is on board with laughter being the best medicine, way too many of us choose to ignore the second half of that wise prescription. And if you're guilty of burning the candle at both ends, you should know it can have devastating consequences for your health, as indicated by the study below on sleep and prostate cancer.

    As I've explained before, a quality night's sleep is critical for staying healthy. In fact, if you continue dodging the Sandman, lack of sleep could be the first domino in a disastrous fall towards disease, such as an increased risk for prostate cancer. Eventually, sleep problems can even lead to early death.

    And I wish I could say that I'm being dramatic here, but I'm not.

    Poor sleep means poor health

    Not getting enough shuteye could cause your weight to balloon and send your cholesterol numbers skyrocketing. According to one Uppsala University study last year, a lack of sleep stimulates appetite areas in your brain literally leading to a hungry brain. And let's get real, who amongst us has ever made a good midnight snack decision?

    Another study, published in The American Journal of Human Biology, concluded that getting less than six hours of sleep a night is linked with a higher body-mass index (BMI), or obesity. But wait, it gets even worse.

    Poor sleep is also linked to blood-sugar problems and diabetes. A study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago uncovered a critical link between how well you sleep and how well you metabolize sugar. Volunteers were twice as likely to have type-2 diabetes if they also had sleep problems.

    And a study published last year confirmed that not getting to bed on time wreaks havoc with your fat cells. Without enough quality sleep the ability of your fat cells to respond to insulin can drop by as much as 30 percent.

    Sleep deprivation has even been linked with low sperm counts and shrunken testicles. And now researchers from the University of Iceland in Reykjavik are saying that sleep problems could double a man's risk of prostate cancer, making poor sleep and prostate cancer a dangerous combination.

    Protect your prostate with sleep

    According to the study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers followed 2,102 men ranging in age from 67 to 96, testing the connection between sleep and prostate cancer. Participants were questioned about their sleep habits, including if they took drugs to sleep, had trouble falling asleep, had trouble with waking up in the night, or had trouble getting back to sleep when they woke up prematurely.

    In the end a full 8.7 percent of the group had severe sleep problems, and another 5.7 were even worse off, reporting very severe sleep troubles. None of the volunteers had prostate cancer when the study began, but five years later 6.4 percent of the group was diagnosed with the disease.

    After doing some number crunching—and adjusting for age—the researchers found that the guys who had trouble falling sleeping were roughly 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer. And those who reported having trouble staying asleep had double the risk of being diagnosed with the cancer.

    The researchers even adjusted for symptoms of nocturia—the midnight march to the bathroom that often accompanies prostate problems—to be sure that undiagnosed prostate issues weren't responsible for any of the recorded sleep problems, and the results remained the same.

    One thing's for sure: if you're not already taking your sleep time seriously it's time to change that. If you keep skipping out on quality shuteye, one day you could wake up fat, diabetic, and dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

    But don't fall for quick-fix sleep drugs. They can come with their own set of problems (sedative drugs could cause your risk of dying to skyrocket by a staggering 450 percent ... click here to get the whole story), and seldom give you the restful quality sleep your body needs anyway. Instead, start by easing up on stimulants like coffee, tea, and soda. If you're particularly sensitive, some supplements like ginseng and B12 can be stimulating.

    If anxiety is at the center of your sleep problems, I've found 500 mg of magnesium before bedtime sometimes does the trick. And if you're under 40 years old l-tryptophan may help. But if you're over 40, melatonin may be a better option.

    Work with a doctor skilled in natural medicine to figure out the best choices for you, and before you know it you could be saying hello to the Sandman and goodbye to a skyrocketing prostate-cancer risk.

  3. BPA products replaced by BPS, another chemical that disrupts hormones

    Why BPA-free is just BS

    Remember how excited we all were to finally see BPA products removed from store shelves? How good it felt to finally be able to put products into your cart that you knew weren't full of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals that threaten your health? Well, if you listen really closely, that screeching sound you hear is the brake being applied to that bogus bill of goods that the plastics industry sold us. It turns out that we've been hoodwinked. Sure, all those BPA-free products are indeed being manufactured without bisphenol A, the compound that's been linked to diabetes, asthma, and cancer. But many of those manufacturers simply pulled the old switcheroo on us, replacing BPA products with its kissing cousin bisphenol S or BPS. And yup, just like the name implies, these two compounds have a lot in common. BPS is very similar in structure to BPA, and emerging research suggests that, just like BPA, the chemical disrupts cellular responses to estrogen and leeches out of the plastic products it's used in right into our foods. To avoid BPS and BPA products, skip the canned food aisle altogether and limit any foods that come in plastic containers. Instead, prepare your own meals using fresh ingredients. They'll not only be better for you, they'll taste better, too.
  4. Mammograms risk over diagnosis and unnecessary treatments

    The great mammogram myth

    If you've been following me for any length of time you probably already know how I feel about mammograms and mammogram risk. But if you're a new reader you might be surprised when I tell you I'm not a fan. Don't be. I have several very good reasons why I think the things should be done away with, starting with radiation exposure and ending with over-diagnosis. (In fact, a couple of years ago I shared four great reasons to skip your next mammogram with you.) Worst of all, I've never believed that mammograms do a darn thing to reduce cancer deaths. Now a new study of mammogram risk, published in the New England Journal of Medicine is, once again, proving my point. According to the study, a staggering 1.3 million U.S. women were over-diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 30 years...and suffered the consequences including surgeries, chemotherapy, and more radiation. Researchers say that although fewer women are dying from breast cancer, it's better treatments and not mammography that get the credit for the drop. In fact, the worst cases of cancer are not decreasing. But, meanwhile, early cancers...which if left alone may never become a problem...are being diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate. Thanks to NEJM for confirming what I already knew. And despite the FDA's continued insistence that mammograms are the way to go...regardless of the stacks of evidence to the suggestion to skip the annual mammogram still stands. Instead talk with your doctor about alternatives, including thermography, in order to avoid mammogram risk.
  5. Deficiency of vitamin D and smoking

    Where there's smoke there ought to be D

    Do you know a smoker who, despite all the evidence of its harms, is still lighting up? If so, quick, buy him a bottle of vitamin D and smoking damage in his lungs may even be reduced! According to research on vitamin D and smoking published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine vitamin D could be just what your smoking friend's lungs need. We already knew that vitamin D deficiency is bad news for smokers, having been linked with worse lung function and a more rapid decline in those that light up. But researchers now say the vitamin could literally protect a smoker's lungs. More research is, of course, needed. But considering how widespread vitamin D deficiency is (according to some experts over 41 percent of the United States population) and the fact that vitamin D3 is proven to be safe and effective for reducing your risks for everything from diabetes to cancer I usually recommend more time outside in the sunshine and a daily vitamin D3 supplement (up to 5,000 IU to get back on track if your doctor says you're deficient). Oh, and be sure to tell your friend... again... that he ought to quit because smoking kills.
  6. Common vitamins slash risk of pancreatic cancer

    Has this deadly cancer met its nutrient match?

    An estimated 250,000 souls--lose their lives to the deadly killer annually. In fact, pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of any tumor. But now there's some hope on the horizon to help with the risk of pancreatic cancer...and it doesn't come from a Big Pharma pill bottle or a mad scientist's laboratory. Instead this triple-punch breakthrough comes straight from nature. Researchers at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom have revealed in a study published in the journal Gut, that three simple vitamins could potentially slash your risk of pancreatic cancer by up to an astounding 67 percent. And we're not talking about some exotic nutrients you've never even heard of before either. No, according to the UK scientist's research it's common vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium--three antioxidants you can pick up at your local drug store, or your favorite trusted online source--that could so drastically reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer.

    MICROnutrients make a HUGE difference

    Researchers analyzed the medical histories of 23,658 people ages 40 to 74 that had taken part in a study called the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) and compared them to a control group of 3,970 people. At a 10-year follow up 49 people had developed pancreatic cancer and by the time the group reached a 17 year follow up 86 of them had developed the deadly disease. The UK scientists wanted to determine whether vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, or zinc could lower the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. After a whole lot of number crunching--and data analyzing using regression modeling--they compared the lowest intake of the nutrients to the highest and determined that those folks who had more of all these micronutrients in their diet were 67 percent less likely to develop the deadly disease. Now I should point out that the researchers in this study were using data gathered from a method that...well, let's just say isn't always my favorite form of research. I'm talking about the food diary. The problem with food diaries is that people are not always good at keeping an accurate accounting and they don't always like to admit to what they ate. But in this case the data has a couple of things going for it that I think make it worthy of being taken seriously. First of all each of the participants met with a nurse to fill out their first day of the diary. This would have helped eliminate any confusion over what to record and how to record it. And it may have even helped ease some participant's fears over being honest with their entries. In addition, the diaries were very detailed asking participants to record food types, portion sizes, cooking methods, and even actual recipes for eight meal times a day. And finally, the diary data was handled by trained nutritionists who entered it into a computer program specifically designed to analyze the food data. The software matched every single diary entry to one of 11,000 food items and 55,000 portion sizes to convert it into the nutrient data that the researchers were looking for. In other words, this was likely the best darn food diary data you can possibly get. And in light of that, and the fact that the findings about the risk of developing pancreatic cancer were so significant, I think these are results we should be paying close attention too.

    Reduce your risks with diet

    OK so you ARE paying attention and now you want to know how to get more of these nutrients into your own diet, right? Some good food sources for vitamin E are wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts. If you choose to take a vitamin E supplement just be sure that you choose an all-natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This ensures that you're getting the complete spectrum of E vitamins in their natural form. I usually recommend 400 IU a day. You can increase your vitamin C by eating more sweet red peppers, green peppers, grapefruit juice, kiwi fruit, and broccoli. And since most of us are woefully low in this important vitamin I generally recommend 1,000 mg of vitamin C twice a day for everyone. Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts, wild-caught tuna and cod, and organic light meat turkey. With selenium I usually recommend sticking with food sources, but there are supplements available on the market. Just be sure to check with your own doctor about what's best for you.
  7. Ginseng reduces cancer related fatigue

    Cancer fatigue falls with natural herb

    Fatigue is one of the least talked about, yet one of the worst symptoms of cancer. And this isn't just the run of the mill "oh I stayed up a bit too late last night" kind of tiredness. No, cancer related fatigue is the kind that takes tired to a whole new level. It's a bone-wearying exhaustion that can make just getting up out of your chair seem like climbing Mount Everest. The kind of weariness that makes you feel like you might burst into tears if you have to take just one more step. And perhaps the worst part is that the fatigue can follow cancer survivors around for years after they've finished treatment. So, as you can imagine, anything that can relieve even some of that exhaustion is a true godsend for a cancer patient. That's why I was so excited to read about a breakthrough cancer related fatigue treatment that comes to us by the way of ancient traditional medicine.

    All-natural herbal fatigue fighter

    I was excited, but really not all that surprised, to read that researchers at the Mayo Clinic had proven that one of my favorite herbs, ginseng, can significantly reduce cancer-related tiredness. You see ginseng has been used for centuries to naturally stimulate energy and relieve fatigue. In fact, it's likely this long-term traditional use as a safe stimulant that made the scientists look at its potential to fight cancer related fatigue in the first place. The Mayo researchers recruited 340 volunteers who had either completed cancer treatment, or were being treated for cancer. Every day, participants received either a placebo or 2,000 milligrams of ground ginseng root in a capsule. The researchers used a standard 100-point fatigue scale to measure the volunteer's exhaustion levels. At eight weeks the scientists were stunned to find that those who were receiving the ginseng supplement had their fatigue levels plummet by a whopping 20 points. And not only did the ginseng work, there were NO detectable side effects from the natural herb treatment!

    Drive away exhaustion

    Now, you may be wondering just how it is that ginseng accomplishes this tired-chasing task. I'll get to that in just a moment, but first let me explain where the exhaustion comes from in the first place. When you have cancer your immune system starts pumping out too much of a substance called inflammatory cytokines. At the same time your body ramps up its production of the stress hormone cortisol. And it's these two substances that have been linked to the fatigue that 90 percent of cancer patients suffer through. Now we already know that ginseng is nature's fatigue fighter. But the Mayo scientists theorize that ginseng takes a two-pronged approach to heading off this specific kind of exhaustion. The active ingredient in the herb... ginsenosides... has been shown in animal studies to naturally reduce inflammatory cytokines, as well as regulate cortisol levels. Hm...seems like the perfect antidote to cancer related fatigue doesn't it? And the positive result seen in this study is the first documented mainstream medicine evidence that the same actions occur in people as well. The researchers plan on presenting their findings at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting. However, in reality, it may be a few years before these findings filter down to actual practice in your doctor's office. (Oh, who am I kidding? It's just as likely it will be never.) But why wait? If you... or a loved one... are already suffering with cancer related exhaustion, why not talk to your doctor now about trying ginseng? You've got nothing to lose... but the weariness, of course.
  8. PFOA chemical linked to cancer and arthritis

    Is your cookware giving you cancer? Six years. That's how long it's been since I first started warning you about dangerous PFOA chemical hiding in our food and water supply that could be making you sick. This chemical—a favorite of food and product manufacturers—can mess with your metabolism and disturb your immune system. High levels of it in your blood, increases your risk of high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and fertility problems. And even more frightening, it's been linked with both arthritis and cancer. Heck, even the government admits that it causes cancer... in animals. (To admit that it does in people too means they'd have to come up with some stiffer regulations that their powerful lobbyist buddies in Washington would definitely not like.) I'm talking about C-8P or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA for short). The chemical that manufacturers like DuPont line non-stick pans with can also contain the PFOA chemical, and it can be found in grease resistant food packaging. It's in your favorite frying pan (and if that pan is at all scratched, every piece of food you cook in it), in that stain-resistant fabric on your sofa, in the glass of water you drink with dinner every night, the shampoo you wash your hair with, and even inside your favorite snack food bag... microwave popcorn. In fact, any grease-repellant food packaging you come across probably has PFOA in it.

    Creepy chemical linked to health problems

    Back in 2006, I reported in the Guide to Good Health that a panel of experts had presented the EPA with evidence that PFOAs are "likely human carcinogens." And the government responded by... yes, you guessed it... doing next to nothing. Last year, researchers at the University of West Virginia reported that the creepy chemical might be to blame for those stiff and aching arthritic hands you wake up to every morning. Yes, PFOA may very well be contributing to your painful arthritis. And I'll give you just one guess what the government's response to this new shocking revelation was. Yup, again, nothing of note. No warning labels, no tough legislation, not even a really strong warning for those dumping these dangerous chemicals into the environment, and our bodies. Oh, eventually, in 2009, the EPA did create an "action plan" for addressing these chemicals. What does that mean exactly? Well, in the EPA's own words it apparently means that the, "EPA intends to consider initiating rulemaking..." Yes, that's right, they will "consider initiating." Way to go and take a real stand on this issue EPA.

    Exposure to PFOA may cause cancer

    Now, according to Food Production Daily, an independent group of public health scientists has concluded that there's a "probable link" between the PFOA chemical and cancer. Specifically, the scientists say, the chemical is likely linked to both kidney and testicular cancers. The scientists began looking into the PFOA problem after the community around Dupont's Washington Works plant in West Virginia filed a class action suit against the company. Until just a few years ago Dupont had been releasing PFOA into the air and water stretching all the way back to the 1950's. After looking at the data on people who have lived in six water districts close to the plant, the researchers said that it's more likely than not that exposure to the chemical is linked to the two cancers. So EPA it's your move. What are you going to do about it? I know, you'll likely consider initiating something, right?

    Reduce your risks

    The fact is this chemical has been shown time and time again to pose health dangers to both animals and humans. And although DuPont, along with seven other companies, has voluntarily agreed to phase out use of the chemical by 2015, it's too little too late. The people in the West Virginia community surrounding the DuPont plant have been suffering the consequences of this exposure for years. And it's likely the rest of us have been too. In fact, studies show that an astounding 95 percent of us have PFOA chemicals in our blood stream as well. And cleaning this mess up is not so easy. PFOA is what is known as a "persistent contaminant" which simply means it's tough to get rid of. It hangs out in the environment and in your body for a long time. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to at least reduce your exposure. Avoid cooking in non-stick pans, opt for non-stain resistant fabrics on your furniture and carpets, avoid fast food and other foods that commonly come in grease-resistant packaging, check your shampoo and cosmetic labels and toss any that list "fluoro" or "perfluoro" in the ingredients, and start filtering your water with a trustworthy water filter. And, of course, keep your immune system in tip-top shape by eating right and taking high-quality supplements, to maintain optimal health.
  9. Chemical phthalates risks linked to diabetes and cancer

    Common chemical may double your risk of diabetes

    Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are a group of industrial chemicals that are known as "plasticizers." And while you may not have heard of them before they, along with a number of phthalates risks, unfortunately, are a part of your everyday life. The chemicals are used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, and also as solvents. And phthalates are in just about everything these days. They're found in a huge variety of products including shower curtains, vinyl flooring, children's toys, adhesives, candles, cosmetics, nail polishes, hairsprays, and even food packaging, to name just a few. Now, phthalates risks are nothing new. Organizations like the Environmental Working Group have been raising the red flag about them since as far back as 1998. And I've been warning you about these dangerous chemicals for years. Like back in 2008 when I urged Guide to Good Health readers to toss their hairspray, after European researchers had linked the chemicals with a two- to three-fold increase in a certain birth defect in boys.

    Phthalates linked to cancer and diabetes

    See, the problem is, these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means they can wreak all kinds of havoc with our sex hormones. Some phthalates have been found to lower sperm counts and others have been linked to defects in the reproductive systems of animals. One study of phthalates risks, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspective, highlighted the damage they may be doing to our children's brains. Researchers found that when moms were exposed to them while pregnant, their kid's mental and behavioral development, as well as their muscular coordination, could be harmed. According to a 2005 report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, studies have found a link between phthalates and liver cancer. Heck, even the snoozing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) woke up long enough to confirm that we ought to be concerned. In fact, for years now the EPA has been regulating phthalates as water and air pollutants. But their damage doesn't stop there. Now a new study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, has linked these common chemicals to an increased risk for type-2 diabetes. Swiss researchers measured the fasting blood sugars of 1,000 70-year-old volunteers. Their blood was also tested for traces of environmental toxins. They found that, of course, diabetes was more common among the participants who were overweight. But, unexpectedly, they also found that it was more common among those who had higher blood levels of phthalates. And we're not talking a small link here. Those with the higher phthalate levels were twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to those with the lowest levels. Now, as always, I have to point out that this kind of study doesn't prove a connection. It can only show an association between things. But in this case, at double the risk, it's one heck of an association. And considering what we already know about the dangers of these chemicals, it's high time we step up our fight against them.

    Spotting and eliminating the enemy

    As I mentioned earlier, phthalates are almost impossible to avoid. But you can start making the conscious decision to not buy anything with these chemicals in them. Seek out products that are clearly labeled phthalate free and choose non-plastic alternatives. Anything made of PVC is a no-no. Become a label reader. If you spot DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) or DEP (diethyl phthalate)--commonly used in personal care products--on a label don't buy the product. And be aware that the word "fragrance" on a label could be a mask for certain phthalate compounds. (For a complete list of these chemicals see the Environmental Working Group's list here.) And, my advice for avoiding that other evil endocrine disruptor Bisphenol A, holds true here as well. Avoid plastic containers marked with a 3 or 7 recycle number, because they're more likely to contain phthalates. And, finally, make sure manufacturers, and those in Washington, know that you want these chemicals out of our lives for good.
  10. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer in women

    Mom was right, but she should have been more specific. You should be sure to eat all of your cruciferous vegetables and cancer may even be crossed off your list of health risks. A study of cruciferous vegetables and cancer in women by Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the role that cruciferous vegetables—like cabbage, greens, cauliflower, and broccoli—play in breast cancer survival. What they found was pretty stunning. After they had adjusted for things like lifestyle and demographics they found that women with breast cancer who had the highest intake of the vegetables per day had a 62 percent reduced risk of dying from the cancer and 35 percent reduced risk for having it come back. And, of course, there's no reason to believe that the veggies will not have the same lifesaving benefits for men. In fact, past studies have shown that they are one of the best things to have in your cancer-prevention plan.
  11. Is cancer screening always necessary?

    How good is your doctor at math? I know it seems like a strange question. But the answer could be more important than you might ever imagine. It turns out that your doctor's less than stellar math skills are likely to lead you to be subjected to unnecessary...and potentially harmful...cancer screening. Now as a regular Guide to Good Health reader you're already well aware of the growing twin epidemic of over-screening and over-diagnosis in this country. For example, I've written to you before about the travesty that is the annual PSA test. Men are led to believe that these yearly tests are all that stand between them and prostate cancer. But PSA tests often lead to unnecessary biopsies of slow-growing tumors that may leave you with permanent sexual dysfunction or in diapers. And the truth is lots of men get cancer and never have a high PSA reading and lots of other men have elevated PSA's and never get cancer. Then there's the annual mammogram, which is, at best, unreliable and at worst may be responsible for inducing cancer in some women. Besides the extra shot of radiation that women are being subjected to every year the test can lead to further, even more invasive tests and side-effect laden treatments that, in the end, may not be of any benefit. So why then do so many doctors enthusiastically push these and other dubious tests on their patients? According to the results of a recent survey of cancer screening published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine it may all simply boil down to your doctor's inability to grasp statistics.

    Survival rate numbers may mislead docs

    Three fourths...or 76 percent...of the over 400 doctors surveyed in the poll believe that better survival rates prove that cancer screening is a lifesaver, when this is in fact not the case. And almost half of the doctors...49 percent...firmly believe that early detection is the key to saving lives, when statistics show that this simply is not true. You see, the problem is that if you're just looking at the surface numbers can lie. For example, screenings automatically increase survival rates. That's a fact. And, unfortunately, many doctors walk away at this point armed only with that fact. But according to a Reuter's interview with Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, when you dig a little deeper, and have a better understanding of statistics, the picture becomes much clearer. Dr. Brawley points out that this rise is simply because the very act of finding a tumor means people are living longer with their cancer diagnosis than if they had waited for symptoms to appear before seeing a doctor. And this automatic bump in survival rate is, of course, regardless of whether anything is ever done to treat them or not.

    Irrelevant data...real world consequences

    The fact is your doc's misunderstanding of statistics...or his inability to decipher the meanings behind them...can add up to real-world consequences for you. When researchers asked doctors if they would recommend a test that increased the 5-year survival rate from 68 percent to 99 percent, 62 percent enthusiastically responded that they would definitely recommend the test with 82 percent saying that the test "saves lives from cancer." In fact, they were three times more likely to recommend that test than one the researchers described as cutting the death rate from 2 in 1,000 people to 1.6 in 1,000. Only 23 percent of the doctors said they would recommend that second test and 60 percent felt that such a test would "save lives from cancer." What the doctors who were more likely to recommend the test in the first scenario failed to realize is that the survival rate statistic is essentially irrelevant can't be used to prove that a cancer screening reduced cancer deaths. However, the death rate change described in the second scenario is much more relevant, and is really the only statistic that can be used to prove that a test saves lives. The bottom line is that there's a very good chance that your doctor at some point will order an unnecessary test for you. Your best defense is to ask questions about the potential harms and benefits of any test that is recommended for you. According to Dr. Brawley if you hear your doc utter the words "increased five year survival" during that conversation a red light should go off because, "...that's an indication that their doctor doesn't know what they are talking about." Which reminds me of an old saying that's sometimes attributed to Stalin that goes "When one man dies it is a tragedy, when thousands die it's statistics." And, well, it would appear that those thousands...might simply just be the victims of higher math.
  12. Death by sleeping pill side effects

    Hey, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, sleeping pill side effects are nothing but bad news. I've been warning you about their dangers for years now. In fact, it was around this time three years ago that I told you about a Boise, Idaho man who was pulled over for suspected drunk driving. He had plowed through a bunch of mailboxes and sideswiped a number of parked cars before being stopped by the police. It turns out that the Idaho man wasn't drunk at all. He had taken an Ambien sleeping pill earlier in the evening and he was "sleep driving" with no memory of the last five hours. As I explained back then, this really came as no surprise to me since even the prescribing information for the drug contains dire warnings like, for example, "Abnormal thinking, behavioral changes, complex behaviors: May include "sleep-driving" and hallucinations." (Oh, and if you're wondering what the term "complex behaviors" might mean besides sleep driving, it's activities like preparing and eating food, making phone calls, or having sex. You know...the kinds of things you definitely don't want to be doing while asleep.) Then it was about two years ago that I warned you that sleeping pill side effects could kill when I told you about the results of a study that had found that using sedatives to sleep could increase your mortality risk by more than a third. Now a new study on sleeping pill side effects, published in the journal BMJ Open, is setting off new alarm bells and they are much louder than before. The study has revealed frightening links between prescription sleep drugs... like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and temazepam (Restoril)...and cancer and early death. Users of any of these drugs were found to be more likely to develop cancer, and far more likely to die prematurely when compared to people not taking them. And the bad news doesn't stop there.

    Death risk skyrockets for even occasional users

    According to the researchers from Scripps Health where the study was conducted, even if you're a relatively light user of these drugs...just 18 sleeping pills in an entire year...your risk of dying may be three and half times greater that someone who never uses them. Heavy users who are taking upwards of 132 pills a year were found to be a staggering five times more likely to die than the non sleep aid users they were compared to. The study followed 10,000 sleeping pill users and 23,500 non-users between 2002 and 2006. And before you ask, the answer is yes...the researchers did adjust for other factors like age, race, body mass, alcohol use, and secondary conditions like diabetes, obesity, asthma, and hypertension. That last part about secondary conditions is a really important point. And its importance certainly wasn't lost on the researchers. In fact, Robert Langer, one of the authors of the study, reportedly told US News "We thought maybe sleeping pills are being prescribed for sicker people, so we tried to take that out of the mix in several different ways. The risk was the same whichever way we looked at it. To me, that was the most startling finding." So, in other words, after all the number crunching--and even after trying to pin the increased death rate on factors like obesity and diabetes--sleeping pill users still came out on the short end of the stick with higher death rates. But wait...there really IS more...

    If early death doesn't kill ya cancer might

    After digesting that bombshell I bet you forgot that I said that sleeping pill users also may have an increased risk of cancer. Don't worry if you did because you're in good company. This finding has been overshadowed by the "three and half to five times more likely to die" announcement. And for a good reason since, according to Langer, that's a mind-blowing 450 percent increase in mortality rate! But the cancer link is still nothing to sneeze at. The Scripps researchers found that the most frequent sleeping pill users had a 35 percent higher risk of developing a major cancer during the study. Now keep in mind, as I always remind you with a study like this, these findings do not prove that sleeping pill side effects cause cancer or that they will kill you. What researchers found was a link between the pills and cancer and early death. But it sure is one huge monster of a whopping link. Heck, it's practically screaming, "Look at me!" And look we should. With millions of American's on these drugs if cause and effect were ever to be established we could be talking about sleeping pill side effects being responsible for the untimely death of literally hundreds of thousands of people every year. As it is, those deaths are now already associated with the pills. One thing's very clear at this point and that is that the risks associated with sleeping pills far outweigh the potential benefits. There are other ways to get a good night's sleep, and they sure don't come with a 450 percent increased risk of dying. If you struggle with sleep problems I recommend you begin by eliminating stimulants. The obvious ones are coffee, tea, and soda. But you should also avoid certain supplements before bed like ginseng, B12, and milk thistle. If you're under 40 try l-tryptophan and if you're over 40 you can give melatonin a try, but proceed cautiously since it's a hormone. And try taking 500 mg of magnesium before bed, which can help ease anxiety naturally.
  13. Drive away dry mouth symptoms using this ancient therapy

    Have you ever learned to appreciate something but only after it was gone? The fact is it's easy to take something for granted when it's always been there. Take saliva for example. Yes, saliva. Let me explain. If you've ever had to deal with dry mouth symptoms then you've experienced just a small hint of what many head-and-neck cancer patients suffer with every single day. Xerostomia...or an abnormally dry mouth caused by decreased saliva a common and debilitating side effect of undergoing radiation treatments for certain cancers. And although the condition may not sound all that serious on the surface, it can have a devastatingly serious impact on your quality of life and your health. In fact, radiation-induced dry mouth symptoms can get so bad that a patient will experience trouble sleeping, eating, and even speaking. Plus they run an increased risk for all kinds of nasty oral infections. Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, mainstream medicine has very little to offer sufferers to relieve the problem. So the suffering could go on for years...even after the radiation treatment had ended. But now, exciting new research from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center has shown that one ancient Eastern practice could make a remarkable difference before the condition is even able to gain a foothold.

    Researchers ponder dry mouth prevention

    I'm talking about acupuncture. And while the practice had already shown some promising results for treating cases of xerostomia no one had studied its use as a preventative measure before. Eighty-six patients with nasopharyngeal cancers were recruited for the study. Forty of the volunteers were placed in an acupuncture group and the remaining forty-six were assigned to a control standard-care group. The volunteers in the acupuncture group received acupuncture therapy three times a week during their seven-week course of radiation treatments. And volunteers in both of the groups were given evaluations before radiation treatments started, weekly during treatment, one month after treatment, and, finally, six months after treatment.

    "Remarkable results" seen with acupuncture

    Researchers used a combination of two xerostomia symptom questionnaires and measurements of saliva flow rates to compare the effects of the acupuncture treatments to the standard-care treatment on the xerostomia. What they found surprised them. The benefits of the acupuncture treatments became clear quite quickly. In fact, chief investigator Zhiqiang Meng, M.D., Ph.D., called the results, "...quite remarkable..." He went on to say, "...we started to see group differences as early as three weeks into radiotherapy for the development of xerostomia..." A score under 30 on the questionnaires meant that dry mouth symptoms were mild or completely gone. One month after treatment 54.3 percent of the acupuncture group had scores over 30 compared to 86.1 percent of the control group. With an over 30% difference in those reporting more-than-mild symptoms between the groups the acupuncture group's numbers were already impressive...but they got even better. By the six-month mark the acupuncture group had dropped to 24.1 percent of participants being over 30 on the symptoms score compared to 63.6 percent of the control group still reporting significant dry mouth problems. The results have been so positive that researchers are now planning a much larger trial involving 150 patients. They hope to not only repeat the positive results, but also start to uncover the mechanisms behind why the acupuncture works. But why wait? If you're going to be undergoing radiation treatments...or are already suffering with a dry can get started with acupuncture right away. To help locate an acupuncturist in your area try using the handy Locate an ACAM Physician tool on the American College for Advancement in Medicine website.
  14. Colon cancer and ginger root

    As a nutritionist my preference is always for disease prevention rather than treatment. I firmly believe our goal should always be to prevent illness from ever occurring in the first place rather than scrambling to treat it once it sets in. That's why a recent study involving colon cancer and ginger root, published in Cancer Prevention Research, caught my eye. A group of researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School say that ginger supplements might be able to play a role in colon cancer prevention. The researchers randomly assigned 30 volunteers to a placebo group or a ginger root supplement group. For 28 days the patients either received a placebo or two grams of the supplement per day. Prior research had already shown us that inflammation in the colon is a precursor to colon cancer, and ginger has long been used as a traditional remedy for all kinds of inflammation ranging from arthritis to back pain. At the end of the 28 days the scientists measured for standard levels of colon inflammation and found significant reductions in most of the markers for the tell-tale swelling. Now, of course, this is just a small preliminary study and a lot more research is obviously needed. But the results from using a safe, inexpensive, and all natural preventative are certainly intriguing. Plus you know what they say about an ounce of prevention.
  15. The disease-fighting health benefits of broccoli

    I've got a riddle for you. What's mighty, green, and capable of putting up one heck of a fight against heart disease and cancer? If you guessed the Incredible're both silly and wrong. But, if you guessed broccoli, congratulations, you're the winner! Now, you're probably no stranger to the many health benefits of broccoli. In fact, I'm sure that you're already eating your three to five servings of this immunity-boosting DNA-protecting vegetable a week...right? It was just last year that I shared with you the exciting news about the health benefits of broccoli -- that a broccoli extract was found to kill human breast cancer cells. Then in June of this year I told you about a University of Oregon study that showed that the same extract from the vegetable appears to safely target and kill prostate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact (unlike chemo which indiscriminately destroys both good and bad cells alike). And, of course, packed with inflammation-dousing vitamin K and the acting antioxidant thioredoxin, broccoli is also a natural solution for warding off heart problems and other inflammation-driven diseases like Crohns.

    Even more health benefits of broccoli -- disease-dousing nutrients

    We know that nutrients in broccoli can help break down fat in the body, preventing it from gunking up our arteries. And we've also been aware for quite some time that broccoli can play an important role in warding off cancer. Here's how it works.... When you eat broccoli the chewing action causes the enzyme myrosinase to come into contact with another important compound found in the broccoli called glucoraphanin. When this happens the phytochemical that's at the heart of the disease-fighting health benefits of produced. Sulforaphane...a plant-based chemical known as an isothiocyanate...has shown great promise as an anticancer compound. In fact, it's the same extract I mentioned earlier that's been shown to kill breast cancer cells and was found to target and kill prostate cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact.

    Sometimes more IS better

    Keep in mind, however, that while broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane (other good sources include the rest of the cruciferous vegetable family including cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) this happens to be a case where more does happen to be better. And you can find that "more" in broccoli sprouts. It turns out that the three to four day old broccoli plants...known as broccoli sprouts...have 10 to 100 times more glucoraphanin...the precursor to the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane. Now you may be tempted to seek out a broccoli supplement to get a concentrated shot of cancer-fighting sulphorphane. My advice? Don't bother. In general, whenever possible (sometimes soil depletion and poor farming practices can get in the way), I would prefer that you choose a whole food over a supplement. And in this case a study just completed in August of this year, found that the sulphoraphane found in the sprouts is indeed more bioavailable than that found in a broccoli supplement. In other words, it appears that your body is able to use more of the compound when it comes in the form of the complete food.

    The Super Veggie version of an old favorite

    So, up until now broccoli sprouts probably were your best bet for getting the most glucoraphanin. However, British scientists have recently introduced a souped-up version of broccoli that's packing two to three times the typical amount of the nutrient in its green stalks. In fact, if you happen to live in Texas, California, or the U.K. it's possible that you've already seen this super broccoli on your local grocery store shelves. You may not have even noticed any difference if you had eaten it except some people report a slightly sweeter taste due to the lower sulfur content of the vegetable. Now, I can guess what you're probably thinking right about now because it was my first thought when I read the news too. You're likely wondering, "What kind of genetic modification hocus-pocus did they use to create this freakish vegetable?" Well after doing a bit more research on the health benefits of broccoli I've got great news! The new broccoli was made using good old-fashioned traditional cross breeding techniques. So, in other words, no GMO monkey business was used to bring us this enhanced version of the mighty green disease fighter so dig in! The broccoli is being sold under the name Beneforte and if you haven't seen it in your grocery store yet hang should soon. Starting this fall the producers began rolling it out across the U.S. Oh, and don't forget...lightly steam your broccoli to help it retain more of it's disease-fighting nutrients.
  16. Did this major industry plot to give you cancer?

    I've made it no secret how I feel about Big Tobacco. To put it mildly, I'm not a big fan, especially with more harmful evidence of smoking and radiation which Big Tocacco has been hiding for years. In fact, it was just a few short weeks ago that I told you about the unholy alliance between Big Pharma and Big Tobacco that will likely soon lead to Chantix's evil twin TC-5214 hitting a pharmacy shelf near you. So consider this fair warning. This next story I'm about to tell you might make you mad enough to send smoke streaming from your ears...which, now that I think about it, is rather appropriate for reasons that you'll understand in just a few moments. Allow me set the stage. It was the late 1950's and business was booming for Big Tobacco. During World War II tobacco sales had shot up like a rocket, with cigarettes even finding their way into soldier's C-Rations right alongside their chow. With scores of newly-addicted G.I.s returning home from war and introducing their wives and girlfriends to the habit a boon like the industry had never seen before followed. Sure, stories linking cigarettes with lung cancer were starting to leak out here and there around the edges, but the industry was quick to stomp out any fires. Big Tobacco's scientific goons-for-hire swiftly counteracted any bad press by introducing new and improved "safer cigarettes" with lower tar and filters.

    Where there's cigarette smoke there's fire

    It was around this same time that the tobacco industry uncovered something that could threaten the health and even the very lives of their customers. A secret so huge in fact, that it had the potential to bring the industry to its knees. Tobacco executives learned that their products contained radioactive substances known as alpha particles. It turns out that the radioactive matter found in cigarette smoke--eventually identified as carcinogenic isotope polonium-210--was being absorbed by tobacco leaves both through naturally occurring radon gas and through high-phosphate chemical fertilizers that were being used by the tobacco growers. So how did the big wigs at Big Tobacco react to this devastating and potentially deadly news? Did they issue warnings to smokers? Perhaps they pulled the tainted products off the shelves? Or maybe they started looking for solutions that would remove the radioactive substance from the tobacco to prevent smoking and radiation exposure? Yeah, riiiight. Remember, this is Big Tobacco we're talking about here...ethics is not their strong suit. Naturally, the tobacco executives kept it under wraps. After all, news like that would definitely put a damper on business. Finding this tale a bit hard to swallow? I would too...except for the fact that internal tobacco industry documents reveal that the industry was well aware of this killer secret as early as 1959, yet did nothing about it. Well...nothing that is except extensive testing to find out what the long-term effects of smoking and radiation exposure on smokers might be. In fact, their own investigations...over-a-decades worth of data...clearly showed that the radioactive cigarette smoke had the potential to cause cancer, yet they never released these findings to the public. Instead, knowing that their product might be exposing people to smoking and radiation that may, quite literally, kill them they elected to continue with business as usual stocking the store shelves with radiation-tainted tobacco.

    Making the evidence go up in smoke

    Angry yet? Well as shocking as this tale already is, believe it or not it's...arguably...not even the worst part of the story. A recent UCLA study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research has raised the possibility of an even more sinister agenda. According to the study's authors, "...the industry used misleading statements to obfuscate the hazard of ionizing alpha particles to the lungs of smokers and, more importantly, banned any and all publication on tobacco smoke radioactivity." In other words, according to the UCLA researchers, Big Tobacco not only committed the sin of omission by not telling people about the hazards, but they also went one giant immoral step further by deliberately covering up the potentially life-saving information.

    Tallying up the radioactive damage

    So, just how much radiation is a regular smoker absorbing? Over a 20 to 25 year period it equals about 40 to 50 rads. A number that, according to the EPA's figures on lung-cancer risk in people exposed to radon gas, equals about 120 to 138 deaths per 1,000 smokers. It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that with over 46-million adult smokers in the U.S.A. alone we're talking about a huge number of potential deaths here. Yet, despite these frightening statistics, to this day the industry has declined to make any changes, even refusing to adopt techniques that were developed that could have helped eliminate the IP-210 from tobacco. A choice they likely made--according the UCLA team's research--because the process would ionize the nicotine in the cigarettes making it more difficult to absorb and less likely to keep a smoker addicted.

    Taking action to put out fires

    So what now? The first thing to do, obviously, is kick the habit to eliminate risks of smoking and radiation. Whether it's cold turkey, a support group, the patch, or gum do whatever it takes to get yourself off the stuff as soon as you can. Your doctor might be able to help you with some useful suggestions (but if he writes you a prescription for Chantix find yourself a new doc because, as I warned you all the way back in 2008, the drug may have violent and even deadly consequences for some). Next consider increasing the amount of cancer-fighting vitamin-K2 rich foods in your diet. In one study men and women with the highest K2 levels developed 50 percent fewer cases of lung cancer compared to those with the lowest intake. You can eat more sauerkraut, butter, fermented cheeses (like feta), organ meats, and egg yolks to bump up your K2 levels naturally. And finally, I urge you to contact the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products to tell them that they should make the removal of alpha particles from tobacco products a top priority (a regulatory right given to them by the passage of the 2009 passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act).
  17. Risk for stomach cancer in heavy drinkers

    I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine with dinner, especially around the holidays. But I strive to keep it in moderation. Here's one reason why... A new study found that heavy imbibing might put you at risk for stomach cancer, especially if you're a man. And one type of drink may be more dangerous than all others are. For this study, researchers looked at the drinking habits of 500,000 Europeans. At the start of the study, more than 10,000 of the men said they consumed -- on average -- more than four drinks per day. The researchers classified these guys as "heavy drinkers." And by the end of the decade, the researchers found that the heavy drinkers had almost doubled their risk for stomach cancer compared to the men who had less than one drink a day. The connection for women is less clear. The data was somewhat limited because there were far fewer female heavy drinkers in the study. Now, to be fair, the "absolute risk" (remember that term?) that you will develop stomach cancer in your lifetime is quite small. For example, there were 13,000 total heavy drinkers in the study monitoring their level of risk for stomach cancer. But just 33 of them got stomach cancer. Nevertheless, the cancer-alcohol link is well-established... Acetaldehyde is a metabolic byproduct of alcohol. And this substance is clearly carcinogenic to humans. Beer, if you ask me, is particularly risky. In addition to the acetaldehyde, beer contains nitrosamines. This substance causes cancer in animals. So this holiday season, enjoy yourself. Just don't go overboard or make it a yearlong habit.
  18. Can vitamin E really cause prostate cancer?

    A few weeks ago, you probably came across a news report that warned "vitamin E increases prostate cancer risk." And hopefully, you ignored it. This vitamin E and prostate cancer study is pure nonsense. Published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study was designed to fail. And maybe that's what the researchers wanted all along. Here's what the researchers did to get their lousy results... They recruited 35,000 healthy men. Then, they divided the men into four groups. One group received 400 IU of vitamin E for four years. A second group received 200 mcg of selenium. The third group took both vitamin E and selenium. And the fourth group took a placebo. The researchers stopped the study early, in 2008, because they discovered a slight increase (13 percent) in prostate cancer cases among men taking vitamin E. The team thought this increase might have been due to chance with the men taking vitamin E and prostate cancer developing. So, they continued to follow all the men through July of this year. After some statistical voodoo, the researchers found that men who took vitamin E alone developed 17 percent more cases of prostate cancer. Hmmm...17 percent increased risk. Sounds serious, right? Well, hold on a second. Unless you have a mathematics degree, you might not realize the study reported a "relative risk" of 17 percent. This is far different from an "absolute risk" and far less reliable. So why even use relative risk? Well, I have a hunch. According to the website (managed by the mathematicians at George Mason University), relative risk "tells you nothing about the actual risk." It's a different kind of ratio altogether. For instance, if the rate of cancer started out as 1 in 100. And then it went up to 2 in 100...that is an increase of 100 percent in "relative" risk. That sounds enormous, doesn't it? To non-statisticians especially, it can make things sound much scarier than they really are. Even the Mayo Clinic says, "Risk seems greater when put in terms of relative risk." (And again, maybe that's what the study's authors intended.) But if you only got your health news from USA TODAY or MSNBC, that's all you would know about the study. "Vitamin E pills raise prostate cancer risk by 17 percent!" the headlines screamed. You wouldn't know that it's a "relative" risk. And that's not all... Here's what else is missing from the mainstream reporting...

    The real facts you need to know about vitamin E

    Over the past five years, I've written about vitamin E 48 times. A few of those times, I even covered studies about vitamin E and prostate cancer. (Remember, the major study from earlier this year that followed 20,000 men with prostate cancer? The researchers found that men with low vitamin E levels in their blood got prostate cancer much more frequently.) Well, in every one of those 48 articles, do you remember what I told you to remember when you take vitamin E? That's right. It's got to be all-natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. This ensures you get the complete spectrum of E vitamins in their natural form. Synthetic vitamin E just doesn't cut it. First of all, it's half as effective. Second of all, I don't trust how it's made. They chemically fuse trimethylhydroquinone (TMHQ) with isophytol to make synthetic E. I wouldn't give it to my dog, much less a patient concerned about prostate cancer prevention. Of course, in the new JAMA study, they gave synthetic vitamin E to the men. (As I said earlier, it's as if they designed the study to fail.) But not one article I read in the mainstream press mentioned this critical fact. You have to look up the actual study to get this information! And even then, most folks wouldn't understand it. On the JAMA website, it says the researchers gave the men 400 IU per day of all rac-a-tocopheryl acetate. This stands for "racemic modification." But only a nutritionist (or a biochemist!) would know that's the synthetic form of the vitamin. So, let's recap...

    Why did it make headlines in the first place?

    In this study, we've got men taking a poorly-absorbed synthetic vitamin to prevent prostate cancer. (Nutritionists don't ever [and I mean EVER] recommend you take this vitamin in its synthetic form. But let's not get picky, I guess.) We've also got a 17 percent increase in RELATIVE risk for prostate cancer. (The study's authors admit the initial modest increase could even have been due to chance. But again, I guess I'm being too picky to expect the mainstream press to mention this or that the ABSOLUTE risk for men taking vitamin E is teeny tiny.) Plus, two other major studies -- cited within the JAMA report -- show no increase in prostate cancer risk for men taking vitamin E. So why was such a big deal made about this study? Why did it even make headlines? Call me jaded, but there's one reason why this study made it into the spotlight...and one reason alone. Fear sells. Plus, each time a bogus study like this makes headlines and strikes fear in the minds of readers, we inch dangerously closer to increased regulation. The average reader doesn't know the difference between absolute and relative risk. They have no idea the study used a synthetic vitamin. So they think, "gee, maybe we should let the government take more control of natural supplements." If this trend continues, I fear one day you'll need a doctor's prescription to pick up a bottle of vitamin C. Won't that make Big Pharma happy!? Stock up now.
  19. New evidence finds chance that fluoride causes cancer

    Last August, I told you about a small Tennessee town that took a stand against adding fluoride to public water. You know I have real problems with fluoride. The stuff is just plain toxic. Research links excessive exposure to it with neurotoxicity, genetic damage, and learning problems. And now -- the state of California seems close to admitting there is a chance that fluoride causes cancer! That's right. In fact, in a few weeks, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) will review mounting evidence that fluoride causes cancer, a deadly form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. If the agency sees enough evidence (and I think it will), it will place fluoride on a list of harmful chemicals thought to cause cancer. Municipalities around the country began adding this dangerous toxin to our public drinking water in the 1940s. And we've been drinking this stuff (and brushing our teeth with it) ever since. Hopefully, California's EPA will pave the way and place fluoride on their list of cancer-causing chemicals. If it does, I can only hope that this toxin's days in our drinking water are numbered.
  20. The breast cancer fighting benefits of walnuts

    A few months back, I told you that we know what causes 95 percent of cancer. And it's got very little to do with your family history. In fact, just because your mom got breast cancer, it doesn't mean that you'll get it too. New research may even show preventing breast cancer to be one of the many benefits of walnuts in your diet. A whole new generation of experts believes most cancers -- the vast majority of them -- occur because of "epigenetic influences." In simpler terms, it means that factors such as your diet and your environment affect your genes. Some factors, like exercising every day, "turn on" your protective genes. On the other hand, leading a sedentary lifestyle "turns off" these protective genes. And remember my guy, Dr. Ajay Goel? He discovered that curcumin "turns on" the genes that protect you against colon cancer. He promised to find more "epigenetic influences" on cancer. Well, Elaine Hardman, PhD, beat him to the punch this month. Dr. Hardman, from Marshall University, found that eating one type of snack food appears to "turn on" the genes that protect you against breast cancer. Plus, in animal studies...mice fed this snack food got less than ½ the cases of breast cancer. And if they did get cancer, the tumors were smaller and less aggressive. Breast cancer targets even "healthy" women Breast cancer is a complex disease. Sure, there are things you can do to improve your odds, such as maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. But even that may not be enough. Breast cancer strikes women of all shapes and sizes. Not just the overweight ones. Just pick up a gossip magazine any week of the year and you'll read about another lean and glamorous showbiz woman who got breast cancer. Andrea Mitchell is the latest victim. She's fit, she's healthy, and -- yes -- she's got breast cancer. But -- as Dr. Hardman found -- one snack food may make a huge difference in your chances of getting breast cancer! Now, here's the all important question...are you eating enough of it? You'll be surprised to learn how little you may need! Snack food "turns on" protective genes Dr. Hardman and her team of researchers bred mice genetically programmed to develop breast cancer. They fed half the mice a typical mouse diet. The other mice received a diet enriched with walnuts. After weaning, the mice ate the human equivalent of about two ounces (a handful) of walnuts each day, and the benefits of walnuts began to show in their health. Hardman found that mice fed walnuts got less than ½ the cases of breast cancer compared to the mice fed typical diets. Plus, the tumors they did get were significantly smaller! And remember all of these mice were genetically programmed to get breast cancer. The only difference was the walnuts! Results apply to humans, researchers say Yes, this study followed mice. But the researchers said the walnut diet changed the activity of multiple genes relevant to both mice and humans! According to Dr. Hardman, "Food is important medicine in our diet. What we put into our bodies makes a big difference -- it determines how the body functions, our reaction to illness and health. The results of this study indicate that increased consumption of walnuts could be part of a healthy diet and reduce risk for cancer in future generations." Well said, Dr. Hardman! Eat your walnuts each day, ladies. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols. Sprinkle them on salads, add them to muffins, or just eat them by the handful. If the mouse research holds up (and I think it will), the benefits of walnuts may wake up those genes that protect you from breast cancer!

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