Monthly Archives: November 2009

Pterostilbenes Suppress Tumor Growth

Pterostilbenes Suppress Tumor Growth

Competency:  Superfoods

Reference:  Carcinogenesis, Min-Hsiung Pan et al, 2009 30(7) 1234-1242

Resveratrol is now all the rage.  It keeps your telomeres healthy and long and reverses or slows many of the effects of aging.  The topic of telomeres has every one buzzing, most notably the Nobel Prize Committee.  So it shouldn’t be surprising when a first cousin of resveratrol, pterostilbene, turns out to have a whole bundle of nifty properties.

From the National Kauhsiung Marine University in Taiwan Min-Hsiung Pan, et al published a study in Carcinogensis about pterostilbenes.  Their study showed that pterostilbene has anticancer, anti-inflammation, antioxidant, anti-proliferation, natural cell death support and analgesic qualities.  That’s quite a handful.    It gets even better.  Metaloproteins participate in getting cancer cells to spread, and all the upregulating that occurs in cancers gets turned off sharply by pterostilbene.  Like a switch, all those upregulated genes get turned down.

This isn’t the only news about pterostilbene.  There have been lab studies coming out for several years.  It appears to also play a great role in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol by activating the PPAR set of enzymes in the liver.  It has been shown to reduce colon cancer spreading in rats by some 57%  (Reddy et al from Rutgers).  It has been shown to be a very strong antioxidant by markedly lowering the TBARS of inflamed diabetic rats.   (Annamalai, J. Pharm 2006, Nov 58(11) 1483)

This stuff sounds like a real superfood.  Just where can we get some?  It is a superfood.  Lowering inflammation, reducing cancer spread and activating helpful liver cell function are all part and parcel of what good foods should do for you.  Where do we find pterostilbene in abundance?

Blueberries.  We already know that blueberries, fed at 10% of calories to rats destined to get Alzheimer’s will prevent the Alzheimer’s.  This is just more evidence of the remarkable chemical effects that our foods have on us.  Resveratrol is from grapes.  Blueberries have pterostilbene, a close relative of resveratrol.  Our food turns on our genes, that rapidly and actively either heal or harm.  Our choice.

WWW. What Will Work for Me?  Blueberries.  Eat them as often as I can.  Making a ritual of having them on my breakfast cereal means I just don’t have to think in the morning.  And now I’ve seen the first product on the market of a supplement of resveratrol combined with pterostilbene.  When the blueberries I froze this summer run out, I may have to pick some of that up.    You’ll hear more.  Keep reading.

Vitamin D Dramatically Improves Response to Hepatitis C Infection

Vitamin D Dramatically Improves Response to Hepatitis C Infection

Reference: Abstract from the Annual Liver Society Meetings, Abu Mouch from Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hidera, Israel.

Treating Hepatitis C is a problem.  It is a chronic disease that eats away at your liver.  The medications are slightly effective, but not always.  A 48% response rate is considered pretty good.  The drugs used have to be given continuously for life and you have to monitor the “viral load.”  If you can pronounce peg-interferon-alfa2b (1.5 µg/kg once weekly) plus ribavirin (1000 to 2000 mg/day) you’ve got the mouthful used to treat chronic Hep C.

In this study of 58 patients, the authors randomized who would get extra Vitamin D sufficient to get to a blood level of 32 ng.  That took between 1000 and 4000 IU a day in Israel (a place that gets a lot more sunshine than Milwaukee).  The 31 patients who got the D were actually sicker than the controls as they had a 68% viral load versus 58%.  They also had more fibrosis in their livers.  What they observed was just a beautiful thing.

The first observation was that 44% of the Vit. D patients had a “rapid response” with dramatic reductions in viral load in just 4 weeks, versus only 18% of the control group with traditional therapy.  Second, by 12 weeks, the Vit D group had a 96% response (26 of 27 patients) were HCV RNA-negative.  This was assessed by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.  This means the virus had disappeared from the blood.  The control group had only 48% response rate.  For those of you who are good statisticians, this is a p < .001 difference.

There is a pattern emerging that I observe in regard to viral infections.  This is a randomized controlled trial with a virus in which we see a strong response.  We also know the story from the Central Wisconsin Care facility from this summer with Swine Flu.  A swine flu epidemic affected only one resident of 275 who were on Vitamin D, but infected 103 workers of the 850 staff who may or may not have been on extra D.  This is considered an anecdote and not “credible” science, but it is a story that fits the pattern.   I personally know of several people who have had cold sores get dramatically better with Vitamin D.  Again, these are anecdotes but close to home with personal experience.  It appears to me that the well-known immune modulating effect of D works with viruses as well as bacteria.

WWW.  What Will Work for Me?  I know my D level is above 32.  This study suggests everyone should be above 32.  It should be the basement of good health, not the target or ceiling.  There is no toxicity of D below a level of 150 ng.  At the American Academy of Anti-Aging, the protocol of treatment of colds was 50,000 IU of Vitamin D for three days to raise your D level 20 ng in 3 days.  Maybe we should keep this in mind the next time we feel a cold coming on.

Vitamin D Helps Middle Aged Men with Insulin Resistance

Vitamin D Helps Middle Aged Men with Insulin Resistance

Reference:  Nagpal et al, Diabetic Medicine, 26, 19-27, (2009)

A randomized, Placebo controlled trial is the gold standard of good research.  Dr. Nagpal found 100 slightly pudgy middle-aged men who agreed to participate in this randomized placebo controlled trial research project.  After randomizing the groups, the treated group got 120,000 IU of vitamin D every other week for three doses.  That is about the equivalent of about 8500 IU a day for 6 weeks.  The treated group had their D level rise from about 14 ng up to about 30 ng, whereas the control group didn’t budge (not surprisingly).   It should be noted that no one got to 32 ng, much less 40 ng which is the real target as stated in last week’s newsletter..

Here is another look at diabetes and D.  What they find is encouraging.  Oral glucose insulin sensitivity changed dramatically in the treated group.  That means the amount your blood sugar goes up after a meal gets MUCH better when you have adequate Vitamin D on board.  The two groups had about a 30 point difference in their “OGIS” or oral glucose insulin sensitivity measure.  This was statistically significant.

What we know at Sinai is that our average D level in admitted patients through the emergency department is about 14 ngs.  That is very similar to the findings in this study.  This study was done in New Delhi with Indian men who were all slightly overweight and had insulin resistance.  They had some habits that we don’t see in America that might have confounded the study slightly.  They chewed betel nut, a habit we don’t see much of in America.  However, both groups did it equally.

Another encouraging finding is that it was safe to take 120,000 IU every other week for three doses, and that this dosing was just sufficient to get folks to a blood level of 30 ng.    Not one patient got a high blood calcium level and there were no detected side effects found in either group.  What we learned last week is that there continues to be improvement up to blood levels of 40-50 ngs when supplementing lasts up to six months.  This study only went six weeks.  This supports the concept that we all have a storage tank in our own fat tissue that we have to fill up as we get started with Vitamin D.  Your blood level does not rise until that storage tank is full.  It takes some 300,000-500,000 IU to really fill that tank if you are aiming for a blood level of 30 ng.  It may take more if you have a lot of Vitamin D storage capacity (fat).

WWW:  What Will Work for Me?  This is a second study about diabetes being helped with a very simple procedure.  Taking D is very cheap and its effect comes along all by itself.  You have no concerns about getting a low blood sugar.  Keep it up!  It’s good for all of us, even before we become diabetic.

Toxic Chemicals in Health Care Workers

Toxic Chemicals in Health Care Workers

Reference: Physicians for Social Responsibility Report  Oct 2009

Twenty volunteer physicians (12) and nurses(8) for 10 different states (Alaska, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Washington) agreed to have themselves tested for their personal exposure to persistent toxins in their environment.  They were tested for 6 chemicals or chemical groups (total of 62 chemicals in all) including Bisphenol A (BPA), Mercury, Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), Phthalates, Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and Triclosan.

These chemicals were chosen because they are all used in health care, are known to be chemicals of concern and may be endocrine disruptors.  All have been reported in peer reviewed literature ass associated with certain diseases, all of which are on the rise in population frequencies.

All participants had at least 24 individual chemicals in their bodys, and two had a high of 39 chemicals.  Eighteen were detected in all 20 volunteers.  All 20 had at least fove of the six categories included.  All had bisphenol A, some form of phthalate, PBDEs and PFCs.

Our regulatory system in America requires that you prove harm.  More confoundingly, the compainies that make these chemicals can produce studies of their own and bring their own experts to show that the science is not clear.  The process of proving danger is very long and complex.  In Europe, the burden of proof is on the chemical company to show safety.  You can imagine the results of research conducted on behalf of chemical companies.  Over 90% of it has been shown to support the chemical company.  Independent academic research doesn’t have the same findings.

If you thought you were safe working in health care, a setting of purity, sterilized environments, gloves and masks, hand sanitizers and isolation rooms, you are wrong.  From Maine to Michigan to Alaska to California, everyone tested was found to have been exposed.  The illnesses associated with these chemicals cover the whole spectrum of new and modern diseases that are rapidly increasing in frequency.  We can’t prove harm easily in our judicial and regulatory system.  It took 40 years to back big tobacco down.  The chemical industry is following the same playbook.

WWW:  What will work for me?  How can I reduce my exposure.  Read the report attached.  We need to all work together to become aware.  There are many specifica actions you can and should take.  Start with not using polycarbonate containers to store and microwave food in.  Avoid stain removers and fire protection spray.  Buy computers from companies that avoid PBDEs.  Most of all, read this report and start including it in you conversations with your patients, your family and your colleagues.  We need a new law in America that keeps us safe.  Europe did it.  We will fall behind as innovation and safety will migrate to Europe.  We should reclaim our title.  And we should be safe.