Monthly Archives: March 2014

IV Vitamin C Helps Ovarian Cancer

High Dose Vitamin C Helps Ovarian Cancer Patients

Reference:  Science Daily Feb 2014  High Dose Parenteral Ascorbate…

 Ovarian Cancer is one of the nastiest because it presents pretty late.  Many women are already in Stage 3 or 4, which means the disease has spread beyond the ovary and is “out of the barn”.    To find something that works and extends the life of ovarian cancer patients is a pretty big idea.

In this study, the doctors at Kansas in the OB-Gyn department and the Integrative Medicine department decided to collaborate to see if they could find an effect with ovarian cancer.  (One can make the argument; they didn’t have much to lose because what we are doing now has such limited positive outcome.)   To their delight and surprise, they found a pretty remarkable effect.  The life span of the 27 women in Stage 3 and 4 cancers was doubled.  Side effects from the chemotherapy were significantly reduced.  The authors noted that in lab models with mice the same thing was observed with longer life and fewer toxic side effects.  In their laboratory models they found that the high dose vitamin C caused DNA damage and depleted cellular adenosine triphosphate, activated the AMPK pathway and mTOR inhibition. That’s code language for “It gave the cancer cells a really hard time.”

IV Vitamin C is not a new idea but it’s outside the pale of most traditional medical practice.  Normal human Vitamin C levels are only in the 1.5 mg/dl, which is pretty low compared to many other mammals.  Linus Pauling was very interested in this discrepancy. Goats make 17 grams a day, but humans only need 45 mg to avoid scurvy.  Seems to be a discrepancy.  In the 1970s a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr Meyer, started giving folks IV vitamin C along with a cocktail of other commonly deficient nutrients.  It caught on because folks felt an increase in energy after the IV treatment.  There are now several thousand doctors around America who administer IV Vitamin C.  I am one of them.

When you take a gram of Vitamin C orally, your blood level might get up to about 5.  Two grams gets you to 9, maybe, but also gives you diarrhea.  When you get the IV Vitamin C at a dose of 25 grams, you get a blood level of about 300 for about two to four hours, then you excrete it all in your urine.  In those couple of hours, you make a remarkable amount of hydrogen peroxide, which is thought to be the killing agent against the cancer cells.  But then it’s gone.  In those four hours you have the remarkable production of peroxide and seem to have a rebound reduction of inflammation.   Most folks who get the IV Vitamin C just feel better.   Inflammatory conditions are generally improved.

WWW.  What will work for me.  I’ve been giving IV vitamin C in my office to cancer patients for a year now.  To my small experience, I’ve felt I’ve helped folks quite a lot.  I’m going to be much more enthusiastic now.   This study is not proof.  It’s a pilot study and larger ones should follow.  There is some skill and nuance to giving the IV Vitamin C in a safe fashion.    But I’m pretty excited by this new weapon against cancer.

Pop Quiz:

1.  Ovarian Cancer is easy to diagnose.  T or F

False.  Miserably hard
2.   Our current chemotherapy regimens prolong the life of ovarian cancer patients remarkably well.  T or F

Really false. It works, but not near as well as we would like

3.   IV Vitamin C can be administered safely?  T or F

True

4.   It reduces side effects of chemo and prolongs life in ovarian cancer patients.  T or F

That’s it in a nutshell

5.  Taking oral Vitamin C accomplishes the same thing.   T or F

Sadly not, It appears to be a dose dependent thing and IV gets levels 20-30 times higher

Having Friends Lowers Health Care Costs for Adolescents

Having Friends Results in Lower Health Care Costs for Adolescents
Reference:  Appl Health Econ Health Policy April 2014

What good are friends?  We know in our hearts that our friends are our treasure!  Each of us has a few really good ones, and we ache to keep them close, in touch and a part of our lives.  We attend reunions with our childhood school friends, making jokes about how he have changed.  Yet we yearn for their approval and acceptance, even after all those years.  We hear anecdotes about the benefit of friendship, like Dr. Oz calling the Vitamin F.  And we have had epidemiological evidence that strong friendships reduce risk of stroke by 50%.  If friendships are so important, why have we not had more quantitative research?

Even the Mayo Clinic has a web page dedicated to the benefits of having and keeping friendships.   “Friends prevent loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also: Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.  Boost your happiness and reduce your stress.  Improve your self-confidence and self-worth.  Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one.  Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise”

Well, here is a good study I found just published this week.  Some 10,578 adolescents of various ages and backgrounds in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were followed and evaluated by a whole host of social, medical, educational, economic and health cost measures.  This is a true statistical sample done by the best of epidemiological geeks.  They used terms like QALYs for Quality Adjusted Life Years to measure the impact of friendships down the road.  NMB stood for “net monetary benefit” of social connections.   The question they wanted to answer was “what is the effect of peer status in school as measured by later life health care costs”.  That’s something that can be measured objectively.   It becomes an objective measure of the health benefit of friendships.

What they found is just what you would predict by the seat of your pants.   The more connected and socially engaged teens are in high school predicts their health care costs in the coming years.   Comparing disengaged teens with only 0-1 friends, compared to kids with 8 or more friends, they were able to document a societal cost of about $ 4,400 per disengaged teen.  Having fewer friends ends up with higher health care costs.  There you have it.  This is hard research to do as it is so “squishy” and takes careful statistical study to turn subjective experience into objective science.   I would hope that this study sparks more research on this topic that may be at the core of huge health and happiness benefit.

WWW. What will work for me.  Keeping friends takes intentional effort.  I find that scheduled activities are needed to break into the routine of lives lived in suburban homes, far apart from those we have developed caring relationships to.  So, the next time I have coffee with a friend, or hike a hike, or share a play, I’ll consider how lucky I am that they are helping me pick up my QALYs and NMBs.   Does that mean I have to pick up the bill?

Pop Quiz
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1.  Disengaged teens have fewer friends than engaged teens.  T or F

Duh

2.   This paper shows that being disengaged and isolated as a teen results in higher health care costs in the next 5 years.

Yes.  About $ 4,400 per teen

3.  This paper makes the connection between social isolation, connectedness and measurable health care cost.  T or F

True

4.   Dr Oz calls Friends Vitamin F.

True or False

Ture

5.   You have enough friends.  T or F

Ask youself if you have someone who would “Come to the airport to pick you up when you lost your car keys on vacation” – or some such help.

6.   You have people from your childhood that you still cherish and remember – and would pick up with if you lived close.  T or F

True?  Hope so.

7.   It’s never too late to start.  Make time to do something together.  Join a club, a church.  The hiking club of Milwaukee Loves GUESTS.  Come make a friend and go hiking.

 

 

Alzheimer’s Disease has Altered Blood Fats

Alzheimer’s Disease and Altered Blood Fats
Reference:  Nature Medicine March 2014

Imagine!  A blood test that could predict Alzheimer’s disease with 90% accuracy.  That would be a block buster.  Right now we have some tests that have some predictability like the spinal tap or specialized MRI scans but they are either expensive or “not so good”.  And Alzheimer’s progresses with deadly effects as it robs us of our memory and relationships.  If things keep going the way they are, fully 50% of us will have it by age 85.  It seems to act like a disease of insulin resistance in the brain, and having low grade diabetes makes for one of the leading risk factors for the illness.

To have a blood test that predicts it would be huge. And that’s what this study showed.  Taking 10 different lipids, these researchers did a careful statistical analysis of the combination and found it to be able to predict Alzheimer’s with 90% accuracy.  They followed 525 folks over age 70 for up to five years and watched who converted from normal to Alzheimer’s in that time period.  No one lipid was positive.  In fact, each of the 10 were only 10-40 % different than the “average”, but the combination made a composite score that was 90% accurate.  Impressive.  Now,it just needs to be repeated with a larger number of folks

This study makes sense to me.  Phospholipids are energized phosphate containing fats that are heavily concentrated in our brains. There are dozens of different ones.  Some of the names in this study are things like lysophophatidylcholine (lysoPCaC18:2) and acylcarnitines (ACs)Propionyl AC(C3) and C16:1-OH).  Our modern American diet has dramatically shifted with massive changes in the micronutrient fat content.  Our omega three fat content has dropped and our omega 6 fat content has surged. These two families represent fully 40% of the dry weight of our brains.  Very likely, (and this is my conjecture) we have also had equally disruptive changes in the content of our phosopholipid intake.  Add that to the dramatic surge in sugar with its damaging effects, and one could argue it’s a wonder we haven’t gotten in more trouble sooner.

www.  What Will Work for Me.  Phosphatidyl choline is thought to be useful as an adjunct treatment for the prevention of Alzheimer’s.  Will taking one of these fats work to prevent Alzheimer’s? I think it’s time to craft a strategy to supply these micronutrients as food supplements for those who are concerned.  At least some of them.  And next time I forget to do some errand, I wonder if I shouldn’t  be the first on them.

POP QUIZ

1.  Your risk of developing Alheimer’s, if you live to age 85 is?

50%

2.  Being mildly diabetic is a high risk for developing Alzheimer’s.  T or F

True

3.  Some other risks for Alzheimer’s include?

Lack of exercise
Lack of love and relationships (never married)
Birth order (worse for later)
Stress
Family history
Low Vitamin D
Low fish oil intake

4.  We have accurate means of testing for Alzheimer’s before it is diagnosed clinically?  T or F

False. We haven’t go much that’s useful.

5.  Our current methods of treatment of Alzheimer’s are so effective that we advertise for them all the time.  T or F

False.  It’s pretty false hope that we advertising.  Perhaps a bit of slowing but not stopping.

6.  This test is ready to be done on you if you are worried.  T or F

No.  Has to hold up in a bigger study.

4.  We have accurate means of testing for Alzheimer’s before it is diagnosed clinically?  T or F

False. We haven’t go much that’s useful.

5.  Our current methods of treatment of Alzheimer’s are so effective that we advertise for them all the time.  T or F

False.  It’s pretty false hope that we advertising.  Perhaps a bit of slowing but not stopping.

6.  This test is ready to be done on you if you are worried.  T or F

No.  Has to hold up in a bigger study.

Lousy Sleep is a Pain

Lousy Sleep is a Pain!

Reference:  Wilkie Arthritis and Rheumatology,  Feb 25th 2014

You are just waking up for the first day of day light savings and you didn’t get a good night’s sleep.  You feel achy and sore.  Could there be more to it than that?  Well, surprisingly enough, yes!

Widespread Pain is a specific identity as defined by the American College of Rheumatology.  You might have heard about it as it is often called fibromyalgia.  The associated signs and symptoms include frequent visits to physicians for diffuse symptoms that cannot be easily identified with high anxiety and depression scores.  It’s a tough place to be, as modern medicine, to date, has not come up with effective answers.

What did this study do?  It started with 4326 subjects who did not have WP (widespread pain) initially.   2,764 did report some localized pain at the beginning.  At the end of the three-year study period 800 (18.5%) fit the criteria for WP.  In them, it was new onset.   Of the folks with “some pain” at onset, 25% progressed to WP.   The predictive factors were investigated, though the study was not designed to identify the cause of the pain.   Non-restorative sleep was the strongest predictor.

Did you get that?  Non-restorative sleep is when you wake and feel like you really didn’t get a good night’s sleep.   You are still tired.   There have been other studies where people are woken up every time they get into deep sleep and those studies have shown that people will report more painfulness in various spots when they finally do wake up.    That makes for a very interesting link.  What it is about deep sleep that cures your brain and stops the registering of minor aches and pains and chronic and persistent pain?

And is that why exercise is helpful in fibromyalgia.  You get yourself tired and that helps you get into deeper, more restful sleep.   It is not the exercise per se, but the sleep that is helping you feel fully restored.

What are good sleep habits?  Avoiding caffeine within 12 hours of sleep may be one key factor.  Going to bed at the same time calls out our attention today.  Calming activity late in the evening,  avoiding strong emotion arousing TV shows late at night, reducing bright lights.  There are lots of good habits you can follow.

WWW. What Will Work for Me.  I do find I do much better if I can have an hour of quite reading before bed.  I need a cool bedroom with warm blankets.  And I do better if I go to bed, not having eaten for at least three hours.  My major meal at lunch helps sleep at bedtime.

Pop Quiz

1.  The strongest predictor of developing wide spread pain is?

Non restorative sleep.

2.   A good night’s sleep is strong helped by what habits?  Name some

a)   Eating smaller supper

b)  Exercise

c)   Quiet activity in the evening.  Exercise earlier in the day

d)  No caffeine for 12 hours prior to sleep

e)   Lower lights

3.  Lousy sleep causes fibromyalgia.  T or F

F. Can’t say that.  Just that it is associated

4.   Day light saving time switches disrupt everyone’s sleep in the spring.

Just about

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Foods That Harm Your Brain

Foods that Harm Your Brain
Reference:  Jacka PloS One 2011,  Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study,Hordaland Health Study,Ok!  Food is our strongest medicine.  We know that food has huge impacts on our internal metabolism. And the case is clear that many of our illnesses are caused by inflammation, diffusely prevalent and persistent.  Now, we are beginning to make that link with the inflammation set off by the food we eat and the effect that has on brain health and metabolism.

What do you think would be the effect we would find on our brain, if you accepted the premise that our brain is about 50% white cells,  each of which respond to inflammatory signals?   Our glia, those cells that shrink-wrap our neurons in a protective sheath called the blood brain barrier, are effectively white cells.  They have many surface markers and proteins that allow them to react to inflammatory signaling.  If you have inflammation going on in your body, you are going to have your brain affected.  And what foods set off inflammation?  Right:  sugar, lack of omega three fats (fish oil) and excess of omega six fats (vegetable oil), trans fats (Crisco), excess saturated fat without omega fats.

That sounds to me like a trip to a fast food restaurant.  Or, anything from a machine with a pull level that drops packages to the bottom.  Or, how about being contained in a plastic bag – chips, cookies, nachos.  It’s what we call “junk food”.  It’s what our kids eat with enthusiasm because it’s food that is designed to dramatically affect all our taste receptors.  The most insidious effect of all may be from “processing” that makes fine white flour and raises the glycemic index.  The persistent assault of elevated carbohydrates on our brain may be an integral part of that damage.

What do the above referenced studies above show?  From Australia, 2054 adolescents eating lots of chips, chocolate, pizza and soda were associated with a worsening of their mental health status.  Or, 23,020 pregnant mothers from Norway eating lots of junk food during pregnancy and during the first 5 years of life predicted future aggression, hyperactivity, tantrums all independent of other confounding factors.    Or 5731 adults who had a “better quality” diet had less depression and anxiety.  Another study from Spain (The Sun Project) following 12,059 students who were initially free of depression found that trans fats predicted onset of depression.  More and more studies like this all point the same way.

Why all this?  It may not just be inflammation.  My read is that your brain is mostly fatty molecules.  Omega fats are incredibly mobile and fluid.  They comprise the majority of your brain fats.  But saturated fat and trans fats in particular just don’t fit into your membranes.  It may not be just inflammation.  It may be the simple geometry of our brains’ building blocks, fats.  The two together add up to a double whammy.

WWW:  What will work for me. So here I am poised between foods designed to tempt me beyond imagination, and desire to keep my brain healthy.  What we call junk food may be more junky that we realize.  When I pull into McDonald’s to get two grilled chicken sandwiches (and throw out the buns), I really can’t have the 700 calorie Frappacino coffee/trans-fat/sugar drink.  No really.  Can’t.

 

Pop Quiz
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1.   Many studies are now showing that the eating of “junk food” worsens mental health in children. T or FTrue

2.   The effect can be measured starting with what mothers eat when they are pregnant.  T or F

Again, true.

3.  Eating junk food as an adult also has measurable effects on mental health.  T or F

Alas, true.

4.   The common threads in junk food include trans fats, omega fats, saturated fats.  T or F

Actually, a trick question.  It’s probably the lack of omega three fats, the excess of saturated fat without omega fats and high glycemic foods that make the majority of the difference.

5.  Your brain is almost half white blood cells, and those cells respond to inflammation.  T or F

If you call the glia white cells, it’s true. The glia are the protective cells the shrink wrap your neurons and protect them from outside damage.

6.   High glycemic foods may also be part of the problem.  T or F

My belief is that this is true.  It’s quite a controversial topic. Read the book “Grain Brain” and tell me what you think.

7.  A trip to any fast food restaurant is likely great for your attention and focus is you get a great cup of coffee.  T or F

True.  If you just get the black coffee.  Otherwise, go back and read all the articles above and see if you still want to eat fast food.