Monthly Archives: December 2014

IV Vitamin C Gets a Reboot

Vitamin C Gets a ReBoot

Reference: University of Iowa Alumnae Magazine, Winter 2014, PACMAN Study

Cancer cells have a problem. They have broken mitochondria. Mitochondria is the part of the cell that makes energy from high energy compounds. (We call those high energy compounds carbs, and fats and proteins.)   In particular, mitochondria are great at taking fats and burning them down to low energy compounds. (We call that carbon dioxide). In effect, mitochondria are the engines of our cells and in cancer, those engines are broken. Cancer cells can live only by having lots and lots of glucose, which they also burn inefficiently. If we were to follow the engine analogy, we would say that the engine of cancer cells really needs a ring job as it is spewing out black smoke out of its tailpipe.

Black smoke? Well, yes. Cancer cells can’t burn fats and glucose efficiently and in the process of trying to do so, spew out boatloads of partially digested chemicals. The nitty gritty of that chemical process is huge numbers of reactive oxygen species – or free radicals. Those free radicals are pretty damaging things, which means cancer cells are pretty close to trouble, and barely getting along with all of their internal poisons and inefficient metabolism. They only way those cells can survive is to dissolve and destroy tissue around them, spread around the body and generally destroy their own host.   Yuck.

That’s where Vitamin C comes in. When you take Vitamin C orally, your blood level doesn’t get very high. Your body controls the Vitamin C level very tightly, and with a half life of some 30 minutes, anything you take is gone in a couple of hours.   When you give it IV, however, you can get levels a couple hundred times what you get orally.   Hmmm.   If you give it by IV over 3-4 hours, cancer cells get exposed to a very high level for that time, even if it’s gone in just a few hours.

And what happens then?   You likely think of Vitamin C as an antioxidant, and that it is at low, normal levels. But at those high levels you get by IV, it becomes a pro-oxidant. That adds oxidizing stress to those cancer cells that are already stressed out by their own internal flood of reactive oxygen species, and their own inefficient energy metabolism with all their broken mitochondria.

The final straw for the cancer cells may be mediated by Vitamin C turning into a very powerful oxidant, and in so doing, generating hydrogen peroxide.

So the folks at the University of Iowa gave high dose IV C to cancer patients getting regular chemotherapy. And what they found in their preliminary study was pretty amazing. Of 9 patients with advanced cancer given “Two cycles” of IV Vitamin C, survival went from 6 months to 14 months.   And it was very well tolerated with no other side effects.

That’s what I’m seeing in my practice too. It’s not easy to project from the few folks I have, but I’m seeing folks with cancer living much longer than their projected and expected longevity.   And if I can give them another Christmas, New Years, Diwali, Hanukkah with their families, I’m a happy guy.

WWW. What will work for me. Well, I’m thinking about what I want to learn this coming year.   The ketogenic diet adds stress to cancer because it’s all fat, and cancer cells need glucose, not fat. That fat in a cancer cell burns like a car burning oil with black exhaust. But IV vitamin C turns into hydrogen peroxide inside the human body, at the cancer cell. So this coming year, I want to learn everything I can about hydrogen peroxide.   Between IV Vitamin C, a ketogenic diet, strategies to increase peroxide and regular chemotherapy, maybe we can start to put cancer on the ropes.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Taking Vitamin C orally gives you effective cancer fighting therapy? T or F

False. We’ve tried and it really came out a bust. A few hints of help, maybe.

  1. IV Vitamin C cause oxidative stress on cancer cells, but not normal cells. T or F

Bingo

  1. Cancer cells have lousy mitochondria that can’t burn energy efficiently, and as a side effect, make tons of reactive oxygen species, that are very “oxidizing”. (Think dirty exhaust.) T or F

True. Yuk

  1. IV Vitamin C can be given with no side effects, even to folks on chemo? T or F

Not only true, but very likely additive to the salutary effects of the chemo

  1. One strategy to double your expected longevity with cancer is to get traditional chemotherapy along with IV Vitamin C. T or F

Well, not proven yet but this adds to multiple other studies. Kind of exciting.

It’s Sugar, Not Salt that Causes Heart Attacks

The Wrong White Crystals for High Blood Pressure

Reference : OpenHeart Dec 2014

Ask anyone with heart disease what they have to avoid and they will answer, “Salt”. Right? Well, they are wrong.   It’s time to think carefully just what happens with our physiology and how heart disease develops. This article is an elegant discussion of the issue.   It’s not salt, it’s sugar.   We Americans eat about 15% of our calories from table sugar.   The American Heart Association has already come out with guidelines to reduce sugar intake to under half of our discretionary calories in a day. (6 teaspoons for women and 9 for men) That’s too complicated for me. Their earlier comment was simply less than an ounce a day. But is about a quarter of what we are eating today.

Why so stringent?   The evidence continues to accumulate that sugar causes trouble. DiNicolantonio, the author of this review, from Kansas City, has written a beautiful review article that details the problems with sugar. For example, “Compared to patients who consume less than 10% of their calories from added sugars, those who consumed 10.0-24.5% of their calories from added sugars have a 30% increased risk of mortality from heart disease and those who consume more than 25% have an almost threefold risk increase.” An intake of over 75 grams of fructose a day (table sugar is half fructose) is independently associated with 26%, 30% and 77% higher risk for blood pressures of 135/85, 140/90 and 160/100.   Consumption of 150 grams a day of table sugar will lead to a blood pressure rise of 3.8/4.1 mm Hg in just 10 weeks.

Ok, ok! I concede. The data is huge and convincing.   In fact, just one 24 ounce sugared soda will raise your blood pressure by 15/9 and your heart rate by 9 bpm.

What happens if you eat all your fructose in the form of fruit?   One study showed that 200 grams a day of fructose from 20 servings of whole fruit lowers blood pressure.   Way too many carbs, and you will gain weight, but at least your blood pressure doesn’t go up.

DiNicolantinio details several mechanisms by which fructose causes trouble. I like the NEJM review article on Uric Acid and fructose the best.   The steps of trouble go like this: 1. Fructose floods into your liver, that can’t resist taking it up.   2. Your liver must burn one ATP to phosphorylate the fructose.   3. You burn up all your available ATP. 4. Your liver tries to regenerate ATP desperately by turning two ADPs into one ATP and on AMP.   5. AMP degrades to uric acid.   6. Uric acid soaks up nitric oxide in your blood vessels. 7. Without NO, your vessels constrict – that’s called high blood pressure.

Most Americans are eating 2-8 times the generous American Heart Limits. We are in deep doodoo.

WWW. What will work for me? Wow. Sugar is just poison. The problem is, we are all sugar junkies. Our lizard brains were designed to go after sugar because for most of human history, it meant valuable fruit. But if your blood pressure is anything higher than 115/60, you will likely benefit by cutting the sugar.   And this is sugar season.   Hold on!

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Sugar is more dangerous for me than salt when discussing heart disease? T or F

Bingo!

  1. The Average American gets 15% of their calories from sugar? T or F

True

  1. Drinking one large 24 ounce of sugared soda will raise my blood pressure some 9 points.

Yup

  1. The way fructose causes trouble is via uric acid that soaks up nitric oxide.   T or F

Yup again. That’s a nice simple summary.

  1. And Nitric Oxide lowers my blood pressure, so I want it around. T or F

Now you’ve got it.

 

Drinking Milk is Dangerous

Milk Consumption and the Risk of Mortality

Reference: British Medical Journal October 2014

Milk is incredibly valuable nutrition for growing humans. It helps us grow taller and stronger. That’s the conventional argument and what we are taught. It has been argued to have been a key contributor to human successful survival on planet earth. But wait, all is not well. This study is a pretty disturbing study, suggesting that milk might have a dark side not completely elucidated yet.

The study was conducted in Sweden with 61,433 women (ages 39-74) and 48,850 men over 20 years. In that interval, 15,541 women died and 4,259 had hip fractures. Food consumption studies were done with questionaires about what had been eaten over the last year. In women, the adjusted mortality ratio for drinking three glasses of milk a day compared to less than one glass was 193% (basically double) higher.   Ouch. For every glass of extra milk a day, the extra hazard was 15% higher. Double ouch. No reduction in fracture risk was found, regardless of how much milk they drank.

What’s going on? Explain this one to me! Well, milk is the main dietary source of D-galactose.   The sugar, lactose, that’s in milk is a disaccharide of glucose and D-galactose. D-galactose is known to accelerate aging, and is used for that in animal studies. Even low doses of d-galactose shortens life span by inducing oxidative stress damage, chronic inflammation, neuro-degeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes.   The animal degenerations studies use about what you get in two glasses of milk a day for a human. The increase in oxidative stress with aging and chronic low grade inflammation are the touted mechanisms for cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as muscle and bone loss.

Now, what is really interesting is that this study found lower rates of trouble with fermented milk products.   Less fractures and less mortality were both associated with yogurts and cheese.   In fermented products the sugars are used up by the bacteria doing the fermenting.   In the study they found positive associations between milk and urine 8-iso-PGF2α, a known marker of oxidative stress, but not with fermented products.   Intake of cheese and fermented milk products is related to higher HDL cholesterol levels, less insulin resistance, and a lower risk of myocardial infarction. One glass of milk has 5 grams of galactose, far and away the highest source of galactose in our food supply. Cheese doesn’t have that much galactose, it’s fermented out.

It’s the positive associations of whole milk with bone trouble but not cheese or yogurt that seems to be the smoking fun identifying galactose as the enemy. Primitive folks benefited hugely from milk, and had an advantage from it.   And most of what they ate was fermented “stuff” – yogurt, kefir and other mixes.

WWW. What will work for me. I wasn’t aware of the particularly toxic effect of galactose. Now that we can measure oxidative stress and have the ability to look at “Big Data”, we can see patterns.   I thought the effect of milk on increase fracture rate was because of its acidifying effect on your bones, forcing you to excrete calcium in an effort to balance the extra acid from the animal protein.   Maybe it’s both. Clearly, plain milk is not a health food. Cheese, yogurt, kefir? Another matter.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Milk contains the sugar lactose which is a combination of two sugars: fructose and galactose? T or F

False. It’s glucose and galactose

  1. Galactose appears to stimulate inflammation and oxidation, both of which contribute to accelerated aging? T or F

True. That’s the nugget of this study

  1. Cheese and yogurt, both fermented products of milk, have the same bad effect? T or F

False. They actually have a beneficial effect – and don’t contain much galactose.

  1. Food frequency research is pretty reliable. T or F

False. That’s the conundrum of this study. It’s sure easier to do but folks memories are notoriously inaccurate. This study tried to take that into account with several cross related strategies, but the caution remains. That makes the findings interesting, but not conclusive.

  1. With what you know now, you would encourage your kids to drink more that two glasses of milk a day? Y or N

Not me.

Vitamin D and the Link to SAD

Depression and Vitamin D – The Link to SAD

Reference: Med Hypothesis Dec 2014

We are now in the middle of the darkest days of the year with the least amount of sunlight. In Milwaukee, the angle of the sun has dropped to about 220, Our ability to make Vitamin D has dropped to zero back in October and now, two months later, we have lost most of our Vitamin D as it has been two months and the half life of D in our body is about two months.   If we haven’t been on supplementation, our Vitamin D level of 45 back in July is now down to 25. If we are African American, we have dropped from 16 down to 8.   Skin pigment protects skin but also slows Vitamin D production, making for lower levels when living at higher latitudes.

Is this a problem? Well, YES! That’s what this study shows.   Stewart and Kimlin reviewed 100 studies on Vitamin D and depression and combined all their results. They concluded that there is a clear relationship between seasonal affective disorder and Vitamin D levels. Seasonal affective disorder affects about 10% of humans to a degree enough to diagnose.   That means every one of us have a bit of a tendency, some are just more vulnerable.

To date, the method we have used in seasonal affective disorder treatment has been light boxes on the mistaken missing ingredient was the bright light. Results suggest that we get a bit of help from that, though not everyone seems to get the benefit we would like.

Why would D help?   Vitamin D is your body’s hormone that makes cells mature into mature cells. In your brain, you have nerve cells making serotonin and dopamine.   Both of those neurotransmitters are linked to depression.   If you don’t have mature nerve cells, they aren’t going to make serotonin and dopamine, and your brain doesn’t have the tools needed to feel normal mood. We evolved in Africa where we got D year around. Moving to northern latitudes led to lighter skin and lighter hair so that our bodies could make Vitamin D more easily. That allows us to at least live in northern, sun-deprived climates because we can still make decent bones with annual 4-6 months of D dipping to lower levels.   But that doesn’t mean our mood doesn’t take a nose-dive..

This might sound intuitively obvious. This blog has written about it before in reference to one of the first articles about SAD and Vitamin D by Dr Vieth. Since that time, I have advised hundreds of people to take Vitamin D to help with their winter blues, and have had hundreds of happy responses.   When I saw this review, I just had to add to the knowledge.

If you haven’t been on D before and see this newsletter and want to get started, take 100,000 IU of D today. Yes, 100,000. That is the most common means of giving D in Europe: 100,000 once a month. It is known to raise your serum level 14 ng in one day. If you just start on 5000 IU a day, it will take you a full year before you get to a level of 55 or 60.   In that time, you may conclude you didn’t get any benefit.   So, get your loading dose today.   Either that, or take the next plane to Cancun, where you still can get some D.

WWW: What will work for me.   My blood level dropped to 29 when I was taking 5000 IU a day and gardening. My skin doesn’t make it any more at my advanced age of 63. I must have a crummy D receptor – so back to 10 K a day for me. My mood is pretty good.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Vitamin D might be the cure for SAD instead of light boxes? T or F

That is certainly what this study suggests, but that conclusion would be too assertive. It is still an association, albeit a strong one.

  1. You don’t get enough D in winter. T or F

True. You stop making it about Oct 1 in Wisconsin, no matter what sun exposure – the angle of the sun is too low.

  1. The half life of D in your blood is about 2 months. T or F

Perfect. So your level is now half what it was on Oct 8th

  1. Vitamin D is important to the manufacturing of serotonin, the neurotransmitter most important in depression.

True

  1. A single dose of 100,000 IU is safe and effective at raising your blood level 14 ng in one day. T or F

True

The Insulin Trap

The Insulin Trap

Reference: Lustig, Fat Chance

What is the insulin trap?   It’s what most of us are in when we eat food in modern civilization, and it’s what keeps us fat. Let’s start with some simple physiology.

First, what is insulin? Insulin is primarily your survival and storage hormone, not your blood sugar controlling hormone. It is released in response to the “relatively” rapid rise in blood glucose that comes in response to eating high glycemic foods. Throughout most of human history, insulin would be released during periods of high glucose intake, in other words, in fall – just before winter when fruits and gourds and grains were ripe. At that time, we gorged, knowing winter was coming. Insulin was the key hormone adapted to help us store extra calories. It turns on the production of fat in your liver and tells your fat cells to go into import mode.

Second, how long does insulin last? Aha! That’s the key question. Insulin lasts for some 6-8 hours. Blood glucose rises for as long as it takes to process the glucose you have ingested. In modern civilization, we have white flour and sugar (otherwise known as scones, cookies, cake, donuts, bakery,) that is rapidly digested resulting in virtually immediate glucose blood rise. With that sort of rise, you get a rapid spike in insulin.

Third: what happens next? This is the trap. Your blood sugar rises, and falls rapidly. The glucose is gone in 3 hours, but your insulin lasts for 8 hours. For 5 hours you have your blood glucose being depleted below what you feel good with, and your brain feels like it is starving. You become hypoglycemic and must eat more food, quickly to prevent feeling so bad. Those extra calories, in effect, go into fat because you didn’t have them for energy. But you ate them as a response to the blood glucose drop. Therein lies the trap. It’s the hormonal response that forces you to eat more calories than you needed.   You tricked your body to go into storage mode by eating foods that released more glucose than we were designed to experience throughout most of human history.

That gives us a clue. How we were designed? We were designed to eat very low glycemic foods with lots of fiber. Think pumpkins, cucumbers, broccoli, spinach, wild berries, crab apples, dandelions, grass seed…..   Dandelions? Grass seed???   Yes, those were what we ate prior to 10,000 years ago. We have improved “dandelions” into carrots, grass seed into wheat (into bread and flour), crab apples into Golden Delicious – and on and on. We have changed our foods into high sugar foods because that makes them taste better.   By so doing, we have shifted the means by which we digested them. In our prior history, we digested foods in our colon where the resident bacteria released glucose very slowly – so slowly, we hardly used insulin at all. That slow release of glucose would last for hours – more like the 8 hours of time that our insulin lasts.

But wait, the insulin trap is even more devious, and pernicious. As fat cells get larger (aka, you get fat), they become insulin resistant. To get the same response of glucose control, our fat cells need higher and higher levels of insulin, all the time. High blood sugar is dangerous and our body must protect against that as best it can. Once you are overweight, your insulin is then high all the time, forcing you to be in storage mode continuously. You must eat a razor thin margin of food, at the precise intervals of need in order not to gain weight. But you can’t lose any.

There you have it. The insulin trap. Our modern food has such concentrated carbohydrate content, we are stuck in it all the time. And carbs taste good.

How can I escape the trap? Easy. Lower your glycemic index of food: eat vegetables that are not root based or fruiting body based. Go for leaves and stems (spinach, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus). Don’t eat fruits that are higher in sugar: bananas, pineapples, watermelons. Eat more fat. Fat is insulin neutral. It makes you feel full.

WWW. What will work for me. In my mind I’m thinking this before every meal. Bread says to me, “You will be hungry again in 3 hours if you eat me!” so I try not to. Thanksgiving has been tough.   I had tons of turkey. Unfortunately, tons of everything else, too. Well, winter is coming. Time to eat like it’s winter.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. The insulin trap is the effect carbs have on us when we eat processed, high carbohydrate foods.   T or F

True. You got it

  1. The nitty gritty is that when I eat freely available carbs now, I have to eat more later because I feel crummy. That’s the trap. T or F

Couldn’t have said it better myself

  1. You get fat because you eat too much. T or F

True but backwards. You ate too much because your ate the wrong foods first, and ate more later.

  1. The only way to escape the insulin trap is to get out of it. T or F

True. You have to stop eating those carbs

  1. I can lose weight by eating fat. T or F

So true, you might almost say that the ONLY way to lose fat is to eat it.