Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cow Milk and Human Breast Cancer

Cow Milk and Breast Cancer

Reference: Plos1 Sept 2015

Sept 28, 2015

Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is widespread in cows. When you test milk from large dairy farms (where all the milk is mixed together) you get 100% of milk samples containing the virus. When you test milk from farms with 100 cows or less, you will find that 83% of samples have the virus.   It should be cleared with pasteurizing.   Only 5% of cows infected with it show any evidence of illness, so it’s not exactly a dangerous virus for cows.   Up till now, it was believed that the virus is not transmitted to humans.

So when the authors of this study from Berkeley looked at samples of 239 cancers of the breast, they found that 59% had BLV antibodies.   Women with premalignant changes had the virus detected 38% of the time and breast samples from women with no cancer only showed the virus 28% of the time.   That makes a gradated level of risk that adds to the plausibility of an association. Considering that most cancers take 20-30 years to emerge, it would not be surprising that 29% of controls with no evidence of cancer showed signs of cancer, only lifetime observation will prove whether they develop cancer over a lifetime.

How does the virus get from cows to humans? That is not known. Pasteurizing should work – but on occasion may not. Raw milk would certainly be one means. Raw hamburger might also be. The virus might be in humans for generations, being passed on in humans. There is currently no known route of transmission. But there it is.  And populations that drink milk have much more breast cancer than those who don’t.

The means by which the BLV virus causes cancer has been studied and it fairly well understood. Just like the HPV virus, which is also a “retrovirus”, it inserts itself into the DNA of the cell and breaks up the ability of the cell to repair its own DNA.   Mutations begin to occur and over a lifetime gradually accumulate. In the right environment, the emergence of a cancer is possible.

Does this prove that the virus causes cancer? No, no! Don’t jump to that just yet. The women in this study might be very different populations. The authors took breast tissue from women who already had cancer, and women with reduction mammoplasties. They might be very different populations.

This association, though, is now stronger than any other for risk of breast cancer other than age and Brca1 gene. (Diabetes, non-human hormone therapy, smoking, etc). That gives it the possibility of being a screening function for breast cancer risk that might be more sensitive for future risk than what we currently employ. In cows with persistent high white count, only 1 in 50,000 white cells show evidence of the virus, so it’s not exactly an easy thing to screen for, but then again, nothing is at first until you figure out methods by which to improve.

And we do have retroviral drugs now for HIV. Might they work on this virus?

WWW. What will work for me.   Well, I’m not doing anything at the moment.   It does make me a bit more cautious about raw milk. I might cook my hamburger a bit more done, but I should be doing that anyway considering e. coli and company.   But this is a tidbit of information I want to keep knowing, and being aware of.


Pop Quiz

  1. Cow leukemia virus causes breast cancer. T or F

Whoa Nellie. Not so fast. But it may be part of the picture. Not proven yet.

  1. The association of BLV and breast cancer is stronger than most risk factors, like family history which is only 2% of risk. T or F


  1. Altered human hormones represent a greater risk for breast cancer than this virus. T or F


  1. It takes 20-30 years for a cancer to emerge from it’s first mutation. T or F

Very likely

I should stop drinking milk because of this finding.

  1. Well, probably not. This is still just in the form of information. Hang in there.

We have good tests to screen for BLV. T or F

False. Nothing yet. This is all research material.

The Devil in Milk: The A1 Casein vs A2 Conundrum

The Devil In Milk: the A1 vs A2 Protein Story

Sept 21, 2015

Reference: The Devil in Milk by Keith Woodford Diabetologia Elliott

Did you know that there are several forms of milk? The protein casein is not the same in every cow. Most European cows have what is called A1 casein. Most Asian cows have A2 casein. Casein is about 30% of the protein in human milk, but 80% in cows’ milk. At position 67, A1 milk has a histidine amino acid, A2 has a proline amino acid.   Beta-casomorphine-7 (BCM-7) is a 7 amino acid peptide that is released when you eat A1 milk, but not when you eat A2 milk.   BCM-7 is a morphine type chemical that can be blocked by naloxone.

Now, there is all sorts of interesting epidemiology around milk. For example, you can show that populations that drink more A1 milk have more insulin dependent diabetes in them in children, and more heart disease in adults. You can also find that Samoan children, raised in Samoa don’t get insulin dependent diabetes, but raised in New Zealand, they do. If you take mice that are genetically sensitized to getting diabetes, and feed them either A1 or A2 milk, you can show that 47% of the mice fed A1 milk got insulin dependent diabetes, but non of the A2 fed mice did. And if you feed them A1 milk, but block BCM-7 with naloxone, they still don’t get the diabetes they otherwise would have developed.

Now, this is where this topic goes down a “rabbit hole” of controversy. Most of the big dairy money in the world that trades milk internationally, uses A1 milk. That means they are in deep trouble if this data is true. A1 milk might be dangerous for you. The dairy trade would collapse. That would mean it would be in “big milk’s” best interest to deny, degrade, denigrate, obfuscate and attack anything they can about this issue. And they have. It is possible to change over a dairy herd from A1 to A2, but it takes about 10 years of time to breed new cows and get the genes into them with proper breeding.   It can be done. It just takes 10 years.

And there continues to be data about the dangers of A1 milk. There was a patent application in New Zealand claiming that autism has a strong correlation to the consumption of A1 mild.   That application was made by the company denigrating the original research, and then withdrawn and never published in the medical literature. Oh, the intrigue!   So, more epidemiology: the Masai in Africa have A2 milk, and drink 7 liters a day. No heart disease. In Europe, the Finns drink only A1 milk and have lots of heart disease. The French have mostly A2 milk, and have half the heart disease. On and on…

What’s happening in Wisconsin?   There are some herds in Wisconsin that are being converted by using A2 bulls.   Some of the alternative media is beginning to run articles on it.   New Zealand seems to be leading the pack in developing an A2 herd. But there remains controversy. And some of that controversy appears to be research that proves the opposite, but was in fact, intentionally sabotaged with BCM7 protein, and should be actually takes as proof of the fact it was trying to unseat. Isn’t the intrigue a riot? Like a detective novel.

WWW.   What do I think of all this?   I believe there to be some truth to it all. Not certain how deep, but I trust passionate truth tellers more than corporate monied interests. Between Johne’s Disease in cows (paratuberculosis that I think may be the cause of Crohn’s Disease) and concerns about how proteins are altered with pasteurizing, I don’t drink much milk.   If I could find A2 milk from a single herd that was Johne’s free, I might reconsider.   I’m certainly going to think about it and pay attention to it. And likely to tell more clients to avoid milk, unless it’s A2.


Pop Quiz

  1. Our current milk supply in America is digested into a product that has morphine like qualities to it?   T or F


  1. American Milk is primarily A1 milk which is a genetic variation off the original aboriginal milk, now found in Asian and African cows, called A2 milk (even though it was the original).   T or F

True. You are now getting the gist of this article.

  1. There are epidemiological studies connecting A2 milk to heart disease and insulin dependent diabetes. T or F

False. That’s backwards, it’s A1 that is connected to those two.   And autism, and Crohns, and, and, and…

  1. You can convert a herd of cows to being A2 cows by using only an A2 bull for about 10 years.   T or F

True. And it’s happening right now in a bunch of Wisconsin herds.

  1. One little amino acid substitution at position 67 out of over 200 amino acids is all it takes to make this mystery mysterious?   T or F

True. Amazing, isn’t it. But the same can be said for Sickle Cell and many other conditions.


How Low Should You Go?

The Sprint Study: How Low Should Your Blood Pressure Be?

Sept 14, 2015

Reference: New York Times , NIH National Heart and Blood Institute Sept 2015

This is really a big deal.   I’m very relieved to hear at because it was just two years ago that a huge meta-analysis said it was no big deal to treat high blood pressure until it was 160/95.   Now we have exactly the opposite and to a remarkable degree.

This is the Sprint Study. In it, 9,300 adults from about 100 medical centers across America and Puerto Rico with high blood pressure were recruited to two arms. One group was treated to a systolic (the upper number) pressure of 140. The other was pushed down to 120 or lower.   The study was meant to be concluded in 2017 but was released this week because the preliminary findings were so robust that the authors felt it to be unethical to continue and not release their findings.   The extra effort of pushing blood pressure down to 120 or lower resulted in a 30% additional decrease in “bad things” like stroke and heart attack, and death about 25% less.   We have had about a 70% drop in stroke since the 1970s when we started to treat high blood pressure, so this should be in addition to that. This is a pretty simple study with a pretty dramatic finding, and just about every expert in the field agrees with the importance of it, and the need to implement this into clinical practice.

What’s my read on it.   Well, I can’t help but agree with it.   It makes sense. But I have a very different take on it. First of all, basic human physiology. As folks get older in indigenous societies around the world, their blood pressure drops. In America, it’s like a rite of passage that our blood pressure rises and by age 70 some 70% of us have high blood pressure.   That means it’s our environment that is askew here in America. And just what is it in America that is doing it to us? And what is high blood pressure?

Second answer first.   High blood pressure isn’t just your pressure gauge being higher. It is actually better called “Endothelial dysfunction” – which basically means the lining of your blood vessels is out of whack, and can’t relax. That results in high blood pressure. It can’t relax because of a shortage of nitric oxide, brought on by inflammation and toxins. The most notable toxin is sugar and fructose, that pushes you towards making more uric acid. Uric acid soaks of nitric oxide and with that, your blood pressure rises.   American’s eat 10% of their total calories in the form of fructose alone. (Not everyone agrees with this analysis.) Another toxin is lead.  Another is trans fats (though they are fading.).   But the biggest problem may be your waistline. Fat is inflammatory. Fat tissue is not just passive calorie storage, it is the source of potent inflammation. And that goes everywhere in your body, and annoys your blood vessels. And that contributes to high blood pressure.   Finally, carbohydrates are the final “toxin”.   They cause insulin to be secreted. Insulin tells your kidneys to hang on to salt. It’s that simple. You have shown it yourself when you go on a diet for three days and don’t eat any carbs. You lose 8 pounds.   Seven of those pounds were from the salt water you hung on to. High blood pressure is a disease of too much salt water stuffed into too small a space. The pressure has to go up. In the last 2000 years, and last 100 in particular, we have developed more and more foods that are more “glycemic” and hence, more insulin inducing.

WWW. What will work for me. This study is slightly insane. It’s advocating for treating high blood pressure more aggressively.   In the world of treatment, that is correct. But there is a better world. Prevention. And that starts with weight loss.   Prove it for yourself. Lose 10 pounds and watch your blood pressure drop. Lose 20, and watch it plummet.   The choice is ours.   Do we have the will to change our environment, and lose weight, eat less sugar, less carbohydrates, less trans fats, or would we rather take a pill. This is a huge study. It confirms that changing our environment is crucial. And if you can’t, well, then. Here are three pills.


Pop Quiz

  1. If we pay attention to this study, we should take pills until our blood pressure is below 120 instead of below 140.   (One extra pill a day on average) T or F


  1. This study was meant to be concluded in 2017 but was such a remarkable result, the authors felt compelled to release it earlier.   T or F

That’s exactly what happened.   Very significant

  1. Our environment has changed in the last 200 years by the addition of more fruits and vegetables. T or F

Well, actually probably true, because we can get vegetables year around now which we couldn’t before, but what has happened is that we really eating much less vegetables and fruits, and instead are eating a lot more sugar and refined flour products.

  1. We have not gained much weight recently in America.   T or F

Are you kidding, we are getting fatter by about 1 pound per person per year.

  1. Losing weight lowers our insulin, and helps our kidneys stop holding onto salt.   T or F

Bingo, making weight loss more important than an extra pill.

Fish Oil and the Prevention of Schizophrenia

Fish Oil and Preventing Schizophrenia

Reference: Nature Communications August 2015, Graph

August 7th, 2015

Schizophrenia is a scary disease.   The loss of reality, delusions, paranoia are all disturbing for the individual and society around them.   So catching it early and preventing it is a pretty exciting thought.

The authors in this study took 81 young individuals presenting with the prodrome of schizophrenia: attenuated positive psychotic symptoms; transient psychosis; and genetic risk plus a decrease in functioning who were/are at a very high risk of developing full blown schizophrenia, and split them into two groups. One got fish oil and the other placebo.   Their average age was late teens, with most being around 16-20 years old.   Of the forty in the treatment group, only four progressed to full blown psychosis whereas 16 of the non-treatment group progressed. The dose wasn’t all that big: just 1.2 grams of DHA and EPA. The risk of developing full blown schizophrenia is in the range of 40-60% which is exactly what happened to the placebo group. They only took the fish oil for 3 months, but the effects appeared to last for up to seven years.

This is an amazing study and needs to be replicated. Apparently there has been a much bigger study of some 304 people by the same authors that didn’t show the same effect, until they looked at compliance with the taking the fish oil, at which point a positive effect was noted. And a second study in Canada and the USA will be done in 2016.

How could this be such a huge benefit?   The author of the study attributes fish oil to being an anti-inflammatory medication that has its effect through reduction of inflammation. There is a lot of consideration of inflammation being the cause of schizophrenia right now in the psychiatric literature.   Fish oil is made up of two kinds of Omega-3 fats which are just a few chemical steps away from being made into anti-inflammatory cytokines.

And there might be more to it than that.   Omega 3 fats have 5 double bonds in them, making them very “bent” – as each double bond makes for a 30 degree angle change.   Saturated fat is straight and can pack tightly in a membrane. Olive oil has one double bond, and is much more liquid than bacon fat (saturated fat).   Fish oil is very liquid. There is clear evidence that extra fish oil in pregnancy and early childhood results in better brain health in children. Our brains are 75% water, but the remaining 25% is 60% fat – mostly omega fats. Our brain cells depend on omega fats more than any other cells in our bodies.   And that’s how our nerve cells can process information much much faster.   Our American diet has had a massive change in omega fats in the last 100 years with a huge increase in omega-6 fats as we consume more vegetable oils, and a huge reduction in omega-3 fats as we have less grass raised meat products (the source of natural omega-3) Fish oil is all we have left. The old ratio of omega3:6 which was 1:1 or 1:2 just 100 years ago is now 1:20-50.   Omega 6s are the precursors to inflammation. Taking more omega-6 has been connected to seizures.

www What Will Work for Me.   We just don’t get omega-3s in our diet unless we eat salmon and other ocean fish, or grass raised meat. I take krill oil and cod liver oil every day. I swear it helps my mood. We are going to see more of this. It is already well known that fish oil helps prisoners with aggression, and ADHD with tantrums. It only makes sense that vulnerable kids, tipping on the edge of schizophrenia can be pulled back from catastrophe with the right brain building blocks.   I like this study.


Pop Quiz

Schizophrenia can present with an initial prodrome that represents a very high risk state of proceeding on to the full blown disease. T or F


  1. Administering a gram of fish oil a day to that person may make them less prone to the full blown illness. T or F


  1. The protective effect seems to last up to 7 years. T or F

Amazing, isn’t it!

  1. This study was pretty small. We need replication with folks who are observed to actually take their medications. T or F


  1. Prisoners who don’t get fish oil have more aggressive tendencies. T or F

Five trues in a row.   Our brains need this stuff.   Makes sense.