Friday, 29 June 2007

Warning on Women Taking Biphosphates

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Bisphosphonates are a family of drugs administered orally or intravenously and are used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, Paget's disease (bone cancers), and bone metastasis from other cancers. These drugs can bond to bone surfaces and prevent osteoclasts (cells that breakdown bone) from doing their job. According to Dr. Svirsky, adverse affects from oral bisphosphonates will not show up until three years after the treatment starts, and after that time, the chance of developing osteonecrosis is still low. However, the incidence of developing complications while taking bisphosphonates intravenously is much higher.


Biphosphates, commonly taken in by women in the form of drugs such as Fosamax, a drug that can supposedly help prevent osteoarthritis, can cause osteonecrosis of the jaw, or death of bone cells in the jaw. Such drugs also have other undesirable side effects that leaves one to wonder why they were approved in the first place.

Children Sicker Now Than in Past, Harvard Report Says

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The number of American children with chronic illnesses has quadrupled since the time when some of their parents were kids, portending more disability and higher health costs for a new generation of adults, a study estimates.

An almost fourfold increase in childhood obesity in the past three decades, twice the asthma rates since the 1980s, and a jump in the number of attention-deficit disorder cases are driving the growth of chronic illnesses, according to researchers at Harvard University in Boston. The report is published in a themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association focusing on children's health.

Doctors and public health officials should be bracing for a wave of chronically ill young adults with weight-related ailments that include diabetes and heart disease. In 1960, just 1.8 percent of U.S. children and adolescents were reported to have a chronic health condition that limited their activities. In 2004, the rate rose to 7 percent, researchers said.

``These three conditions -- obesity, asthma, ADHD -- overwhelm all other chronic conditions,'' Perrin said. ``The life of the family practitioner is very different than it was. Far more children come in with the type of chronic health problems we hardly thought about 35 years ago.''

These is alarming but hardly surprising news. Even in the Philippines where I live, I see children more and more children with asthma and those who are obese. Almost every time I go to a super market, I see a very fat kid on a shopping cart, perhaps too fat to move. And I also observe that these children do not have the inquisitive, curious eyes normally associated with children. They have dull, lifeless eyes that appear to be depressed, probably because he had to be removed away from TV.

A deadly combination of unhealthy food, sedentary lifestyle, and considerable lack of its parents' role in physical development are in my opinion the culprit that threatens the well being of children not only in America, but in the whole world.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Finally: Reinforced Regulations Can Help Protect the Supplement Buyer

Good news for all consumers: regulations are tightening over supplement manufacturers, forcing them, if they haven't already implemented such procedures, to up their standards.

FDA issues new safety rules for vitamins

For the first time, manufacturers of vitamins, herbal pills and other dietary supplements will have to test all of their products' ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is phasing in a new rule that is designed to address concerns that existing regulations allowed supplements onto the market that were contaminated or didn't contain ingredients claimed on the label.

Last year, the agency found that some supplements contained undeclared active ingredients used in prescription drugs for erectile dysfunction. In the past, regulators found supplements that didn't contain the levels of Vitamin C or Vitamin A that were claimed.

If, upon inspection, the FDA finds that supplements do not contain the ingredients they claim, the agency would consider the products adulterated or misbranded. In minor cases, the agency could ask the manufacturer to remove an ingredient or revise its label. In more serious cases, it could seize the product, file a lawsuit or even seek criminal charges.


GMPs could force manufacturers to clean-up

On Friday, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued the final rule on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which some say is the most important regulatory development for the dietary supplement in over a decade.

A statute of the 1994 Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA), GMP legislation has been the missing link in governance of the dietary supplement industry. The legislation is set to provide standards specific to this industry for inspectors to check for purity, safety and legality in manufacturing.

Considering that most people do not even think about what's inside their supplement, these new regulations will (hopefully) insure quality in supplements. Of course, prices of supplements which have not before complied to these standards will go up, unless they cut costs elsewhere.

The truth is, most of the cheap brands you find in the market are of sub-standard quality. They are what made the FDA to reinforce rules on them: they may contain less nutrients than the specified amount on their label, may contain illegal substances or probably both. Some supplements do not even get digested; they just pass through the digestive track not absorbed by the body. This is most especially true if they come in rock-hard tablets. The obvious way to check this is to have your solid waste examined or have your abdomen x-rayed, but of course, most people would not want to do these if possible.


Fortunately, for those who would rather take supplements from a manufacturer that is reliable, and has already been up to those standards for years, you might want to check out my parent company Pharmanex.

To start, take the Lifepak Challenge. Compare Lifepak with your multivitamin. Lifepak is our comprehensive multivitamin, mineral and phytonutrient product. No other product in the market even comes close to Lifepak. It's unique, it's complete. It has clinical studies (the product itself, not just the ingredients) that proves its claims. It has already passed several 3rd party tests, including test for banned substances. For everyday supplementation, Lifepak is perfect. If it doesn't work for you, you can have a money back guarantee.

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Monday, 25 June 2007

Why we shouldn't be concerned about negative results from clinical trials

During my long research about nutrition, I often come across clinical trials that tell us that anti-oxidants and other nutrients are useless or does not cause disease to regress. And those trials seem to be valid -- they are the "golden standard" for clinical trials after all: randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials. But as this article argues, clinical trials may not be the best gauge of the effectiveness of nutrients, especially when they are individually tested (like drugs) or when they are used to cure disease, rather than prevent them.

Click here for the whole article.

Randomised clinical trials are the ultimate. Forget what the observational studies tell us, if the RCT gives us an answer it must be the final word, right? Wrong.

The value of such trials for the food industry is undeniable, but too often nutrients are pulled out of context, following the same methodology as used for the testing of drugs.

But let's not forget that by following the drug model we are supplementing the diet with one or two nutrients, each at a single dose, for a set period of time. Can a time-constrained randomised trial really capture a lifetime of consumption with respect to chronic disease?

Despite a vast body of observational/ epidemiological studies linking an increased dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables to reduced risks of a range of disease, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, when such antioxidants have been extracted and put into supplements, the results, according to RCTs, do not produce the same benefits and may even be harmful.

So the author of the article, Dr. Lisa Melton from the London-based registered charity, the Novartis Foundation, concluded that antioxidant supplements are too good to be true.

It certainly begs these questions:

Is this really the answer or is it due to poor study design? Would a two-year trial of vitamin E, let's say, really produce a reduction in the risk of a chronic disease?

The answer is probably "no" or "negligible." The design was flawed from the start. No wonder population-based studies often clash with clinical trials.

Besides, we have to consider that not all supplements are created equal. If the supplements used were sub-standard, then disappointing results really shouldn't come as a surprise.

I think that if only the scientific community will agree that nutrients should be tested differently, perhaps with more consideration to their nature that nutrients work over time and that they work in synergy (with other nutrients) then we would get a clearer and more encouraging results.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

CRN gives details on PR campaign aimed at consumers

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The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has announced further details of a comprehensive public relations campaign geared at presenting the mainstream side of supplementation it says shows its face less often than the controversial side.

The trade association has been giving hints on the upcoming project since 2006, but this announcement represents the first concrete indication a multi-year project is in fact taking place. Dubbed "Life…supplemented", the campaign has the support of 25 dietary supplement companies and will involve online projects as well as advertising aimed directly at consumers.

"We also think that it's going to bring back pride to the industry, because it focuses on the more than 150 million Americans already taking supplements," said Blatman.

CRN wants to encourage a perception that taking dietary supplements is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, in much the same way as it is widely accepted that exercise and a well-balanced diet are pillars of such a lifestyle.

"We want to promote the understanding that supplements are one of the smart lifestyle choices you can make," said Blatman.
It's about time a group takes a step in promoting supplementation. I think the industry has suffered enough blows from not-so-well-meaning opponents, most notably big drug companies. True, the supplementation industry has its own cases of black spots, but overall, the industry has withstood constant barrage. Now it is its chance to clean up its blemishes.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

A sobering thought for the alcohol industry

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Much against my own better judgement, there are some issues it seems, where corporate social responsibility must really live up to its name and truly look after its consumers.

One issue in particular illustrates this point - irresponsible drinking.

The measures are supported by a number of leading industry players and associations like Diageo and Heineken, but are they truly addressing the issue amongst core drinkers? I feel they are not.

Manufacturers of alcohol must look beyond simply restricting advertising practices and make some difficult choices if they wish to retain their freedom to operate unhindered by legislation.
I don't drink alcoholic beverages. I remember my childhood when my dad was a heavy alcohol drinker. He never just seem to get enough. And when he's drunk, you'd better get out of his way or be beaten. Sometimes, he's in a mirthful mood when drunk and seem to be very susceptible to suggestions and boisterous laughter.

I find that drinking alcohol is a weakness -- a weakness in body, in mind and in spirit. I don't know personally how drinking intoxicating drinks must feel, and certainly I don't know how it feels to be drunk. But I have been with friends who do drink and get drunk and I observed them while they are in the act. Most of the time, they do this for merriment but sometimes too in gloomy sadness. Alcohol, it seems, has the power to enhance and dampen moods.

It also appears to alter consciousness. After so many toasts most get drowsy and fall asleep, if sleep is what you can call such stupor.

And therein I find the weakness: a dependency on a substance that can alter moods and consciousness. How many women got pregnant because they were powerless to halt or perhaps even willing to couple with a man? How many people were beaten or killed by drunk companions or drunk strangers? How many suffer from debilitating illness resulting from chronic imbibing? How many vehicle drivers met an accident or an untimely death due to an obvious inability to drive with alertness? I wonder how many will fall victim to this dread substance.

Perhaps there is another weakness involved. Not of the drinker, but of the people who know him -- friends and family members. Perhaps if they were more supportive, more caring, more understanding, more loving then they probably wouldn't be in a downward spiral to the bottom of a bottle.

Or perhaps not. Ultimately, it is a choice whether or not we allow ourselves to such addicting and dangerous habits. Unfortunately for alcoholic drinkers, the choice seems more and more blurry with each gulp.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Additional PR for McDonald's?

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In a bid to convince health-conscious moms that its food is nutritious, McDonald's says it will bring the group of mothers fully inside the company. The moms will visit restaurants, processing plants, orchards and test kitchens.
Apparently, McDonald's is bent on changing its image to appeal to the health-conscious. It recruits 6 moms for inside access to its facilities -- processing plants, restaurants, orchards and test kitchens -- and then they tell what they think in a journal.

Personally, I wonder why they couldn't have brought in 6 respected doctors or nutritionists instead for a more professional look. Then again, this is exactly what they probably would wish to avoid.

I rarely eat at McDonald's nowadays. Before, I was a voracious muncher of its french fries and quarter pounders. That is, until I found out of my health condition (mitral valve prolapse) and I developed gouty arthritis at an early age of 22 years (gouty arthritis usually appears in men in their 40's). I only eat there only when I have no other choice. And I avoid their burgers at all costs.

I wonder how can those moms provide objective evaluation.

To quote a participating mom:

"It's better than eating nothing — and at least it has some protein."

Maybe that's all there is in McDonald's food: some nutrients. The sad thing is, because of its lack of vital nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) and abundance in calories and trans-fat, it may be causing more harm than good.

Cheers for Cherries

I got this from one of my favorite sites, Mercola.Com.

It looks delicious!

This is a "scrum-diddly-umptious" recipe for carb types. You can have this as your main meal after having a nice glass of fresh vegetable juice, as it supplies protein and fat needs for one carb- type meal.

Keep in mind that you can use any type of fruit that you like that's appropriate for your nutritional type.

The cherries are slightly defrosted, nice and cold, making the smoothie creamy and refreshing. The color is gorgeous, the taste sublime.

Best of all, it's easy ... once you know the secret.

Astaxanthin linked to improved heart health

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Astaxanthin, the nutrient that gives salmon its pink colour, may also have heart health benefits, suggests a new study from Finland. Results from the randomised, double-blind study, published in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research, indicated that a daily supplement of the carotenoid, alone or in combination with omega-3, reduced plasma hydroxyl fatty acids levels, indicating that astaxanthin protects sensitive fatty acids from oxidation

"We propose that astaxanthin supplementation may decrease in vivo lipid peroxidation in healthy men," wrote lead author Jouni Karppi from the University of Kuopio.

Astaxanthin, the antioxidant carotenoid most commonly linked to eye health, has been found to be a potent antioxidant, with tests suggesting that it may have a free radical fighting capacity worth 500 times that of vitamin E.

At the end of the study, Karppi and co-workers report that blood astaxanthin levels increased in the carotenoid-supplemented group to 0.032 micromoles per litre. Blood levels of 12- and 15-hydroxy fatty acids were also significantly reduced, relative to the placebo group.

"Plasma 15-hydroxy fatty acid is formed by oxidation of polyunsaturated linolenic and linoleic acids, which are the fatty acids most sensitive to oxidation," explained Karppi.

The study also supported the safety of astaxanthin as a dietary supplement, with no gastrointestinal tract distress reported, nor were there any changes in markers of inflammation or blood pressure.
This is an important study that puts yet another merit to the benefits of Astaxanthin. This could be very useful for people who wish to prevent heart disease or those who want to improve existing heart conditions, especially when combined with Omega-3 fatty acids.

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Thursday, 14 June 2007

No, thanks, doc.

In the Philippines, doctors are regarded highly in society. They are considered unbiased, intelligent and smart. However, this may not be the reality of it.

A while ago I gave my friend a call and told me that her mother was admitted to the hospital for diabetes and was released after a few days. She was asking me what her mother should eat, which I found puzzling since I assume that they were given dietary advice by their doctor. Apparently not. Worse, their doctor told them that the mother can eat anything she wants.

This is completely irresponsible on the doctor's part. The doctor should have given some dietary advice on what she can and she cannot eat so that her blood sugar won't spike up again. Or perhaps the doctor wants the mom to be admitted to the hospital again?

I have recommended a doctor who is a fried of mine who is a also nutritionist. This doctor, Dr Romulo De Villa, is an expert in his field. I hope they can schedule an appointment so that my friend's mom can have a excellent advice.

Now that I thought about it, another friend of mine had colon cancer and when he asked his doctor what he should eat, the doctor -- unbelievably -- suggested that he could eat anything.

Both diseases (cancer and diabetes) are most likely caused by bad diets. If the doctor cannot recommend a good diet, then the disease may be aggravated. I don't blame the doctors themselves: most of them got rudimentary training in nutrition, nothing more. Med school should teach students nutrition and diet also, not just to rely on medication.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Flavonoids linked to improved mental health

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A diet rich in flavonoids, compounds in fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea and chocolate, could reduce the decline in mental function associated with age, says a new study from France.

"This study raises the possibility that dietary flavonoid intake is associated with better cognitive evolution," wrote lead author Luc Letenneur in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Cognitive performance declines naturally with age, but the results of the PAQUID (Personnes Agées Quid) study suggests that this could be slowed by increased intake of flavonoids in the diet.

Flavonoids have been receiving interest with a mounting body of science, including epidemiological and laboratory-based, continuing to report the cancer-fighting potential of a number of different flavonoids, such as isoflavones, anthocyanidins and flavonols.


I think this is good news for people who have been dismayed about the report of Linus Pauling Institute that flavonoids are easily metabolized or broken down by the body, leaving doubt is there are any benefits. However, the article above says that:

"This does not preclude the possibility that flavonoids may accumulate in tissues where they might exert local antioxidant effects or that very low concentrations of flavonoids may modulate cell signalling, gene regulation, antiogenesis, and other biological processes by non-antioxidant mechanisms, which may explain the purported health benefits of flavonoids," wrote Silvina Lotito and Balz Frei in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.


Which is think good insight about flavonoids. More research is needed to confirm the benefits and mechanisms of action. In the meantime, I don't think there is harm in eating more fruits and vegetables -- main sources of flavonoids -- for our good health.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Greetings!

Greetings! I am Jason Estimado, a Physical Therapist from UP Manila and an entrepreneur. Within a few days I will be able to finish this blog of mine and post news, articles and anything related to health and wellness.

For now, a bit about myself. I am a PT from UP Manila who had transformed himself into an entrepreneur. It was a conscious decision. I knew that we PTs have a limited time to work -- eventually, our body will be the one needing therapy! We are much like athletes. So now, at an early age, I am trying to learn how to apply my knowledge in health and wellness no longer as a PT, but as en entrepreneur.

I invite you to join me in my blog. I will compile every little tidbit of knowledge I will gather in the intrnet and beyond here, and will share my own views.

See you again soon, then!

My Bioscanner

BioScanner in CNBC