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17 November 2007

Chinese Medicine Relieves Asthma

A new South Korean study has shown that injection of a traditional Chinese herbal extract into acupuncture point could have both an anti-inflammatory and an immune-regulatory effect on bronchial allergic asthma. The herb used was perilla seed; injection is a therapeutic technique combining both acupuncture and herbal treatment.

Perilla seed has been used to treat respiratory diseases in Chinese medicine. The leaves of perilla have previously been shown to have a suppressive effect on allergies.

Recent studies have shown that perilla seed polyphenols regulate allergic diseases by 5-lipoxygenase inhibitory activity, along with the suppression of histamine release from mast cells.

* Chinese Medicine News November 14, 2007

Merck Unblinds AIDS Study

Merck plans to tell thousands of people who volunteered to test an experimental AIDS vaccine whether they received the actual shot or a placebo. The vaccine may have actually raised the risk of HIV infection.

Two international trials of the vaccine were halted in September after it became clear that the vaccine did not prevent infection. In early November, researchers saw worrying indications that the vaccine could raised the risk of HIV infection, although they have asserted that the vaccine itself could not cause an infection.

In many tests of new drugs, neither the researchers nor the volunteers know who gets the actual drug and who gets a placebo, in order to avoid any bias in determining how well the treatment works.

* Reuters November 13, 2007

16 November 2007

Dr Kevin's thoughts...

Finally science is catching up with what I know be true! As most of my patients would know I highly recommend certain saturated fats for optimal health. These include coconut oil and and lard... yes you heard right animal fat! These are important especially if your a protein type (please google metabolic typing for more info), have high cholesterol or insulin/diabetes problems. Enjoy the following articles found in men health magazine and melt that guilt away next time your having full fat butter!

What if Bad Fat is Actually Good for You?

For decades, Americans have been told that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes heart disease. But there's just one problem: No one's ever proved it
By: Nina Teicholz

Palmitic and lauric acid, however, are known to raise total cholesterol. But here's what's rarely reported: Research shows that although both of these saturated fatty acids increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol, they raise HDL ("good") cholesterol just as much, if not more. And this lowers your risk of heart disease. That's because it's commonly believed that LDL cholesterol lays down plaque on your artery walls, while HDL removes it. So increasing both actually reduces the proportion of bad cholesterol in your blood to the good kind. This may explain why numerous studies have reported that this HDL/LDL ratio is a better predictor of future heart disease than LDL alone.

All of this muddies Keys's claim of a clear connection between saturated-fat intake, cholesterol, and heart disease. If saturated fat doesn't raise cholesterol in such a way that it increases heart-disease risk, then according to the scientific method, the diet-heart hypothesis must be rejected. However, in 1977 it was still a promising idea.

That was the year Congress made it government policy to recommend a low-fat diet, based primarily on the opinions of health experts who supported the diet-heart hypothesis. It was a decision met with much criticism from the scientific community, including the American Medical Association. After all, officially endorsing a low-fat diet could change the eating habits of millions of Americans, and the potential effects of this strategy were widely debated and certainly unproved.

We've spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease. The most recent example is the Women's Health Initiative, the government's largest and most expensive ($725 million) diet study yet. The results, published last year, show that a diet low in total fat and saturated fat had no impact in reducing heart-disease and stroke rates in some 20,000 women who had adhered to the regimen for an average of 8 years.

But this paper, like many others, plays down its own findings and instead points to four studies that, many years ago, apparently did find a link between saturated fat and heart disease. Because of this, it's worth taking a closer look at each.

The Los Angeles VA Hospital Study (1969) This UCLA study of 850 men reported that those who replaced saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats were less likely to die of heart disease and stroke over a 5-year period than were men who didn't alter their diets. However, more of those who changed their diets died of cancer, and the average age of death was the same in both groups. What's more, "through an oversight," the study authors neglected to collect crucial data on smoking habits from about 100 men. They also reported that the men successfully adhered to the diet only half the time.

The Oslo Diet-Heart Study (1970) Two hundred men followed a diet low in saturated fat for 5 years while another group ate as they pleased. The dieters had fewer heart attacks, but there was no difference in total deaths between the two groups.

The Finnish Mental Hospital Study (1979) This trial took place from 1959 to 1971 and appeared to document a reduction in heart disease in psychiatric patients following a "cholesterol-lowering" diet. But the experiment was poorly controlled: Almost half of the 700 participants joined or left the study over its 12-year duration.

Stop Blaming Saturated Fat

The research is clear: Carbohydrates, not fats, are the foe in America's battle against heart disease and obesity

By: Adam Campbell & Jeff Volek, Ph.D., R.D.

The recent news that the Atkins low-carb diet works well and improves health has some people scratching their heads.

If Atkins means eating lots of meat, eggs and cheese, won't all that saturated fat wreck your cholesterol levels and put you on the road to heart disease?

Well, no. There's no good evidence of that. And there's plenty of evidence that the opposite is true--that eating more saturated fat lowers the risk for heart disease. That's what a recent Harvard University study found: People who had the highest saturated fat intake also had the least plaque buildup on their artery walls. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition described the findings as an "American Paradox."

In the Stanford University study that made recent headlines, women on the "fatty" Atkins diet ended up with the healthiest cholesterol levels and the best blood pressure readings, compared to those on other diets, notably the famous Ornish low-fat diet.

Here are a few bullet-points summarizing the current research on saturated fats.

--We typically eat more than a dozen kinds of saturated fat. Some have zero effect on cholesterol. Some raise bad (LDL) cholesterol, but all of them raise good (HDL) cholesterol to a greater extent. That’s a net gain in heart health.

Sleep Drugs Are Wildly Popular Despite Barely Working

Americans spend nearly $5 billion a year for sleep medications that are only marginally effective.

An analysis of sleeping pill studies financed by the National Institutes of Health found that newer sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata reduced the average time to go to sleep by just under 13 minutes compared with fake pills.

Meanwhile, people who took the sleeping pills increased their total sleep time by just over 11 minutes compared with those who took fake pills.

As for older sleeping medications like Halcion and Restoril, people who took the drugs fell asleep 10 minutes faster and slept 32 minutes longer than those taking a placebo.

Yet, the participants believed they had slept longer, about 52 extra minutes with the older drugs and 32 minutes with the newer drugs.

People may believe they sleep longer than they really do when they take sleeping pills because of a condition called anterograde amnesia, which causes trouble with forming memories. When people wake up after taking sleeping pills, they may, in fact, simply forget that they had been unable to sleep.

The pills, though questionable in their effectiveness, are extremely popular even though they can cost up to $4 per pill. They’ve also been linked to a number of serious, though relatively uncommon, side effects, such as sleepwalking, sleep-eating, and traveler’s amnesia.


* New York Times October 23, 2007

Too Much Sugar Kills Your Sex Life

High levels of fructose and glucose in your bloodstream can turn off the gene controlling sex hormone quantities in both men and women.

These simple sugars are metabolized in the liver, with the excess stored as fat. But too much fat synthesis deactivates the SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) gene, causing levels of SHBG protein to plummet. SHBG protein controls the levels of testosterone and estrogen in your body.

Too little SHBG protein means too much testosterone and estrogen, which increases your chances of acne, infertility, polycystic ovaries, uterine cancer, and heart disease.

* November 10, 2007

* Softpedia November 10, 2007

A Low-Carb Diet Stunts Prostate Tumor Growth

A reduction in insulin production brought on by a diet low in carbohydrates can stall the growth of prostate tumors, according to a new study performed on mice.

Insulin, and a related substance known as insulin-like growth factor (IGF), have been linked with the growth of prostate tumors in previous research. For the new study, researchers divided 75 mice into groups eating either a low-carbohydrate diet, a low-fat but high-carbohydrate diet, or a diet high in both fat and carbohydrates.

The mice on the low-carbohydrate diet had the longest survival and smallest tumor size. Low-fat mice had shorter survival and larger tumors, and mice on the high-fat, high-carb diet had the worst survival and biggest tumors.

* Eurekalert November 13, 2007

15 November 2007

Vitamin D: one of the most potent antioxidants in the world.

A very good topic on Vitamin D, one of the most important nutrient that I stress for my patients with scoliosis and most conditions. Unfortunately due to propoganda mainly from sunscreen producers and cancer fears the general public has been taught to fear this essential nutrient. Sunlight actually prevents cancer! The key to safe exposure is to avoid sun burns as each person has different sensitivity to the sun.

Enjoy the video,
Dr Kevin Lau

The Truth About Statins

A recent study (1) offered evidence that statins can halt and even reverse the progression of heart disease. The results were widely reported across the press and Professor Roger Boyle, the government heart tsar, declared that statins are so safe and effective that ideally every man over 50 and every woman over 65 should be taking them.

Statin prescriptions have risen by 150% in England in the past 5 years and the National Institute of Clinical and Health Excellence (NICE) recommend that statin therapy is offered to all adults with a 20% risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years (2).

But what is the truth about statins? A growing number of experts are raising doubts about the safety and effectiveness of statins.

One study found that men over 69 didn't benefit from taking the statins at all, they didn't live longer and didn't have fewer heart attacks and women of any age didn't benefit either (3).

In addition there are side effects, including muscle pain and weakness, which are unsurprising when you look at what statins do. Statins work by blocking the production of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the liver and in doing so block a vital substance called co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

Among other things CoQ10 is vital for energy production in the muscles. Controlled trials have shown that it has a remarkable ability to improve heart function (4,5) and is now the treatment of choice in Japan for congestive heart failure, angina and high blood pressure.

To prevent or treat cardiovascular disease take CoQ10 every day and make changes to your lifestyle and diet, focusing on a low glycemic-load diet and making sure you eat the right sort of fat such as Omega 3 found in oily fish.

Whilst statins work by reducing the 'bad' cholesterol, there is a vitamin which will raise the levels of HDL 'good' cholesterol. This is the B vitamin niacin (B3). A number of studies show that it is effective not only in raising HDL by as much as 35%, but also in reducing LDL by up to 25%. In comparison, statins only raise HDL by between 2% and 15%.

Check your homocysteine levels as high levels in the blood increase risk of stroke mortality. Fortification of flour with folic acid (an important homocysteine-lowering B vitamin) in Canada and the US has coincided with a considerable drop in heart attack and stroke rates of between 10% and 15%. Translated into UK terms, that means that increasing folic acid intake could actually save more than 5000 lives a year. And if folic acid is taken for three years, it can lower stroke risk by 31%, according to a recent analysis of all trials, published in The Lancet (6).

As well as folic acid, other B vitamins - B2, B6 and B12 - also help to lower homocysteine, along with zinc and a nutrient called TMG (trimethylglycine). These nutrients are found in greens, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and root vegetables. Cutting back on alcohol and coffee, reducing stress and stopping smoking will also help to reduce homocysteine.

Eat plenty of food rich in magnesium and supplement 300g, as it improves heart muscle function and lowers blood pressure (7). The richest source of this mineral is dark green vegetables, nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds. Plant sterol and soluble fibre both have a cholesterol-lowering effect so eat more seeds, nuts and beans, especially soya, oats, barley and aubergines.

14 November 2007

Childhood Hyperactive Behaviors Exacerbated By Food Additives And Artificial Color

Many children's foods contain AFCAs (artificial food color and additives) which fuel hyperactive behaviors in children, according to a report published today in The Lancet. The writers say these AFCAs have a significant effect, at least up to middle childhood. The AFCA impact is general, it does not limit itself just to children who are already extremely hyperactive, such as those with ADHD, say the researchers.

A previous study* suggested levels of hyperactivity in 3-year-old children were significantly raised after they were given a specific mix of food additives - according to parental ratings. (*Bateman B, Warner JO, Hutchinson E. et al. The Effects of as double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colorings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Arch Dis childhood 2004; 89: 506-11)

The authors say they are not sure whether their findings apply to older children. However, they ask whether the general levels of hyperactivity in children in the general population might not go down significantly if AFCAs were withdrawn completely.

When levels of hyperactivity in a child are raised he/she risks experiencing challenging developmental and educational difficulties, especially with regard to his/her reading skills. The adverse effects of AFCA, write the authors, have a detrimental effect on a child's ability to benefit from schooling.

Jim Stevenson, University of Southampton, UK and team looked at the effects of additives on changes in children's behavior in a community-based, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. The trial was sponsored by the Food Standards Agency (UK). A double-blind placebo trial means neither the people being observed, nor those giving the target medications/products/chemicals know who is getting the real thing and who is getting the placebo.

The study involved 153 children aged 3, plus 144 children aged 8-9. They were given either a drink containing sodium benzoate plus one of two AFCA mixes, or a placebo drink. The two AFCA mixes contained: Mix 1 - the same ingredients used in the previous study. Mix B -what the average 3 year-old and 8-9 year old may be consuming today. The children's behaviors were measured by a GHA (global hyperactivity aggregate) - this is based on teachers' and parents' ratings, along with a computerized test for attention (just for the 8-9 year-olds).

The researchers found that:

-- Mix A had a significant adverse effect on children in GHA for all the 3 year-olds, compared to the placebo.
-- Mix B produced mixed results for 3 year-olds
-- Both Mix A and Mix B had significant adverse effects on the 8-9 year olds, compared to the 8-9 year-olds on the placebo
-- Children vary greatly in their levels of adverse effects from consuming AFCA

"Although the use of artificial coloring in food manufacture might seem to be superfluous, the same cannot be said for sodium benzoate, which has an important preservative function. The implications of these results for the regulation of food additive use could be substantial," concluded the authors.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

The Rise and Fall of Pharmacracy

By Christopher Kent, DC, JD

Psychiatrist Thomas S. Szasz (1) has written extensively on the medicalization of American politics. Medicalization is defined as a process or tendency whereby the phenomena, which had belonged to another field such as education, law, religion, and so on, have been redefined as medical phenomena. (2) Thus, medicalization is a process by which the medical profession asserts authority over a sphere of life previously overseen by guardians of morality.

Szasz describes the ideologies of legitimization: theocracy (God’s will); democracy (consent of the governed); socialism (economic equality); and pharmacracy (the therapeutic state). The emergence of the therapeutic state is a product of the 20th century.

From 1776 to 1914, the federal government played no role in civilian medicine. In 1914, the first antinarcotic legislation was enacted. As the century progressed, the federal government’s role in medicine exploded. Szasz offers the following statistics:

* In 1950, funding for the National Institute for Mental Health was less than $1 million. In 1992, it reached $1 billion.

* In 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted, their cost was approximately $65 billion. In 1193, it was nearly $939 billion.

* Between 1960 and 1998, the public expenditure on health care increased more than one hundred times, from $35 to $3,633.

* In addition to these expenditures, government spending in general went from a budget of $13.6 billion is fiscal 1941, to $1.65 trillion in 1998.

One of Szasz’s greatest insights is his description of the process where coercion is transformed into medical therapy:

1. The subject’s “condition” is diagnosed as a disease.

2. The intervention imposed is defined as a treatment.

3. Legislators and judges ratify these categorizations as “diseases” and “treatments.”

The traditional role of coercion as a public health measure dealt with the transmission of communicable diseases. Persons with communicable diseases were quarantined (as in measles) or banished (as in leprosy). Yet as a growing number of behaviors were defined as “diseases” coerced treatment was added to the armamentarium of public health and state authority.

Medicalized conditions include such diverse conditions as gambling (3), smoking (4), gun violence (5), and racism (6). Coercion is used not merely to isolate those with communicable diseases, but to force treatments on persons with tuberculosis, alcoholism, and a plethora of mental illnesses” where the subject is deemed a threat to “self and others.” Children are particularly susceptible to coerced medical interventions, ranging from vaccination to behavior modifying drugs for such dubious diagnoses as ADD/ADHD. Even when parents elect alternative courses of health care, courts have ordered dangerous treatments against the wishes of both parents. Pharmacracy has led to an uncritical deference for allopathic intervention by the legislatures and the courts.

Thankfully, pharmacracy is a 20th century paradigm. As we approached the turn of the century (and the new millennium), a subtle revolution was building steam. Despite economic disincentives, and medicine’s cultural authority, Americans sought to reclaim control over their lives and turned to “alternative” care in unprecedented numbers.

A study by Eisenberg (7) found that in 1990, 34 percent of the people surveyed used at least one “unconventional” intervention in the past year. Indeed, their visits to “alternative” practitioners exceeded visits to primary care medical physicians in that year. A follow-up study (8) in 1997 reported that utilization of “alternative” health care had increased to 42.1 percent. Total out-of-pocket expenditures doubled.

The trend is growing. Kessler (9) reported that 67.6 percent of those surveyed had used at least one “complementary” or “alternative” approach to health care in their lifetime. According to the article, utilization by Baby Boomers is about half, and use by post-Baby Boomers (who have reached the age of 33) is 70 percent.

The true revolution, however, is not in seeking different techniques for treating disease. It is the emergence of a different perspective on the human condition. This is the distinction between “alternative treatment” and “wellness.” People have realized that valuable as medical treatment may be in its proper context, it does not address vital, core issues concerning the human condition.

Legendary economist Paul Zane Pilzer (10) has written, “What we call the ‘health care’ business is really the sickness business. The $1.4 trillion we spend on medical care is concerned with treating the symptoms of sickness. It has very little to do with being stronger or healthier.” Pilzer predicts that wellness is destined to become a trillion dollar industry.

Pilzer wrote, “I define ‘wellness’ as money spent to make you feel healthier, even when you’re not ‘sick’ by any standard medical terms ... As much as we focus on the financial and lifestyle benefits of the business, the real benefit is what you can do to change a life -- and the lives of all people who are touched by that life.”

Chiropractic is perfectly positioned to provide the leadership for the wellness movement, which is both a revolution and a renaissance. We have the opportunity to bring more fullness and joy to humanity than ever before. Will we rise to the challenge, or abdicate our birthright by limiting our vision? Open your mind, open your heart, and let your light shine. Embrace the challenge and change the world.


1. Szasz TS: The therapeutic state: the tyranny of pharmacracy. The Independent Review 2001;5(4):485.
2. Sato A: Medicalization and medicalization theories.
3. Potenza MN, et al: Pathological gambling. JAMA 2001;286(2):141.
4. Antidepressant therapy may help COPD patients stop smoking. Reuters. London. 7/26/01.
5. New AMA president takes on gun lobby. Reuters. Chicago. 6/21/01.
6. Racism as mental illness. 6/1/01.
7. Eisenberg DM, et al: Unconventional medicine in the United States. Prevalence, costs, and patterns of use. New England Journal of Medicine 1993;328(4):246.
8. Eisenberg DM, et al: Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997. JAMA 1998;280(18):1569.
9. Kessler RC, et al: Long-term trends in the use of complementary and alternative medical therapies in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine 3001;135(4):262.
10. The next trillion. Interview with Paul Zane Pilzer. Network Marketing 2001 3(5):40.

13 November 2007

New Research on How Sunshine Decreases Infections

A study of more than 2,000 women has found those with higher vitamin D levels showed fewer aging-related changes in their DNA. A second study, examining almost 1,000 patients in West Africa, showed that low vitamin D levels are common among tuberculosis (TB) patients. Lack of vitamin D has been linked in previous studies to multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases.

Cells have built-in DNA clocks, known as telomeres. Measuring the length of these strands of DNA is one way of examining the aging process at a cellular level.

Women with higher levels of vitamin D are more likely to have longer telomeres, and vice versa. This means that people with higher levels of vitamin D may actually age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D.
No wonder vitamin D has a protective effect on so many diseases, ranging from MS and TB to heart disease and cancer -- it keeps your body young!

* BBC News November 8, 2007

* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1376-1383, November 2007

* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1420-1425, November 2007

* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1257-1258, November 2007

Newest Thoughts on Brain Food

This intriguing editorial from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looks at the effects of omega-3 fats on brain health. Now that more than 5 million Americans have some form of Alzheimer’s disease, and just as many suffer from vascular dementia, preventing and slowing the progression of neurodegenerative disorders is a public health imperative.

A host of recent studies, in the AJCN and elsewhere, have looked at the relation between omega-3 fats and cognitive function. These studies could eventually lead to opportunities for early intervention to maintain brain function and slow progression to dementia.

One of the best things you can do to prevent dementia--and a variety of other chronic disease--is to adhere to a nutritious diet, suitable for your nutritional type. Increase the amount of fresh vegetables, which are high in folate, in your diet, and restrict grains and sugars.

One of the crucial balancing acts on the course to better health, and warding off dementia, is mastering the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats in your daily diet. Both are essential for your health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats, like DHA.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats should be 1:1. Today, your intake ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1!

The easiest way to balance your ratio is to consume more omega-3 fats from good sources and to reduce your intake of omega-6 fats. The primary sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oil, so avoid or limit these oils. Your best source for omega-3 is from fish oil or krill oil. This is a clean, safe and pure alternative to fresh fish.


* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(5), 1259-1260, November 2007

12 November 2007

Sunshine vitamin supplement recommended by Canadian government

The Canadian government, sometimes critised for its tough stance on natural health, now sees the light from the sunshine vitamin...

Sweeping cancer edict: take vitamin D daily

Recommendation comes on heels of U.S. study suggesting supplement slashes risk of disease by as much as 60 per cent

From Friday's Globe and Mail

June 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM EDT

TORONTO. The Canadian Cancer Society plans to announce Friday that all adults should start taking vitamin D, coinciding with the release of a groundbreaking U.S. study indicating the supplement cuts the risk of cancer by an astounding 60 per cent.

The move is believed to be the first time a major public-health organization has endorsed daily use of the sunshine vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy for an entire population.

It follows a flurry of research suggesting the low-cost vitamin confers a high degree of protection against a wide variety of cancers. There are also striking study results suggesting that people who develop the disease often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

Although it is not known how many of the approximately 160,000 cancer cases diagnosed annually in Canada might be avoided by regular popping of a vitamin D pill, the cancer society said these findings are so compelling it felt it had to start urging people to act on them.

"We're hoping that in making this recommendation we'll be able to make some headway in cancer prevention," said Heather Chappell, senior manager of cancer control policy.

The society has tailored its recommendation to skin colour, which determines how much of the vitamin a person makes naturally when naked skin is exposed to strong, ultraviolet sunlight. Darker skin contains pigments that reduce production.

The society says whites should take supplements containing 1,000 international units a day during fall and winter, the six months of the year when sunlight falling on Canada isn't strong enough for skin to fulfill its vitamin D role. Those with dark skin, who don't go outside frequently or wear full body clothing for cultural or religious reasons, such as veiled women, should take 1,000 IU year-round.

It would cost as little as about $15 for a year's supply of this amount of vitamin, indicating that, as an anti-cancer therapy, the over-the-counter supplement has extremely modest cost.

Currently, Health Canada recommends only 200 IU to 600 IU daily, depending on age. These amounts were based on vitamin D's recognized ability to prevent bone problems, but are too low to prevent cancer. Some oily fish, such as sardines, naturally contain low amounts of vitamin D, as does milk, which is fortified with small amounts. Although diet is a source, about 90 per cent of the vitamin in people comes from sunlight.

The federal government says it is watching the cancer research and intends to make the review of its recommendations a high priority.

"Health Canada is aware of recent research on the role of vitamin D and of the evidence suggesting that vitamin D insufficiency may be a concern in Canada," the federal agency said in an e-mail statement to The Globe and Mail.

There are about 200 different kinds of cells with receptors for vitamin D, which plays a strong role in boosting immune function and repairing damaged cells. These factors may explain its anti-cancer properties.

The cause of the cancer epidemic sweeping the world has long eluded researchers, but the U.S. study being released today found that the 60-per-cent risk reduction is the strongest evidence to date that many cases of the disease are linked to a vitamin deficiency. Over the past few decades, vitamin D levels in the public have likely fallen because of lifestyle changes, such as the use of sunscreen in summer and people spending more time indoors.

"It's an important component of cancer prevention," said Joan Lappe, lead author of the study and professor of medicine and nursing at Creighton University in Omaha, who added that there is "overwhelming evidence supporting the need for higher vitamin D intakes in populations throughout the world."

In the experiment, a group of women were given 1,100 IU of vitamin D a day, just a bit more than the cancer society is recommending, over a four-year period. The women taking the supplement had vitamin D blood levels more than double those typically found in Canadians in winter. Their cancer incidence was dramatically lower than another group of women receiving a dummy pill.

It is the first large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled experiment, the gold standard for testing drug efficacy, to prove cancer-prevention effects from vitamin D. A paper outlining the finding is appearing in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Almost every type of cancer monitored, including breast, colon and lung, was lower in the vitamin D group. In the experiment, vitamin D was accompanied by a dose of calcium, part of a separate experiment to see if the mineral helped prevent bone fractures, but the researchers believe the vitamin was responsible for driving down the cancer rate.

"This is really potentially big stuff," said Reinhold Vieth, a University of Toronto professor who is an expert on vitamin D.

There weren't any serious side effects, so the supplement also appears to be an unusually safe therapy.

The cancer society's Ms. Chappell called on health agencies to fund further vitamin D trials to confirm both the findings in the new U.S. study, and do research on higher doses, to see if this cuts risk even further.

Among the cancers linked to low levels of the vitamin in previous research are those of the breast, rectum, ovary, prostate and pancreas, as well as multiple myeloma.


Vitamin D: more evidence on anti-cancer effects

Twenty years ago some clinical nutritionists and medical researchers argued that vitamin D might be as close to a magic bullet in the cancer prevention field as you could get. Another study from University College San Diego supports this notion.

Study Shines More Light On Benefit Of Vitamin D In Fighting Cancer

Science Daily - A new study looking at the relationship between vitamin D serum levels and the risk of colon and breast cancer across the globe has estimated the number of cases of cancer that could be prevented each year if vitamin D3 levels met the target proposed by researcher.

Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., cancer prevention specialist at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D3, particularly in countries north of the equator. Vitamin D3 is available through diet, supplements and exposure of the skin to sunlight.

"For the first time, we are saying that 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancer could be prevented each year worldwide, including nearly 150,000 in the United States alone," said study co-author Garland. The paper, which looks at the dose-response relationship between vitamin D and cancer, will be published in the August edition of the journal Nutrition Reviews.

This could be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements and short intervals -- 10 or 15 minutes a day -- in the sun," said Garland. It could be less for very fair-skinned individuals. He went on to say that "the appropriate dose of vitamin D in order to reach this level, could be very little in a lifeguard in Southern
California... or quite a lot for someone in Northern Europe who tends to remain indoors most of the year."

The serum level recommended by the study would correspond to intake of 2000 International Units per day of vitamin D3 for a meaningful reduction in colorectal cancer. The researchers recommend 2000 IU/day, plus, when weather allows, a few minutes in the sun with at least 40% of the skin exposed, for a meaningful reduction in breast cancer incidence, unless the individual has a history of skin cancer or a photosensitivity disease.


Live longer with vitamin D, study says

09/11/2007 - Vitamin D may help slow down the ageing process, scientists have found, adding further weight to the importance of adequate intake of the vitamin.

Researchers from King's College, London, measured telomeres - part of a chromosome which shortens with age - in more than 2,000 women and found those who had higher levels of the vitamin in their body had longer telomeres.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the scientists looked at 2,160 women aged 18 to 79 years and measured leukocyte telomere length (LTL). LTL is a predictor of ageing-related disease and decreases with each cell cycle and increased inflammation, the scientists said.

Scientists measured concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (the 'storage' form of vitamin D) and found a link between increased concentrations and telomere length.

They found that after taking into account the age of the volunteer, women with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to have longer telomeres.

They wrote: "The difference in LTL between the highest and lowest tertiles of vitamin D was 107 base pairs, which is equivalent to five years of telomeric ageing. This difference was further accentuated by increased concentrations of C-reactive protein, which is a measure of systemic inflammation."

The team concluded that higher vitamin D concentrations, which are "easily modifiable through nutritional supplementation", are associated with longer LTL, which underscores the potentially beneficial effects of vitamin D on ageing and age-related diseases.

Lead researcher Dr Brent Richards said: "These results demonstrate for the first time that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D.

"This could help to explain how vitamin D has a protective effect on many ageing related diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Further studies are required to confirm these findings."

They also found that out of the women tested, 700 already took vitamin D supplements, and had longer telomeres than those who did not.

However, the scientists gave no indication of what levels of supplementation would be needed to achieve these results.

The scientific community has already called for an increase in the recommended level of vitamin D intake.

Currently, the recommended daily intake is set at 400 IU, and the tolerable upper intake level (UL) in Europe and the US is set at 2000 International Units (IU), equivalent to 50 micrograms per day. Research, particularly from clinical trials, suggests that this should be raised.

A recent risk assessment by the US-based trade organisation, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) concluded that the UL could be raised to 10,000 IU (250 micrograms per day).

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. The former, produced in the skin on exposure to UVB radiation (290 to 320 nm), is said to be more bioactive. The latter is derived from plants and only enters the body via the diet.

Both D3 and D2 precursors are hydroxylated in the liver and kidneys to form 25- hydroxyvitamin D, the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2007

Nutritious Whole Foods compared to Taking Vitamin Supplements

David Jacobs, Ph.D., the principal investigator and Mayo Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota suggests that our approach to healthy eating might be wrong. Instead of focusing on specific nutrients or the amount of fat, carbohydrate, and protein that a food has it should be looked at as food as a whole. The research was reported in the October edition of the Journal of Nutrition Reviews.

Jacobs said that consumers are getting the wrong idea about eating healthy by picking out certain nutrients and it could be maybe be unhealthy. Instead he and co-author Professor Linda Tapsell of the University of Wollongong in Australia said that there should be more education on the entire food product and eating patterns in order to be better educated about nutrition to benefit our health.

One example that the researchers use is orange juice that is marketed as healthy because there is vitamin C and added calcium. In some instances isolated supplements have been shown to be harmful instead of helpful. There have been long term clinical trials that have shown that supplements of beta-carotene and B-vitamins could pose harm and cause cardiovascular events. However, if a person consumed these vitamins in naturally occurring food these same nutrients have been shown to improve long-term health.

By looking at whole food and interactions that are created between other food components it may further explain ways to be healthier. The researchers think that we should be thinking of food as the center focus on our nutritional health and that more research needs to be conducted on whole foods.

Tapsell said to “Think food First,” as the advice for when you want to improve your dietary nutrition and health.

By Mark Barone
Best Syndication News Health Writer