July 25th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Sometimes the technological innovations that appear to make our lives a lot easier are the same ones that are now destroying our health. A new study out of West Virginia University’s (WVU) School of Medicine has found that people with the highest blood levels of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), a chemical used in non-stick and stain-resistant coatings, are 40 percent more likely to develop arthritis than people with the lowest blood levels.
For their study, Dr. Kim Innes and her team from WVU evaluated data on roughly 50,000 people living in areas of Ohio and West Virginia where a chemical plant had leaked PFOA and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), another similar cookware chemical, into drinking water supplies. Both chemicals are “persistent organic pollutants,” which means they persist in the environment and in the human body for a very long time before breaking down and passing.
After factoring in age, weight, socioeconomic status, gender, military service, and other factors, the team concluded that those with the highest levels of PFOA in their blood were 40 percent more likely to develop arthritis than those with the lowest levels. This connection was not, however, observed with high and low levels of PFOS in the blood.
Exposure to PFOA is also linked to a variety of other diseases, including thyroid disorders, high cholesterol, delayed pregnancy, and infertility. And besides simply causing problems when leaked into the environment, the chemical is highly volatile — in other words, the hotter it gets on items like cookware, the more it tends to leech into fumes, and also into food that touches it.
“Ninety-five percent of Americans, including children, have PFOA in their blood,” writes Dr. David W. Tanton, PhD, in his book Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, and Stimulants — Dangerous Drugs on Trial. “Studies have proven that the moment a Teflon pan is heated, this toxic chemical is absorbed in your bloodstream … Teflon is indeed a dangerous fluorinated chemical.”
March 7th, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
Current government recommendations of 400 or 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day are insufficient to prevent serious diseases like breast cancer, a new study published in the journal Anticancer Research has found. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and Creighton University (CU) School of Medicine discovered that when much higher doses of vitamin D are taken daily, the risks associated with developing several major diseases are reduced by about half.
“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4000-8000 IU are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases — breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes,” said Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.
“I was surprised to find that the intakes required to maintain vitamin D status for disease prevention were so high — much higher than the minimal intake of vitamin D of 400 IU/day that was needed to defeat rickets in the 20th century.”
A review of several thousand volunteers taking between 1,000 and 10,000 IU/day of vitamin D revealed that much higher daily intakes of vitamin D are required to achieve blood serum levels of vitamin D in the healthy range of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), or higher. And those who daily take such mega-doses of vitamin D in order to maintain these levels are much less likely to develop serious disease.
“Now that the results of this study are in, it will become common for almost every adult to take 4,000 IU/day,” said Garland. “This is comfortably under the 10,000 IU/day that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee Report considers as the lower limit of risk, and the benefits are substantial. Now is the time for virtually everyone to take more vitamin D to help prevent some major types of cancer, several other serious illnesses, and fractures.”
March 1st, 2011
By: Deborah Huso
Researchers now say higher levels of vitamin D may be necessary to reduce one’s risk of cancer. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha just published a new study in the journal Anticancer Research, noting that traditional intakes of the essential vitamin just aren’t enough to reach blood levels that can prevent or significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and several other major diseases.
“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4,000 to 8,000 IU [international units] are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases — breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Cedric Garland, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, in a press release. “I was surprised to find that the intakes required to maintain vitamin D status for disease prevention were so high — much higher than the minimal intake of vitamin D of 400 IU per day that was needed to defeat rickets in the 20th century.”
During the study, researchers surveyed several thousand volunteers who were taking vitamin D supplements with a dosage ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 IU per day. They found those taking the highest amounts of vitamin D were less likely to contract major diseases such as cancer.
Despite these findings, some doctors say just boosting your vitamin D levels aren’t enough for disease prevention and in some cases may be dangerous.
Dr. James Spencer, a dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology board member, says the levels of vitamin D suggested in the study are way too high and that reducing the risk of cancer is not as easy as eating more oranges or taking more vitamin supplements. “Generally, when things are too good to be true, they usually are,” Spencer told AOL Health.
Dr. Sophie Balk, attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City agrees. “We know that vitamin D is good for muscle health and osteoporosis — the research shows that,” Balk explained to AOL Health. “But the research isn’t conclusive about its effects on cancers. We really need more research about these other possible effects because we really can’t say for sure.”
Both doctors agree the dosage of 4,000 to 8,000 IU could be dangerous. “If you take that amount, over time it could be toxic,” warns Balk.
“Very high levels of vitamin D, usually above 10,000 [IUs] per day, are known to cause kidney and tissue damage,” adds Spencer.
To get sufficient amounts, but not too much vitamin D, Spencer recommends including salmon, milk, oranges or orange juice, egg yolk and mushrooms in your diet.
Although the sun and its UV rays are the best source of vitamin D, Spencer says there are other harmful results that can stem from too much sunshine, like skin cancer, and doesn’t recommend people seek vitamin D through sunbathing.
Balk recommends 400 IU per day of vitamin D for children and adolescents, while Spencer says the recommended dosage for adults is 600 IU per day and 800 IU per day for adults over 70 years old.
December 7th, 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
Pomegranates have been found to be one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits in the world, and a new Israeli study has demonstrated the fruit’s amazing ability to fight and prevent infection. Researchers discovered that patients with kidney disease who are undergoing dialysis can considerably reduce their likelihood of infection by drinking just a few cups of pomegranate juice a week.
Dr. Batya Kristal from Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, Israel, and her colleagues randomly assigned 101 kidney disease patients to drink half a cup of either pomegranate juice or a placebo three times a week for a year. At the end of the year, those drinking pomegranate juice showed far lower blood levels of inflammatory molecules and they required fewer trips to the hospital than did those in the placebo group.
“We found significant reductions in hospitalization due to infections, with more than 40 percent reduction in the first hospitalization and 80 percent in the second,” explained Kristal. “Pomegranate juice was shown in the past three years to contain the highest levels of polyphenols among a variety of products. Much higher than red wine, for instance.”
This positive benefit makes sense because kidney patients on dialysis are bombarded with free radicals caused by the dialysis machines through which their blood flows. So without added antioxidant protection, kidney disease patients are highly susceptible to infection and disease. But by adding pomegranate juice to their diets, they can naturally provide their bodies with a regular mega-dose of free radical scavengers that protect the body from oxidative damage and the diseases it causes.
September 3rd, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Growing awareness about the prevalence and risks of vitamin D deficiency is leading more and more doctors to test their patients’ blood levels of the vitamin.
“Upwards of 70 percent of American adults are vitamin D deficient or insufficient,” said cardiologist James O’Keefe of St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute. “In the last year, awareness of vitamin D deficiency has really exploded.”
Vitamin D is more properly classified as a hormone, and it helps regulate gene function in various parts of the body. It is naturally synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, but sedentism and growing use of sunblock have worsened deficiency rates in recent decades.
According to O’Keefe, vitamin D testing has become the most popular “a la carte” blood test ordered by doctors in the past year. The test costs about $100, and is covered by some insurance providers.
Vitamin D is known to play a role in bone health and immune function, but many doctors are now fingering deficiency for a number of more general complaints. Carla Aamodt, another doctor at St. Luke’s, notes that when she orders supplementation for patients with vitamin D levels below 10 nanograms per milliliter, the patients feel better overall, have more energy with less muscle aches and pains.”
The jury is still out on optimal vitamin D levels, but researchers agree that they fall somewhere between 30 and 40 nanograms per milliliter.
Billie Howard Barnes of Kansas City suffered from chronic pain until her doctor ordered a vitamin D test and discovered that her blood levels were a paltry 5 nanograms per milliliter.
“I’m 43, and getting up in the morning, my feet would hit the floor and every joint in my body was sore,” Barnes said. “I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. It just kind of crept up on me.”
After taking a high-dose supplement for a few weeks, Barnes began to recover.
“It wasn’t an instant thing, but I just feel much better,” she said. “I’m not as stiff. Colleagues say there’s more pep in my step.”
July 28, 2010
By: David Gutierrez
An increase in blood levels of vitamin D can significantly reduce a person’s risk of heart disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta.
Researchers reviewed the health records of more than 9,000 people who had been diagnosed with vitamin D insufficiency and who had also undergone vitamin D testing at a later date. They found that approximately 50 percent of all patients had achieved healthy vitamin D levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter by the second test. Rates of heart disease were significantly lower in this group than among patients who were still deficient in the vitamin.
Prior studies have shown a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of heart disease. Yet researchers have been unable to determine whether there is any direct connection between the two factors, since low vitamin D levels might also correlate with a number of other cardiovascular risk factors such as general poor health, poor diet or lack of exercise.
The only way to firmly establish a connection would be to conduct an experiment where only half a group of vitamin D-deficient participants is supplemented while the rest receive a placebo. Because vitamin D deficiency has been proven to increase the risk of other diseases, such a study would not be ethical and cannot be conducted.
“What we did was observational and not definitive, but we think it adds significantly to the story,” said lead author J. Brent Muhlestein. “It’s at least a reasonable piece of evidence to add to the hypothesis that low vitamin D is causative of cardiovascular risk and treatment can reduce cardiovascular disease risk.”
The body synthesizes vitamin D naturally upon exposure to sunlight. Low levels of the vitamin have been linked to weakened bones and higher risks of infection, cancer and autoimmune diseases.