February 27, 2012
By Mark Hyman. M.D.
This week, in an act of desperation to turn back the tide of the obesity epidemic that now affects almost seven out of every 10 Americans and more than 80 percent of some populations (African-American women), the advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 20 to 2 to recommend approval of Qnexa, a “new” obesity drug that is simply the combination of two older medications, phentermine (the “phen” of phen-fen”) and topiramate (Topamax).
It is a misguided effort at best, and a dangerous one at worst. Mounting evidence proves that the solution to lifestyle and diet-driven obesity-related illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer won’t be found at the bottom of a prescription bottle.
By 2020, more than 50 percent of the U.S. adult population will have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, with annual costs approaching $500 billion. By 2030, total annual economic costs of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. are predicted to exceed $1 trillion. By 2030, globally we will spend $47 trillion, yes trillion, to address the effects of chronic lifestyle-driven disease.
Prescription medication for lifestyle disease has failed to bend the obesity and disease curve. Statins have been recently found to increase the risk of diabetes in women by 48 percent. And large data reviews by independent international scientists from the Cochrane Collaborative found that statins only work to prevent second heart attacks, not first heart attacks, which means they are not helpful and most likely harmful for 75 percent of those who take them.
Avandia, the No. 1 blockbuster drug for Type 2 diabetes, has caused nearly 200,000 deaths from heart attacks since it was introduced in 1999. The drug was designed to prevent complications of diabetes, yet heart attacks are the very disease that kills most Type 2 diabetics. In 2011, the FDA issued stricter prescribing guidelines for Avandia, but the drug is still on the market.
The large ACCORD trial found in more than 10,000 diabetics that intensive blood-sugar lowering with medication and insulin actually led to more heart attacks and deaths.
Something is deeply wrong with our medical approach.
The problem of chronic disease, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, is not a medication deficiency, but a problem with what we put at the end of our fork.
The emperor truly has no clothes. Why would good men and women of science vote to approve a medication for a condition that is a social disease and requires a social cure? The social, environmental, economic, and political conditions of America and increasingly the global community have created an obesogenic environment.
Clearly we need to do something. But it is not better medication or surgery or more angioplasties and stents, which have no proven benefit in more than 90 percent of those who receive them. The data show they work for acute coronary events, but not stable angina or blockages.
We continue to pay for expensive treatments for chronic disease, despite the fact that they don’t work, while insurance does not pay for nutrition counseling unless the patient has kidney failure or diabetes.
Chronic disease is a food-borne illness. We ate our way into this mess and we must eat our way out.
February 6, 2012
By Rob Lyons
On Thursday, high-profile science journal Nature published a commentary by three academics, which argued that sugar is a toxin and that it should be subject to similar kinds of public-health interventions as alcohol. In other words, sugar should be taxed and restricted just like booze.
One of the authors, Robert Lustig, runs an obesity clinic at a children’s hospital, part of the University of California, San Francisco. His colleagues and fellow authors, Laura Schmidt and Claire Brindis, are researchers in healthy policy. Lustig has gained an online following since 2009 for a lecture entitled ‘Sugar: the Bitter Truth’. While Lustig’s tone is rather melodramatic, there does appear to be a growing body of evidence linking refined carbohydrates and a group of related symptoms – obesity, fatty liver disease, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease – that come together under the broad umbrella of ‘metabolic syndrome’.
It’s certainly the case that these chronic diseases have increased in importance in recent decades (in part because of the decline of infectious disease). Consumption of refined carbohydrates – particularly sugar – has increased, too. America has a particularly sweet tooth; the average American consumes 131 pounds (about 59 kg) of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) per year, up from 113 pounds per person in 1966. A teaspoon of sugar weighs about 4g, so this amounts to 40 teaspoons per person per day. (And remember, that’s an average – some people are consuming considerably more.)
The UK has a pretty sweet tooth, too. A survey for the Food Standards Agency in Scotland in 2008 found that 17 per cent of children’s calorie intake was coming from ‘non-milk extrinsic sugars’ – that is, table sugar and sugar added to food. That adds up to about 20 teaspoons per child per day.
So, we have rising rates of diseases related to metabolic syndrome alongside increased sugar consumption. Sucrose (the kind used as table sugar) and HFCS are regarded as particularly problematic by many researchers because they are both mad up of two simpler sugars, glucose and fructose. Glucose induces the production of insulin and would seem, therefore, to be a reasonable suspect in problems of insulin resistance and diabetes, with knock-on effects to do with obesity. Fructose, though it sounds healthy because it is also found in fruit, is practically Public Enemy No.1 for some health researchers due to its effects on the liver and in relation to heart disease. Thus, some see the consumption of sucrose and HFCS as a dietary double-whammy that significantly increases the risk of a number of chronic diseases.
New Research Finds Possible Reason For Obesity And Type 2 Diabetes Epidemics In Kids: Lack Of Vitamin D
December 6, 2011
By S. L. Baker
“Everyone should be taking vitamin D3. The experts say 5,000 – 10,000 IUs every day. It’s also super cheap. Try it in the liquid serum variety. A $10-$25 bottle will literally last you about six months.” –KTRN
deficiency and past research has also revealed an association between low vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes. But exactly why obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes are related to vitamin D deficiency isn’t fully understood.
To try to unravel this mystery, the new study looked for correlations between vitamin D levels and markers of abnormal glucose metabolism and blood pressure. It also looked for links between vitamin D levels and dietary habits in obese children.
The scientists measured vitamin D levels, blood sugar levels, serum insulin, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure in 411 obese youngsters. The study also included 87 non-overweight children in a control group. Dietary information — including daily intake of soda, juice and milk, average daily fruit and vegetable intake, and whether or not they routinely skipped breakfast — was also collected for all the research subjects.
August 22nd, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Linda A. Johnson
The maker of the world’s best-selling diabetes drug is facing hundreds of lawsuits and likely a big sales drop as suspicion grows that taking the pill for more than a year raises the risk of bladder cancer.
In June, Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. halted sales of Actos, its top drug, in Germany and France after pressure from regulators.
Since then, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency have issued warnings about the cancer risk based on new research, but they have allowed sales to continue. Doctors are being told not to prescribe Actos for people who have or have had bladder cancer.
The warning will limit patient choices and could spell the end for a once-promising class of Type 2 diabetes drugs that debuted more than a decade ago amid heavy promotion.
The once-a-day pills were appealing. They helped control blood sugar tightly, had few side effects in most patients, boosted the effects of some other diabetes drugs, worked by a new mechanism – improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin – and even allowed patients to reduce or delay use of injected insulin.
Actos, despite links to heart failure risk and other serious side effects, became the No. 1 diabetes pill after Avandia, the only other drug in that class, was found in 2007 to sharply increase risk of heart attacks. Avandia’s use was banned in the EU and sharply restricted here. Actos sales jumped from about $2.9 billion in 2006 to more than $4.3 billion last year.
Now those billions may well shift to Takeda rivals.
In the past week, the first of what lawyers predict will be thousands of lawsuits were filed in courts across the country. They allege Actos triggered bladder cancer, in some cases fatal, in clients who took the pills daily for years.
Nancy Rios, 54, is suing Takeda, blaming her recurrent bladder cancer on Actos, which she took for more than a decade. Rios, a hospital secretary, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2009. In June, she had her second surgery to remove tumors. Rios, who lives in Reading, Pa., is worried about missing more work and being able to pay her medical bills. Next month, she will learn whether more treatment is needed.
“I could lose my bladder and possibly need chemo,” she said.
Her attorney, Paul Pennock of Weitz & Luxenberg, said the firm already represents another 104 clients, has about 120 more expected to pursue lawsuits and is getting 30 to 40 possible new cases a week.
“When a manufacturer distributes a drug, they owe it to the public to ensure that their product is safe for use and it appears that Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to fulfill that fundamental duty,” Pennock said.
Other large law firms are evaluating potential cases by the dozen or more. More than 20 firms, from Florida to Washington state, are advertising for clients on the Internet or in newspapers, a standard practice in personal injury law.
“We don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve been contacted by so many people who have been taking Actos and have bladder cancer,” said Marc Jay Bern of Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik & Associates. “We have more than 100 (cases) that we’ve confirmed and many more that we’re evaluating.”
Takeda declined to comment on the lawsuits. The company, which is based in Japan, has issued statements that it’s committed to keeping Actos available for patients who need it.
Spokeswoman Elissa Johnsen noted an April study in the journal Diabetes Care found Actos “use for more than two years was weakly associated with increased risk.”
However, the FDA analyzed data from the first five years of a 10-year Actos safety study Takeda begun in 2002 and concluded this June that risk of bladder cancer was 40 percent higher for patients taking Actos for at least a year, although still small: an extra 28 cases a year for every 100,000 people taking it.
Erik Gordon, an analyst and professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said Friday that the new safety questions are “a big deal” for Takeda, particularly since the Actos patent expires in August 2012. They mean Actos won’t make as much money as expected in the final months, and they dampen prospects for two experimental drugs Takeda was hoping would succeed Actos.
“One, alogliptin, has been stuck at the FDA over safety concerns, and the other, a combination of alogliptin and Actos, now looks doomed,” Gordon said.
Alogliptin is an experimental drug in the same class as Merck & Co.’s blockbuster Januvia. Those drugs increase production of insulin, which breaks down sugar in the blood, and reduce glucose production in the liver.
Les Funtleyder, an analyst and portfolio manager for the Miller Tabak Health Care Transformation fund, said Januvia is likely to gain sales as patients defect from Actos.
He doubts the cost of the bladder cancer litigation will hit the level of Vioxx. That’s the painkiller that Merck pulled off the market in 2004 because it doubled risk of heart attacks and strokes – triggering more than 50,000 lawsuits and, eventually, a $4.85 billion settlement to end most of them.
Whatever the outcome of the Actos litigation, diabetes patients and their doctors will be considering their options now.
Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale School of Medicine professor who directs its Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, said more long-term data on the effects of Actos is needed.
“It’s not clear if this (bladder cancer) risk is real,” but Actos and Avandia both are linked to heart risks, weight gain and possibly bone loss and fractures, he said. “The consensus already is that (Actos) should only be considered … after patients have exhausted all other options.”
August 11th, 2011
By: Nanci Hellmich
Eating processed meats and red meat regularly increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, a large new study shows.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed dietary-intake data from more than 200,000 men and women in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses’ Health Studies. The participants have been tracked for a decade or more.
The scientists also did a larger analysis, combining their data and that from other published studies to analyze the diets of 442,101 people. About 28,000 of these people developed type 2 diabetes.
The researchers adjusted for the participants’ age, weight, physical activity level, smoking, family history of diabetes and other dietary and lifestyle factors. Their findings are published today online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
•A 2-ounce serving a day of processed meat (hot dog, bacon, salami or bologna) increased the risk of diabetes by 50%.
•A 4-ounce serving a day (the size of a deck of cards) of unprocessed red meat such as hamburger, steak, pork or lamb was associated with a 20% increased risk of diabetes.
•Substituting nuts, whole grains and low-fat dairy such as yogurt for a serving a day of these types of processed or unprocessed meats lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16% to 35%, the analysis showed.
“Many previous studies have shown the link between processed meats and diabetes, but this is one of the first (large studies) to show that unprocessed red meat is a significant risk factor,” says senior author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“Clearly, processed meat is much worse than unprocessed meat for raising the risk but unprocessed red meat is not benign,” he says. “This is the largest and most convincing data accumulated so far.”
Hu says the high amount of sodium and nitrites in processed meats are potential factors that increase diabetes risk.
With red meat, it may be the high amount of heme iron, he says. Although iron helps prevent anemia, many people in the Western world have iron overload, which is a risk factor for diabetes, he says. “There are probably other factors in these meats that contribute to diabetes.”
He advises reducing the consumption of these types of meats and incorporating more nuts and low-fat dairy and whole grains into meals.
Previous research has linked eating red meat and processed meat to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.
Registered dietitian Shalene McNeill, a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says, “These are epidemiological studies, and they can’t identify cause and effect. They are identifying associations, and what we know from gold-standard research that does look at cause and effect is that higher protein diets that include beef are very effective for helping people manage their weight and balance their blood sugars — both important factors for reducing your risk of developing diabetes.”
Diabetes afflicts more than 25 million adults and children in the USA. Most have type 2 diabetes. The long-term complications of the disease include heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.
“Type 2 diabetes has a very strong genetic component, and multiple environmental factors, such as obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet, interact with genetics to increase the risk and accelerate the development of the disease,” says Vivian Fonseca, president-elect of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association and a professor of medicine at Tulane.
“People who are eating a lot of red meat and processed meat may not be eating as much nuts, beans and fish which may be protective. People who eat more of those foods tend to have less diabetes,” Fonseca says.
July 11, 2011
By Mike Adams
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is used as a sweetener in thousands of mainstream packaged foods sold in the United States and around the world, from bread to soda and even breakfast cereal. It has been blamed for increasing the number of empty calories in the U.S. diet, and researchers have linked it to type-2 diabetes and obesity.
Beyond the link to detrimental health effects, another danger from this ubiquitous ingredient comes from the toxic chemicals that are used to turn corn into corn starch and then finally into HFCS. One of these chemicals,glutaraldehyde, is a toxic chemical used in industrial water treatment systems and to sterilize medical equipment by killing living cells. It’s also a well-known embalming chemical. It is toxic to the human body and causes eye, nose, throat and lung irritation (asthma, sneezing, wheezing, burning eyes, etc.). It can also cause drowsiness, dizziness and headaches.
The chemical is so toxic that it can actually burn a hole in your stomach.
July 6th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Tests on a new diabetes drug being developed by drug giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have revealed that the new class of drug may be linked to causing urinary tract and genital infections, and several forms of cancer. Add to that dapagliflozin’s many other known side effects, and the experimental drug fares even worse than metformin, the more-common drug for treating type 2 diabetes.
The two-year study found that out of 5,478 patients treated with dapagliflozin, nine of them developed bladder cancer. Only one patient in the control group of 3,156, on the other hand, developed bladder cancer. Based on these results, a person taking dapagliflozin appears five times more likely to develop bladder cancer than a person not taking the drug.
The results were similar for cases of breast cancer. Nine out of 2,223 women taking dapagliflozin developed breast cancer, while only one of 1,053 in the control group developed breast cancer. These figures point to women taking dapagliflozin being more than four times more likely than women not taking the drug to develop breast cancer.
The way dapagliflozin works is that it blocks glucose from being absorbed into the bloodstream through the kidneys, and instead dispels it directly through the urine. By artificially flooding the urinary tract with excess sugars in this way, the urinary tract and genitals become far more prone to bacterial infections than if the sugar was processed in the normal way, and the negative effects of this were observed in the trials as well.
According to data presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), other serious side effects associated with taking dapagliflozin include back pain, influenza, diarrhea, headache, nasopharyngitis, upper respiratory tract infection, renal impairment or failure, and hypoglycemia.
Ultimately, there is no need for diabetics to take dangerous drugs like dapagliflozin and risk complicating their condition with new ones. Reversing and curing diabetes is fully possible, and it can be done safely and naturally without the use of drugs.
May 23rd, 2011
By: Ethan A. Huff
Coffee addiction may not be the detriment to health many people think it is, according to a new study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research. Postmenopausal women over 50 who drink five or more cups of coffee every day may be as much as 57 percent less likely to develop estrogen-receptor (ER) negative tumors, say researchers from the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Sweden.
Dr. Jingmei Li and her colleagues from KI evaluated 6,000 women, some of whom drank no coffee, and others who drank five cups or more. After adjusting for outside factors like age at menopause, weight, family history of breast cancer, and others that affect results, the research team observed that women who drank the most coffee were least likely to develop some of the most serious forms of breast cancer.
On the other hand, coffee consumption played no role in reducing the risk of ER-positive cancers, indicating that something unique to the ER-negative varieties is sensitive to coffee. ER-negative breast cancers are typically the most difficult to treat with conventional medicine, as many breast cancer drugs have no effect on them.
“A high daily intake of coffee was found to be associated with a significant decrease in ER-negative breast cancer among postmenopausal women,” wrote the team in their report. “We believe that this may have something to do with the way the coffee was prepared, or the type of bean preferred.”
Previous research has shown that drinking coffee may also help to reduce the risk of developing liver fibrosis, hepatitis, type-2 diabetes, prostate cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, drinking too much coffee can lead to dehydration, hypertension, and even mineral leeching from the bones. The high acidity of coffee can also upset proper digestive function, leading to various other health problems.
April 6th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Put down the corn syrup-laden Aunt Jemima and reach for some 100 percent pure maple syrup. New research recently presented at the 241st annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif., highlights the amazing health benefits of maple syrup, including its ability to help treat diabetes and prevent the onset of cancer.
Navindra Seeram and her colleagues from the University of Rhode Island last year discovered that maple syrup contains 20 unique health-promoting compounds, 13 of which have never before been identified in maple syrup. And according to a release from United Press International, five of the compounds identified have never been previously identified in nature at all.
“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found it in,” said Seeram in a statement. “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”
Maple syrup is already known for being rich in vitamins and minerals, but now it has become clear that the natural sweetener is loaded with a host of powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. And among maple syrup’s various health-promoting compounds is a newly-identified one the team named Quebecol, which is a compound uniquely created when Maple tree sap is boiled and turned into syrup.
“Quebecol has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature,” Seeram said. “There is beneficial and interesting chemistry going on when the boiling process occurs. I believe the heat forms this unique compound.”
In its current work, the team also found that certain antioxidant phenolic compounds in maple syrup inhibit carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes associated with the onset of type-2 diabetes. So while maple syrup may typically be considered a sugary threat to diabetes, the new research seems to indicate otherwise.
Seeram’s work, which was funded by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, is set to be published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
March 31st, 2011
People on a high-dose regimen of the cholesterol drug Lipitor may have a slightly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes — particularly if they have several of the classic diabetes risk factors, a study published Monday finds.
A number of studies have linked Lipitor (known generically as atorvastatin) and other cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to a small increase in users’ risk of diabetes.
This latest study, based on data from three large clinical trials, strengthens evidence of a connection.
But it also suggests that the risk may largely exist among people who also have the well-known risk factors for type 2 diabetes — including excess weight, high blood sugar, elevated triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and high blood pressure.
Those four factors appear “very good at distinguishing people at high or low risk for developing new-onset diabetes with atorvastatin,” lead researcher Dr. David D. Waters, of the University of California at San Francisco, told Reuters Health in an email.
So managing those risk factors — by shedding excess pounds, for example — would be important for curbing any extra diabetes risk, Waters said.
He also stressed that the diabetes risk tied to statins is small.
“An important point,” Waters said, “is that the risk of developing new-onset diabetes and its complications (is) greatly outweighed by the benefit of statins in reducing cardiac death, heart attack and stroke.”
The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are based on data from three clinical trials comparing high-dose atorvastatin (80 milligrams) with either a lower dose statin or placebo pills in people with cardiovascular disease.
In the trial with the placebo group, the study found, atorvastatin users had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over 5 years. Just under 9 percent did, versus 6 percent of the placebo group.
That trial included 3,800 adults who were diabetes-free at the outset; all had a history of stroke or “mini” strokes known as transient ischemic attacks.
When Waters and his colleagues accounted for a number of other factors — like age, weight and smoking habits — atorvastatin use was linked to a 37 percent increase in the odds of developing diabetes, versus the placebo.
But a closer look showed that the extra risk appeared limited to patients with at least two of the “big-four” risk factors for diabetes.
Of patients with all four risk factors, nearly half of atorvastatin users — 26 of 56 — developed diabetes, versus just over 20 percent of the placebo group (11 of 52 participants).
Waters’ team found no strong connection between high-dose atorvastatin and diabetes risk in the other two trials.
In one, researchers compared 80 mg of atorvastatin against 20 mg of simvastatin (Zocor) in nearly 7,500 heart attack sufferers who were free of diabetes. Over 5 years, 6.4 percent of atorvastatin users developed diabetes, as did 5.6 percent of simvastatin users.
The third trial compared high-dose atorvastatin against a 10 mg dose of the drug in people with stable heart disease. Of the 7,600 who were free of diabetes to start, 9 percent in the high-dose group and 8 percent in the low-dose group developed diabetes over 5 years.
Statins are not the only drugs that have been linked to diabetes risk. Certain high blood pressure treatments (beta-blockers and thiazide diuretics), niacin (sometimes used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides) and glucocorticoids are among the others.
In most of those cases, the reason for the risk appears to be the drugs’ effect on the body’s ability to control blood sugar.
In contrast, it’s not yet clear why statins would contribute to diabetes, Waters said.
He and his colleagues suggest that doctors might want to carefully monitor atorvastatin users for diabetes. But, they write, the benefits of the drug “clearly outweigh” the risks for people with heart disease or a history of stroke.
People without heart disease or prior stroke may be able to first try diet changes and exercise alone for lowering their cholesterol.
Waters and other researchers on the study have financial ties to Lipitor-maker Pfizer Inc. as well as other drug companies. Three co-researchers are Pfizer employees.