Volume 11 • Number 9 • September 2010

At first blush the cardiologist will make a lot of people angry. His suggestion that Big Macs should be served with a statin drug (to lower cholesterol) on the side may be interpreted as a shameless admission that the pharmaceutical approach trumps good sense and nutrition.1 But, most of us will have to agree with him if we take the time to read the whole article. It turns out the doc is merely being realistic; he proposes that the drug on the side, a McStatin, may drive the message home a bit more forcefully that fast foods are causing significant heart problems. He makes the analogy that most people would drive more carefully if a sharpened stake were to be installed protruding out of our steering wheels.

Sadly, the only ones reading his article and this newsletter are people who already understand the perils of our SAD diet (Standard American Diet.) Do we stand a chance to stem the tide of misinformation and addiction to refined sugars, fats and salty food? Only with a massive public campaign to point out said addiction and the economic/political forces driving the problem.2

Hugo Rodier, MD

Renaming our defenses

Reading this newsletter you have come to understand that the immune system should be really referred to as the Immune-Detoxification system. Whether we are invaded by a bug or a toxic substance our defense mechanisms are called to the task. It is now clear that bugs and toxins overburden our defenses in “symbiotic” fashion, that is, one potentiates the damage caused by the other. For instance, someone exposed to air pollution will have more pulmonary infections. It seems obvious, but considering other examples may stretch most people’s credulity; it turns out that toxins like PCBs enhance or reduce neutrophil activity, depending on the dose.3 As you know, neutrophils are White Blood Cells, a part of the immune system; they are in charge of fighting infections.

The practical message here is that we need to raise awareness that environmental toxins are causing significant health problems, from infections to cancers.4 We must oppose the American Chemical Association’s persistent denials that their products have any toxic effects. The most neglected problems in my opinion are heavy metals5 and pesticides.6 You may choose to skip the following citation if you don’t like technical stuff:

Although environmental influences on infectious disease are widely accepted, the fields of environmental health research and infectious disease research have diverged and are often treated as distinct entities. This has led to separate research funding tracks and distinct training programs in schools of public health. Although environmental health research contributes to understanding key factors relevant to some infectious diseases, environmental health research and practice predominantly focus on chemical and physical agents, in spite of the inherent role of the environment in pathogen dynamics and host response, and the potential for several major toxicant exposures to cause immunotoxic changes in hosts that reduce the threshold for infection, increase the persistence of an infection, increase pathogen shedding, and alter the severity and burden of infectious disease. Pathogens can also modify inflammatory pathways and other responses induced by environmental toxicants, and they can modify the likelihood and severity of chronic disease progression. [The authors] argue that the study of infectious diseases should be considered explicitly within the toxicological framework to capture interactions between pathogens and toxicants that contribute to the etiology of diseases often assumed to be of either pathogen or toxicant origin. The authors propose a new model that integrates the toxicology and infectious disease paradigms to facilitate improved collaboration and communication by providing a framework for interdisciplinary research. Pathogens should be included in environmental health research planning and funding allocation, as well as in applications such as surveillance and policy development.7

Enough to drive you crazy

Toxins in the environment have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinsonism and Alzheimer’s.8 They are even more likely to occur when we suffer unrelenting stress like PTSD,9 being married to a spouse who has Alzheimer’s,10 and eating refined diets high in sugar11 and low in B vitamins; the latter are “used up” by the liver trying to rid the body of toxins through the process of methylation.  It turns out that subpar methylation of our genes due to low B complex has been linked to more neurodegerative diseases:

The push to show that epigenetics can translate early life experiences into lasting changes in behavior has been accompanied by a parallel surge of interest in how chemical modifications to DNA can affect cognition. This work sprang from research in the late 1990s showing that abnormalities in DNA methylation are involved in developmental disorders that cause intellectual impairment. Several labs have since found evidence that epigenetic mechanisms play important roles in learning and memory in adult rodents. One recent study even suggests that these mechanisms may help explain why memory declines with age.12

As we have already discussed, we may lower the risk of getting these diseases by eating a diet high in fruits and veggies like the Mediterranean diet, learn a new skill, exercise, supplement omega oils and mitochondrial antioxidants like CoQ10; herbs like Sage, Bacopa and Huperzine also help. This month I found that “High School Athletics lower risk of dementia in later life13 and so does vitamin D.14

But shrinks deal with all this with drugs only

Modern Psychiatry has gone wrong; it views every problem as a diagnosis that needs a pharmaceutical product. While drugs are helpful in many cases of severe illness, they are not the only tool proven to work well; we have reviewed many foods, herbs, supplements and behavioral changes that have good evidence; yet, they are dismissed as “alternatives,” no doubt due to practitioners who stand to lose if the present drug-driven paradigm were to be exposed for what it is, “A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine.”15

Fortunately, there are many doctors who are openly defying the status quo; the article “The Art of medicine: a psychiatric revolution16 outlines the problems we have in Psychiatry and what we must do to right the ship; we should have listened to Linus Pauling in the 60s; he said that mental issues are metabolic disorders of the brain that are amenable to nutritional and behavioral therapy.17

Soy update

Amazingly, there are still some of you who have fallen prey to misinformation about soy. Modern research continues to show what a healthy legume it is. Read “A Brief Historical Overview of the Past Two Decades of Soy and Isoflavone Research.”18 This month I found two articles on soy worth mentioning; they deal with equol, an isoflavandiol metabolized from daidzein, a type of isoflavone, by bacterial flora in the intestines. The type of bacteria we host in the intestines and our liver determine the action of soy once it is ingested, an ignored fact that leads to bad science and consequently the demonizing of soy.

Equol, via Dietary Sources or Intestinal Production, May Ameliorate Estrogen Deficiency-Induced Bone Loss19 & “Equol Improves Menopausal Symptoms in Japanese Women.”20

Telegraphed articles

Statins and Risk of Incident Diabetes,” J. Lancet 2010;375:735 People taking these drugs have 9% greater risk of developing Diabetes

Poor maternal nutrition leads to alterations in oxidative stress, antioxidant defense capacity, and markers of fibrosis in rat islets: potential underlying mechanisms for development of the diabetic phenotype in later life,” FASEB J. 2010;24:2762

Higher “normal” glycated hemoglobin levels were associated with increased risk for diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, and mortality in adults;” it’s best to keep the GlycoHb A1C below 5.7 J. Ann Intern Med July 20, 2010;153:JC1-13

White Rice, Brown Rice and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women,” J. Archives of Internal Medicine 2010;170:961.

Waist Circumference and All-Cause Mortality in a Large US Cohort;” risk of death higher when men have a waist over 40” and women over 35”
J. Archives of Internal Medicine 2010;170(15):1293

Neck Circumference as a Novel Measure of Cardiometabolic Risk: The Framingham Heart Study;” the numbers are pretty close to the ones for the waist, except in centimeters.
J. Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism 2010;95:3701

The Product of Triglycerides and Glucose, a Simple Measure of Insulin Sensitivity. Comparison with the Euglycemic-Hyperinsulinemic Clamp;” [fasting triglycerides (mg/dl) x fasting glucose (mg/dl)] divided by 2. The best value of the TyG index for diagnosis of insulin resistance was 4.68. J Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism 2010;95:3347

[1] American J. Cardiology Aug 15th 2010

[2] My book “Licking Sweet Death” (Strategic Publishing 2010) just came out. www.amazon.com

[3] J. Environmental Health Perspectives 2003;101:430

[4] “Environmental Factors are Underappreciated as Cancer Risks,” J. of the American Medical Assoc 2010;303:2456

[5] J. Archives of Environmental Contamination & Toxicity 2002;42:93

[6] “A Review of Pesticide Exposure and Cancer Incidence in the Agricultural Health Study Cohort,”
J. Environmental Health Perspectives 2010;118:1117
(Animal toxicity data support the biological plausibility of relationships observed for alachlor, carbaryl, metolachlor, pendimethalin, permethrin, and trifluralin.)

[7] “A Niche for Infectious Disease in Environmental Health: Rethinking the Toxicological Paradigm,”
J. Environmental Health Perspectives 2010;118:1165

[8] “Exploring the Causes of Parkinson’s Disease,” J. Neurology Reviews July 2009, page 1

[9] “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Risk of Dementia Among US Veterans,” J. Archives of Gen Psy 2010;67:608

[10] J. American Geriatrics Association May 2010

[11] RAGE-dependent signaling in microglia contributes to neuroinflammation, Aβ accumulation, and impaired learning/memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease,” FASEB J. 2010;24:1043

[12] “A Role for Epigenetics in Cognition,” J. Science 2 July 2010: 27

[13] J. American Geriatrics Society June 2010

[14] “Vitamin D and Risk of Cognitive Decline in Elderly Persons,” J. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(13):1135

[15] Book by Andrew Scull; Yale University Press, 2010

[16] J. Lancet 2010;375:1246

[17] “Orthomolecular Psychiatry,” J. Science 1968;160:265

[18] J. Nutrition 2010;140: 13

[19] J. Nutrition 2010;140:1377S

[20] J. Nutrition 2010;140:1386S

Hugo Rodier, MD is an integrative physician based in Draper, Utah who specializes in healing chronic disease at the cellular level by blending proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, & allopathic practices when necessary.

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