Volume 18 • Number 11 • November 2017

I was clinically depressed in medical school. After running myself into the ground to get there (18 credits per semester, pre-med courses in two years, twenty-hour/week part-time job, and twenty hours/week playing soccer), I was excited, and happy to start medical training. But, finding my dreams of becoming a renaissance, holistic doctor shattered, and being looked down upon by classmates who felt I had been admitted because of my skin color (my GPA was 3.65 and my MCAT average above 10), I became moody, and angry.

All that stuff is water under the bridge. I only wish to share my all-too-common experience—seventy five percent of medical students and new doctors are reported to suffer from depression for various reasons (see below.) I leave you to ponder what those reasons may be. Hugo Rodier, MD

Depressed Docs

Have you ever been depressed as a physician? I asked 220 doctors. Ninety percent stated yes. Yet, few seek professional help. Some drink alcohol, exercise obsessively, even steal psychiatric meds. Still more shocking—I discovered that 75% of med students (and new doctors) are now on psychiatric medications.

“I was told by the psychologist at my med school’s campus assistance program, that 75% of the class of 175 people were on antidepressants, [according to] psychiatrist Dr. Jaya V. Nair. He wasn’t joking. How broken is the system, that doctors have to be pushed into illness in order to be trained to do their job?”

“During my internship, I found out that at least 75% of my fellow residents were on SSRIs or other antidepressants, ‘just to get through it because it was so horrible,’ states Dr. Joel.”[1]

Were any of those medical students taught that depression maybe treated nutritionally? (See blog). Did they read about the role of B vitamins in making our own neurotransmitters, instead of getting them from drugs that are not as effective as marketed?

Intake of niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 through young adulthood and cognitive function in midlife: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.[2]

Homocysteine, folate, methylation, and monoamine metabolism in depression.[3]

The Human Serum Metabolome of Vitamin B-12 Deficiency and Repletion, and Associations with Neurological Function in Elderly Adults.[4]

“The human serum metabolome in vitamin B-12 deficiency and the changes that occur after supplementation are characterized. Metabolomics revealed connections between vitamin B-12 status and serum metabolic markers of mitochondrial function, myelin integrity, oxidative stress, and peripheral nerve function, including some previously implicated in Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases.”

Environmental Update

Pregnant women exposed to pesticides may have higher risk of delivering preterm babies, study finds

Reuters (9/12, Cohen) reports a study published in the journal Nature Communications found that pregnant women exposed to the highest number of agricultural pesticides in California’s San Joaquin Valley had a higher risk of giving birth prematurely and delivering babies with low birth weights. Mothers who lived closest to areas with the highest percentage of pesticides “had an 11 percent increased probability of preterm delivery and a 20 percent increased probability of having a low birth-weight baby.” Researchers found “women exposed to the top 25 percent of pesticide loads in the San Joaquin Valley had babies with no detectable effect,” although “those in the top 5 percent of exposures had increases in the range of 5 to 9 percent in adverse outcomes.”

Microscopic particles from tattoo ink may get into lymph nodes, study suggests

TIME (9/13, MacMillan) reports that research suggests “toxic particles from tattoo ink penetrate beneath the skin and travel through the body, and that may have implications for long-term health.” Investigators, “in the journal Scientific Reports…describe their finding during autopsies of four individuals with tattoos: Using X-ray fluorescent technology, they were able to identify nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, a common ingredient in white and colored tattoo pigments, in those individuals’ lymph nodes.”

Newsweek (9/13, Borreli) reports that “because the samples were from dead bodies that had been tattooed not immediately before death, the researchers inferred that the nanoparticles had lingered in the lymph nodes for a while.”

Increases in PM 2.5 air pollution corresponds to worsening kidney function, study suggests

“The New York Times (9/21, Bakalar, Subscription Publication) reports a study published in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that increasing levels of “the fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5,” an air pollutant, “corresponded directly with decreases in [glomerular filtration rate], indicating worsening kidney function.” According to the Times, “The scientists calculate that ‘unhealthy’ pollution levels lead to an annual increase of 44,793 cases of chronic kidney disease, and 2,438 cases of end-stage kidney disease requiring dialysis. Even levels below those considered ‘safe’ increased risk.”

Particulate Matter Exposure and Stress Hormone Levels

“A Randomized, Double-Blind, Crossover Trial of Air Purification, Circulation. 2017;136:618-62. Higher PM may induce metabolic alterations that are consistent with activations of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal and sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axes, adding potential mechanistic insights into the adverse health outcomes associated with PM. Furthermore, our study demonstrated short-term reductions in stress hormone following indoor air purification.”

Hair product use and breast cancer risk among African American and White women

J. Carcinogenesis, Volume 38, Issue 9, 1 September 2017, Pages 883–892 “Use of dark hair dye shades was associated with 51% increased breast cancer risk among African Americans (AAs) and Whites and 72% increased ER+ disease risk among AAs, while chemical relaxer use was associated with 74% increased risk among Whites.”

Food Fights

Light-to-moderate alcohol use tied to reduced risk of death compared to abstinence, study suggests

TIME (8/14, MacMillan) reports “light-to-moderate alcohol use is associated with a reduced risk of death compared with no alcohol consumption at all,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers found that “light and moderate drinkers (14 or fewer drinks per week for men and seven or fewer for women) were about 20% less likely to die from any cause during the study’s follow-up period, compared to those who have never consumed alcohol.”

TODAY (8/14, Carroll) reports the same study found that heavy drinking may increase the risk of death. The researchers found that heavy drinkers “were 29 percent more likely to die during the course of the study compared to abstainers.”

High carbohydrate consumption may be harmful, research suggests

Reuters (8/29, Seaman) reports that research suggests “global dietary guidelines should possibly be changed to allow people to consume somewhat more fats, to cut back on carbohydrates and in some cases to slightly scale back on fruits and vegetables.”

TIME (8/29, Park) reports that investigators found that “people eating high quantities of carbohydrates…had a nearly 30% higher risk of dying during the study than people eating a low-carb diet.” Meanwhile, individuals “eating high-fat diets had a 23% lower chance of dying during the study’s seven years of follow-up compared to people who ate less fat.”

MedPage Today (8/29, Husten) reports that the study “also found that the benefits of fruits, vegetables, and legumes top out at just three to four total servings per day.”

Medscape (8/29, Hughes) reports that the research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2017 Congress and was “published as two separate papers in The Lancet – one on the fat and carbohydrate outcome data and one on fruit/vegetables/legumes outcome data.” An additional “paper in Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology focuses on effects of the different dietary patterns on lipid levels and blood pressure.”

  1. “75% of Med Students Are on Antidepressants or Stimulants (Or Both),” https://www.idealmedicalcare.org/blog/75-med-students-antidepressants-stimulants/↑
  2. Am J. Clin Nutr 2017;106:1032-1040
  3. J. Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2000;69:228–232
  4. J. Nutrition 2017;147:1839-1849
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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