March 2005

Vol. 4, No. 3

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Favorite Five
My Favorite Five Articles Found in Recent Medical Journals 

Dairy Fails Children’s Bones 

Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults: a reevaluation of the evidence by Amy Joy Lanou published in the March 2005 issue of the medical journal Pediatrics found, “Neither increased consumption of dairy products, specifically, nor total dietary calcium consumption has shown even a modestly consistent benefit for child or young adult bone health.”   A Medline search for articles on the effects of dairy products on children’s bone health revealed 58 studies that caused the authors to conclude, “Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralization.”

COMMENTS:  The dairy industry spends at least $166 million a year on “scientific” research and related efforts to convince you, your children’s teachers, and your doctors that “milk builds strong bones.”  Even with all that money their efforts fail when unbiased scientists closely look at the literature, as did Dr. Lanou.  Look around the world and notice that other children (and adults) grow normal skeletons without cow’s milk.  If cow’s milk meant better bone health, then you would not find non-milk-drinking people from Asia, Africa, and people from the Middle East having stronger bones and less osteoporosis.  The daily calcium intake of these mostly vegetarian people is 300 to 500 mg – far less than the propaganda from the dairy industry telling us to consume 1500 to 2000 mg daily. (See my April 2003 newsletter article “Dairy Products – 10 False Promises.”)

The human intestine is capable of absorbing all the calcium necessary for bone growth and maintenance from starches, vegetables and fruits – and it never fails to do this in natural living conditions.  I can say this for sure because “dietary calcium deficiency” does not exist.  In other words, no one has ever developed a disease due to too little calcium in the food supply – ever!

You say, “But osteoporosis is due to a low-calcium diet.”  No reputable scientist would make that claim.  Osteoporosis is due to long-term bone disease caused by the American diet.  The acid and protein from the meat and dairy products damage the bone tissues, thus causing calcium and other bone materials to be lost through the kidneys.  Deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, and other plant-food-derived nutrients further contribute to the deterioration of the bones.  This is why the heaviest consumers of milk and meat in the world – Americans and Europeans – have the weakest, sickest bones.

Weak bones are not the only consequence of profit-motivated dishonesty. The dairy industry’s lies lead to disabling and painful childhood diseases, like type-1 diabetes, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and constipation – to name a few of the well-researched health hazards. (See my May 2003 newsletter article “Marketing Milk and Disease.”)   

Unfortunately, this one ray of truth shed by Dr. Lanou will be lost in the hundreds of millions of dollars of “spin” set forth by the dairy industry through advertisements and school marketing campaigns.  Begin correcting this source of malnutrition at home by getting milk and cheese out of your family’s diet.  Of all the “four basic food groups,” the dairy products are the most harmful – and eliminating them would do more for the health of children worldwide than even ridding their diets of the meat products and sugar-laden soft drinks (which must go next).

Lanou AJ, Berkow SE, Barnard ND.  Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults: a reevaluation of the evidence.  Pediatrics. 2005 Mar;115(3):736-43.

Fish Can Cause You Heart Disease

Mercury, fish oils, and risk of acute coronary events and cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality in men in eastern Finland by Jyrki Virtanen in the January 2005 issue of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found, “High content of mercury in hair may be a risk factor for acute coronary events and CVD (vascular disease), CHD (heart disease), and all-cause mortality in middle-aged eastern Finnish men. Mercury may also attenuate the protective effects of fish on cardiovascular health.”  More specifically, the high mercury content negated the so-called, protective effects of the “good” fish fats (like DHA, DPA, and EPA) on the blood vessels and heart.

The toxic metal mercury comes to us mainly from eating fish.

Comment:  Fish is promoted as health food, a preventative for heart disease, and the only “safe meat” to eat.  Here is a case of a little bit of truth being blown way out of proportion.  Fish fats (omega-3 fats) will thin the blood and make the formation of a potentially fatal blood clot in your heart artery less likely.  (Remember, the sudden formation of a blood clot – thrombus – in one of your heart arteries is the cause of a heart attack – coronary artery thrombosis).

The problem is, mercury causes the blood to clot.  Furthermore, the mercury is a powerful oxidant, producing free radicals, which damage your arteries.  Fish muscle is inherently high in cholesterol, so eating it causes your blood cholesterol to rise. In this study by Jyrki Virtanen, those people with the higher amounts of mercury in their hair (indicating more consumption of fish) also had higher total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels, and higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. 

This is the second major study to show this important health hazard of fish-eating.  An earlier study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, found that higher levels of mercury in toenail clippings predicted a greater chance of future heart attacks.(Nails and hair accumulate mercury and provide evidence of long-term accumulation in the body.)

Environmental mercury is a major pollutant from industry.  The toxic form, methylmercury, is accumulated and concentrated in the food chain.  Because fish are near the top of the food chain they have very high concentrations of this poison. At very top of the food chain are fish-eating people (and, even higher up, their breast-feeding infants).  Almost all of the mercury consumed is efficiently absorbed by our intestinal tract.  Since our bodies have no way of excreting this toxin, mercury continues to accumulate throughout life, exerting its detrimental effects.

The final statements of the authors are worth noticing, “In conclusion, this prospective population-based study shows that high mercury content in hair is associated with increased risk of acute coronary events and CVD, CHD, and all-cause mortality, and that the beneficial effects of fish oils on the risk are negated by high mercury content in hair. Does this mean that contrary to the current recommendations for a healthy diet, we should not eat fish? No, but we should vary the type of fish we eat (plankton-eating, fatty fish is usually low in mercury, although it may contain other lipid-soluble environmental pollutants) and avoid regular intake of large fish from lakes with known high mercury content.”

This is another case of scientists’ personal eating habits getting in the way of their judgment and honest recommendations for the public.  The truth is: eating fish will give you a heart attack, not prevent one – and they should have the integrity to say so.  And to tell the public that the least amount of environmental mercury is found in foods low on the food chain – a diet of starches, vegetables and fruits.  This same diet is also proven to prevent heart attacks and reverse the underlying mechanisms causing heart attacks – atherosclerosis and thrombosis.

You can read more about these subjects in my newsletter archive articles found at www.drmcdougall.com.  See August 2004:  A Cesspool of Pollutants – Now Is the Time to Clean-up Your Body; and February 2003 – Fish Is Not Health Food.

1)  Virtanen JK, Voutilainen S, Rissanen TH, Mursu J, Tuomainen TP, Korhonen MJ, Valkonen VP, Seppanen K, Laukkanen JA, Salonen JT.  Mercury, fish oils, and risk of acute coronary events and cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality in men in eastern Finland.  Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2005 Jan;25(1):228-33.

2)  Guallar E, Sanz-Gallardo MI, van't Veer P, Bode P, Aro A, Gomez-Aracena J, Kark JD, Riemersma RA, Martin-Moreno JM, Kok FJ; Heavy Metals and Myocardial Infarction Study Group.  Mercury, fish oils, and the risk of myocardial infarction.  N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 28;347(22):1747-54.

Meat Can Cause You Colon Cancer

Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer by Ann Chao in the January 12, 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found a high intake of red and processed meat was associated with higher risk of colon cancer. This study included 148,610 adults, residing in 21 states in the USA.  These people provided information on their meat consumption in 1982, and again in 1992/1993.  Those eating more red meat had more cancer in the last part of their colon.

Comment:  In 1950, Ernst Wynder, the founder of the American Health Foundation (a research institute) and the journal Preventive Medicine wrote an article in the Journal of American Medicine which clearly linked smoking to lung cancer – the American Medical Association called this "landmark research."  In 1968, Dr. Wynder told me about his experiences with “man-made” cancers, during one of our private conversations:  “I went to my colleagues in the 1950s and explained to them that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer.  Their response was, ‘How could that be?’ I said, ‘You suck toxic smoke into your lungs and you get cancer’ and they were amazed.  Then in the 1960s I told my colleagues that eating meat causes colon cancer and their response was, ‘How could that be?’  I said, ‘You put toxic foods – like red meat – in your colon, and you get cancer.’  They were dumbfounded.”

Diseases of the intestine have been blamed on everything from emotions to viruses, but the most obvious – what you put into your bowels through your mouth – has too often been overlooked.  Colon cancer is due to years of exposing the cells of the large intestine to partially digested remnants of the Western diet, and especially red meat.  Colon cancer is a very unpleasant way to die – those interested in staying out of the hospital and being healthy will fill their intestines with unrefined plants foods.

Chao A, Thun MJ, Connell CJ, McCullough ML, Jacobs EJ, Flanders WD, Rodriguez C, Sinha R, Calle EE.  Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer.
JAMA. 2005 Jan 12;293(2):172-82.

Fast Food Makes People Fat and Diabetic – Duh!

Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis by Mark Pereira in the January 1, 2005 issue of the Lancet found, “Fast-food consumption has strong positive associations with weight gain and insulin resistance, suggesting that fast food increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.”  For 15 years, 5115 people were studied.  Those eating fast food frequently weighed 4.5 Kg (10 pounds) more, and had twice the incidence of insulin resistance – a forerunner to type-2 diabetes – than those rarely partaking in these instant indulgences. 

Comment:  People are getting fatter and sicker and the fast food industry is making their downhill journey to suffering, illness, and earlier death quicker and easier.  Over 65% of adults and 25% of children are now overweight in the USA.  The fast food system for feeding the masses started in the 1950s and has become a way of life for many people living in developed countries.  Exaggerated portion size and unhealthful ingredients characterize this fare. For more information on diabetes see my February 2004 newsletter article:  Type-2 Diabetes – the Expected Adaptation to Overnutrition.

The findings of this article were recently broadcast entertainingly in the movie, Super Size Me.  The star of this documentary, Morgan Spurlock, ate McDonald’s meals for every meal for a month, and not surprisingly, gained 12 Kg (24.5 pounds) and became ill with headaches, depression, exhaustion, and loss of sexual function.  No one should be surprised by the findings of this study or Spurlock’s blockbuster movie.  So why do people continue to act contrary and destructively?  Grease and salt don’t taste good enough to die for.

Pereira MA, Kartashov AI, Ebbeling CB, Van Horn L, Slattery ML, Jacobs DR Jr, Ludwig DS.  Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis.  Lancet. 2005 Jan 1;365(9453):36-42.

Don’t Exercise – Until after You Have Changed Your Diet

Effects of exercise training and deconditioning on platelet aggregation induced by alternating shear stress in men by Jong-Shyan Wang in the January 2005 issue of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found reasons why the risk of a cardiac arrest increases during vigorous exercise in people who begin in poor physical condition.  This risk may be due to an increased tendency for the blood to clot (increased platelet aggregation and decreased fibrinolysis) caused by physical trama to the blood elements from intense exercise.  Fortunately, regular exercise, and the improved physical condition that follows, decreases the tendency for blood clot formation and reduces the risk of a heart attack.

Comment: Nathan Pritikin, one of the pioneers in low-fat diet and heart disease, used to warn people not to start exercising until after they had changed their diet.  Results of this study shed more scientific light on why people need to adhere to this advice.  For more than 50 years scientific research has demonstrated that a healthy, low-fat diet will dramatically reduce the tendency for the platelets to aggregate and the blood to clot. Thus, the risk of precipitating a heart attack is reduced or eliminated when diet and exercise are introduced in proper order.  Start your exercise program slowly.  A good guide to the intensity of activity would be for you to be able to converse (talk) comfortably with a friend while exercising (not be out of breath).

Wang JS, Li YS, Chen JC, Chen YW.  Effects of exercise training and deconditioning on platelet aggregation induced by alternating shear stress in men.
Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2005 Feb;25(2):454-60.

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