My Favorite Five Articles
Found in Recent Medical Journals
Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Self reported stress and risk of breast cancer: prospective
cohort study by Naja Rod Nielson in the September 10,
2005 issue of the
British Medical Journal found women with high levels of
stress suffered 40% less risk of developing breast cancer
over a period of 18 years compared to women reporting a low
level of stress. The authors explained, “High
endogenous concentrations of oestrogen are a known risk
factor for breast cancer, and impairment of oestrogen
synthesis induced by chronic stress may explain a lower
incidence of breast cancer in women with high stress.”
This study involved 6689 women who were asked to rank their
perceived level of stress during a data collection period of
1981 to 1983. The finding of high stress and low risk
of breast cancer was particularly strong for women on HRT
(hormones). Examples of stress reactions were
sensations of tension, nervousness, anxiety, and experiences
of sleeplessness. In this study, 10% of women reported
a high level of stress.
Comment: Stress is the most common scapegoat used
by people when trying to solve the mystery behind their poor
health or a tragic disease. “Stress” is a
rationalization that often serves victims well. By
playing the “stress card” they have relieved themselves of
responsibility for their troubles, because stress is
unstoppable and elusive, and a normal, acceptable part of
life. People think, “If the cause is stress then there
is no need for me to change my diet, clean up bad habits
stress-cause is easy to believe because most people feel as
if their lives are stress-filled—however, isn’t life
supposed to be difficult?—sometimes? I’m not saying there
is no such thing as stress and that we should ignore our
uncomfortable feelings. Temporary unpleasant
situations should be resolved, like a “bad” marriage or
believe stress is a normal and necessary part of life—these
pressing feelings cause us to get jobs done and problems
resolved. There is no easy way to relieve chronic
stress from our lives. So, even if stress were the cause of
major illnesses, what would you do about it?
believe it is important for people to stop blaming stress
for their health problems, and instead focus on the true
culprits—those found in their environment, and especially
their diet. Diet, as opposed to stress, is 100%
tangible—with your very next bite of food you can change a
strategy—from one CAUSING breast cancer to one PREVENTING
of the ways stress indirectly puts us at risk is by causing
us to indulge in self-destructive behaviors. Stress
triggers us to smoke more cigarettes, drink more alcohol,
eat more rich foods and skip our morning exercise.
Therefore, as shown by this study of women and breast
cancer, living a life perceived as nerve-racking, does not
equal poor health, as long as you maintain your good habits.
Gronbaek M. Self reported stress and risk of
breast cancer: prospective cohort study. BMJ.
2005 Sep 10;331(7516):548. Epub 2005 Aug 15.
Feed Your Children Right—Fries Today May Mean Breast Cancer
Preschool diet and adult risk of breast cancer by Karin
Michels, published in the August on-line issue of the
International Journal of Cancer found that, “An
increased risk of breast cancer was observed among woman who
had frequently consumed French fries at preschool age.” “…an
energy-rich diet during puberty and adolescence affects the
growth of the mammary glands and enhances the occurrence of
precancerous lesions.” One additional serving of French
fries per week meant a 27% increased risk of developing
breast cancer later in life.
Comment: Children seem almost indestructible and
therefore most parents fail to correctly perceive the
consequences of their guidance. Not only is the rich
Western diet (right now) causing obesity in our children,
but the effects linger throughout life. The same
overnutrition that causes the normal body cells to grow also
causes abnormal cancer cells to grow. One of the well-known
results of consuming excess fat and calories is an
accelerated rate of growth of children—resulting in greater
height and body weight. Body size (tallness and girth)
are (both) associated with more breast cancer later in life.
Habits learned as children continue into adulthood.
Therefore, if you teach your children proper nutrition you
will be giving them a lifelong legacy of good health.
Possibly someday, feeding children meat, cheese, and fried
foods as a steady diet will be recognized as child abuse—and
offenders will be dealt the same punishments now given to
adults who contribute to a child’s detriment by providing
them alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.
Willett WC. Preschool diet and adult risk
of breast cancer. Int J Cancer. 2005 Aug 10; [Epub
ahead of print]
Removal of Ovaries Unjustified along with Hysterectomy
Ovarian conservation at the time of hysterectomy for benign
disease by William Parker in the August 2005 issue of
Obstetrics & Gynecology found, “Ovarian conservation
until at least age 65 benefits long-term survival for women
at average risk of ovarian cancer when undergoing
hysterectomy for benign disease.”1 The
possibility of surviving until age 80 years after a
hysterectomy is about 9% better if a woman’s ovaries are not
removed during a hysterectomy.
practical terms for 10,000 women, this could mean that of
those who keep their ovaries compared to those who have
their ovaries removed:
fewer will die of heart disease
158 fewer will die related to hip fractures
47 more will die of ovarian cancer
Comment: The standard practice of medicine, based
on logic, opinion, and clinical experience, instead of valid
scientific research, is that the ovaries should be routinely
removed at the time of hysterectomy in women over the age of
55, and removal should be considered for women over age 40
to reduce the risk of developing cancer of the ovaries in
Doctors falsely assume that once menopause passes, the
ovaries no longer serve any useful purposes. Egg
production does cease with menopause; however, the ovaries
continue to produce valuable hormones. For example,
the “male hormones” testosterone and androstenedione are
made by the ovaries for years after menopause and some of
these hormones are converted by a woman’s own body fat into
Protective factors produced by the ovaries and uterus reduce
a woman’s risk of heart attacks, bone fractures, and
psychological disturbances (hot flashes, depression, sexual
dysfunction, etc.). Drug replacement with HRT
(estrogen therapy) does not reduce the risk for heart
attacks and offers only partial relief from other ailments
caused by loss of the ovaries.
the USA, 600,000 hysterectomies are performed annually and
only 10% of these are for cancer. This means most
hysterectomies are performed unnecessarily. Employment
of current knowledge about the proper indications for
surgical treatment would reduce the number of operations
considerably. However, if what we know right now about
diet were fully used by doctors and public health officials
then this operation would be a rarity. Uterine fibroids,
abnormal uterine bleeding and endometrial carcinoma—the
primary reasons for this operation—are due to the high-fat
Western diet. Even after fibroids and excessive
bleeding start, changing to a healthy low-fat diet corrects
hormone excesses and imbalances, and encourages an earlier
menopause (which reduces hormones)—leading to benefits that
can eliminate the rush to surgery.
Annually, approximately half (300,000) of the 600,000 women
in the USA have their ovaries removed at the time of
hysterectomy. The rate of ovary removal is age-dependent:
38% between 18 and 44 years, and 78% between ages 45 and 64.
The reason given is usually “prevention of ovarian cancer.”
This cancer is a deadly disease and almost impossible to
cure once it occurs. Therefore, all our efforts need
to be directed towards prevention. Not surprisingly a rich
diet is believed to be at the root of cancer of the ovaries,
as it is for most female cancers.
recent research has focused on the cancer-causing role of
dairy products.2 People have been drinking
cows' milk for around 2000 years—without apparent harm (we
hear), but farmed milk of today is very different from that
consumed 100 years ago when “Elsie” lived in the pasture.
Modern dairy cows are almost constantly pregnant and
continue to be “milked” during their entire pregnancy.
Pregnant cows make loads of estrogen. This added
dietary estrogen is believed to increase a woman’s risk of
cancer of the breast, uterus, and ovaries.3
JS. Ovarian conservation at the time of
hysterectomy for benign disease. Obstet Gynecol.
A. Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian
cancer risk in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Am J
A. The possible role of female sex hormones
in milk from pregnant cows in the development of breast,
ovarian and corpus uteri cancers.
Med Hypotheses. 2005 Aug 23; [Epub ahead of print]
Stop Aspirin Suddenly—Die of a Stroke
Effect of discontinuing aspirin therapy on the risk of brain
ischemic stroke by Alexandre Maulaz in the August 2005
issue of the Archives of Neurology found, “…an
increased ischemic stroke risk in the 4 weeks after aspirin
discontinuation…” Over three times the expected risk
of stroke occurred in patients with a previous history of
heart disease when they suddenly stopped taking aspirin.
This appears to be a rebound effect from reversing the
“blood thinning effects” of aspirin. A similar
increase in risk of heart attack has been previously
reported when aspirin was stopped.
Comment: Aspirin is a valuable tool for the prevention
of future strokes and heart attacks in people with a past
history of severe artery disease—specifically those
with a history of previous heart attacks, angioplasty,
bypass surgery, TIA, or strokes. But these people need
to be warned against stopping this “blood-clot-preventing”
medication—even when surgery is planned.
people at low risk—without any of the above
indications—are taking a baby aspirin (and more) daily “just
in case”—to prevent a heart attack or stroke. The bottom
line is they are much more likely to be harmed from bleeding
and aspirin allergy, than to be helped by any possible
benefit of reducing their risk of a heart attack or stroke.
This rebound effect from suddenly stopping aspirin provides
another important reason to only use aspirin therapy for
those patients likely to gain more benefits than harm.
one has determined a safe regime for discontinuing this
therapy. Since as little as 30 mg (1/3 of a baby
aspirin) will deactivate all of the body’s platelets—slow
withdrawal must begin below this level. From what I
now know, I would suggest that people needing to stop
long-term use of aspirin should do so very slowly (maybe by
cutting their dose in half every 5 days)—and for greatest
safety, only reducing their dosage after they have improved
best way to “thin” the blood and prevent blood clots that
cause heart attacks and strokes is to avoid the most
powerful blood-clotting substance people contact
daily—animal fat. By avoiding meat, poultry, eggs and
dairy products you naturally and safely thin your blood and
prevent tragedies with no side effects, no costs, and no
rebound effects. Plus this no-cholesterol, plant-food based
diet is the same one that heals the underlying artery
Bogousslavsky J. Effect of discontinuing
aspirin therapy on the risk of brain ischemic stroke.
Arch Neurol. 2005 Aug;62(8):1217-20.
Acupuncture Safely Helps Knees with Arthritis
Acupuncture in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a
randomised trial by Claudia Witt published in the July
9, 2005 issue of the
Lancet found, “After 8 weeks of treatment, pain and
joint function are improved more with acupuncture than with
minimal acupuncture or no acupuncture in patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee.”1 Patients with
chronic osteoarthritis of the knee were given acupuncture,
or a sham procedure of superficial needling at
non-acupuncture points for 12 sessions over 8 weeks.
The benefits from real acupuncture lasted a little less than
a year. The side effects of the treatment were minimal
(bleeding and needle pain).
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis,
occurs in almost all adults living in Western societies, as
they age. The knee is a common and troublesome site
for this debilitating disease. Because the knee
supports the body weight, obesity will aggravate this
condition. The first obvious step to help the
knees is to lose excess body weight—something all doctors
recommend. The structural integrity of the
joints—independent of body weight—is also diet-dependent. A
low-fat plant-based diet is the best choice for weight loss
and stronger joints. A recent study of 316 older,
overweight or obese, sedentary men and women with x-ray
evidence of knee osteoarthritis found that those who lost
weight with a healthier diet showed a decrease in
inflammation of the joints.2 Exercise did not
seem to help.
After a healthy diet change with expected weight loss, the
next choice for helping arthritic knees is a medication made
from seashells, called
glucosamine. (There is also a vegetarian source of this
product.) Research shows this inexpensive remedy works
by providing raw materials for rebuilding the joints.3
When taken daily (about 1200 mg), glucosamine will
reduce pain and help heal damaged knee joints. I do not
recommend products combined with chondroitin because this
cow-cartilage material may be infected with microbes as
nasty as “mad cow” prions.
third step for relief should be treatment with acupuncture
as described above, because this relatively inexpensive
method is safe and effective.
two last resorts are commonly prescribed by medical doctors.
Antiinflammatory and pain medications recommended for
osteoarthritis provide temporarily relief, but have serious
side effects. Use these medications as infrequently as
Common Arthritis Medications and Some of Their
NSAIDs (e.g.: Motrin, Advil, etc.—not COX-2
Accelerated joint loss*
Damage to GI barrier
NSAIDs work by inhibiting the synthesis of
prostaglandins. Unfortunately, in addition to
inhibiting prostaglandins that mediate pain and
inflammation, they also inhibit prostaglandins that
Surgical knee replacement is costly and risky, but can
provide excellent results.5
However, this choice is obviously saved for the very last
effort—delayed until life becomes intolerable with pain and
information on osteoarthritis can be found in my April 2004
newsletter article: How to Prevent and Treat
Degenerative (Osteo) Arthritis.
Willich SN Acupuncture in patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomised trial. Lancet.
2005 Jul 12;366(9480):136-43.
2) Nicklas BJ. Diet-induced weight loss,
exercise, and chronic inflammation in older, obese adults: a
randomized controlled clinical trial. Am J Clin
Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):544-51.
3) Bruyere O, Pavelka K, Rovati LC, Deroisy R,
Olejarova M, Gatterova J, Giacovelli G, Reginster JY.
Glucosamine sulfate reduces osteoarthritis progression in
postmenopausal women with knee osteoarthritis: evidence from
two 3-year studies. Menopause. 2004
4) Ding C. Do NSAIDs affect the progression of
Inflammation. 2002 Jun;26(3):139-42. Review
Bershadsky B. The functional outcomes of
total knee arthroplasty. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005