Monday, September 26, 2011

Thriving with flax seed oil

Having to take medications for high cholesterol has become quite the norm. From the age of 20, doctors warned me of dangerously high cholesterol. And yes, it’s all bad and not good cholesterol.

At 30, my physician recommended Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. In this trailblazing treatise based on years of critically acclaimed research, we learn that diet, exercise and mental health consistently result in a rapid reversal of plaque build-up in the coronary arteries that surround the heart. So with less plaque, there is less likelihood of a heart attack by 40.

At nearly 50, now, I live a healthy, physically active life – one free of expensive cholesterol-reducing drugs. Two other books worth skimming are T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

So what is it about flax seed oil that is so beneficial? It is high in oils containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are low in saturated fats and high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These oils (1) reduce the cholesterol carried in the blood and (2) increase the good to bad cholesterol ratio.

Good flax seed oil is best obtained in the refrigerated sections of health food stores. A few spoons of the bitter oil can be added to things like spaghetti sauce, Texas chili or even curried veggies with no negative change in flavor. Put the oil in hot foods, but never cook with it.

Because flax seed oil is bitter, it is more difficult to use as salad oil. A tasty compromise is to use sweet balsamic vinegar with spices to offset the bitter aftertaste. On top of a quickly prepared chopped salad, this dressing provides a rich flavor and adds years to our good health. Enjoy!

hanz on thriving

Chopped salad

1/4 cored green cabbage

1/8 cored red cabbage

Chop cabbage strips at a right angle.

2 medium carrots

1-2 sweet apples

Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon

Chop cabbage into roughly 1/4 inch squares. Set chopped cabbage aside for mixing. Use a coarse cheese grater to grate carrots and add to chopped cabbage. Core, but do not peel apple(s) and chop up into fine pieces. Add to the chopped salad and toss with lemon juice to keep the cut apple from turning brown.

There are many other ingredients that may be added to taste: radish, jicama, tomatoes, avocado, celery, green onion, red pepper, etc.

Balsamic and flax seed oil dressing

1/4 cup flax seed oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute

Add the Seasoning to the vinegar. Shake and add the flax seed oil. Refrigerate dressing for at least one hour before serving.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scientists discover virus that kills all types of breast cancer ‘within seven days’

Scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine said this week they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all types of breast cancer "within seven days" of first introduction in a laboratory setting.

The virus, known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), is naturally occurring and carried by up to 80 percent of humans, but it does not cause any disease.

Researchers learned of its cancer-killing properties in 2005, after Penn State scientists observed it killing cervical cancer cells. They also found that women who carried the AAV2 virus and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, had a lower propensity to develop cervical cancer.

When combined in a lab recently, AAV2 eradicated all the breast cancer cells "within seven days," according to researchers. Better still, it proved capable of wiping out cancer cells at multiple stages, negating the need for differing treatments used today.

"If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce those genes into a [therapy]," explained Penn State research associate Samina Alam. "If we can determine which pathways the virus is triggering, we can then screen new drugs that target those pathways. Or we may simply be able to use the virus itself."

The Center for Disease Control says that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting American women, causing more deaths than any other form of the disease.

The American Cancer Society estimates that up to 39,520 women in the U.S. will die from cancer just this year, out of about 230,480 new cases discovered by doctors.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are Glucose Guidelines Too Strict?

Are Glucose Guidelines Too Strict: There is a radical new idea being discussed in diabetes care. If you read articles here long enough you will find experts that advocate very strict control of blood glucose. Some medical practitioners are now saying it may be time to lighten up a bit on treatment options.

For this report we are relying heavily on a self-penned article by Dr. John Morley in the website. Morley begins by stating, “As an endocrinologist, I have spent more than 30 years trying to lower the sugar levels in diabetics to a normal level. As a diabetic, I have tried to keep my fasting glucose level below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) and my hemoglobin A1C (or glycated hemoglobin level) below 6 percent.”

It should be noted that as a diabetic Morley has a vested interest in keeping his own glucose levels under control, yet it seems he struggles with new information, “Three studies conducted during the past couple of years are causing me to rethink my approach to treating diabetes.

“The most dramatic was published this year. Craig Currie and his Cardiff University colleagues examined two groups of more than 20,000 patients in the United Kingdom who were being treated for diabetes. Members of both groups were at least 50 years old. The researchers found that those who were least likely to die had a hemoglobin A1C of 7.5 percent. This is higher than the American Diabetes Association’s recommended hemoglobin A1C level of 7 percent or lower. Those who took insulin, researchers said, had worse outcomes,” said Morley.

In scientific times past there were instances where beliefs were challenged with new information and resulting changes provided improved health care, but does this new information really mean A1C levels no longer matter? Morley continues, “The finding has created a major conundrum for those of us who are diabetic or treat people with diabetes. Rather than trying to reduce the glycated hemoglobin level to close to normal, we should try to keep a patient’s HbA1C in the range of 7 percent to 8 percent. Further support for this strategy comes from studies in older people that suggest patients with HbA1C levels below 7 percent are more likely to fall.

“The reasons for these findings are uncertain. Possibly tight control of glycated hemoglobin levels leads to a condition called hypoglycemia, which occurs when blood sugar levels dip too low.”

Morley then discussed the potential for new diabetic drugs to interfere with normal heart health or provide accumulated fat that can clog arteries. It almost seems as if Morley may be considering the potential of returning to a more simplified approach to managed care.

Morley concludes by asking and answering his own question, “So how will I treat diabetes? Of the medicines for diabetes, the drug that has clearly been shown to decrease death is metformin. The bottom line: I’ll suggest my patients who have type 2 diabetes use metformin and make lifestyle changes — especially exercise — which is the treatment of choice.”

It is interesting that no matter where a medical practitioner ultimately stands on the pharmaceutical side of diabetes care the common denominator in overall health care seems to revert to lifestyle alterations that include watching the foods you eat and working to maintain a healthy weight through exercise. These two approaches can help avert diabetes and can help lessen the effects post-diagnosis.

Osteoporosis Drugs Must State How Long Patients Should Take Them

Osteoporosis drugmakers must clarify how long patients should take the popular treatments in order to prevent harmful side effects, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted Friday.

The drugs are known as biphosphonates, and include bestsellings brands osamax, Boniva, Actonel, Atelvia and Reclast. The FDA itself will determine later whether they will be required to state how long patients should take each drug, but it's still unclear how long that might be.

According to the FDA, in 2009 more than 5 million prescriptions were filled for bisphosphonates, which reverse dangerous thinning of bones, preventing hip and spine fractures that cause pain and can result in serious health problems and hospitalizations.

At the meeting Friday in Adelphi, Md., a panel of advisers to the FDA reviewed details of several studies. A few patients have suffered serious complications, including jawbone destruction, unusual thighbone fractures and cancer of the esophagus after several years of taking the medications, and some have sued the drugs' makers.

Dr. Elizabeth Shane, past president of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, told HealthDay that side effects like atypical fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw are "extremely rare, when considered in the context of how many people take bisphosphonates for osteoporosis." She was "less certain about the esophageal cancer issue...but when you consider the number of very dangerous, life-threatening fractures that are prevented by these drugs, the benefits dwarf the side effects," Shane, a professor of medicine at Columbia University, told reporters.

"I am really not in favor of putting a limit on use of bisphosphonates and dictating the use of drug holidays," Shane said.