Currently viewing the tag: "prevention"

I know, we all want green tea to work for something; but when it comes to preventing breast cancer, green tea comes up short.  A recent Japanese study failed to show any protective effects against breast cancer from drinking green tea.

The study, conducted by the Epidemiology and Prevention Division at the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening of the National Cancer Center in Tokyo, collected data on 53,793 women who were surveyed between 1995 and 1998.  As part of the survey, the women were asked how much green tea they drank.  A follow up survey was conducted at five years where they the women were asked the same questions but also which types of green tea were drunk (Sencha or Bancha/Genmaicha).

The survey results showed that 12% drank less than one cup of green tea per week, while 27% drank five or more cups a day.  There were also women who drank more than 10 cups per day.

They followed the women for almost fourteen years and found that 350 of them developed breast cancer in that time period.  But researchers found no less risk in women who drank green tea than in those who did not.

According to scientists, the strength in this study was its research design, particularly that green tea consumption was recorded before breast cancer was diagnosed, thus eliminating “the exposure recall bias inherent to case-control studies,” lead researcher Dr. Motoki Iwasaki said.

Still, some people want to hang on.  Like I said, we all really want green tea to be beneficial.  Case in point, Jennifer J. Hu, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami School of Medicine‘s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Says Hu, “just by drinking green tea you don’t get enough of the [possible cancer-fighting ingredient] to make much of a difference.”  She also states that population-based studies fail to localize single factors, as many more factors may play a part.

Yes, I can see Ms. Hu’s point.  Perhaps a study on freebasing green tea may produce the results she wants.  Let’s not all hold our breaths, though.

When it comes to preventing cancer, are nutritional supplements effective?  Some say yes, some say no.  There is, however, a superior way to prevent cancer nutritionally–by eating healthy foodsYou don’t say?  Yes, nothing beats whole natural foods when it comes to dietary health.

Recent studies have shown that neither vitamins C nor E did the trick in preventing cancer or heart disease when taken as supplements.  However, we know how important these vitamins are for proper function.  So what’s the deal?  Well, as I point out in my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, there is no substitute for real food.  C’mon folks, we haven’t found the magic pill yet that can replace food in providing either energy or nutrients (necessary as co-factors in metabolic processes).

Saying that, though, I am not yet convinced that nutritional supplements are useless.  In the big Women’s Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study II, which provided the most damning case against supplements, one must admit the doses for vitamin C, at least, were very low (500 mg).  I personally take 2000 mg per day.  I will contend that 500 mg, while not useless, is probably too low to show such dramatic effects as preventing cancer or heart disease.

Remove vitamin C from the diet, though, and watch your health deteriorate.  Hmm, so what then?  Vitamin C is necessary but only valuable when coming from real food?  I don’t think so.  We must remember that supplements are just that–supplementing the diet.  Like exercise alone not guaranteeing good health, when combined with diet, rest, chiropractic care, sufficient water intake, and so on, you better believe it will increase your chances of experiencing optimal health.

So preventing cancer, I am certain, requires more than just supplementing.  True, studying each individual vitamin and minerals’ individual effects on the body is valuable.  But I think before we throw the baby out with the bath water, we might need to design more rigorous studies to learn the whole truth.

I am a firm believer in the healing and preventative power whole natural foods.  But I know that we need vital nutrients.  It can’t be possible that supplementing with compounds containing the same molecules as natural foods is folly.  Unless there are synergistic reactions that occur with other, as of yet, undiscovered agents…well, it just doesn’t make sense.  We know certain things about antioxidants in general, and the vitamins that fill that role specifically, so I’m thinking better studies are needed.

But forget not the principle–without healthy, whole natural foods as a staple in your diet, you won’t be preventing cancer or general malnutrition by simply swallowing a pill.

I just happened to see this commercial on T.V. today for an osteoporosis drug being plugged by The Flying Nun. I have to say, it got me a little PO’d. Here’s why: The opening line is a blatant distortion of the truth, and with a little investigation, one will find that Ms. Sally Field isn’t being exactly honest about her story, either. But, distortions are precisely what these commercials are geared for…to sell more drugs.“I always thought calcium and vitamin D and exercise would keep my bones healthy, but I got osteoporosis anyway, so my doctor started me on once a month Boniva…,” is how the piece begins. Hmm. As far as I was taught, that’s exactly what women must do to prevent osteoporosis. Was there something I missed in doctor school?

Let me do some fact checking, I thought.Sally Field, also known as Norma Rae, was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2005. She was, according to her own accounts, a regular exerciser. But did she really keep up with the nutritional requirements necessary to prevent the bone-thinning disease? Not according to this article on WebMD, which discloses that her vitamin D levels were, in fact, LOW!!! Thank you, I thought so.When I saw the commercial, the first thing coming to mind was that people who don’t know better are going to think that their current preventive routine of good diet and exercise isn’t enough. And in truth, if you are missing a step—women or men—you aren’t doing enough. You must take daily calcium (1,000 mg for women under 50, and 1,200 mg thereafter), daily vitamin D (1,000 mg) and do weight bearing exercises regularly (so cardio alone is not enough, ladies). Asian and Caucasian women are at the highest risk, but don’t be fooled my African American and Hispanic sisters, you can get osteoporosis, too. Pharmaceutical companies want you to question what you are doing currently, so that you will go ask your doctor if you need Boniva (way too many people asking their doctors for drugs by name these days). That leads to the greatest amount of drug sales. It’s called DTC (direct-to-consumer) marketing, and we know it works. Pharmaceutical sales have skyrocketed since the practice started. From Source Watch:

A November 2006 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that “studies we reviewed found that increases in DTC advertising have contributed to overall increases in spending on both the advertised drug itself and on other drugs that treat the same conditions. For example, one study of 64 drugs found a median increase in sales of $2.20 for every $1 spent on DTC advertising. Consumer surveys suggest that DTC advertising increases utilization of drugs by prompting some consumers to request the advertised drugs from their physicians, who studies find are generally responsive to these requests. The surveys we reviewed found that between 2 and 7 percent of consumers who saw DTC advertising requested and ultimately received a prescription for the advertised drug.”

And the use of celebrities, and now celebrity doctors, increases the likelihood that consumers pay attention to a drug campaign; thus the use of Gidget in GlaxoSmithKline’s Boniva commercials.Now you might say, “Isn’t DTC better for public health, to become better aware of illnesses and to catch them early?” To that I’d say, “Catching illness early is always better than catching it late, but prevention is even better. And best of all is living a lifestyle that promotes and maintains good health. That is done by getting proper nutrition, hydration, rest, exercise and bodywork, not by taking drugs.”Taking drugs is useful as a last line of defense. But the pharmaceutical industry, and let’s face it, the entire medical paradigm, pushes drug use as a first line of defense. Oh, they’ll pay lip service to healthy behaviors, but that’s all they’re doing. Nobody is paying Jack LaLane big bucks to sell gym memberships (yes, I know, but the juicers are his).So I appreciate Nora Walker’s dedication to fighting osteoporosis. But being dishonest about her experience to make the story sound better and get people to ask their doctors about Boniva, a post-menopausal osteoporosis drug, isn’t helping the public health at all. It’s simply perpetuating an already faulty paradigm that has people trying to maintain their health from the outside in, instead of the inside out, the way it’s supposed to be.

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