Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Statins

pillsA new study conducted by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that long-term statin use can increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

A recent article titled Statins Maybe Not a Wonder Drug for Parkinson in Neurology Times

The new study was conducted over a 20 year period and shows that long-term use of statins can produce some detrimental side effects. However, the study also suggests cholesterol may have a vital role in protecting the brain and nervous system.

In late 2013 I wrote about new heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology. These guidelines suggested doubling the number of persons who take statins. I suggested at the time that maybe we should just put statins in the water.

About 43 million Americans take statins or are statin therapy candidates, and the American Heart Association estimates that number will soon increase to 56 million or even more. Guidelines recommend that even persons who do not have high cholesterol but have other risk factors also take statins.

Following the release of this report, some public health officials are reconsidering the widespread use of statins for people with low risk of heart disease.

Dr Xuemei Huang, who led the research on the link with Parkinson’s disease, recently published in the journal of Movement Disorders, expressed concerns about the widespread prescription of statins.

The professor of neurology at Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania said: If we blanket prescribe statins to people we could be creating a huge population of people with neurological problems.

I think doctors are over-enamoured with statins and think it is a cure-all.

Eating a vegan or whole-food plant-based diet will keep you away from statins – the “wonder drug” that might not be so wonderful.

 

How Is Your State Doing at Preventing Deaths?

Preventable DeathsEarlier this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report Potentially Preventable Deaths from the Five Leading Causes of Death — United States, 2008–2010.

In 2010, the top five causes of death in the United States were 1) diseases of the heart, 2) cancer, 3) chronic lower respiratory diseases, 4) cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), and 5) unintentional injuries. The rates of death from each cause vary greatly across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. An understanding of state differences in death rates for the leading causes might help state health officials establish disease prevention goals, priorities, and strategies. States with lower death rates can be used as benchmarks for setting achievable goals and calculating the number of deaths that might be prevented in states with higher rates.

I took the numbers from the charts in the report to create this visualization.

The report also included this chart of potentially preventable vs observed deaths.

Preventable Deaths chartTwo things stood out:

  • The regional differences on the map
  • The low number of potentially preventable deaths vs observed in the chart above – especially for heart disease and cancer

The regional differences may have to do with diet and levels of smoking, drinking and lack of exercise. Some have made the case that many of these states with lower rates of preventing deaths in the South, like Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, have made it difficult for low income residents to get affordable health insurance and have not expanded Medicaid (see map below). This makes it more likely that people won’t get preventive care or physicals and wind up in the emergency room with a life threatening chronic illness.

But the most frustrating aspect of all of this is that these chronic diseases – especially heart disease, stroke and cancer – could be drastically reduced by dietary changes. Many doctors – as I’ve pointed out many times – have shown that a whole food, plant-based diet will reduce the risk of these diseases and reverse them if they have already started impacting people.

Our vegan book club is currently reading Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much by David Robinson Simon. The title sums up the book, which looks at the way our government (using our tax dollars) is subsidizing and helping to promote the meat and dairy industry, while at the same time other parts of our government (but without the same amount of dollars or clout) are telling us to eat less of these foods. The result is that Americans eat more protein from meat and dairy products than anyone else in the world, and it’s literally killing us. Finally, through Medicare and Medicaid, the government is paying to treat the illnesses caused by eating too much meat and dairy.

Why do we accept the fact that each year almost 50,000 will die from stroke, 300,000 will die from heart disease, and 400,000 will die from cancer? Where is the will – political, social or otherwise – to do all we can to prevent these diseases? Can we save lives and the billions of dollars spent each year on the health and environmental impacts of this unsustainable way of living before it’s too late?


Where the States Stand

Via: The Advisory Board Company

Are Cheeseburgers Really Heart Healthy?

cheeseburger

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill/PRNewsFoto

The New York Times headline read “Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link.” It’s OK to order the cheeseburgers again!!

The article was highlighting new research showing that saturated fat, the kind found in meat and dairy products, is not linked to heart disease. The new research also found that taking supplements like fish oil to raise “good” cholesterol did not have any impact on heart health.

Dr. John McDougall – author of The Starch Solution and a whole food, plant-based diet advocate was quick to respond.

This March 18, 2014 Annals of Internal Medicine article will become a feeding frenzy for the animal-food-industries: a “nugget of proof” that their saturated fat-laden foods can be eaten guiltlessly. Millions of people worldwide, especially those who are looking to hear good news about their bad habits, will die of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity, and if left unchallenged, resulting increases in livestock production will accelerate global warming even faster.

The headlines proved him correct.

Why almost everything you’ve been told about unhealthy foods is wrong – from The Guardian

Another Blow to the “Saturated Fat Is Bad” School of Thought – from Diabetes Health

A different view on saturated fats – a rather subdued headline from meatpoultry.com

More from Dr. McDougall

The main scientific study they used showing the safety of saturated fat, was a study supported by the National Dairy Council. This is the single study used to promote eating animals by the low-carb movement and the animal food industries.

The majority of the studies this research looked at were from the US and Europe. These studies, for the most part, looked at people eating the typical Western diet.

In the nineteen that were based in North America and 42 in Europe, people all ate the same diet (full of saturated fat, ie. Dairy, meat, and eggs) – how could you possibly see any difference in health?

I found this article – reprinted from WebMD – Saturated Fats: Bad, Not So Bad? It included information about the main author of the study, Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the companies he receives fees from – Bunge (agribusiness), Pollock Institute, Quaker Oats (agribusiness), Life Sciences Research Organization, Foodminds (PR), Nutrition Impact  (“helping food & beverage companies develop and communicate aggressive, science-based claims about their products and services”), Amarin (pharmaceutical), Astra Zeneca (pharmaceutical), Winston and Strawn LLP (corporate law firm), and UpToDate (evidence-based clinical decision support resource), and serving on the scientific advisory board for Unilever North America (among other companies, owner of Ben & Jerry’s).

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

With more and more people wanting organic, non-GMO food and “healthier” options for their families, the meat and dairy industries feel threatened. This study was just what they need to continue to push back against the issues with eating the saturated fat in their products.

Let the “feeding frenzy” begin. Me, I’ll stick with what is working for me to keep me healthy and feeling great.

The New York Times Publishes More Nonsense on Nutrition

New York TimesGary Taubes, who I had discussed earlier in my review of Colin Campbell’s book The Low-Carb Fraud, had a opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday Review this week. The title was “Why is Nutrition So Confusing?”

He talked about all of the research nutritionist have done in the past 50 years related to Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, yet the number of people with these chronic diseases keep increasing.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them?

Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

However, Taubes is the author of two best-selling books advocating a low-carb diet. He has a theory – the closest he gets to letting us in on his con game is this.

Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

What he fails to mention is that there have been trials, studies and proven methods that do halt or reverse diabetes, obesity and related chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction.

Work done by Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Colin Campbell and many others have shown that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat.

Last Spring, Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care company and hospital system, told their doctors to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.” In order to hold down healthcare costs and control the spread of diabetes.

I am appalled that the Times printed his “opinion” piece without identifying him as someone who is part of, as he put it in the article, “the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment.”

The Times refers to Taubes as “a health and science journalist and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative.”

The Nutrition Science Initiative is

unencumbered by bureaucracy or by an obligation to do anything other than find the truth. We can move quickly and efficiently to execute a novel plan: harness the talents of the best scientists in the field and channel their skills into one concerted effort to generate reliable knowledge, once and for all, on the nature of a healthy diet.

The companies that produce dairy, eggs, meat, sugar and processed foods don’t want the majority of Americans to stop buying their products. So they spend lots of money lobbying Congress to not change food policy or dietary guidelines.

Whole food, plant-based advocates have to find a way to break through the noise of fad diets and the confusion fed us by the media and our own government.

The truth is out there. It is unambiguous. Whole food, plant-based diets work.

Obesity, Not Old Age, Drives Healthcare Costs

Obesity in the US 2012

Obesity in the US 2012

A recent article from The Atlantic highlighted a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shattered some myths about the US Healthcare Disease Care system.

The study authors—a combination of experts from Alerion Advisors, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester, and the Boston Consulting Group—take a point-by-point look at why healthcare costs so much, why our outcomes are comparatively poor, and what accounts for the growth in medical expenditures.

The number one myth is that old age accounts for the majority of healthcare spending – when in fact it is obesity.

Actually, chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, among people younger than 65 drives two-thirds of medical spending. About 85 percent of medical costs are spent on people younger than 65, though people do spend more on healthcare as they age.

“Between 2000 and 2011, increase in price (particularly of drugs, medical devices, and hospital care), not intensity of service or demographic change, produced most of the increase in health’s share of GDP,” the authors write.

The biggest-spending disease with the fastest growth rate was hyperlipidemia—high cholesterol and triglycerides—for which spending grew by 14.4 percent annually between 2000 and 2010.

All you have to do is look around and see the increase in people’s waistlines or the proliferation of fast food and junk food everywhere.

These two maps also tell the story. The map at the beginning of the post is the Obesity map for 2012 from the United Healthcare Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings website. The one below is the map from 1990. The growth in the rate of obesity is astounding.

Obesity in the US 1990

Obesity in the US 1990

We are eating ourselves sick with the Standard American Diet (SAD) full of meat, dairy and eggs cooked with fat, sugar and salt. This way of eating is impacting all of us – high healthcare costs, productivity loss from hospitalizations and increased death rates.

It’s time to change to a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. (You knew I was going to go there sooner or later, didn’t you?)

Other findings in the study include:

  • The US does not have the best healthcare system in the world (why are there still people who would have us believe that we’re still number 1? We haven’t been for decades. We spend more than other Western countries for worse outcomes.)
  • Spending more on IT and technology is not making the system more cost-efficient (Your doctor has an iPad! – does that make them a better doctor?)
  • The rate of increase in medical costs has slowed down (thanks in part to the recession and the Affordable Care Act)

We are on a path to have this generation of Americans living shorter lives than their parents because of our diet and health habits. It’s time to change.

More Voices Against Statins

pills

It seems I wasn’t the only one concerned about the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology’s new guidelines for lowering cholesterol and suggesting the use of statins for more patients.

On November 13, the New York Times published an op-ed piece entitled “Don’t Give More Patients Statins.” The piece was written by John D. Abramson, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine,” and Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and the editor of JAMA Internal Medicine. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Just Put It in the Water?

pills

New heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines were released Tuesday (Nov. 12) by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology.

Highlights of these new guidelines are that obesity should be treated like a disease and cholesterol-lowering drugs could prevent cardiovascular disease in more Americans than previously thought. The guidelines also urge overall healthy diets rather than stressing about occasional indulgences. And they give doctors formulas to calculate heart and stroke risk specifically for African-Americans.

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should now be prescribed to an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

If followed, this would double the number of people taking these drugs. Why don’t we just put it in the water? In 2010, there were 221 million adults 21 or older in the US. If we are considering giving these drugs to 65 million of them – that’s 30% of the adult population.

This is craziness. Drugs have side effects. The known side effects of statins – according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Liver damage
  • Digestive problems
  • Rash or flushing
  • Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Neurological side effects

If we give these drugs to more and more people, what are the long-term health implications? What are the long-term financial implications? Who is going to pay for a third of US adults to take these drugs?

When will we get serious about changing the dietary and exercise habits of Americans instead of giving them more pills to hide the problems?

When will we stop suggesting diets like DASH that can only reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but won’t make you heart attack- and stoke-proof the way a whole food, plant-based, oil-free diet can?

Why are researchers and clinicians like Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard ignored when guidelines are created by groups like the AHA? These doctors have over 20+ years of research and studies that prove the effectiveness of whole food, plant-based diets and the health risks of consuming even moderate amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

As Dr. Esselstyn reminds us, “Moderation Kills.”

In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Campbell described the cozy relationship between groups like the AHA and the drug manufacturers and dairy and meat industry groups. (And the takeover of government agencies and research groups by the same monied interests.) The AHA can’t tell you to change your diet and give up meat, dairy, eggs, sugar and oils without losing funding.

Statins won’t keep you from getting heart disease or stroke. Don’t ask your doctor if statins might help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Instead, find a doctor who can help you change your diet and lifestyle to quickly show real results.

Read this account of a man who had his “first 8 stents” done at the age of 31, and 9 years and numerous procedures later, he became heart attack proof following Dr. Esselstyn’s recommendations. He writes:

I have lost 48 pounds. My blood work has gone from total cholesterol of 208, LDL of 93, HDL of 41, and triglycerides of 368 last June to most recent results of total cholesterol of 89, LDL of 19, HDL of 53, and triglycerides of 83. That transformation is nothing short of amazing.

Take control of your health. Follow the links in the Nutrition section on this site and get the information you need to find your own path to health and well-being.

Just Another Statistic

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Five years ago my uncle, my dad’s only sibling, died from complications after heart surgery. He had a minimally invasive procedure done with a da Vinci device. The surgeon performed his task flawlessly, but the assistant punctured one of his lungs when removing the device. Other missteps by the hospital staff further complicated his already weakened system and he never regained consciousness.

A recent article in Forbes, Stunning News On Preventable Deaths In Hospitals, describes the magnitude of this issue:

In 1999, Americans learned that 98,000 people were dying every year from preventable errors in hospitals. That came from a widely touted analysis by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called To Err Is Human. This was the “Silent Spring” of the health care world, grabbing headlines for revealing a serious and deadly problem that required policy and action.

As it turns out, those were the good old days.

According to a new study just out from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety, four times as many people die from preventable medical errors than we thought, as many as 440,000 a year.

Continue reading

“Game Changing” Way to Increase Revenue for Supplement Makers

Supplements are Big BusinessThe Headline: ‘Game changing’ economic report: Supplements could save billions of dollars in health care costs

The Reality: A website – Nutraingredients-usa.com with Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition – is letting you know about the fantastic study done by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation on the wonderful impact of supplements on chronic diseases and healthcare costs. What is the CRN Foundation?

A charitable 501(c)(3) foundation of the dietary supplement industry that provides consumers with information about responsible use of dietary supplements, and provides researchers and healthcare practitioners with education on the proper role of supplements in a healthy lifestyle.

The CRN promotes itself as “The Science Behind the Supplements.”

The ‘game changer’ here is to get consumers to spend their dollars on supplements on the chance that doing so will save billions of dollars on healthcare costs.

The sad fact is that the majority of our healthcare costs – 75% according to this study – go to treating chronic diseases, while very little – 3% – is spent on prevention.

However, shifting some of that 75% to paying for supplements is not the answer – or a game changer. The answer is found by changing people’s lifestyles. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet; exercising and reducing stress.

These have been shown to reduce chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and more.

Read Dr. Colin Campbell’s book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition to get another perspective. He argues that the reductionist mindset in nutrition and science keeps us from looking at the whole body and the way our food interacts with it. Trying to reduce whole foods to supplements to target one certain aspect of nutrition or disease is not a ‘game changer,’ it is a dead end.

A Man on a Mission

Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD, F.A.C.S.Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn is a man on a mission – to end the epidemic of chronic heart disease in the US and other Western countries by promoting a whole food, plant-based (WFPB), oil free diet.

Esselstyn knows how to set a goal and reach it. As part of the US Olympic rowing team in 1956, his team won the gold medal. After attending medical school he served as a physician in Vietnam, then became a surgeon at the Cleveland clinic, where he worked for 40 years. He is a man driven to succeed. Now he is facing the toughest challenge of his life – changing the eating habits of the American public in order to end heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

In his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Esselstyn shows how changing the diets of his chronically ill patients reversed their heart disease. Although they were all told by their doctors there was nothing else medicine or procedures could do for them, Dr. Esselstyn’s “prescription” kept them free of heart attacks and stroke for over 25 years and gave them back their strength and health.

Prevent and Reverse Heart DiseaseDr. Esselstyn is featured in the movie Forks Over Knives. His book provides additional information about the research behind his WFPB diet, why oils aren’t heart healthy and how the USDA Dietary Recommendations promote increased disease. His scientifically proven, nutrition-based cure is similar to those advocated by others, including Doctors Colin Campbell, Dean Ornish and John McDougall. All of them have shown the power of these diets to change lives.

Couscous and African Stew

Couscous and African Stew

As powerful as Dr. Esselstyn’s message, the other half of the book is a collection of wonderful recipes from his wife, Ann. They include fabulous soups, stews, salads and main course dishes along with breakfast and dessert items. We have discovered a whole new set of favorites: Sloppy Lentil Joes, Black Bean – Oatmeal Burgers, Couscous and African Stew, and Lentil Loaf served with potatoes and mushroom gravy.

For me, this book, along with the Forks Over Knives movie, changed my life. I lost over 20 pounds, got off of my blood pressure medicine and have more energy than before.

My wife and I had the chance to meet Dr. Esselstyn and his wife at a weekend retreat. They are compassionate, warm and giving of their time and expertise. They are lively, energetic and ready for the challenge of getting as many people as possible to follow their truly heart-healthy way of living and ending coronary heart disease – which Dr. Esselstyn insists, need never exist.