Real Advantage Nutrients

  1. Masking the truth

    Masking the truth

    Tuesday's episode of the popular police drama "NYPD Blue" included a segment involving a fictional anthrax scare. Aside from raising the panic meter a few notches, the episode did little to prepare you for an attack. Here's what you really need to know.

    First, it's important to recognize the symptoms of anthrax. There are three different forms of infection, all of which are characterized by unique ailments.

    Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump that resembles an insect bite. After one or two days, the bump will become an open sore with a black area in the center.

    Inhaled anthrax infections, in the early stages, resemble a common cold or flu, with aches, chills, cough, fever, etc. After several days, these symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems.

    The intestinal form of anthrax may follow the consumption of contaminated meat. Initial signs include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever. These symptoms are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea.

    Government spokesmen are telling you that the antibiotic Cipro is the treatment of choice for anthrax. But research has shown that similar antibiotics can also effectively treat anthrax. Even the FDA has conceded that two other widely available antibiotics-doxycycline and penicillin-can save a person exposed to anthrax from developing the disease.

    Ask a doctor to give you a prescription for amoxycillin (a form of penicillin) instead of Cipro, which is vanishing from druggists' shelves. Get a bottle of 100 500-milligram capsules for each member of the family. I doubt that Cipro is any better than amoxycillin. Anthrax is a gram-positive rod-a big, blue boxcar thing, when seen under a microscope. Gram-positive organisms, such as anthrax, respond well to penicillin.

    You may also want to get some cloth facemasks for every member of your family. I think these items will become commonplace, so you won't have to feel ridiculous wearing them in public.

    The perils of Paxil

    In the December 2001 issue of Real Health, I responded to a letter from a subscriber asking if Paxil is an addictive drug. Back then I reported that GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the makers of Paxil, lost a court battle to the tune of $8 million dollars in damages to the family of a Paxil patient who fatally shot members of his own family, then himself.

    Once again the court battle is heating up. In August, a federal judge ordered GlaxoSmithKline to stop airing commercials that claim the drug is not addictive. The order was to take effect on September 1, but the ruling has been postponed pending further review. The FDA has been called in to explain why they approved these ads before they aired (of course, you and I know the answer!). The FDA has previously said this class of drugs (serotonin re-uptake inhibitors - SSRIs) is not addictive. A class action suit by 35 patients says otherwise. This is becoming a real circus. I'll follow the story and keep you posted.

  2. When big-hearted is bad

    When big-hearted is bad

    Although it goes against everything you've ever heard, there is no credible evidence that exercise prolongs life. I discussed this in an earlier edition of Daily Dose (see "Tackling a weighty subject", September 20). Today, let's look specifically at exercise and your heart.

    Enlargement of the heart, technically known as cardiomegaly, is considered a healthy sign in athletes. But in the rest of us, it is considered a serious sign of heart disease. Is their enlarged heart a sign of health or impending disaster? Many athletes also have irregular electrocardiograms that would be considered serious signs of heart disease in the non-athletic. But since they are "in shape," it will be considered benign. After all, these people are young and the epitome of physical prowess, and so they must be indestructible. Right? Not so fast.

    In a study involved 10 cases of sudden death among marathon runners, 9 of the 10 died of heart attacks secondary to severe coronary heart disease. The researchers' conclusion: Severe coronary atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death in marathon runners.

    The researchers pursued these startling findings further with the collection of 24 cases of joggers - not marathoners, mind you, but just joggers. Thirteen died while jogging and six soon after jogging. All but one had severe coronary artery disease.

    Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center reported on 18 runners who died during or immediately after jogging. These were all experienced, fit, and apparently healthy runners. Most of them had run for a minimum of a year and some for as long as five years. Although four of them died during competition, most of them died during their regular exercise routines!

    As the researchers stated, "Neither superior athletic performance nor habitual physical exercise guarantees protection against an exercise death."

    Ray H. Roseman, M.D., did a study, brilliant in its simplicity, that proves the point. He studied the history of 2,635 federal employees as to their athleticism, or the lack thereof, and its relationship to coronary artery disease. He concluded that inactivity was not a health risk.

    If you like muscle building, running, and rappelling, that's fine, but don't expect it to give you a longer and healthier life.

    Slim research on CLA

    As you know, I wholeheartedly support eating animal products - since they are the staff of life. But even so, I am far from convinced by the latest buzz in the medical research community that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the fatty acid found exclusively in food from animal sources (meat and dairy products), may be an effective weight-reducing agent when taken as a supplement.

    In two separate studies, researchers reported that CLA aids weight maintenance for those patients who have lost weight, helping them to avoid putting it back on later. One of these studies also observed that those patients taking CLA who did regain weight were more likely to regain it as muscle rather than fat.

    Researchers at Purdue University also threw their hat in the ring, with a study examining CLA's effects on diabetes. They observed that patients "seemed to show" improvements in their insulin levels. "Seemed to show" is not good enough. So that supposition will have to "await further study," as we skeptics like to say.

    I will continue to follow the research and keep you posted here and in Real Health. In the meantime, if you want to try CLA as part of your weight-reduction program, simply take it as directed on the label.

  3. Ironing out a dangerous diet

    The point of this little story is that blindly prescribing iron to patients can be futile and even dangerous. I first reported on the dangers of excessive iron in one's diet in 1987 in Health Freedom News, the journal of the National Health Federation.
  4. Mother Nature's secret weapon

    Your best defense against threats from within - viruses, bacteria, chemicals, parasites, fungi, tumors, etc. (it's a jungle in there) is a well-armed immune system.
  5. Skin-deep cancer research

    Of course, for 25 years I've been asking dermatologists, if skin wrinkling is caused by sun exposure, why, then, are old Eskimos so wrinkled when they have only six weeks of summer?
  6. Gut check

    Ten years ago, I was talking with a young doctor about peptic ulcer disease. As it turned out, he had never heard that it is caused by a bacterium, even though, at that time, it had been decisively proven to be caused by the germ H. pylori.
  7. Heave hoe, silver!

    The controversy surrounding silver amalgam dental fillings continues to rage on. Silver amalgam fillings are not silver at all, but half mercury with a little silver added, along with copper, tin and zinc.
  8. Cat got your brain?

    Dr. E. Fuller Torrey posits that cats may carry infectious diseases that could cause schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Torrey thinks they may be passing along Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite in cat feces, that causes brain lesions in humans and, if he's right, schizophrenia.
  9. When the cure is worse than the sickness

    The overriding reason for this decision was that the drugs are ineffective and have an unacceptable degree of toxicity. These are the same doctors who will tell you that their chemotherapy treatments will shrink your tumor and prolong your life!
  10. This joint is jumpin'

    Osteoarthritis is a painful degenerative joint disease that affects the small joints in the fingers, knees, hips, and back. The neck may also be affected, which can be severely debilitating.

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