1. The bitter side of sugar

    The bitter side of sugar

    Last week I talked to you about how to protect yourself from the much-feared MRSA virus. There's no trick involved, and no expensive pharmaceutical solution, either. The answer, plain and simple, is to keep yourself healthy.

    And the only way I know to do that, short of moving to an island where you're the only living thing, is to get your immune system firing on all cylinders.

    Now, before you go spend hundreds of dollars on magic mushrooms and extracts of this and that, take heart. A healthy immune system has as much to do with what you don't put into your body as what you do. And when it comes right down to it, your immune system's (and your!) worst enemy is processed sugar.

    It seems so innocentthose little white grains. Sure, maybe it rots your teeth and forces you to carry around a few extra pounds, but how could it make you sick? Because sugar affects your body at the cellular level. So it can be found at the root of just about any disease - from colds to cancer.

    But I'd be willing to bet that, of the 4 million or so cancer patients living in the U.S., you'd be hard-pressed to find one whose doctor told him cancer feeds on sugar. After all, it's not the party line.

    So let me be as clear as I know how. When you have cancer, sugar is the absolute worst thing you could put into your body. Not only does it help to fuel the very cancer that you're fighting, but it also beats down the only thing that can help you defeat it - your immune system.

    And for those of us not fighting cancer, well, there is no "get out of sugar jail free" card. It is the number cause of being fat and sick.

    "But I don't eat a lot of sugar," my patients used to say.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure you don't. Even if you don't pour teaspoons of the stuff in your coffee or over your oatmeal, I bet you're in the dark about how much of it actually sneaks into your body.

    The first culprit is labeling. Just because you don't see sugar in the ingredients doesn't mean it isn't lurking. Look for any of the following words and, if you see them, put the package down: corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, and maltose, just to name a few.

    I read a statistic somewhere that said that in the late 1800s, the average person consumed 5 pounds of sugar per year. Want to take a stab at what that number has jumped to today? Now it's up to 2 to 3 pounds of sugar per week!

    It's no wonder this, the richest nation on the planet, is also the sickest one. We indulge on candy bars and something-chinos and processed food that wouldn't even be edible if it didn't have a ton of sugar dumped in it. And it's no wonder kids these days are hyperactive: Their morning meal consists of sugar-laden cereal (drowning in dead milk), their lunches consist of processed meat piled between processed white bread, and every meal is chased with a soda or - just as bad - a fake fruit juice drink.

    With the list of sugar's negative health effects piling up, you'd think we would think twice about funneling it down our throats. But maybe it's time to take a different approach with the "sugar scare tactics." We do, after all, usually care more about how we look than how we are, so maybe this next study will do the trick.

    What "AGEs" you

    If the threat of cancer, kidney damage, tooth decay, depression, hypertension, moodiness, depression, or migraines (I'll stop there) isn't enough to get you to minimize your sugar intake, I'm sure this next one will scare the addiction right out of you wrinkles.

    You may or may not know that collagen is your skin's major structural protein, and it's what's responsible for keeping your skin looking young and healthy.

    But when you fill your body with sugar, it serves a double whammy again your collagen. When you eat sugar, you develop AGEs (advanced glycation end products). AGEs damage your collagen and elastin, making your skin less "springy." They also take type III collagen (the longest-lasting and most stable form) and turn it into type I collagen (the more fragile form).

    Obviously the best thing you can do for your body (both inside and out) is to cut sugar completely. But since it's nearly impossible these days, you could also try supplementing with vitamins B1 and B6. Both are AGE inhibitors.

  2. PSA fails its test

    PSA fails its test

    When the mainstream medical community began pushing the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test more than 20 years ago, they had absolutely no proof that the test was beneficial - or even safe, for that matter. But that never stopped them from hailing it as a godsend and announcing to every man in American that having a yearly PSA was the only way to protect against prostate cancer.

    And the money came rolling in

    It was a good little scam, but the gig is almost up especially if reports like the one just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute continue popping up.

    Dutch and Swedish researchers found that even though more frequent screening increased the number of tumors detected, it failed to reduce the number of AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that appeared between screenings.

    Researchers followed two groups of men between the ages of 55 and 65 years old for 10 years. The first group (4,000 men) was tested every two years, and the second group (13,000 men) was tested every four years. As you would imagine, more tumors were found among the group that was tested more frequently - 13 percent verses 8 percent.

    But here's the catch: There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups of men in the number of aggressive tumors that formed between screenings. The researchers said, "More screening did not cut the number of these cancer cases as one might have expected."

    That's been my point all along. As we age, it's perfectly normal to develop small tumors in our prostates. It's when you start messing with them that you stir up a hornet's nest. But it's the AGGRESSIVE TUMORS that'll kill you - whether you get a routine PSA or not.

    The lead researcher of the study, Monique Roobol, said, "We here in Europe feel that over- diagnosis and over-treatment is certainly something you should avoid." That's a not-so-subtle and all-too-deserved slap in the face to the medical community on this side of the pond. And, as you know, I couldn't agree more.

    Soap scum

    Two years ago (Daily Dose, 7/5/05), I told you about a science experiment conducted by a group of cookie-peddling girls in green vests. After a two-year long experiment, the Minnesota-based Girl Scout Troop determined that antibacterial soaps are only marginally more effective than regular soaps at eradicating germs - .2% to be precise.

    Without knowing the ins and outs of their research, I couldn't comment on the accuracy of their results. However, a study was just published in the August issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases that validates their findings - at least for one particular type of antibacterial soap.

    According to the study, antibacterial soaps containing the active ingredient triclosan are no better than regular soap at killing germs - and in fact, they can do more harm than good. Apparently the concentrations of triclosan used in commercial hand soaps aren't sufficient enough to kill bacteria such as E. coli, and they can also reduce the effectiveness of some common antibiotics.

    Bottom line: Stick with plain 'ol, tried and true, antibiotic-free soap.

  3. Cancer fighting benefits of garlic consumption

    Study results show both garlic and tea have cancer-fighting benefits.
  4. Upping the vitamin D ante

    The possibly most reliable study on vitamin D to date has some consumers raiding retailors' shelves.
  5. Vitamin D reduces cancer risk

    Studies have shown time and again that if there's one nutrient you don't want to be without, it's vitamin D. Here are a few of the reasons why…
  6. Shooting at the scapegoat, missing the perpetrator

    The ridiculous notion that red meat raises the risk of breast cancer in women.
  7. Uninformed consent, part one

    According to the news reports at the time, there's quite a stink in the medical community about the way Polyheme is being tested - namely, WITHOUT the full (or even partial) informed consent of patients.
  8. Carcino-genocide on trial

    Every once in a while, the court system surprises me. Normally, it's as predictable in its misguided fool-headedness as night following daytime. But just as occasional eclipses upset the predictable balance of night and day, so too does the occasional lapse of modern jurisprudence result in the odd correct decision being handed down in our courts…

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