September 2004 Newsletter - Reducing the Risk of Breast Cancer; Success story of patient with hidden B12 deficiency; Success story of patient with low thyroid and heavy metal toxicity
Dear Friends and Patients:
You’ve all heard the saying “take time to smell the roses.” In June of this year I took a week off my busy schedule to drive with my oldest son, Michael, to California. He is attending school at the Gemological Institute of America just outside of San Diego to become a gemologist. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to spend one on one time with him and visit some places I normally wouldn’t make the time for. We left on a Thursday night after seeing patients and drove to Pensacola, Florida. The next day we drove through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and into Texas. It was interesting to see oil fields on one side of the road in Louisiana, and crawfish farms on the other. We spent the night in San Antonio and visited the Alamo the next morning. It was an emotionally moving piece of history that we learned more about. The next day we drove into New Mexico and took a side trip to Carlsbad Caverns, which is something I have wanted to see since I was a boy. Mike and I spent the entire morning 700 feet underground in the largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere, and hiked over three miles to see crystal clear underground pools, magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, and learn about how this cave system was discovered in the 1800′s on horseback and explored with an oil lantern. It had it’s own ‘air conditioning’, as well, maintaining a constant 56% year round. We then took off for Arizona and spent the night in Tombstone. After exploring this small town the next morning we were thankful for the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing and air conditioning. It was 106 degrees in the afternoon. Going across the mountains in Southern California, where the temperatures suddenly dropped into the high 60′s was a pleasant surprise. After getting Mike set up in his apartment and meeting the people at his school, I flew back to Florida. On the flight, I was sitting next to a very busy businessman whose son was also going to start school out of state. I shared what I had done and this gentleman was inspired enough to change his plans take a road trip with his son as well.
We have a diverse, beautiful, and wonderful country and the freedom to explore it. This trip made me appreciate this even more. I hope all of you reading this newsletter had a wonderful summer as well. Now on to medical topics . . .
Spring ACAM Conference
In May 2004 I attended the semi-annual ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine) conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference centered around the impact of toxic metals in the environment and the health implications for such illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, ADD/ADHD, heart disease, diabetes, and others. It was a fantastic conference. Physicians from all over the globe attended this conference and there were world-class speakers, many of whom were researchers in the basic science departments at major Universities. The bottom line was we are living in an environment that is polluted and it is affecting our health. The environment is not going to change for the better, and so we must become more informed of what is happening and be proactive. The rate for contracting cancer in 1900 was 3 out of every 100 people. Now, the estimates are 1 out of every 2.5 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Heart disease, diabetes, allergies, asthma, and learning disabilities, to name a few, are reaching epidemic proportions and are impacted by environmental pollution. Heavy metal detoxification in people with increased body burdens of toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury is critical if health is to be maintained or improved. The techniques we have been using at the Center are what were taught at this conference. If you have not been recently screened for heavy metals with a hair analysis and/or provocative urine testing, please contact us. I will share new or useful information in this and future issues of the Newsletter with our readers.
BREAST HEALTH – PART 3 –SECRETS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW TO REDUCE HER RISK OF BREAST CANCER
This is the third part of a three part series on breast health. The first article was published in the April 2004 Newsletter and dealt with data on breast cancer and current screening methods. The second article appeared in the June 2004 Newsletter, and dealt with the suspected relationship between the environment and breast cancer. In this issue of our newsletter I will make suggestions for improving breast health.
Breast cancer is probably the most feared disease among women and traditional focus has been on waiting until a woman actually has this disease, and then recommending surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Current treatments are almost equally frightening as the disease itself due to their horrific side effects and disfigurement. Some women like Suzanne Sommers have had the courage to opt for alternative and more natural therapies but the traditional medical environment is not supportive of this approach. I met a gynecologist from Texas during one of the medical conferences I attended in 2003 who gave a lecture on natural hormonal replacement therapy and reduction of cancer risk using supplements along with bio-identical hormones. He stated he had over 9,000 women in his medical practice and NONE had developed breast cancer in over ten years of following them!
‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Estrogens
The early days of estrogen research centered around three estrogen metabolites called estradiol, estriol, and estrone. More recently research has turned to two other estrogen metabolites, namely 2-hydroxyestrogen (a good estrogen) and 16a-hydroxyestrogen (a bad estrogen). Together they make up what is known as the 2/16 ratio. It is believed the higher the ratio, the lower the risk for estrogen related cancers, and the lower the ratio, the higher the risk. There may also be a correlation between a low ratio and an increased risk of prostate cancer in men as well.
A simple urine test is all it takes to determine the ratio. We have test kits available at the Center, or you can ask your commercial lab to run this test. A ratio below 1.0 should be treated and although there is no consensus as to an “ideal” ratio number, I would like to see patients with a number above 2.0 if possible. If a woman is pre-menopausal, the urine should be collected during days 19 – 23 of a 28 day cycle, and if a repeat test is needed, it should fall on the same day of the cycle as well.
Foods as Medicine
In many cases eating foods in the Brassica family of vegetables will increase the ratio. These include Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower. Three to four servings a week is good and you don’t want to overdo it as too much of this family can affect thyroid function. Also, incorporating some soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk into your diet may boost the ratio. Again, only several servings a week or you could slow thyroid function down.
DIM (di-indolylmethane) supplements will also boost the ratio, as will Calcium D Glucarate. These can be obtained at a health food store or at the Center.
Estriol the “Protective” Estrogen
Researchers studied 15,000 women for almost a 40 year period, which is a very long time for any medical study. Hormone levels were measured during these women’s pregnancies and were correlated with invasive breast cancer cases or deaths. What was found was that the more estriol a woman had, the less cancer later in life! In fact, those women in the upper 25% of estriol production during pregnancy had 58% less breast cancer over the next 30-40 years.
The protective effect from estriol may be related to it’s anti-oxidant effect. To boost estriol production, a woman can take potassium iodide (we carry Biotic’s brand here at the center) in very small doses daily. This mixture of potassium and iodine causes a conversion of estrone and estradiol into estriol. Some individuals are sensitive to iodine so is must be used with care, and in large amounts it could cause thyroid suppression. Of interest, there is a much lower incidence of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers in Japanese and Chinese women in general, and also a lower incidence of prostate cancers in men in those countries. They have a high intake of iodine (over 3 times that in the American diet) in their diets through eating seaweed and seafood.
The amount of estriol, estrone, and estradiol can be measured in a 24 hour urine collection and response to potassium iodide measured in this way to monitor therapy.
When I prescribe natural compounded hormonal replacement therapy for women and estrogen is needed, in most cases I actually prescribe a mixture of 80% estriol and 20% estradiol, which is similar to the natural ratio of these hormones in a woman’s body (I avoid using estrone, which carries an increased cancer risk).
Know your Vitamin, Mineral, and Antioxidant Status
Another factor in breast health and health in general, is making sure your anti-oxidant function is adequate and that you have no major vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Most people do not eat the recommended minimum five or more servings of fresh fruit or vegetables a day. In addition, eating a balanced diet and taking a multivitamin may not be enough. If a person’s absorption is impaired, they will have deficiencies. Chronic illness puts a stress on the body’s nutritional status. Other factors that may have a negative impact include being under chronic stress, aging, smoking, taking prescription drugs, drinking alcohol, and being sedentary.
The most accurate way we have found at the Center to assess nutritional status is through an analysis of hair minerals and a SpectraCell FIA™ analysis of intracellular vitamin levels. Human hair is a living structure and it reflects what is going on inside your body. Hair mineral content can be analyzed at a special reference lab that has been doing this type of testing for decades. Vitamins and select minerals are best analyzed from your body’s white blood cells by a special methodology. Both the Hair Analysis test and SpectraCell tests reflect nutritional status over a 3 to 4 month period and this is more accurate than standard blood tests that reflect only short term nutrition and can miss chronic nutritional stress. SpectraCell also has an index of antioxidant function this is useful to let you know where you stand with regards to the oxidative stress your body is under. Both tests provide a baseline against which nutritional therapies can be monitored.
Get a Breast Thermogram
In the April 2004 Newsletter I discussed Thermography as a way of screening the breast without compression or radiation exposure. It is an FDA approved method that is as accurate as mammography, and is better in some respects (if you have dense breast tissue, fibrocystic breasts, implants). I highly recommend all women age 40 or over (or younger if at higher risk) undergo this screening procedure, and here’s why. Look at the following table:
As you can see it takes on average 8 years before a breast cancer will be seen by mammography, and could be picked up by thermography up to 6 years earlier.
Summary of recommendations:
• Know your 2/16 estrogen ratio.
• Eat adequate but not excessive Brassica family foods and soy products.
• Consider potassium iodide, DIM, Calcium D Glucarate if you have a low 2/16 estrogen ratio.
• Know your nutritional status through Hair and SpectraCell nutritional analyses and correct deficiencies.
• Exercise and stress reduction on a daily basis.
• Avoid synthetic hormones and use only bio-identical HRT if needed.
• If you are of child-bearing age, breast feed your children.
• Avoid excessive radiation exposure, limiting dental X-rays, routine chest X-rays or other radiographic studies to those absolutely necessary. Radiation damages DNA.
• If you haven’t had a physical or gynecological exam in the past year, get one.
• Get a Breast Thermogram, even if a mammogram has been normal. These tests do not replace each other, but are complementary. There is a 95% accuracy rate when thermography, mammography, and clinical breast exam are all combined.
• Read the article on SRT technology on our website. Radiation from cell phones, flourescent lights, and microwaves may have an adverse affect over time. Consider the use of a Q-Link device or Ally to counter this effect.
• Limit the use of antibiotics to major illnesses, not minor colds or flus.
• If you are not eating the recommended 5 or more servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, change your eating habits or begin taking “GreensFirst” which is an organic vegetable/fruit powder that has a high anti-oxidant index that we have available at the Center.
A Success Story
Mrs. K is a 36 y.o. lady who came into the practice with complaints of fatigue and being under chronic stress from raising her young children and helping her husband manage several businesses. Her eating habits were suboptimal and she avoided a lot of foods including certain vegetables, lamb, poultry and fish. She was also depressed and in the past had been on Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant. She was taking vitamins on her own, but they didn’t seem to help her much. Her physical exam was normal and her standard lab work showed a normal blood count, chemistries, cholesterol levels, and thyroid studies. Her nutritional analysis using both hair minerals and a SpectraCell analysis for vitamin levels was markedly abnormal, and revealed more than a dozen low nutrient levels including most anti- oxidants, selenium and vitamin B12. She was begun on a series of twice weekly B12 shots using Methylcobalamine, which is activated B12, as well as Biotics B12 2000 lozenges (B12, B6, folate). Other specific nutrients that she was low in were replaced both orally and intravenously, and changes were made in her diet to improve her protein intake. Within a six week period of time her energy returned to normal and she was less depressed.
B12 is a critical vitamin. It clears homocysteine (a compound linked to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease). It is also important in the formation of healthy red blood cells, nerve health, and in the burning of fats and carbohydrates for energy. A deficiency of B12 can cause fatigue, memory loss, and depression, and it has been our experience that a functional B12 deficiency can be present even when blood levels of B12 are in the normal range. Also, as a person ages, the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid declines, and so does absorption of B12. Even more important, intrinsic factor declines, and without adequate amounts of this substance, less than 1% of B12 will be absorbed from food or supplements. That is why B12 shots are most effective. At the Center we use the activated form of B12 for injections called Methylcobalamine (rather than cyanocobalamin) that does not require conversion by the body.
This person was also depressed and had a low protein intake. Adequate protein in the diet is important in the production of amino acids that are precursors to the brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine, to prevent anxiety and depression.
Another Success Story
Mrs. L is a 75 year old patient who had a sudden, transient loss of vision and went to her primary care physician who found she had a partial blockage in her carotid arteries. He was concerned that she had experienced a transient ischemic event and was at risk for a stroke. He had her evaluated by a cardiovascular surgeon who recommended surgery. Her blood pressures were normal. She had multiple other medical problems and refused to undergo the carotid artery surgery. She also refused to go on Warfarin, a powerful blood thinner, and started taking Nattokinase on her own. She later came to the Center and announced “I want to treat myself without chemical drugs or surgery. This is the way I was brought up.” She was on a number of medications, including cholesterol lowering drugs, sleeping pills, and Synthroid (levothyroxine), a synthetic version of the T4 thyroid hormone. She felt very nervous and had trouble sleeping, and also felt quite fatigued when she first came to see me. We discussed options with her and her daughter, including surgical endarterectomy vs. using non-drug therapies for her problems. The patient elected to be treated in an alternative manner. She was placed on a variety of supplements, including vitamin E and fish oils that thin the blood naturally. Her sleeping pills were replaced with an herbal supplement and her statin drug replaced with a natural supplement that lowers cholesterol equally well. A screening hair analysis showed both heavy metals and mineral deficiencies, and subsequent provocative urine testing revealed increased amounts of Cadmium and Lead in her body. These metals are known to contribute to a risk of elevated blood pressure and inflammation in the arteries, which could lead to cholesterol plaque formation and stroke.
Mrs. L was placed on a special oral EDTA product to slowly remove the lead and cadmium from her system. She also was taken off Synthroid and placed on Armour thyroid, a complete, natural desiccated thyroid that has both T4 and T3 in it. Even though her blood levels of T4 and T3 were normal on the Synthroid, there is no laboratory test to measure the amount of thyroid hormone within a cell, which is where this hormone works. Patients who have taken Synthroid in the past often have marked improvement in their symptoms when they’re switched to a natural thyroid preparation. T4 is converted into T3, a much more active form of thyroid hormone, and only T3 can be used by the cells. But some patients cannot adequately convert T4 into T3, or there may be a block at the receptor site within the cell. One study was done where microscopic glass tubes were placed within cells in diabetic patients, and the T3 levels measured directly. Intracellular T3 levels were found to be 1/3 less than the blood levels!
Mrs. L was recently in the office and told us that this is the best she has felt in years. Her energy is better, she sleeps through the night, her nervousness is gone, and she has had no further transient ischemic episodes or eye symptoms.
Food for Thought about the New Cholesterol Guidelines
In the July 17th edition of the Miami Herald an article appeared exposing the new cholesterol guidelines as being “tainted by the influence of major pharmaceuticals that make blockbusters such as Lipitor and Pravachol.” In new national guidelines, nine experts urged Americans to further lower their cholesterol. The problem: The experts have made money from manufacturers of cholesterol medication and this conflict of interest was never disclosed to the public. Of the nine cholesterol experts, all but one received consulting or speaking fees, research money or other support from makers of the most widely used anti-cholesterol drugs. The article pointed out that “drug makers earned $26 billion worldwide on cholesterol-lowering medicines, the top-selling class of drugs. The new guidelines would add about 7 million more Americans to the 36 million already encouraged to take the pills to lower cholesterol, according to Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the National Cholesterol Education Program, which drew up the guidelines.”
Fifty percent of all patients who have heart attacks have normal cholesterols (below 200mg/dL). For a different perspective on cholesterol and heart disease, log on to our website and reference the articles on Cholesterol and also Chelation Therapy. Also, in the December 2004 Newsletter, I will share the latest information on cholesterol, heart disease, predictive lab tests, etc.. that were presented at the ACAM conference.