Januray 2004

Vol. 3     No. 1  

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Favorite Five 

My Favorite Five Articles from Last Month’s Medical Journals

Mammography Is Fraud Promoted by Industry and Governments

Everyone should read this entire free article in the British Medical Journal:

Full Text:  http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/328/7432/148

PDF File:  http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/reprint/328/7432/148

Presentation on websites of possible benefits and harms from screening for breast cancer: cross sectional study, by Karsten Juhl Jorgensen in the January 17, 2004 British Medical Journal found poor and severely biased information on the Internet that is harmful to women about breast cancer screening.  The 13 sites from advocacy groups and the 11 from governmental institutions all recommended mammographic screening, whereas the three from consumer organizations questioned screening.  The organizations were from Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All of the advocacy groups accepted industry funding – apparently without restrictions. In contrast, the three consumer organizations acknowledged the risk of bias related to industry funding, and two of them did not accept such funding at all. Advocacy groups and governmental organizations presented a positive view on screening with little concern for major harms of screening, such as over-diagnosis and over-treatment. 

The authors summarize, “The present situation is that a woman customer who visits a ‘screening shop’ doesn't know what she is buying into, and most often the shopkeeper either doesn't know or doesn't tell. This is untenable.”

I recommend against breast cancer screening because it does far more harm than good (plain and simple, it doesn’t work, but creates a huge business with great profits).  I realize this position will be unpopular with many people – but it is the truth.  For more on my views on this subject read my book, “The McDougall Program for Women,” and my February 2002 newsletter article, “Mammography is Unjustified – A Letter Few Newspapers Will Print.”

Jorgensen KJ, Gotzsche PC.  Presentation on websites of possible benefits and harms from screening for breast cancer: cross sectional study.  BMJ. 2004 Jan 17; 328(7432): 148.

High Carbohydrate* Diet Causes Effortless Weight Loss

Effects of an Ad Libitum (without restriction on amount) Low-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Diet on Body Weight, Body Composition, and Fat Distribution in Older Men and Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial by Nicholas P. Hays in the January 26, 2004 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found when older men and women consumed as much as they wanted of high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods they lost weight without “dieting.”  Over 12-weeks, participants on the recommended diet lost about 7 pounds without cutting calories and without exercising – and almost 11 pounds with 45 minutes of stationary bike-riding, four times weekly. The control group lost no weight.  The experimental diet was 63% carbohydrate and 18% fat – the McDougall diet is even more effective because it is 80% carbohydrate and 7% fat.

This article is an excellent review of the principles discussed in my book, the McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss, first published in 1994 (just to point out, not much has happened in 10 years for better nutrition).  The authors provide many recent scientific references establishing why a high carbohydrate diet effortlessly and effectively results in weight loss without hunger in overweight people, and provides a lifetime of trim body weight maintenance.

The scientific explanations for why a diet of starches, vegetables and fruits is the real solution for obesity in the Western world are found in this article. These are the three main principles:

1) High carbohydrate foods are very low in calorie density – very bulky, so they fill the stomach with fewer calories than the Western (American) diet.

2) The fat you eat is the fat you wear – fat is effortlessly stored – excess carbohydrates are not turned into fat under normal living conditions – excess carbohydrate is simply burned off.

3)  Carbohydrates satisfy your hunger drive – fats leave you unsatisfied and looking for food (carbohydrate).  You act like an “Obsessive Compulsive Overeater” – like you have some kind of emotional-mental disorder, and all you really are is hungry for carbohydrates.

This article would be well worth a trip to your local library (hospital, university, or community) for a copy to help you explain to family and friends why they are on the wrong track.  This article may also be purchased for $12 (US) over the Internet at: http://archinte.ama-assn.org.

Nicholas P. Hays; Raymond D. Starling; Xiaolan Liu; Dennis H. Sullivan; Todd A. Trappe; James D. Fluckey; William J. Evans.  Effects of an Ad Libitum Low-Fat, High-Carbohydrate Diet on Body Weight, Body Composition, and Fat Distribution in Older Men and Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:210-217.

* Please understand that when I write about carbohydrates I mean starches, vegetables, and fruits – not donuts, cookies, cake, potato chips, and French fries.

Formula (Bottle) Feeding Causes Infant Brain Damage

Exclusive breastfeeding of healthy term infants for at least 6 weeks improves neurological condition by H. Bouwstra in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Nutrition found poorer neurologic function in children breast-fed less than 6 weeks compared to those who had more breast milk. General movements are a sensitive marker for the condition of the nervous system, and when assessed at three months they are a powerful predictor of future neurologic function. With breast-feeding, 47% of infants were rated “normal-optimal,” but only 18% who were not breast-fed received this rating.  Furthermore, there was 4 times the risk of receiving a “mildly-abnormal” score if they were formula-fed rather than breast-fed (47% vs.12%).  The presence of “mildly-normal” generalized movements at 3 months is associated with an increased risk of minor neurological dysfunction and attention problems at school age.

It has long been recognized that the intelligence of a child improves with duration of breast-feeding, but this study shows actual physical impairment of the nervous system in children deprived of the advantages of human breast milk.  The most likely reason for the difference is the nutritional qualities of breast milk, which cannot be replicated by drug companies as synthetic infant formulas.

When I become Surgeon General of the United States the first action I will take is to make infant formulas available only with a doctor’s prescription – and any doctor who writes such a prescription will be held accountable to a medical review board more stringent than the one that now looks over narcotic-drug prescribing habits of doctors.   You can learn more about the importance of breast-feeding in “The McDougall Program for Women” book.

Bouwstra H, Boersma ER, Boehm G, Dijck-Brouwer DA, Muskiet FA, Hadders-Algra M.  Exclusive breastfeeding of healthy term infants for at least 6 weeks improves neurological condition.  J Nutr. 2003 Dec; 133(12): 4243-5.

Cow’s Milk Causes Multiple Sclerosis

Antibody cross-reactivity between myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein and the milk protein butyrophilin in multiple sclerosis by Johannes Guggenmos in the January 1, 2004 issue of the Journal of Immunology found evidence that multiple sclerosis is caused from the consumption of cow’s milk – by causing attacks by the immune system through a process known as molecular mimicry.

You may have heard that multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease or “a disease where the body attacks itself” – and in this case the nervous system is attacked.  Molecular mimicry is a natural response of the immune system against foreign proteins misdirected to our own tissues.  In this case, cow-milk proteins enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall.  Antibodies are made against this foreign substance.  Because of the similarity between the structure of these proteins and the ones that make up the nervous system tissues, these antibodies attack and destroy parts of the human brain (myelin).   The resulting injury causes loss of vision, hearing, sensation and strength.  Within 10 years of diagnosis, half of the victims of MS are wheel-chair bound, bed-ridden, or dead – unless they are fortunate enough to change their diet.  With a healthy diet the risk of getting worse over the next 35 years is less than 5% (See on my home page the interview with Dr. Roy Swank on MS).

Guggenmos J, Schubart AS, Ogg S, Andersson M, Olsson T, Mather IH, Linington C.  Antibody cross-reactivity between myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein and the milk protein butyrophilin in multiple sclerosis.  J Immunol. 2004 Jan 1; 172(1): 661-8.

Hot Tubs Are Safe for People with High Blood Pressure

Are hot tubs safe for people with treated hypertension? By Tae Won Shin in the December 9, 2003 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal found spending 10 minutes in a hot tub is safe for most people who are receiving drug treatment for high blood pressure. Twenty-one people on blood pressure medications were compared to 23 people without hypertension after being in a hot tub at 40 degrees centigrade (104 F). There was a little more than a 25% drop in blood pressure in both groups.  The fall in pressure was due to dilation of blood vessels caused by the heat.  A review presented in this paper of the published literature reveals almost no scientific support for the warning, “People with high blood pressure should not use the hot tub.”

Of course, the best course of action for anyone with an elevated blood pressure and/or on medications for this blood pressure would be to improve the health of the cardiovascular system with a healthy diet, lifestyle (no coffee or alcohol), and exercise program.  See my August 2002 newsletter article “Take Blood Pressure at Home - Get off Your Medications,” for more help.

Shin TW, Wilson M, Wilson TW.  Are hot tubs safe for people with treated hypertension?  CMAJ. 2003 Dec 9; 169(12): 1265-8.

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