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Saturated Fats Exonerated

A review of 21 studies covering 348,000 adults shows that eating large amounts of saturated fats does not increase risk for heart disease and strokes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 1, 2010). This is incredible because most doctors believe that the close association of heart attacks and strokes with eating meat or whole milk dairy products is explained by their high saturated fat content. Consider the following:

• Societies that eat lots of saturated fats in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils are not at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and premature death (although these oils may raise the bad LDL cholesterol).

• Poultry is a rich source of saturated fats but has not been shown to increase risk for premature death, cancer or heart attacks.

• Replacing saturated fats with refined carbohydrates actually increases heart attack risk by increasing obesity, insulin resistance, triglycerides, and small LDL particles that cause heart attacks; and by lowering the good HDL cholesterol that helps to prevent heart attacks.

This questions the American Heart Association's recommendation that adults get no more than seven percent of their daily calories from saturated fat. For many years I have reported that inflammation is a more reliable predictor of future heart attacks than blood cholesterol. A recent ezine showed how mammal meat and dairy products can cause inflammation. This is more likely to explain the link between meat and heart attacks than the saturated fat theory.

Today, saturated fats from plant sources, poultry and seafood appear to be healthful as long as you do not take in more calories than you burn.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I get a PSA test that screens men for prostate cancer?

I don't recommend it. Dr. Richard Ablin, who discovered PSA in 1970, says the test should be given only to 1) follow a man who has already been treated for prostate cancer and 2) screen men with an extensive family history of prostate cancer (New York Times, March 9, 2010).

The vast majority of prostate cancers are harmless. They grow so slowly that they never cause trouble. PSA screens millions of men. Those with an elevated PSA are sent for biopsy Those who are diagnosed with cancer are almost always pushed into surgery, intensive radiation or other damaging treatments. An American study shows that over 10 years, screening did not reduce the death rate in men 55 and over. Dr. Ablin writes : "A European study showed that 48 men need to be treated to save one life. That's 47 men who, in all likelihood, can no longer function sexually or stay out of the bathroom for long."


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why do I suffer running injuries primarily in the winter?

Researchers at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles are the first to show that lack of vitamin D is associated with accumulation of fat in muscles (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 2010). Scientists have known for a long time that excess fat in muscles is associated with muscle weakness, and that a major cause of sports injuries is applying a force on muscles and tendons that is greater than their inherent strength. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated directly with muscle weakness (Scandanavian journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, October 2009) and increased body fat. Get a vitamin D3 blood level. If it is below 75 nmol/L, you need to take at least 2000 IU/of D3/day until normal, or expose your skin to more sunlight.

The most common causes of wear and tear injuries in athletes are 1) taking intense workouts on days when their muscles feel sore, an indication to take low-intensity recovery workouts, 2) low-salt syndrome when they do not replace the salt that they lose during exercise, 3) lack of vitamin D, 4) not eating a high carbohydrate/protein meal after intense work outs to help their muscles recover faster, 5) not getting off their feet after intense workouts (muscles need complete rest to recover faster), and 6)medications that specifically damage muscles, such as statins, diuretics, donepezil, neostigmine, raloxifene, tolcapone, nifedipine, albuterol, terbutaline, clofibrate or quinolones.


Recipe of the Week:

Zippy Black Bean Dip

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June 21st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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