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Being Overweight Does Not Prolong Lives

A recent meta-analysis of a hundred large studies showed that being a little bit overweight offers slight protection (a six percent decrease) from premature death (Journal of the American Medical Association, January 2, 2013). This study has been widely reported in the media, with headlines such as "Our Imaginary Weight Problem". Read More


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Lack of vitamin D and cancer

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Antioxidant Pills May Spread Cancers

An article written by James D. Watson, PhD, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, claims that antioxidant pills can worsen cancers (Open Biol 2, published online January 8, 2013). He states that many trials have shown that antioxidant pills, such as beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E or selenium, neither prevent nor treat cancers. "Furthermore, antioxidants can prevent us from killing cancer cells." A large number of studies show that taking antioxidants such as vitamin E do not reduce the risk of cancer and actually increase it, and can even shorten life. "Drugs that block antioxidants might make even existing cancer drugs more effective."

NORMAL CELLS HAVE APOPTOSIS: Normal cells have apoptosis: instructions programmed into their genetic material (DNA and RNA), so they go through a certain number of doublings and then die. For example, normal red blood cells live 120 days and die. Normal skin cells live 28 days and die. The cells inside your lips live up to 48 hours and then die.

CANCER CELLS LACK APOPTOSIS and try to liver forever. They kill by invading other cells. For example, breast cancer cells can invade your brain and destroy it. They can invade and destroy your bones, liver or any other organ in your body. So you die from breast cancer because breast cancer cells invade other tissues to stop them from functioning.

HOW COULD ANTIOXIDANTS SPREAD CANCER? Apoptosis is caused by DNA- and RNA-damaging Reactive Oxygen Species. Antioxidants block Reactive Oxygen Species to prevent apoptosis, and allow the cells to live indefinitely to cause and spread cancer.

HOW DO ANTIOXIDANTS BLOCK CANCER TREATMENTS? Most cancer treatments -- radiation, most chemotherapy, and some targeted therapies -- depend directly on Reactive Oxygen Species (also called free radicals) to kill cancer cells by blocking steps in the cell cycle. Antioxidants block Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) from destroying cancer cells and prevent chemotherapy from killing cancer cells.

Dr. Watson writes: "Unless we can find ways of reducing antioxidant levels, late-stage cancer 10 years from now will be as incurable as it is today. Patients with cancer and receiving treatment with chemotherapy or radiation, or some of the newer antiangiogenic agents, probably should not be taking antioxidant therapies, like vitamins."

ANTIOXIDANT- AND VITAMIN-RICH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE HELPFUL. While we have virtually no good research data to show that antioxidant pills prevent or treat cancer, we have extensive data showing that eating plenty of different fruits and vegetables is associated with a markedly reduced likelihood to suffer many different cancers.

CERTAIN CANCERS ARE LARGELY INCURABLE TODAY: Dr. Watson writes: "When it comes to established cancer, many epithelial cancers (carcinomas) and effectively all mesenchymal cancers (sarcomas) remain largely incurable, as progression can be delayed but not stopped once it reaches the metastatic stage with current strategies."


Statin Drugs Can Interfere with Exercise

Millions of people take statins to lower high cholesterol levels, but statins can cause muscle pain and weakness, particularly in exercisers. A recent study shows that this happens because statins block the energy sources for muscles (Journal of American College of Cardiology, January 2013; 61(1):44).

STATINS AFFECT EXERCISING MUSCLES: Muscle pain with statins is rare in people who do not exercise. It affects five percent of exercisers and is very common in statin users who are competitive athletes or who exercise intensely (American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, July 2009).

Hard exercise damages muscles, causing soreness on the next day. Exercising intensely when muscles are sore can cause muscle injuries, so knowledgeable exercisers work out intensely enough to cause muscle soreness and then on the next day or days, exercise at a reduced intensity until the soreness goes away. Statin drugs delay recovery so it may take several days before the person can exercise intensely again.

COENZYME Q-10: Statins lower blood levels of cholesterol by preventing the liver from making cholesterol. They also lower blood levels of coenzyme Q10. Because statins lower both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone), some people think that taking coenzyme Q10 can treat the muscle pain associated with taking statins. I found three studies that show that Coenzyme Q-10 is not very effective in controlling muscle pain caused by statins:
• 18 patients had a 40 percent reduction in pain (Am J Cardiol, 2007;99:1409-1412),
• 44 patients had no benefit (Am J Cardiol, 2007;100:1400-1403), and
• 49 patients had no benefit (Atherosclerosis, 2007;195:e182-e189) Since coenzyme Q10 appears to be fairly safe, you can try it and see if it helps.

LACK OF VITAMIN D WEAKENS AND INJURES MUSCLES: All people who suffer muscle pains or weakness should get a blood test called hydroxy vitamin D. Vitamin D acts directly on specific receptors in muscles to make them stronger and prevent injury (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, April 2010).

If you suffer muscle weakness, pain or injuries:
• Check your vitamin D3 level. That is the only available dependable test. If it is below 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml), you are deficient.
• You can try taking vitamin D3 at a dose of 2000 IU/day for a month.

MYOGLOBIN CAN DAMAGE KIDNEYS: If you develop muscle pain while taking statin drugs, check with your doctor. On rare occasions, the damaged muscles raise blood levels of myoglobin that can damage the kidneys. The pain can go away by lowering the dose or stopping the drug, or switching to another drug.

COMMOM STATIN DRUGS: Zocor, Crestor, Pravachol, Mevacor

MY ADVICE: If you have high cholesterol, you can usually lower it without taking statins or any other drugs:
• Avoid sugared drinks and sugar-added foods, red meat and fried foods
• Eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables
• Lose excess weight
• Exercise daily
• Get blood level of vitamin D to normal


This week's medical history:
Mamo Wolde, Olympian

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries


Recipe of the Week:

Veggie Rice

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book
- it's FREE


January 13th, 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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