Tag Archives: diabetes

Brain shrinkage associated with four factors. What can you do starting today to prevent this?

If you could do four things to dramatically reduce your risk of brain shrinkage (especially that caused by dementia, vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or stroke), would that be of interest to you? Continue reading

Patients are asking me how to manage their diabetes during fasting

I have the privilege of being the Medical Director at the Mission Medical Clinic, a Christian clinic for the working poor in Colorado Springs. Because we care for our patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and because so many of our patients are diabetic, the question of how to fast when one is a diabetic comes up all the time. In addition, our patients need to fast before some lab tests or procedures. Continue reading

Nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Do you?

Almost half of American adults, 45% of us, now have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, according to a report from researchers from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “one in eight Americans has at least two of the conditions and one in 33 has all three, sharply increasing their risk.” These “data come from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.”

While “researchers should be able to use the new data to plan interventions, ‘the main thing here is for people to be aware that they have these conditions and know that lifestyle modifications and medications can control them and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease,’ said epidemiologist Cheryl D. Fryar of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, one of the study’s authors.”

WebMD reported that “the study shows that about 8% of adults have undiagnosed high blood pressure, 8% have undiagnosed high cholesterol, and 3% of have undiagnosed diabetes.”

HealthDay reported that “blacks had a particularly high incidence of hypertension, 42.5 percent, compared to 29.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 26.1 percent of Mexican-Americans.”

The report indicated that “high blood cholesterol was more common among non-Hispanic whites (26.9 percent) than among blacks (21.5 percent) and Mexican-Americans (21.8 percent), while diabetes was more common among blacks (14.6 percent) and Mexican-Americans (15.3 percent) than among non-Hispanic whites (8.3 percent).”

“The number that really surprises me is the penetration of these conditions into the U.S. population,” Dr. Clyde Yancy of Baylor University Medical Center, president of the American Heart Association, told the LA Times.

“When that number is nearly 50%, that’s a huge wake-up call.” It means there are a large number of people “who think they are healthy…but are working under a terrible misconception.”

“This report is so timely and important because it crystallizes exactly what the burden is,” Yancy said. “It tells us the challenge we now face that could stress and potentially defeat any healthcare system we could come up with.”

Personal responsibility plays a big role in creating these three health problems, he said. “This trio begins with a quartet of smoking, a junk diet, physical inactivity and obesity. Those are all things we can do something about.”

According to a report in HealthDay, the CDC survey doesn’t attempt to learn the reason why the incidence of these major risk factors is so high.

Dr. Clyde W. Yancy, medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center, and president of the American Heart Association, told HealthDay he thinks he knows the reason: obesity.

“The burden of risk is directly related to the burden of obesity,” Yancy said. “Obesity is directly related to high blood pressure, directly related to diabetes, directly related to an abnormal lipid profile.”

And with 60 percent of adult Americans and 30 percent of younger Americans overweight or obese, the burden threatens to become worse, he said.

While the message about obesity and what causes it – lack of exercise, poor diet, overeating – is sent repeatedly, “people don’t get it,” Yancy said. “They are putting us at the risk of having a generation of Americans that has worse health than the previous generation, which has never happened before,” he said.

The CDC report is “a call to arms,” Yancy said. “Targeting obesity should now be on the top of the radar screen for everybody.”

So, what should you do about this?

This is what I recommend to my adult patients: Have a preventive medicine visit every 3-5 years in your 20’s, every three years in your 30’s, every two years in your 40’s, and every year after age 50.

As far as these disorders, be sure at each of these visits to have the following items checked:

  • Your blood pressure. (to screen for hypertension)
  • Your fasting blood sugar and A1C. (to screen for diabetes)
  • Your lipid profile. (to screen for cholesterol and lipid problems)
  • Your body mass index (BMI – to screen for overweight and obesity)

Coffee and Your Health

Today I’m teaching the family medicine residents at the In His Image Family Medicine Residency Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of them asked if there were any health benefits of coffee. Of course, long time readers on this blog know the answer to that question is a qualified YES. There are a number of coffee and health related studies that have come out just this year. In fact, two recently came out at an American Heart Association meeting.

Among the findings: coffee drinkers are less likely to be hospitalized with heart rhythm disorders, which is a bit surprising because heart palpitations are more common among those who drink coffee.

Bloomberg News reported that “while a shot of espresso may give people the sensation their hearts are racing, drinking more coffee reduced the likelihood that patients would be hospitalized for irregular heartbeats,” according to one study presented at the conference.

The “study of 130,054 adults found that people who drank four cups or more of coffee daily had an 18 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for irregular heartbeats and other heart-rhythm conditions than noncoffee drinkers, researchers … said.”

Additionally, the investigators found that “the risk of hospitalization was seven percent lower for people who drank one to three cups of coffee daily.”

Caffeinated coffee consumption was also linked to a LOWER risk for type 2 diabetes in women.

Two caveats: (#1) These studies are association only, meaning it is very difficult to know that coffee is the key factor in the health differences, and (#2) Studies presented at meetings are not always high quality enough to make it into the peer-reviewed medical literature. We’ll have to wait and see if these do.

Eating Processed Meat Riskier Than Red Meat

Here’s some surprising information from the Harvard School of public health. It’s an old news, new news story. First a reiteration of some old news: Eating processed meat such as bacon, salami, hot dogs, or lunch meats is associated with an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

But, this old news becomes even more convincing since this particular report is based upon an analysis of 20 studies including more than 1.2 million adults.

However, the new news is that the increased risk of heart disease and diabetes does NOT come from eating UNPROCESSED red meat, such as steak, lamb or pork. How about that for a shocker!?

The risk comes from eating PROCESSED meats.

The researchers theorize that the higher sodium and nitrate levels in processed meats are the main reason for the increased heart and diabetes risk.

The researchers defined the term “processed meat” as meaning “any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting or with the addition of chemical preservatives.”

They defined “red meat” as unprocessed meats such as beef, hamburger, lamb, and pork.

As most of you know, conventional wisdom has dictated that fat from red meat is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a number of types of cancer.

The term “processed meat” refers to any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting or with the addition of chemical preservatives. The researchers defined “red meat” as unprocessed meats such as beef, hamburger, lamb and pork.
“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should avoid eating too much processed meats — for example, hot dogs, bacon, sausage or processed deli meats,” said lead researcher Renata Micha, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Based on our findings, eating up to one serving per week would be associated with relatively small risk.”

“To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should avoid eating too much processed meats — for example, hot dogs, bacon, sausage or processed deli meats,” lead researcher Renata Micha, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Business Week in an interview. “Based on our findings, eating up to one serving per week would be associated with relatively small risk.”

“This suggests that salt and other preservatives, rather than fats, probably explain the higher risk for heart attacks and diabetes seen with processed meats,” Micha said.

The researchers found that people who ate unprocessed red meat did not significantly increase their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. However, eating processed meat was linked to an increased risk for the two conditions. In fact, for every 50-gram (1.8-ounce) serving, the risk for heart disease jumped 42 percent and the risk for diabetes increased 19 percent.

Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, clinical nutritionist, and exercise physiologist interviewed by Business Week said, “Both red and processed meat and other foods, such as butter and cheese, that are high in saturated fat have been linked to chronic disease.” She added, “People should limit consumption of them as well.”

“Going low- or no-fat with dairy products helps lower our intake of saturated fat,” she said.

“Choosing healthy protein sources — such as white-meat poultry, low-mercury fish, soy, nuts and beans — and focusing on moving in the direction of a more plant-based diet will help us all live longer, healthier lives.

The findings were presented at the Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Joint Conference in San Francisco.

The caveat is that many findings presented at meetings never make it into the peer-reviewed and published medical literature. So, we’ll have to wait and see if these data and this report of published.

However, given the source (the Harvard School of Public Health), I think I’m comfortable continuing in my recommendation to patients to eat as little processed meat product as possible.

Senate report links Avandia to increased risk of heart attacks, death. What am I telling my Avandia patients to do?

In a front-page story, the New York Times reported, “Hundreds of people taking Avandia [rosiglitazone], a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports.”

A Senate Finance Committee review cites internal FDA documents that highlight a dispute among regulators that “has been brewing for years but has been brought to a head by disagreement over a new clinical trial.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate committee concluded that Glaxo was aware of the risks, but minimized the issue and attempted to suppress concerned physicians.

The FDA’s documents also indicate that agency scientists said the drug should be pulled from the market in 2008, but FDA chiefs rejected the recommendations.

Now, agency commissioner Margaret Hamburg is expected to meet “with FDA scientists and outside experts to gain a full understanding … of all of the data and issues involved,” a spokeswoman said.

The AP reported that the Senate committee is asking the FDA “why it allowed a clinical trial of Avandia to continue even after the agency estimated that the drug caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007.”

Glaxo agreed to an FDA request for “a six-year study between its drug and” the Pfizer diabetes drug Actos [pioglitazone] “to give a definitive picture of Avandia’s safety.”

But, the FDA’s internal documents showed that “safety officers … said that a medical trial comparing Avandia with Actos that was being planned would be ‘unethical and exploitive’ because it would expose patients to unwarranted risks,” Bloomberg News reported.

Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Hamburg “asking what steps the agency was taking to protect patients in the … trial and demanded a response to their concerns by March 4.”

CNN reported, “The Senate committee investigation stems from concerns that Avandia and other high-profile drugs put ‘public safety at risk because the FDA has been too cozy with drugmakers and has been regularly outmaneuvered by companies that have a financial interest in downplaying or under-exploring potential safety risks,’ the report states.”

So, what am I telling my Avandia patients?

Well, I’m not sure it’s wise to condone politicians trying to practice medicine, but this report is disturbing to me. Therefore, I’m telling my Avandia patients this: since there are data indicating a potential risk with Avandia, and since we have medications (like Actos) that may work as well and not have these side effects, I think it’s reasonable to switch until the dust settles.

But, if you’re on Avandia, do NOT stop the medication until you’ve had a face-to-face meeting with your healthcare professional to talk about your individual options — and the costs, risks, and benefits of each option.

Obese Children Twice as Likely to Die Young

In my Amazon.com best-selling book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I predicted that if we did not stem the epidemic of childhood obesity, that our children could become the first generation in American history to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Now, the New York Times is reporting on a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine “that tracked thousands of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55, of illness or a self-inflicted injury.”

While “youngsters with … pre-diabetes were at almost double the risk of dying before 55, and those with high blood pressure were at some increased risk,” it was obesity that was “most closely associated with an early death, researchers said.”

These “data come from a National Institutes of Health study that began in 1965,” USA Today reports.

After tracking “4,857 American Indian children in Arizona for an average of 24 years,” investigators found that “children who were the heaviest – the top fourth – were more than twice as likely to die early from natural causes, such as alcoholic liver disease, cardiovascular disease, infections, cancer, and diabetes, as children whose weight put them in the lowest quarter of the population.”

Bloomberg News reports, “The number of overweight and obese children has tripled since 1980, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Approximately “17 percent of US children ages two to 19 years old are considered obese and almost 12 percent are considered the heaviest kids, according to a CDC study released in January.”

The current study’s “findings detail the ‘serious health consequences’ that children might face as they get older, lead study author Paul Franks said.”

WebMD reported, “Death rates from natural causes among children in the highest group of glucose intolerance (a risk factor for developing diabetes) were 73% higher than among the children in the lowest group of glucose intolerance, the researchers found.”

While “no substantial links were found between cholesterol levels and premature deaths,” the study authors “did find that high blood pressure in childhood raised the risk of premature death from natural causes by about 1.5 times.”

HeartWire reported that an accompanying editorial “notes that the causes of obesity and diabetes appear to be rooted in culture – inactivity and large portion sizes of calorie-dense fast food – and that fighting these diseases with ‘clinical and adult-based approaches’ is akin to ‘pasting a small bandage on a gaping wound.'”

The new study is timely and important, says Marc Jacobson, MD, a Great Neck, N.Y., pediatrician who specializes in caring for children with obesity and cholesterol problems. “It gives us more hard data about the long-term effects of adolescent obesity,” he says.

Jacobson serves on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Obesity Leadership Workgroup. The Academy recommends that BMI be measured in all children and that those with a BMI above the 85th percentile be helped to get it below the 85th percentile, which is considered a healthy weight, he says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a tool parents can use called 5210, Jacobson says. “It’s used to prevent childhood obesity.” It stands for:

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
  • 2 hours or less of television viewing daily
  • 1 hour of exercise daily
  • 0 or nearly zero sugar-sweetened beverages daily

In the editorial accompanying the new study, Edward W. Gregg, PhD, of the DC, notes that the Pima Indians studied in the research are sometimes viewed as not representative of the U.S. population because their risk of diabetes is especially high.

But, he points out that 4% of the participants in the study had impaired glucose tolerance, a percentage similar to the 3% of U.S. teens overall who have the condition. And the condition affects 9.5% of obese teens, he says.

So, what’s a family to do? What if you are your children are overweight or obese? I have a number of resources to assist you:

  • My Amazon.com best-selling book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threatYou can order the book here, read the Table of Contents here, or read the first chapter here.
  • My SuperSized Kids Web site, that you can find here.
  • My SuperSized Kids assessment tool that will help you evaluate the activity and nutrition habits of your family. That assessment tool is available for free here.
  • My 8-Week Family Fitness Plan (SuperSized Kids 8-Week Plan), available for freehere.

Newly released test show most Milk Thistle supplements are substandard

White Plains, New York — December 2, 2009 — A recent review by ConsumerLab.com of ten milk thistle supplements showed that only one met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards.  Two products failed to properly list the part of the milk thistle plant used — a FDA requirement.  Among the remaining supplements, only one contained the expected amount of silymarin compounds, which are believed to be the active constituents of milk thistle. Studies suggest silymarin may be helpful in type 2 diabetes and, possibly, certain liver conditions.  While most products claimed that their milk thistle extracts were standardized to 80% silymarin, ConsumerLab.com found actual amounts to range from 47% to 67%.  Sales of milk thistle in the U.S. have climbed for several years, reaching $95 million in 2008 according to the latest figures from Nutrition Business Journal.
ConsumerLab.com’s Vice President for Research, Dr. William Obermeyer, a former scientist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), suggested supplement makers may be relying on non-specific tests, such as UV spectrophotometric analysis, that can falsely inflate a product’s silymarin content by counting other compounds that are not silymarin. In contrast, ConsumerLab.com used a highly specific HPLC method to test the products.  Some ingredient suppliers offer both a higher priced and a lower priced milk thistle extract. The higher cost product is certified with the HPLC test, while the lower cost product is certified with the non-specific UV test.  The FDA does not set standards for the quality or testing of herbal supplements, so manufacturers may choose either form of milk thistle.  Consumers normally have no way of knowing which form they purchase.
The Product Review of Milk Thistle Supplements can be found at www.consumerlab.com/results/milkthistle.asp and includes results, reviews, and comparisons of ten supplements selected by ConsumerLab.com.  The Review provides information on how to choose and use these supplements. Brands included in report are 1Fast400, Enzymatic Therapy, Finest Natural, Jarrow Formulas, Natural Factors, Nature’s Plus, Nutrilite, Pharmex, Smart Basics (Vitacost.com), and Whole Foods.
ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Reviews of other popular types of supplements are available from www.consumerlab.com.  Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.

A recent review by ConsumerLab.com of ten popular milk thistle supplements showed that only ONE met ConsumerLab.com’s minimum quality standards.

Two products failed to properly list the part of the milk thistle plant used — a FDA requirement. Among the remaining supplements, only one contained the expected amount of silymarin compounds, which are believed to be the active constituents of milk thistle.

Studies suggest silymarin may be helpful in type 2 diabetes and, possibly, certain liver conditions.

While most products claimed that their milk thistle extracts were standardized to 80% silymarin, ConsumerLab.com found actual amounts to range from 47% to 67%.

Sales of milk thistle in the U.S. have climbed for several years, reaching $95 million in 2008 according to the latest figures from Nutrition Business Journal.

ConsumerLab.com’s Vice President for Research, Dr. William Obermeyer, a former scientist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), suggested supplement makers may be relying on non-specific tests, such as UV spectrophotometric analysis, that can falsely inflate a product’s silymarin content by counting other compounds that are not silymarin.

In contrast, ConsumerLab.com used a highly specific HPLC method to test the products.

Some ingredient suppliers offer both a higher priced and a lower priced milk thistle extract. The higher cost product is certified with the HPLC test, while the lower cost product is certified with the non-specific UV test.

The FDA does not set standards for the quality or testing of herbal supplements, so manufacturers may choose either form of milk thistle. Consumers normally have no way of knowing which form they purchase.

An abstract of the Product Review of Milk Thistle Supplements can be found here, however, the full review, including the full results, reviews, and comparisons of ten supplements selected by ConsumerLab.com is only available by subscription.

The Review provides information on how to choose and use these supplements. Brands included in report are 1Fast400, Enzymatic Therapy, Finest Natural, Jarrow Formulas, Natural Factors, Nature’s Plus, Nutrilite, Pharmex, Smart Basics (Vitacost.com), and Whole Foods.

ConsumerLab.com is one of my favorite web sites for evidence-based information on natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) and a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition.

Reviews of other popular types of supplements are available from www.consumerlab.com. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online here. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.

You may also enjoy these blogs:

You can also read more in my book Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook. You can see the book’s Table of Contents and Chapter One by clicking on these links.

The Ten Commandments of Preventive Medicine – Part 2 – Obesity

In my newest book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I teach people how to utilize the ten essentials that are necessary to live a happy and highly healthy life. Under The Essential of Self-Care, I’ve developed a list of what I call “The 10 Commandments of Preventive Medicine.”  Here’s the second installment of this ten-part series.

More information: Continue reading

Four lifestyle choices reduce risk of chronic disease 80 percent

What an interesting new study. It concludes that to dramatically reduce your healthcare costs, to lengthen your life, to improve the quality of your life, and, in short, to have a happier and more highly healthy life, you need to “only” do four things.

More Information: Continue reading

An easier way to diagnosis diabetes is announced. I highly recommend it.

A blood test physicians use regularly to check the average blood sugar levels in people with diabetes is now being recommended as a tool to diagnose the disease. And, the test is much more convenient for patients, as it does not have to be done fasting. Furthermore, I predict that this test will help us doctors identify many of the people with diabetes that don’t know they have it . . . and a whopping 40% of people with diabetes don’t even know they have it! Could you be one of them?

More Information: Continue reading

Adult Stem Cell Research Has Yet Another Victory – Helps Type 1 Diabetics

New research using adult stem cells is showing further insulin independence for Type 1 diabetes patients. The study, led by Richard Burt of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, is the second in the last two years to show significant progress in diabetes using the noncontroversial stem cells.

More Information: Continue reading

Study shows one-fifth of four-year-olds are obese. What can you do to protect your kids?

A striking new study says almost one in five American four-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children. What did the study find and what can you do to protect your children?

More Information: Continue reading

Want to get healthy? Will exercising 7 minutes a week work? How about 3 minutes?

One of the things people tell me is most difficult for them when it comes to starting to exercise regularly is just getting started. Now a study published in the journal BioMed Central Endocrine Disorders suggests that people unable to meet government guidelines calling for moderate to vigorous exercise 30 minutes a day, or several hours per week, can actually benefit from significantly less exercise.

More Information: Continue reading

‘Research Miracle’ – Pancreas cells transformed into insulin producing cells

Biologists at Harvard say they’ve transformed one type of fully developed adult cell into another type. They transformed adult pancreas cells into insulin producing cells in mice. Could this be a potential cure for type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes? And, could this be the death knell for embryonic stem cell research?

My Take? Continue reading

Worry ups men’s diabetes risk

According to the BBC, a Swedish study is reporting that anxiety, depression, and sleepless nights increase the risk of diabetes in men. Researchers found men with high levels of “psychological distress” had more than double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with low levels.

My Take? Continue reading

CDC Reports a Steep Rise in Diabetes Patients in U.S.

WebMD is reporting on the CDC’s latest diabetes statistics – and, the results are gruesome. Nearly 24 million people in the U.S. have diabetes — including almost 6 million who don’t know they’re diabetic — and at least 57 million have prediabetes.

Diabetes is the No. 7 cause of death among U.S. adults. Researchers reported last year that type 2 diabetes hastens heart disease and shortens lives by about eight years.

My Take? Continue reading

Vaccine Myth #10: Vaccines, If Administered during the First Two Years of Life, Can Cause Diabetes

One researcher claimed that infants immunized with one dose of Hib vaccine at twenty-four months of age were less likely to get diabetes than if they received four doses of the Hib vaccine (at three, four, six, and eighteen months of age). He concluded that the risk of diabetes could be reduced if children did not receive vaccines at a young age. After carefully reviewing the data, researchers discovered that analytic methods used in the study were incorrect. Continue reading

Dueling Studies on Diabetes and “Tight Control” of Blood Sugar

Reuters is reporting the American Diabetes Association featuring dueling studies on the question of whether intensive blood sugar lowering in diabetics provides health benefits. (see also the coverage on WebMD)

Continue reading