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The Cholesterol Times, Issue #006 -- FDA: Prevent Strokes With Drugs That Cause Them!
October 04, 2005
A Publication of
Issue #006, October 5, 2005

Dear Reader,

It's great to be back writing another issue of The Cholesterol Times again!

If you've been wondering why you haven't received the newsletter for the past few weeks, it's because I've been working on a major research project for the Weston A. Price Foundation on dioxins in food. Many people advocate the idea that we should avoid animal foods -- even adopt a vegan (strict vegetarian) diet -- because animal foods are uniquely polluted with dioxins, a class of potent carcinogenic, immune-disrupting, reproductive-inhibiting, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

I initially assumed that it was true that dioxins are such powerful toxins, though some data I'd seen made me question their unique association with animal products. In beginning my research, I was interested in the idea that nutrients found in animal products, such as vitamin A, are strongly protective against the toxic effects of dioxins. But my research uncovered a much more powerful argument:

Dioxins are chemicals produced naturally in the environment, and the industrial sources of dioxins have almost entirely disappeared from the planet. The evidence squarely rests against a case for their carcinogenic potential in humans even at large doses, while there is little if any evidence that dioxins, especially in the amount we encounter in food, can damage our immune, reproductive, or endocrine systems --unlike soy isoflavones, which are human endocrine disruptors at dietary levels! Nutrients in traditionally raised healthful animal products provide protection against dioxin-related toxicity that vegetarian diets cannot provide, were we ever to encounter dioxins at levels that could actually exert toxic effects, and there is no consistent association with animal products as is often claimed.

This mammoth article, in which I draw from 61 different sources, mostly from peer-reviewed research, refuting the argument for vegetarianism, is soon to be published on the Weston A. Price Foundation's website, and an abridged version will be published in Wise Traditions, their quarterly journal. I will let you know through The Cholesterol Times as soon as this article is available for you to view.

In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the delectable delights of news and research I've prepared for you in this week's issue of The Cholesterol Times!

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This will allow you to follow all the external links by easily clicking on them, as well as to navigate much more easily through the contents of the newsletter by using the internal links.

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Have a great week!

--Chris Masterjohn, Editor

In This Issue

Site Updates
  • Statin Drugs Side Effects: Transient Global Amnesia
    Best of the 'Net
  • FDA Approves Stroke-Inducing Lipitor to Prevent Strokes
  • Human Hands Glow in the Dark
  • The Answer to Autism
    Research Watch
  • New Theory Attributes a Role to Calcium Regulation in the Formation of Arterial Plaque
  • Raw Food Vegans and Vegetarians are B12-Deficient, Have Elevated Homocysteine, and Increased Risk for Heart Disease
  • Living "Healthy" Doesn't Help, Study Finds
  • Smokers Do a Lot More (or Less) Than Smoke
  • Even Small Amounts of Trans Fats Increase Oxidative Stress in Mice
    Weston A. Price Foundation Conference
  • Conference Details
  • Hotel Reservations
  • Travel Accomodations
    Copyright and Disclaimer

    Site Updates

    Statin Drugs Side Effects: Transient Global Amnesia

    A review of Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol by Dr. Duane Graveline, MD, former NASA scientist and astronaut. Dr. Graveline was the first to discover that transient global amnesia is a side effect of the drug Lipitor when his wife found him walking around aimlessly in their yard, unable to recognize her, six weeks after he started taking the drug. He eventually was given the chance to publish a letter in the syndicated column, "The People's Pharmacy," which resulted in an inpouring of a multitude of letters from people with similar experiences-yet most doctors are still not aware that cholesterol-lowering statins can destroy many people's minds.

    Best of the 'Net

    FDA Approves Use of Lipitor (Atorvastatin) to Prevent Stroke in Type 2 Diabetics

    The FDA approved the use of Lipitor (atorvastatin) to prevent stroke in Type 2 diabetic patients. In Issue #003 of this newsletter, I reported on a study that found Lipitor to "more than double the risk of stroke in Type 2 diabetics undergoing hemodialysis. One must wonder, then, if it is premature to approve a drug for use in preventing the very thing it has been shown to cause in some studies.

    Human Hands Glow in the Dark

    Human hands glow, but fingernails release the most light, according to a recent study that finds all parts of the hand emit photons.

    The Answer to Autism

    Can autism be cured? Autism may be deeply related to the health of the intestine, a site at which allergic reactions, inflammation, overgrowth of toxic fungi, malabsorption of nutrients, or absorption of incompletely broken down pieces of food that can act as psychoactive drugs if they reach the blood stream, can take place. Many parents are finding that by making modifications to their autistic children's diets, they see marked improvement in the disease.

    Research Watch

    New Theory Attributes Role to Calcium Regulation in the Formation of Arterial Plaque

    Wilbert Gamble has proposed a new hypothesis on the role of calcium regulation in the formation of arterial plaque in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

    Gamble briefly reviews other hypotheses on the formation of arterial plaque:

  • Goldstein and Brown proposed the "lipid hypothesis" in 1977, in which elevated LDL and other lipoproteins are seen as increasing the rate of cholesterol uptake by endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and macrophages, which causes a vicious cycle of cholesterol accumulation, which, by some unknown mechanism, results in atherosclerotic lesions.

  • Ross and Glamsett had proposed the "endothelial injury hypothesis" in 1973, in which injury to endothelial cells is seen as eliciting the aggregation of platelets, which secrete growth factors causing the proliferation of smooth muscle cells and the secretion of various elements that form atherosclerotic lesions.

  • Deduve in 1974 also proposed that a deficiency in lysosomal enzyme activity was involved in the inability to break down products that eventually form plaques.
  • Others have attempted to synthesized and/or modify various parts or all of these hypotheses.

    In introducing his hypothesis, Gamble uses the example of the bear, which, unlike cattle, deer, fish, and pigs, does not develop atherosclerosis. During hibernation, the metabolism of the bear undergoes marked changes. It does not excrete urine or feces, and it undergoes metabolic acidosis, where all the tissues become acidic. The excess acids are stored in the bone without resulting in harm to bone tissue, which results in large effluxes of calcium, that are later taken back up into the bone. Part of the bear's ability to regulate its acid-base balance and high blood calcium levels is to greatly raise the carbon dioxide content of its blood, using the enzyme carbonic anhydrase to finely regulate the conversion of carbon dioxide to carbonic acid and bicarbonate. Carbonic acid is capable of dissolving insoluble calcium carbonate salts in the blood by converting them into soluble calcium bicarbonate.

    Gamble cites research suggesting that the limiting factor in the formation of atherosclerotic lesions is the accumulation of insoluble calcium salts that lead to the irreversible calcification of plaques and crystallization of free cholesterol. Thus, argues Gamble, the determining factor in the formation of plaques would be the ability of the body to push bicarbonate levels up in the blood, high enough to dissolve calcium salts and thereby keep cholesterol in a soluble form, without changing the blood pH to a degree that would damage cells.

    The media and the medical establishment both tend to treat the lipid hypothesis as if it is the only explanation of how arterial plaque forms and how arterial and heart disease develops, and has been proven correct. Yet, in the research community, it is considered by many to be an open question. There are many known gaps in our knowledge of how arterial plaques and lesions develop, as well as many pieces of evidence that contradict the lipid hypothesis. For example, Gamble notes that the arteries in mammary glands do not develop plaques, despite very high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. Researchers continue to debate the causes of arterial plaque and to propose alternatives to the lipid hypothesis precisely because the lipid hypothesis is not, and never has been, supported by the evidence.

    Gamble, Wilbert, "Atherosclerosis: The carbonic anhydrase, carbon dioxide, calcium concerted theory," Journal of Theoretical Biology, (2005) [Epub ahead of print.]

    Raw Food Vegetarians and Vegans Have Low Cholesterol, B12 Deficiency, Elevated Homocysteine, and Increased Risk For Heart Disease

    Koebnick and colleagues published the first large-scale study of long-time raw foodists in the October 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Although 58% of the subjects consumed some raw meat and fish, while 21% were lacto-ovo-vegetarian and 21% were vegan (strict vegetarians who consume no animal products), consumption of raw animal products was small: 97% of all foods consumed by all three groups were plant products. 75% of the subjects ate more than 90% raw foods, of which fruits were the predominant food group. The raw foodists consumed, on average, a diet that was 60% carbohydrate, 10% protein, and 30% fat, a whopping 58% of which was polyunsaturated, while only 17% was saturated.

    Average total cholesterol was much lower than the general population, and decreased as an increased proportion of raw food was consumed, ranging from 156 in those eating 100% raw food to 172 in those eating 70-79% raw food, with individual cholesterol readings as low as 137. Although the authors referred to the lower LDL concentrations (average 93) as "favorable," they also noted that these were accompanied by decreases in the so-called "good" HDL (average 47) that were just as massive, as well as decreased body mass, stage III vitamin B12 deficiency, and markedly elevated levels of homocysteine.

    B12 intake was deficient in 72% of those eating a mixed diet, 98% of vegetarians, and 100% of vegans. Even though the mixed group ate little in the way of animal products -- the maximum was 40g/day, while the average of cooked meat, fish and egg was 11g/day and the average of raw meat, fish, and egg was 0 g/day (with a maximum of 31 g/day) -- vegans were 5.4 times as likely to have deficient B12 blood levels, while vegetarians were 3.1 times as likely as the mixed food group to have deficient B12 blood levels.

    Deficient B12 levels were a direct predictor of elevated homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an independent risk factor for heart disease, and may act by irritating tissues and by inhibiting nitric oxide functioning. The enzymes that break down homocysteine into non-toxic and benign byproducts are dependent on B12, B6 and folate. However, B6 and folate levels of the test subjects were much higher than recommended minimums and had no relation to homocysteine levels, indicating that even a high intake of B6 and folate cannot provide for the proper metabolism of homocysteine in the absence of sufficient vitamin B12.

    Elevated homocysteine as well as elevated mean corpuscular volume were both found to be due exclusively to B12 deficiency. Oddly, the authors noted in the discussion that " . . . studies of moderate ovo-lacto-vegetarian diets suggest that well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence and reduce risk for disease," but that "changing the ratio of raw food intake toward an extreme regimen with a very low intake of vitamin B12 may be harmful in the prevention of coronary heart disease rather than providing additional benefits as occurs with milder dietary regimens." Yet, contrary to this statement, this study found B12 deficiency and elevated homocysteine to be entirely dependent on the quantity of animal products consumed, and entirely unrelated to the amount of raw food consumed. They did not explain how studies of "moderate ovol-lacto-vegetarian diets" can demonstrate the nutritional adequacy of vegan diets.

    Public health organizations that make public recommendations declaring vegetarian and even vegan diets to be nutritionally adequate have a lot to answer for.

    Koebnick, et al., "Long-term consumption of a raw food diet is associated with favorable serum LDL cholesterol and triglycerides but also with elevated plasma homocysteine and low serum HDL cholesterol in humans," J Nutr No. 135 Issue 10 (2005) 2372-8.

    Living Healthy Doesn't Help, Study Finds

    The journal Lipids in Health and Disease published a September 2005 study of 188 elderly men and women in Cyprus with no prior history of heart disease.

    The study was rather poorly structured. For example, the researchers composed a single score for "adherence to the Mediterranean diet" that aggregated such diverse and unrelated variables as consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetable products, olive oil, weekly consumption (4-5 times per week) of fish, poultry, olives, pulses, nuts, potatoes, eggs, and sweets, low consumption of red meat, a "moderate" consumption of fat, and a low intake of saturated fat. Since these myriad variables undoubtedly have varying and even opposing physiological results, the creation of this score served only to confound variables and obfuscate results.

    The authors further compiled a "healthy index" that allowed a person to score between 0 and 4, gaining 1 point each for having an "adherance to the Mediterranean diet" score beyond the median, drinking less than 3 "wineglasses" worth of alcohol per day, being in the middle or upper tertile of physical activity, and for not smoking.

    Unfortunately, the dubious endpoint of "hypercholesterolemia" (defined as a total cholesterol level above 200 or the current use of cholesterol-lowering drugs) was used. Yet the authors noted that "when we evaluated components of the 'healthy index' . . . on the prevalence of hypercholesterolemia no significant associations were observed."

    Ironically, although the authors concluded that "Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and healthful lifestyle is associated with reduced odds of having hypercholesterolemia among elderly people," they reported that a 70% reduction in hypercholesterolemia was associated with alcohol consumption, while only a 23% reduction in hypercholesterolemia was associated with adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Since alcohol consumption counted against the "healthy index" yet was 3 times more likely to yield the "healthy" endpoint of lower cholesterol than was the Mediterranean diet, one wonders why they would attribute this achievement to a "healthy lifestyle" in their conclusion.

    Polychronopoulos, et al., "Diet, lifestyle factors and hypercholesterolemia in elderly men and women from Cyprus," Lipids Health Dis. Vol. 4 No. 17 (2005) [Epub]

    Smokers Do a Lot More (or Less) Than Smoke

    A study of 63,257 Chinese women and men living in Singapore and aged 45-74 years old was published in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition, demonstrating the correlation between smoking and other dietary and lifestyle habits.

    Current smokers had the lowest level of education while never smokers had the highest. Alcohol and coffee consumption was correlated with cigarette smoking. Current smokers had dose-dependent decreases in intakes of various antioxidants and vitamins, fiber, and calcium, and increased intakes of cholesterol and nitrosamines (a type of carcinogen, the precursor of which is used in the curing of meats). Current smokers were less active, and watched more television.

    Compared to non-smokers, current heavy smokers consumed up to 31% fewer of various antioxidants, 13% less calcium, consumed 15% more cholesterol, 65% more caffeine, twice as much nitrosamine, and 6 times more alcohol.

    Although a large part of this association is likely to be attributable to the general lack of health-consciousness among smokers, and thus a likeliness or greater willingness to violate conventional wisdom about what is healthy, the authors also cited evidence that smoking may alter one's taste for sweets, inducing a preference for dried packaged foods over fruits and fruit juices.

    These findings reaffirm findings from Western countries that smoking is associated with many other dietary and lifestyle habits. It is therefore important for population studies to appropriately address these many confounding factors through multivariate analysis (adjusting correlations for other factors) and noting them as they draw conclusions. This is not only true when attributing findings to smoking, but also true when attributing them to other factors, such as coffee, alcohol, or cholesterol consumption.

    An additional note: studies on smoking should not attribute findings to the smoking of tobacco per se without addressing the many variables that might affect the formation of carcinogens in the tobacco smoke. For example, tobacco that is not rolled in chlorine-bleached paper will lack the chlorine that is used to form polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons (PHAHs), and various curing methods might affect the sugar content of the tobacco leaves, which is necessary to form acrylamides.

    Koh et al., "Middle-aged and older Chinese men and women in Singapore who smoke have less healthy diets and lifestyles than nonsmokers," J Nutr. Vol. 135 No. 10 (2005) 2473-7.

    Even Small Amounts of Trans Fats Increase Oxidative Stress In Mice

    A September, 2005 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that feeding even small amounts of the trans fatty acid elaidic acid to mice caused a significant increase in oxidative stress and depletion of vitamin E levels.

    Trans fatty acids are fatty acids that ordinarily occur in only small amounts in certain foods. Some, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and trans-vaccenic acid, found in dairy and red meat fats, are believed to be beneficial, while others, such as elaidic acid, found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are believed to be extremely harmful to health. Elaidic acid is not found in more than trace quantities in the natural food supply. (Unfortunately the authors, like many others, did not make the distinction between the different effects of different trans fatty acids in their discussion of the subject.)

    Oxidative stress is induced by free radicals, which are compounds or atoms that have an unpaired electron, which seek to steal an electron from other compounds, and in so doing, damage important compounds in the cell. Free radicals can turn fatty acids in the cell membrane to lipid peroxides, which initiates a chain reaction of fatty acid destruction in the membrane. Antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E, and C, coenzyme Q10, the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, and many other compounds protect cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is believed to play a primary role in cancer, heart disease, and aging.

    This study fed partially hydrogenated rapeseed oil -- containing elaidic acid -- to mice, using a non-hydrogenated rapeseed oil as a control. When elaidic acid was fed as only 3% of the diet, vitamin E levels were depleted by a full 30%. F2-isoprostane levels, an indicator of oxidative stress, increased by 18%. GRP78, a "chaperone" protein that helps other proteins to fold correctly and is involved in protecting cells from oxidative damage and considered an indicator of oxidative stress, increased 3-fold to 4-fold on the 3% elaidic acid diet.

    This study might help us generate leads into the mechanisms by which some trans fatty acids appear to be deleterious to human health. However, as the authors noted, we cannot generalize from the metabolism of mice to that of humans in order to confirm such a lead.

    Cassagno, et al., "Low amounts of trans 18:1 fatty acids elevate plasma triacylglycerols but not cholesterol and later the cellular defense to oxidative stress in mice," British Journal of Nutrition 94 (2005) 346-352.

    Weston A. Price Foundation Annual Conference

    Conference Details

    Friday, November 11, through Sunday, November 13, The Weston A. Price Foundation will be holding its Sixth Annual Wise Traditions Conference.

    Conferences in the past have featured Dr. Uffe Ravnskov's presentation of his hypothesis that cholesterol protects against infectious diseases, Dr. Kilmer McCully discussing his revolutionary work on homocysteine, Dr. Russel Blaylock's presentation of his work on excitotoxins, and many other excellent presentations.

    This year's conference will feature social activities, workshops on fertility awareness and fermentation of beverages, 2 main tracks on heart disease and cancer, and a long list of featured speakers, including Dr. John Cannell, President of the Vitamin D Council, and Dr. Noel Solomons, Director of the CeSSIAM International Nutrition Foundation.

    For more information on the conference, click here.

    Travel and Lodging.

    You can get a conference-related discount at the Westfield Marriot where the conference is being held of $139/night for double, triple, and quadruple occupancy by making reservations here.

    If you need to make travel arrangements, we encourage you to use Price Line, with which you can search for the cheapest price according to your own specifications.

    You can also use PriceLine for hotel accomodations if those at the West Marriot are too pricey. Plus, you'll help by using the link below:


    Thank you for your support of Please help support our continued growth by forwarding this newsletter to a friend, who can subscribe by clicking here.

    Copyright and Disclaimer

    Please take notice that the contents of this newsletter and are copyright of Chris Masterjohn, 2005, and that this information is not to be construed or understood as any form of advice. Please visit our disclaimer page here.

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