Can Supplements Prevent Sunburn?

Summer is here and along with summer comes sunburns, that we all hate.  We’ve been told for years to slather on the sunscreen, but still a long day at the beach on on the lake you still end up pink.  So wouldn’t it be nice if you could just pop a few pill and skip the sunburn?

Lets talk for a minute about what makes up the sun, or at least the part that causes damage and pain. Those are the ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types UVA and UVB:

  • UVA – These are the UV rays which cause damage to the skin. Think of UVA as UV-Aging. These cause can lead to cancer, dried out leathery skin, etc. These don’t cause the burn though.
  • UVB – These are the UV rays which cause burning, so think of UVB as UV-Burning. UVB rays also cause the conversion of cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D.

Ok, so now a bit about sunscreen. Many sunscreens just block the UVB rays, so they prevent the burning but also block the production of vitamin D, but they don’t block the UVA rays, so the rays which can damage the cells and possibly cause skin cancer get right in.  So when you shop for a sunscreen make sure it is a full spectrum sunscreen that blocks both the UVA and UVB rays.

OK, so about that magic pill that prevents sunburn.  Sadly there isn’t a pill that will totally prevent sunburn, but there are a number of vitamins that have been shown to lessen the burning. So you may still burn, but not as bad. These are:

  • Beta Caroteen – Beta Caroteen is found in high concentrations in carrots – that is what gives carrots their orange color. Many supplements will also use beta carotene as their source of vitamin A.  Your body can break down beta carotene to make vitamin A as it needs it without the risk of too much vitamin A. This, like all those that follow isn’t a morning after pill. It takes 10 to 12 weeks of daily supplementation to reduce the redness and burning.
  • Lutein and Lycopene are carotenoids that also show some protection. Lutein especially for the eyes. (Make sure your sunglasses block UV rays, not all do.)
  • Astaxanthin – This is another carotenoid that is found in krill and salmon giving them their red color. (Note only wild caught salmon have high levels of this. Farm raised salmon (often called Atlantic or Norwegian salmon) are fed feeds which don’t contain astaxanthin, so they add red dye to the salmon’s feed to make the flesh red. Yech.  This works quicker, within a week or two of daily consumption (salmon or astaxanthin supplements)
  • Coco flavanols – Yep, chocolate has been shown to reduce redness from UV exposure in women, though I bet it would work for men too. Unflortunaely eating a handful of Hershey Kisses won’t work (well maybe a bag full) but the chocolate you reach for has much more fat, sugar, and milk that actual chocolate. Instead reach for a 90-100% dark chocolate. My favorite is the Lindt 99% chocolate (hard to find in the US, but you can find the 90 and 95%)
  • Vitamin C and vitamin E – when taken together in high doses daily. One study found that 2,000 mg of vitamin C and 1,000 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol – the natural form) taken daily for 8 days modestly reduced redness caused by UV light – Equivalent to SPF 2. Note that these higher doses can cause problems for some people. A top rated multi vitamin has 1,300mg of Vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E and this is well tolerated by most people. So take that daily for a base, then jump up to the higher levels before you head to Bali – just make sure you don’t have any side effects (common is diarrhea from vitamin C)
  • Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®, Flavangenol®) has been found in clinical studies to significantly increase the amount of simulated UV-radiation required to cause redness and skin damage, as well as reduce measures of skin damage caused by UV exposure. It has also been found to decrease the color of age spots in healthy young women.

Some supplements like St John’s Wort and dong quai (found in some menopause supplements) can increase photosensitivity, so avoided these if you are going out in the sun.

The big fear is skin cancer. Maintaining optimal  levels of vitamin D and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancers.   This leads to the vitamin D paradox – You need sun to naturally produce vitamin D and vitamin D has been shown to reduce the incidence of many types of cancer, including skin cancers. (Here is an article about vitamin D and its role in skin cancer)  Applying a high SPF sunscreen before going in the sun blocks that production, so you lose that protection.  So go out for 20 minutes or so, then apply sunscreen.  The recommendations above may help lessen the redness and damage and help a bit when you forget to reapply sunscreen. If you’re in and out of the water all day, or sweating and wiping your face, you just forget or can’t keep reapplying sunscreen. Here is an article that explains how sunscreens work and SPF ratings.

So what do I do?  I take our USANA Essentials and Visonex daily.  These provide high levels of most of the vitamins and carotenoids above. I’m not one that tans easily and I run for an hour daily usually around noon plus all the other Colorado outdoor activities, skiing, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, etc. I live in Colorado so high altitude and lots of reflection from the snow in the winter and water in the summer. I rarely use sunscreen unless I’m out all day, then usually just one application around noon. I can’t remember the last sunburn I’ve had.

Enjoy the sun and the water this summer!

 

GMOs Can Probably Cause Cancer

The World Health Organization (WHO) today said that Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, or Glyphosate, can probably cause cancer. Here is a Reuters article.

First what is Roundup, or glyphosate?  It is a very powerful herbicide that is used to kill weeds and just about anything which grows. If you went to Home Depot and bought a bottle of Roundup and sprayed it on your vegetable garden, you’d have a dead garden in a day or two. It is very potent.

So what does this have to do with Genetically Modified foods (GMOs)? Monsanto and other seed companies have modified corn, soy, canola, and other crops to be resistant to Roundup. By doing this the farmers can save money by not having to remove weeds from the fields by hand, now they can spray the fields with Roundup, it will kill the weeds, but it won’t kill the genetically modified crop.  Sounds great doesn’t it? Well read on.

When the field is sprayed the Roundup lands on the corn, soy, etc. The weeds, and the soil.  The corn for example will absorb the Roundup just as the weeds do, but it won’t kill the corn. The Roundup just stays in the corn, soy, etc and every part of the plant has Roundup in it.

When you eat a GMO food, or foods made form GMO foods, you are getting a small dose of Roundup with every bite.  Even baby formula has GMO ingredients in it.  Here are the top 10 GMO containing foods:

  • Canned soups
  • Frozen foods sweetened with HFCS
  • Baby Formula
  • Juices and dried fruit sweetened with HFCS
  • Many cereals
  • Vegetable and Canola oils
  • Tofu & Soy Milk
  • Meats – Cattle, pigs, chickens, and farm raised fish are fed GMO corn & Soy
  • Milk – Dairy cattle are fed GMO corn and soy
  • Soft Drinks – sweetened with HFCS

How do you keep GMOs and Roundup off of your families kitchen table? Simple, look for Certified Organic foods or those that bear the Certified Non-GMO Project Verified label.

 

References:

Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans

Reuters article.

Daily Finance – 10 foods you’ll have to give up to avoid eating GMOs

So You’ve got Cancer. Now what?

So you just found out you have cancer. What do you do?

First take several deep breaths and relax. Now take a few more deep breaths.  Cancer can be terrifying and the thought of radiation burns, losing your hair from chemo, and surgery are scary, You’ll feel like you are helpless, but you can do far more than any oncologist will tell you (because he wasn’t taught either).  Read on and I’ll try to put cancer into perspective and how it can be managed and even possibly prevented.

First, how did you get cancer. Simple we all get cancer during or lifetimes, probably 10-20 times.   But your own immune system can efficiently deal with cancer. Your immune system can recognize cancer cells when they are just a small cluster of cells, or maybe even just one or two. Your immune system goes into action, moves in, and dispatches the errant cancer cells.

If your immune system is compromised then the young cancerous cells may take hold and start growing and poof, you have cancer, but it might be ten to twenty years before it is detectable. Now there are some very rapidly growing cancers, but many take years to become detectable.

So there is a two pronged attack you can take, and for all of us without a “Cancer” diagnoses these are the things we can do to reduce the chance of developing cancer and slow its growth.  If you have the diagnosis these steps will help manage it and slow its grown and in some cases can even turn back the tumor and it will shrink.

Like any battle you want to weaken your opponent and build your strength – Your immune system is your strength.

To Weaken Cancer:

  • Starve It – Cancer cells love sugar, tumors will take in all the sugar they can get and sugar to cancer is like spinach to Popeye The Sailor.  Sugar comes from multiple sources. It isn’t just the sugar in sodas and candy bars, but highly refined foods that are quickly broken down into sugars. Immediately eliminate these from your diet: All sweetened drinks, sodas, fruit juice, anything made with flour or wheat flour, processed foods, potatoes, white rice, etc.
  • Learn the glycemic index. This is a rating all foods have that indicates how quickly a food will raise your blood sugar. You want to stick to low glycemic index foods like vegetables, many fruits, meats, beans, dairy, etc.  Here is one source, but you can do a Google search and find others http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index .  Try to keep the bulk of your diet to foods under 55 on the glycemic index.
  • Cripple Cancer – Cancer cells have some sneaky tricks to hijack your body for its benefit. For example tumors release a chemical which will stimulate the surrounding blood vesicles  to grow towards the tumors to bring it more blood, which means more sugar.  Turmeric, the yellow spice in Indian curry can block this signal. So if the tumor can’t get more blood, then it can’t grow, or its growth will be slowed. Other foods which help fight cancer are broccoli, Brussels sprints, dark colored berries, green tea, turmeric, and many more.

Boost your immune system.

Numerous studies have shown that your own immune system can be very effective against cancer when it is just starting. In fact there is one strain of mice that are immune to cancer. So the stronger your immune system is, the better if can fight.

  • Eliminate Stress. Back to my first suggestion – Take several deep breathes. you need to Cancer cell attacked by lymphocytestotally destress. So practice any method of distressing (except alcohol and drugs) meditation, focused deep breathing, yoga, running, fishing. Doesn’t matter what it is, do it. When you are stressed your immune system shuts down. Think back to our ancestors – Stress is good at times, especially when a lion is staring you down. Your body shits into fight or flight mode, adrenaline pours into your veins and you’re ready to run as fast as you can (now you can’t outrun a lion, but you can try and outrun they guy next to you)  At this point your body sounds the alarm and shuts down non essential systems, like your immune system and puts all its resources to keep you alive for another day. If you’re constantly stressed, you’re immune system will suffer.

Fortunately we don’t live with the risk of being a lions dinner that often today, but our body doesn’t know that. Job, family, and money stress cause the same reaction. So you need to learn to relax and let your immune system be as strong as it can be. If someone cuts you off on the freeway you’ll go into flight or flight mode, hit the breaks and swerve to avoid an accident. But after that be thankful you weren’t in and accident and forget it. Don’t dwell on that jerk for the next hour.

  • Sleep – You must get a good nights sleep every night.
  • Exercise is also necessary for several reasons. It will help you relax and it will boost your immune system’s strength.
  • Probiotics – 70% of your immune system comes from the good bacteria in your gut. Good probiotics can keep these strong. You can eat fermented foods like sauerkraut or yogurt (not the store bought type which is full of sugar)  If you can’t eat sauerkraut daily, then take a probiotic supplement.
  • Vitamin D – get out in the sun in summer and supplement throughout the year.
  • Immunity boosting foods – Garlic, gensing, medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and miatake

Fuel your body

I talked about starving cancer, but you need to fuel your body.  This is basic healthy eating 101, so I’ll be brief:

  • Drink lots of pure water – Reverse osmosis water is best. avoid tap water and vitamin water type drinks or sugared sports drinks. Just water with a little lemon if you like.
  • No GMO foods. Genetically modified foods are in many packaged foods. Assume that if it has corn or soy that it is GMO unless it says Non-GMO or Organic.
  • Organic – eat organic as much as you can. If you can’t find everything organic, then google the Dirty Dozen list of the most heavily contaminated produce.
  • Get high quality protein, Grass fed beef, pasture raised chickens and eggs that feed off the ground and no grains.
  • Only wild caught seafood.
  • Good fats. Avocados, wild caught salmon, nuts, coconut oil, etc.
  • Fruits and veggies – Like your mother said, eat lots of different fruits and vegetables. Look at the glycemic index of fruits though, some, like bananas can be too high on the glycemic index.
  • Stop Smoking

Here are some extra special foods that you need several times a day to keep cancer at bay, or to fight it back.

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Dark colored berries
  • Other anti-oxidant rich foods.

Supplements

With today’s depleted soils foods no longer have the nutrients they did a century ago.  So you must supplement. You need an top rated and very pure multivitamin then optimizers to add more of the cancer fighting compounds like curcumin (Tumeric), garlic, antioxidants, etc.

To learn more I highly recommend the book “Anti-Cancer and new way of life” by Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. He is a MD who found he had an aggressive brain tumor an after the course of his initial treatment he felt there was more that could be done that his oncologist wasn’t aware of. so he dug into the published medical research database at www.pubmed.gov and was amazed at all the research there was regarding foods and cancer.  It is an easy read. It can get technical at times, but he brings it back up to common language. He has some good charts of which foods work best against various types of cancer. For example tomatoes can actually fuel breast cancer.

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Disclaimer – I’m not proposing that any of the above can treat or cure cancer as per the FDA only FDA approved drugs, chemo, surgery, and radiation can treat or cure cancer.  The recommendations above are primarily foods and foods are naturally occurring compounds and can not be patented so no pharmaceutical company will spend the money to gain FDA approval to use, for example, turmeric or garlic as an FDA approved treatment for cancer. There is though a large volume of published medical research which shows many foods can have a positive impact on cancer.

 

Health Benefits of Garlic

Health Benefits of GarlicIf you’re like me and love garlic, then you can enjoy both a great taste and great health benefits. Garlic has been regarded as nature’s wonder medicine for thousands of years. This is because of its natural antibiotic properties and antioxidants. It is also a potent anti-cancer agent.

Garlic has been considered as one of the oldest medicinal herb. It has properties that can cure many ailments. There are thousands of research papers which have been published showing the health benefits of garlic.

Here are some Health Benefits of Garlic :

  • You can treat the common cold with it. You can consume raw, fresh, crushed garlic to give boost to your natural defence system in your body. Just let it sit in the air for at least 10 minutes after you crush it. This will greatly enhance its immune boosting properties.
  • It helps in lowering cholesterol level in our body.
  • It helps to relieve acidity and gas.
  • It can lower your High Blood Pressure by 5 to 10 percent. 2-3 garlic cloves a day is all it takes.
  • It increases hearth health and minimizes the risks of heart attack or stroke.
  • It helps to lessen allergie symptoms since.
  • It has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
  • It can prevent and cure skin problems.
  • It thins the blood and helps prevent blood clots.
  • Regular intake of garlic, as well as many spices, helps to lower the risk of colon cancer.
  • It regulate the blood sugar levels and can reduce the insulin needs of diabetics.
  • It anti-inflammatory properties can reduce inflammation  in Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • It is rich in Vitamin B6.
  • Can help to expel intestinal parasites & worms from our body.

Nutritional Value of Garlic :

  1. High in Manganese, Vitamin B6 and C.
  2. Low in saturated fat, Sugar and Sodium.
  3. High in Calcium, Phosphorus and Selenium

With all of garlics great benefits, aside from tasting great, it really isn’t practical to eat it several times a day every day – You’ll lose a lot of friends. So garlic  supplements are an alternative.

For more information on the health benifits of garlic, here is a link to the Linus Pauling Institute.

Recent Omega-3 Fish Oil and Prostate Cancer Study is Seriously Flawed.

Earlier this week every major news media was running a report claiming that a recent study proved that high intakes of fish oil supplements caused a 71% increase in prostate cancer. Then they usually brought on their resident MD who confirmed that yes this appeared to be true and they should stop taking all fish oil supplements. The problem is I doubt any of them read the study, they just repeated the headline.

Over the years there have been over 2,000 studies which have looked at fish oil and cancer. Most found that fish oil lowers the risk and death rate for many types of cancer, including prostate. So lets take a closer look at the study and you’ll quickly see how flawed it is and really seems to just an error filled attempt to slander the fish oil supplement industry.

The study they pulled data from was the abandoned SELECT trail that ran between 2001 and 2004 looking at the effects of selenium and Vitamin E on cancer prevention. The study was not designed to look at omega 3 levels,  so the study was not looking at fish oil in relation to prostate cancer, but they pulled data from this study anyways.

Here is a summary of the errors they made.

  • The participates in the study had their blood lipid (fat) levels checked when they signed up for the study. It was the one and only test the 834 participates had of their blood lipid and omega-3 levels.
  • The study included sick and healthy people, but no indication of who may be taking fish oil supplement. It is common to find that when someone becomes ill that then they will start trying different alternative treatments, like fish oil, to help combat their disease.
  • Every man in this study already had prostate cancer
  • The study jumps to the conclusion that since fish oil supplements are so commonly taken that they could have contributed to the increase, yet no data to support that
  • The test only measured the percentage of omega-3 oil compared to total blood lipids. They never looked at the actual amount of omega-3 fats in the blood.
  • There were no questions about dietary or supplement use. Nor were there questions of when the last piece of fish was eaten or fish oil, krill oil, or flax seed oil supplement was taken. This makes sense as the original study wasn’t looking at omega-3, but only selenium and vitamin-E
  • the difference between the blood levels of omega-3 was only 0.2% between the high and the low.  This is statistically an insignificant difference in omega-3 levels. (High was 4.66% vs 4.48% for the low)
  • If the findings of the study were true, then you should find epidemic prostate cancer in countries and areas where fatty fish consumption is high like the Scandinavian countries, Japan and much of Asia, but prostrate cancer is low in these areas.
  • The statistical model they used (Cox proportional hazards) doesn’t apply to a single measurement vs a later outcome. This statistical model is designed to look at a long term daily use of a drug, food, supplement vs the outcome. Had an appropriate statistical method been used the outcome could have been completely different.
  • Even with the statical model they used, the difference between the omega-3 fatty acids was NOT statistically significant.
  • The same researcher, Brasky, had another study in 2011 which didn’t show any correlation between omega-3 and prostate cancer.
  • They cited another study by Chavarro in 2007 that showed a very strong benefit of fish oil sources of omega-3 in protecting against prostate cancer.
  • There was no control group in this study. The original study which was abandoned did have a control group, but none in the data they pulled.
  • The overall levels of fish oil found were low, so it’s likely they were NOT supplementing.
  • It is known that fat is the fuel of prostate cancer, and since this study was done in the U.K. where a lot of fish and chips are eaten is it possible that the fish oil was coming from fried fish and that those people with prostate cancer had higher fats in their diet and that that was the true link to prostate cancer- but none of this information is available in the study data.

Other factors to consider:

  • A recent study my Szymanski in 2010 showed a large reduction in late stage or fatal prostate cancer.
  • Several other studies, Lietzman, 2004 and Terry 2001, showed in large populations that increased omega-3 consumption correlated to a reduction in prostate cancer.
  • A recent study by Zheng in 2013 looking at over 500,000 participants and 16,000 incidence of breast cancer found that each 0.1g increase in omega-3 daily consumption correlated to a 5% decrease in risk of breast cancer.  So the average fish oil supplement is 1,000 mg, or 1.0 g, so that would be a 50% reduction in breast cancer risk.
  • The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute. Many will argue this, but the pharmaceutical and health care industry can not afford a cure for cancer. It is a multi billion dollar industry and if cancer were cured think of the drug companies, hospitals, oncologist, etc who would be out of business. So the health care industries and especially the pharmaceutical companies will fund studies which are geared to discredit what does work, but they can’t make money on.

In summary, this study should never have been published and should have been rejected. I suspect though that as quickly and powerfully that it came out in the media that there was a real PR push behind it – Someone wanted to damage the supplement industry and they jumped to the conclusion that fish oil supplements were the cause when the study never even disclosed if a single person even took supplments of any kind, at fatty fish, etc.

Here is the study which is making the headlines  http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/09/jnci.djt174.abstract

Download the full study here Fatty acids and prostate cancer JNCI Brasky July 2013.pdf

Here is a critical critique by a professor of Radiation Oncology department at the Harvard Medical School Click Here