Multivitamin use associated with lower heart attack risk in women

An article published online on September 22, 2010 in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports an association between multivitamin use and a reduced risk of myocardial infarction (MI or heart attack) in older women.
The current study included 2,262 women with a history of cardiovascular disease and 31,671 women with no history of the disease who participated in the Swedish Mammography Cohort established between 1987 and 1990. The participants completed a dietary questionnaire in 1997 which provided the Karolinska Institutet researchers with information concerning supplement use.
Over the 10.2 year average follow-up period, 269 heart attacks occurred among women who had cardiovascular disease, and 932 occurred in those with no history. Among women who had no history of the disease, those who reported using a multinutrient supplement had a 27 percent lower adjusted risk of heart attack than those who were not supplement users. Using a multivitamin along with other supplements was associated with a 30 percent lower risk, and use for at least five years was linked to a 41 percent lower risk of myocardial infarction compared to nonusers. Multivitamin use was not associated with a significant benefit in those with pre-existing disease.
Concerning the contradiction of the current study’s findings in light of other research which failed to uncover a benefit, the authors explain that ingredients and dosage of the components of multinutrient supplements vary, that some trials were conducted in subjects with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, and that the majority of trials had short follow-up periods. They attribute the vitamins’ protective benefit to their antioxidant properties, which retard atherosclerosis via free radical scavenging, and the ability of B vitamins to lower homocysteine levels. Minerals included in multinutrient supplements may also have cardioprotective effects, including the possibility of magnesium to inhibit insulin resistance, decrease vascular tone, and prevent pro-inflammatory changes and endothelial dysfunction, and the incorporation of selenium into protective antioxidant enzymes.
“We observed that multivitamin use is inversely associated with myocardial infarction among women with no history of cardiovascular disease,” the authors conclude. “Further studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings and, if confirmed, to clarify what composition of multivitamins (doses and ingredients included) and duration of use is needed to observe beneficial effects on MI.”
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These are great results from using any multi-vitamin. I wonder what the results would have been if they had used a very high quality multivitamin with optimal levels of all the essential vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, trace elements, antioxidants, etc? Here in North America 95% of the supplements are of marginal or very low quality and potency.  There is a Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements which is published in Canada which analyzed over 1,500 different multivitamins available in North America. 

Your Doctor may advise you to stop taking calcium supplements for osteoporosis… But question him/her.

MedPage Today, a leading news and information source for physicians ran a headline article of “Risk of MI (Heart attack) May Go Up With Calcium Supplements” It says that from a meta-analysis of studies done to study the effects of calcium supplementation on osteoporosis that there was a 30% increase in MI (Heart attacks).


The report goes on to suggest that doctors should consider if it is prudent to recommend that their patients take calcium supplements because if the risk.

Don’t panic though and toss your calcium supplements in the trash. You need to read the fine print and between the lines to see how and why they arrived at this:
  • They excluded any studies which combined vitamin D with calcium. Why, because vitamin D is known to be beneficial to the heart.
  • The researchers have also accepted research support from several drug companies: Wyeth, Mission Pharmacal, Shire Pharmaceuticals, and Nycomed. 
  • They performed a meta-analysis, this means that they didn’t actually perform a study, but simply looked at a number of other studies, hand picked the ones they wanted, and then looked at their results.
So what is between the lines:
  • When scientists look at a drug to see if it is effective they look at that drug in isolation, it either works, doesn’t work, or the test subject dies.  They can’t apply this logic though to supplements. You don’t eat just calcium in nature, you’d get calcium complexed with manganese, boron, silicon, vitamin D, and many other vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are not drugs, they are part of our everyday diet and never eaten in isolation. Problems only arise when we are deficient. (Scurvy, beri beri, pellagra, rickets, etc.)
  • Pharmaceutical drug companies spend billions supporting research, some specific to their drugs, others generic and even sometimes to study nutritional supplements. Now fold in human nature. If a company (or companies) are putting money in your pocket, and you know you could get more money to do further research if they like your results. So there is a strong correlation that if a drug company sponsors research involving vitamins & minerals then the outcome will be negative vs if the funding comes from a non-drug company.
  • Lastly they hand picked the studies they wanted to include and more importantly which to exclude. By excluding those which also supplemented with vitamin D they selected they skewed the results to favor an un-natural intake of pure calcium without other nutrients that it would naturally be found with.  As we all know, our bodies must have vitamin D in order to move calcium into the bone matrix, without the Vitamin D, the calcium will just accumulate in the blood, and yes, that could lead to arterial calcification. But why would a reasonable person take calcium without vitamin D and the other nutrients necessary to help reverse osteoporosis?
If you watch TV or see the hundreds of prescription drug ads you’ve surely seen that a one page, or 15 second, ad is followed by two pages or 45 seconds of dangers and warnings. This sure makes taking calcium supplements seem much safer than stroke, heart attacks, liver and kidney damage, etc. So In this case I believe the researchers are playing into their drug companies who are putting dollars into their pockets to persuade doctors to not recommend inexpensive nutritional supplements to their patients, but to prescribe expensive prescription drugs.
So what does your body need to move calcium into the bone matrix? Well of course Calcium, but also Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Magnesium (as a chelate), boron, and silicon. If a supplement has all of these ingredients and in the proper ratios, then your body has what it needs to build bone density. The calcium supplement I use and recomend has all of these ingredients and is manufactured to pharacutical standards to insure that what is on the label is in the product, and nothing else.

Click Here to see the full article on Med Page Today

Mayo Clinic Health Letter Offers Advice for Maintaining Vitality: How to Age Without Getting Old

NewsRx.com

07-01-10

Aging without getting old? It’s largely possible, according to the June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Certainly, some diseases affect the quality of life and shorten life spans, but for the majority of adults, age is what one makes of it. Consider that some people seem old in their 50s and 60s, while others waltz through their 80s and 90s with a spring in their steps. The Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers ingredients for an “anti-aging potion.” Exercise: Being active and getting regular, moderately intense exercise is probably the No. 1 way to slow the aging process and improve vitality. Exercise can lower blood pressure and improve bone strength and cholesterol numbers. People often experience increased energy and strength with just a few sessions of physical activity. Exercise also can reduce stress and improve mood and sleep. A plan that includes at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace, on most days of the week is recommended. The benefits are even greater when the exercise regimen includes strengthening exercises two or three times a week. Healthy diet: A healthy diet is the foundation for maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if needed. For those who are overweight, weight loss from even a small reduction in body fat – about 5 to 10 percent – may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Regular doctor visits: Regular visits allow a doctor to watch for signs of disease, through activities such as screening for certain cancers and other problems. And regular visits are important to managing ongoing medical concerns and medications. Brain challenges: Staying mentally fit falls into the “use it or lose it” category. Brains benefit from challenges, such as regularly reading, taking classes, learning new skills or engaging in stimulating conversations. Research shows that older adults with normal brain aging can learn just as well as younger adults, and it’s possible to increase brain cell connections regardless of age. Social connections: Social connections play a vital role in health and well-being, especially during times of change and transition that occur with aging, such as retirement, death of a loved one or downsizing a home. Connections with friends, relatives, a religious community or even a pet are motivators to stay healthy. Social connections can reduce stress and anxiety, protect against mental decline and provide a sense of purpose. Optimistic attitude: Although pessimism can be deeply ingrained in one’s personality, it’s never too late to examine thoughts, viewpoints and actions that sour one’s attitude. Bad things happen to everyone, but optimists tend to look for the positive, count their blessings, savor good times and simple pleasures and practice kindness to others as a way to direct thoughts beyond themselves (see also Mayo Clinic).

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today’s health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 1-800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit www.HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com.

Homocysteine in the news – Flawed Research by the maker of Lipitor

From MedPage Today, a key source of information to many physicians, they have a headline “Homocysteine Flops for MI Prevention” (MI is heart attack).  The conclusion was that taking Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 supplements to lower homocysteine levels in the blood had no impact on heart attack prevention.


Dr. Klimer McCully, a Harvard Researcher,  homocysteine theory has since been proven beyond a doubt: people with elevated homocysteine levels are more likely to have strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, kidney disease, diseases of the eye, erectile dysfunction, and, especially, heart disease (De Bree A et al 2002). Click here for a factual discussion of the relationship between elevated homocysteine levels and the above diseases.


So why did MedPage Today find the opposite? Well they looked ONLY at patients how had already suffered a heart attack and could lowering homocysteine prevent further heart attacks. The flaw with this study was that the damage was already done. The patients arteries were already clogged and had plaque build up, so much so that they’d suffered a heart attack. Lowering homocysteine is to reduce the risk of vascular diseases before it happens, not to reverse damage already done. They also omitted giveing the test subjects Vitamin B6. It takes Folic Acid, B6 and B12 to effectively lower homocysteine.


So how could these researchers miss the mark on this research. Well look way down at the bottom of the report. The research was funded by Merkk, the pharmaceutical company who produces Lipitor, the cholesterol lowering drug. What is their interest? Sell more Lipitor!  Do they want people, and doctors to know that lowering homocysteine and lowering the amount of oxidation in the blood greatly reduces the risk of heart attack? No. It is much cheaper to take folate, B-vitamins, and fish oil to lower the risk of heart disease, but these can’t be patented. If they can’t be patented, then there is no money, well in comparison to FDA approved patented drugs like Lipiotr, Crestor, Zocor, etc. that make billions of dollars a year.


Next time you see a headline on the news saying that research shows that some nutritional supplement won’t prevent or cure some condition, take it with a grain of salt and do some digging to see who funded the research. Most often it will be a pharmaceutical company who doesn’t want the public to really know what inexpensive supplements can do, and usually with no side effects.

Study: Coffee, tea cut heart disease risk

A large study in the Netherlands found moderate consumption of coffee or tea cuts the risk of heart diseasesignificantly, researchers say.
Dr. Yvonne van der Schouw of the University Medical Center Utrecht said the multiyear study suggests coffee and tea drinking do not increase the risk of death from any cause, The Daily Telegraph reported. She and her colleagues tracked 37,514 people for 13 years in one of the biggest studies on the subject.
Tea had a bigger impact than coffee, van der Schouw said. Those who drank between three and six cups of tea daily were 45 percent less likely to suffer coronary disease than those who drank less than one cup, while with heavy drinkers — more than six cups — the risk was reduced by 36 percent.
The risk of heart disease was cut by 20 percent among those who drank two to four cups of coffee. The researchers noted coffee drinkers are more likely to smoke.
Van der Schouw believes antioxidants in coffee and tea are responsible for the health benefits.
The study was published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Eating more chocolate associated with heart health!

An article published online on March 31, 2010 in the European Heart Journal more good news for chocolate lovers: consuming as little as a square of chocolate per day could help reduce the risk of hypertension and heart disease.

For the current research, nutritional epidemiologist Dr. Brian Buijsee of the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal and his colleagues analyzed data from 19,357 participants in the Potsdam arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC), which enrolled 27,548 middle aged men and women between 1994 and 1998. Blood pressure and anthropometric measurements were obtained upon enrollment, and dietary questionnaires were administered. Subjects were followed for an average of 8 years, during which death certificates and questionnaires completed by the participants every 2-3 years reported information concerning chronic disease, including the incidence of heart attack and stroke.
Participants whose chocolate intake ranked among the highest 25 percent at an average of 7.5 grams per day had lower blood pressure and a significantly reduced risk of experiencing heart attack or stroke compared to subjects whose intake was lowest at 1.7 grams per day. The difference in intake amounts to the equivalent of a square of a 100 gram chocolate bar.
“Our hypothesis was that because chocolate appears to have a pronounced effect on blood pressure, therefore chocolate consumption would lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, with a stronger effect being seen for stroke,” Dr Buijsse stated. “People who ate the most amount of chocolate were at a 39% lower risk than those with the lowest chocolate intakes. To put it in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate (of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke) increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about ten years. If the 39% lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher.”
When the researchers adjusted the analysis for blood pressure, lower blood pressure was found to explain only an average 12 percent of the association of chocolate with fewer cardiovascular events. The researchers note that cocoa flavanols improve other cardiovascular risk factors, including endothelial and platelet function. “Flavanols appear to be the substances in cocoa that are responsible for improving the bioavailability of nitric oxide from the cells that line the inner wall of blood vessels – vascular endothelial cells,” explained Dr Buijsse. “Nitric oxide is a gas that, once released, causes the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen; this may contribute to lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide also improves platelet function, making the blood less sticky, and makes the vascular endothelium less attractive for white blood cells to attach and stick around.”
“Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a cocoa content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function,” commented Professor of Cardiology Frank Ruschitzka, who is the Director of Heart Failure/Transplantation at the University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland, and a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology. “However, before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain.”
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Vitamin B3 beats Big Pharma’s Zetia cholesterol drug

The utter worthlessness of Big Pharma’s cholesterol drugs was demonstrated recently by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that niacin (a low-cost B vitamin) out-performs Merck’s drug Zetia for preventing the build-up of arterial plaque, a symptom of cardiovascular disease.

As the study reveals, Zetia failed miserably. Patients taking niacin showed a “significant shrinkage” in artery wall thickness, while those on Zetia showed no such improvement. At the same time, the rate of “cardiovascular events” in the niacin group was only one-fifth that in the Zetia group, demonstrating that niacin is far more effective at preventing heart attacks and other similar events than Zetia.

But curiously, as soon as niacin started to show a real benefit over Zetia, researchers cancelled the study. The premature ending of the clinical trial stopped the process by which even more useful information about the benefits of niacin might have been learned.

5,800% higher price than niacin

Merck, the maker of Zetia, was likely horrified to learn that a low-cost B vitamin out-performed its blockbuster drug. Sales of its Zetia drug are reportedly over $5 billion. It’s no wonder: Zetia sells for as much as $3.89 per pill.

Niacin, on the other hand, costs a few cents per pill.

These price differences make Zetia 5,800% more expensive than niacin. And yet niacin works better.

So if niacin works better, and if modern medicine claims to be serving patients instead of profits, why don’t doctors recommend B vitamins instead of expensive cholesterol drugs? As you have already guessed, the reason is because Zetia earns all kinds of ridiculous profits for Big Pharma and B vitamins don’t.

The fact that doctors continue to prescribe Zetia, in fact, demonstrates how thoroughly our modern medical system has failed to recognize and embrace things that work to help patients rather than things that make the most money for powerful drug companies. If our modern system were actually based on what works, doctors would be prescribing various vitamins, minerals, herbs, superfoods and nutritional supplements (including anti-cancer mushroms).

But no… our system isn’t based on what helps patients. It’s based on what makes the most money, and so patients are put on dangerous (even deadly) pharmaceuticals that can cost 5,800% more than low-cost natural remedies that actually work better!

Very high omega-3 intakes linked to big health benefits

Intakes of omega-3 exceeding levels consumed by the general US population may significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease, suggests a new study with Yup’ik Eskimos.

High levels of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) were associated with lower levels of triglycerides, as well as higher levels of HDL cholesterol, according to data from 357 Yup’ik Eskimos published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Raised levels of the fatty acids were also associated with decreased levels of markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced in the liver and is a known marker for inflammation. Increased levels of CRP are a good predictor for the onset of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.CVD causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and is reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169 billion ($202 billion) per year.

The study of omega-3 intakes in inuits is nothing new. The first reports of the heart health benefits of the marine fatty acids were reported in the early 1970s by Jørn Dyerberg and his co-workers in The Lancet and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The young Danes sought to understand how the Greenland Eskimos, or Inuit as they prefer to be called, could eat a high fat diet and still have one of the lowest death rates from cardiovascular disease on the planet.

Despite the precedent of study in these populations, the new research, led by Zeina Makhoul from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, claims that: “Few studies have examined the associations of with biomarkers of chronic disease risk in populations with high intakes”.

In an attempt to fill this knowledge gap, they analysed blood levels of EPA and DHA in red blood cells of in a cross-section of 357 Yup’ik Eskimos.

Data showed EPA and DHA represented an average 2.8 and 6.8 percent, respectively, of the total fatty acid content of red blood cells.

In addition to the links between EPA and DHA levels and triglycerides and HDL, increased levels of DHA were positively with levels of LDL and total cholesterol, said the researchers.

While a link between EPA/DHA and CRP were reported, Makhoul and her co-workers noted that the link was stronger when EPA concentrations excessed 3 percent of fatty acids in the cells, and when DHA levels exceeded 7 percent.

“Increasing EPA and DHA intakes to amounts well above those consumed by the general US population may have strong beneficial effects on chronic disease risk,” they concluded.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28820
“Associations of very high intakes of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids with biomarkers of chronic disease risk among Yup’ik Eskimos”
Authros: Z. Makhoul, A.R. Kristal, R. Gulati, B. Luick, A. Bersamin, B. Boyer, G.V. Mohatt

Green tea slashes heart disease death risk: Study

Seven cups of green tea a day over the long-term may massively reduce the risk of death from colorectal cancer and heart disease, suggests a new study from Japan.

Compared to people who drank less than one cup a day, seven or more cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by a whopping 75 per cent, report scientists from Okayama University in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Additionally, a reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer mortality of 31 per cent was observed for people who drank more than seven cups of green a day, compared to people who frank less than three cups a day.

“To our knowledge, this is the first cohort study that shows the inverse association between green tea and colorectal cancer mortality,” wrote the researchers, led by Etsuji Suzuki.

The strong effects observed in the study may be due to long-term, high consumption of green tea, said the researchers. Only people aged between 65 and 84 participated in the study.

“Assuming that green tea consumption at the time of assessment is sufficiently representative of long-term, previous exposure to make a plausible link with the risk of mortality, the longer cumulative exposure to green tea may be responsible for the stronger effects of the present study, [compared to past studies],” they added.

The health profile of green tea are increasingly known to consumers, with studies reporting a wide range of effects, including a lower risk of certain cancers, improved heart health, weight loss, and protection against Alzheimer’s.

Green tea contains between 30 and 40 per cent of water-extractable polyphenols, while black tea (green tea that has been oxidized by fermentation) contains between 3 and 10 per cent.

The four primary polyphenols found in fresh tealeaves are epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epigallocatechin (EGC) epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epicatechin (EC).

Study details

The Japanese team recruited 14,001 elderly residents in Japan, of which 12,251 individuals were analysed to estimate the various associations between green tea consumption and all-cause mortality, cancer and CVD.
During an average of 5.2 years of follow-up, 1,224 participants died, 400 were due to cancer, and 405 from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Compared to people who drank less than one cup per day, drinking seven or more cups of green tea a day was associated with a 55 and 75 percent lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, respectively, said the researchers. Furthermore, “green tea consumption was associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer mortality”, they said. .

“The protective effects could have significant implications for public health,” they concluded.

Tea – the secret to eternal youth?

Recently, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong reported that the cells of regular tea drinkers may have a younger biological age than cells from non-drinkers.

By looking at the length of telomeres, DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes that shorten as cells replicate and age, the Chinese researchers reported that the telomeres of people who drank an average of three cups of tea per day were about 4.6 kilobases longer than people who drank an average of a quarter of a cup a day.

This average difference in the telomere length corresponds to “approximately a difference of 5 years of life”, wrote the Hong Kong-based researchers.

Source: Annals of Epidemiology
Volume 19, Issue 10, Pages 732-739

“Green Tea Consumption and Mortality among Japanese Elderly People: The Prospective Shizuoka Elderly Cohort”