Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

February 2012 Archives

FUN FACTS:

Decrease Aging by Avoiding Fattening Fructose

We've heard of the dangers of fructose and how it's linked to everything from obesity to liver disease. How can such a sweet thing be so bad for us?  Dr. Mercola recently explained the biochemistry of this liver harming, appetite affecting, weight gaining substance:

Fructose Metabolism Basics

Anyone who still insists that "sugar is sugar" is way behind the times... There are in fact major differences in how your body processes different sugars, and it's important to understand that when you consume fructose, your body packs on pounds at a much higher rate than it does when you consume glucose. The following summary details the main metabolic differences between fructose and glucose to help you understand how fructose can wreak such havoc with your health, and why it's considerably worse for you than glucose:

  • After eating fructose, nearly all of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
  • Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is primarily converted into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
  • The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
  • Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
  • When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Fructose is essentially largely converted into fat!
  • The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which triggers your "fat switch," causing you to gain more weight.
  • Glucose does not do this, as it suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.

Good news, there are ways to handle your sweet tooth. Dr. Mercola offers more suggestions on:

How to Tame Your Sugar Cravings

As mentioned earlier, I recommend that you avoid as much sugar as possible. Do your best to keep your fructose consumption below 15-25 grams a day. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Sugar is highly addictive, so cutting down can be a real challenge for some, especially if you're consuming very high amounts. If you're struggling with sugar addiction, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping, which has helped many "soda addicts" kick their sweet habit. If you still want to use a sweetener occasionally, here's what I recommend in lieu of sugar:

  1. Use the sweet herb stevia.
  2. Use organic cane sugar in moderation.
  3. Use organic raw honey in moderation.
  4. Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose.
  5. Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave's meteoric rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out.

Source: Mercola, J. Avoid this Food to Help Slow Aging. February 22, 2012. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/22/how-sugar-accelerates-aging.aspx?e_cid=20120222_DNL_art_1


Reducing EMF Exposure

There's a great debate in medicine on exactly how EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) affect our health. I wrote about this in a past blog on my website (see contact information). Below is another excerpt from Dr Mercola on his perspective on how modern technology is affecting our health:

It's worth remembering that the telecommunication industry is much larger than the medical industrial complex, and they have far more influence than the drug companies. They're also mirroring many of the same tactics as the tobacco industry to pedal their wares. This includes attempting to discredit researchers who publish unfavorable cell phone studies.

According to Camilla Rees, MBA of ElectromagneticHealth.org:

"We have seen a recent steep increase in disparagement of scientific research where the research demonstrates risks to public health from telecommunications technologies. It is very clear that in the name of "debate" certain parties are aggressively creating confusion and doubt about the biological and health risks, shamefully supporting the interests of the telecommunications industry."

There is already robust scientific evidence that cell phones and other wireless devices pose significant health risks to all of us, and especially to children and pregnant women. So while these findings are not being widely publicized as of yet, it makes sense to take action now to protect yourself and your children. You can help to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices by heeding the following advice:

  • Children Should Always Avoid Using Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.
  • Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call. If you're pregnant, avoiding or reducing your cell phone use may be especially important.
  • Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness. SKYPE offers a portable number via your computer that can plug into any Ethernet port while traveling.
  • Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them as often as you do. And most importantly, do not even consider having any electronic or wireless devices in the bedroom that will interfere with the quality of your sleep.If you must use a portable home phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are not safer during calls, but at least many of them do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made.Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters won't help much). As many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, we recommend you look for RF meters that go up to 8 Gigahertz, the highest range now available in a meter suitable for consumers.Alternatively you can be very careful with the base station placement as that causes the bulk of the problem since it transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren't talking. So if you can keep the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, they may not be as damaging to your health. Another option is to just simply turn the portable phone off, only using it when you specifically need the convenience of moving about while on a call.Ideally it would be helpful to turn off your base station every night before you go to bed.You can find RF meters as well as remediation supplies at www.emfsafetystore.com. But you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology.
  • Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.
  • Also Seek to Avoid Carrying Your Phone on Your Body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag. Placing a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the heart is asking for trouble, as is placing it in a man's pocket if he seeks to preserve his fertility.
  • Don't Assume One Cell Phone is Safer Than Another: There's no such thing as a "safe" cell phone.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area.
  • Respect Others Who are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others' cell phones in the same room, even when it is on but not being used. If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor's office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the 'second hand radiation' effects. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.
  • If you are using the Pong case, which redirects the cell phone radiation away from the head and successfully lowers the SAR effect, realize that in redirecting the radiation away from your head this may be intensifying the radiation in another direction, perhaps toward the person next to you, or, if in your pocket, increasing radiation intensity toward your body. Caution is always advised in dealing with any radiation-emitting device. We recommend cell phones be kept 'Off' except for emergencies.
  • Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain.Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.
The Lyme Paradox:

There are various philosophies with Lyme. One international Lyme expert, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, was recently interviewed by integrative Osteopathic Doctor and whistle blower, Dr. Mercola. I have much admiration for both of these physicians and listened to the entire 90 minute interview, summarizing it's key points below. I feel it's important, because more and more of my patients are effected by Lyme, if not as the primary problem, a contributor to immune imbalance that makes healing more difficult. As a Naturopathic and Functional Medical Doctor, I agree with Dr. Klinghardt that the environment and the whole person need to be considered in treatment. It's not about just killing the spirochete with antibiotics-natural or otherwise.

Read my summary and input from this world-renowned, yet humble, talented, and kind Modern-Medicine-Man here.

Why Not All Calories Count:

Do you struggle with weight loss resistance? I've discussed in the past how weight loss isn't just about calories, but about balancing hormones, inflammation, and eating foods that provide a nutrigenomic effect! (You can read my four part series here). 

This week, on HayHouse Radio, Functional Medicine NP, Marcelle Pick discusses how not all calories are created equal and how you can take control of your health. Listen here. 

Naturopathic Fun Fact:

Resveratrol is a substance found in red wine and grapes and is available as a supplement. It has antiaging properties and has been shown to modulate metabolic disease.

Read about the mechanism behind resveratrol here in this scientific abstract.

Source:Resveratrol Ameliorates Aging-Related Metabolic Phenotypes by Inhibiting cAMP Phosphodiesterases.Cell, Volume 148, Issue 3, 421-433, 3 February 2012.

This Newsletter Contains:

Naturopathic Philosophy Highlight... Fun Facts:

  1. An Unexpected Solution to Rising Health Costs
  2. Statins and Nerve damage
  3. Should Pediatricians Fire Patients- The Unvaccinated Controversy
  4. OSHA's statement on Mandatory Health Care Vaccinations
  5. Link to my Latest Blog on Integrative Heart Health

Happenings:

Upcoming Essential Oils Workshops with Terry Quigley at the Healing Garden.

Contact Terry at 518-831-9469

Next Health Forum is February 9th at 6:15pm. Learn more about future events.

New Office Manager

It is with a sad heart that we will be saying farewell to my wonderful office manager, Emma Rombach, LAc. She has been a wonderful addition and help to us all. Within the next few weeks, I will be interviewing prospects and training her replacement. I ask you all for your patience during this transition. Please be reminded that email and phone calls will continue to be filtered and won't be only viewed by me.

Next week, starting February 15th,  I will begin a trial with Holistic Answering Services who will be receiving forwarded emails and tasks. Please provide feedback if necessary.

Congratulations to Emma's success and best wishes to her moving forward with her practice and other career endeavors.

PATIENTS: Please review follow ups and cancellation policy on my website.

Don't miss out:

  • This Weeks Radio Show Highlight: Happiness: How to Bring More of it Into Your Life Right Now!!
    For decades psychologists have focused mostly on negative moods such as depression and anxiety. But what about happiness? Is it possible to measure and increase your happiness set point? Join Dr. Northrup and Roko Belic, the director of the phenomenal new film Happy, to find out exactly how you can set the stage for more happiness in your life- and help spread it to the rest of the world!
  • The Rest of Fun Facts on my Saratoga.com blog.
  • Listen to my colleagues and other experts as they discuss solutions to menopausal issues on a show dedicated just for women in mid-life! Here is a link from my interview on 360menopause Radio Show on Panic Attacks and Menopause and a list of archived shows.
  • Check out my latest answer on Dr. Oz's Sharecare:The link of emotions on the heart
  • View the Updated Link Resources on my homepage



Naturopathic Fun Facts

This month's blog focused on heart health. In it, I discussed integrative tips for preventing disease beyond controlling numbers with medications. One example was the link between social connections and mortality risk.  In the below excerpt, Dr. Hyman explains how community offers health benefits beyond heart health:

An Unexpected Solution to Diabetes, Obesity and Chronic Disease

So one year ago, on January 15, 2011, in partnership with Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in Orange County and two other doctors (Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mehmet Oz), we launched The Daniel Plan - a social experiment to learn if community support was more effective than medication or conventional medical care for treating and reversing disease and creating health.

In the first month 15,000 people signed up, and over the last year they have lost an estimated 250,000 pounds - or the equivalent of 10 tractor-trailer trucks loaded with soda. Over 6,000 people spontaneously joined from around the country. There have been over half a million visits to our Daniel Plan website from 189 countries.   Hundreds of churches from around the country have called to participate and build programs for their own churches.  Rick cast a vision to scale this through faith based communities to 1 billion people.

The results appear to be more effective than conventional medical care for chronic disease. The program is based on functional medicine - a way of treating chronic disease through lifestyle based systems solutions - not just treating symptoms. It is the science of creating health, not treating specific diseases.  Disease goes away as a side effect of creating health. That delivered within small groups via The Daniel Plan was the lever than moved mountains - of donuts, ribs, soda and more!

Not only were there estimated weight reductions of 250,000 pounds but also equal reductions in medication use, hospitalizations and doctors visits. And it was free.

In a survey after 10 months of the program, participants reported the following:

·         An average weight loss of 13.5 pounds (and 18 pounds for those who said they followed the program closely)

·         72% of those who wanted to lose weight did

·         53% reported increased energy levels

·         34% reported better sleep

·         27% improvement in blood work

·         20% reported improvement in blood pressure

·         11% reported reduction in medications

·         31% reported improvement in mood

We didn't treat disease.  We didn't create a weight loss program.  We taught people self-care and combining that with caring for each other they created a small miracle - something heath care or health care reform has not been able to achieve.  In the most unlikely place, a large Church in Orange Country, led by Pastor Rick Warren and a Christian, Jewish and Muslim doctor we showed that community based solutions are more effective at treating and reversing chronic disease than our health care system.  People helped each other create health.

Statins & Nerve Damage

In continuing the theme of heart health, here's an expert on the side effects of heart medication. Although statins can be helpful in secondary prevention of heart disease in males, they don't come without risk. Anytime you shut down a product in the body, there are side effects. Dr. Mercola explains:

·         A new study found treatment with statin cholesterol-lowering drugs caused a clinically silent but still definite damage to peripheral nerves when taken for longer than 2 years

·         At least 88 other studies further link statin drugs to neurotoxicity (nerve damage), including 12 studies on statin-induced peripheral neuropathy

·         A separate study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed statins increase the risk of diabetes for postmenopausal women by 48 percent, adding to an already established body of research on their diabetogenic properties

·         More than 255 million prescriptions were dispensed for cholesterol-lowering drugs in 2010, making them the most commonly prescribed type of medication in the United States; however, for the vast majority of people they are unnecessary, often causing more harm than good

·         Your body needs cholesterol, and using drugs to lower it as low as it will go is not usually beneficial for your health; you can optimize your cholesterol levels so they're working in the proper balance with your body using natural lifestyle modifications

Source: Mercola, J. Is Nerve Damage The Rule, Not the Exception With Cholesterol Meds? January 25, 2012.

 

OSHA Says "No" to Flu Shot Mandates Without Exemptions

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a statement opposing mandatory flu shots for health care workers that do not contain exemptions for medical, religious and persona/philosophical belief reasons. OSHA stated:

OSHA Says "No" to Flu Shot Mandates Without Exemptions

 " While we are supportive of the Healthy People 2020 goal of a 90% vaccination rate, we have seen no evidence that demonstrates that such a high rate is in fact necessary. Furthermore, the current influenza vaccine is no magic bullet. The current state of influenza vaccine technology requires annual reformulation and revaccination and the efficacy is quite variable. Every year there are numerous circulating strains of influenza that are not included in the vaccine. In years where the antigenic match is good, the vaccine only provides protection against the 3 strains in the formulation. In years when the antigenic match is poor, the vaccine may provide no protection at all. The limits of current influenza vaccine technology are especially problematic in the context of a mandatory influenza vaccination program that results in job loss. Lastly, reliance on a mandatory influenza vaccination policy may provide healthcare workers, health care facility management and patients with an unwarranted sense of security and result in poor adherence to other infection control practices that prevent all types of infections, not just influenza. Influenza vaccination has always been just one part of a comprehensive multi-layered infection control program."  

OSHA's complete position statement was submitted to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) last September and appears in the NVAC's certified minutes as Appendix B on page 25 here

Source: NVIC January Newsletter. NVIC Defends Vaccine Exemptions. January 26, 2011. 

Should Pediatricians Be Allowed to Fire Patients?

Vaccinated vs. unvaccinated? It's a hot topic and people are wavering in their support of mandatory vaccinations for public health to refusal of vaccinations from parents and denial of health coverage. An article on this topic summarizes the controversy:

AAP policy states, "Families with doubts about immunization should still have access to good medical care, and maintaining the relationship in the face of disagreement conveys respect and at the same time allows the child access to medical care."

A national survey published in Pediatrics in 2010 concluded that "more than 1 in 10 parents of young children use an alternative vaccination schedule" and 22% have serious safety concerns about the vaccine schedule that doctors recommend.

A national poll by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital found that 9 in 10 parents rank vaccine and drug safety as their top priority for child health research.

A recent survey of 900 doctors conducted at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, found that 21% of doctors stopped seeing patients, who refused vaccines or asked for alternative vaccination schedules. This past summer, the Chicago Tribune reported that doctors are refusing to treat unvaccinated children and described a letter eight doctors in a big pediatric practice sent to families informing them they would no longer see children, whose parents declined to follow the CDC-­recommended childhood vaccination schedule.

"In addition to families with healthy children, who want to make selective vaccine choices, there are lots of families, whose children have severe allergies or have experienced previous vaccine reactions, and want to reduce vaccine reaction risks," said Fisher. "When pediatricians threaten parents, families may stop seeking regular check-­‐ups and may end up not vaccinating at all instead of delaying or spacing out the vaccines."

American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines state that a doctor may refuse medical care only after giving the patient enough notice to find another physician. State rules vary, but doctors generally must document the behavior, inform the patient what the problem is, give him or her a chance to change and, finally, send a certified letter stating the relationship is over. However, they must continue to provide medical care, as needed, for an additional 30 days. The AAP has also published guidelinesfor pediatricians electing to dismiss families if they do not follow AAP and CDC vaccination recommendations.

Source: Lainie Gutterman. Should Pediatricians Be Able to "Fire" Parents? Baby Gizmo Blog. January 11, 2012. http://blog.babygizmo.com/2012/01/should-pediatricians-be-able-to-fire-parents/


Makeup Basics Advice from A Holistic Aesthetician

Time and again, I'm asked for my opinion about the ideas surrounding beauty and whether it is a question of conforming to societal pressure, selfish vanity or, as I choose to believe: the desire to look and feel healthy. As a holistic practitioner, I believe in the connection of mind, body and spirit and so, how we look and how we feel are connected and add to our sense of worth, joy, happiness, self confidence, and self esteem.

Too often, I hear women express themselves in a way that seems as if they are embarrassed to take care of themselves - thinking that this is a selfish thing to do. (Yes, we all know people who are fixated on appearance, but we're focusing on beauty in balance!)

Caring for ourselves contributes to our quality of life. It alters the way that we feel about ourselves, boosting our self respect, self image and concept of ourselves. What we wear, how we carry ourselves and how we feel becomes who we are - which begs the question, "How do I see myself?"

It's not about whether you color your hair, or you don't; whether you wear makeup, or not - it's about how you feel about yourself and the choices that you make. I know women who look absolutely gorgeous who allow their natural hair color to shine; women who don't wear makeup and are beautiful; women who do wear makeup and are beautiful. It's personal choice and what makes you feel good about yourself.

Having said this, I am motivated to talk a bit about makeup, since I see a lot of faces! These days, I see many cases of rosacea, broken capillaries, the result of too many chemicals, too much sun, too many irritants, too little vitamins and a lack of knowledge based upon myth and commercials. Amazingly, though this can sound a bit grim, it's not difficult to change. Our skin's health is resilient and can be helped. In fact, one of the statements I hear that makes me so happy is when clients say, "This is the best that my skin has ever been!" Yes, it's possible to better the condition of your skin with good home care, the right product and professional care. So, back to makeup!

Choosing the healthy path.

What I mean by "healthy" is makeup that doesn't contain parabens or other preservatives known or suspected to be harmful; and does contain beneficial ingredients like anti-oxidants and vitamins. And, while you can find these types of products at specialty stores, don't be fooled by the words "natural" or "mineral" - which don't necessarily mean what you may think. The best thing to do is take a look at the ingredients if you are so motivated, or buy from a licensed professional who can do all this legwork and knows what to look for in products.

Today, there is makeup available that is called "treatment" makeup. That means that the ingredients in the makeup actually aid your skin. Many times this makeup is found at a spa, your skin care provider's office or through a dermatologist. This product is generally no more costly than that which you would find at a department store counter or specialty store. Since this product is sold by skin care professionals, the quality and quantity of active, beneficial ingredients are usually higher.

While I understand the difficulty and expense of replacing all your makeup with healthy choices, I'd recommend that if you can't do it all at once, you make better choices as you replace your old makeup.

What works best? The basic how-to:

In most cases, when it comes to makeup less is more. The most common mistakes I see are: the wrong color foundation, the wrong type of foundation and too much bronzer. The wrong type of foundation will cake in your pores or make your skin look either too dry or too oily. The right makeup blends with and into your natural tones producing more even color and a smoother look. Generally, liquid makeup is better for more mature and dryer skin; powder works well for those with oilier complexions. You should test foundation color along the jaw line making sure that it blends closely to your own shade.

To cover more difficult areas, like scars or sun damage, camouflage-type concealers work best to even out color, rather than loading up the foundation. Under eye concealers, which are great for dark circles, should blend with the skin tone and be a shade or so lighter than the overall face color, but not so light as to stand out and detract from the overall enhancement.

It is generally best to choose one area to have more color - eyes or lips, not both. So, for daytime wear, my recommendation is the following: concealer if needed, foundation if desired, blush, lip color and eyeliner; shadow if wanted. For evening, a heavier look has a more formal, dressy look.

For those who want a nice light dusting of makeup, there are tinted foundations which afford less coverage, while still evening out skin tone.

As always, moisturizer and sunscreen are very important, as are the right skin care products.

Makeup doesn't have to be overpowering or frightening. Once you find a beneficial treatment makeup line, you can work with a professional to find the right colors. It's important to express the kind of look you want to achieve, so that you are comfortable and confident. Best of all - have some fun!


Questions? Feel free to ask me or schedule an appointment for a skin analysis and consultation!

2012 TOP READS ARE POSTED!

Here are some of the most not to miss highlights for this month:
1. A continued discussion from last week's blog on breast health including an abstract about the sensitivity of mammograms in breast cancer detection and a discussion on calcium supplements and heart disease links!
2. The safety of Naturopathic and Chiropractic Modalities (discussed by Dr. Mercola).
3. Potent Nutrigenomic effects of Milk Thistle on Cancer, Vitamin C on Asthma, and Zinc for Bone health
4. Various Drug updates such as Dr. Northrup's blog on HRT and safety studies on MS medications.

Calcium- More Insight on Why It May Not Be a Woman's Best Bone Friend!

By Dr. Sarah LoBisco, ND

In a society obsessed with youth and perfection, mid-life women are led to believe that as they age, they are doomed to hormonal mishap resulting in weak, estrogen deficient, brittle, bones. Conventional guidance teaches the belief that bisphosphonate drugs and a calcium supplement will keep bones healthy and strong. However, the one pill panacea is not how the body works. Below, Dr. Mercola discusses how this one sided approach have led women astray, and he warns us to not be a blind lemming in popping so-called panaceas, consider these facts:

Taking elemental calcium supplements (with or without vitamin D) in amounts of 500 mg or more may actually increase your relative risk of heart attack by up to 27 percent, and may even increase your risk of stroke
Taking the wrong type of calcium and in isolation, without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, which help keep your body in balance, can have adverse effects, such as calcium building up in coronary arteries and causing heart attacks
Osteoporosis, as defined by DXA bone screenings using the T-score, are highly misleading, because they compare your bone density to a 25-year old (and not your age group) as the standard of normality. Bone density and bone strength are two different things, and having highly dense bones may increase your risk of breast cancer as a woman by 300% or more.
Evidence that supplementing with calcium safely prevents fractures is lacking, but plentiful research suggests calcium deposits are major contributors and even causative factors in many health conditions
In order for calcium to do your body good, it must be in a biologically appropriate form and balanced out with vitamins D and K and other important trace minerals, as part of a total nutritional plan
There are actually a number of studies indicating that mass market calcium supplements increase your risk for cardiovascular incidents and other problems, while offering little benefit to your bones. Only because something can increase your bone density: eating what amounts to chalk or pulverized bone meal, or worse, chemicals like the drugs Fosamax and Evista, does not mean this will translate into improved health for your bones, or any of your other organ systems.

Indeed, before jumping off the lemming-like cliff of conventional medical wisdom, consider there is a solid body of research indicating that higher bone density may actually increase the risk of malignant breast cancer by 300% or more! Considering that close to 1 in 4 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives, with breast cancer top on the list, isn't the neurotic fixation on increasing bone density with calcium supplements misplaced, especially when it may increase the overall risk of dying from cancer and, as we will see, cardiovascular disease (the #1 killer), as well?

My words of caution in scientific research:

1. Causation is not proved with association. The study referenced in the British Medical Journal linking the risk of cardiovascular events to calcium usage only used a small dose of vitamin D (400IU) to a large dose of 1 g of calcium in the comparison groups of placebo and calcium alone. No other balancing nutrients were assessed or accounted for! What did this study prove? That the issue is balance and bio individuality. Studies that don't account for individual needs and blindly give supplements to participants without assessing their dietary needs or other risk factors are not a good means to assess risk and disease associated with their usage.

Evidence based studies on the intake of calcium supplementation is neither positive nor negative, but there is an association with increased calcification and breast cancer risk with excess supplementation.

2. Bone density scans are only one risk assessment for fracture risk. Furthermore, denser bones or the risk of fractures modulated with calcium supplementation is lacking. The abstract below from the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology sums up some major take home points:

Abstract

Credible evidence that calcium supplements reduce the risk of vertebral, nonvertebral, or hip fractures is lacking. Flaws in study design and execution such as inclusion of calcium-replete individuals, high dropout rates, and poor compliance preclude testing the hypothesis that calcium deficiency increases fracture rates or that calcium supplements reduce them. Intent-to-treat analyses of individual trials have failed to detect antifracture efficacy. Post hoc analyses of subgroups with a low calcium intake and per-protocol analyses of compliers have reported fewer fractures in the supplemented groups. However, this may be the result of confounding by violation of randomization; compliers to placebo have a lower morbidity and mortality than noncompliers. Higher hip fracture rates and cardiac mortality in patients receiving calcium supplements, as reported in some studies, may also be due to factors other than supplementation. Hypothesis testing requires that a cohort be stratified into calcium-deficient and calcium-replete groups, with each person randomized to a supplement or placebo. This design quantifies the risk of fracture attributable to calcium deficiency and any benefit that supplementation confers in the calcium-deficient and calcium-replete groups. To regard a calcium-deficient arm as unethical begs the question. Consensus statements that support the widespread use of calcium are opinion-based; they accept claims of beneficial effects despite flaws in study design, execution, and analysis; and they reject reported adverse effects because of them. Until well designed, well executed, and well analyzed studies demonstrate a net benefit in morbidity, mortality, and cost, recommendations supporting the widespread use of calcium supplementation remain belief-based and not evidence-based. PMID: 20089500

What's a woman to do?

Dr. Brown offers a fracture risk assessment on her website that takes into account a holistic assessment besides bone density. Furthermore, she discusses all the important nutrients needed for bone health, beyond Calcium, and Vitamins D and K. My past blog on this subject provides a summary of additional tools.

The bottom line is that everyone is different, with different needs, and that's why blindly taking supplements, like drugs, can cause an imbalance in the system. I suggest speaking with a well versed practitioner or nutritionist who can assess your individualized needs and perhaps provide a functional analysis of your own bone turnover and nutrient assimilation. Also, let's keep in mind that the safety profile of supplements and nutrients doesn't even scrap the effects of properly prescribed medicines.

References:

Dr. Mercola . Breast Cancer and Heart Attacks: A Deadly Side Effect of Calcium Supplements? January 30 2012. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/30/calcium-supplement-on-heart-attack.aspx?e_cid=20120130_DNL_art_1

Seeman E. Evidence that calcium supplements reduce fracture risk is lacking (abstract). Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Jan;5 Suppl 1:S3-11.

J M Zmuda, J A Cauley, B M Ljung, D C Bauer, S R Cummings, L H Kuller. Bone mass and breast cancer risk in older women: differences by stage at diagnosis (abstract). J Natl Cancer Inst. 2001 Jun 20;93(12):930-6. PMID: 11416114

Bolland MJ, Grey A, Avenell A, Gamble GD, Reid IR. Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis (abstract). BMJ. 2011 Apr 19;342:d2040. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d2040.

Brown, S. Are Your Bones Healthy & 20 Key Bone Building Nutrients. Accessed January 31, 2012. http://www.betterbones.com/bonenutrition/20keybonenutrients.aspx


Happenings:

Upcoming Essential Oils Workshops with Terry Quigley at the Healing Garden. Contact Terry at 518-831-9469

Next Health Forum is February 9th at 6:15pm. Learn more.

Radio For Your Body-Mind-Soul: Dealing with Addiction

Do you or your loved one suffer from an addiction?

Addiction is one of the top health care concerns for the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S. alone, over 7 billion is spent on alcohol and substance abuse treatment. Join Gabrielle and her guest, addiction specialist Elisa Hallerman, for a powerful discussion on how to deal with addiction issues.

Book of the week: The Calcium Lie by Robert Thomson, MD

This book discusses that bone is comprised of at least a dozen minerals, not just calcium. Supplementing with excessive calcium off balances other minerals and important electrolytes in various tissues, including bone tissue. In fact calcium supplementation can worsen bone density and actually increase your risk for osteoporosis. Dr. Thompson discusses overconsumption of calcium can also increase your risk of heart disease, kidney stones, gallstones, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Read more on my blog.

· Listen to my colleagues and other experts as they discuss solutions to menopausal issues on a show dedicated just for women in mid-life! Here is a link from my interview on 360menopause Radio Show on Panic Attacks and Menopause and a list of archived shows.

· Check out my latest answer on Dr. Oz's Sharecare:

· View the Updated Link Resources on my homepage

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Reisa Mehlman

As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...


Dr. Sarah Lobisco

Whether the goal is to lessen pain, find an alternative to pharmaceuticals, or improve your quality of life, Dr. LoBisco's Naturopathic Medicine lets you get the best of both worlds conventional medicine, combined with safe and proven complementary therapies.

Dr. Sarah LoBisco has been involved in wellness for over 8 years. Her experience includes mentoring with holistic practices throughout New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. Read more...