Abstracts & Commmentary

Effects of DHEA and Exercise on Strength and Function in Older, Frail Women

by Susan W. Ryan, DO
11-01-2010 
This study reaffirms that DHEA supplementation does not improve BMD nor bone turnover markers. The authors conclude that DHEA supplementation improves lower-extremity strength and function in older, frail women involved in gentle exercise when in fact it is not demonstrated that the supplementation of DHEA had any material impact on performance.

Does CAM Access Reduce Healthcare Expenditures?

by Carlo Calabrese, ND, MPH
11-01-2010 
This paper is the latest in a series from this team to evaluate insurance claims databases resulting after a 1996 insurance inclusion mandate for CAM providers in Washington state. The change in regulation required that health insurance companies operating within the state to provide access to every state-qualified class of healthcare providers. Earlier papers from the group found that overall claims were little affected by coverage of CAM providers due to smaller claim size compared to conventional medical claims. Those studies also found that CAM users tended to have higher morbidity than non-users.

Effects of Diet and Supplements on Prostate Cancer Risk

by Geovanni Espinosa, ND, LAc, CNS
10-01-2010 
This study does not clarify which type of vitamin E participants use. The study does, however, cite the SELECT trial, a large population trial that did not find reduced risks after supplementing with vitamin E, selenium, or both. It is important to note that the type of vitamin E used in the SELECT trial was only alpha tocopherol. In high doses, alpha-tocopherol "kicks out" critically important gamma-tocopherol in the cells. While alpha-tocopherol inhibits the production of free radicals, it is the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E that are required to trap and neutralize free radicals.

Prebiotics and Probiotics in Young Children

by Jessica Mitchell, ND
10-01-2010 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 47.4% of preschool-age children and 25.4% of school-age children worldwide are anemic. Approximately half these anemias are thought to be due to iron deficiency. In the United States, WHO does not consider anemia to be a public health problem, as only 3.1% of preschool age children were found to be anemic. However, poor, minority and immigrant children and toddlers are still at risk for iron deficiency with and without anemia.

Blueberries Decrease Insulin Resistance

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
10-01-2010 
Blueberries are a new and attractive option to add to our current assortment of things that improve insulin sensitivity. The best-proven and safest ways to increase insulin sensitivity are still exercise and weight loss. Weight reduction reduces insulin resistance in both children and adults, especially in combination with exercise.

Dietary Lignans Improve Breast Cancer Survival

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
10-01-2010 
This is the first paper to examine the association of lignan intakes prior to breast cancer diagnosis and risk of dying. These findings suggest that we should actively promote consumption of lignan-containing foods, particularly in postmenopausal women. Ever since the data from the from the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) trial was published suggesting that diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat have little effect on breast cancer prognosis, researchers and clinicians have sought to define what a "good" diet should be for patients at risk for or diagnosed with breast cancer.

Calcium for Strong Bones: Do Benefits Outweigh Risks?

by Douglas MacKay, ND
09-01-2010 
There are several limitations to this study that render the conclusions dramatically overstated. Meta-analysis can be a useful tool, but it is important to note that this meta-analysis is based on a collection of past studies that have different designs, end points, doses and study populations.Patient level and trial level meta-analysis of previously completed randomized control trials (RCTs) involving calcium supplementation. The researchers objective was to investigate the effect of calcium supplementation on the risk of cardiovascular events based on the combined data from previous RCTs. Eligible studies included RCTs using calcium supplements (elemental calcium > 500 mg/day), with more than 100 participants of mean age 40 years and study duration of more than one year. Trials involving co-administration of calcium and vitamin D were excluded from the analysis.

Mediterranean Diet Lowers Gastric Cancer Risk

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
09-01-2010 
It is time for us to actively encourage patients to adhere as closely as possible to a Mediterranean style diet. This study is just one of a series of recent papers that have looked at the correlation between specific diseases and adherence to a Mediterranean style diet, studies that consistently find benefit.

Oral Magnesium Again Reported to Help Asthma Sufferers in a Randomized Trial

by Steve Austin, ND
09-01-2010 
While most Americans consume less than recommended amounts of Mg, some but not all, previous research indicates that asthma sufferers tend to have even lower Mg status than do other Americans.Mg is believed to have bronchodilatory and anti-inflammatory effects that might help asthma patients. However, previous Mg trials studying therapeutic effects in asthmatics have produced only mixed results. The primary factor separating the current trial from previous negative reports is duration. The 6.5-month intervention used by these researchers was significantly longer than the 3- to 12-week interventions employed elsewhere.

Vegetables Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

by Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO
08-01-2010 
The WHEL study intervention diet included a daily diet of 5 vegetables (a vegetable serving was defined as any 1/2-cup serving of raw or cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables excluding iceberg lettuce and white potatoes), 3 fruits, 16 oz. vegetable juice, 30 g fiber, and 20% energy from fat. The WHEL Study protocol included a baseline clinic visit to assess baseline characteristics. Dietary intakes were then assessed in 24-hour dietary recalls in 4 prescheduled telephone calls. At study entry (baseline), participants completed questionnaires regarding menopause history, use of menopausal hormone therapy, other lifestyle behaviors and cancer occurrence. Cancer outcomes were assessed from annual self-administered questionnaires, with 93% of cancers confirmed with a review of pathology reports.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Pharmacokinetics Produce Unexpected Results

by Steve Austin, ND
08-01-2010 
Much may be said by critics of natural medicine regarding the findings of this new report. However, I do not believe these findings should affect how we practice. The subjects in the current trial were from the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT). GAIT, unlike most related trials, found essentially no clinical efficacy for CS or for glucosamine (from GHCl). Given that the clinical outcomes of GAIT were different from most published reports, we would not expect an exploration of the pharmacokinetics of the CS and GHCl used by GAIT researchers to point us toward likely therapeutic mechanisms.

Selenium Fails to Protect Against Lung Cancer

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
08-01-2010 
Preventive medicine practitioners have been big fans of selenium for years and often cite Clark et al 1996 Nutritional Prevention of Cancer (NPC) as the reason for their use of selenium in cancer prevention. The NPC study followed 1,312 patients who had had basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. They were randomized to receive either 200 mcg of selenium yeast or placebo and followed from 1983 through 1991.

Rethinking Zinc Supplementation as a Treatment for Pediatric Pneumonia

by Jessica Mitchell, ND
08-01-2010 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 47.4% of preschool-age children and 25.4% of school-age children worldwide are anemic. Approximately half these anemias are thought to be due to iron deficiency. In the United States, WHO does not consider anemia to be a public health problem, as only 3.1% of preschool age children were found to be anemic. However, poor, minority and immigrant children and toddlers are still at risk for iron deficiency with and without anemia. This study by Sazawal points to a potential solution to the global concern of nutritional deficiencies, and it specifically provides a new insight to anemia treatment and prevention.

Early Pregnancy Folate Status and Childhood Hyperactivity

by Matthew Baral, ND
07-02-2010 
This study is the first to show an association between folate status of the mothers and behavioral outcomes in their children. In addition, they also found that decreased head-growth velocity was also associated with lower folate levels during pregnancy. It should be noted that head growth is a rough indicator of brain growth. However, there was an association here, indicating that in utero folate status does affect neurodevelopment, and decreased fetal brain growth is one of the results. It is well known that inadequate prenatal folate intake will affect other aspects of nervous system development, evidenced by its relationship to spina bifida and other spinal dysraphisms. This study also provides information as to when folate status may be more important.

Fish Oil Reduces Chronic Pain in Case Studies

by Steve Austin, ND
07-01-2010 
This is the first published report examining the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on neuropathic pain. A variety of potential mechanisms explaining how EPA and DHA might reduce such pain have been suggested (eg, the blocking of voltage-gated sodium channels) but to date these mechanistic explanations remain hypothetical.

Cherry Juice Eases Pain of Running Race Participants

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
07-01-2010 
This is only the latest in a series of studies on cherry juice and muscle recovery after exertion that have suggested similar benefits. Taken together these studies affirm the growing perception that cherry juice is a useful aid in preventing pain and inflammation, although these studies focus on a particular form of injury (ie, exercise-induced muscle injury and pain). Cherry juice may serve in many situations as an adequate substitute or replacement for either aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but without the side effects or health risks associated with these medications.

Pistachios Improve Lipid Profiles: The Growing Case for Eating Nuts

by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
07-01-2010 
After a 2-week baseline Western Diet, participants ate one of 3 diets, all providing similar caloric intake for 4 weeks. The control diet contained no pistachios and was lower fat (25% total fat). The two other diets contained either 1 or 2 servings of pistachios each day. A serving consisted of 32 to 63 grams of nuts.The quantity of LDL found in the blood is a long-established marker for cardiovascular disease risk. More recently, the amount of oxidized LDL (Ox-LDL) has gained recognition as a contributing factor for the initiation and progression of cardiovascular disease. High levels of Ox-LDL are associated with greater risk of metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and acute coronary syndrome. Lowering Ox-LDL, as this study tells us pistachios will do, is an important goal for disease prevention. Prior studies have already established that eating pistachios improves standard lipid profiles.

Chocolate Eclairs Treat Prostate Cancer?

by Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO
07-01-2010