Saturday, July 30, 2016

Warning on Dietary Supplements

From Consumer Reports this article was titled "New study sounds the alarm on dietary supplements" and posted on CBS News. But I want to make it clear that this report is about non-pharmaceutical grade supplements. I have also been warning people about taking food grade supplements for years now and these reports give credence to the issues and sometimes dangers of taking non-quality supplements - and here's the kicker, most of the supplements you find do not guaranteed their quality, let alone have accurate label claims or are free of toxins, so let the buyer beware.

I take only supplements manufactured using pharmaceutical grade standards in a lab monitored by the FDA, so this way I know what is on the label is in the bottle. I am not on the bandwagon, yet anyway, for FDA regulation of food grade nutritional supplements - I think the consumers should be the regulatory effect through purchasing or not purchasing, and not have the government regulate this further.

A new investigation may have you rethinking some of your vitamins. Consumer Reports finds certain ingredients in dietary supplements sold around the country can carry major health risks, including heart palpitations, allergic reactions and pain, reports CBS Sports' Dana Jacobson.

Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner died after overdosing on a caffeine powder supplement he bought online. A new study by Consumer Reports outlined health risks associated with dietary supplements -- including vitamins, probiotics and weight-loss aids. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective, dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA approval.

"If it could kill someone like Logan, it has no borders - it will kill again," said his mother, Katie Stiner. "It's what you don't know - I think that's the thing that we're most concerned about," said Lisa Gill, deputy content editor at Consumer Reports. "Just because it's not prescription, you say, 'oh, it's safe,' but that's not necessarily true."

"What is the biggest misconception about supplements?" Jacobson asked. "Oh, that they're safe. A manufacturer doesn't have to prove to the FDA before it gets put on the shelves -- that what's in those tablets, is what they say is there," Gill said.

A new study by Consumer Reports outlined health risks associated with dietary supplements -- including vitamins, probiotics and weight-loss aids. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective, dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA approval.

Gill said this leaves the consumer at risk. "It could be adulterated, it could be counterfeit, it could be hiding prescription drugs," Gill said.

Consumer Reports worked with independent doctors and dietary experts to identify 15 ingredients they say consumers should always avoid. They include caffeine powder found in some weight-loss supplements - like Kava, which claims to reduce anxiety and red yeast rice in supplements, which claims to reduce cholesterol.

Gill urges consumers to always avoid 15 specific ingredients. "They are known to have very specific harms. In some cases they can cause seizures or they can cause liver or kidney damage, there have been deaths associated with each of these," Gill said. But they found all 15 ingredients are available in supplements online or in major retailers. The Council for Responsible Nutrition -- which represents the supplement industry -- responded in a statement: "More than 150 million Americans take dietary supplements each year... Overwhelmingly, dietary supplements are safe and play a valuable role in helping Americans live healthy lifestyles."

But Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, disagrees. "Consumers need to know that they cannot trust that anything sold as a supplement is what's actually listed on the label," Cohen said. "Nor that it works. Or that it's safe."

The FDA acknowledged its limited role in regulating the industry, saying "it's important to remind consumers, that just because you can buy supplements in stores doesn't mean the FDA has reviewed them for safety or efficacy."

Gill recommends consumers look for the United States Pharmacopoeia or USP label and consult a medical expert. "Tell your doctor and your pharmacist what you're taking. Treat it like a medication. It's that important -- it's really about your health," Gill said.

MyAchingKnees comment: Look in the Physicians Desk Reference for supplements manufactured under pharmacuetical grade processes.

And yet another, older article titled "Unsafe, recalled dietary supplements still being sold" from October 2014 posted on CBS News.

Dietary supplements containing potentially dangerous prescription drug ingredients may still be for sale even years after safety recalls, a study found. In supplements bought online, researchers detected hidden steroids, similar ingredients to Viagra and Prozac and a weight loss drug linked with heart attacks.

They tested 27 products promising big muscles, sexual prowess, weight loss and more. Of those, 18 contained ingredients not approved for over-the-counter use; 17 still had the same drug that prompted the recalls.

Manufacturers are putting profit ahead of consumer health, but lax oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is contributing to the problem, said lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, an internist and researcher at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Boston-area health care system.

The tested supplements were recalled by manufacturers after FDA raised concerns about drugs in their products. This type of recall is usually voluntary, involving products that could potentially cause serious health problems and even death. The FDA's role includes assessing whether recalls successfully remove potentially unsafe products from the market.

"There should be significant legal and financial consequences for manufacturers who the FDA finds to be continuing to sell these spiked supplements," Cohen said. Unlike prescription drugs, dietary supplements don't need FDA approval before they are marketed. Still, their labels must list all ingredients and manufacturers are not allowed to sell products that are "adulterated or misbranded," the agency's website states.

The study was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors say laws that increase FDA's enforcement powers may be needed to fix the problem.

In response to the study, the FDA said it has issued hundreds of consumer alerts warning about tainted products, sent warning letters to supplement makers "and pursued civil and criminal enforcement" against those illegally marketed products. Deterring manufacturers is sometimes challenging because they are often difficult to locate and some are overseas, the agency said.

The researchers bought 27 of the 274 supplements recalled from 2009 to 2012. The products were purchased in summer 2013 from manufacturers' websites or other online retailers. An Oregon research laboratory tested them. Whether any consumers were harmed by using the tainted supplements was beyond the study's scope.

Among the 27 products:

-Six weight loss supplements contained sibutramine or a substance similar to the diet drug removed from the U.S. market in 2010 after it was linked with heart attacks and strokes. Two also contained the active ingredient in Prozac.

-Ten body-building supplements contained anabolic steroids or related compounds, which have been linked with side effects including prostate cancer, aggression and infertility.

-One sexual enhancement product contained sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, which is not recommended for those taking some heart medicines.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a supplements trade group, said it encourages federal regulators to crack down on "rogue" companies.

"Unapproved or adulterated drugs' masquerading as lawful supplements is a threat to public health and to consumer confidence in the supplement industry," Scott Melville, the association's president and CEO, said in an emailed statement.
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Monday, July 18, 2016

9 Common Symptoms of Liver Disease

I abused Motrin and other prescriptions drugs for years. Wasn't ever worried then about my liver but that changed 10 years ago when I approached my late 40's. And having several friends die of liver cancer,....well today, I am just careful as I can be. I take aspirin sometimes, but never other prescription drugs - how can you when you hear of all the potential deadly and dreadful side effects? I prefer to build my health by living a healthy lifestyle. Avoid toxins, eating as healthy as I can, living a physical life and taking quality supplements. Among the supplements I take is a pharmaceutical grade liver cleansing product. You simply can't live without your liver.

Liver disease most often occurs due to an inherited predisposition. Other times, liver damage resulting from alcohol abuse, obesity, and viral infections is the cause. Chronic liver problems can result in cirrhosis, a serious condition that often leads to liver failure and death. Therefore, recognizing the symptoms is critical.

Here are some of the classic signs of liver disease…

Discolored Bowels (they mean stools).  Healthy stools range in hues of brown. Light-colored or pale stools can be due to blocked bile ducts or liver disease. If your bowels are clay-colored, you may have issues with drainage of your biliary system, which includes the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder.

MyAchingKnees comment: Nobody likes to talk abut poop, but the color and whether it floats or not, is another tool that the individual can use to assess if issues are likely.

Coated Tongue.  A coated tongue is a sign that your body isn’t digesting food properly, allowing bowel bacteria and yeast to overgrow. The liver helps us digest fat by making bile. When there are problems, we aren’t able to produce enough bile for proper digestion.

Body Odor. Bad body odor can be caused by liver problems. Liver disease can change the consistency of sweat, resulting in a foul smell. See your doctor if you begin to sweat at night, sweat more than you usually do, get cold sweats, or smell different (fruity).

Dark Circles Under the Eyes.  Dark circles under the eyes are an external manifestation of chronic liver disease. In a significant amount of people with liver problems, dark circles in the facial area are visible. Individuals with liver inflammation have especially dark under eye circles.

Bad Breath.  People with liver disease tend to have bad breath, known in medical circles as fetor hepaticus. It is characterized by a musty, foul-smelling odor coming from the mouth and usually manifests prior to more obvious symptoms of the condition.

MyAchingKnees comment:  Bad breath is also linked to fluoride tooth pastes.  Try a natural tooth paste,.....I do...... and my mouth has never ben healthier.

Itchy/Swollen Palms and Soles.  Stubborn itchiness in the hands and feet can be a symptom of liver failure. Inflammation and liver scarring are linked to fatty liver disease and can cause the body to itch. It typically starts at the soles and palms, which can also become swollen.

Jaundice.  Jaundice refers to when the skin becomes yellow, along with the nails and the whites of the eyes. This occurs when the liver isn’t breaking down bilirubin as it should. Those suffering from jaundice may also have dark urine and light-colored stool.

MyAchingKnees comment: For some people during the first 2-5 days following the starting on quality supplements, they will feel a little down and may have jaundice but this is temporary and is likely due to toxins leaving the body. ....refer to the color of poop above.    

Nausea.  The initial symptoms of liver failure are usually nausea, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and exhaustion. But these can be caused by a variety of things. Be sure to have liver disease ruled out if recurring nausea occurs, especially if there are other symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalance. Liver disease can lead to the body’s failure to manage the production and processing of hormones. In men, this can result in enlarged breasts (gynecomastia), as well as withered testicles. Females may have their menstrual cycles disrupted.

Article from Reinventing

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Predictors of Alzheimers

From an article on lifestyle titled "10 surprising Alzheimer’s predictors"

About 5.2 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the aging population will drive that number to an estimated 7.1 million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Researchers have identified several types of brain abnormalities in people with the disease, notably plaques made of clumps of beta-amyloid protein and tangles of a protein called tau. Both correlate with the death of brain cells, leading to progressive memory loss, dwindling social skills and, eventually, death. As Dr. Marwan Sabbagh, director of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute and co-author of "The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook," puts it, Alzheimer’s memory loss goes beyond the usual “I forgot where I put my keys” to “I forgot what my keys are for.” Age, family history, having the Apolipoprotein E genotype and being female are the leading predictors of the disease. But researchers are finding other predictive correlations, especially in lifestyle.

Several biomarkers seem to correlate with Alzheimer’s, including certain proteins in spinal fluid or blood and mutations detectable by brain imaging. Michael Weiner, principal investigator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and director of San Francisco’s Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease, works with PET scans of study participants’ brains. While definitive Alzheimer’s diagnoses have formerly been made postmortem, Weiner said he was surprised to discover he could detect the Alzheimer’s-correlated amyloid protein in living people. Brain changes can begin 25 years before the onset of the disease. A 2012 study led by Dr. Michelle Mielke of the Mayo Clinic found that women with the highest level of a fatty compound called serum ceramide in their blood were 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women with lower levels of the compound. However, patients often avoid these types of tests for fear of losing medical insurance.

Heart history. Trouble with the vascular system is linked to Alzheimer’s. High blood pressure, especially in midlife, increases your risk. So can your heart history. People who have previously had a heart attack are more than twice as likely to develop dementia, whether it's Alzheimer’s or another type. Weiner emphasizes the importance of controlling your blood pressure. Decreasing stress also helps lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Diabetes and obesity. Insulin-resistant diabetes could double or even quadruple your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. An enzyme in your brain is responsible for decreasing both insulin and amyloid, so too much insulin may interfere with the enzyme’s ability to remove the amyloid. Obesity also increases your odds, especially for women, who may be three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as their thinner peers, according to the Fortanasce-Barton Neurology Center. Obese men increase their risk by about 30 percent. Exercise benefits both the obese and the diabetic. Dr. Joe Verghese, director of the Resnick Gerontology Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, prescribes physical activity and clean living. He admits that both he and his patients might rather take a pill than exercise and eat right. “I hate exercise,” he says. “But I do it because it’s good for me. A lot of this is common sense.”

Low education. Lower levels of formal education and a general lack of mental stimulation correlate with increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Verghese led a study that identified dancing as the most helpful physical activity for avoiding Alzheimer’s, partly due to the social aspect. “You don’t usually dance alone,” he says. “Social interaction has been said to reduce stress levels, which are bad for the brain.” Sabbagh agrees, noting, “People who do volunteering, traveling, crossword puzzles — you name it, those people tend to be better off intellectually.” But the science is fuzzy, he says, because socially engaged people tend to take better care of themselves in general. He’s also uncertain about the dose and intensity. “If I do three hours of volunteering or sudoku versus one hour, am I more protected?” he asks. And does he have to do the New York Times crossword, or is the one in his local Arizona paper sufficient?

Lack of fruits, vegetables and spices in diet. Diets low in vegetables may speed cognitive decline. One reason for this involves homocysteine, an amino acid in blood plasma. Higher levels seem to increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, among other deadly diseases. You need folate and other B vitamins to properly break down homocysteine. While all types of vegetables will help, Sabbagh recommends kale, squash, eggplant, collard greens and blueberries as cognitive superstars. Certain spices, notably cinnamon and turmeric, may also have a dramatic effect. “There’s clear evidence that people in India, at least from epidemiological data, have less Alzheimer’s,” says Sabbagh. “One of the environmental things people attribute it to is the presence of turmeric.” He also recommends following the Mediterranean diet.

Head traumas. Boxers’ cerebral spinal fluid contains elevated markers for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2006 study led by Henrik Zetterberg of the Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University in Sweden as well as a larger 2012 study led by Sanna Neselius at the same institution. In Alzheimer’s earliest stages, the disease can change levels of beta-amyloid and tau — proteins associated with clumps and tangles — in spinal fluid. Boxers who have the Apolipoprotein E genotype are at even greater risk. Alzheimer’s patients who suffered significant head injuries before age 65 showed symptoms at an earlier age than those who hadn’t had head injuries. Sabbagh recommends avoiding contact sports involving your head and using protective headgear.

Gait changes. A deteriorating gait and the inability to simultaneously walk and talk may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s. “Walking while talking is a divided attention task,” says Verghese, who has long studied gait changes in patients with non-Alzheimer’s dementia. “Now, if you are in the early stages of dementia or actually have dementia, then this becomes more challenging because you have limited attention resources.” Five different studies presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference tied gait change to the disease. Alzheimer’s correlated with slower and/or erratic walking and difficulty in performing such tasks as walking while counting backward.

Poor navigation. Since Alzheimer’s starts in the hippocampus, often called the brain’s seat of memory, disorientation is a hallmark of the disease. This accounts for why people with Alzheimer’s are notorious for wandering off and getting lost. “Navigational problems might arise very early in the course of cognitive decline,” says Verghese. He’s now working on a National Institutes of Health-funded study that looks at people’s ability to navigate and whether those who are navigationally challenged will face faster cognitive decline.

Depression and social withdrawal. People who suffer from depression earlier in life are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they age. A study by the Multi-Institutional Research in Alzheimer’s Genetic Epidemiology group, led by Robert Green of Harvard Medical School and published in Archives of Neurology in 2003, found a significant link between Alzheimer’s diagnoses and people who had shown symptoms of depression within the past year. So while doctors have long noted that people with Alzheimer’s tend to become depressed and withdraw socially, recent studies show that the depression predates dementia.

Sleep problems. Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea have been linked to cognitive deficits. Previous studies found Alzheimer’s plaque developing in mice’s brains when their sleeping schedules were significantly disrupted. A study released in 2012 correlated sleep disruption and Alzheimer’s in humans. The Washington University study, led by David Holtzman of the college's Department of Neurology, studied 145 cognitively normal people. Those with biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, as measured in their spinal fluid, were the worst sleepers. They spent more of their time in bed awake and napped more frequently during the day than those without the Alzheimer’s biomarkers. Sleep apnea is also linked to nighttime cardiac events and high blood pressure, both of which also correlate with Alzheimer’s.

A few lifestyle tips to end on hopeful note. Despite what he describes as nihilism about the disease within much of the medical community, Sabbagh emphasizes that there’s hope. Medications to treat the disease have improved in the past 16 years, he says. “The field itself is moving forward very rapidly. Granted, there are lots of frustrations and failures, but that doesn’t mean the science has stood still.” Sabbagh recommends making lifestyle changes as a preventative strategy right away. Eat your greens. Exercise. Value your social connections, and use your brain power. “You should not wait,” Sabbagh says, “because by the time you become symptomatic, the pathology in your brain is significant.”

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