Not content with putting millions of adults on dangerous statin drugs, the pharmaceutical industry is targeting children with a chewable cholesterol-lowering product! Last month, Pfizer, Inc., announced that the European Commission had approved a chewable form of Lipitor for use in children over the age of ten. Pfizer’s Lipitor is the best-selling medicine worldwide, with sales of $11.4 million in 2009. But revenues are steadily dropping and Lipitor faces the loss of patent protection next year. So, of course, children are the natural targets for boosting lagging sales (Bloomberg News, July 7, 2010). Just to make sure that the new product has the widest possible market, a report published in the journal Pediatrics, calls for cholesterol screening of all children (Pediatrics, July 12, 2010). Shareholders must approve of this strategy, because Jeffrey Kindler, Pfizer chief executive, received a compensation package of $13.7 million in 2009.
HAVE A STATIN WITH YOUR FAST FOOD MEAL
Another wacky proposal is to give out statins with fast food meals. In a stupendous example of junk science applied to junk food, researchers for the International Centre for Circulatory Health in London pooled data from seven questionable studies on heart disease and concluded that taking a statin with a seven-ounce Quarter Pounder® with cheese and a small milkshake would neutralize the harmful effects of the fats in those meals. From the study abstract we read, “. . . statin therapy can neutralize the cardiovascular risk caused by harmful diet choices. . . Routine accessibility of statins in establishments providing unhealthy food might be a rational modern means to offset the cardiovascular risk. Fast food outlets already offer free condiments to supplement meals. A free statin-containing accompaniment would offer cardiovascular benefits, opposite to the effects of equally available salt, sugar, and high-fat condiments” (American Journal of Cardiology 2010;106:587-592).
IGNORING NEW EVIDENCE
New evidence exonerating saturated fats as a cause of heart disease continues to accumulate. We have already reported on a meta-analysis that looked at almost three hundred fifty thousand subjects in twenty-one studies to assess the correlation between saturated fat consumption and cardiovascular disease. The conclusion: intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of heart disease or stroke (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 13, 2010). Likewise, a prospective study from Australia, which looked at adults over a period of fifteen years, found that people who ate the most full-fat dairy products had a 69 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death than those who ate the least; or, to put it another way, people who mostly avoided dairy foods or consumed lowfat dairy had more than three times the risk of dying of coronary heart disease or stroke compared to people who ate the most full-fat dairy (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 7 April 2010). Now we have a study out of Japan, The Japan Collaborative Cohort Study for Evaluation of Cancer Risk, which found that saturated fat intake was inversely associated with mortality from stroke (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 4, 2010). Another recent study found that a high-fat diet is just as effective as a high-carb diet for long-term weight loss, with better HDL-cholesterol (the so-called “good” cholesterol) levels among high-fat dieters (Annals of Internal Medicine, August 3, 2010 153:147-157). And researchers at Louisiana State University found that eating eggs for breakfast resulted in greater weight loss and better energy levels than eating two bagels even though the number of calories was about the same (The FASEB Journal 2007;21:538.1). But is the USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee listening? No, the gang of thirteen food Puritans is completely ignoring anything that conflicts with their lowfat agenda, specifically warning against nutritious high-fat foods like cheese and eggs.
BETTER THAN BUTTER?
Consumer attitudes can make or break a product, even an industry. That’s why the food industry keeps a sharp eye on what consumers are thinking, via surveys, polls and market testing techniques. The United Soybean Board has conducted a survey to assess consumer attitudes towards butter and margarine for the last seventeen years, until 2005 by telephone and since then online, with over one thousand consumers participating. The results of this year’s survey were announced at the Institute for Food Technology’s annual conference (sponsored by Kraft, Con Agra, Bunge, Tate & Lyle and numerous manufacturers of food ingredients), held in Chicago in July. This year about 48 percent of consumers said they consider butter to be healthier than margarine, because it is “more natural”—a result that must have the oil industry worried. However, when a margarine brand carries a health claim, 60 percent said they considered it healthier than butter. According to the United Soybean Board, this response indicates “an opportunity for margarine manufacturers to educate via product packaging.” Watch for a big push for more health claims for margarine and spreads. The butter versus margarine contest is not one the industry wants to lose (www.dairyreporter.com, July 22, 2010).
Over sixty years ago, Weston Price demonstrated the effects of processed foods on our teeth, noting that the foods of commerce displaced nutrient-dense native foods that kept our teeth in a good state of health. Price showed that cavities, infection and other dental problems were a sign of malnutrition, a concept that found wide acceptance, as illustrated by an early New Zealand health department announcement (right). Today, however, nutrition has taken a back seat to the germ theory. Modern dentists believe that when you eat a meal, the bacteria that help to digest the food and sugar left on your teeth and gums produce lactic acid, which breaks down tooth enamel and leads to cavities. This explanation begs the question of why some people get cavities while others don’t, since all of us have hundreds of species of bacteria in our mouths. Streptococcus mutans is considered the most cariogenic (promotes tooth decay) of these bacteria, and scientists are working on a genetically altered strain of Streptococcus mutans that prevents the natural strain from colonizing on the teeth (About.com.biology, February 10, 2000). What this mutated bacteria will do to our gut flora is anybody’s guess, but we’re predicting it will do nothing to reduce tooth decay.
AN INCONVENIENT MUTATION
Despite over 50 years of population-wide vaccination, whooping cough incidence is on the rise. Although Bordetella pertussis is considered the main causative agent of whooping cough in humans, another infection agent, called Bordetella parapertussis, is becoming more common. The widely used acellular whooping cough vaccines (aP) are comprised solely of B. pertussis antigens, which are not effective against B. parapertussis. Moreover, new research shows that aP vaccination clears B. pertussis but results in an approximately forty-fold increase in B. parapertussis lung colony-forming units (CFUs). Furthermore, aP vaccination impedes host immunity against B. parapertussis—measured as reduced lung inflammatory and neutrophil responses, indicating that widespread aP vaccination can create hosts more susceptible to B. parapertussis infection (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/277/1690/2017.abstract). In other words, Mother Nature bats last.
AT A PHARMACY NEAR YOU
But vaccinations are enormously profitable, not only for the drug companies that make them but also for those who administer them. Vaccine margins are 30-50 percent, assuming that the stores aren’t stuck with leftover vaccine, which can’t be returned. During this weak economy, when revenues from prescription sales have dropped, drugstores are pushing flu vaccinations earlier and harder than ever. CVS and Rite Aid have increased the number of pharmacists qualified to administer the shots, and are promoting them through TV commercials, in-store displays, Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, they are now offering flu shots before Labor Day, to catch the back-to-school crowd, rather than in October as in previous years. Overall, about 40 percent of the population older than six months received a seasonal flu vaccine last year, besting the previous high of 33 percent. The drugstore chains hope for even higher numbers with the new marketing strategy, betting that customers will stop in for a flu shot and also pick up some suntan lotion or school supplies (Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2010). Not mentioned in any of the glitzy promotional material for flu vaccines is the fact the every vaccine contains at least four neurotoxins: mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde and MSG. Those who get a flu vaccine five years in a row are ten times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease (Neurology 2004; 63: 838-842). Editor’s Note: An astute reader noticed this reference is incorrect. We have searched and are unable to find a correct reference for this.
CHINA STUDY REVISITED
Those of you who follow Chris Masterjohn’s blog on our website are familiar with the renewed debate on Colin Campbell’s book, The China Study, sparked by the brilliant analysis of Denise Minger (http://rawfoodsos.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/minger_formal_response2.pdf). Minger notes many flaws in the data and methodology Campbell uses to support his conclusion that plant-based diets are healthier than diets containing meat or dairy products. In his various responses to Minger’s analysis, in which Campbell refers to Minger as a “young girl” and the Weston A. Price Foundation as an “agricultural lobbying organization” with “untold amounts of financial resources,” he makes a very interesting statement: “I first inquired whether a collection of variables in the China survey. . . could consistently and internally support each of these biologically plausible models and, second, I determined whether the findings for each of these models were consistent with the overarching hypothesis that a whole food, plant-based diet promotes health” (http://rawfoodsos.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/minger_formal_response2.pdf). In other words, Campbell picked the data that supported his theory, rather than objectively analyzing the China survey and the scientific literature. He seems particularly averse to offending his fellow Whole Foods consultants Joel Fuhrman, Rip Esselstyn and John McDougal. Says Campbell: “No diet or any other medical strategy comes close to the benefits that can be achieved with a whole foods, plant based diet.”
BREAKTHROUGH FROM AMERICAN FAMILY PHYSICIANS
Yes, the organization called American Family Physicians has finally figured out what kinds of fats we should eat! Here we go—we are sure you have never heard such advice before. What a wonderful way to keep our physicians happy and prosperous! Note carefully the mixture of good advice with bad, the better to deceive the hapless consumer.
• Avoid fast foods that contain unhealthy trans fats.
• Don’t eat too much red meat. Instead, opt for leaner sources of protein such as fish, poultry and vegetables.
• Bake with canola oil, and cook and season with olive oil. Use olive oil to top a salad or in place of butter on bread.
• Avoid too many potato chips in favor of soy or peanuts without salt.
• Top a salad with avocado, nuts or garbanzo beans.
• In place of butter, opt for margarine that’s liquid or in a soft tub container. Choose margarine that is low in saturated fat and doesn’t contain trans fat.
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
What happens when our food is prepared by food engineers rather than cooks? We get “vegetarian protein options” made from soy. Soy protein-based meat analogs are showing up in the deli cases of stores like Whole Foods. The industry claims that “palatability has been improved with a high-moisture extrusion process.” Fu-Hung Hsieh, professor of biological engineering and food science at the University of Missouri, has been working for a number of years to produce a soy product that simulates the fibrous qualities of a chicken breast, rather than one that simply adds flavor and color to soy protein. And efforts are underway to turn peas, wheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes and algae into meatlike substances that can be promoted as “healthy” alternatives to meat and dairy (foodnavigator-usa.com, August 17, 2010).
NEW APPRECIATION FOR RAW MILK
Breast milk and the milk of other mammals contain a large fraction of indigestible sugars consisting of a lactose molecule onto which chains of other sugar units have been added. Humans lack the enzymes to break down these sugars, but they serve as the perfect foods for the bifido subspecies of bacteria, allowing this beneficial bug to thrive in the digestive tract of raw milk consumers. Researchers at the University of California Davis have found that in addition to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, these complex sugars serve as decoys for noxious bacteria. The sugars are very similar to those found on the surface of human cells, and are constructed in the breast by the same enzymes. Many toxic bacteria and viruses bind to human cells by docking with the surface sugars. The team has also found that the proteins in raw milk have special roles, one of which, called alpha-lactalbumin, can attack tumor cells and those infected by viruses by restoring their lost ability to commit cell suicide (New York Times, August 2, 2010). Spurred by these findings, the researchers urge all mothers to breast feed, but they stop short of the other obvious conclusion: the next-best thing to breast milk is raw milk from other species, not only for infants but for growing children and adults.
Insured Americans are using fewer medical services. Insurers, lab-testing companies, hospitals and doctor-billing companies report that patient visits, drug prescriptions and procedures are down in the second quarter from year-ago levels. Blaming a weak economy, health care officials have noted that “People just aren’t using health care like they have. Utilization is lower than we expected, and it’s unusual.” They are predicting that utilization of health care services will rise again as “Americans exhaust their deductibles and insurers start paying for services” (Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2010). Might there be another reason for the decline in operations and doctor visits? As a silver lining to the economic turndown, perhaps Americans are thinking more carefully about their health, and turning to diet and alternative treatment rather than expensive conventional care.
FDA to review the safety of mercury dental amalgam
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to review the safety of dental amalgam, which is 50 percent mercury, beginning with a public hearing on December 14 and 15. A final ruling is expected by mid 2011.
The FDA’s controversial 2009 Final Rule upholding the safety of dental amalgam sparked a public outcry and prompted several groups—dental professionals as well as citizens—to file legal petitions for reconsideration with the FDA.
According to FDA watchdog Jim Dickinson of www.fdaweb.com, the FDA appears ready to reverse itself this time. “They’re laying the groundwork to make a reversal appear legally consistent,” he said, referring to FDA’s interest in considering information previously overlooked as well as a 2009 report on risk assessment by the National Academy of Sciences. “It appears the agency is aware that it’s on the losing side, and as the scientific evidence grows, it’s time to move.”
On the other hand, “FDA hopes to defer to its dental products advisory panel, thus much depends on who gets named to the panel and whether they’re up to the job,” warned Jim Love, attorney for the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), an anti-mercury dental association sponsoring two of the four legal petitions.
Enough evidence exists to allow the FDA to ban amalgam, as Norway and Sweden have done. However, the FDA’s ruling on the petitions is unlikely to be an outright ban, since agencies don’t reverse themselves abruptly. The ruling may be a tiered approach involving some combination of warning, informed consent and ban, depending on patient risk group. Or, it could be a reclassification of amalgam, requiring additional scrutiny, which could eventually lead to a ban.
What you can do :
Send a comment to the FDA (“docket number FDA-2010-N-0268”) via the Internet, www.regulations.gov, or by mail: Division of Dockets Management, Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.
Points to include: Mercury is a neurotoxin, an oxidative catalyst and an enzyme disruptor. Mercury has been implicated in many diseases including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and autism. Chronic, low-dose poisons like mercury may be difficult to study, but that doesn’t make them safe. Since mercury is stored preferentially in the brain, total body burden cannot be measured except on autopsy. Mercury susceptibility appears to have a genetic component. Dental patients should be informed of the materials being implanted in their teeth. The decision on how much risk is acceptable can only be made by the patient, not the dentist.
Finally, report any adverse effects to the FDA if your health problems are attributable to dental amalgam: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/HowToReport/default.htm.