By Dr. Mercola
Your diet is one of, if not the most, powerful ally you have to help reduce your cancer risk. Countless natural compounds in a variety of whole foods and spices have anti-cancer properties, which is why eating a varied diet is so important.
Among the latest research is a study that found the consumption of magnesium-rich foods, in particular, may be a cancer-prevention strategy worth considering.
Magnesium May Lower Your Colon Cancer Risk
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors.1
Results from the meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-mg increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent. The researchers noted magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which may positively affect the development of tumors. They noted:
“The consumption of magnesium-rich foods may be a new avenue to explore further in the search for cancer-prevention strategies.”
Green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts and seeds, like almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. Avocados are also a good source.
Surveys suggest, however, that many Americans are not getting enough magnesium from their diet alone. As the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements states:2
" … dietary surveys suggest that many Americans do not get recommended amounts of magnesium … there is concern that many people may not have enough body stores of magnesium because dietary intake may not be high enough. Having enough body stores of magnesium may be protective against disorders such as cardiovascular disease and immune dysfunction."
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
In order to ensure you're getting enough, you first need to be sure you're eating a varied, whole-food diet like the one described in my nutrition plan. But there are other factors, too, that can make you more prone to magnesium deficiency, including:
- An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body's ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn's disease, leaky gut, etc.)
- Unhealthy kidneys, which contribute to excessive loss of magnesium in urine
- Diabetes, especially if it's poorly controlled, leading to increased magnesium loss in urine
- Alcoholism -- up to 60 percent of alcoholics have low blood levels of magnesium3
- Age -- older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption (see below)
- Certain medications -- diuretics, antibiotics and medications used to treat cancer can all result in magnesium deficiency
If any of these conditions apply to you, you may want to have your magnesium levels checked to ensure you're not deficient. However, most people can keep their levels in the healthy range by eating a varied diet, including plenty of dark-green leafy vegetables.
That said, the levels of magnesium in your food are dependent on the levels of magnesium in the soil where they're grown. Organic foods may have more magnesium, as most fertilizer used on conventional farms relies heavily on nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium instead of magnesium.
So ideally, eat plenty of organic leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds every day to keep your magnesium stores replenished. Green vegetable juice can also be beneficial. This is my personal strategy. I typically drink one pint to one quart of fresh green vegetable juice every day, and it is one of my primary sources of magnesium. If you were interested in using supplements most likely magnesium threonate is one of the best sources of magnesium, as it seems to penetrate cell membranes, including the mitochondria, which results in higher energy levels. Additionally it also penetrates the blood-brain barrier and seems to do wonders to treat and prevent dementia and improve memory.
Why Don’t We Hear More About the Cancer-Preventive Properties of Natural Substances?
The healing, restorative power of natural substances like vegetables has been researched and known for some time, but remains largely obscured and overshadowed by the massive marketing of pharmaceutical drugs, which focus on toxic chemotherapy, radiation and surgery for cancer treatment.
This may be precisely why nearly everyone reading this is familiar with chemo, but a far smaller percentage will be aware of these safe, natural and potentially ground-breaking cancer treatments that receive precious little, if any, media attention:
- Curcumin, the most active component in the curry spice turmeric. Among all nutrients, curcumin has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer. Researchers have found that curcumin can affect more than 100 different pathways, once it gets into a cell.
- Cream containing eggplant extract, known as BEC and BEC5, which appears to eliminate most non-melanoma skin cancers in several weeks time.
- Vitamin D: optimizing your skin's natural production of vitamin D from safe sun exposure is important for cancer prevention and treatment. Vitamin D increases the programmed self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer), reduces the spread and reproduction of cancer cells, causes cells to become differentiated (cancer cells usually lack differentiation), and reduces the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous.
There are, in fact, over 600 natural substances, many of them in food, that have shown promise in treating and/or preventing cancer – even multidrug resistant forms of malignancy.4 This includes compounds in garlic, berries, coffee, sprouts, mushrooms, black pepper and much, much more – the list is incredibly diverse, which is why a varied diet is also one of the best ways to "cover your bases" for cancer protection.
How Chemotherapy Backfires and Boosts Cancer Growth
One of the first-line treatment protocols for people with cancer is chemotherapy, a strategy that is supposed to work by chemically killing cancer tumor cells, or at the least stopping them from dividing. One of the drawbacks of chemotherapy has always been that healthy cells are damaged or destroyed right alongside the cancerous ones. But new research shows that the healthy cells also suffer a type of DNA damage after treatment that actually boosts cancer cell survival.
Researchers determined that chemotherapy resulted in an up to 30-fold increase in WNT production, which is a family of proteins that includes WNT16B – which helps cancer cells to grow and invade surrounding tissue.
The findings―which scientists said were “completely unexpected”―helps explain why tumor cells that initially respond well to chemotherapy later become resistant to it, and even grow faster between treatments.
A sad reminder of what is wrong with conventional cancer treatment recently made headlines when Batman star Christian Bale flew a 4-year-old boy with cancer to Disneyland. The boy was originally battling bone cancer, which was treated with chemotherapy. The chemo then caused a second, different form of cancer known as MDS leukemia, which attacked his blood and bone marrow.5 When the treatments used to fight cancer are so toxic they are capable of causing the very same disease, or worse … what, then, is the point?
If you think chemo is your only option, that's because the system is set up this way. The cancer industry has become a massive for-profit business that is doing everything in its power to maintain the status quo. It is, quite simply, not interested in truly reducing cancer rates; it's interested in treating cancer by suppressing its gross symptoms, e.g. tumor size, while often driving the surviving cancer cells into greater malignancy, ensuring it will recur with a vengeance years later.
Surely we can do better than this.
Cancer Prevention Strategies to Start Today
The best way to avoid the pitfalls of modern medicine, especially dangerous drugs like chemo, is to modify your lifestyle. Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your health, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. There is no question that this is an absolute necessity if you want to avoid diseases like cancer. That means modifying your diet to avoid excessive amounts of fructose, grains, and other pro-inflammatory ingredients like trans fats, and exercising regularly. These additional strategies can further help you stay healthy and cancer-free:
- Optimize your vitamin D levels to between 50 and 70 ng/ml.
- Get appropriate amounts of animal-based omega-3 fats
- Get most of your antioxidants from foods – Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
- Eat fresh organic vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables in particular have been identified as having strong anti-cancer properties.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms, like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is a major longevity-promoting factor.
- Maintain an ideal body weight
- Get appropriate amounts of high-quality sleep.
- Reduce your use of cell phones and other wireless technologies, and implement as many safety strategies as possible if/when you cannot avoid their use.
- Boil, poach or steam your foods, rather than frying or charbroiling them. Better yet eat as many of your foods raw as you can.
Can Celery Be Useful to Treat Breast Cancer?
This New Drug Appears to Cause Cancer Cells to Self-Destruct
By Dr. Mercola
Is the Western toilet in part responsible for problems like hemorrhoids, constipation, IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), appendicitis, and even heart attacks?
If you examine the data, there is a great deal of evidence this is true. The modern toilet has required us to change the position we use to evacuate our bowels, which changes the anatomy of… well, a poop, to put it bluntly.
Infants instinctively squat to defecate, as does the majority of the world's population. But somehow the West was convinced that sitting is more civilized.
Sitting on the modern Thomas Crapper-style sit-down toilet is designed to place your knees at a 90-degree angle to your abdomen. However, the time-honored natural squat position places the knees much closer to your torso, and this position actually changes the spacial relationships of your intestinal organs and musculature, optimizing the forces involved in defecation.1
Sitting to evacuate your bowel requires you to apply additional force (straining), which has some unwanted biological effects, including a temporary disruption in cardiac flow.
Can the Toilet Be Blamed for Increasing Rates of Colon and Pelvic Disease?
Squatting is the way our ancestors performed their bodily functions until the middle of the 19th Century. Chair-like toilets were reserved for the royals and the disabled. But the "progress" of westernized societies may be partly to blame for higher rates of colon and pelvic disease, as described by a report in the Israel Journal of Medical Science:2
"The prevalences of bowel diseases (hemorrhoids, appendicitis, polyps, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and colon cancer) are similar in South African whites and in populations of prosperous western countries. Among rural South African blacks with a traditional life style, these diseases are very uncommon or almost unknown."
As globalization continues to make its way across the world, squat toilets are being converted to sitters. For example, Thailand's Health Ministry just announced it will replace squat toilets with the sit-down varieties at all public facilities.3 This may be a bad thing for public health, as a wide range of health problems have been associated with the transition from squatting to sitting. In fact, health problems potentially stemming from the sitting position include the 15 outlined in the following table.
Appendicitis Constipation Hemorrhoids Incontinence Colitis Crohn's Disease Diverticulitis Contamination of the Small Intestine Gynecological Disorders, including Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Uterine Fibroids Colon Cancer Hiatal Hernia and GERD Pregnancy and Childbirth Prostate Disorders Sexual Dysfunction Reduced Risk of Cardiac Events
The Straight Poop
Evidence suggests bowel and pelvic problems may be related to improper potty posture. Only with the traditional squat position is your body aligned in a way that promotes complete bowel emptying. As you can see from the diagram, squatting actually straightens and relaxes your rectum.
Reference: Tagart REB. The Anal Canal and Rectum: Their Varying Relationship and Its Effect on Anal Continence, Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 1966: 9, 449-452.
According to Jonathan Isbit of Nature's Platform:
"For safety, nature has deliberately created obstacles to evacuation that can only be removed by squatting. In any other position, the colon defaults to 'continence mode.' This is why the conventional sitting position deprives the colon of support from the thighs and leaves the rectum choked by the puborectalis muscle.These obstacles make elimination difficult and incomplete – like trying to drive a car without releasing the parking brake.
Chronically incomplete evacuation, combined with the constant extraction of water, causes wastes to adhere to the colon wall. The passageway becomes increasingly constricted and the cells start to suffocate. Prolonged exposure to toxins will often trigger malignant mutations."
He goes on to explain how the kink where your sigmoid joins your rectum (refer to the colon diagram above) serves an important function in continence. It "applies the brakes" to the flow of peristalsis, reducing the pressure on your puborectalis muscle. According to Isbit's article, squatting offers seven advantages:
Makes elimination faster, easier and more complete. This helps prevent "fecal stagnation," a prime factor in colon cancer, appendicitis and IBD Protects the nerves that control the prostate, bladder and uterus from becoming stretched and damaged Securely seals the ileocecal valve, between the colon and the small intestine; in the conventional sitting position, this valve is unsupported and often leaks during evacuation, contaminating the small intestine Relaxes the puborectalis muscle which normally chokes the rectum in order to maintain continence Uses the thighs to support the colon and prevent straining. Chronic straining on the toilet can cause hernias, diverticulosis, and pelvic organ prolapse A highly effective, non-invasive treatment for hemorrhoids, as shown by published clinical research For pregnant women, squatting avoids pressure on the uterus when using the toilet; daily squatting helps prepare pregnant women for a more natural delivery
Two common problems are hemorrhoids and constipation. Unfortunately, many people needlessly suffer because they are too embarrassed to broach the topic with their healthcare providers. Fortunately, these all-too-common problems can be resolved with similar strategies because they share the same causative factors, including the typical Western diet, inadequate exercise, chronic dehydration, and stress. Surveys suggest that, in westernized countries, as much as half the population over age 40 may suffer from hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are veins in the wall of your rectum and anus that have become twisted, swollen and inflamed. They can form either internally or externally, and the resulting lumps can cause pain and bleeding.
Hemorrhoids are most often created by an increase in pressure, usually from straining to have a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids are common in people with chronic digestive disturbances – especially constipation. They are also seen in the elderly, and during pregnancy. If you're pregnant, the additional pressure your growing baby places on your uterus can result in hemorrhoids. Childbirth can increase the problem, but fortunately, most hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy resolve after delivery.
There is research casting doubt on the theory that hemorrhoids are caused by insufficient dietary fiber, but instead by other factors such as the loss of the "ancestral diet," and the straining associated with defecating from a sitting position.4
Dr. Berko Sikirov, an Israeli physician who studied the health effects of squatting for elimination, found that hemorrhoids were virtually eliminated when hemorrhoid sufferers switched their toileting position from sitting to squatting.5 Sikirov concluded hemorrhoids result from continual aggravation and injury from excessive straining by defecating in the sitting position. Straining is necessary to overcome the constriction in the rectum designed to maintain continence.
To prevent hemorrhoids, you should also stay hydrated with adequate water daily, seek to control your emotional stress, and get plenty of exercise. Make sure your diet includes plenty of probiotics, such as those present in traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, which are important for maintaining optimal intestinal flora. For a complete discussion of hemorrhoid prevention and treatment, refer to my earlier article on this topic.
Occasionally a deficiency of bioflavonoids allow blood vessels to break easier and if this is the case a supplement called rutin is particularly helpful at correcting. If you bruise easily this is a strong suggestion that you would benefit from taking rutin.
Natural Constipation Relief Strategies
Constipation and hemorrhoids are two sides of the same coin. Your risk for hemorrhoids increases greatly if you have recurring episodes of constipation. One of the biggest hindrances to your success may be not realizing you're constipated in the first place. Regular bowel movements are extremely important for your health because, without them, toxins accumulate and are recirculated in your bloodstream. If elimination is not regular and complete, the wastes will dry and become cemented to the walls of your colon.
Constipation has been shown to increase your risk of colon cancer and has been implicated in diverticulosis and appendicitis. The cumulative lifetime use of commercial laxatives has been associated with increased risk of colon cancer.6
Conventional medicine typically defines constipation as fewer than two or three bowel movements a week. But you should really be having one bowel movement a day, and preferably two or three. So if you are having less than one bowel movement per day, you should take steps to increase them. Some of the common causes of constipation include laxative abuse, hypothyroidism, IBD, and ignoring the urge to go. If you consistently ignore the urge to have a bowel movement – for instance, to avoid using a public toilet – eventually you may stop feeling the urge.
Laxatives are NOT a good option as your body may become dependent on them. Laxatives may decrease your colon's ability to contract and can even eventually damage your large intestine's nerves, muscles, and other tissues. This applies to both pharmaceutical laxatives, as well as herbs like cascara. Fortunately, although constipation is very common, it is also usually temporary and relatively easy to resolve – without resorting to laxatives. Squatting is one of the best interventions, preventing constipation in four ways:
- Gravity does most of the work. The weight of the torso presses against the thighs and naturally compresses the colon. Gentle pressure from the diaphragm supplements the force of gravity.
- The ileocecal valve, between the colon and the small intestine, is properly sealed, allowing the colon to be fully pressurized. The pressure creates a natural laxative effect. In the sitting position the IC valve is unsupported and tends to leak, making it difficult to generate the required pressure.
- Squatting relaxes the puborectalis muscle, which normally chokes the rectum to maintain continence.
- Squatting lifts the sigmoid colon to unlock the "kink" at the entrance to the rectum. This kink also helps prevent incontinence, by taking some of the pressure off the puborectalis muscle.
Preventing and treating constipation is very similar to preventing and treating hemorrhoids. Pay attention to your diet, exercise, hydration and stress level. Consume probiotic-rich foods and possibly add a probiotic supplement.
Chia and organic psyllium are excellent sources of soluble and insoluble fiber, aloe vera and magnesium supplements can also be useful tools to speed up your bowel movements.
For a complete discussion of constipation prevention and treatment, refer to my earlier article on this topic.
Are You Ready to Assume the Position?
The scientific benefits of squatting have sparked efforts to design devices that help would-be squatters to return to a more natural pooping position. However, if you've been using a sit-down toilet your entire life and haven't squatted since childhood, squatting may present somewhat of a physical challenge – to say the least!
Various devices have appeared in the marketplace to assist with this problem, such as the Squatty Potty, developed by Robert Edwards, a 37 year-old contractor and designer in Utah who sought a way to help his mother relieve her problems with constipation and hemorrhoids.7 You may wish to check out some of these contraptions on the Internet.8 Squatting involves strength and flexibility that adults tend to lose over time, but children have naturally. These devices – special toilets and stools that get your body into a more "squatty" position – may help you get closer to the ideal.
Another advantage of squatting? Killer thighs. Nothing builds your thighs like a squat. Adding some squats at the gym will undoubtedly help you with your squats in the bathroom!
Your Appendix is Useful After All
A Simple Solution to World Health Issues: Toilets
By Dr. Mercola
If you believe all the negative hype on tanning beds that's going around lately, you'll run the other way instead of enjoying this easy and pleasurable way to get some vitamin D. But Dr. William Grant of the Vitamin D Council has taken a closer look at the claims that sunbeds can cause melanoma – and an untimely death – and found that the observational studies showing tanning booths are harmful didn't consider many of the confounding factors for melanoma risk, such as:
- Skin type
- Solar UV exposure
- Type of UV lamp
Additionally, he points out that observational studies are not generally accepted by the health or medical community as proof of cause. In fact, he says, "many of the same authors largely rejected observational studies of beneficial effects of vitamin D in reducing risk of cancer, although allowed that findings for colon cancer were reasonably strong."
A Closer Look at Tanning Beds and Melanoma Risk
A study published in the July issue of the British Medical Journal1 estimates that sunbed use in 18 European countries accounts for nearly 2,000 cases of melanoma per year for men and just over 2,340 cases per year for women in 2008. The authors claim your risk of melanoma doubles if you begin using a sunbed before the age of 35. But according to Dr. Grant:
"A more important question in melanoma risk is death from melanoma. The mortality rate can be estimated by the ratio of melanoma deaths to cases in the 27 countries of the European Union, available from GLOBOCAN. Assuming that the EU-18 used... account for 71 percent of both cases and deaths, there would be 186 melanoma deaths for men and 304 deaths for women in 2008.
Any evaluation of whether something should be used should also estimate benefit. This was not done...
Sunbeds are a good source of vitamin D, producing at least 10,000 IU in a single session. There are about 15 types of cancer for which solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiance has been found inversely correlated with incidence or mortality rate in ecological studies. Vitamin D production is the only mechanism suggested to explain the findings."
He goes on to discuss how one can estimate the benefits of reducing the risk of internal cancers with the use of tanning beds. Citing a 2010 Swedish study2 that investigated the relation between prediagnostic vitamin D levels and incidence of breast, colorectal, and other cancers, Dr. Grant claims the benefit-to-risk ratio based on overall cancer deaths to melanoma cancer deaths is 47 to 1 for men and 37 to 1 for women.
"Since there are many other health benefits of vitamin D, the overall benefit-to-risk ratios are much higher," he writes. "There have been several papers reporting health benefits of sunbed use including higher bone mass density, reduced risk of thrombotic events, and reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
It should also be noted that the role of UV in risk of melanoma is complex. Those who have chronic UV exposure do not have higher risk of melanoma than others. Solar UVB light is the primary source of vitamin D for most people. In winter at high latitudes, it is impossible to make vitamin D from solar UVB. One source for vitamin D in winter is artificial UVB as from sunbeds..."
Interestingly, another meta-analysis that didn't get any traction in the mainstream press was published in the April issue of Public Health Nutrition.3 It states quite succinctly:
"The literature was searched in the electronic database MEDLINE to indentify published data between 1981 and 2011. Studies were included if they reported relative risk for cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) associated with sunbed use, vitamin D and UV effects on human health. UV from sun and sunbeds is the main vitamin D source. Young people with white or pigmented skin in northern Europe have a low vitamin D status. A number of health benefits from sufficient levels of vitamin D have been identified. However, UV exposure has been suspected of causing skin cancer, notably CMM, and authorities warn against it.
Conclusions: The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure. Important scientific facts behind this judgement are given."
Optimizing Your Vitamin D Levels Can Cut Your Internal Cancer Risk IN HALF
As Dr. Grant and the Public Health Nutrition review concluded, the dramatic reduction in overall cancer risk, along with all the multi-varied health benefits associated with improved vitamin D status, more than makes up for any potential increase in melanoma risk when using a tanning bed. Again, the benefit-to-risk ratio of reducing your risk of dying from any particular type of cancer, compared to your risk of dying from melanoma could likely be anywhere from 37 to 47 to 1 according to Dr. Grant.
According to the authors of that Swedish study Dr. Grant cited above:4
"These analyses estimated that the 50 percent reduction in incidence occurs for a value of 78 nmol/L [31 ng/ml] compared with the value at 24 nmol/L [10 ng/ml] for breast cancer, and a value of 60 nmol/L [24 ng/ml] compared with the value at 15 nmol/L [6 ng/ml] for colorectal cancer."
A rather voluminous amount of research now attests to the protective effect of vitamin D against at least 16 different types of cancer, and as stated above, normalizing your vitamin D levels can cut your internal cancer risk IN HALF! And that's just by raising your levels up to the 30 ng/ml range, which is still believed to be a deficiency state by most vitamin D experts. Ideally, you want your vitamin D levels in the 50-70 ng/ml range, and even upwards of 100 ng/ml if you have or are seeking to prevent cancer or heart disease.
Sensible Sunlight Actually Protects Against Melanoma
Another important factor to remember is that exposure to UVB light is actually protective against melanoma – or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. As written in The Lancet:5
"Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect."
Another study in Medical Hypotheses6 suggested that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they're exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass. At the same time, these indoor workers, who get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers, are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D. The study even noted that indoor UV actually breaks down vitamin D3 formed after outdoor UVB exposure, which would therefore make vitamin D3 deficiency and melanoma risk even worse. A number of associations between regular sun exposure and decreased melanoma risk can be found in the medical literature. For example:
- Occupational exposure, such as farmers and fishermen, and regular weekend sun exposure are associated with decreased risk of melanoma
- Sun exposure appears to protect against melanoma on skin sites not exposed to sun light, and melanoma occurring on skin with large UV exposure has the best prognosis
- Patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D have thinner melanoma and better survival prognosis than those with the lowest vitamin D levels
Beneficial Health Effects of UV Radiation Besides Vitamin D Production
While discussions about the health benefits from sun exposure typically center around vitamin D, which your skin produces in response to UVB rays, UVB exposure actually has a number of other health effects unrelated to vitamin D production – whether it's from the sun or a safe tanning bed.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation affects a number of other pathways. For example, UV exposure can help improve your mood through the release of endorphins, and may even help reduce fibromyalgia pain. Several skin diseases can be treated with sun exposure or phototherapy, i.e. the use of a tanning bed, including:
- Atopic dermatitis
Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can also be suppressed with UV exposure, independent of vitamin D synthesis (which is also beneficial for MS. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be a contributing factor in nearly 60 percent of MS cases). Additionally, UVA radiation, which is generally more harmful in terms of its potential to cause skin cancer, is not entirely without merit. For example, UVA's generate nitric oxide (NO), which can help reduce blood pressure and has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, in addition to having an antimicrobial effect.7
UV Radiation has Long History of Use as Treatment of Disease
According to a recent article in Dermato-Endocrinology:8
"Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation has been used since ancient times to treat various diseases. This has a scientific background in the fact that a large number of molecules (chromophores) in different layers of the skin interacts with and absorbs UV.
...Phototherapy is a valuable option in the treatment of many psoriatic and nonpsoriatic conditions, including atopic dermatitis, sclerosing skin conditions such as morphea, scleroderma, vitiligo, and mycosis fungoides. Phototherapy is the treatment of certain skin disorders with UV radiation which can be produced by the sun, fluorescent lamps, short arc lamps with UV filters and lasers.
Depending on the shape of the spectrum of radiation emitted by the source, phototherapy can be divided into broadband UVB (290-320 nm), narrow band UVB (310-315 nm), monochromatic UVB (308 nm from an excimer laser), broadband UVA (320-400 nm) and UVA-1 (340-400 nm).
...Traditionally, broadband UVB phototherapy has been used to treat psoriasis, which is an inflammatory skin disease, characterized by keratinocyte hyperproliferation with 1-2 percent prevalence in the general population. However, now more often narrowband UVB or monochromatic UVB are used for the clearance of psoriasis. Narrow-band UVB clears psoriasis faster and produces longer remissions than broadband UVB. Action spectra for UV-induced erythema, DNA damage, photoimmunesuppression, squamous cell carcinoma and vitamin D synthesis are very similar, all in the UVB spectral region of 280-310 nm.
Narrowband UVB do not contain the most erythemogenic and carcinogenic wavelengths.
...Sunbathing or tanning beds seem to have a potential to reduce pain in patients with fibromyalgia. Patients with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia have reported a greater short-term decrease in pain after exposure to UV compared with non-UV radiation exposure..." [Emphasis mine]
Another article written by Richard J. Wurtman9, while older, still contains a lot of interesting information about the health benefits of sunlight, and is well worth a read-through. He rightfully points out the role of sunlight on synchronizing the hormonal rhythms of your body. Melatonin, for example, which is synthesized by your pineal gland, is profoundly affected by light and dark, and proper exposure to bright sun during the day is important for maintaining your internal rhythm. Melatonin, as you may recall, is also a potent antioxidant with cancer-fighting properties, so please do not underestimate the importance of daily UV exposure – as well as the avoidance of artificial light after sunset.
What Makes for a Safe Tanning Session?
There are two primary concerns with tanning beds that you need to be aware of:
- UV dose. The FDA uses a unit called "one erythemal dose" as a means of calibration for the indoor tanning industry – which is just a fancy word for one tanning session. One erythemal dose equates to the amount of time it takes for a tanning device to produce erythema (slight pinkening of the average person's skin), and this erythema indicates you have achieved a safe dose of UV – which translates to an optimal dose of vitamin D.
However, keep in mind that the erythemal dose can differ for each person based on skin type and strength of lamps – just as a safe "dose" of sunshine differs for people based on their skin type, geographic location, and time of day. Start with the lowest recommended dose (time) to avoid getting burned, especially if you are light skinned.
The FDA also makes recommendations about how often you should receive a dose, stating you should wait 24-48 hours between tanning sessions. The reason for this is that it takes at least 24 hours for the erythema to go away.
The FDA's exposure schedule can be described as CONTROLLED SUNSHINE, making it a very safe way to receive the benefits of the sun while indoors. Once you have a base tan, you can then enjoy more time in the sun without burning, and in that respect, you receive some protection that you would not otherwise have.
- EMF exposure. Most tanning equipment use magnetic ballasts to generate light. These magnetic ballasts are well known sources of EMF fields that can contribute to cancer. If you hear a loud buzzing noise while in a tanning bed, it has a magnetic ballast system. I strongly recommend you avoid these types of beds and restrict your use of tanning beds to those that use electronic ballasts.
Why Does Sun Exposure Get so Much Negative Press?
The negative press about sun exposure and tanning is more than simple ignorance or lack of education on the part of government agencies and scientists. The truth is out there to be found, for those who want to find it. It again boils down to blatant greed. Multi-million-dollar corporations enjoy enormous profits from the products they sell to allay your fears. They create the fear so that they can sell you their solution:
- Suntan lotions and creams
- Sunless bronzers
- Moisturizers with SPF
- Sun-protective clothing
- Anti-aging skin care
Think about how the ads for these products abound in winter and early spring when people worldwide flock to sunny climates for long-awaited vacations. This is the peak season for indoor tanning as well, and the market forces take full advantage. Consider the money to be made in a pairing between suntan lotion manufacturers and the travel industry – airlines, cruise lines, and the like.
Big Industry knows you will never give up your sunshine, and they've learned how to capitalize on it by creating a "sun-phobia" – with a lot of help from Big Pharma and the AMA.
It's all about the money.
By Dr. Mercola
More than 1.5 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
To put it simply, IBD is an autoimmune condition that involves inflammation in your digestive tract that can cause cramps, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and other potentially serious complications in your intestines, along with increasing your risk of colon cancer.
Because IBD can be extremely painful, debilitating and even life threatening, many IBD patients wind up having extensive sections of their colon removed to address the problem when conventional therapies fail -- and this can result in devastating and life-threatening complications.
The goal of most IBD treatment, whether conventional or holistic, is to suppress the inflammation that is leading to the damaging symptoms -- and new research suggests krill oil may be effective at doing just that.
Krill Oil Shows Promise for Treating IBD
New animal research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found dietary supplementation with krill oil offered several protective effects against inflammatory bowel disease, including a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress, and preservation of colon length.1
The study suggests that krill oil has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit patients with IBD -- findings that have been reported before. The omega-3 fats in krill oil, EPA and DHA, play an important role in inflammation; they produce compounds called resolvins and protectins, which help quell inflammation before it can do too much damage to your tissues.
For instance, resolvins may control inflammation by stopping the passage of inflammatory cells to inflammation sites, and turning on other inflammatory cells.2 Several studies have been published on the remarkable effectiveness of krill oil in combating inflammation-related disorders like IBD, arthritis and others.
Three notable ones are:
- A 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition investigated krill oil's ability to reduce inflammation. Researchers found that 300 mg krill oil per day significantly reduced inflammation, pain, stiffness and functional impairment after just 7 days, and even more profoundly after 14 days.3
- A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2005 showed similar findings with respect to reducing inflammation and arthritis symptoms, for both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis sufferers.4
- In 2010, a Swiss animal study provided even more confirmation about krill oil's anti-inflammatory properties. Mice consuming krill oil showed less joint inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis than did the control group.5
Other research showed a 14 percent reduction in the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) -- a compound that promotes inflammation -- among medical students taking an omega-3 supplement.6 And yet another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that women with the highest intake of omega-3 fats had a 44 percent reduced risk of dying from inflammatory disease compared with women with the lowest intake.7 Omega-3 fats have also been shown to reduce T-cell-mediated inflammation8, in part, by suppressing T-cell (a key immune system white blood cell) activation and proliferation.
Krill Oil Contains Astaxanthin -- The Anti-Inflammatory Nutrient
Aside from the omega-3 fats, krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid produced only by the microalgae Haematoccous pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. It's the algae's survival mechanism -- astaxanthin serves as a "force field" to protect the algae from lack of nutrition and/or intense sunlight.
There are only two main sources of astaxanthin?the microalgae that produce it, and the sea creatures that consume the algae (such as salmon, shellfish, and krill). Not only does natural astaxanthin carry potent antioxidant abilities, but as it turns out, it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Astaxanthin suppresses a wide variety of inflammatory mediators?including tumor necrosis factor alpha, a major prostaglandin and a major interleukin, nitric oxide, COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Although it may take longer to produce noticeable effects than anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs, it doesn't result in the same dangerous side effects.9 On the contrary, it has a wide range of "side benefits." Research indicates it may be of therapeutic value in as many as 100 health conditions, as well as having close to 50 different beneficial pharmacological actions.10 Could the natural presence of astaxanthin in krill oil be one of the factors, in addition to the phospholipids, as to why it is absorbed more effectively, is easier on the stomach and has superior health properties than fish oil?
Why Krill Oil may be a Better Choice Than Fish Oil
Many experts, including Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon11, author12, talk show host, and commentator for The Dr. Oz Show13, have made the switch from fish oil to krill oil, as research suggests it is the superior choice for high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. The primary drawback with fish oil is its susceptibility to oxidation (rancidity), which can occur at any point during the processing, or after you open the bottle. Omega-3 fats are extremely fragile and are prone to be damaged by oxygen, which can radically reduce their health benefits and even make them damaging to your body.
Dr. Moerck, an expert on omega-3 fats, explains:
"There are a number of ways in which fish oil can be processed. One is by just simply squeezing the fish -- in some cases with cod liver oil to actually remove the livers from the cod -- and then remove the oil from those by classical mechanical techniques. In some cases, to get the last few ounces of oil out of the fish, they use solvents, or they use fish oil as a solvent by taking fish oil that's already been processed, using it as an extraction method to get more fish oil out. Every time fish oil is subjected to contact with oxygen, however, it starts going rancid. It starts oxidizing."
This is important to realize, because taking a cheap, poor-quality, rancid fish oil will do you more harm than good, and Dr. Moerck estimates that 25-50 percent of fish oils on the market are rancid. At least one study has determined that adding the antioxidant astaxanthin to fish oil reduces its susceptibility to oxidation while making its immunomodulatory properties more potent. This is the precise reason why I have been recommending you get your omega-3 fats from krill oil instead of fish oil, because it has astaxanthin already built in and is therefore far less susceptible to oxidation!
Aside from the astaxanthin, krill oil offers other benefits over fish oil as well. Two studies illustrated the superior benefits of krill oil over fish oil. The first study, published in January, found that the metabolic effects of the two oils are "essentially similar," but that krill oil is as effective as fish oil despite the fact that it contains less EPA and DHA.14 This finding corresponds with unpublished data suggesting that krill oil is absorbed up to 10-15 times as well as fish oil, which would explain this discrepancy.
But what makes it that much more absorbable? In a nutshell, it has to do with its molecular composition.15
Fish oil is in a triglyceride molecule that has to be broken down in your gut to its base fatty acids of DHA and EPA. About 80-85 percent is never absorbed and is eliminated in your intestine (this is why fish oil can cause you to experience burp back and why about half of all people cannot tolerate fish oil). Then once the fatty acids are absorbed into your bloodstream, your liver has to attach it to phoshphatidyl choline for it to be used by your body.
The amazing beauty of krill is that it is already in the correct, phosphatidyl choline-bound form in the capsule, so your body uses virtually 100 percent of it. Unlike fish oil it contains 69 different phospholipids, 9 of which are omega-3 fatty acid bound. Phospholipids can act as emulsifiers, enabling oils to form a colloid with water, basically enhancing the absorption and transport of the fats to which they are bound.16
According to an article in Functional Nutrition, krill oil typically provides 14 percent EPA and DHA, along with 0.2 percent naturally occurring astaxanthin.17 Fish oil typically provides 30 percent EPA and DHA. At first glance, it may appear as though fish oil is better simply because it contains a higher ratio of omega-3 fats. However, krill oil is far more efficiently utilized, for the reasons stated above so you actually need far less.
A Natural Approach for Improving Inflammatory Bowel Disease
If you struggle with IBD, it's essential that you take steps to decrease the chronic inflammation wreaking havoc in your body, and you should know that some of the greatest contributors to chronic inflammation are lifestyle factors like smoking, a diet high in sugar, fried foods and trans fats, inadequate exercise, stress, and vitamin D deficiency. So, if you have IBD the first place to start getting the disease under control lies in addressing these underlying factors. If you have IBD, I urge you to:
- Take a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat supplement like krill oil, for the anti-inflammatory benefits noted above. If you're already taking a plant-based omega-3 such as flax, know that it will not work as well, as your body needs the preformed omega-3 fat DHA to have a serious impact on this disease -- not the omega-3 ALA found in flax.
- Avoid all types of sugars, particularly fructose, as these will increase inflammation by increasing your insulin levels.
- Also avoid grains until your symptoms are under control. Many with inflammatory bowel disease have gluten sensitivities. Additionally, the grains tend to increase insulin levels, promoting inflammation.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Inflammatory bowel disease may be caused or exacerbated by the regular consumption of the popular artificial sweetener Splenda, as it inactivates digestive enzymes and alters gut barrier function.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D appears to be nearly as effective as animal-based omega-3 fats in countering IBD. One of the reasons that vitamin D may work is that it helps your body produce over 200 anti-microbial peptides that help fight all sorts of infections, and there are many experts who believe inflammatory bowel disease has an infectious component.
- Get plenty of beneficial bacteria either through fermented foods or probiotics in your diet, as this will help to heal your intestinal tract. You can do this by regularly consuming traditionally fermented foods, or taking a high-quality probiotic supplement. This is another extremely important strategy, as research presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, by researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland, showed that people with inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis who took the probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis for eight weeks had lower levels of inflammation than those taking a placebo.18
- Consider using an herbal anti-inflammatory. A solid body of clinical research indicates that the spice turmeric, and its primary polyphenol known as curcumin, as well as Ayurvedic herb boswellia, may provide far superior therapeutic outcomes and safety profiles, as compared to conventional drugs, in the treatment of IBD.19
Another option to improve the makeup of bacteria in your gut, the fecal transplant, is also proving to be quite effective. A fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) involves taking donor feces (the donor is typically a spouse or relative) and basically transferring it to the patient during a colonoscopy. The benefit? The patient receives a transplanted population of healthy flora that can go to work correcting any number of gastrointestinal and other health problems.
Research has found the transplants showed promise in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, with symptoms improving in days to weeks. So if your symptoms do not improve after taking the steps outlined above, this is another option to consider that is far less invasive than surgery, and with far fewer side effects than drugs.
- 1 Dietary Supplementation of Krill Oil Attenuates Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Experimental Ulcerative Colitis in Rats, Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, November 30, 2011: 47(1); 49-58, T. Grimstad, et al.
- 2 Stereochemical Assignment, Antiinflammatory Properties, and Receptor for the Omega-3 Lipid Mediator Resolving E1, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, March 7, 2005: 201(5); 713-722, Makoto Arita, et al.
- 3 Evaluation of the Effect of Neptune Krill Oil on Chronic Inflammation and Arthritic Symptoms, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, February 2007: 26(1); 39-48, Deutsch L.
- 4 Krill Oil Reduces Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation and Arthritis, American Journal of Gastroenterology, December 2005: 100(12); 2674-80, Luisa Deutsch.
- 5 Supplementation of Diet with Krill Oil Protects Against Experimental Rheumatoid Arthritis, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, June 29, 2010: 11; 136, Michelle Ierna, et al.
- 6 Omega-3 Supplementation Lowers Inflammation and Anxiety in Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, November 2011: 25(8); 1725-34, J. K. Kiecolt-Glaser, et al.
- 7 Consumption of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids, Fish, and Nuts and Risk of Inflammatory Disease Mortality, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2011: 93(5); 1073-1079, Bamini Gopinath, et al.
- 8 Effects of Dietary N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on T-cell Membrane Composition and Function, Lipids, December 2004: 39 (12); 1163-70, Switzer KC, et al.
- 9 Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), GreenMedInfo.com.
- 10 Astaxanthin, GreenMedInfo.com.
- 11 Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Wikipedia.
- 12 Author, Wikipedia.
- 13 The Dr. Oz Show, Wikipedia.
- 14 Metabolic Effects of Krill Oil are Essentially Similar to Those of Fish Oil but at Lower Dose of EPA and DHA, in Healthy Volunteers, Lipids, January 2011: 46 (1); 37-46, S. M. Ulven, et al.
- 15 Intestinal Digestion of Fish Oils and ?-3 Concentrates Under In Vitro Conditions, European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology, December 2010: 112 (12); 1315-1322, Diana Martin, et al.
- 16 Krill Composition Study: There are a Total of 69 Choline-containing Phospholipids in Krill, Seven with Probable Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Lipids, January 2011: 46 (1); 25-36, Bjorn Winther, et al.
- 17 Omega 3s: Krill and Fish Oils Go Tail to Tail, Functional Ingredients, August 24, 2010: Joysa Winter.
- 18 Probiotics Do Ease Gut Problems, Several Studies Show, Vitals, October 31, 2011: Rachel Rettner.
- 19 Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, GreenMedInfo.com.
Vitamin D Fights Crohn's Disease
It Can Destroy Your Immune System and is Like Eating an Insecticide
By Ori Hofmekler
Experimental studies show that all thermolyzed (ultra-heated) proteins can promote colon cancer and so do thermolyzed carbohydrates and fried fat.
Thermolyzed casein in particular has shown to cause the growth of aberrant crypt foci (ACF tumors) and colon cancer.
Ultra-heating makes proteins less digestible as a consequence of cross-linking and racemization ? which involve formation of unnatural peptides and amino acids.
As a result of decreased digestibility, more proteins escape from the stomach to the large bowel, where they're fermented into tumor promoting waste products such as ammonia and a variety of toxic phenols.
The colonic protein fermentation could explain several known associations between diets rich in fried food, roasted meats or ultra-heated cheese and colon cancer.
There is growing evidence that conventional household cooking preparations of protein play a major role in the pathogenesis of colon cancer. Exposure of food to high cooking temperatures (over 180