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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Iodine & Japanese Radiation Fallout

Last Saturday, Japanese authorities told the U.N.'s atomic watchdog they were making preparations to distribute potassium iodide pills to people living near nuclear power plants affected by Friday's earthquake.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, thousands of cases of thyroid cancer were reported in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident.

Dr. Grout’s Comment:

An unknown amount of radiation from damaged nuclear reactors in Japan is expected to travel via air currents to other parts of the world. In the next three to ten days, the initial release of radiation could fall over the United States.

As of today, officials in Japan and the World Health Organization have described the public health risk still as "quite low." However, experience suggests that all the facts may not be known at this time.

After a nuclear event, radioactive iodine is released into the air and the Japanese government has distributed iodine pills to protect those nearby who may be exposed. But we may all be exposed, depending how the radioactive fallout moves across the planet, and how big the events at the nuclear reactor turn out to be.

Uranium-235 powers a nuclear reactor. When it is released and decays, it breaks down into smaller elements. One of these elements is iodine-131. It is a radioactive form of iodine. When radioactive iodine comes into contact with the human body, it goes to the thyroid gland and then travels throughout the body. Over time, this emission can lead to cancer or leukemia.

SSKI – saturated solution of potassium iodide – is sold as a clear liquid and as a tablet. The effectiveness of SSKI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well established in the medical literature. It has a long history of being used after radioiodine-contamination emergencies – nuclear power plant disasters. If there is enough inorganic, non-radioactive iodine in our bodies, the radioactive fallout has nowhere to bind in our bodies. It will pass through, unharmed.

Lugol’s solution is a combination of both iodide and iodine. Elemental iodine is used as a disinfectant in various forms. Iodine protects us against autoimmune diseases and is responsible for destroying abnormal cells and minimizing allergies. It is also required for the immune system to be strong. Some women have been able to eliminate a very early stage breast cancer, for example, by painting their breast with iodine.

I am recommending 4-5 drops of Lugol’s solution daily for the next 7-10 days as a protective action against the events in Japan to date. This would be a dose of 25-30 mg. People could also take iodine pills – 20-25 mg would be a good dose. We have the Lugol’s solution at the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine, if patients wish to get it. Call us at 480-240-2600.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Exchange with FDA about intravenous vitamin c

Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 9:58 AM
To: Martha M Grout, MD, MD(H)!

Dear Martha M Grout,

Thank you for your e-mail expressing concerns about FDA's December 28, 2010 warning letter to an individual manufacturer (McGuff Pharmaceuticals Inc.) of intravenous (IV) vitamin C along with other prescription drugs.

Unlike oral vitamin C-which could be a dietary supplement- these particular IV solutions are, by law, unapproved drugs. Moreover, the manufacturers neglected to follow current good manufacturing practices, potentially exposing users to unnecessary risks.

Such risks have occurred before. In the E-Ferol tragedy of 1983, premature babies received E-Ferol, an intravenous form of vitamin E.  E-Ferol was associated with adverse reactions in 100 premature infants, forty of whom died.  It is highly likely that this tragedy would have been prevented if the product had been reviewed and approved by the FDA before its introduction to the market. 

Since FDA announced its Unapproved Drugs Initiative in  June 2006, marketers of unapproved drugs have been on notice that addressing risks from unapproved drugs is a high priority for FDA, and that the Agency plans to systematically and  responsibly ensure that all products on the U.S. prescription drug market become compliant with current FDA approval  requirements for safety and efficacy.

The mission of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) is to ensure that safe and effective drugs are available to the American public. Drugs that have not been approved by FDA may not be safe and effective, may have been  manufactured under sub-standard conditions, may contain too much or too little (if any) active  ingredients, and may not have necessary labeling information and warnings.

FDA's drug approval process ensures that drugs are safe, effective, of a suitable quality and purity, and are properly labeled.  The Agency remains committed to assisting all firms with meeting these standards.

Again, we thank you for your input and hope that we were able to address your concerns.

Best regards,

Division of Drug Information - HW
Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
Food and Drug Administration

Dr. Grout’s reply to FDA:

You addressed my concerns not even a little bit. Vitamin C in its intravenous form has been in common use for at least 40  years.  The work of Linus Pauling still stands. A couple studies done at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota were disappointing as to vitamin C's efficacy until it was understood that Mayo had used high dose oral vitamin C. The delivery method is the key to its effectiveness.

The only adverse effect that I have ever seen has been hemolysis if it is given in large dose to patients with G6PD deficiency. For that reason, we test for G6PD deficiency before using this form of therapy. All of the companies from which I purchase the IV form of Vitamin C have it manufactured using the GMP standards.

Since June 2006, the FDA has begun to "systematically and responsibly ensure that all products on the U.S. prescription drug market become compliant with current FDA approval  requirements for safety and efficacy." Explain then why you are ignoring so many problems. Crestor is so linked to rhabdomyolysis, Public Citizen calls it a Do Not Use and the FDA's David Graham named it one of the five most dangerous drugs before at a Congressional hearing. Yet it is still on the market. Soon after Bayer launched Yaz in 2006, 18-year-olds were coming down with blood clots, gall bladder disease, heart attacks and strokes. More than 50 reports of Yasmin or Yaz deaths were reported to the FDA between the first quarter of 2004 and the third quarter of 2008. Bayer was ordered to run correction ads but Yaz is still on the market. Researchers wrote in PloS One that Chantix is 18 times more likely to be linked to violence than other meds, yet it is on still the market. The last figures I saw about Chantix were 397 FDA cases of possible psychosis, 227 domestic reports of suicidal behaviors, and 28 recorded suicides, Some people use Chantix to stop smoking – works OK for some, but makes others aggressive and ugly. Chantix is optional, unlike a drug like penicillin for pneumonia. The diabetic drugs Avandia and Actos increase a woman’s chance of breaking a bone by 50 percent. If you’re over 65 years old, your chances jump to 70 percent (Morrow, R., Carney, G. et al. “Impact of rosiglitazone meta-analysis on use of glucose-lowering medications.” Open Medicine. 2010) The known deadly side effects of prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world (JAMA, April 15, 1998).

No major toxicity has been discovered with Vitamin C in the past 40 years. Nor have you provided data as to the harm.  

I cannot speak to the integrity of the manufacturing processes of any one company. Whether there was a problem with McGuff, I cannot say. But to issue a blanket edict against all manufacturing and therefore use of intravenous vitamin C makes clear that an agenda other than public safety is at work.

Vitamin C is not a drug. If a drug is, according to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body, then vitamin C clearly is not a drug - be it administered orally or intravenously. You have failed to make that case that the IV form of delivery constitutes an unapproved drug. We are talking about a natural vitamin here, not a synthetic and patented drug developed and manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry. The use of intravenous vitamin C is good medicine with a long history of safety.

Please do not try allay my supposed fears by giving me information which is irrelevant to the issue at hand. The removal of the intravenous form of Vitamin C from the armamentarium of substances used in supraphysiologic doses to remedy significant nutrient deficiency is an act of foolishness, when examined even in the best of lights. You must reconsider an untenable position.

Pesticide-free farming improves crop yields

A United Nations report shows that developing nations can double food production within a decade by shifting to natural (ecological) agriculture and away from use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The report gave examples of steps taken to successfully increase food for a world population that the United Nations says will be 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2050.

Kenya has made use of insect-trapping plants and Bangladesh has used ducks to eat weeds in rice paddies, for example.  So far, eco-farming projects in 57 nations have shown average crop yield gains of 80 percent by tapping natural methods for enhancing soil and protecting against pests, according to the U.N. report.

Recent projects in 20 African countries had resulted in a doubling of crop yields within three to 10 years. Those lessons could be widely mimicked elsewhere, it said.

"Agriculture is at a crossroads," according to the study by Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur. The U.N. is looking at how to depress record food prices and avoid the costly oil-dependent model of industrial farming. "The cost of food production has been very closely following the cost of oil," he said. Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia have been partly linked to discontent at soaring food prices.

Natural farming could also make farms more resilient to the projected impact of climate change including floods, droughts and a rise in sea levels that the report said was already making fresh water near some coasts too salty for use in irrigation.

Developed nations, however, would be unable to make a quick shift to natural methods because of what he called an "addiction" to an industrial, oil-based model of farming. Still, a global long-term effort to shift is needed.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

Olivier De Schutter was appointed the Special Rapporteur on the right to food by the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is independent from any government or organization. He makes a refreshingly candid assessment of how to feed a growing world population.

Conventional farming is not resilient to climatic shocks or economic upheavals. It relies on expensive fuels, antibiotics, and often expensive genetically modified seed which requires more pesticides. De Schutter says that model that just doesn’t work anymore. His reports on projects in Indonesia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh showed up to 92 % reduction in insecticide use for rice, leading to important savings for poor farmers. “Knowledge came to replace pesticides and fertilizers. This was a winning bet, and comparable results abound in other African, Asian and Latin American countries,” he said.

The problem has always come in how to make money not selling fertilizer and not selling patented seeds. As De Schutter points out, it is a matter of human rights to develop a new business model.

Obviously there is much public support for De Schutter’s recommendations to create a less toxic world with healthier food. Europe has long resisted genetically modified food and people are seeking out more organic food. According to The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2010” report, global organic sales reached $50.9 billion in 2008, double the $25 billion recorded in 2003.

Healthcare Getting More Expensive

According the New York Times, “the rising cost of health care is prompting insurance premiums to skyrocket while coverage is shrinking. As Congress continues to debate the new health care law, health insurance costs are still rising, particularly for small businesses.” The newspaper gives an example of florist shop with 11 employees that saw premiums rise 40%.

Economists and state regulators say health insurance is expensive primarily because health care is expensive. The insurance industry says premiums are rising primarily because of the underlying cost of care and a growing demand for it.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

“Disease management” is a much more accurate description than “health care” for the system of medicine in America. To cope with decreasing payments from insurance companies, physicians are cutting the amount of time that they spend with patients, so that they can see more patients in a day. They are increasingly utilizing the services of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, who can easily deal with the “routine” care – blood pressure checks, diabetes checks, even some surgical procedures – thus enabling the physician (or the owner of the medical practice) to run more patients through the books on a daily basis, increasing the income to the practice.

The fact that insurance companies are now traded publicly on Wall Street is never mentioned. If the insurance “medical loss to benefit” ratio goes up – in other words if they spend more money on medical care and less money on advertising, salaries, etc – then the value of the stock goes down, the benefits payable to the executives go down, and the stockholders are unhappy. That is not a prescription for people paying less someday for health care.

There has been tremendous growth of the pharmaceutical industry in the last 50 years. An assumption is made that for every disease there is a drug which will cure it.

In my private practice, I find that the least expensive form of care is nutritional counseling. What we put into our mouths on a daily basis has a tremendous impact on the state of our health. If we put (expensive) pharmaceutical drugs into our mouths, we address one thing (high cholesterol) but break another (not having enough COQ10 on board to feed the heart muscle). Because the drug merely put a bandage on one symptom, the underlying problem is not addressed and down the road, we may see severe fatigue, congestive heart failure, incapacitating muscle pain… all of which are quite expensive to treat. If we start with nutritional counseling, and if the patients are willing to make the lifestyle changes required, then the pharmaceutical medication is never needed, and significant cost is averted. The only requirement is to pay for the time needed to go back to “food school” – i.e. physician office visits.

If the body is in imminent danger of death, then the use of pharmaceuticals as “rescue remedies” is quite likely appropriate. But drugs were not meant to replace everything else.

Medical professionals who are convinced the human organism was made to function well, given the right food, environment and social interaction tend to be looked down upon by their allopathic colleagues. As doctors, we should not place so much faith in scientific technology that we belittle the healing abilities of Mother Nature.

Problem is, that assumption is threatening to insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, and to the manufacturing companies which produce the chemicals and genetically modified “foods” that contribute to a corporate profit and loss sheet. But it should not be threatening to physicians whose job is to create health.  

Friday, March 11, 2011

Aspartame in Diet Soda Causes Heart Attacks?

Research recently presented at the 2011 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference concluded there could negative consequences associated with consuming too many sugar substitutes.

"This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death than regular soda," the researchers said.

Some critics have argued that since the participants voluntarily reported how much diet soda they consumed, the results do not come from a rigorously controlled setting.

“There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that diet soda uniquely causes increased risk of vascular events or stroke,” said Dr. Maureen Storey, senior vice president of science policy for the American Beverage Association. Storey pointed out that this information comes from a research paper abstract presented at a conference, and was not in a study reviewed for publication by experts in the field. Also, the study authors did not control for weight gain or for family history of stroke.

This is the first time diet soda has been officially linked to vascular events, but previous research has implicated it in other health issues.

A 2007 study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that people who drink one or more soft drinks a day are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a heart disease precursor, than people who drink less than one soda a day.

Dr. Grout’s comment:

The study does not say what exactly about diet soda may be responsible for heart disease. Enough associations lead one to suspect a causative association, but cause and effect are definitely tricky to prove. Some experts are pointing to aspartame, the key feature in most diet drinks, as being the problem. Dr. H. J. Roberts, author of Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, and an expert in the field of aspartame’s effects, has said that aspartame causes an irregular heart rhythm and interacts with all cardiac medications. He says it damages the cardiac conduction system and can cause sudden death. He says aspartame also can be responsible for “numerous misdiagnoses include arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.”

Cori Brackett's documentary film Sweet Misery is an acclaimed documentary about the health dangers of aspartame.

Meanwhile, as reports, there is controversy about Diet Coke cans sporting a red dress, the symbol of awareness of heart disease in women. The artwork of the dress came from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and is slightly different than the AHA version. “Who knew there were two such programs? And who would ever have thought Coke could buy a partnership with the NHLBI?”

There is also a pointed editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal questioning why many health organizations allow their messages and reputations to be “tarnished by partnerships with food companies” which serve up highly processed, nutritionally deprived and calorie-rich foods that contribute to the obesity epidemic. “Through these partnerships, the food industry seeks to emphasize that inactivity — not the promotion and consumption of its calorie-rich products — is the prime cause of obesity,” the authors wrote. “When they partner, health organizations become inadvertent pitchmen for the food industry.” Getting unvarnished information about food is impossible when corporate money spins the message.