Is breast cancer being over-diagnosed?

There is no question that the advent and spread of mammograms led to an increase in early detection of breast cancer, and that early detection and diagnosis of cancer has been proven to result in better treatment outcomes and longer survival times.

However, when reviewing statistical information for breast cancer something about the numbers doesn’t quite add up.

According to research published in the November 22, 2012 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, screening mammography correlated with a doubling of cases of early-stage breast cancer detected each year (from 112 to 234 cases per 100,000 women). At the same time there was only an 8 percent decrease in the rate at which women are diagnosed with late-stage cancer (from 102 to 94 cases per 100,000 women).

There are only two ways to explain these numbers: either the incidence of breast cancer is growing at an alarming rate – which does not appear to be the case – or many women who do not have cancer at all are told they have it.

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Repair the membrane, restore the body: innovative approaches to regaining optimal health and the science behind them

At one time cell membranes were believed to just be envelopes surrounding cells. However, it has been nearly forty years since the structure of the cell membrane was deciphered leading to the development of the Lipid Bi-Layer Fluid Mosaic Model. In this model cell membranes are no longer seen as merely envelopes, they become dynamic structures that play critical roles in the health and detoxification of cells, and the cells’ unique ability to work in concert – thus keeping us in good health.

Lipids – or fats – are the main component of cell membranes. Lipids in cell membranes are actually phospholipids – or a combination of fats and phosphorus – and not just fats. They don’t just sit idly by doing nothing; they contribute to every aspect of cellular energy, detoxification, and optimal function.

Healthy cell-membranes lead to healthy cells, a healthy body, plenty of energy, healthy aging, and so forth. Among other things, cell membranes incorporate hormone receptors that, if sound, will promote healthy hormone activity throughout the body.

Unfortunately the fats (or phospholipids) in cell membranes can be degraded leading to deterioration in cellular – and, overall – health and wellness.

A major reason why cell membranes become damaged is poor diet. When highly processed fats are a major component of an individual’s diet, they will be incorporated in cell membranes and cause their function to deteriorate. Excessive intake of sugars

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, refined carbohydrates and other processed foods will have the same negative effect.

The fats in cell membranes are very vulnerable to oxidation, so a lack of antioxidants in the diet is also a primary cause of damage to cell membranes.

Last but not least, environmental toxins like mercury and an almost endless list of chemicals present in our everyday lives can also harm cell membranes, and thus have far-reaching adverse effects on health.

The first symptom of cell membrane damage could be described as decreased energy levels or vitality, although other common symptoms include intestinal and digestive problems, chronic pain, and weakened immunity. Damaged cell membranes have also been linked with neurological disorders, autism, problems like depression or anxiety, ADHD and – ultimately – cancer, heart disease, mental decline, and more.

Forty years of research on cell membranes have significantly enhanced our understanding of their central role in health. Ultimately much of what is recommended today, like fish oil supplements, is aimed at improving cell membrane health whether we know it or not.

Meanwhile, forward thinking researchers and physicians developed the concept of Lipid Replacement Therapy (LRT) – a way to actually “change the oil” in the body. Damaged fats in cell membranes are replaced with healthy ones, gradually restoring health. Read More »

Amla, an ancient remedy from India making a major comeback on the wings of modern science

Amla is a berry that is native to the Indian subcontinent and neighboring areas. It has a long history of medicinal use as a remedy for everything from vision problems, to almost every digestive complaint, allergies, low immunity, and even hormonal imbalance in women.

A flurry of recent research has given a new scientific validation to this unique healing berry. Among other things, it was found to be one of the most potent antioxidants known. When compared to 1,000 herbs with well-established antioxidant properties, it was found to be among the top four in terms of beneficial effects and the ability to prevent cell-damaging effects from the strongest oxidants and carcinogens.

Amla was found to protect the liver from oxidative damage caused by chemicals or alcohol. It was found to protect the skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus slowing aging of the skin and – of course – preventing skin cancer. In studies performed on diabetics, it was found to protect the heart as well as the kidneys. Read More »

The vitamin critics are at it again…

The headlines have been everywhere and it seems that we are back in the dark days of vitamin bashing, perhaps prompted by reports that even in these hard economic times vitamin sales are booming. As in the past, for every negative study on vitamins there are many positive ones, except that only the research with negative findings gets reported, no matter how poorly designed or unreliable it is! Among the latest news you may have heard or read about, vitamin E was supposedly found to cause prostate cancer. As simple as that, or maybe not…

Let’s take a closer look at the data that prompted this “finding.” (1) When taking low-quality synthetic vitamin E or a placebo, the risk of prostate cancer was found to be higher in people taking vitamin E with no other supplement by an astounding 0.63%! Whenever the difference is less than 1% it is hard to attribute much significance to it, because any study done on a sample of the population will have a margin of error. To conclude that vitamin E causes prostate cancer based on a 0.63% rate increase in a single study is preposterous.

There is more. In this very same study, when people took Vitamin E plus Selenium the increased risk fell to just 0.24%. Selenium does only one thing: it makes vitamin E more effective. So if vitamin E causes cancer, the rate should go up, not down, when it is taken with selenium. In reality, it has been common knowledge for years that antioxidants like vitamin E should not be taken alone but in a balanced complex containing all the major antioxidants. When taken alone they can be counterproductive and even lead to worse health. Read More »

Glutathione, the master health protector, can also prevent the flu

Glutathione is a peptide or small protein that the body makes to protect itself from free radicals, oxidative stress and the harmful effects of environmental toxins. Oxidative stress refers to damage at the level of DNA and other cell structures resulting from exposure to free radicals or toxins. This damage is often where critical illnesses like cancer or heart disease originate.

Glutathione is considered to be the most powerful antioxidant in the body. It is also a detoxifier in that it binds to toxic metals or cancer-causing chemicals and safely “escorts” them out of the body. The efficiency of detoxification depends to a large degree on how much glutathione is available

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, and glutathione levels vary dramatically from person to person.

One cause of this variability is a difference in genetic traits. Genetic variants determine how much glutathione will be produced in a given individual and the difference is dramatic. Even under optimal conditions glutathione produced in one person can be half as much as in someone else (Richie et al, Clin Chem 42:64, 1996). Research is now showing that people with a gene variant named GAG-7 who produce the least glutathione have a higher rate of cancer (research presented at a recent conference by John P. Richie, PhD of Penn State University College of Medicine and currently submitted for publication). Read More »

Health brief: SAMe protects liver from chemotherapy

Many of the side effects from chemo and the long-term adverse effects on health these drugs can cause are a result of their high levels of toxicity to the liver. In a recent Italian study the supplement SAMe was given to patients undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer.

Though SAMe is mostly known as a natural antidepressant, it helps promote methylation – a natural process the liver uses to eliminate toxins. In the study, patients who received SAMe experienced milder side effects from chemo and liver function tests remained at or closer to normal.

A concern often voiced by specialists is that supplements like SAMe could

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, while moderating side effects, also reduce chemo’s effectiveness in killing cancer cells. However, the study found that this was not the case. Not only, but since patients were able to tolerate the chemo better there was less need for course delay or dose reduction, two common causes of treatment failure (Vincenzi, Santini, et al, Expert Opin Drug Safety, 2011 March 15).

Essential minerals: supercharge your (or your child’s) diet with homemade beef bone stock

When it comes to maintaining or regaining health, nothing plays as important a role as proper mineral balance in the body. Although we no longer hear much about it

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, leading experts in the field of nutritional medicine sounded the alarm as early as the 1930’s and 40’s: modern agricultural practices were depleting the soil, generating widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This in turn left us vulnerable to weakened immunity, digestive and nervous system disorders, and more. When combined with the dramatic spread of environmental chemicals and other toxins over the past half century, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Those sounding the alarm were the likes of Henry Bieler, MD, and Max Gerson, MD. Dr. Bieler wrote the book “Food is Your Best Medicine.” He believed in drug-free medicine and was well-known at the time for being the personal physician to Greta Garbo and other stars. He was also known because his patients had a habit of living well into their nineties. Dr. Gerson authored “A Cancer Therapy.” He used food, vegetable juices, and little else to successfully treat diseases ranging from migraines to diabetes and even cancer.

Mineral supplements can help correct deficiency in some instances; however, many essential minerals are poorly absorbed from supplements. In addition, manmade supplements that are not properly balanced can aggravate any existing imbalance. The bottom line is that only natural unprocessed foods contain minerals in optimal ratios and, in fact, the body is ideally suited to absorb minerals from food rather than supplements.
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Tips for lowering your risk of breast cancer

Canadian naturopath Natasha Turner author of the book “The Hormone Diet” has an interesting list of 10 simple steps you can take to lower your risk of breast cancer. I agree with all except one. Here they are:

1. Don’t wear underwire bras because the underwire may compress lymphatic drainage from the breasts.

2. Sleep in pitch black. Any light inhibits production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which not only helps us go to sleep and stay asleep, but also has a balancing effect on estrogen and has been shown to protect from breast and other hormone-related forms of cancer.

3. Eat two cups of broccoli a week. Broccoli and related vegetables like cauliflower and kale contain compounds that help promote a healthy balance of estrogen.

4. Avoid excess alcohol. While small amounts of alcohol actually lower the risk of cancer, too much raises it quickly. Dr. Turner recommends not exceeding one drink per day for four days a week.
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Interesting research on breast cancer

A series of studies performed at the Eppley institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases in 2008 shed new light on the possible causes of breast cancer and what can be done to lower the risk of developing this disease.

It is known that estrogen, whether produced in the body or taken as a supplement, is carried through the bloodstream to the liver where it is gradually broken down and eventually eliminated. In this process, the liver releases a variety of estrogen breakdown products, some of which are harmless or even protective of good health, and others that are highly toxic and can cause cancer.

Although genetics also play a part in this, exposure to a variety of chemicals triggers the liver to overproduce toxic forms of estrogen. One of the studies showed that these toxic estrogen breakdown products are found in significantly higher concentrations in women who have breast cancer or who are at high risk of developing it (Int J Cancer, 2008 May 1;122(9):1949-57).

Two other studies show that the antioxidants N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) and Resveratrol (RES) have a balancing effect on liver function, and that this results in an improved ratio of healthy forms of estrogen to cancer-causing ones (J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2008 Mar;109(1-2):22-30, Free Radic Biol Med, 2008 Apr 8).

Both NAC and RES have been shown to increase the liver’s production of glutathione, a protein the liver needs to eliminate toxins from the body. In today’s environment liver stores of glutathione can become depleted leaving us at greater risk for a variety of adverse health events, not just breast cancer. Therefore I feel that NAC or RES (or both) should be a part of everybody’s “survival kit” in this day and age.

Beyond colonoscopies

A month doesn’t seem to go by without someone telling me that their doctor recommended that they have a colonoscopy, and asking me if I agree that they should have one. I could never advise against this procedure because there is no doubt that colonoscopies save lives.

On the other hand, the major limitation of colonoscopies is that they can only detect cancer or precancerous changes in the colon. Should there be cancer anywhere else in the body it would be missed.

Aside from colonoscopies, a non-invasive procedure that could provide early detection for cancer anywhere in the body would seem ideal.   Such a procedure exists: a blood and urine test performed by a lab called American Metabolic Laboratories, and you can read about it here: I wrote about the test a few years ago, but I have had many new subscribers since that time and thought I would mention it again.
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Antioxidants, aging and health

If you’re like me, you are aging and you see some sign of this every day in the mirror: graying hair, wrinkles, sagging skin, new spots on the skin, and so on. Though we rarely think of it, the inside of our bodies undergoes similar changes but with far more serious consequences.
Muscles and organs shrink and function less efficiently until, one day, they begin to fail.  For example, the brain has been shown to lose one-third of its size between ages 35 and 70. Other organs experience similar decline and this makes us more susceptible to illnesses now considered typical of aging, from heart disease to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more.
Cells are the basic building blocks of organs, and aging begins at the level of each cell, where structures become damaged and energy production goes on less efficiently. Some cells die without being regenerated and, over time, this is reflected in smaller, less active organs, decreased metabolic rate, and more.
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If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, prostate cancer, or a child with autism, don’t miss this interview on YouTube

If you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, prostate cancer, or a child with autism, don’t miss this interview on YouTube:

In summary, researchers from the University of Utah and Columbia University recently discovered a new human retrovirus they named XMRV (xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus). This virus was originally discovered in cancerous prostate tissue.

Later it was found that more than 95% of people suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME (CFS/ME) had it, and more recently it has been identified in children with autism although the extent of spread in this population remains to be determined.
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Sunscreens and Cancer: Your Options

Now that summer is in full force and the sun is brutal most of the time, especially here in Houston, many of us feel we need to cover our bodies with sunscreen every day before we go out. But is that really such a good idea? And will it really prevent cancer?

I have always found it intriguing that while humans evolved under the sun – not in caves – the sun is increasingly blamed for skyrocketing skin cancer rates. If the sun was truly the culprit, and sun block a major defense, wouldn’t rates of skin cancer be dropping and not rising?

The facts, however, tell a different story. Today skin cancer is more common in the United States than all other forms of cancer combined. Its incidence is also growing faster than all other cancers, increasing by 6-7% each year.
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Your liver: the key to good health

About a year ago I attended a conference on autism at which a key speaker opened his remarks by asking what did breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and autism all have in common. Most of the audience, made up entirely of doctors and nutritionists, looked puzzled and there were quite a few blank stares as people struggled to find an answer. When the answer was finally given it came as quite a surprise to many: a faulty liver!

How can this possibly be? It is because the liver is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It is where fat and calories are burned. It is also where toxins from the environment and those the body itself produces are processed so that they can be excreted from the body. If the liver doesn’t do this job well toxins will be retained and, over time, cause damage to the brain, heart, breasts or any other organ or part of the body.
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Cancer politics, early detection, and alternative treatment options

A few months ago I attended a conference where one of the speakers was Charlotte Gerson, daughter of the late Max Gerson, MD. Though Charlotte is now 85, you would never guess it by looking at her or listening to her speak. She walks erect, with no hesitation in her step and talks with the clarity and lucidity you would expect in a forty-year-old.

We could say that Charlotte is living proof that her father’s therapy works because she has been implementing it for decades.  Dr. Gerson’s story is well worth summarizing here.

When Max Gerson, as a young man, attended medical school in his native Germany, he suffered from debilitating migraine headaches. That was the turn of the century, before the development of the modern arsenal of drugs. Today he would be prescribed a drug or combination of drugs that might leave him feeling like a zombie, but would control the pain.
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An epidemic of cancer

I was born in Italy and, though I have been living in this country almost thirty years, I still enjoy reading the online version of a major Italian newspaper, the Corriere della Sera.

Recently, the paper presented an in-depth investigation on cancer rates and their distribution in Italy over the past twenty years, reaching the conclusion that cancer rates have reached epidemic proportions. In comparing rates reported in the 1980’s to those from the early 2000’s, investigators found increases in every type of cancer. Even lung cancer rates that had initially dropped as people stopped smoking had started rising again.

Average rate increases were in the range of 20 to 30% although among childhood cancers the increases were more like 50 to 70%. Though these increases could be seen throughout the country, the paper mapped out areas where the increases were the sharpest and made an interesting – though not altogether surprising – correlation: they were all in close proximity to major petrochemical plants!
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“Killer” vitamins!

These days it is becoming almost common for people to come to their appointment with me carrying the latest article they cut out from a newspaper or magazine describing the dangers of this antioxidant or that vitamin. One might think that vitamins are becoming a major cause of illness and death in today’s world, when they are actually essential to life and that the modern diet is depleted of them!

Most of these articles do not present original research but statistical reevaluations of prior research, much of which was flawed to begin with. The fact that they even get published in respected medical journals is indicative of a bias against nutritional products, and it always amazes me how quickly the media picks up on this “news.”

By contrast, here are two studies you are not likely to hear about on the morning talk shows:
One happens to be the first study to show that a vitamin can improve memory. Researchers followed close to a thousand people aged 50 to 75 over a three-year period. Some were given 800 mcg of folic acid daily as a supplement, whereas others received a placebo. Those who took the supplement ended up scoring significantly higher on a variety of cognitive tests. As far as memory is concerned, their scores on average were equal to those of people 5.5 years younger who had not taken the vitamin (Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Feb; 27 (2): 334-43).

The second study analyzed results of 63 prior studies in relation to vitamin D status and cancer rates, reaching the conclusion that adequate status of this vitamin was associated with significantly lower rates of several types of cancer, including colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. In their conclusions, researchers stated that “vitamin D supplementation could reduce cancer incidence and mortality at low cost, with few or no adverse effects” (Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb; 96 (2): 252-61).

Meanwhile the media continues to focus on “killer” vitamins.

Un programa completo de desintoxicación

Aunque tal vez podamos vivir más años en estos tiempos modernos, también estamos enfrentando una epidemia sin precedentes de enfermedades crónicas que pueden ser manejadas, en el mejor de los casos, pero no corregidas, con el uso de medicina convencional. Tales enfermedades abarcan todos los grupos

de edad y se extienden desde alergias, trastornos digestivos y condiciones como ADHD y autismo hasta el síndrome de cansancio crónico, dolor crónico, alta presión arterial, diabetes y cáncer, tanto como una variedad de condiciones neurológicas, incluyendo las enfermedades de Parkinson y Alzheimer.

Hoy en día la toxicidad es un factor mayor con respecto a la salud, y se necesitan otras herramientas, ademas de la dieta y los suplementos, para lograr los mejores resultados posibles con la desintoxicación.

A menudo he escrito sobre el impacto que las toxinas tienen sobre la salud, y planeo continuar haciéndolo. Los lectores interesados pueden encontrar artículos anteriores sobre este tema en mis archivos de boletines informativos en mi sitio Web. Un buen ejemplo sobre ésto es un estudio que recientemente se hizo público, en el cual los investigadores identificaron un conjunto de lupus (SLE) y otras enfermedades reumáticas entre personas que vivían en una subdivisión construída cerca de un sitio de desechos de un campo petrolífero, donde los niveles del mercurio y otros contaminantes en el aire estaban mucho más altos que los niveles en los vecindarios de alrededor. (
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Soy is not good for you!

If you think that soy-derived foods are good for you or your child you may want to read the book “The Whole Soy Story” (see One study showed that feeding soy to pregnant rats increased the risk of breast cancer in their offspring. I know we’re not rats, but when it comes to breast cancer we may want to take note (Oncol Rep. 1999 Sep-Oct; 6 (5): 1089-95). Another more recent rat study showed that giving genistein, which is found in all soy products, to female baby rats caused changes in mammary development and hormone receptors, while higher doses permanently affected development. See

Melatonin for more than just sleep

Are you aging and don’t feel as sharp as you used to? Do you have macular degeneration or other vision problems? Were you diagnosed with breast cancer, or other estrogen-sensitive cancer? Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or do you have an ulcer? Research is showing increasingly that people suffering from these and other conditions, in addition to those with sleep-related problems, can benefit from taking melatonin every night as a supplement.

The major concern I hear from people who consider taking melatonin is that it is a hormone and they worry that taking it as a supplement could impair the body’s ability to make its own. I understand their concern because many other hormones, including thyroid and sex hormones, have been shown to have such an inhibiting effect. However, this does not appear to take place with melatonin. Based on the studies I have seen, even administration of enormous doses of melatonin in experimental animals did not alter the body’s production of nighttime melatonin (see J Pineal Res. 1996 Nov; 21 (4): 231-8 and others like it).
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