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The Common Factor in Heart Disease and Cancer

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:30pm


In This Issue:

C-Reactive Protein — Should You Get it Tested?

By James LaValle, R.Ph, ND, CCN

Heart Attack If you ask your primary care doctor to check your C-reactive protein (CRP), there is a highlikelihood you will be told it is not necessary.  Even though we know that CRP is a risk factor for heart disease 1 and more and more doctors are testing CRP levels in patients who they consider to be at high risk, testing CRP is not yet recommended for routine lab testing.

If you ask me, it’s time that changed. At LMI, we do screen routinely for CRP.  Let me tell you why.

First of all, we know heart disease doesn’t occur just due to high cholesterol. We now know that the biggest contributor to heart disease is inflammation.  In fact, some people have heart attacks that didn’t even have high cholesterol.

The body produces higher CRP in response to inflammation, so it is called a biomarker of inflammation.  For example, when atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside the walls of arteries) starts to damage blood vessels around the heart, they become inflamed. This triggers CRP production.

Since increased inflammation plays a role in a number of other diseases, CRP is being studied to see if it is tied to any other disease risks, and indeed it is. Research has now tied CRP to:

  • Cancer. A recent Danish study found that people with levels of CRP higher than 3 mg/L were about 30% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than those whose levels were less than 1 mg/L. 3
  • Macular degeneration. High blood levels of CRP have also been linked to an increased risk for age-related macular degeneration according to a report in the Archives of Ophthalmology. 4
  • Cognitive decline and dementia.  Data from the Honolulu-Asia Aging Study (HAAS), a longitudinal community-based study of Japanese American men, found that those with the highest quartile of high-sensitivity CRP had significantly more cognitive decline than those in the lowest quartile. 5

To me, the evidence is not only clear, it grows stronger every year. That’s why, even though we are sometimes criticized for routinely checking CRP levels, all these studies seem to show that it does correlate with many diseases. And that’s why, in my opinion, it should probably be routinely checked.

The only problem with CRP is that it could elevate even in response to say a cold or flu.  However, in the absence of this type of illness or other infection, CRP is one way to tell if the body is experiencing chronic inflammation and putting you at greater risk for not just heart disease, but other chronic disease as well.

It’s easy and inexpensive to test for CRP. A simple blood test called the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test does not even require fasting. It measures CRP levels in milligrams per liter of blood. A level of 0 mg/L is the goal. Anything between 0 and 3 is worth improving but is not considered serious. Anything above 3 however, is serious– it at least doubles your risk for a heart attack. 2

So, what if your CRP levels are high? How do you get them down? You need to address all the usual sources of inflammation– insulin resistance, low thyroid levels, being overweight, etc.  In addition, switch to a low glycemic index diet, and increase your intake of antioxidant-rich foods, vegetables, beans and some fruits, such as berries.  And by all means, if you smoke, redouble your efforts to quit.

In addition, studies have shown that statin drugs will lower CRP; however a recent study showed that vitamin C was even more effective than statins, and you know from my past articles, that I believe in using statins only when absolutely necessary and keeping dosages as low as possible due to potential side effects, especially on brain health.

A study published in the journal, Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that vitamin C lowered CRP by 0.25 mg/L, while previous studies found that statins lowered levels by about 0.2 mg/L. 6 The dosage of vitamin C that lowered the CRP was 1000 mg.

So, to summarize, I believe that CRP is a good indicator of inflammation in the body; just make sure you aren’t sick with a cold or flu or any other infection when you have the testing done.  If CRP is elevated, it is showing you have hidden sources of inflammation in the body.  The best approach for lowering it is to first tackle lifestyle factors like smoking, and metabolic imbalances like insulin resistance, while improving your diet.

And if you don’t want to waste any time trying to get it down, 1000 mg of vitamin C may also help.  In fact, the lead author of the vitamin C study expressed that she believed vitamin C may be the wiser course of action for those who have elevated CRP but do not happen to have elevated LDL cholesterol. 7 I couldn’t agree more!

References

  1. Circulation. 2008 Nov 25;118(22):2243-51.
  2. Cleveland Clinic, http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/news/hot/crp.aspx, accessed May 22, 2009.
  3. J Clin Oncol. 2009 Mar 16.
  4. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125(10):1396-1401.
  5. Doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2008.01.008.
  6. J.Free Rad Biomed. Jan 2009. 46(1):70-77.
  7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/129322.php.

[ Ed. Note: James LaValle is the founding Director of the LaValle Metabolic Institute, one of the largest integrative medicine practices in the country.  Dr. LaValle is the author of The Metabolic Code Diet: Unleashing the Power of Your Metabolism for Lasting Weight Loss and Vitality and the Executive Editor of THB’s The Healing Prescription.  To learn more, click here.]

There is ONE key factor in 80% of disease…

Can you believe 80% of diseases share this one key factor in common? That’s huge!
What is it? And how can you stop it?

Click here and learn:

  • How it can rob you of decades of happy, healthy living
  • Two supplements to fight off this hidden threat
  • And four simple (and free) tips to keep you disease free

Click here to learn more.


muscles Cutting Edge Fitness:

The Fountain of Youth? Hit the Weight Room!

By Missy Hawthorne, RN, CSCS

Are you a proud member of the “baby boom” generation? Well if so, congratulations! You and78.2 million of your closest friends make up the bulk of this country’s population, and the oldest of you turned 60 just a few short years ago! Turning 50, 60 or 70 for that matter is a wonderful milestone for which you should be proud. But as proud as you may be, aging brings some physical changes we may not be quite ready for, or ready to accept.

Have you noticed fine lines around the eyes, or your pants fitting a little tighter? Do your joints ache as you climb stairs, or do you find yourself bracing your back as you stoop to pick up the morning paper? And where did your strength go? Have your muscles vanished?

These realities and many more begin to haunt us at about age 40 and can continue to worsen with aging. Is there any way to slow things down? Ah, the fountain of youth! If only we could simply take a drink!

Studies and surveys I have come across of baby boomers’ attitudes indicate that most of them are trying to be very proactive and slow their physical aging process as much as possible.  One of the areas in which that’s really important is muscle preservation.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and muscular strength leading to impairment in some activities of daily living. This natural age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and muscle function is called sarcopenia. The level of sarcopenia will greatly affect a person’s ability to live and function independently as they grow older.

Research suggests the causes of sarcopenia are related not just to inactivity, but to oxidative stress (a condition in which antioxidant levels are lower than normal), inflammation, alterations in protein turnover, and dysfunction of mitochondria (the ATP energy factory in cells). 1 And believe it or not, resistance training has been shown to not only reduce some of that oxidative stress, it reverses aging of the muscles on a genetic level.

One study compared 25 active older subjects (average age 68) to 26 younger subjects (average age 24). After a thorough medical evaluation including a graded exercise test, all subjects performed a supervised resistance training program on two non-consecutive days per week for 26 weeks.

All major muscle groups were included in the workout, beginning with single-set training which started out at more moderate levels and worked up to more intense levels. At the end of 26 weeks, the subjects underwent a muscle biopsy and RNA was extracted for analysis.

The biopsies revealed that resistance training not only slowed the process of aging, but actually reversed aging in something called the transcription RNA profile of the genes. The transcription profile looked like the RNA of a much younger person after the six months of resistance training, and the mitochondrial function of the cells was much improved.  These changes translated into improved muscle strength.  In fact, muscular strength in the older subjects improved by 50% in 26 weeks. 2

For years personal trainers and fitness professionals have touted the benefits of resistance training.  Now trainers can share with their clients that it may not be as easy as sipping from a fountain, but there is one sure way to reverse the aging process– get into the weight room!

References

  1. Kravitz,Len .2009. IDEA Fitness Journal. 21-23.
  2. Melov, S. 2007. Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging In Human Skeletal Muscle. Plos ONE, 2 journal.pone.com.

[ Ed. Note: Melissa Hawthorne, RN, BSN, CSCS is the owner of Priority Fitness Personal Training and Wellness.  She is a Master Trainer for the Resist-a-ball Company, ISCA Personal Training, Kick-boxing, and Beamfit.   Melissa serves as a fitness consultant for the LaValle Metabolic Institute.  To learn more, click here.]

Attention Women Over 35: Will Horse Urine Erase Wrinkles, Burn Fat and Protect Against Breast Cancer?

This is a rather unusual story…

In the 1940’s a research team at a big pharmaceutical company stumbled across a scientific breakthrough. It promised to reverse the damaging effects of menopause in women.

Developed into a little red pill, it’s been selling like crazy since 1942. Literally millions of women swear it’s the “holy grail” of anti-aging.

Now here’s where the story gets weird. The main ingredient is pregnant horse urine.
And it’s far from a “holy grail”. In 2002 a study revealed just how dangerous swallowing pregnant horse urine can be. In the end, the list of devastating (and deadly) side effects filled 17 pages!

But the story doesn’t end there…a new alternative (made from soy) provides the same promise of smooth skin, a taut tummy and cancer resistance…without the deadly side effects.

If you’re a woman over 35 I encourage you to investigate this opportunity for yourself.


hot dog Healthy Nutrition:

How a Kid’s Menu Contributes to Early Inflammation

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

By now, most people are aware that in our fight against chronic disease, the first order ofbusiness is to fight internal inflammation.  While we think of this as being an adult problem, did you know it can actually start in childhood?  As in adults, inflammation increases as weight increases, and since there are so many more overweight and obese children today, just like adults, they are experiencing Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even diseases like high blood pressure at alarmingly high rates. 1,2,3

The first place to look for the cause of inflammation is the diet.  Studies show that the nutritional intake of most children is high in calories, but sorely lacking in nutrients. 4 Children’s intake of fruit juices, fruit drinks, and all types of desserts and sweets is high, but their intake of nutrient-dense vegetables is very low. 5 And only 10 to 14% of toddlers by age 18 months are consuming any deep yellow or green vegetables.  But by age 24 months, on any given day, about 25% of toddlers consume potato chips or French fries.

Think about a typical kid’s menu in the United States — the general offerings are hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, chicken fingers, mac ‘n cheese, and spaghetti with marinara sauce. Typically, the most common side dish is French fries, and the common beverage offerings are soft drinks or highly sweetened fruit drinks, like lemonade.  And unfortunately, home eating is often not much better: a sugary cereal in the morning, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner.

Many young people are not giving up the kid’s menu, even as they become adults. A recent conversation I had with my older daughters (who are in their early 20s) confirmed this.  They described several of their peers who continue to eat almost all junk food and eat absolutely no vegetables — not even in a canned vegetable soup — not even an iceberg lettuce salad or piece of lettuce on their burger.

Unfortunately, the average kid’s menu, being very low in many key vitamins and minerals, high in sugar and fried foods, and almost devoid of fruits and vegetables ends up being the perfect prescription for promoting inflammation in the body.

For example, a 2009 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high intake of fried potato products such as chips and fries results in increased inflammation in the body and increased risk for heart disease. 6 Another study found that young adults who eat at fast food restaurants more than twice a week gain more weight and have a greater increase in insulin resistance in their early middle-age compared to those who eat fast food less than once a week. 7

So, the bottom line is that the poor eating habits of so many kids today are leading to earlier and earlier problems with chronic disease that only continues to build the dismal health statistics of adults. We really need a strong effort to break this cycle.

If you are pregnant or planning a family, there are some important steps you can take to improve your child’s acceptance of healthy foods.  Next time, I will talk about those steps and will give some suggestions to parents who are struggling with how to get their children, who are already into bad eating habits, to eat healthier.

References

  1. J Adolesc Health. 2001;28:372.
  2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81:970.
  3. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160:523.
  4. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003; 157:789.
  5. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104(suppl):s22-s30.
  6. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar;89(3):773-7. Epub 2009 Jan 21. 7 Lancet. Jan 1, 2005.
  7. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/129322.php.

[ Ed. Note: Laura B. LaValle, RD, LD is presently the director of dietetics nutrition at LaValle Metabolic Institute.   Laura and her husband, Jim LaValle, R.Ph, CCN, ND have developed the powerful and life-changing Metabolic Code Diet containing step-by-step, easy to follow recommendations for harnessing optimal metabolic energy and turning your body’s chemical make up into a fat-burning furnace.  To learn more click here now.]


Green Beans Healthy Recipes:

Green Beans with Creamy Garlic Dressing

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

Sometimes it’s hard to dress up green beans, but this recipe is delicious. The creamyMediterranean-style dressing adds so much flavor to the green beans that you won’t miss your high-carb potato salad.

Serves: 4
Time to Table: 20 minutes

Healing Nutrient Spotlight
Source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium

Ingredients*
1 pound fresh green beans
1 small clove garlic, minced 
1/2 tsp sea salt 
1/2 c plain yogurt (sheep’s or goat’s milk) 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

*Use organic ingredients for optimal nutrition.

Preparation
Snap or cut off ends of green beans.  Place a bowl of ice water on your counter.  Steam green beans to desired tenderness.  When beans are done, plunge them into a bowl of ice water.  After a minute, remove the green beans from the ice water and let them drain on a kitchen towel.  In a separate serving bowl, put in the minced garlic, salt, yogurt, oil and parsley and mix ingredients lightly with a fork or whisk.  Add green beans and toss to coat.  Serve cold.

Nutrition
61 calories, 2 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 199 IU vitamin A, 4 mg vitamin C, 51 mg calcium, 296 mg sodium

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