Letter from Dr. Janson
Inflammation and Heart Disease
Lycopene and Lung Cancer
FDA, Red-Yeast-Rice, and Cholesterol
In the Health News
Recipe of the Month: Tasty Tofu -- Believe
it or not!
On a recent radio show during the election campaigns, the
cost of health care came up, and one Medicare recipient was
complaining about her annual $6,000 bill for medications.
Thats right, over $500 every month. She was lamenting
the situation saying something like I have heart disease,
and high blood pressure. Ive had open heart surgery,
and I am diabetic. Im tired; and I have arthritisdoesnt
It is no wonder that costs of medical care are so high; it
is taken for granted that as people age they develop degenerative
diseases, leading to extensive use of the medical care system;
and it is getting to the breaking point.
I can tell you with some confidence that it is not necessary
to get increasingly sick as you age, if you take proper care
of yourself. The reason people do get sick is that they have
little conception of how to follow healthy lifestyles.
To paint some analogies, if you constantly slam down the
gas pedal in your car, jam on the brakes, use the wrong fuel
and the wrong oil, and you dont change the air filter,
or the spark plugs, or maintain proper air pressure in the
tires, would you wonder why your car maintenance costs are
Well, this is exactly the way most people take care of their
bodies. They jolt themselves awake with caffeine, calm down
with alcohol, eat junk that is high in sugar and white flour,
consume the wrong oils (hydrogenated oils and too much animal
fat), drink tap water if they drink enough at all, and dont
exercise (akin to tuning up with new spark plugs). Is it any
wonder that 3/4 of Americans are above their ideal weight,
and 1/3 are obese. With this lifestyle, yes, everybody will
have the problems of that Medicare patient, even though she
was only 67 years old.
These problems are not genetic! The claim that they are is
simply an excuse to avoid the responsibility for our own health.
Most of the time, genetic tendencies are manifest only when
lifestyle choices enhance their expression. What influences
the genes to express themselves or not are health choices.
When people move to the United States, their genes dont
change, but their illnesses do, as soon as they change their
diet and exercise patterns to mimic the diet known as SAD
(Standard American Diet).
You have the power to change your health, and you do not
have to anticipate being dependent on drugs for heart disease,
arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions,
all of which are strongly influenced by what you eat, how
much you exercise, and whether you are able to relax and focus
on your spiritual center. You are in charge of your health,
and by taking that responsibility, you can reduce the cost
of health care for yourself, and for everyone else. The government
cannot afford current levels of disease care, and it doesnt
provide health. Health is something you give yourself.
One of the common denominators in the risk of developing coronary
artery disease appears to be chronic inflammation from a variety
of causes. I have previously reported on the cardiac risk
indicator called CRP, or C-Reactive Protein. This is only
one general indicator of inflammation, but its presence in
high amounts is more closely associated with heart disease
Other information is coming out about specific associations
of chronic infections, such as gum disease (periodontal infection);
Chlamydia pneumoniae; Herpes simplex virus; cytomegalovirus
(CMV); and Helicobacter pylori(associated with stomach ulcers),
with arterial disease.
The common denominator may be the high levels of CRP. This
protein may not be just a marker for arterial disease, but
it now appears to directly damage the lining of the arteries.
High white blood counts, another sign of infection, are also
associated with increased mortality from heart attacks, and
with less response to the clot-busting medications.
With all this information, what can you do to protect
yourself from infection and inflammation. Most of the time,
low resistance is related to poor diet, high stress, lack
of sleep, and inadequate nutrition, including dietary supplements.
My regular dietary guidelines, with low sugar, high intake
of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and elimination
of hydrogenated fats, are the first line of defense.
Fat intake has an interesting relationship to heart disease
in this regard. High animal fat appears to lead to more inflammation.
It contains high levels of arachidonic acid, a fatty acid
that increases prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), associated with inflammation,
platelet aggregation, and spasm of blood vessels. Hydrogenated
oils interfere with the other prostaglandins that might counteract
You can reduce these effects by avoiding animal fat and taking
supplements of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and omega-3 oils
such as flax seeds and fish oil (EPA and DHA). The researchers
suggest that cholesterol is pro-inflammatory, which is one
reason they give for the apparent benefits of cholesterol-lowering
statin drugs. Niacin (vitamin B3) is also of value,
not only because it lowers cholesterol, but because it favorably
affects other risk factors, for example, lowering serum fibrinogen
to reduce excessive clotting. (See page 3, on red-rice-yeast.)
A number of dietary supplements play a role in battling
infection and reducing inflammation, in addition to niacin
and essential fatty acids. Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation
and enhance immunity, and it is particularly valuable against
viruses if taken in high doses. I recommend 4000 to 6000 mg
daily for viral susceptibility, as that amount maintains white
blood cell levels when they would otherwise drop during an
infection. It also increases production of interferon , a
natural antiviral substance.
Vitamin E, 800 IU daily, has been shown to enhance immunity
in the elderly. Zinc is an essential mineral for proper immune
function, supporting both antibody production and white blood
A number of herbs reduce inflammation, including ginger, curcumin
(from turmeric), nettle, feverfew, Siberian and American ginseng,
and the pineapple enzyme, bromelain.
The herbs that help immunity are echinacea, astragalus, beta
1,3 glucan, maitake mushroom, and a number of others.
You can also protect yourself from viruses and bacteria with
supplements of transfer factor, the colostrum derivative that
I have written about in previous newsletters.
Heart and vascular diseases result from complex combinations
of risk factors, almost all of them strongly controlled by
our own habits and actions. You dont have to be an unwitting
victim, as long as you realize that you are in charge.
The large Nurses Health Study and the Physicians
Health Study provide further evidence of the value of diets
high in fruits and vegetables.
Lycopene, the carotenoid concentrated in tomatoes, protects
both smokers and non-smokers from lung cancer, while other
carotenoids, such as alpha-carotene and lutein seem to be
protective only in non-smokers. This relationship might be
related to the other vitamins and phytochemicals found in
abundance in the same foods that are the sources of carotenoids,
but there does seem to be a protective effect from many nutrients,
including supplements. Some other beneficial phytochemicals:
indole-3 carbinol, phenethyl-isothiocyanate, ellagic acid,
A study on lung cancer patients who took large doses of antioxidants
showed that they survived far better than expected. In fact,
although the kind of lung cancer studied usually has a 99
percent mortality after one year, 40 percent of these patients
lived almost three years, and some even longer.
Other dietary supplements that protect against cancer or
help support the treatment include vitamin C, folic acid,
coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, calcium D-glucarate, and beta 1,3
glucan. The same transfer factor mentioned above also improves
lung and prostate cancer survival, likely because of its immune
Recently the FDA ruled that a natural substance found in red-yeast-rice
(Cholestin) could not be marketed as a cholesterol-lowering
agent. It turns out that this food source supplement contains
a naturally occuring component (monacolin K) that the FDA
has already allowed to go on the market as a patented drug
called Mevacor (lovastatin).
The statin drugs do lower cholesterol, but the reason drug
companies spend so much money to market synthetic or modified
substances is that they cannot patent natural substances.
When it was discovered that the statin-like molecule in red-yeast-rice
occurred naturally, the patent on Mevacor should have been
Instead, the FDA ruled that the red-yeast-rice should be
withdrawn, even though it is a natural substance and falls
under the protection of the Dietary Supplement Health and
Of course, the FDA can remove any substance that poses a
health risk from the market , natural or otherwise, but their
actions on this product clearly shows their bias against dietary
supplements and their favorable treatment of drugs.
The lead author of the article on Cholestin points out in
a letter to the editor that dietary supplements are not unpurified
drugsthey are natural substances. Synthesis of drugs
by crystallization and purification of plant sources makes
the resulting medical treatment more expensive, more risky,
and less accessible, and if natural dietary supplements were
available instead, public health would be more affordable
As is common with natural products, Cholestin contains a
variety of compounds related to monacolin K, all of which
may have an effect on cholesterol levels. It also appears
to be quite safe.
Unfortunately, after a victory of the manufacturer over the
FDA in District Court, the Appeals Court ruled that the FDA
could regulate Cholestin (this court often sides with FDA).
This threatens to deprive you of easy access to this beneficial
supplement for heart health.
Some of what we have been calling normal
aging may in fact be due to past exposures to chemicals
or other agents that can affect the central nervous system,
says one researcher after examining the effects of lead exposure
on mental decline with age. (Schwartz BS, et al., Neurology
2000 Oct 24;55(8):1144-50.) Exposure to many toxins may be
associated with various chronic degenerative diseases, and
it is important to protect yourself by drinking clean water
and breathing clean air as often as possible. (I use a MultiPure
solid-carbon block water filter for all drinking and cookingit
removes lead, other heavy metals, pesticides, chemical solvents,
and more.) I also recommend intravenous chelation therapy
for heavy metal exposure, and for all industrial lead workers.
A new report from the American Heart Association
says that soy products, such as tofu, can lower cholesterol
and provide protection from heart disease (Circulation 2000
Nov 14;102(20):2555-9). Examining 38 studies led to the conclusion
that substituting soy for meat and other animal protein was
beneficial by lowering LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides,
and raising levels of the good HDL-cholesterol. Critics of
soy in the diet usually harp on the use of texturized vegetable
protein (TVP), and I agree that this highly processed product
is not a good source of nutrition. But the literature is clear
that soy from tofu is a benefit for both cancer and heart
disease. Other soyfoods, such as tempeh and soymilk contain
the same beneficial isoflavones, genistein and daidzein. The
recommendation is 25 to 50 grams of soy protein per day. (See
the tofu recipe below.)
Tofu can be very healthful. Many people say that they dont
like tofu but say they like fried ricenot realizing
that it usually contains slivers of tofu. I like to dice tofu
into 1/2 inch cubes, then saute some onions, garlic, ginger,
and a touch of cayenne in a small amount of olive oil. When
sizzling, add the tofu and saute for one or two minutes, then
add a mix of some cut up broccoli, spinach, cabbage, or chard.
A touch of soy sauce (careful of its high salt content) or
a bit of balsamic vinegar brightens it up. Mix in some cooked
brown rice, and stir in for one or two minutes. Turn off the
flame, and add a garnish of cut up scallions, cilantro, and
a few drops of toasted sesame oil. This is a good way to get
healthy while indulging in a tasty pleasure at the same time.
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