J. R. Johnstone, PhD and P.D.Finch, PhD
Mon, 29 Aug 2011 18:07 CDT
Science is not always a neutral, disinterested search for knowledge, although it may often seem that way to the outsider. Sometimes the story can be very different.
Smoking and health have been the subject of argument since tobacco was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century. King James I was a pioneer antismoker. In 1604 he declared that smoking was “a custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse.” But like many a politician since, he decided that taxing tobacco was a more sensible option than banning it.
By the end of the century general opinion had changed. The Royal College of Physicians of London promoted smoking for its benefits to health and advised which brands were best. Smoking was compulsory in schools. An Eton schoolboy later recalled that “he was never whipped so much in his life as he was one morning for not smoking”. As recently as 1942 Price’s textbook of medicine recommended smoking to relieve asthma.
These strong opinions for and against smoking were not supported by much evidence either way until 1950 when Richard Doll and Bradford Hill showed that smokers seemed more likely to develop lung cancer. A campaign was begun to limit smoking. But Sir Ronald Fisher, arguably the greatest statistician of the 20th century, had noticed a bizarre anomaly in their results. Doll and Hill had asked their subjects if they inhaled. Fisher showed that men who inhaled were significantly less likely to develop lung cancer than non-inhalers. As Fisher said, “even equality would be a fair knock-out for the theory that smoke in the lung causes cancer.”
Doll and Hill decided to follow their preliminary work with a much larger and protracted study. British doctors were asked to take part as subjects. 40.000 volunteered and 20,000 refused. The relative health of smokers, nonsmokers and particularly ex-smokers would be compared over the course of future years. In this trial smokers would no longer be asked whether they inhaled, in spite of the earlier result. Fisher commented: “I suppose the subject of inhaling had become distasteful to the research workers, and they just wanted to hear as little about inhaling as possible”. And: “Should not these workers have let the world know not only that they had discovered the cause of lung cancer (cigarettes) but also that they had discovered the means of its prevention (inhaling cigarette smoke)? How had the MRC [Medical Research Council] the heart to withhold this information from the thousands who would otherwise die of lung cancer?”
Five year’s later, in 1964, Doll and Hill responded to this damning criticism. They did not explain why they had withdrawn the question about inhaling. Instead they complained that Fisher had not examined their more recent results but they agreed their results were mystifying. Fisher had died 2 years earlier and could not reply.
This refusal to consider conflicting evidence is the negation of the scientific method. It has been the hallmark of fifty years of antismoking propaganda and what with good reason may well be described as one of the greatest scandals in 500 years of modern science.
A typical example of such deception appeared in the same year from the American Surgeon General. This was “Smoking and Health”,
the first of many reports on smoking and health to be produced by his office over the next 40 years. It declared that in the Doll and Hill study “…no difference in the proportion of smokers inhaling was found among male and female cases and controls.” Fisher had shown this was not so. Fisher’s assessment and criticism of the Doll and Hill results is not mentioned, not even to be rejected. Unwelcome results are not merely considered and rejected. They cease to exist.
The work of Doll and Hill was continued and followed up over the next 50 years. They reintroduced the question about inhaling. Their results continued to show the inhaling/noninhaling paradox. In spite of this defect their work was to become the keystone of the modern anti-smoking movement: Defects count for nothing if they are never considered by those who are appointed to assess the evidence.
But their work had a far more serious and crippling disability.
From its inception the British doctors study was known to have a critical weakness. Its subjects were not selected randomly by the investigators but had decided for themselves to be smokers, nonsmokers or ex-smokers. The kind of error that can result from such non-random selection was well demonstrated during the 1948 US presidential election. Opinion polls showed that Dewey would win by a landslide from Truman. Yet Truman won. He was famously photographed holding a newspaper with a headline declaring Dewey the winner. The pollsters had got it wrong by doing a telephone poll which at that time would have targeted the wealthier voters. The majority of telephone owners may have supported Dewey but those without telephones had not. A true sample of the population had not been obtained.
The new Doll and Hill study was subject to a similar error. Smokers who became ex-smokers might have done so because they were ill and hoped quitting would improve them. Alternatively, they might quit because they were exceptionally healthy and hoped to remain so. Quitting could appear either harmful or beneficial. To avoid this source of error another project, the Whitehall study, was begun.
In 1968 fourteen hundred British civil servants, all smokers, were divided into two similar groups. Half were encouraged and counselled to quit smoking. These formed the test group. The others, the control group, were left to their own devices. For ten years both groups were monitored with respect to their health and smoking status.
Such a study is known as a randomised controlled intervention trial. It has become increasingly the benchmark, or as it is often referred to, the “gold standard” of medical investigation. Any week you can open The Lancet or British Medical Journal and you will likely find an example of such a trial to determine the benefits or harm of some new therapy. Such trials are fundamentally different to that of Doll and Hill. This is ironic because Hill had published the influential and much-reprinted textbook Principles of Medical Statistics where he considers the relative merits of controlled and uncontrolled trials. His praise is reserved for the former. Of the latter he is particularly critical: Such work uses “second-best” or “inferior” methods. “The same objections must be made to the contrasting in a trial of volunteers for a treatment with those who do not volunteer, or in everyday life between those who accept and those who refuse. There can be no knowledge that such groups are comparable; and the onus lies wholly, it may justly be maintained, upon the experimenter to prove that they are comparable, before his results can be accepted.” This criticism by Hill can accurately be applied to the Doll and Hill study. According to Hill’s own criteria, his work with Doll can only be described as second-rate, inferior work. It would be for others to conduct properly controlled trials.
So what were the results of the Whitehall study? They were contrary to all expectation. The quit group showed no improvement in life expectancy. Nor was there any change in the death rates due to heart disease, lung cancer, or any other cause with one exception: certain other cancers were more than twice as common in the quit group. Later, after twenty years there was still no benefit in life expectancy for the quit group.
Over the next decade the results of other similar trials appeared. It had been argued that if an improvement in one life-style factor, smoking, were of benefit, then an improvement in several – eg smoking, diet and exercise – should produce even clearer benefits. And so appeared the results of the whimsically acronymed Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial or MRFIT, with its 12,886 American subjects. Similarly, in Europe 60,881 subjects in four countries took part in the WHO Collaborative Trial. In Sweden the Goteborg study had 30,022 subjects. These were enormously expensive, wide-spread and time-consuming experiments. In all, there were 6 such trials with a total of over a hundred thousand subjects each engaged for an average of 7.4 years, a grand total of nearly 800,000 subject-years. The results of all were uniform, forthright and unequivocal: giving up smoking, even when fortified by improved diet and exercise, produced no increase in life expectancy. Nor was there any change in the death rate for heart disease or for cancer. A decade of expensive and protracted research had produced a quite unexpected result.
During this same period, in America, the Surgeon General had been issuing a number of publications about smoking and health. In 1982, before the final results of the Whitehall study had been published, the then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop had praised the study for “pointing up the positive consequences of smoking in a positive manner”. But now for nearly ten years he fell silent on the subject and there was no further mention of the Whitehall study nor of the other six studies, though thousands of pages on the dangers of smoking issued from his office. For example in 1989 there appeared “Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress”. This weighty work is long on advice about the benefits of giving up smoking but short on discussion of the very studies which should allow the evaluation of that advice: you will look in vain through the thousand references to scientific papers for any mention of the Whitehall study or most of the other six quit studies. Only the MRFIT study is mentioned, and then falsely:
“The MRFIT study shows that smoking status and number of cigarettes smoked per day have remained powerful predictors for total mortality and the development of CHD [coronary heart disease], stroke, cancer, and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. In the study population, there were an estimated 2,249 (29 percent) excess deaths due to smoking, of which 35 percent were from CHD and 21 percent from lung cancer. The nonsmoker-former smoker group had 30 percent fewer total cancers than the smoking group over the 6-year follow up.”
This was untrue, as the Surgeon General was later to admit.
What the MRFIT authors themselves had to say about their work was quite different:
“In conclusion we have shown that it is possible to apply an intensive long-term intervention program against three coronary risk factors with considerable success in terms of risk factor changes. The overall results do not show a beneficial effect on CHD or total mortality from this multifactor intervention.” (Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial Research Group, 1982)
But in 1990 the Surgeon General published The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation and at last the subject was addressed. The Whitehall study was rejected because of its “small size”. A once praiseworthy study had become blameworthy. The MRFIT results were described, this time truthfully: “there was no difference in total mortality between the special intervention [quit] and usual care groups.” This and the other studies were rejected because the combined change in other factors – eg diet and exercise – made it impossible to apportion benefit due to smoking alone. This is absurd and illogical reasoning. If, say, a 10% improvement in life expectancy had been found then it might indeed be difficult if not impossible to say how much was due to smoking alone. But there was no improvement. There was nothing to apportion. Nevertheless, with such deceptive words the Surgeon General turned to an unpublished, unreviewed, un-controlled, non-intervention, non-randomised survey conducted for the American Cancer Society (“American Cancer Society: Unpublished tabulations”). The gold standard of modern science was rejected and replaced by the debased currency of what is by comparison little better than opinion and gossip.
This rejection of consistent results from controlled trials and the acceptance of far inferior data would not be countenanced in any other area of medical science. Anyone who suggested doing so would be met with howls of derision and questions as to their intelligence if not their sanity. But where smoking and health are being considered this debasement of science is commonplace and passes without comment.
In Australia in the same year there appeared a similar publication “The Quantification of Drug Caused (sic) Mortality and Morbidity in Australia” from the Federal Department of Community Services and Health. Its authors waste no time in discussing intervention trials. These receive not a mention, not even to be rejected. Instead the authors turned to several surveys of the kind ultimately used by the Surgeon General. In particular they used yet another study conducted for the American Cancer Society by E.C.Hammond, a gigantic study of a million subjects, another uncontrolled, non-intervention, non-randomised survey. This was a particularly bad choice. The dangers of very large surveys are well known to statisticians: because of their size it is difficult to do them accurately. The flaws in Hammond’s work were revealed when the initial results were published in 1954. Hammond himself was later to admit that his study had not been conducted as he had intended and as a consequence his results are to an unknown extent erroneous. But it was worse than that. His work became literally a textbook example of how not to do research. It can be found as example 287 in Statistics A New Approach by W.A.Wallis and H.V.Roberts. This was the ignominious and undignified fate of work which should only be quoted as a salutary example of the pitfalls which can await the researcher.
Two problems bedevil both Hammond’s work and other similar studies.
First, some of the volunteers who enrolled their subjects told Hammond that contrary to his instructions they had selectively targeted ill smokers. These results he was able to scrap but necessarily an unknown proportion of his final results must be suspect. Second, as was demonstrated at the time, his subjects were quite unrepresentative of the general public in a number of respects. In particular, there were relatively few smokers. It seems quite plausible that many healthy if indignant smokers would refuse to take part in his trial and this would produce such an aberration. These two vitiating defects are of the kind which have led to the widespread preference for gold standard trials.
But the continuation of Hammond’s work, with its demonstrated faulty methodology, was used by the Australian authors to deduce that smoking causes premature death to the extent of 17,800 per year in Australia. Their conclusions should be compared with the results of a survey by the Australian Statistician in 1991 of 22,200 households, chosen at random. This showed “long term conditions”, including cancer and heart disease, to be more common in non-smokers than smokers.
Even if they had used sound data to calculate deaths caused by smoking, this still would not have shown that smoking is overall harmful or causes an excess of deaths. Antibiotics kill some susceptible, allergic individuals but this fact does not show that antibiotics reduce life expectancy. If the data used by these authors is examined more closely it can in fact be shown that the mean age at death from smoking-related causes (eg lung cancer) is about 1 year greater than from nonsmoking-related causes (eg tetanus). See here for details. This result does not necessarily show that smokers live longer than nonsmokers: smokers as well as nonsmokers die from both nonsmoking-related causes and smoking-related causes. But it is certainly not evidence for the belief that smoking reduces life expectancy.
During all this time health authorities have repeatedly and persistently lied to the public. Consider just one of innumerable examples. In June 1988, in Western Australia the Health Department in full page advertisements in local papers declared: “The statistics are frightening. Smoking will kill almost 700 women in Western Australia this year. If present trends continue, lung cancer will soon overtake breast cancer as the most common malignant cancer in women”. What was frightening was not the statistics but the fact that a Health Department should lie about them. In 1987 the same Health Department in its own publications had said: “Suggestions by some commentators that lung cancer deaths in women will overtake breast cancer deaths in the next few years look increasingly unlikely…female lung cancer death rates have fallen for the last 2 years.” It was predicted that breast cancer would far outweigh lung cancer for the next 14 years. What the public were told was not just an untruth but the reverse of the truth. This is classic Orwellian Newspeak. The public are given what George Orwell in 1984 named “prolefeed” – lies. Orwell must have smiled wryly in his grave.
Above all has been the repeated and world-wide directive that smokers should quit and live longer when every controlled trial without exception has demonstrated this claim to be false.
Is there anything that can be said with certainty about the health and life expectancy of smokers and non-smokers? The evidence indicates little difference. One important fact often causes confusion: an agent can be a certain cause of death and yet have the effect of extending life. Smoking could be a major cause of lung cancer or even the only cause yet also be associated with long life. The Japanese are amongst the heaviest smokers in the world. They also live the longest. The Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment smoked for a hundred years before dying at 122 as the world’s oldest ever person.
The resolution of this paradox lies in the simple fact that most agents have both good and bad effects on health and life expectancy and it is the net result which is of primary importance. This simple but crucial fact is often ignored or forgotten by medical researchers. Coffee causes pancreatic cancer says the newspaper article. Perhaps it does, but if it has a bigger and beneficial effect on heart disease then those who drink coffee may well live longer than those who don’t. Hormone replacement therapy may increase the incidence of certain cancers yet still have overall a beneficial effect. (See “The Contrapuntists” below).
It may now be apparent why there is such a general belief that smoking is dangerously harmful. There are 3 reasons. First, studies which in any other area of science would be rejected as second-rate and inferior but which support antismoking are accepted as first-rate. Second, studies which are conducted according to orthodox and rigorous design but which do not support the idea that smoking is harmful are not merely ignored but suppressed. Third, authorities who are duty-bound to represent the truth have failed to do so and have presented not just untruths but the reverse of the truth.
It may be argued that this is news about an old and settled subject. And who cares about smoking anyway. But smoking is really a secondary issue. The primary issue is the integrity of science. This has no use-by date. When the processes of science are misused, even if for what seems a good reason, science and its practitioners are alike degraded.
By P.D. Finch
In a few years time an accidental by-product of genetic engineering leads to the discovery that certain living vibrating crystals can be manufactured very cheaply. When encased in a suitable holder and inserted in the ear one can hear, just for a few minutes, until body heat kills the crystal, beautiful melodies, rhythms and fascinating counterpoint. They are marketed as aural contrapuntive devices. Since they are cheap and become very popular, the Government taxes them. Users of the device become known as contrapuntists.
Some years later a new disease is identified when an increasing number of people drop dead, suddenly, for no apparent reason. Autopsies reveal a strange deterioration in the brain cells of those affected. An observant pathologist notes that in most of the associated post-mortem examinations an aural contrapuntive device was found in an ear of the deceased and the disease becomes known as SADS, an acronym for Sudden Aural Death Syndrome. Epidemiologists find that people who are not contrapuntists seldom fall victim to SADS and that, in fact, about 98 per cent of all such deaths are either current or former contrapuntists. The strength of association between aural contrapuntism and SADS is undeniable, the relative risk is as high as 50, i.e. a contrapuntist has about 50 times the chance of falling to SADS as does a non-contrapuntist.
An anti-contrapuntist health campaign is initiated and aural contrapuntive devices are taxed more and more heavily in an attempt to dissuade people from using them. The campaign is very successful and is vigorously supported by an unexpected alliance between animal liberationists, the music industry and the tone-deaf. Attention then shifts to passive aural contrapuntism, viz. the dangers posed by the sidestream melodic overflow from the devices in the ears of contrapuntists, in particular on the occurrence of SADS in non-contrapuntal spouses of contrapuntal men, the harm contrapuntal parents may do their children and the possible ill-effects suffered by the foetus of a contrapuntal pregnant woman.
After great initial success, however, the campaign falters when it becomes widely known that even though aural contrapuntism is so strongly associated with SADS, relatively few contrapuntists die from it each year and those that do have lived, on average, about one year longer than do non-contrapuntists and, moreover, at each age, are much more likely to die of other causes than of SADS itself. Politicians realise very quickly that they can now, with a clear conscience and with profit, tax aural contrapuntal devices even more heavily.
2 Keynes, G (1978), The Life of William Harvey, Oxford,
3 Lyte, H.C.M. (1899), A History of Eton College (1440-1898), Macmillan
4 Price, F.W. (ed.) (1942), A Textbook of the Practice of Medicine, 6th edition, Oxford University Press
5 Doll, R. and Hill, A.B. (1950), “Smoking and carcinoma of the lung”, British Medical Journal, ii pp739-48
6 Fisher, R.A. (1959) “Smoking: The Cancer Controversy”, Oliver and Boyd
7 Doll, R. and Hill, A.B. (1954), “The mortality of doctors in relation to their smoking habits”, British Medical Journal, i pp1451-5
8 Doll, R. and Hill, A.B. (1964), “Mortality in relation to smoking: ten years’ observations of British doctors”, British Medical Journal, i pp1460-7
9 Surgeon General (1964), “Smoking and Health” Link
10 Rose, G. and P.J.S. Hamilton (1978), ‘A randomised controlled trial of the effect on middle-aged men of advice to stop smoking’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 32, pages 275-281.
11 Hill, A.B.(1971, 9th ed.) “Principles of Medical Statistics”, The Lancet
12 Rose, G., P.J.S. Hamilton, L. Colwell and M.J. Shipley (1982), ‘A randomised controlled trial of anti-smoking advice: 10-year results’, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 36, pages 102-108
13 Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial Research Group (1982), ‘Multiple risk factor intervention trial: risk factor changes and mortality results’, Journal of the American Medical Association, 248, pages 1465-1477.
14 WHO European Collaborative Group (1986), ‘European collaborative trial of multifactorial prevention of coronary heart disease: final report on the 6-year results’, Lancet, 1, pages 869-872.
15 Wilhelmsen, L., G. Berglund, E. Elmfeldt, G. Tibblin, H. Wedel, K. Pennert, A. Vedin, C. Wilhelmsson and L. Werks (1986), ‘The multifactor primary prevention trial in Goteborg’, European Heart Journal, 7, pages 279-288.
16 Miettinen, T.A., J.K. Huttunen, V. Naukkarinen, T. Strandberg, S. Mattila, T. Kumlin and S. Sarna (1985), ‘Multifactorial primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases in middle-aged men: risk-factor changes, incidence and mortality’, Journal of the American Medical Association, 254, pages 2097-2102.
17 Puska, P., J. Tuomilehto, J. Salonen, L. NeittaanmSki, J. Maki, J. Virtamo, A. Nissinen, K. Koskela and T. Takalo (1979), ‘Changes in coronary risk factors during comprehensive five-year community programme to control cardiovascular diseases (North Karelia project), British Medical Journal, 2, pages 1173-1178.
18 Leren, P., E.M. Askenvold, O.P. Foss, A. Fr¨ili, D. Grymyr, A. Helgeland, I. Hjermann, I. Holme, P.G. Lund-Larsen and K.R. Norum (1975), ‘The Oslo study. Cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and young Oslo men’, Acta Medica Scandinavica [Suppl.], 588, pages 1-38.
19 Surgeon General (1982) The Health Consequences of Smoking – Cancer: A Report of the Surgeon General.
20 Surgeon General (1989) Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking: 25 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General: Executive Summary and Full Report
21 Surgeon General (1990) The Health Benefits of Smoking Cessation: A Report of the Surgeon General
22 Commonwealth Department of Community Services and Health, Canberra (1988) “The Quantification of Drug Caused Morbidity and Mortality in Australia”.
23 Wallis, W.A. and Roberts, H.V. (1962) “Statistics: A New Approach”, Methuen and Co. Ltd. Link
24 Australian Bureau of Statistics: Smokers are less likely to have cancer, heart disease 1, Australian Bureau of Statistics, No 4382.0, “1989-90 National Health Survey: Smoking”, Link
25 Australian Bureau of Statistics: Smokers are less likely to have cancer, heart disease 2, Link
26 Two messages from the Western Australian Health Department, Subiaco Post, 28 June 1988: 12 Hatton, W.M. (1987), Cancer Projections: Projections of numbers of incident cancers in Western Australia to the Year 2001, Perth: Epidemiology Branch, Health Department of Western Australia.
Hatton, W.M. and M.D. Clarke-Hundley (1987), Cancer in Western Australia: an analysis of age and sex specific rates, Perth: Health Department of Western Australia.
Installed 31 July 2006
Comment: Let’s All Light Up!
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Children of depressed mothers have a different brain: MRI scans show their children have an enlarged amygdala
University of Montreal
Mon, 15 Aug 2011 06:49 CDT
This release is available in French.
Researchers think that brains are sensitive to the quality of child care, according to a study that was directed by Dr. Sonia Lupien and her colleagues from the University of Montreal published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists worked with ten year old children whose mothers exhibited symptoms of depression throughout their lives, and discovered that the children’s amygdala, a part of the brain linked to emotional responses, was enlarged.
Similar changes, but of greater magnitude, have been found in the brains of adoptees initially raised in orphanages. Personalized attention to children’s needs may be the key factor. “Other studies have shown that mothers feeling depressed were less sensitive to their children’s needs and were more withdrawn and disengaged,” explained Drs. Sophie Parent and Jean Séguin of the University of Montreal’s, who followed the children over the years.
Scientists have established that the amygdala is involved in assigning emotional significance to information and events, and it contributes to the way we behave in response to potential risks. The need to learn about the safety or danger of new experiences may be greater in early life, when we know little about the world around us. Indeed, studies on other mammals, such as primates, show that the amygdala develops most rapidly shortly after birth. “We do not know if the enlargement that we have observed is the result of long-term exposure to lower quality care. But we show that growing up with a depressed mother is associated with enlarged amygdala.”
“Having enlarged amygdala could be protective and increase the probability of survival,” Lupien said. The amygdala may be protective through a mechanism that produces stress hormones known as glucocorticoids. The researchers noted that the glucocorticoids levels of the children of depressed mothers who participated in this study increased significantly when they were presented with unfamiliar situations, indicating increased reactivity to stress in those children. Adults who grew up in similar circumstances as these children show higher levels of glucocorticoids and a greater glucocorticoid reaction when participating in laboratory stress tests. “What would be the long term consequences of this increased reactivity to stress is unknown at this point.”
Although this study cannot clarify the causes of enlarged amygdala, the researchers note that the adoption studies have also shown that children who were adopted earlier in life and into more affluent families than others did not have enlarged amygdala. “This strongly suggests that the brain may be highly responsive to the environment during early development and confirms the importance of early intervention to help children facing adversity,” Lupien said. “Initiatives such as prenatal and infancy nurse home visits and enriched day care environments could mitigate the effects of parental care on the developing brain.” Séguin adds, “Future studies testing the effects of these preventive programs and observational studies involving children exposed to maternal depressive symptoms at different ages, and consequently for different lengths of time, should provide more insight into how this occurs, its long term consequences, and how it can be prevented.”
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Dr. Sircus’ Blog
Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:16 CDT
One would think that eating too much would result in an abundance of nutritional support for cells. But being overweight and undernourished at the same time is a reality that is just beginning to be understood. It is quite strange to say to people that the more they eat, the more malnourished they are destined to be.
Overweight people more often than not suffer from gross malnutrition because the nutritional values of the basic foods available to us have been steadily dropping for the last 50 years even as toxic exposures increase. Obese people tend to eat too many processed white foods with the fiber removed along with many of the vitamins and minerals. Not enough fiber is another common problem with the obese.
Excessive calorie intake is the fast track to leptin resistance. Since it’s hard to eat excess of the so-called “clean” foods, excess calories usually come from junk foods as do magnesium deficiencies.
Jennifer Welsh, a LiveScience staff writer explains that when dieters starve themselves of calories, they starve their brain cells as well. New research finds that these hungry brain cells then release “feed me” signals, which drive up hunger, slow down metabolism and thus cause diets to fail. Neurons sense nutrients in the body and tell the body when it’s time to eat and time to stop eating. The point is that dieters are not just starving themselves of calories, they are starving themselves of vital minerals and this comes on top of already existing mineral deficiencies that are characteristic of overweight and obese populations.
Obesity is Starvation
Hypomagnesaemia and hyperleptinemia are common in patients with diabetes. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that leptin stimulates diuresis and natriuresis causing the urinary magnesium loss in type-1 diabetes. Human leptin is a protein of 167 amino acids. It is manufactured primarily in the adipocytes of white adipose tissue, and the level of circulating leptin is directly proportional to the total amount of fat in the body.
Magnesium makes dieting easier by supporting the brain’s sensitivity to leptin. Magnesium’s benefits go on forever it seems. Now we have to get serious and introduce it to the world of diet, weight loss and the medical science of obesity and diabetes.
Studies have shown that leptin and magnesium both play significant if not primary roles in heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, reproductive disorders, and perhaps the rate of aging itself.Many chronic diseases are now linked to excess inflammation such as heart disease and diabetes. High leptin levels and low magnesium levels are extremely pro-inflammatory.,
Leptin is a hormone that triggers your sense of feeling full. A leptin deficiency can cause overeating, leading to obesity and obesity-related disease. Most people don’t have a leptin deficiency – they have lost their sensitivity to leptin, which is called leptin resistance. Much like insulin resistance, it’s possible to have enough leptin, but because your body doesn’t use it effectively, you still feel hungry. Leptin resistance is a serious health issue. Essentially you are overfeeding your body but the perception from your brain is that you are starving because you actually are missing vital nutrients such as magnesium.
The journal Circulation showed that men with established heart disease had blood leptin levels 16% higher than men considered heart healthy. Every 30% increase in leptin increased the risk of a heart attack or a vascular event by 25% (Wallace et al 2001).
Obesity and type-2 diabetes epidemics have joined forces ravaging the health of hundreds of millions of people around the world who have been significantly affected by this deadly pair. It is extremely important to understand how these two epidemics are intertwined.
The popular belief is that if one eats too much sugar, they’ll get fat and develop diabetes, but this is only half the truth. There’s more to the obesity-diabetes connection than what most doctors and just about everyone else typically believe.
When leptin is working properly it prevents nutrient spillover by telling insulin to shut off after your tank is full. Every time you eat excess food (more than what your body needs for energy), leptin and insulin levels surge. Leptin resistance leads to insulin resistance which further establishes leptin resistance. Leptin levels correlate with insulin levels (both are high in hyperinsulinemia). With insulin resistance, you no longer have insulin sensitivity. When you are insulin sensitive, you only need to secrete a small amount of insulin to get glucose (glycogen) into the muscles and liver.
Researchers have discovered that a proper diet and regular exercise have the greatest impact on reversing the damage done by leptin resistance. Too little sleep can lower the appetite-control hormone leptin and increase the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. Now research reports that sleep loss may increase dangerous belly fat. Get a good night’s sleep should be standard doctor’s orders but sleep does not come on command for a large segment of people.
Melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body’s internal clock, is closely linked with leptin production. Your body produces the most leptin overnight while you sleep. Anything that disrupts your sleep can disrupt leptin production. Nothing will disturb sleep more than a serious magnesium deficiency, except for pharmaceutical medications for sleep disorders. It is vitally important to sleep in the dark – any artificial light sources will seriously curtail melatonin production during sleep.
One potential cause for lower serum magnesium in obese youth is low dietary magnesium intake. Studies do show that the calorie-adjusted magnesium intake in obese children was lower compared with lean children. Hypomagnesemia (serum magnesium 0.78 mmol/l) was present in 27% of healthy lean children and 55% of obese children.
One of the causes of magnesium deficiency is over-medicating with synthetic pharmaceutical drugs approved by the FDA and prescribed by doctors. They prevent the body from absorbing magnesium. It’s a cruel reality that diabetics are prescribed medicines that further reduce their magnesium reserves putting them into a fatal tailspin.
The body requires magnesium to absorb and utilize nutrients. Without magnesium our bodies cannot properly use the fats, proteins and carbohydrates we eat every day. When we aren’t getting what we need from our diet, we will crave more food in an effort to obtain those vital nutrients. By activating hundreds of enzymes in the body, magnesium helps you get the most from what you eat so you can be satisfied with no more than the amount of food you genuinely need.
Since conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes are strongly associated with obesity, controlling blood sugar levels is a key factor in maintaining a healthy weight. When enough magnesium is present in the body, insulin can function properly and blood glucose is used for energy. A magnesium deficiency causes insulin to function poorly, resulting in high blood sugar and fat storage.
Magnesium is a co-factor of many enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Magnesium has an important role in insulin action, and insulin stimulates magnesium uptake in insulin-sensitive tissues. Magnesium is required for both proper glucose utilization and insulin signaling. Metabolic alterations in cellular magnesium, which may play the role of a second messenger for insulin action, contribute to insulin resistance. Magnesium is needed to extract energy from food and for optimal insulin function. The more energy you extract from food the less you have to eat to feel great.
There are co-factors that the body needs in order to utilize vitamin D properly. Magnesium is the most important co-factor for vitamin D. In fact, it is common for rising vitamin D levels to exacerbate an underlying magnesium deficiency. If one is having difficulty maintaining vitamin D levels, a magnesium deficiency could be the reason. Magnesium is a mineral that is essential to all cells of all known living organisms. We also see research showing that low serum magnesium levels can be raised by injections of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation of 2000 mg/day also reduces the incidence of type-2 diabetes.
Stress management is one of the most important keys in fighting obesity, and magnesium is a vital nutrient for reducing stress. This is because magnesium supports healthy adrenal glands. These are the glands that control the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones related to the stress response. While these hormones are vital to living, too much of them can cause weight gain and other health problems. Magnesium helps regulate these hormones so they are not overproduced.
Magnesium also regulates nervous system response. When we have a magnesium deficiency, our nervous system is over-stimulated, leading to irritation, nervousness and stress. When there is plenty of magnesium, the mind and body are finally able to relax and reverse the effects of stress.
Optimizing hormone levels is critical because hormones influence our moods, thought patterns (negative and positive), behaviors, appearance, and our ability to handle stress.
“Eating throws powerful hormonal switches and when you eat is just as important as what you eat,”
- Leptin – Its Essential Role in Health, Disease and Aging; Dr. Ron Rosedale; [PDF]
- Towards a pro-inflammatory and immunomodulatory emerging role of leptin; Otero et al; Rheumatology 2006;45:944 – 950
- Magnesium, inflammation, and obesity in chronic disease [PDF]
- Leptin affects food intake and body weight by actions on the hypothalamus. Although leptin resistance is common in obesity, mechanisms have not been identified. Specuation holds that the consumption of high amounts of fructose causes leptin resistance and elevated triglycerides in rats. It’s been suggested that the major physiological role of leptin is not as a “satiety signal” to prevent obesity in times of energy excess, but as a “starvation signal” to maintain adequate fat stores for survival during times of energy deficit and that leptin resistance in overweight individuals is the standard feature of mammalian physiology which possibly confers a survival advantage.
- Magnesium Deficiency Is Associated With Insulin Resistance in Obese Children [PDF]
- Results: Baseline concentrations of serum Magnesium and 25 hydroxy vitamin D in obese individuals was lower than non obese individuals, the former being significant. Twenty seven percent of obese women versus 15% of non obese women were Magnesium deficient. Vitamin D injection caused a significant increase in serum Magnesium concentration in obese subjects but not in non obese subjects. There was also a significant increase of serum 25 hydroxy vitamin D in both groups. Mean elevation in serum Magnesium level among women who had Magnesium deficiency was higher than women with Magnesium adequacy (P<0.05). Conclusion: Low serum Magnesium concentration in obese individuals can be modified by vitamin D injection (JPMA 59:258; 2009).
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Fukushima radiation is six times more than the previous high, more than Geiger counters can register. News media and governments cover it up—and radioactive waste to be used as garden soil!
Radiation levels at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant suddenly rose to more than six times the highest levels they’d ever reached before now. And, of course, there isn’t a hint of it in the mainstream media.
TEPCO, the company that owns the plant, reports today that radiation levels over 10,000 millisieverts per hour have been registered on the second floor of reactor one. How much more, we don’t know. Geiger counters can’t measure more than 10,000 millisieverts an hour! They say that they have restricted access to the room. But what is likely to happen to the workers who were there? The maximum allowed for reactor employees is now 250 millisieverts—an amount that was increased from 100 millisieverts for no medical reason.
The situation at Fukushima is getting worse. The improvements appear to be mostly cosmetic. And the whole thing is being covered up. Some information leaks out, but mainstream media doesn’t touch it, spins it, or buries it.
In Dahr Jamail’s excellent interview, Al Gundersen, former senior vice president in the nuclear industry, states:
Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind. [and further says] With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started. But they never end.
Watch this video with Al Gundersen as he explains what’s happening and why the situation may not be resolvable:
No Plan to Plug Leaks
To make matters even worse, TEPCO’s recently updated plan for resolving the disaster no longer includes any reference to plugging the holes and cracks in the containment vessels of the reactors. And that means there’s really no plan to resolve this mess!
The effects are spreading throughout the world. It is almost certainly the worst nuclear disaster ever known. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings happened in, literally, a flash. The radiation was all released at once—yet those events resulted in massive suffering and long term increases in disease and deformities. What could we be facing in Fukushima?
As this slow-motion disaster develops, news of the spread of radiation leaks out. Fukushima radiation has virtually blanketed the world, and is contaminating the ocean. The Japanese government’s response to the hugely increased radiation at the plant? So far, silence—except to assure people that radiation levels around the plant are now two-millionths of what was recorded at the peak of the disaster.
Problem After Problem After…
Japan, the epicenter of this radiation quake, gets hit with one blow after another—and the solutions seem to be to hide what’s happening or pretend it’s really not so bad.
Their solution for 1,500 tons of radioactive sludge from the reactor plant? Since it’s illegal to bury anything that radioactive, they’re considering using it as garden soil! By the way, this stuff wasn’t found on the Fukushima plant. It was found in sewage treatment plants all over eastern Japan. Worse, they were burning it, resulting in radioactive clouds of ash that spread far and wide, including over Tokyo.
Fertilizer in Japan is now assumed to be contaminated with radiation. Compost shipped from Tochigi Prefecture, south of Fukushima Prefecture, was found to be contaminated. Therefore, local governments are being taught how to test fertilizer and compost for cesium radiation and no compost can be made from fallen leaves, which may be contaminated.
Mushrooms grown indoors 30-40 miles from the reactor are contaminated by radiation. That means indoor radiation is higher than what’s the government says exists outdoors.
Contaminated beef was released to market after the hides were rubbed and checked for radiation, but without tests on the meat.
The evacuation area is nowhere near adequate in size. Even 50 miles from the Fukushima plant is not safe. Lab reports done privately are ignored. The horrors of the Fukushima disaster go on and on, with no end in sight.
And the Governments Fiddle
And, as ever, governments line up with corporate interests. The media represents corporate interests. So, there’s a virtual blackout on the effects and status of the Fukushima disaster while we’ve virtually returned to business as usual.
It won’t just go away, though. We, and our children and grandchildren, will live—and die—with the effects of Fukushima. The question isn’t whether it will be bad. The question is how bad.
Source: GAIA Health, bu Heodo Stevenson, 2 August 2011
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A Major Canadian Paper Reports That The Government Covered Up Massive Amounts Of Radioactive Material From Fukushima In Canadian Air” And Are Continuing To Manipulate Radiation Monitoring Data.
While the alternative media has reported on a cover up of the Fukushima nuclear fallout throughout the disaster, we haven’t seen a mainstream news source do much more than act as a stenographer for the government and the nuclear industry through the entire ordeal.
This could clearly be seen in the nuclear fallout maps.
To be fair, Forbes blogger Jeff McMahon called out the government for switching their so-called safety levels but we really haven’t heard much from him since. The rest of the media has been silent.
Today a major Canadian paper lashed out at the government of Canada after finally coming to the realization that the cronies knew about and covered up “massive amounts of radioactive material from Fukushima in Canada”.
Before I send you to the link, I would like to clarify the caption beneath the photo of the expert they interviewed which reads as follows:
Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, says that while radiation coming from Fukushima will lead to higher cancer rates among Canadians, the risk posed to individuals is very small.
Shame on this man for spewing the nuclear apologist talking point that while the population is at a higher risk the risk to an individual is small. The Feds spit out the same bs, saying that if 1 in 2,200 people are going to get cancer then there is a risk the overall population but not to the individual.
Forbes’ McMahon did an excellent job of objectively explaining that for the 1 in 2,200 who get cancer there is a risk.
That kind of statement failed to reassure the public in part because of the issue of informed consent—Americans never consented to swallowing any radiation from Fukushima—and in part because the statement is obviously false.
There is a question whether the milk was safe.
In spite of the relative level of Fukushima radiation, which many minimized through comparison to radiation from x-rays and airplane flights—medical experts agree that any increased exposure to radiation increases risk of cancer, and so, no increase in radiation is unquestionably safe.
Whether you choose to see the Fukushima fallout as safe depends on the perspective you adopt, as David J. Brenner, a professor of radiation biophysics and the director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center, elucidated recently in The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists:
Should this worry us? We know that the extra individual cancer risks from this long-term exposure will be very small indeed. Most of us have about a 40 percent chance of getting cancer at some point in our lives, and the radiation dose from the extra radioactive cesium in the food supply will not significantly increase our individual cancer risks.
But there’s another way we can and should think about the risk: not from the perspective of individuals, but from the perspective of the entire population. A tiny extra risk to a few people is one thing. But here we have a potential tiny extra risk to millions or even billions of people. Think of buying a lottery ticket — just like the millions of other people who buy a ticket, your chances of winning are miniscule. Yet among these millions of lottery players, a few people will certainly win; we just can’t predict who they will be. Likewise, will there be some extra cancers among the very large numbers of people exposed to extremely small radiation risks? It’s likely, but we really don’t know for sure.
A few people certainly will “win,” which is why it’s so interesting that the EPA’s standard for radionuclides in drinking water is so much more conservative than the FDA’s standard for radionuclides in food.
Now on to the reports from the Canadian Paper, Georgia Straight.
Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe brings big radiation spikes to B.C.
After Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe, Canadian government officials reassured jittery Canadians that the radioactive plume billowing from the destroyed nuclear reactors posed zero health risks in this country.
In fact, there was reason to worry. Health Canada detected massive amounts of radioactive material from Fukushima in Canadian air in March and April at monitoring stations across the country.
The level of radioactive iodine spiked above the federal maximum allowed limit in the air at four of the five sites where Health Canada monitors levels of specific radioisotopes.
On March 18, seven days after an earthquake and tsunami triggered eventual nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, the first radioactive material wafted over the Victoria suburb of Sidney on Vancouver Island.
For 22 days, a Health Canada monitoring station in Sidney detected iodine-131 levels in the air that were 61 percent above the government’s allowable limit. In Resolute Bay, Nunavut, the levels were 3.5 times the limit.
Meanwhile, government officials claimed there was nothing to worry about. “The quantities of radioactive materials reaching Canada as a result of the Japanese nuclear incident are very small and do not pose any health risk to Canadians,” Health Canada says on its website. “The very slight increases in radiation across the country have been smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations from background radiation.”
In fact, Health Canada’s own data shows this isn’t true. The iodine-131 level in the air in Sidney peaked at 3.6 millibecquerels per cubic metre on March 20. That’s more than 300 times higher than the background level, which is 0.01 or fewer millibecquerels per cubic metre.
“There have been massive radiation spikes in Canada because of Fukushima,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
“The authorities don’t want people to have an understanding of this. The government of Canada tends to pooh-pooh the dangers of nuclear power because it is a promoter of nuclear energy and uranium sales.”
Edwards has advised the federal auditor-general’s office and the Ontario government on nuclear-power issues and is a math professor at Montreal’s Vanier College.
In a phone interview from his Montreal home, he said radiation from Fukushima will lead to higher rates of cancer and other diseases among Canadians. But don’t panic. Edwards cautioned that the risk is very small for any particular individual.
“It’s not the risk to an individual that’s the problem but how much society is at risk. When you are exposing millions of people to an insult, even if the average dose is quite small, we are going to see fatal health effects,” he said.
In another report the paper points out how the government is manipulating the data so that they can under report the amount of nuclear fallout.
Confused by all the nuke lingo about becquerels and sieverts and what it means for your health? So were most of the nuclear experts we talked to for this story.
It also doesn’t help that Health Canada’s data on the radioactive fallout from Fukushima is so sparse and confusingly reported that it’s hard to figure out whether or not it exceeds government limits.
Health Canada reports on monitoring data for only three or four of the hundreds of radioactive substances spewing out of the crippled Japanese nuclear plant.
“They’re measuring only a fraction of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima,” said Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, speaking from Montreal.
Sites such as The Intel Hub, reported that low but still harmful levels of radiation were hitting Canada and The United States west coast from the beginning while the corporate controlled media and even some of the alternative media claimed that no radiation was hitting anywhere but Japan.
Reports such as this one are only further confirmation that radiation from Fukushima did have an effect on Canada and the U.S. and our health and regulatory agencies actively worked to cover up the dangers posed by it.
The Intel Hub, Alexander Higgins August 4th, 2011