Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
Today’s news includes the return of a psuedo-scandal, proof that the FDA doesn’t care about women, and…donuts.
No, Vitamins Will not Kill You
It’s all over the news: vitamins will kill you! This is the same old scare that gets trucked out whenever there’s an FDA or Big Pharma scandal (it happened during the Vioxx debacle and again when the FDA got slammed last month). In fact, Elliott notes that there was a virtually identical story in January, and several last year…and the year before that. Each time, the same studies are brought up.
Honestly, the deja vu is annoying, so we don’t want to spend a lot of time on this pseudo scandal, but if you have any specific questions, feel free to shoot the Big Guy (that’s Sisson) a line. Simply click up yonder.
Vitamin A: it’s not an antioxidant, but people often misunderstand it to be one. No one thinks high levels of pure A is a good idea, and most high-potency vitamins that include high levels of A are giving you beta carotene, not pure A (the best multis will give you mixed carotenoids). For the record, the study that showed risk was done on smokers who were very, very sick.
In fact, this “news” out today is bandying the same old meta-analysis of many studies. Um, huh? you ask.
A quick lesson: “meta-analysis” is just a fancy way of saying “we looked at a bunch of different studies and here’s our opinion.” It’s not the best way to conduct a study, because it’s not really a study, per se – it’s an analysis of many studies which, in this case, were all conducted via different methodologies.
What’s more, in this particular case, many of the studies were based on questionnaires. If you’ve ever filled out a form detailing your caloric intake, exercise habits or sex life, you know these things aren’t exactly 100% accurate.
Here’s the sting: the majority of the studies included in ole Dansk’s report are outdated, ignore other, better studies, and generally involved really sick, elderly, even terminally ill patients.
As far as vitamin E is concerned, scientists continually scratch their heads at this Denmark meta-baloney (yeah, Denmark again…). We already know that the E in question isn’t the best for you. That’s been known for a long time. E, like the B vitamins, is really a spectrum supplement – there are eight different E’s, known collectively as tocotrienols and tocopherols.
Taking one tocopherol – the kind you’ll find in those cheap gel caps everywhere – is not a good idea and this has been known for quite a while now (and any multivitamin that uses this single form is not a multi you want to buy). The full spectrum E? Hundreds of rigorously conducted studies show proven benefits.
In short, don’t buy into the vitamin hype. The study is not news. It’s a review of studies that were conducted under inconsistent and varying conditions, on generally sick people. And it comes at time when the FDA and the drug companies are scrambling to improve their images.
Mark will be adding his thorough explanation to the Health Q&A this week, so we’ll give you the heads-up. Stick around, Apples.
The FDA Is Worse Than Your Ex
Indisputable facts: The FDA puts political pressure on its researchers. The FDA is a cushy landing pad for stressed-out former Pharma execs. The FDA tends to approve drugs based on drug companies’ own studies.
Jen and Sara report: Not only is the FDA corrupt, incompetent, and slow to change – evidently, we can now add sexist to the list.
We’re Waiting for the One with Omega-3′s
Cut the fat with these bloggers as your guides. Though we can’t condone every health tip offered by these ever-slimming scribes, the will of these bloggers to lose weight is inspirational and noteworthy. Check out these blogs and then head down your own obesity-free path to well-being.
Kevin Graves is sick of being fat. With age 50 fast approaching, Kevin has made an oath to get healthy before it is too late.
After six years of learning how to eat smart and love exercise, Shauna has lost over 170 pounds.
Donna’s goal is to regain her pre-grad school body before she graduates this May. Can she do it?!
JuJu and Jane have a lot of advice to give. After years of Yo-Yo dieting they lost a combined 375 lbs. by adopting smart habits and making health their number one priority.
The title says it all.
Not simply a personal account and a lot more than just low-carb living – Jimmy Moore’s blog chronicles his loss of more than 200 pounds and offers words of encouragement to anyone trying to do the same.
Stats, graphs, pics and video posts help you follow Renee as she tries anything to get fit.
As you may know by now, I am not afraid of the sunlight. Although most dermatologists suggest that we might be better off living in caves and covering ourselves head-to-toe whenever we venture out, my own evolutionary perspective leads me to believe we were designed to get sunlight almost every day and that our health suffers if we don’t get enough.
In fact, recent studies show that, as a result of our shunning the sun, many of us suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and a resulting loss of bone density and immune function (to name a few effects). Some researchers opine that more people die from lack of sun than from too much sun! But, I digress.
I came across an article the other day that piqued my curiosity since it dealt with the combination of running and sunning.
It basically showed that marathoners (of which I was once one) tend to get skin cancer at higher rates than other people. The more they ran, the higher the incidence of skin cancer. My take on what’s happening is that not only are the runners exposed to more sun (which can cause DNA damage in skin cells leading to cancer), but they are also bathed in more free radicals overall from the excessive oxidation of glucose and fats. We know that sun exposure does deplete the skin of the antioxidant Vitamin C.
Moreover, the act of running tends to divert blood flow away from the skin, starving it of additional important antioxidants that could neutralize the free-radical damage in the skin tissues. Add to that the enormous amounts of cortisol marathoners pump out doing this unnaturally high steady-state oxidative work and we not only get the DNA damage, we get the immuno-suppressive effects of the high-stress activity.
So: more DNA damage and a reduced ability to recognize that damage and take steps to eliminate those cells and/or repair the damage. That’s one reason (among many) that I have doused myself with antioxidants inside and out for over 20 years now. That’s also why one of my newest mantras is: a little running is OK – a lot is bad.
This article also brings up other points of discussion, such as whether the reliance on inferior sunscreens was another cause. It appears that for the past 30 years so-called sunscreens have been good at blocking UVB rays (the ones that burn) but not UVA (the ones primarily responsible for DNA damage and skin cancer). The effect is a generation of gung-ho health fanatics (yes, I was one) slathering on sunscreen and running 40, 50 or 100 miles a week. The fact that we didn’t burn only lead us to believe we could stay out even longer. Little did we know that the burning of skin might have been a great first warning to get the hell out of the sun.
Unfortunately, the sunscreen gave us the false notion we were invulnerable. More on that later….
Worker Bees’ Daily Bites
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Garlic: Like, So Not a Superfood
An excellent study finds garlic probably doesn’t beat bad cholesterol as much as we thought. You know this is going to be 5 o’clock “news” fodder, but it’s really nothing to worry about. Garlic is still great for you because it reduces inflammation, which is arguably more significant than cholesterol.
Don’t Tell the Fuji
When sales are down, nothing provides Big Pharma with a cheery boost like telling people they need a daily OTC painkiller to help the heart. Well, this news may finally send that tired tale to the medical myth graveyard where it belongs.
The Tuesday 10:
This Tuesday’s 10 serves up a tempting buffet of unusual and useful health nibbles. Guaranteed to be at least as entertaining as a heat lamp and definitely more interesting than a pan of reconstituted potato flake crests rising from lakes of Yellow No. 5 “butter”.
10. Peter Pan may have to grow up and face the salmonella, but it’s just as well, because now there’s an excellent alternative: Omega-3 peanut butter. That’s right – peanut butter, the all-American food spread which is neither nut nor butter, is now enhanced with heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
(And it’s true: the peanut is more pea than nut – it’s a legume. Also, we think it’s time for a new cardiovascular-benefit phrase, because “heart-healthy” is just so tired. Cardio-caring? Artery-amor? Oh, fine…)
9. According to these genii, sugar does not have any relationship to type 2 diabetes. You see, that’s just a silly myth that foolish people used to believe. In fact, according to the experts at the American Diabetes Association, no one is sure what exactly causes type 2 diabetes.
All we know is that the liver can’t handle
sugar a certain substance sometimes so the pancreas has to pump out insulin to manage the blood sugar and when this happens too much over a prolonged period of time from eating sugar unknown causes, the entire system gets worn out and, interestingly, you get diabetes. It’s a very mysterious mechanism, this liver-pancreas-blood thing. There may be some association. But it definitely has nothing to do with sugar.
(Note: this information was brought to you by the ADA, the same progressive association which sent out Christmas cards in 2006 that were plastered with images of candy canes. So obviously sugar has nothing to do with diabetes.)
8. What beef broth and beef flavoring are typically made from. Warning: this does take all the fun out of ramen. And with all we know about refined starch and trans fat, this couldn’t come at a worse time for noodles.
7. The weirdest disease you’ve ever heard of. (After #8, we figure you need a break.)
6. What’s as big as a football and hangs out below your ribs? No, not your belly (we hope). This important guy. Give him love.
5. Happy cows? Not only is a picture worth a thousand words, it’s worth some clickativity. This is a very well-written, thoughtful dairy piece that comes out in favor of Big Moo. Some further investigation into the studies reveals Blunder Tonic bias, but since we promised to give da-iry and mad cows a rest, we’ll let it slide…for now. This link is merely to draw attention to food production circa 2007.
4. Crazy fact: If you actually read through that dairy article, you’ll learn there are about 9 million dairy cows in this country. And all of them are the spawn of only a couple of bulls. Incest jokes aside, isn’t it wacky that 300 million+ people are drinking/chewing/DiGiorning the reproductive fluid of animals with identical fathers (and therefore genetic history)? We really are all connected.
Just chew on that one for a minute.
3. Mark’s been griping about the Cheesecake Factory’s one-pound slices of cake and Chili’s 2,700-calorie onion appetizer for months. Finally, a group decides that burritos as big as shoes might be a problem deserving of a little heads-up.
While we’re on the subject, what kind of a name is “Cheesecake Factory”? Why does it work? Unhealthy item + Unhealthy item + Mass-production structure? “Lardsugar Turbine” would never fly, but then, neither would “Vitaminarugula Wok”.
2. Ridiculous item of the day:
Don’t worry, obesity is no big deal.
1. Is your brain happy?
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