Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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Tag: hormones

10 Things to Know about Tofu

Soy. Tofu. Tempeh. Make that steaming rubbery gray squares of questionable origin. I get a lot of questions about this bland food product we call by various names. Do I eat tofu? Is it healthy? Is it manna from heaven? Or will it cause your voice to jump an octave and your hormones to rage out of control? I don’t want to claim to “set the record straight” on this topic, which is something a lot of people do in the health world (make that every area of life, right?). Science and experience are always revealing new information and insights, so I don’t like to be assumptive by claiming one food is definitively bad or good for all eternity. That said, here are 10 important things I think everyone should know about tofu: 1. Hill of beans Whole soybeans, or edamame (in-the-shell version), are a great plant protein source. I eat soybeans regularly and I think this is a great way to eat soy because beans are unprocessed, fresh, and whole. Soybeans do have a bit more fat than other beans, but they are a hearty protein and contain valuable phyto-nutrients. Soybeans do contain plant estrogens and phytic acid (more on that in a moment), so no, tofu is not a “miracle” health food. But it’s also not evil, unlike fat-free devil’s food cookies. 2. What’s this about black beans? Did you know that douchi, the black beans commonly used in Asian cooking (think black bean sauce), are actually just fermented soy beans? Fermented foods are very high in nutritional value, so I recommend getting some sort of fermented food in your diet daily (organic sugar-free yogurt, kefir, kimchi and fermented olives or vegetables are great examples). Fermented foods reduce cholesterol and improve digestion and immunity. In general, I recommend fermented soy products such as black beans because other, processed soy products like soy milk and tofu contain phytic acid, which does inhibit some nutrient absorption (hence the soy controversy). 3. Soybean oil Soybean oil is heavily refined and ought to be avoided. This junk won’t do you any health favors at all. Aside from anti-nutritive compounds in soybean oil, most soybean oil contains some level of dangerous trans fat (even the “trans-free” varieties are still heavily refined and contain chemically-modified fat molecules). You’ll notice this worthless oil in most processed foods, which is why I advocate sticking to fresh, unprocessed meals. You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to eat healthily – salads, steamed veggies and grilled fish take just minutes to prepare once you learn to make them. 4. Soy nuts, chips, and snacks Here is where we can make a really important distinction. Take even the healthiest food and turn it into a processed snack, and it is no longer healthy! Whether soy is a miraculous heart-healthy food or not, processing anything destroys valuable nutrients and enzymes and usually means added fat, sugar, and chemicals. I see people purchasing and eating unhealthy snacks every day … Continue reading “10 Things to Know about Tofu”

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HRT: The Problem That Just Won’t Go Away

A doctor weighs in on the HRT-cancer connection. The controversy isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

I recommend reading the whole interview if this is an area of interest for you. What caught my attention is the subtle pro-drug stance the interview appears to take, while simultaneously bringing out revealing facts like the following:

Q. Was it a surprise to learn that estrogen and progestins can cause breast cancer?

A. We’ve known there is a cause and effect with hormones and breast cancer since 1896.

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

HRT is all over the news again. This, from Newsday:

“Statistics from a major study revealing that rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped dramatically between 2002 and 2003 are being greeted with applause and skepticism as the medical and advocacy communities digest the news.”

Yes, it’s a tough one to chew. In brief, cases of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer (which accounts for nearly 3/4 of breast cancer cases) dropped dramatically from 2002 to 2003. This was the same time that several key studies, including a famous government-funded study (the Women’s Health Initiative), found that hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), particularly that derived from mares – in drugs like Prempro and Premarin – was linked to a significant increase in breast cancer risk.

It makes sense. Estrogen is a powerful hormone and using it in drug therapy has been and continues to be a risky proposition. A dramatic drop in estrogen-receptor breast cancer cases, occurring in tandem with the much-publicized discontinued use of HRT by millions of women, isn’t something I think the drug industry or medical community ought to be stumped by. These are highly-trained, intelligent individuals, and frankly, I think the situation is quite clear. What’s to digest? In one year – the same year in which Prempro saw its sales cut by half – breast cancer rates dropped by over 7%; for women over age 50, the rate was 12%.

This is why it is so important to be critical of any drug therapy that is recommended to us, especially for treating health matters that are either part of aging or can be prevented or better addressed through lifestyle choices. Blood pressure pills and cholesterol-lowering pills and arthritis prescriptions can help, but as we see with the HRT scandal (and last year’s Vioxx and Celebrex disasters), there are always side effects. There are always unintended consequences.

This doesn’t mean you ought to toss your medications if there is a legitimate need for them; but arm yourself with knowledge, be ruthlessly critical of everything that anyone recommends to you, and consider whether there are safer, more natural alternatives. The alternatives are often not as easy in the short term, but they’re certainly easier than painful and even fatal side effects down the road.

[tags] HRT, hormone replacement therapy, estrogen, breast cancer, estrogen receptor positive, Premarin, Prempro, Newsday, drug side effects, pharmaceuticals [/tags]

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